Toying with Hamilton's hockey fans

LANCE HORNBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 1:55 AM ET

The tortured hockey fans in poor old Hamilton could be getting played like a violin again, with Edmonton Oilers owner Daryl Katz plucking the strings.

But this time, hockey isn’t the only sport in play. Reports say the owner of the Edmonton hockey team was in the Steel City on Tuesday for talks of lease control regarding Copps Coliseum and the proposed Pan Am Games stadium, future home of the CFL Tiger-Cats.

The rink, of course, is the key to a possible NHL team in the town. Katz’s actions could be nothing more than a pressure tactic on Edmonton politicians to break a council deadlock on location of a new arena in downtown Edmonton. As to whether this is some kind of clumsy first step to actually get the Oilers to move from Alberta to Southern Ontario, Edmonton Mayor Stephen Mandel told Sun Media the Oilers were supposed to attend a July 21 council meeting to reveal their future business plans.

“I’m not going to respond to things I have no control over,” Mandel said. “One has to know that Edmonton is one of the best hockey markets in the world.”

More than 7,000 fans just turned out at Rexall Place to cheer the 30th-place Oilers picking Taylor Hall first overall in this past Friday’s draft.

It might also be a simple business move by Katz, with the main goal to get in on the lucrative operation of the future stadium.

Ice chips

The Canadiens traded Sergei Kostitsyn to Nashville for forward Dustin Boyd and goaltender Dan Ellis ... Former 50- goal scorer Jonathan Cheechoo’s contract was bought out by the Senators ... After Bob Nystrom of the Islanders scored the Cup overtime winner in 1980, he recalled his first contract offer from general manager Bill Torrey included a $5,000 US pay cut. “None of that stuff would have mattered,” Nystrom told the website NYI Point Blank when asked about modern day free agency. “I wouldn’t have left the Islanders anyway.” ... On the topic of the Isles, they didn’t qualify Sean Bergenheim, which as pointed out to Nystrom gives them more money in case they want to land Bob’s son Eric, a UFA with the Calgary Flames. “I guess that could open up a door,” Bob agreed, stressing he wants the best playing situation for his son, not just a homecoming. Yet Nystrom is the kind of second-tier UFA the cost-conscious Isles often pursue ... The New Jersey Devils let a couple of good defencemen get away such as Scott Niedermayer and Brian Rafalski, but the solid Paul Martin might elect to stay in a city he likes even though he has a chance to walk on Thursday ... Though it’s unlikely players re-trace their steps with old teams not soon after being shown the door, it should be noted that several Leafs involved in salary wars with the team could be homeless on Thursday. They include forwards Lee Stempniak, Alexei Ponikarovsky and Dominic Moore and defenceman Pavel Kubina ... New Atlanta coach Craig Ramsay has no doubt heard people say the Thrashers are making too much of Dustin Byfuglien’s one good spring with the Cup champion Blackhawks and that he’ll become a 257-pound liability as next season goes on. But Ramsay called Byfuglien “an exciting piece ... we need for him to be a factor in the offensive zone as many times as he can. With his size and his talent level, he’s one of those exciting players you look at and wonder how good can he get.”


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