Hockey Notes

BRUCE GARRIOCH

, Last Updated: 10:22 AM ET

The Los Angeles Kings are apparently tired of Sean Avery's act.

League sources told the Sun yesterday that Kings GM Dean Lombardi has offered the 26-year-old forward around the league, but noted the asking price isn't cheap.

It's believed the Kings want a No. 1 pick in exchange for Avery, who is a pest on the ice, but may have worn out his welcome in Los Angeles with the club mired in last place.

Making $1.1 million US this season, Avery, a restricted free agent at the end of the year, didn't do himself any favours when he was involved in an incident that cost the club Scott Thornton, who wound up with a broken right wrist.

'FOOLING AROUND'

While sources told the Los Angeles Times that Avery and Thornton were just "fooling around" in the dressing room in Edmonton when the injury took place, it may have been the last straw for Lombardi, who let Avery know before the season he was on a short leash.

Avery was thrown off the Kings at the end of last season by former GM Dave Taylor when Avery got into a fight on the ice with assistant coach Mark Hardy.

Avery was given a second chance by Lombardi, but was told under no uncertain terms that he had to behave.

There will be several teams -- including the Senators, Habs, Islanders, Oilers and Coyotes -- interested in Avery, but many NHL insiders believe Lombardi is going to have to lower his asking price if he wants to make a deal.

Now here's a Wild rumour: Minnesota might be looking to move G Manny Fernandez.

The whisper on the NHL trade front is Wild GM Doug Risebrough is toying with the possibility of moving the club's top netminder by the Feb. 27 trade deadline.

While Risebrough will issue a much-anticipated denial, sources say the Wild isn't overly pleased with the way Fernandez has been playing, nor is Minny big on his attitude.

Fernandez has been described as "moody" by those who know him -- willing to take plenty of credit when the club is successful, but won't shoulder the blame when the ship goes sideways.

Moving Fernandez wouldn't be difficult -- Philly, Boston and Tampa are looking for goaltending help.

Finding the right deal would be the major issue for Risebrough.

OFF THE GLASS: As reported in this space last week, NHL players have elected to launch an investigation into the hiring of NHLPA executive director Ted Saskin. Many players want to know if the proper process was followed and there could be a change to the constitution once it's completed. Lightning captain Tim Taylor said he supported the investigation if only to see it all go away. "The only reason I voted for it is to get it over with," said Taylor. "If that is what it takes to get it over with, that's fine." Added Taylor: "The NHLPA, it's kind of embarrassing to be a member right now. It's more screwed up than it ever was." ... The Habs will retire G Ken Dryden's No. 29 prior to tomorrow's game against the Senators. Somebody had better tell Dryden, the goalie- turned-politician, he'd better keep his speech short or the teams won't hit the ice until midnight ... Rangers W Brendan Shanahan could emerge as the next NHL VP of hockey operations -- replacing Colin Campbell -- once his playing career is finished.

AROUND THE BOARDS: There were some raised eyebrows when Florida coach and GM Jacques Martin elected to hire former Senators boss Randy Sexton as his assistant GM on Friday. While Sexton has been out of the game for a decade, there was a strong belief NHL VP Mike Murphy was going to get the post. It's believed Murphy is waiting to see if he can get a job as a GM ... The Blues, shockingly back in the race for a playoff spot in the Western Conference, suddenly aren't so keen to sell off their pending unrestricted free agents -- Keith Tkachuk, Bill Guerin, Eric Brewer, Manny Legace and Radek Dvorak. "When it gets closer to the end of February, we'll figure out which avenue we're going to go," said St. Louis president John Davidson. The Blues have had a resurgence since coach Andy Murray replaced Mike Kitchen ... Sources say Nashville voted against the schedule change last week. It had to be one of the few teams in the West to do so ... No final decision has been made by owner Eugene Melnyk, but there's a good chance the Senators won't have their black sweaters under the NHL's new uniform system.

RUMOURS DU JOUR: The Habs and Rangers have shown an interest in Coyotes LW Ladislav Nagy, but as long as Phoenix remains in the playoff run in the West he's unavailable. Habs GM Bob Gainey is trying to move LW Sergei Samsonov. Good luck ... The future of Flyers C Peter Forsberg is all the rage in Philly these days. Eleven teams have called to check on his availability -- including the Wings, Rangers, Sharks and Ducks -- but the most interested team could be the Canucks. The club lost C Ryan Kesler for the season with a hip injury. If the remainder of his $1.9 million US salary can be taken off the books, the Canucks will have room for Forsberg's salary. It's believed the Flyers are looking for a top prospect and a No. 1 pick in return for Forsberg. However, before he can be dealt, he'll have to waive his no-trade clause ... The Caps are expected to move LW Richard Zednik before the deadline. He will be an UFA on July 1. Washington is looking for a draft pick in return ... Islanders LW Jason Blake may have been selected as an NHL all-star, but don't be surprised if he's dealt soon. Sources say the Isles have been testing the waters to see what they can get for Blake and he would command a top player in return ... Boston GM Peter Chiarelli is dying to make a deal for a blueliner. The latest rumour has D Brad Stuart and LW Marco Sturm going to the Oilers in exchange for D Jason Smith and D Marc-Andre Bergeron. Stuart, a pending UFA, might go to Edmonton, but not at that price. It's also believed the Kings are also making a pitch for Stuart, who isn't likely to re-sign with Boston ... The Hurricanes are expected to make a pitch to the Blues for Guerin and Tkachuk. Carolina plans to defend its Stanley Cup title.

Have a nice Sunday.

MIKE CASSESE/REUTERS

Canadiens GM Bob Gainey would love to trade winger Sergei Samsonov (right), in action last night against the Maple Leafs in Toronto, but with Samsonov mired in a season-long slump, it will be hard for Gainey to find any takers.


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