Nystrom ready to jump ship

ERIC FRANCIS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 10:44 AM ET

No news is bad news down at the Dome these days as Calgary Flames ownership is apparently struggling with deciding who will attempt to lead the team out of this mess.

Regardless of who is saddled with trying to steer the club through a minefield of bad contracts, an aging core and few prospects without the aid of draft picks, the news is actually about to get worse for the club.

Eric Nystrom, who was the hardest working and arguably one of the best Flames down the stretch this year, is destined for greener pastures.

Word is several teams will be in line to help the grinding fourth-liner double his $775,000 stipend on the open market July 1 when he's sure to bolt for greener pastures.

Given the Flames bloated payroll, the club obviously can't afford to bid on the penalty killer for more money than David Moss or Curtis Glencross make.

The fact Team USA pinned an 'A' to his chest in Germany at the world championships speaks to the fact an increasing number of hockey people believe Nystrom is capable of much more than the Flames allowed him to exhibit.

His most likely destination is Long Island, where Eric grew up watching his father Bob become a local legend.

While some Dome observers might scoff at his departure, Nystrom was one of the few heart and soul players left on a team that used to be known for its work ethic.

Wait, it gets worse.

Dion Phaneuf's $950,000 substitute, Ian White, is also likely on the move as insiders say his arbitration award is expected to be around $3.5 million -- a luxury the club can't afford unless at least one other pricy contract is shipped out.

The club will have little choice but to accept the arbitrator's decision and immediately trade him, meaning two of the club's only bright lights over the final month will likely be distant memories next fall.

Now, more notes, quotes and anecdotes from a sports world wondering if any Flames fans would be opposed to a trade acquiring the entire scouting staff of the Hitmen in exchange for the scouting staff of the Flames.

AROUND THE HORN

If indeed the Flames buy Darryl Sutter another year by arming him with a "support cast" to include an assistant GM, can there be any doubt the leading candidate is Hitmen GM Kelly Kisio? ... Nice compromise by the 2012 world junior organizers, who decided Edmonton will host all of Team Canada's round robin games and Calgary will host all medal round play. Calgarians who score ticket packages of all 21 games at the Dome will see 10 round-robin games, five relegations, two quarterfinals, two semifinals, the bronze medal and the championship. Hitmen season-ticket holders get priority for the tickets sold only as 21-game packages ... Those wondering why the name Chad Johnson, Team Canada's backup goalie at the worlds, sounds familiar should know he's a 23-year-old Calgarian who played with the Brooks Bandits before going the U.S. college route. GM Mark Messier picked him because he's a Rangers prospect.

PARTING SHOTS

No one has said it yet, but the debt crisis and subsequent riots in Greece have plenty to do with hosting an Olympics most didn't want because they knew they couldn't afford it ... Goran Tunjic is soccer's version of the boy who cried wolf: The Croatian paid for a century of fake injuries when he was yellow carded for diving. Fact is, he was fighting for his life after going into cardiac arrest. The 32-year-old died minutes later ... No player has intrigued me more this spring than Canadiens rookie P.K. Subban. That said, what was the bigger screw-up in Montreal this year: That Subban wasn't called up earlier or that it took until the playoffs for the Habs to realize G Jaroslav Halak was their starter? ... Another reason to like Jets QB Mark Sanchez, who denied reports he was dating actress Jamie-Lynn Sigler: "She's a great girl, but she could probably do much better than me."

ERIC.FRANCIS@SUNMEDIA.CA


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