SUN Hockey Pool

Hockey Canada's loss is Lightning's gain

DAVE POLLARD, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 8:18 PM ET

Lightning vice-president and general manager Steve Yzerman continued his rebuilding project Monday, this time with an eye to the future, by hiring Al Murray as his director of amateur scouting.

Murray resigned as Hockey Canada's head scout, a job he'd held for three years, earlier in the day to take the gig with the Lightning. Prior to his time with Hockey Canada, he spent 12 years as the Los Angeles Kings' head scout.

"Als vast scouting experience will prove to be a great asset for the Lightning as we move forward," Yzerman said. "We are pleased to have him join the organization and I very much look forward to working with him as he leads our amateur scouting staff."

On Murray's watch, Canadian teams had an impressive run of success on the world stage.

The national junior team won world titles in 2008 and '09 and the under-18 squad struck gold in 2008. Teams he helped put together also won three consecutive gold medals at the under-18 Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, including the 2010 version that wrapped up last week.

"We would like to thank Al Murray for his three years of dedication and commitment to Hockey Canada," Hockey Canada's Brad Pascall said. "He has been a terrific addition to our mens high performance department, and we wish him the best of luck in Tampa Bay."

The addition of Murray, who is intimately familiar with the crop of 2011 draft-eligible players and others two or three years away, is less of a gamble than earlier off-season moves by Yzerman, who has been on the job for all of four months.

Guy Boucher, Yzerman's choice for head coach, has just one year of experience and that came with the Hamilton Bulldogs of the AHL. Yzerman also traded for oft-injured but potentially productive forward Simon Gagne and inked long-time Bolt Martin St. Louis to a four-year, $22.5 million contract extension.

HAPPY SEN

Count Russian winger Alex Kovalev among the Senators happy with the signing of veteran defenceman Sergei Gonchar.

"I often played with him in the national team and I welcome his presence (on the team)," Kovalev said from the children's camp in the Laurentians he hosts every summer. "Ill try to help his acclimation to his new environment."

The signing of Gonchar, an unrestricted free agent, earlier in the summer has Kovalev predicting "big" things for the Senators this season.

Sens fans can only hope for the same thing from Kovalev, a bust in his first season in the nation's capital.

NEW KNIGHT

The London Knights introduced their newest blue-chipper, Montreal Canadiens' first-rounder Jarred Tinordi, Monday.

Tinordi, the son of former NHLer Mark Tinordi, seemed pretty happy about giving up an NCAA scholarship to follow in the footsteps of other top American prospects who played junior hockey with the Knights.

"You look at a program and an organization like the London Knights and the way they develop players," Minnesota-born Tinordi told the London Free Press. "It's a great city with great fans and it's a great place for me to develop as a player and get to the next level."

Tinordi now takes his place among the the likes of Rob Schremp, Patrick Kane and John Carlson as highly touted Yanks who have tutored under Knights head coach Dale Hunter.

"He's a top defenceman, a big guy who can really skate," Hunter said. "I saw him skate this morning with some pros, guys like Brian Campbell and Rob Schremp were here, and Jarred did not look out of place. For a young man of 18 with his skating ability, they were impressed."

SPITFIRE IN SPAT

Windsor Spitfires defenceman Marc Cantin was hospitalized over the weekend, just hours after getting his Memorial Cup championship ring at a team function.

Cantin, 20, was assaulted outside a Windsor bar early Sunday morning and was taken to hospital with a suspected broken jaw and cut above his eye. According to a report in the Windsor Star, he was trying to play peacemaker after a friend became involved in an altercation but wound up on the receiving end of a punch instead.

It's the second time in less than three months that a Windsor player has been involved in an incident at the same nightclub.

Forward Zack Kassian, a first-round pick of the Buffalo Sabres, was arrested in late May after allegedly assaulting another bar patron. Kassian was charged with assault a few days later, causing the Sabres to break off contract negotiations.

FAMILY FEUD

Was probably an interesting weekend at the MacQueen house.

On Friday, 19-year-old centre Zack MacQueen was traded from the Sarnia Sting of the OHL to the Windsor Spitfires. No big deal, junior players are traded all the time, you say?

Well, the guy pulling the trigger on the deal was his father, Sting head coach and general manager Dave MacQueen. Wow. Thanks, pop.

Id be lying if I said it was easy, MacQueen told the Sarnia Observer after the deal was announced Monday. It was a very difficult couple of months that we were going down this road, and Zack didnt know anything about it. He was working hard to try and make the team.

As a further blow to the younger MacQueen's ego, all the Sting got back in the deal was a 12th-round draft pick.

LOOKING FOR WORK

With a month to go before the start of NHL training camps, a number of young stars-in-the-making are still unemployed.

Goalie Carey Price (Canadiens), defenceman Marc Staal (Rangers) and forwards Bobby Ryan (Ducks), Bryan Little (Thrashers), James Neal (Stars) and Chris Stewart (Avs) are still negotiating (or not) new deals. All remain restricted free agents.

Eventually they will all sign, probably with the same team, but surely some of them are getting a tad nervous about what station the gravy train is going to stop at next season.

QUICK HITS

Toronto Marlies coach Dallas Eakins competed in the Leadville Trail 100 extreme mountain bike race over the weekend. More than 1,000 athletes, including Eakins, managed to complete the 160-kilometre course in the Rocky Mountains of Colorado ... D Nick Boynton signed a one-year contract with the Blackhawks Monday. Last season, the former first-round pick had one goal and seven assists in 49 games with the Blackhawks and Ducks.


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