Mario Lemieux' withdrawl from the Canadian Olympic team leaves executive director Wayne Gretzky without a captain. Don't be surprised if that honour is bestowed upon Colorado C Joe Sakic ... Give Toronto GM John Ferguson Jr. some credit. He offered RW Gary Roberts a two-year deal last summer, but only wanted to sign C Joe Nieuwendyk to a one-year contract.
Florida was willing to give each of them two-year deals and the duo subsequently signed with the Panthers. Nieuwendyk has played only 16 games this season because of back spasms, while Toronto's young guns -- including Alexander Steen, Kyle Wellwood and Matt Stajan -- have all taken advantage of the opportunities given to them. It's hard to argue how the move hasn't worked out well for the Leafs ... A decision on Columbus GM Doug MacLean will likely be made sometime in January. Interesting to note he's in the final year of his contract and, after seven years at the helm, the Jackets' ownership is antsy to make a change. Former San Jose GM Dean Lombardi's name won't go away ... Speaking of changes, there's plenty of talk the Penguins are getting ready to pull the plug on coach Ed Olczyk. A lot of money was spent on free agents, yet the club is still 13 points out of a playoff spot in the East.
AROUND THE BOARDS: Don't be naive by thinking former Senators coach Jacques Martin isn't in trouble in Florida. G Roberto Luongo is playing lousy and when Martin arrived, he fired goalie coach Clint Malarchuk and replaced him with former Ottawa assistant Phil Myre. That didn't sit well with the Luongo camp and the netminder's play has suffered. Is that the sole reason Luongo hasn't played up to par? Of course not, but it's a factor. Martin is also taking heat for the style his club is playing ... The Blues are trying to figure out what to do with G Patrick Lalime. He's been horrible and the team isn't finding any buyers on the trade market ... Ottawa D Zdeno Chara didn't offer to pay coach Bryan Murray's $10,000 fine when he left the bench to fight Kings D Tim Gleason last week, but the big man was willing to chip in. "I told him I'd take up a collection in the dressing room," said Chara.
RUMOURS DU JOUR: The Dallas Stars made a pitch for Senators RW Martin Havlat last summer. The Carolina Hurricanes were also willing to part with RW Eric Cole in a deal for the Czech winger. Interesting to note just before Havlat injured his shoulder, the San Jose Sharks were trying to get him and there are indications winger Marco Sturm was offered. Sturm was later shipped to Boston as part of the Joe Thornton deal ... Calgary GM Darryl Sutter is poised to make a deal to get a No. 1 centre for RW Jarome Iginla. There's talk he's held discussions about a trade that would send C Steve Reinprecht and another player to the Panthers in exchange for C Olli Jokinen. There's also been whispers Sutter would be willing to bring back Atlanta C Marc Savard, who just happens to be an unrestricted free agent at the end of the season. Either Jokinen or Savard would be a nice fit for the Flames ... What's this we hear about our good friend in Edmonton -- GM Kevin Lowe -- trying to bring in a netminder? I could have sworn he said goaltending was a strength going into the season. Candidates to join the Oilers may include David Aebischer, who the Avalanche is trying to deal, and Olaf Kolzig, who will be moved by Washington before the trade deadline ... Unhappy with the play of Brendan Morrison, Vancouver is believed to be searching for a No. 1 centre to play with Markus Naslund and Todd Bertuzzi. There's a lot of talk the Canucks have held discussions with the St. Louis Blues about C Doug Weight, but Canucks GM David Nonis has huge cap issues to look at first ... Plenty of talk the Avalanche is going to trade for Anaheim G J.S. Giguere or possibly Kolzig ... Flyers GM Bob Clarke is looking for a veteran blueliner after the club lost Ds Joni Pitkanen and Eric Desjardins to injury.
Have a nice Sunday.