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Report: ‘Canes pull out of Nash bidding after Howson demands Skinner

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It’s understood Columbus GM Scott Howson expects big returns for Rick Nash.

But are those expectations getting too big?

That appears the case for at least one team as TSN’s Darren Dreger reports Carolina has pulled out of Nash bidding — after Howson asked for Jeff Skinner in return.

“Hurricanes are no longer persuing [sic] Rick Nash,” Dreger wrote. “Cost way too high. CBJ believed to be after Jeff Skinner. Non-starter.”

Skinner, 20, won the 2011 Calder Trophy after scoring 31G-23A-63 points as an 18-year-old rookie — that same year, he became the youngest player to ever participate in an NHL All-Star game. The former Kitchener Ranger had 44 points in 64 games last year after his season was interrupted by a concussion.

In short, he’s one of the best young talents in hockey.

He’s also a player that Carolina was never going to part with, according to Chip Alexander of the Raleigh News and Observer.

“If Skinner had to be included in any Nash deal, it was never going to happen,” Alexander tweeted. “That point was made clear weeks ago.

“[‘Canes GM Jim] Rutherford won’t comment on Nash situation. Said ‘Canes could could have interest in Doan, Semin. Reading between the lines: Canes are moving on.”

If true, Howson’s demands follow what Larry Brooks of the New York Post reported earlier this week — the asking price for Nash is sky high:

The Rangers have made it clear they will not include Ryan McDonagh, Chris Kreider or DerekStepan in a deal to bring the 28-year-old Nash to Broadway.

Nevertheless, Howson continues to demand that one — and perhaps two — of the three be part of the package in return for Nash, who has a no-move clause and has provided the Blue Jackets with a short list of teams to which he will accept a trade.

While Howson seems firm in his “I’ll be patient/I want what I want” stance, one wonders if he’s got an accurate gauge on the market. Nash’s no-trade clause and select list of approved teams means Howson’s only dealing with a handful of teams as opposed to all 30 NHL clubs.

That said, Nash could end up increasing the number of approved teams if/once he realizes Howson’s playing hardball.

Some tough decisions await the Blues

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Yet again, the St. Louis Blues failed to achieve their ultimate goal.

And boy does it hurt right now.

“We’re all hurting,” coach Ken Hitchcock said last night after getting eliminated by the San Jose Sharks in the Western Conference Final.

“You don’t want this to be our best opportunity. You want this to be a building block. In this game, in this era, in this cap world, you don’t know where you’re going to be a year from now.”

Indeed, GM Doug Armstrong has some tough decisions to make this offseason.

At the top of the list is whether to bring Hitchcock back. Yes, the Blues did better than 26 other teams, and yes, they finally got past the first round. Still, there are people who believe this will be it for the head coach, that a new voice could help. Overall, Hitchcock has done a great job in St. Louis. But then, so did Todd McLellan in San Jose. Sometimes, change can be good.

Then there are the unrestricted free agents. Both captain David Backes and winger Troy Brouwer need new contracts. The former is 32, the latter 30. The former had seven goals in the playoffs, the latter eight. How much money will they want? How much term? The second question might be the most important.

On the back end, it’s Kevin Shattenkirk that will garner the most attention. He’s signed through next season before he can become an unrestricted free agent. Just 27 years old, and considering the demand for what he does, he’ll be very expensive to keep. And with the emergence of Colton Parayko, trading Shattenkirk could probably be justified, especially if the return is good. A team like the Boston Bruins might be willing to pay up.

Right now, the pain is still fresh for the Blues.

“It’s so hard to win in the league right now,” said Hitchcock. “It’s so hard to win a series. So hard to just get in the playoffs. When you get this far, you get this close, you think you got the opportunity.”

The challenge for Armstrong will be to give his team another opportunity next season. And with the draft less than a month away, all these tough decisions will need to be made very soon.

Goals of the Week get tougher as Cup Final approaches

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The Stanley Cup Final is almost upon us and picking the very best Goals of the Week is a tough task. See how we did on this edition!

Just for Men: Mike Commodore

RALEIGH, NC - JUNE 14:  Mike Commodore #22 of the Carolina Hurricanes warms up before game five of the 2006 NHL Stanley Cup Finals against the Edmonton Oilers on June 14, 2006 at the RBC Center in Raleigh, North Carolina.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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Maybe one would argue that time hasn’t been kind to the 2006 Stanley Cup-winning Carolina Hurricanes (at least compared to the pedigree of other winners), but Mike Commodore’s incredible red afro and beard rank as one of hockey’s most timeless combinations.

Seriously, just take a step back from your monitor* and bask in the splendor of that carrot-topped Commodore.

Even then-President George W. Bush remarked on Commodore’s bushy hair and beard (or its tragic absence) when the Canes visited the White House:

THE PRESIDENT: Thank you all for coming. Have a seat. It’s a pretty big deal for a guy that doesn’t know how to ice skate — (laughter) — to welcome the Carolina Hurricanes to the White House. We appreciate you coming. You know, I’m not sure what is prettier, the Stanley Cup, or Mike Commodore’s hair. (Laughter.) A little disappointed you got a haircut. (Laughter.) But, welcome.

Good stuff.

And it really is kind of disappointing any time you see Commodore relatively clean-shaven. It’s like Superman without a big “S” on his chest or Metallica with short hair or any number of not-quite-right sights.

* – If you’re doing the Rumsfeld-style “standing at your desk” thing then … kneel for a second maybe?

Here’s your Stanley Cup playoffs schedule for tonight

Stanley Cup
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There’s nothing better than a Game 7, especially when a spot in the Stanley Cup Final is up for grabs. The Tampa Bay Lightning and Pittsburgh Penguins will battle in a do-or-die game for the right to play the San Jose Sharks with Lord Stanley on the line. You can watch the game via the NBC Sports Group’s television and digital platforms.

Tampa Bay at Pittsburgh (8:00 p.m. ET)

The television broadcast of Game 7 will be on NBCSN. To stream the game using the Live Extra app, click here.

Here’s some reading material to get you ready for this one:

Penguins, Lightning prepare for ‘roller coaster’ Game 7

Penguins force Game 7 after holding off Lightning rally

Lightning lament Game 6 effort, Cooper doesn’t blame disallowed goal