SUN Hockey Pool

Not Russian to make move

ERIC FRANCIS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:14 AM ET

Despite his club's offensive struggles, Darryl Sutter sees no scenario in which he'd be part of the Ilya Kovalchuk sweepstakes he's been linked to.

"He's a star player who is unrestricted next year, so you'd have to give up players under contract for a guy who isn't -- I don't think that's a move that's in the best interest of the organization," said Sutter, who told the Sun Saturday he has no plans to do anything radical such as trading Dion Phaneuf or Robyn Regehr before the deadline.

"When you have a $7-million player (Jarome Iginla), you aren't going to be able to have a $10-million player, too."

Kovalchuk is currently a $6.4-million cap hit but is asking for $11 million annually from Atlanta, prompting a likely move as a rental player.

Sutter insists that while a lack of cap space will restrict many teams from being active at the March 3 swap deadline, it's not an issue tying his hands.

"Today, we are 17th or 18th in payroll and 22 teams are over $55 million (the cap is $56.8 million) -- not a whole lot of teams can move. For us, salaries are not the issue."

Sutter simply believes his current crew can work its way out of a funk that has the rest of the city up in arms.

Another concern many Flames have these days is the possibility of losing forward Rene Bourque to unrestricted free agency this summer.

"We've talked to Bourque and Olli (Jokinen) off and on all year, but it's not to the point we're going to talk about finalizing any sort of deal," said the Flames GM.

"I think it can be a distraction. It's not a priority."

Now more notes, quotes and anecdotes from a sports scribe who can't help but believe former Red Deer Rebels sparkplug Colby Armstrong will be a Flame by season's end.

AROUND THE HORN

Hope for current Flames fans in the form of a funny tale from former Flame Steve Konroyd following a 9-1 spanking to Hartford in 1986 that was the team's 11th loss in a row. "(Coach) Badger Bob (Johnson) was always so positive -- he came in and talked about the goal we scored! Then Riser (forward Doug Risebrough) came in and tore us (apart)." The Flames went on to their first Stanley Cup final. Maybe the current Flames need a player in the room to go ballistic ... If you think the pair of nasty hockey hits in junior are sickening, I defy you to find something sadder than the Under-10 hockey brawl in Russia on YouTube ... Longtime Calgary residents can appreciate the great sign spotted at the Flames game Thursday: "Lanny sent me" ... Even though his club had the weekend off, Flames captain Jarome Iginla's bad luck continued Saturday when he was the first Flames player eliminated from the Flames Ambassadors charity poker tourney. The fifth annual event raised more than $300,000 for the Flames Foundation for Life.

PARTING GIFTS

Last chance to own a piece of Canadian history while also helping the people of Haiti. The jacket Olympic speed skating queen Cindy Klassen wore into the closing ceremony as Canada's flag bearer in Turin is up for auction on ebay.ca until 10:20 a.m. this morning. All proceeds go to Haitian relief efforts via the Red Cross. Latest bid is $800 ... Can someone explain why torch organizers felt the need to fly American Olympic gymnast-turned-Dancing with the Stars champ Shawn Johnson into Calgary last week to haul the flame? ... As the father of a three-year-old daughter, I appreciate the magic of Disney. But why does Disney always pick on hockey when it comes to making the cheesiest movies of all time? ... Air Canada gave Stanley Cup keeper Mike Bolt quite a scare last week when he was told upon arrival in Vancouver the world's most famous trophy didn't make the flight. Instead, a New Jersey airport employee sent it to the last place in North America it belongs -- Toronto.

ERIC.FRANCIS@SUNMEDIA.CA


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