Though Paul Maurice's name has surfaced as a top candidate for the vacant coaching job with the New Jersey Devils, he's likely not in the running. Sources say Maurice signed a deal with the Maple Leafs' AHL affiliate in Toronto that doesn't allow him to jump at the first job he's offered.
Instead, Maurice can't even look at other NHL coaching jobs until next summer. Don't be surprised if Robbie Ftorek, the coach of the club's AHL affiliate in Albany, lands back behind the bench in New Jersey. The options are limited, although there's talk the Devils are interested in Team Canada coach Brent Sutter, who may be in no hurry to leave the WHL's Red Deer Rebels. Another name that has surfaced is former Detroit coach Dave Lewis, who is currently behind the bench with Marc Habscheid at the Spengler Cup in Switzerland ... Expect to see Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson and Toronto counterpart Mats Sundin play together at the Turin Olympics. That's what coach Bengt Gustafsson is toying with at the moment ... Isles GM Mike Milbury is threatening changes. "I'm not happy with our team," said Milburybefore last night's game against the Senators. But the word is Milbury will not fire coach Steve Stirling.
AROUND THE BOARDS: Former Senators G Patrick Lalime has continued to struggle in Peoria (AHL). He has a 1-3 record with a 4.41 goals-against average and a .874 save percentage. "The biggest evaluation is he's working hard," saidPeoria GM Kevin McDonald. "He wants to do whatever it takes to get back to the NHL as soon as possible. It takes time. The team is going through a tough stretchright now ... a lot of quality shots. But we're confident that he's going to turn this around quick." ... Columbus GM Doug MacLean has dodged the bullet by convincing owner John McConnell to be patient since the Blue Jackets have had $14 million in salaries -- including top gun Rick Nash -- sitting in the stands most of the first half ... Since putting coach Michel Therrien behind the bench in Pittsburgh hasn't made any difference, you might want to keep an eye on GM Craig Patrick. Owner/captain Mario Lemieux might decide Patrick is the next one out the door ... Detroit G Manny Legace, who has been sidelined with a knee injury, is playing with the club's AHL affiliate in Grand Rapids this weekend and will be back in the Wings lineup soon.
RUMOURS DU JOUR: The San Jose Sharks are looking to make more moves after acquiring C Joe Thornton from the Bruins earlier this year. The Sharks wouldn't mind getting D Brendan Witt out of Washington or possibly Dallas D Martin Skoula. Both are available, but there hasn't been any indication what the asking price might be ... Speaking of the Sharks, they're in a group of teams -- along with the Senators and Flames -- who are interested in free agent W Owen Nolan. He is waiting to hear from the NHL Players Association about his contract matter with the Leafs. Once that is cleared up, he's going to look for work. Everybody believes he'd be a perfect fit for a playoff run ... The Panthers haven't given up on trying to sign C Olli Jokinen, who will be an unrestricted free agent. There's been plenty of speculation he's headed to Calgary for a package that includes C Steven Reinprecht, but not before GM Mike Keenan tries to get Jokinen's name on a long-term contract ... The Blues haven't approached C Doug Weight about any trade destinations yet, but they will once the sale of the team is completed ... The Islanders are looking for a blueliner and may have an interest in Chicago D Jassen Cullimore. He is available and would be a nice fit for the Isles. There's no truth to rumours that Hawks D Adrian Aucoin is going back to Long Island.
Have a nice weekend and a Happy New Year.