Euro kids may cash in at home

ERIN NICKS -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 1:27 PM ET

When the NHL resumes, questions will abound regarding the league's older stars.

But perhaps fans should pay attention to the youngest ones -- in particular, those that have yet to wear a league jersey.

Sidney Crosby has been negotiating with Swiss Club Lugano. His agent, Pat Brisson of IMG, admitted on Wednesday that the two sides were communicating. The deal is rumoured to be for three years, and worth as much as $10-million US, in addition to a multi-million dollar signing bonus.

The young phenom, however, quickly squelched the negative speculation in an interview with CBC News. He affirmed his continuing desire to play in the NHL, whenever the season should begin.

It's obvious that Crosby and Brisson are simply covering all of their bases. In the grand scheme of things, it doesn't make sense to leave for Switzerland (unless Sid the Kid's sole purpose at the beginning of his career was to chase dollars as opposed to pucks). Crosby is only 17 years old, and already has scored lucrative endorsement deals with Reebok and Gatorade. Certainly both companies had no intention of using a Lugano player to sell their products, regardless of who it was.

More importantly, Sidney Crosby is a Canadian kid chasing Stanley Cup dreams. And there's only one league in the world where you can accomplish that.

But what about a player like Alexander Ovechkin? How will his desires affect his decision to play in the NHL?

Ovechkin was the No. 1 draft pick in 2004 and was taken by the Capitals, who have yet to sign him. Ovechkin has signed with Russian club team Avangard Omsk, but his former club Moscow Dynamo matched the offer, thereby forcing the matter into arbitration. The 19 year-old's new contract contains an escape clause, should he choose to sign with the Capitals before July 20. Here's the $850,000 question: Does he really want to?

If the new CBA speculations are confirmed, and the entry-level salary is a maximum $850,000 US for three years, why wouldn't the Russian remain overseas where the real money is? He would be ensconced in his homeland and in a financially advantageous situation. It seems like a no-brainer for Ovechkin and possibly many other Europeans -- a tempting option that never existed, until now.

It will be a new game in more ways than one, but the NHL could possibly return with more of a North American flavour. And you can bet there's one Kingston-born icon that would have no problem with that.

GONE IN A FLASH: Who is Renegades president Lonie Glieberman trying to fool? Since the controversy surrounding "Mardi Gras Madness" began, he has been engaging in more doublespeak than a G8 leader. Unsurprisingly, Glieberman confirmed on Tuesday that the club plans to continue its buzz-worthy promotion. "This contest isn't about flashing," Glieberman told the Sun's Barre Campbell. "We want to keep it tasteful and professional so we can keep doing it." Lonie, I don't have a problem with your desire for women to display their breasts at home games. I don't have a problem with you wanting to be Ottawa's version of Joe Francis, the king of the Girls Gone Wild empire. But I take issue with the assumption that everyone, including CFL commissioner Tom Wright, isn't on to you.

TALK THE TALK: If you didn't catch Scotty Ferrall sitting in for J.T. The Brick on the Fourth of July, you missed a real treat. Ferrall handled the Brick's duties on his Fox Sports Radio late-night program (carried by the Team 1200), and the gravel-throated ball of energy was the voice of the Atlanta Thrashers in their inaugural season. There's no doubting that Ferrall's knowledge is extensive, but his lightning-quick delivery and entertaining opinions are a refreshing change from the prototypical sports radio format.

SIDE LINES: Ugly realization of the month: Russian President Vladimir Putin has a Super Bowl ring and Dan Marino does not ... A deceased Pittsburgh Steelers fan requested that his viewing area at the local funeral home be staged to appear as if he's sleeping in a recliner, while a television played a continuous loop of Steelers highlights. Oakland mortuaries are taking note and will soon offer Raider fans the ability to lay in eternal rest while sporting "Darth Raider" gear. The cosmetician will also pose fans' hands in a middle-finger gesture for a nominal fee.

erinnicks@yahoo.ca


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