NHL in Saskatoon?

STEVE SIMMONS, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 10:32 AM ET

There may be clamouring for the National Hockey League in Quebec City, Winnipeg and Hamilton, but the next Canadian site to house NHL games is almost certain to be Saskatoon. And where is the late, great and very loud Bill Hunter saying: 'I told you so' when we really need him?

You see, the NHL will soon put in an improved offer to get the Coyotes out of bankruptcy and desperation and foolish pride will have it sell the team to the Ice Edge group, which has built five games a year in Saskatoon into its proposed bid for the Phoenix club.

The only reason Saskatoon was chosen was because Winnipeg apparently said no.

The actual timing of the bankruptcy sale and eventual transfer of ownership is not known, but the NHL wants this team off its books and fast, even if it means doing business in this rather unconventional manner.

This bit of running back to Saskatoon is what Hunter passionately cared about when he tried to move the St. Louis Blues to Saskatchewan in the mid-1980s. It may be only five games a year, but it's five more than anyone ever thought possible.

This and that

Riddle me this, Bud Selig: Why are there next to no days off during the baseball season then almost full week off in the playoffs? Baseball loses its momentum with a scattered schedule that drags into winter nights ... Ron Wilson's off-season goal was to cut down the Maple Leafs' goals against and fix their terrible penalty killing. How is that working out? ... Of course, Brian Burke is saying he would make the Phil Kessel trade again, even knowing what he knows now about the Leafs. What's he supposed to say? That he wouldn't make it? ... Steve Yzerman has to be more than a little concerned when Roberto Luongo's save percentage is .860 and Martin Brodeur is at .888 in the early season. Can you say Cam Ward and Marc-Andre Fleury in goal for the Canadian Olympic team? ... A quick start for the Raptors is basically impossible, with a schedule that includes home games against Cleveland and Orlando and road games in New Orleans, Dallas, San Antonio, Denver, Utah and Boston among the first 18 of the season. If the Raps are anywhere close to 9-9 at that point, they're doing just fine ... In Kerry Joseph's Grey Cup season, he threw 24 touchdown passes and eight interceptions under the direction of Kent Austin. In his two seasons with the Argos, Joseph has thrown 25 touchdown passes and 29 interceptions.

Here and there

I turned on my television set Wednesday night and Theoren Fleury was being interviewed. I turned on my radio Thursday morning and there was Fleury. Then Thursday night, more Fleury on more than one network. And driving home on Friday home, I turned on the radio and I didn't have to be told, I already knew the voice and some of the answers and I wondered if anyone else is like me? Completely Fleuried out ... A hockey rule for the ages: Never let John Ferguson Jr. pick your goaltender. Otherwise, you'll get stuck with an injured Ed Belfour or Tuukka Rask, Justin Pogge, Andrew Raycroft or Vesa Toskala ... By the way, now in goal for the Bakersfield Condors of the East Coast Hockey League: Pogge, with one start and one shutout ... John Tavares' presence around the net is so apparent that he looks like he could score between 40 and 50 goals as a rookie with the New York Islanders ... When Jason Blake had his breakout year with the Islanders, the top five scorers, along with him, were: Miro Satan, Viktor Kozlov, Mike Sillinger and Alexei Yashin, four of whom no longer playing in the NHL and one who may be next ... Media transactions: Excellent hockey writer Tim Wharnsby has left The Globe and Mail for cbc.ca.

Scene and heard

The reason Orlando Hudson isn't starting at second base for the Dodgers: He hit .222 in June and .227 in September after batting .337 in April and .328 in May ... What does it say about the National League Championship Series when the two starting pitchers in Game 2 -- Vicente Padilla and Pedro Martinez -- were arms nobody wanted most of this season? ... Best segment on Toronto sports radio: Lee Hamilton talking NFL with Mike and Mike on The Fan590 ... Bad teams just make bad trades, which is why Braylon Edwards is no longer with the Cleveland Browns ... I'd be a little more comfortable with the first significant hiring for Blue Jays general manager Alex Anthopoulos if he wasn't coming from the Washington Nationals, an operation worse off than the Jays ... If Rush Limbaugh has been pushed out as a potential owner of the St. Louis Rams, there is an equally inept football team for sale wearing Double Blue. Just kidding about the Limbaugh part, not the Argos being for sale part ... Love the NHL 2K10 television commercial and whose idea was it to use Ryan Kesler, instead of the usual band of NHL stars? ... It doesn't get much better than Queen's and Western playing football yesterday, except for the result. My team lost ... The weekly Bart Andrus update: The Tennessee Titans are 0-and-5 since he left.

And another thing

You have to be smart to be lucky and lucky to be smart: How else to explain the Red Wings draft choices of stars Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg and Nicklas Lidstrom after picking Carl Steen, Kent McDonnel and Bob Boughner in the previous rounds of those drafts. Combined NHL goals scored by the players chosen before the Big Three: 15, all by the current Windsor Spitfires coach ... Rest in peace, Captain Lou Albano, and thanks for the memories ... This is why Leafs fans would want a team in Hamilton: Top price for Marlies tickets: $42. Top price for Hamilton Bulldogs tickets: $26. The Difference: 61% ... After all these years of not calling travelling in the NBA, the league has changed the rule, making all the officials who looked the other way in the past, now correct ... Michael Del Zotto is the rarest of commodities: A Glen Sather first round pick who can actually play ... I can understand a name change if you're called Antonio Bastardo, but not when your name is Chad Johnson ... Happy birthday to Mike Ditka (70), Martina Navratilova (53), Forrest Gregg (76), Thomas Hearns (51) and Jean Claude Van Damme (49) ... And hey, whatever became of Mario Scalzo Jr.?

STEVE.SIMMONS@SUNMEDIA.CA


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