Kings president facing a royal fine

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 12:20 PM ET

Los Angeles Kings president Tim Leiweke can expect a call and hefty fine from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, if there hasn't been one already. Leiweke, who doubles as president of the Anschutz Entertainment Group (the owners of the Kings), told a Kansas City newspaper last week the Pittsburgh Penguins could be the major tenant of a new 18,500-seat rink there scheduled to open in 2007. "If Pittsburgh doesn't have an arena deal done a year from now, they're gone," said Leiweke. "The Pittsburgh Penguins can be the Kansas City Penguins, no question about it. That team here ... it will sell out every ticket in advance, end of story. That team will be a huge, instant home run here. And, that kid, Sidney Crosby, is unbelievable." Bettman won't take kindly to those comments. You read it here first: Houston is the top prospect if an NHL team moves. A return to Winnipeg is a long way off ... ... Florida C Joe Nieuwendyk, who has been troubled by back problems, is on the road with the team and expected to play sometime in the near future. There has been talk Nieuwendyk has been advised by doctors he might want to consider retirement, but he'd like to give it one more try.

AROUND THE BOARDS: The word is many as 10 teams -- including Washington, Chicago, Minnesota, Toronto, the Rangers and Islanders -- have voted against having Ted Saskin take over as executive director of the NHL Players Association. Meanwhile, a lot of teams -- including Dallas and Detroit -- haven't had votes because they don't like the way the NHLPA's executive committee has forced Saskin on them. By the way, the Senators voted 'Yes' a long time ago, but there was some player opposition in the room ... Thrashers GM Don Waddell has given coach Bob Hartley, a Hawkesbury native, a vote of confidence. "First of all, I have the utmost confidence in Bob," said Waddell. "You have to look at the cards he's being dealt and the cards we're all being dealt ... I still think, absolutely, he's the guy who will lead us to where we want to get to." ... Detroit C Steve Yzerman, who was troubled by groin problems early in the season, is playing 15 minutes a game and is getting more of a role. "If he had any frustration it's because the coach wasn't playing him enough," said Wings coach Mike Babcock.

RUMOURS DU JOUR: Speaking of the Blues, keep an eye on the future of C Doug Weight. The word is the club is trying to move Weight and his $5.7 million (all figures US) salary and there may be interest from the Blue Jackets. Columbus has lost C Rick Nash for an extended period and would like to bring in somebody who can be their No. 1 centre and help in a push for the playoffs. An unrestricted free agent next summer, Weight -- who would also be a perfect fit for the Senators if they decide to get a No. 2 centre at the deadline -- has a no-trade clause. However, given the Blues' situation, he would probably approve any deal ... The Canucks are quietly shopping for a blueliner because D Sami Salo is having a tough time handling all the ice time he's getting. The word is they're looking at Colorado's Kurt Sauer or possibly Bob Boughner ... The Avs will try to sign D Rob Blake and C Joe Sakic before they become unrestricted free agents when negotiations are allowed to resume Jan. 1 ... Don't rule out Anaheim C Sergei Fedorov being moved ... The Coyotes wouldn't mind moving D Sean O'Donnell and they're not happy with LW Ladislav Nagy. Keep an eye on D Paul Mara. He has been playing well and this might be the best time to move him ... Everyone is watching to see how long Islanders coach Steve Stirling lasts ... The Panthers are shopping RW Kristian Huselius, C Jozef Stumpel and LW Niklas Hagman. GM Mike Keenan can't find any dance partners ... The word is the Leafs are trying to find teams interest in C Jason Allison, LW Alexei Ponikarovsky and C Nik Antropov.

Have a nice Sunday.

bruce.garrioch@ott.sunpub.com


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