A whole lot of intrigue coming out of Senators HQ

STEVE SIMMONS, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 9:02 PM ET

Dave Cameron’s name has already surfaced as a candidate to be the next coach of the Ottawa Senators.

What makes this unusual is that it’s unlikely that general manager Bryan Murray will be in any position to hire the replacement for the sure-to-be-fired, Cory Clouston.

The odds are Murray will go at the end of the season, along with his coach.

Cameron already is in tight with Sens owner Eugene Melnyk and if Cameron can find a way to win the Memorial Cup, the way he should have found a way to bring home gold from the world-junior event, Melnyk may repay him with a promotion to the big club.

It was Melnyk, after all, who talked Cameron out of leaving his American Hockey League job to return his junior team, St. Michael’s Majors team.

Now if Cameron wins the Memorial Cup, Melnyk has all but promised to take care of him.

The question is: Who will be running the Sens if Murray isn’t.

One name to surface — once again — is television’s Pierre McGuire who has been second choice in a number of NHL situations lately.

A McGuire-Cameron combination is not at all out of the question for next years Senators.

This and that

These are tough times for Brian Burke. Whenever you are near the bottom of the NHL standings, other teams try to steal the few assets you may have. So far, Burke has resisted acting desperately but he’s in a fine-line position. He needs to change his team. But he needs to find a few Darryl Sutters out there to make some bad deals with. Cliff Fletcher used to say the worst time to trade is when you’re team is doing badly. The problem Burke has: When, then, is his time to trade? ... If the Leafs must be represented at the NHL all-star game, the obvious choice right now is the new daddy, Mikhail Grabovski. And if there’s a player draft to pick the rosters, how close to the bottom will he be selected? ... This is impossible but true: Leafs defenceman Brett Lebda was minus-3 in Toronto’s stunning 9-3 win over the Atlanta Thrashers on Friday night. Other minus players included captain Dion Phaneuf and Francois Beauchemin ... What’s with the NHL injury bug? The top centre on five teams — Sidney Crosby, Ryan Getzlaf, Pavel Datsyuk, Jason Spezza, Derek Roy — are all out with some kind of hurt.

Hear and there

No surprise that the Russian juniors were kicked off their flight Thursday. I happened to be in the bar at the Adams Mark hotel in downtown Buffalo post-game Wednesday night and the young Russians were not exactly being asked to show their ID. I left just before 1:30 a.m. But most of the Russians, still wearing their jerseys, were in the bar, loudly chanting “Beat Canada” in between chugs of something that wasn’t necessarily legal for teenagers ... This great piece of trivia is brought to you by my colleague, Terry Koshan, who reported that Russian junior goalie Igor Bobkov has beaten just two teams this year — the Canadian juniors and the Peterborough Petes ... Another strange fact of the Team Russia junior win: Ramis Sadikov is a very good goalie with the Erie Otters of the OHL and wasn’t picked to play for the junior national team. The Russians picked the out-of-shape backup from the London Knights and took home gold. Go figure ... A statistical update: In his past 20 games Toronto’s Kris Versteeg has six goals and 18 points. The traded-for Viktor Stalberg had no goals and four assists in his past 20 games in Chicago ... Not a second guess because I wondered it at the time, but why didn’t coach Cameron call a time-out after the Russians scored their second goal of the third period, the trickler that took Team Canada’s breath away? ... Distorted numbers: More Canadians watched the world junior gold-medal game on television than Americans who watched the Winter Classic on NBC. And there’s 307 million of them and just 33 million of us. And that’s not counting Canadians wintering in Florida.

