June 4, 2010
Dreams and ice creamsRumours, flavours swirl as NHLPA teams with Ben & Jerry's to raise equipment cash
By DAVE FULLER, QMI Agency
Jason Spezza slipped on a new blue-and-white hockey jersey Thursday while John Tavares was sporting a day-old boot cast.
Steven Stamkos has a new boss -- Steve Yzerman -- and a new coach, to be named later.
Luke Schenn? Knowing Maple Leafs general manager Brian Burke, he will have a few new teammates when September training camp rolls around.
Such is life in the NHL that even when players gather for a good cause, rumours swirl, hard questions get asked, and broken bones continue to mend.
Spezza, who didn't take kindly to being booed by the home crowd during the Ottawa Senators' first-round playoff exit, may now want out.
Sens general manager Bryan Murray considers the schism serious enough that he has asked to meet with Spezza prior to the June 25-26 NHL entry draft in Los Angeles.
"As hockey players, I don't have a say if they trade me," Spezza said Thursday. "If not, obviously I'm happy to go back there."
Maybe, but he wasn't really smiling when he used the word "happy."
"I got the impression that he was quite unhappy at the end," Murray told Rogers Sportsnet on Wednesday. "I think the coverage he felt he got and the fan reaction a couple of times left him kind of wanting a little bit."
Spezza didn't dispute this on Thursday.
"I was just disappointed that we lost and I was just disappointed how things went (with the fans/media)," he said following the announcement that Ben & Jerry's Ice Cream will lend its support to the NHL Players' Association's Goals & Dreams program.
Spezza was joined by NHLers Tavares, Stamkos and Schenn, each donning a Ben & Jerry's blue-and-white hockey jersey for the event at Toronto's Moss Park Arena.
Spezza, who grew up a Leafs fan, clearly didn't appreciate Murray going public about their player-exit chat.
"Yeah, we had a conversation at the end of the year," he said. "That's between me and Bryan ... and that's how I want to keep it."
Tavares was more upbeat, despite a stress fracture in his right foot -- a result of last month's world hockey championship in Germany.
"Against Sweden, I took a shot on the foot and had x-rays done the next day. They came back negative so I played the rest of the tournament," said Tavares, who led Canada with seven goals.
"I got home, started walking around, and I still had some soreness. The medical staff in New York just wanted to check up on it so yesterday I had an MRI and it revealed a stress fracture."
Fortunately for the New York Islanders, the boot comes off in two weeks and he should be fine for training camp.
As for Schenn and Stamkos, they don't know what to expect four months from now. Both the Leafs and Stamkos' Tampa Bay Lightning are looking at extensive renovations.
"(Changes) are out of our control and you don't want to think about it too much," Schenn said. "As players, we don't know too much. We have about as much knowledge as the public."
Stamkos, who scored an NHL-leading 51 goals last season to share the Rocket Richard Trophy with Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby, heads to Las Vegas in three weeks to accept his award.
Life, in his case, couldn't be much better. He already has met with Yzerman and is sure to sign a new, multi-million dollar contract before this time next year. He's also a big ice cream fan, eating three bowls of Ben & Jerry's Caramel Hat Trick at Moss Park, then going for a skate with about 25 youngsters.
The NHLPA's Goals & Dreams program, launched in 1999, has donated hockey equipment to less privileged kids in 22 countries, including Canada. A portion of the proceeds from every pint of Ben & Jerry's new Caramel Hat Trick ice cream will be donated to Goals & Dreams.
"It's a great program and I'm so honoured and privileged to be a part of this," Stamkos said. "You remember when you were a kid and this is where it all starts. When you're a young kid and you don't have the luxury of having that equipment regularly handed to you -- for this partnership to be able to provide that is extremely exciting for me and exciting for them."