A 'chicken dance'

BRUCE GARRIOCH

, Last Updated: 9:37 AM ET

TAMPA -- Many are still asking just how Ryan Smyth ended up getting dealt from Edmonton at the NHL trade deadline.

The word is the final moments came down to a "game of chicken" between Oilers GM Kevin Lowe and Smyth's agent, Don Meehan. It's believed Smyth's camp didn't think he'd ever be dealt, but Lowe was so upset with the star's refusal to take various contract offers, he pulled the trigger.

The Oilers' horrible record since they dealt Smyth has led to speculation Lowe might have to go back with his tail between his legs this summer to bring Smyth back.

I maintain that's not going to happen.

It's believed Smyth will get a big offer from the St. Louis Blues. The Blues are trying to win their fans back and sources say he's going to be the centrepiece of president John Davidson's plan this summer.

DUCK HUNTING IN NET: A lot of NHL teams might go Duck hunting in the off-season. The Bruins, Lightning, Hawks, Panthers, Kings and Coyotes are all expected to try to upgrade their goaltending and might make Anaheim stopper J.S. Giguere their No. 1 target.

Anaheim likely won't be able to keep Giguere, who makes $3.9 million US this season, and Ilja Bryzgalov.

The word is Giguere wouldn't mind coming east. There was a lot of belief the Senators might take a run at him last summer, but Ducks GM Brian Burke wasn't in the mood to make a deal and Ottawa decided to sign unrestricted free agent Martin Gerber.

The 30-year-old Giguere, a Montreal native, has had a strong season with a .917 save percentage. While a lot of pre-season talk suggested he would lose the No. 1 job, Giguere has stood tall.

The free-agent goalie class isn't great this summer. A lot of teams will call Minnesota's Nicklas Backstrom, but he's hardly proven himself. Martin Biron looks like he's ready to settle in Philadelphia and will anybody touch David Aebischer after the season he's had?

LOOSE PUCKS: They've got quite the setup for the Penguins' kiddie corps in Pittsburgh. Teen star Sidney Crosby lives at the home of owner/former great Mario Lemieux; Russian Evgeni Malkin is staying with Sergei Gonchar, and rookie Jordan Staal is in the guest house at RW Mark Recchi's residence. Staal, Malkin and Crosby all pay the same rent to their landlords: Nothing ... Don't be surprised Eddie (The Eagle) Belfour suits up for Team Canada at the world championships next month. If Florida GM/coach Jacques Martin and Columbus coach Ken Hitchcock are on the club's staff, then the 41-year-old could be guaranteed a spot.

AROUND THE BOARDS: Isles coach Ted Nolan made a point by dropping veteran C Alexei Yashin to the fourth line against Pittsburgh after a defensive error cost them a game against Tampa. "It's not about me and ice time," said Yashin. "It's not time for selfishness. Whatever guys can carry the team and help them to make the playoffs, they will play, and I will try to do my best in whatever time I can get." Sounds good. Nolan doesn't need a moody Yashin.

RUMOURS DU JOUR: OK, this has already been denied by the Phoenix Coyotes, but it won't go away: The word is former Leafs GM/coach Pat Quinn will join the Coyotes in some kind of capacity. Nobody is sure exactly what, because Wayne Gretzky has already declared he's going to return as coach. However, there's talk all over the place that Quinn is telling people privately he will work with the Coyotes next season.

Have a nice Sunday.


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