2nd ANNUAL NATION DRAFT ROAD TRIP

If day one of the 2010 NHL entry draft is any indication of what lies ahead, then hockey fans will be more excited than the kids camping outside the Nokia Theatre waiting for the 3rd installment of Twilight.

I can’t comment on the movie, because I haven’t seen it, but the kids clearly love it. I forgot my phone charger at home so after my radio show I went on a frantic search in downtown LA to find one. One block away from my hotel I came across Twilight Village. (I forgot my camera on table with phone charger or I’d have some sweet pics of the Twilight fanatics.)

Is there an age limit on when you look like a dork dressed up as your favourite character in a tent waiting for a movie premiere? I’m going with 21 since Americans can’t legally drink until then, so camping out at movie premieres is a fun night out.

Some were in costume, while others pretended to be in character. I swear I saw Wayne in one of the tents, but I couldn’t get past security to confirm it was him. He told me he was thinking about coming to LA for the weekend, but not the draft, so anything is possible.

LET THE SPECULATION BEGIN

The hordes of media wretches are staying at the JW Marriott, so every three minutes you can hear a different rumour. It’s a great time to be a fan of hockey, and to listen to the scuttlebutt.

The most surprising speculation is that Marc Savard is supposedly available out of Boston. He’s finished 9th in scoring three times, and looked decent in the playoffs after getting his bell rung by Matt Cooke, so needless to say I’m surprised he is on available. Mark Spector from Sportsnet confirmed he has heard the same things from some pretty reliable reporters in Boston, so keep an ear out for Savard rumours.

No teams were mentioned to be interested, but you have to think some GMs will have a chat with Chiarelli.

Sheldon Souray was at the LA airport when we got off our flight. He was jumping on the plane back to Edmonton to have his wrist checked out by the Oilers medical staff. The Oilers need to prove Souray is healthy before they can think about moving him. He said is wrist is fine and is hopeful something will transpire in the next few days.

I wonder if the new salary cap floor of $43.4 million will entice a team to take on Souray’s contract. He is a $5.4 million cap hit, but will only receive $4.5 in actual dollars. If a team needs to get to the floor Souray might be a good fit.

PEARN WAS CLOSE

On my flight to LA, I ended up sitting behind Montreal assistant coach, Perry Pearn, and we had an interesting chat. Pearn confirmed he was close to getting the Oil Kings job. “They offered me a significant deal,” he said. After the Oil Kings offer, Pearn had discussions with Jacques Martin and Pierre Gauthier about his future in Montreal. A few days later Gauthier offered him a contract extension.

“The thought of living full time in Edmonton was really intriguing, and I’d love to be a head coach again, but in the end I just couldn’t walk away from the Montreal Canadiens.”

Hard to argue with that, but it is interesting to note that an NHL coach was very close to leaving the NHL to return to the WHL. If the Canadiens hadn’t offered him an extension I think Pearn would have ended up in Edmonton.

We also discussed the Habs surprising playoff run and the Jaroslav Halak trade. Gauthier received lots of calls, but most were for Carey Price, not Halak, which explains why the Habs got prospects instead of a proven NHL player. Pearn likes both goalies, but he feels Price is more likely to handle playing more games due to his size.

Pearn will also be presenting at a coaches clinic tomorrow. He is doing a presentation on defensive zone coverage. The NHL coaches union hosts a clinic every year at the draft and Pearn is considered one of the best technical coaches in the game.

I also asked him if he hadn’t signed his extension with Montreal, if he would have considered reuniting with Tom Renney in Edmonton. “That’s a what if, that I can’t answer,” he laughed.

QUICK HITS

Jason Spezza has a $4 million bonus due to him on July 1st, similar to what Dany Heatley received last year. Bryan Murray stated there is no way the Spezza will get that bonus and not play in Ottawa. So if Spezza is going to get moved it will likely happen at the draft.

Dumbest rumour of the day was the Robyn Regehr and Eric Nystrom to Pittsburgh for Jordan Staal. No chance Ray Shero makes that deal. Lots of rumblings that Darryl Sutter will try and make a move, I just don’t see what he has to offer other than Regehr, unless he moves Rene Bourque for a centreman.

BROWNLEE UPDATE

Brownlee walked about eight miles looking for some cigars when we arrived. I think he’ll have lost 60 pounds by the time he gets home. He’s lost 56 so far on Herbal Magic, and if he stays that hard up for cigars he’ll shed the other four using old fashioned physical exercise by Sunday.

Tomorrow Brownlee will feature who the Oilers are targeting with the 31st pick.

Speaking of Brownlee. Wanye sent me a text this morning before I left that said "put a shameless plug for donations on the end of your first article. We are just over half way to Brownlee’s total. Then we are in charity country, baby." Then he told me if I wrote it, he would add in the paypal donation button.

I hope this works and there is a button at the end of this article. I’d consider this a shameless plug.