Alfie sticks it to Swedish mate

BRUCE GARRIOCH -- Ottawa Sun

, Last Updated: 10:14 AM ET

There was a story in Toronto last week that captain Mats Sundin has abandoned his stick deal with TPS to use the same twig that Senators captain Daniel Alfredsson uses with Easton. Sundin used Alfredsson's model during the Olympics in Turin last month and decided to stick with it because he had success. "He used my stick during the Olympics, but I was actually using a model of a stick he used to use," Alfredsson said yesterday. "I started using Sundin's stick at the 2001 world championships. So what he did at the Olympics was essentially go back to a stick that he had been using before." ... Speaking of sticks, Senators coach Bryan Murray had a long talk with NHL director of officiating Stephen Walkom after the stick-measuring fiasco in Boston on Thursday. Murray said there's no way Antoine Vermette's stick should have been ruled illegal just because he had shaved part of the stick. "The curve was legal, but many players shave the stick and that's where the problem was. That was the same problem for Jason Spezza. He had to use Bryan Smolinski's stick, otherwise (his stick) wouldn't have been legal," said Murray ... There are whispers that Pittsburgh GM Craig Patrick, who is expected to be fired at the end of the season, is going to wind up taking over the Bruins. Senators assistant GM Peter Chiarelli has also been listed as a possible candidate to replace GM Mike O'Connell when he gets fired.

AROUND THE BOARDS: There's plenty of talk the Isles are going to buy out C Alexei Yashin at the end of the season. He has $34 million (all terms US) remaining on his contract, but a buyout would be $22.5 million payable over 10 years. Ottawa fans won't like this, but a league insider predicted this week there would be a bidding war for Yashin's services. "You can't argue with his talents and I don't think you can fault him for everything that has happened on Long Island," an NHL executive said. It wouldn't surprise NHL insiders if 10-12 teams -- including Pittsburgh, San Jose, Carolina, Los Angeles, Calgary, Toronto and Vancouver -- made a pitch for Yashin if he becomes an unrestricted free agent. An Isles fan has put Yashin's contract up for sale on eBay. Don't know if there are any takers ... Pittsburgh C Sidney Crosby admits he's got to be more careful with the officials because he doesn't want the reputation of being a whiner. "It's part of me being in a game," said Crosby. "I try to do my best to control it, but sometimes it's frustrating." ... Looks like Alexandre Daigle's NHL comeback (and career) might finally be over. He was sent down to Manchester of the AHL last week by the Wild and it has no plans to bring him back.

RUMOURS DU JOUR: Just when you thought you'd heard enough about NHLPA executive director Ted Saskin, there's more coming out of the woodwork. Saskin is in a battle with a group of agents over the decision to ask players to keep the salary cap at $42.5 million next season after there was talk it could be as high as $45 million. The lower the cap is, the better chance there will be that the players won't have to give back to the owners in escrow. Saskin is taking a lot of heat and many believe at some point it's going to lead to calls for his resignation ... The Rangers are expected to make a pitch for Senators Ds Zdeno Chara and Wade Redden if they become unrestricted free agents on July 1 ... Apparently Pittsburgh C Ryan Malone was devastated when he wasn't dealt at the NHL's trade deadline. Malone, a Pittsburgh native, already had his bags packed to come to Ottawa, but the word is Patrick was insisting the Senators give Pittsburgh C Antoine Vermette and W Brandon Bochenski in return. No deal ... The Leafs aren't exactly thrilled G Ed Belfour is out with a sore back right now. The word is they were close to dealing him to the Oilers at the trade deadline, but the deal fell apart. Now, Belfour isn't expected back until next week as the Leafs fight for the playoff lives.

Have a nice Sunday.

bruce.garrioch@ott.sunpub.com


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