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July 29, 2008

July 29, 2008

The Hockey News has been providing the most comprehensive coverage of the world of hockey since 1947. In each issue, you'll find news, features and opinions about the NHL and leagues across North America and the world.

THE STANDARDS

CAROLINA

SUMMER SHIFT The rebuilding of Carolina’s defense is underway, but it cost the team one of its most popular players - Erik Cole. Cole’s trade to Edmonton for Joni Pitkanen secured the centerpiece of the Canes’ new blueline. The club also signed Anton Babchuk and Josef Melichar, who replace Glen Wesley and Bret Hedican. “We wanted to make our defense bigger, younger and more mobile,” said GM Jim Rutherford. “If you go back to the defense we started last season with and the one we’ll start this season with, it’s going to be dramatically different.” Cole’s absence will be felt. He was key in the 2002 run to the Stanley Cup final and his speedy recovery from a broken neck to play in Game 6 of the 2006 final inspired teammates.…

THE STANDARDS

DALLAS

SUMMER SHIFT The magic of having two GMs is you get some interesting ideas tossed around. Les Jackson’s history is scouting and development; he has been primarily responsible for the signing of 23-year-old winger Fabian Brunnstrom, as well as leaving spots open for rookies such as James Neal, Ray Sawada and B.J. Crombeen. Brett Hull has a wealth of contacts and the impatience to want to improve the team right now; he’s responsible for the free agent signing of his old Detroit roommate Sean Avery to a four-year deal for $15.5 million. Both moves involve risk, but both GMs seem willing to risk a little by trusting in the other. “We both want what’s best for the team and we’re both trying to find that,” Jackson said.…

PROSPECTS UNLIMITED

Visors made mandatory

Players will be required to wear a visor during the coming season to decrease the number of serious eye injuries. The board of governors, in the interest of safety and to hold down medical costs, voted in favor of the rule change. “It dramatically lowers the risk of serious facial and eye injuries,” said commissioner Jim Combs…The President’s Cup playoff format was tweaked because the Jacksonville Barracudas were allowed to suspend operations for a year to find a new arena. The top four teams advance to the postseason now instead of six. The first round will feature best-of-five series and, for the first time, the final will be a best-of-seven.…

THE STANDARDS

PITTSBURGH

SUMMER SHIFT First, the bad: The team lost star winger Marian Hossa when he nixed a long-term deal from the Pens to play for one year, at roughly the same annual salary, in Detroit, saying the Wings have the best chance to win the Cup. Ouch. Ryan Malone also left via free agency, along with cult heroes Gary Roberts and Jarkko Ruutu, enforcer Georges Laraque and backup goalie Ty Conklin. The good news: The Pens inked homegrown impact players Marc-Andre Fleury, Evgeni Malkin and Brooks Orpik to long-term deals at bargain rates. GM Ray Shero also signed free agents Miroslav Satan, Ruslan Fedotenko, Matt Cooke and Eric Godard. Jordan Staal is the final item on the to-do list, but the Pens have the look of a consistent Stanley Cup contender.…