NHL trade deadline season really can't get under way until somebody throws out the first pitch for Dominic Moore.
For the third time in four seasons, the forward has been traded at or near the deadline for a second-round pick, this time to the San Jose Sharks from the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Overall, Moore, 31, has been traded five times and claimed on waivers once.
Here are the players who have been acquired in deals involving Moore: Adam Hall, Ryan Thang, Casey Pierro-Zabotel, Jesse Blacker and Matthew Nieto.
Blacker and Nieto were the second-round choices the Toronto Maple Leafs and Florida Panthers, respectively, selected with the picks they acquired for Moore from Buffalo (in 2009) and Montreal (in 2010), respectively.
So, with the annual Moore deal out of the way, we're officially under way.
HEAR AND THERE: No pressure for Blake Geoffrion, huh? The kid has the family name hanging in the rafters of the Bell Centre (Boom Boom was his grandfather and Howie Morenz was his great-grandfather). He comes over from the Nashville Predators, along with a second-round pick and winger Robert Slaney, to the Habs for defenceman Hal Gill. Just getting a second-round pick would have been good enough, but Geoffrion's addition makes it interesting. It will be a culture shock for Geoffrion to move from Nashville (and Milwaukee of the AHL) to Montreal, whenever that might be ... The Rick Nash speculation is making the run up to this trade deadline interesting, but how much sense does it make for the Columbus Blue Jackets to be trying to deal him now instead of at the draft or during the summer? Not much. In the summer, teams have more cap flexibility -- especially for a big ticket like Nash's -- and are more inclined to give up roster players. How much sense does it make for a Cup-contending team to give up a roster player or two now when they need those bodies for a Cup run? Not to mention if you can be considered a Cup contender you probably have some good chemistry going. Hall of Famer Brian Kilrea made a good point the other day about making trades. It's often more important who is leaving your room than who is coming into it. The guys leaving might be well-liked by teammates, so their departure can be disruptive. The Jackets might get their asking price by Feb. 27, but they could do better in the summer.
THE BUZZ: The St. Louis Blues have only four games left against Eastern Conference teams this season. Too bad for them. They're 12-0-2 against the East this season ... After acquiring the Sharks' second-round pick in the draft in exchange for Moore, the Lightning now has three second-round picks this summer. That gives general manager Steve Yzerman some ammunition should he want to move up in the draft ... Media reports in the desert is that the "third party" of which NHL commissioner Gary Bettman spoke is doing due diligence with the Coyotes. There could be developments on a sale of the Coyotes during the next couple of weeks.
JUST SAYING: The Los Angeles Kings are considered one of the favourites in the courtship of Nash. They have the commodity that apparently is a must to make a deal work: A good, young goaltender in Jonathan Bernier ... It's hard to believe, for a guy with the talent he has, that Ilya Kovalchuk could go three years, less a day, between hat tricks ... Good news for the NHL that Seattle at least has a preliminary plan for a new rink. Options -- even the appearance of having options -- is always good when you have a franchise to sell. But it seems Seattle won't start on an arena until an NBA team is guaranteed ... A Vancouver Canucks package for Nash apparently would have to include goalie Cory Schneider and forward Cody Hodgson. Parting with those guys in the summer would make a lot more sense for the Canucks.
JUST WONDERING: There continues to be the growing feeling in New Jersey the Devils are headed for bankruptcy protection. Could the NHL could find itself extricating itself from the Phoenix situation only to be thrust into another mess? ... If it turns out the Coyotes wind up in Seattle, what would be the next best bet for Quebec City? The New York Islanders' lease expires in 2015, when the new rink in Quebec is scheduled to be ready.
THE LAST WORD: You have to like the fire Marty St. Louis brings. While the Bolts made it clear this week they're sellers, he isn't giving up. "You don't want to be in June, 40 rounds of golf deep at that time, and (thinking) you wish you did this or that," he said, "Just leave it out there. You never know. There are 25 games left. That's like a third of the season. There's lots of time. You start winning games, you never know." Fiery, delusional Marty St. Louis. You've got to love him.
Short-handed situations: 186
The Predators fancy themselves playoff contenders, but their penalty killing must be improved if they are to do much in the post-season. They are in the bottom half of the league overall and, more significantly, 25th in the league at home.
The acquisition Friday of defenceman Hal Gill from the Montreal Canadiens should help them in that department. Gill helped the Habs have the top penalty-killing unit in the NHL this season. Gill ranks fourth in the league in short-handed ice time this season at 212 minutes 26 seconds.
