Beating Ottawa may have saved Beantown bacon

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 12:54 PM ET

There was plenty of talk in Boston on Thursday that if the Bruins didn't beat the Senators -- which they did 4-2 -- GM Mike O'Connell and coach Mike Sullivan were going to be given their walking papers. The speculation is former Chicago GM Mike Smith, who makes his home in the Boston area, would take over for O'Connell and former Detroit coach Dave Lewis would be installed behind the bench. But in all of this there's an interesting twist: Sources say Sullivan, who is in the final year of his contract, has been holding discussions about an extension with the Bruins and may have signed a new deal recently. If that's the case, did the team just forget to tell the Boston media? ... Negotiations to get Senators Ds Wade Redden and Zdeno Chara under contract will heat up in the next few weeks, but how about the move by Dallas C Mike Modano and D Sergei Zubov to take less money to leave room for G Marty Turco to sign his extension. Are Ottawa players going to do that so Redden, Chara and RW Martin Havlat can stay on board?

AROUND THE BOARDS: The Senators were impressed with the performance of 2005 No. 1 pick Brian Lee for the U.S. at the world junior championship in Vancouver. "Brian performed very well," said Senators assistant GM Peter Chiarelli, who attended the tourney with GM John Muckler. "His strengths -- skating, passing, vision, initiating and overall hockey sense -- allowed him to elevate his play as the tournament progressed. It's still early in his developmental stage and he still has a learning curve as evidenced by the bronze-medal game." The Senators expect Lee to return to North Dakota next season and be a leader for Team USA next year ... Phoenix coach Wayne Gretzky is in a sour mood. He ripped some players following a 4-0 defeat in Los Angeles on Thursday. "Some guys are staying around waiting for (Ladislav) Nagy and Shane (Doan) to do so much because those guys have been so effective," said Gretzky. "As I said to the players, 'You can't rely on two or three guys to win games.' ... It was too soft of a game and too easy of a game for the Kings to play against us ... (Kings C) Sean Avery looked like Guy Lafleur out there." ... The Isles are angling to buy out C Alexei Yashin at the end of the season. The buyout would cost them about $20 million (all terms US), but it will only count for $2 million against their salary cap for the next 10 years.

RUMOURS DU JOUR: There's plenty of talk about a major shakeup in Montreal. GM Bob Gainey is willing to trade just about anybody, including C Mike Ribiero, D Craig Rivet, D Sheldon Souray and D Mike Komisarek. The Caps are interested in Ribiero. Rumours also continue to swirl around G Jose Theodore being moved. There have been whispers coach Claude Julien is on the hot seat, but the problems aren't behind the bench ... The Thrashers have had calls from the Stars about LW Slava Kozlov. The Stars are offering up D Martin Skoula in return ... The Penguins are trying to deal LW Ryan Malone -- and the Senators are interested along with a host of other teams -- but they want to include D Dick Tarnstrom in any deal. Since Pittsburgh GM Craig Patrick sent out a fax a couple of weeks ago his phone has been ringing off the hook. A team pushing hard is Colorado ... Speaking of the Avs, they wouldn't mind moving G David Aebischer now that he's playing well and they're looking to see what teams are willing to offer for RW Milan Hejduk ... The Bolts are looking for goaltending because John Grahame and Sean Burke have not gotten the job done. There's talk GM Jay Feaster is keeping an eye on Buffalo G Martin Biron -- as are the Avs ... Two players the Senators would accept in a heartbeat: Colorado C Ian Laperriere and Rangers C Steve Rucchin. It has yet to be determined if they'll be available.

Have a nice Sunday.

bruce.garrioch@ott.sunpub.com


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