Will Mark Messier's No. 11 be retired by the Edmonton Oilers -- or will he wear it for an NHL record-tying 26th season?
There are plenty of sentimentalists in Alberta who want to see Messier end his National Hockey League career where it began in 1979. The Oilers are not pushing or really pursuing the idea, having made big off-season moves in an effort to get back in the playoffs, but it's believed general manager Kevin Lowe will not turn down the 44-year-old Messier's request to tie Gordie Howe's longevity mark. He would have to accept a low-profile role.
The problem is that Messier hasn't publically committed to either the Oilers or the New York Rangers after dropping hints he was retiring after 2003-04.
CARTER TO CANUCKS
The Vancouver Canucks signed free agent forward Anson Carter to a one-year, $1 million contract.
The 31-year-old right winger bounced around the NHL during the 2003-04 season. He played a total of 68 games with the New York Rangers, Washington Capitals, and Los Angeles Kings and had 15 goals and 13 assists.
The Florida Panthers signed veteran centre Jozef Stumpel to a two-year deal ... Calgary Flames general manager/coach Darryl Sutter says the new minimum point total to make the playoffs could be 93 to 94 points, at least in the Northwest Division ... Former Maple Leaf Steve Sullivan and Travis Green signed new deals with Nashville and Boston respectively ... In answer to many fan queries about shootouts, the NHL says none of the shooters' goals or netminders' saves will count in individual statistics. If a 3-3 game is decided by a shootout, the final score will be 4-3, but no winning goal is recognized and an extra goal only counts against the losing club's team total, not the individual keeper, the same as an empty net goal. Poolies take note, however, the league plans to keep records on the best shootout snipers and goalies.
-- With files from CP