Scene and heard

Roberto Alomar is the best baseball player I’ve had the opportunity to watch on a daily basis. Only two questions regarding his 90% landslide vote into the Baseball Hall of Fame. 1) Why did 10% of the voters leave him off their ballots?; 2) Tell me again why he wasn’t voted in as a first-ballot Hall of Famer? ... The sporting powerhouse, ESPN, posted the Hall of Fame ballots of its 18-voters but probably wished it hadn’t. One of its voters, editor Barry Stanton, had catcher B.J. Surhoff on his ballot, but not Alomar. Surhoff ended up with two votes ... My three favourite American baseball writers, Buster Olney, Jayson Stark and Tim Kurkjian, all had Jack Morris on their ballots, as I would, if I had a vote ... The lack of respect amongst NHL players remains astonishing: How else to explain the mindless and reckless behavior of Atlanta’s Ben Eager and Calgary’s Tom Kostopoulos? ... I can’t watch the New Jersey Devils play anymore, even every second game, because it hurts my stomach to watch Martin Brodeur play this poorly ... The NHL has to do something about this “incidental contact” rule involving goaltenders. Perfectly good goals are being waved off and now it’s made its way to minor hockey with the same calls being made.

And another thing

The Leafs sent Nazem Kadri to the minors because it was correctly deemed he wasn’t ready to play at the NHL level. The question is: Why don’t they take the same approach with prospect, Jerry D’Amigo, who had a so-so world junior tournament and has just three goals in 30 games with the AHL Marlies? Wouldn’t he be better off playing regularly for the Kitchener Rangers? ... The Raptors aren’t much of a team, but they’re worse (1-5) when Andrea Bargnani doesn’t play ... The NBA is a much better league when the New York Knicks are relevant and Amare Stoudamire has certainly made them that in his first season in the Big Apple ... Never thought owner Bud Adams would side with coach Jeff Fisher over quarterback Vince Young. But he did, and the off-season QB market will include Young and Donovan McNabb but surprisingly not Carson Palmer ... Happy birthday to Bruce Boudreau (56), Joan Baez (70), Bart Starr (77), Chad Ochocinco (33), Dick Enberg (76), Muggsy Bogues (46) and Otis Nixon (52) ... And hey, whatever became of Gilbert Dionne?

When an owner makes a big mess

The owner of the Miami Dolphins, Stephen Ross, flew to California the other day and made a rather public offer to make Jim Harbaugh the highest-paid coach in the National Football League.

The weird part of this is: Harbaugh said no.

While Harbaugh wound up signing up to coach the San Francisco 49ers, Ross then had to turn back to his coach, Tony Sparano, and basically say “By the way, you’re in charge again.”

Comfortable it wasn’t.

Sparano, who was this close to being fired, is again running the Dolphins, with a new contract and new powers, but with the knowledge his owner really wanted someone else to do the job.

It will be a long while before trust if not normalcy is restored with the Dolphins.

The remarkable career of Selanne

Teemu Selanne turned 40 last July.

At the time, the question seemed to be would he stay or would he go?

But there is something absolutely remarkable about Selanne and the game he plays.

He doesn’t act his age, nor does he look it. In 35 games this NHL season in Anaheim, Selanne has 37 points, which is in keeping with his career numbers of scoring better than a point a game.

Over his 17 seasons with four different clubs, Selanne has had a 70-plus goal season, two 50-plus goal seasons, and four 40-plus goal seasons.

Selanne may not score as many goals as he once did, but he is tied in assists this year with perennial assist-man Joe Thornton.

By any standard, Selanne remains one of the amazing players of his generation.

’67 LEAFS WERE ONE HALL OF A TEAM FOR TORONTO

Ten players from the 1967 Stanley Cup champion Toronto Maple Leafs have been inducted in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Most, like Johnny Bower, Terry Sawchuk, Dave Keon, Frank Mahovlich, Tim Horton, Red Kelly, were obvious choices. Some, like Bob Pulford, George Armstrong, Marcel Pronovost, Allan Stanley, were debatable selections. But the team that won four Cups in that decade has been widely recognized.

Roberto Alomar became the first real Blue Jays player to get elected to the Baseball Hall even though World Series players such as Rickey Henderson, Paul Molitor and Dave Winfield had preceded him, mostly representing other teams.

Only two long-time Leafs, Borje Salming and Darryl Sittler, have been inducted in the post-Cup years.

And after Alomar, there is likely to be a considerable wait for another Blue Jays player to make his way to Cooperstown.

The only Leaf close to Hockey Hall is Doug Gilmour, who played his best hockey here.

As for a Raptor player in the Basketball Hall, well, never mind.


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