20 - The number of points out of eighth place the Anaheim Ducks found themselves on Jan. 20 in the Western Conference. Now, after going 14-2-3 in their past 19 games, the Ducks are just six points out of the playoffs. Last season, the Ducks went 12-2 in March to rally from outside the top eight and get into the playoffs.
257 - Since 1979, the latest a player was drafted who went on to appear in 1,000 games in the NHL. That would be Tomas Holmstrom, who just passed Mike Grier for the distinction. Holmstrom was drafted 257th by the Detroit Red Wings in 1994. Grier was drafted 219th by the St. Louis Blues in 1993 and went on to play 1,060 games.
3 - The number of goals by which Teemu Selanne of the Anaheim Ducks trails Jaromir Jagr of the Philadelphia Flyers for the title of highest-scoring non-North American-born player. Selanne has 656 career goals (19 this season) to close in on Jagr's total of 659 (13 this season).
3 - The number of assists, to go with 15 goals, scored by Eric Nystrom of the Dallas Stars. That would make him the leader for the NHL's unofficial Cy Young Award for having a scoring line that looks like that of a pitching ace. I thought of it because Mike Rupp of the New York Rangers got his first assist to go with four goals Thursday night.
My Top Five Favourite American NHLers
In honour of Hockey Weekend Across America, in which our friends to the south will celebrate the game and offer up opportunities for people to experience it for the first time, here are my five favourite American NHLers. They maybe aren't the best, just guys who have made things interesting or fun:
1. Brett Hull. Started out in Belleville, Ont., so he has that going for him. The Golden Brett had 741 goals and I don't know if I ever saw him take a slapshot. Plus I liked this quote: "I've only told Wayne Gretzky not to do one thing and he didn't listen to me, so I would never tell him not to do anything again."
2. Jeremy Roenick. JR could talk the talk and walk the walk. There was a great give-and-take with Patrick Roy in the 1996 playoffs when he suggested the goalie's jock was up in the rafters. Then in January 2004, when a Buffalo Sabre high-sticked him but the play was missed by the refs, Roenick's post-game tirade was classic. "Wake up, NHL, wake up," he said. "I'm bleeding like a stuck pig."
3. Pat LaFontaine. One of the classiest guys you would ever want to meet in the game and a pretty fair player, too. He had 1,013 points in just 865 games, the only American to crack the 1,000-point barrier without playing 1,000 games. He probably would have been the highest-scoring American if not for his concussions.
4. Chris Nilan. "Knuckles" was one of those guys who used his hard hands to get his foot in the NHL door and then worked and worked to make himself into a decent hockey player. Couldn't have been easy being a Boston guy and cleaning up messes for the Montreal Canadiens.
5. Al Iafrate. He had a wicked shot, one of the most interesting hair cuts going -- The Skullet -- was the first hockey player I saw with a tattoo and I once saw him having a smoke on the stick bench before a game. He also is credited -- if that's the right term -- with allegedly saying "Empty net goals are for (censored)." Well, it was politically incorrect.
Injuries that are having, or could have, a big impact.
Forward Pierre-Marc Bouchard of the Minnesota Wild thought he was past his concussion problems. After playing only one game in 20 months, he came back Dec. 1, 2010 and finished last season.
But this season, a hit from behind by Winnipeg's Zach Bogosian and then an elbow by Vancouver's Chris Higgins triggered his symptoms again and he has now missed 14 games and counting. "I still have symptoms right now," Bouchard said. "Pressure to my head. My vision is a little off. I'm trying to stay positive because I don't feel as bad as I did in my first one -- that big one (March 25, 2009) -- but they're all different. I still have symptoms, so it's tough."
The Wild has won only twice with Bouchard out with his latest issues.
THE GROCERY STICK
Who is -- literally or figuratively -- heading for or in that comfortable spot on the bench that separates the forwards and the defencemen?
The St. Louis Blues have been rolling along, but you can't say the same thing for forward Chris Stewart. Blues coach Ken Hitchcock had this to say after announcing Stewart was headed for the fourth line: "Before you can think about scoring goals, you've got to start to work. Does this get his attention and do all that stuff? We'll see, but we need him to have way more impact on the game.
"He's too good a player to just go quietly by the night. It's not a boiling point. It's just a matter-of-fact point." Stewart, who has 11 goals and 11 assists, said the right things. "It's obviously a message -- message loud and clear," he said. "I've been in this position before, just got to get back to work. I'm obviously not contributing offensively and something had to be done. They feel like that's the right approach and I'll just go from there."