Would Paul Kariya be a good signing for Anaheim?

paulkariya1.jpgOn Friday, we told you about how Teemu Selanne told a Finnish magazine that he was looking forward to coming back to the NHL and the Anaheim Ducks for one more year. Part of that discussion was about how he was working on bringing back his old friend Paul Kariya with him to play in southern California to have, perhaps, one last go-round. We speculated that it would create some great buzz for the team for next year and give the Ducks a potentially very fun and nostalgic scoring line to work with.

Perhaps some of our excitement needs to be cut back a bit and Orange County Register sports columnist Randy Youngman was happy to provide the reasons why a Paul Kariya comeback in Anaheim might be a bit awkward.

It is not a slam-dunk by any means, though, because there were similar rumors in the summer of 2003, shortly after the Ducks’ improbable first run to the Stanley Cup Finals. Back then, all indications were that Selanne would leave San Jose as a free agent to return to Anaheim to rejoin Kariya, his former linemate and longtime friend.

Instead, the Ducks failed to make Kariya a qualifying offer that summer, upsetting their longtime captain and essentially making him an instant free agent. Then Kariya talked Selanne into jumping to the Colorado Avalanche as part of a package deal.

At the time, then-Ducks GM Bryan Murray said he felt misled, and Ducks fans felt so betrayed that they have booed Kariya ever since.

Time can heal all wounds of course and Bryan Murray has moved on to another job in Ottawa. Whether current Ducks GM Bob Murray feels that Kariya can help is another story entirely, one which Youngman also addresses briefly.

For that to happen, Kariya, who still maintains an offseason residence in Orange County, would have to settle for a low salary. And there is no guarantee current Ducks GM Bob Murray, whose offseason mission is to bolster the blue line, would be interested in Kariya at any cost. A week ago, Murray told me his priority was finding another veteran defenseman.

I’m guessing, however, that there is some mutual interest, because Selanne and Kariya — the top two leading scorers in Ducks franchise history, who played together from 1996-2001 — are both represented by agent Don Baizley. But first Selanne, 40, has to officially announce he’s coming back.

All right so let’s chalk things up here for Paul Kariya: Still lives in California, shares an agent with Selanne (who the Ducks are likely speaking with anyhow) and they’ve got a previous and great history together. The only thing working against them are what Bob Murray’s plans are for the team, a team budget and the extreme outside possibility that old ill feelings surrounding Kariya’s departure might still be floating around Anaheim. I’d say Ducks fans should prepare to fire up the way-back machine, dig out the old Mighty Ducks of Anaheim jerseys and let Wild Wing fly one more time next season.

There don’t appear to be many other teams showing interest in Paul Kariya, unless southern California’s other team might be looking to take a chance on him, and whether Kariya wants to play again or not seems to be the only question. His last couple of seasons with the Blues show that he’s still got some game but he’s clearly a shadow of the high-flying goal-scoring left wing of the past. He scored 18 goals last year in 75 games with the Blues but hasn’t scored 20 or more since his last season with the Nashville Predators in 2006-2007. If the Ducks are hesitant about going for a nostalgia piece, it’s understandable. Then again, if this is going to be Selanne’s last year and his “last request” is to have Kariya ride shotgun on the left wing of his line one more time, you’d have to think they’d like to make the guy happy.

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    The Panthers are healthy scratching Bolland, and he is their highest-paid forward, but they insist they’re not sending a message

    Dave Bolland, Derek Nansen
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    It feels like there’s a story brewing in Florida, where Dave Bolland — the team’s most-expensive forward, at $5.5 million a season — has been a healthy scratch for three consecutive games.

    But according to head coach Gerard Gallant, there’s nothing to see here. Move along.

    “There’s nothing to talk about,” Gallant said, per the Miami Herald. “He sat out, our team is playing well. There’s nothing more than that. We have to sit two guys and I like the way we’re playing. The next game is a different game. We may change something up, who knows.”

    Bolland had just one goal and five points in 18 games prior to getting parked in the press box. Well, technically he got dropped to the fourth line before hitting the press box, but you get the idea. He’s not exactly in Gallant’s good graces.

