Joe Yerdon

Team USA unveils star-filled 2014 Olympic jerseys

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While Team USA was busy having meetings during their Olympic orientation camp in Virginia, the “main event” was the unveiling of the jerseys they’ll be wearing during the 2014 Games in Sochi.

Without further ado, here they are from Heidi Burgett at Nike.

Let me do my best Tim Gunn impression here:

The crest is impressive. It’s an old-school throwback look that appeared in smaller form on the 2010 jerseys. It’s old-timey looking and cool. No problems there.

Everything else? Debatable.

The road blue jersey is the better of the two if for no reason other than the striping isn’t quite so bad. The single red stripe on the white jersey is a touch off-putting.

The stars embedded on the shoulders of both jerseys will get a lot of flack, but it’s an American jersey and it’s all about the stars and stripes, baby! We’re just kind of lacking on the stripes is all (apologies to the 13 original colonies).

The one unforgivable sin here is the lacing on the collars as they’re not even real laces.

Canadian fans are sure to get their digs in but just keep in mind: Nike is designing their jerseys as well. Let’s hear your thoughts in the comments.

Kessel and Leafs haven’t talked contract, won’t negotiate in-season

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Toronto fans hoping to see Phil Kessel and the Maple Leafs get a contract extension done before the season may want to have a seat.

At Team USA’s Olympic orientation camp, Kessel tells reporters he hasn’t spoken with the Leafs about a new deal and says he doesn’t want to negotiate during the season. The 25-year-old forward is entering the final year of the five-year, $27 million deal he signed with Toronto back in 2009.

The pessimistic way to look at this for Leafs faithful is that GM Dave Nonis spent too much time this summer making questionable, big-money signings (and re-signings) while seemingly ignoring the future of the team. That applies to restricted free agents Nazem Kadri and Cody Franson as well as potential 2014 UFAs Kessel and Dion Phaneuf.

If you want a silver lining, perhaps Nonis is waiting to see just how much the salary cap goes up next season to know just what he’ll have to offer once the Leafs season ends.

Of course, by that point Kessel could decide he wants to test the market which means his price only goes higher.

Stepan on contract negotiations: ‘These things take time’

We’re just a few weeks away from the start of training camp and Rangers restricted free agent center Derek Stepan is still unsigned.

Stepan tells Tom Gulitti of Ranger Rants he’s not focused on negotiations and leaving that to his agent and the team.

“But these things take time,” he said. “These things are something that both sides have to agree on. You’ve seen it and I’ve seen it. That’s just how it goes. It’s part of the business and it’s part of the job and it’s part of being a professional hockey player.”

For the Rangers, they probably wouldn’t mind it too much if Stepan wanted to be frugal. According to CapGeek.com, the Rangers have just over $2 million in cap space this season. Stepan is the last RFA they have to sign and he’s arguably their most important.

With Brad Richards’ future in New York in doubt, Stepan is their top center at the moment. Getting him locked in is key for the Rangers’ future.

Surprise! Oilers bring back Omark on one-year deal

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If you thought you’d seen the last of Linus Omark in Edmonton, guess again!

The team announced they’ve signed the highly-skilled forward to a one-year deal. Omark spent last season in Switzerland with Zug after getting tired of waiting for the Oilers to make an offer to him as a restricted free agent.

UPDATE (1:57 p.m. ET): Mark Spector of Sportsnet reports it’s a two-way deal worth $600,000 in the NHL and $100,000 in the AHL.

Earlier this month, Omark said he was eager to return to the NHL but wouldn’t say who he was speaking with. Now we know it just happened to be his old team. Back in May there was speculation he would return to Edmonton. Guess there was a little something to that.

In Zug last season, Omark led the Swiss National League in scoring with 69 points. Playing alongside Henrik Zetterberg and Damien Brunner likely had a little something to do with that.

Now someone will have to break the news to him gently that the NHL has eliminated the spin-o-rama in the shootout.

Sedins eager to stay in Vancouver, even if there’s a rebuild

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The Sedin brothers are fixtures in Vancouver and they’re hoping they can remain as such into the future.

Henrik Sedin spoke with Iain MacIntyre of the Vancouver Sun about how he and his brother, Daniel Sedin, are hoping to sign extensions with the Canucks.

With both players eligible to become unrestricted free agents next summer, it’s on GM Mike Gillis’ “to do” list and Henrik says they’d even be willing to stick around if the team wants to rebuild. From MacIntyre:

“If we’re part of that (rebuilding), we can help,” Henrik said gamely. “We can help younger guys. That’s nothing we shy away from if that happens. But I still believe this team has a few years left where we have a chance to win.

“With the core group we have, we’re going to have another chance here to prove ourselves. But we need young guys to step up. We need Zack (Kassian) to come in and play the way he can — every night. And we need other young guys to come in, too. That’s the way it has to be.”

Hey, no pressure there Zack. Just keep pace with the twins, would you?

The thought of rebuilding in Vancouver seems far-fetched. With the Sedins, Ryan Kesler, Alex Burrows, Alex Edler, Kevin Bieksa, Dan Hamhuis, and Roberto Luongo that’s a lot of talent to go blowing up.

Getting new deals for Henrik and Daniel are, no doubt, important for Gillis and company and you have to believe John Tortorella wouldn’t take the job if they were just going to let them walk. It’s just a matter of time and a lot of money.