SUN Hockey Pool

Next stop for Liut could be as NHLPA boss

BRUCE GARRIOCH, SUN MEDIA

, Last Updated: 12:59 PM ET

OTTAWA -- Mike Liut made a lot of saves during his NHL career.

The former goalie's next stop could be with the NHL Players Association.

Nobody is sure if the 53-year-old Liut -- who had a 15-year career with stops in St. Louis, Hartford and Washington -- would be interested, but there's talk among players he could be tabbed as the next executive director to replace the fired Paul Kelly.

The union formed a four-man search committee that mysteriously includes former Detroit Red Wings defenceman Chris Chelios, who isn't even an active NHL player, to find a replacement for Kelly.

Liut, who has a law degree and worked in the NHLPA's office until 1998 when he left to join player agent firm Octagon Hockey, is regarded as a strong candidate because he would bring the experience the union needs with the collective bargaining agreement expiring in September 2011.

Liut was a player V-P when the players went on strike in April 1992 and was hired as associate counsel for the union under Bob Goodenow in 1993.

In 1995, Liut was on the negotiating team and helped write significant portions of that lockout-ending CBA, considered one of the best ever negotiated.

OFF THE GLASS

GMs are taking notice of the success Oilers RW Dustin Penner and C Sam Gagner are having under new coach Pat Quinn and assistant Tom Renney. Both players were in the doghouse of former coach Craig MacTavish, who was fired after eight seasons. Executives are wondering whether coaches' messages get stale if they're kept around too long. Barry Trotz, who has been behind the Predators bench since 1997, could soon feel the heat with his club off to a horrible start and its top players struggling. A possible replacement if Trotz is fired could be former Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette ... Watch Senators C Mike Fisher, who wasn't invited to Team Canada's 40-man Olympic orientation camp, but is on the radar screen with his strong start to the season and strong showing at the world championship in May. Fisher's Olympic hopes depend on what executive director Steve Yzerman wants from his fourth line.

AROUND THE BOARDS

The Bruins can't open contract talks with D Zdeno Chara until July 1, but they won't waste any time trying to get him signed to an extension before his contract expires in 2011. Chara has proven he is a franchise player, and GM Peter Chiarelli, who won't comment on any talks, isn't going to make the same mistake as the Senators, who lost the big defenceman on the free-agent market in 2006 .... Confirm or deny: The NHL will have to pay $80 million to Coyotes owner Jerry Moyes and another $22 million to former coach Wayne Gretzky if it wants to assume control of the franchise ... Lightning GM Brian Lawton could be forced to make moves to unload salary. The club is off to a decent start on the ice, however, ticket sales and revenues are down. Don't be surprised if you starting hearing the names of RW Martin St. Louis and LW Ryan Malone in trade talks ... Senators LW Alex Kovalev would support NHLers participating in the 2014 Olympics in Sochi, Russia. "I'm probably not going to be playing any more, but I'm behind NHL players in the Olympics," said the 36-year-old. Kovalev said he doesn't believe Capitals' Alex Ovechkin, who is threatening to quit the NHL to play in his home Olympics if there is no agreement to send NHLers to the Games. "He's not going to leave," said Kovalev, a fellow Russian. "He's just trying to say he'll do whatever it takes to make that (agreement) happen."

bruce.garrioch@sunmedia.ca


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