SUN Hockey Pool

NHL notes: Pens want to keep Crosby and Staal

Sidney Crosby, of the Pittsburgh Penguins is congratulated by teammates Jordan Staal and Matt Cooke...

Sidney Crosby, of the Pittsburgh Penguins is congratulated by teammates Jordan Staal and Matt Cooke after Crosby scored a goal against the Boston Bruins last month. (GETTY)

QMI AGENCY

, Last Updated: 8:17 PM ET

Free agency is still a year away for Sidney Crosby and Jordan Staal but the Pittsburgh Penguins aren't keen on the idea of going down to the wire in attempting to sign their two star centres.

Although Penguins general manager Ray Shero can't negotiate with Crosby or Staal before July 1, he indicated he'd prefer to get their signatures on contract extensions as soon as he can.

"I'd like to do that, if possible," Shero told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "We're looking at hopefully getting extensions with them."

The problem for Shero is uncertainty. He doesn't know what the asking price for Crosby or Staal will be and, more importantly, what the salary cap will be going forward since the collective bargaining agreement between the NHL and NHLPA expires in September.

"It's business as usual, for right now," he said. "We have to operate (as if) there will be a new season (in the fall)."

CHANGING LAWS

The state of Michigan will need to change laws for the Winter Classic to get the official go-ahead.

And, no, it has nothing to do with the Toronto Maple Leafs' lousy play.

Michigan Stadium, the venue for the Jan. 1 game between the Leafs and Detroit Red Wings, doesn't have a liquor license -- beer is not served during University of Michigan football games -- and the university can't secure a temporary license for a stadium that size (109,901 capacity). So law-makers have introduced special legislation that would grant a special exemption for bone-dry Michigan Stadium.

"If the established outdoor program is a nationally televised game between two professional hockey teams, the commission may allow the promotion and advertising of alcoholic liquor brands on the campus of a public university," House bill 5611 reads.

The license, which is expected to be approved, would only be good for 30 days but cover all events surrounding the Winter Classic.

HEADING HOME?

Sounds like soon to be free agent Florida Panthers defenceman Jason Garrison has his heart set on playing for the Vancouver Canucks next season.

Garrison told News1130 radio in Vancouver that playing for his hometown Canucks would be a dream come true. The White Rock, B.C. native might just get that chance when he becomes an unrestricted free agent on July 1.

The 27-year-old blueliner had a breakout year for the Panthers in 2011-12, recording a career-high 16 goals and 33 points while averaging 23 minutes of ice time. He made just $675,000 this season and should expect a huge raise no matter who he signs with.

ONE OUT, ONE IN

Alex Semin clearly wants out.

But defenceman Dennis Wideman says he'd like to re-sign with the Washington Capitals even though he's due to become an unrestricted free agent July 1.

"Obviously, I like it here. I've had a lot of fun here in the last year," Wideman told the Washington Post. "I like where we're going, the core group of guys is really, really good. So why not? I'd love to be back."

Wideman, who had 11 goals and 35 assists in 82 games during the regular season, could be one of the most desirable free-agent defencemen on the market this summer.

Earlier this week, Semin's agent, Mark Gandler, suggested the forward was unhappy with his role on the team and would prefer to go elsewhere if the Caps hire another defensive-minded coach to replace Dale Hunter. Semin is also due to become a UFA on July 1.

LEHTONEN HURT

Dallas Stars goalie Kari Lehtonen will miss the rest of the world championship tournament due to a knee injury.

Lehtonen, Finland's No. 1 goalie, will be out for two to three weeks after hurting his knee Sunday against the United States. Anaheim Ducks forward Bobby Ryan fell into Lehtonen, who was forced to leave the game.

Stars goalie coach Mike Valley told ESPNDallas.com the injury was not serious but Lehtonen would not dress for the playoff round at the world championship in Helsinki. Finland plays the U.S. in the quarterfinals Thursday.


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