July 12, 2011
Leafs give Zigomanis another shot
By TERRY KOSHAN, QMI Agency
Mike Zigomanis doesn’t want to hear anything close to a suggestion that he will be competing for a spot as the Maple Leafs’ fourth-line centre when training camp opens in September.
“Everybody will be fighting for a spot,” Zigomanis said on Tuesday, “and you never want to say it will be on the fourth line or as the extra forward.”
The Leafs re-signed Zigomanis, a 30-year-old Toronto native, to a one-year, two-way pact. Zigomanis will be paid $650,000 US when he is in a Leafs sweater and $300,000 US if he is with the Toronto Marlies. Either way, Zigomanis gets a bump in salary after leading the Marlies last season with 47 points (14 goals and 33 assists) in 64 games. In 2010-11, Zigomanis earned $500,000 when he was with the Leafs and $250,000 as a member of the Marlies.
Zigomanis cracked the Leafs roster in training camp last fall and played in eight games, registering one assist, before he was sent to the Marlies. Despite his talents as one of the top faceoff men in the organization, and a solid penalty killer to boot, Zigomanis didn’t play for the Leafs after Oct. 28.
“It was great for me to make it out of camp, because no one had pencilled me in,” Zigomanis said. “Faceoffs are such a big part of the game now and I’ve done a lot of penalty killing, so hopefully I can bring those two things to the table (in camp).”
The uphill climb for Zigomanis will have challenges. One guy standing in his way is Philippe Dupuis, who was signed by the Leafs to a one-way deal worth $650,000 after recording 17 points in 74 games for the Colorado Avalanche in 2010-11. Joe Colborne also will be trying to get a hold on a roster spot.
Meanwhile, all appears to be quiet on the Luke Schenn front, as general manager Brian Burke and his right-hand man, David Nonis, are on vacation this week. Burke has said he is not in a rush to re-sign Schenn, a restricted free agent.
Bobby Orr is confident the NHL and NHL Players’ Association will avoid a work stoppage when the collective bargaining agreement expires in September 2012.
“I think they will work it out,” Orr said on Tuesday. “Our CBA is not bad. I think it is pretty fair. Sometimes people will look at it and think it is a little difficult operating under, but it is what we have agreed to.”
Orr owns the Orr Hockey Group, an agency that counts Eric Staal, Jason Spezza and Taylor Hall among its clients. Orr was at the MasterCard Centre in Etobicoke to help announce an initiative by Chevrolet Safe and Fun Hockey that will provide five-year-old hockey players in Canada with their first helmets, donated by Bauer.
Long a champion of encouraging kids to simply have fun when they play hockey, Orr participated in some drills with youngsters that involved stick-handling rubber chickens.
“Easier than a puck,” Orr said with a smile. “When we do our clinics, we use footballs, rubber ducks, chickens. Second session, they get the pucks. They have fun and we have fun.
“Back in my day we learned to play out on the bay or the river — we would just go. I would like to see the kids by themselves more.
“If they become pros, it’s a big bonus. Why should the kids be playing? To be with their friends, to have fun, to be safe.”
Of course, Orr was pleased with the Boston Bruins’ Stanley Cup triumph over the Vancouver Canucks.
“I was really proud of the team,” Orr said. “They got by the Montreal thing and the Philadelphia thing (in the playoffs). (General manager) Peter Chiarelli and (president) Cam Neely and the boys did a great job in putting the pieces together.
“Every night, someone did something. One night it was (Rich) Peverley, then (Michael) Ryder, (Brad) Marchand I thought was outstanding. And Timmy Thomas. I don’t know if I have ever seen a performance like that.”
As first reported by QMI Agency in June, the Winnipeg Jets are expected to start playing in the Central Division in a realigned NHL in 2012-13. Minnesota Wild owner Craig Leipold told a Minneapolis radio station that the Jets will play in the Central with the Wild, Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues, Nashville Predators and possibly the Columbus Blue Jackets. Neither the Jackets, nor the Detroit Red Wings, would put up an argument against being moved to the Eastern Conference ... Andrew Cogliano will try to kick start his career with the Anaheim Ducks after the Edmonton Oilers traded him south on Tuesday. Cogliano was a first-round pick by the Oilers in 2005 and did not miss a game in four seasons with the club. But after recording 45 points as a rookie in 2007-08, Cogliano, a centre whose main asset is speed, hasn’t had more than 38 in one year. Cogliano cost the Ducks a second-round pick in 2013. The trade should bring a smile to the face of Ryan Nugent-Hopkins, a centre and the first pick overall by the Oilers in June ... John Anderson has been hired by the Phoenix Coyotes as an assistant coach ... The Ontario Court of Appeal has allowed a $375-million sponsorship agreement between Molson Coors Canada and the NHL, setting aside a ruling that would have blocked the deal ... The Pittsburgh Penguins re-signed forward Dustin Jeffrey to a two-year contract ... The Dallas Stars signed right winger Eric Godard to a two-year contract ... Goaltender Jeff Drouin-Deslauriers has left the Oilers to sign a two-year contract with the Ducks.