    Not helping Bolland’s case is the fact that, as Gallant pointed out, the club is playing pretty well without him. The Panthers have rebounded from a rough start to November by winning back-to-back games against the Islanders and Red Wings, which set them up nicely for the remainder of this current five-game road swing.

    Florida has games still to play in St. Louis, Nashville, Columbus and New Jersey. It’ll be interesting to see when — or, if — he draws back into the lineup.

    In closing, a reminder that Bolland’s in the second of a five-year, $27.5 million deal.

    Canucks rookie Virtanen exits with upper-body injury, won’t return


    After sitting out Friday’s game in Dallas, Vancouver’s Jake Virtanen had to be excited at drawing back in for tonight’s game against the Ducks.

    Unfortunately, the excitement didn’t last long.

    Virtanen suffered an upper-body injury after playing just 1:45 in the opening frame, and was ruled out of the contest during the intermission. It’s unclear exactly what happened, but it looks like Virtanen was injured on a hit by Ducks captain Ryan Getzlaf.

    Virtanen didn’t take another shift following the incident, and Getzlaf was given a minor penalty on the play.

    While we don’t know what the injury is or it’s severity, losing Virtanen for any length of time would have ramifications for the Canucks and this year’s Canadian entry at the World Juniors. There has been talk of Virtanen possibly being released by the Canucks to participate in the tournament; last year, he was part of the team that captured gold in Montreal and Toronto.

    Virtanen has played in 18 games for the Canucks this year, scoring one goal and four points while averaging 10:17 TOI per night.

    McLellan sounds off on Oilers after shutout loss in Toronto

    Todd McLellan

    Edmonton lost for the fourth time in five games on Monday, a 3-0 defeat in Toronto that marked the second time in a week the Oilers have been shut out.

    Needless to say, the head coach wasn’t happy.

    In a fairly blunt and harsh assessment aimed at a variety of players, Todd McLellan had some choice words for what he called a “disappointing” effort.

    Some of the more choice quotes:

    “I didn’t think we were a very hard team. I didn’t think we stood over a lot of pucks. I didn’t think we won a lot of battles along the boards. I didn’t think we were competitive enough in a lot of areas.”

    “When I look at the trip as a whole, we had some key, key people really under-perform on the trip. Significant minus numbers, not hitting the score sheet. It can’t always be the [Leon DraisaitlTaylor Hall line] that provides that.”

    It’s fair to suggest that last one was directed at Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Jordan Eberle.

    Nugent-Hopkins has just two points and zero goals in his last five games, with a minus-8 rating. Eberle is pointless entirely, and also at minus-8 over the same stretch.

    They’re hardly the only Oilers not pulling their weight at the moment, however. Edmonton has lost 15 times in its first 25 games, a figure that suggests there are more problems that just a couple of underachieving forwards.

    Just ask McLellan, who all but admitted his team has issues matching up.

    “We’re not where we need to be,” he said. “We’ve got work to do as a team, work to do as an organization to get bigger, stronger, harder, and physically win more battles than we lose.”

    Roy: Avs ‘need, expect more’ from Varlamov


    The tough times continue for Semyon Varlamov.

    After another unsuccessful outing on Monday — allowing four goals on 27 shots in a loss to the Islanders — Varlamov was subjected to a familiar refrain: Patrick Roy saying the Avs need more from their No. 1 netminder.


    You can hear all of the head coach’s comments in the video above but, for brevity’s sake, here’s the Varlamov stuff:

    “It’s not easy for him. Obviously we need that extra save and we didn’t get it on the road. It’s hard to win if you’re giving four goals on the road.

    “We just need more from him. He’s our No. 1 guy and we’re behind him, but we need, we expect more from him.”

    There has to be serious concern about Varlamov right now, if there wasn’t already.

    His save percentage through seven games in November (.891) is marginally better than it was through seven games in October (.889), and that’s not the only alarming stat. Varlamov’s yet to record a shutout this year, yet to record back-to-back victories and has given up at least three goals in six of his last seven starts.

    Not good.

    Compounding things for Colorado are the standings. The Avs are now 9-14-1 and mired in the Central Division basement, meaning that — if they have any hope of going on a tear and getting back into playoff content — they’ll need to do it soon.

    Which means they might not have the time, or the patience, for Varlamov to find his game.