Bailey on pins and needles


Josh Bailey continues to live a dream and, by the weekend, he could know if it will be a reality for the rest of the National Hockey League season.


Josh Bailey continues to live a dream and, by the weekend, he could know if it will be a reality for the rest of the National Hockey League season.

Monday night in Montreal, the 19-year-old Bailey played in his seventh game for the New York Islanders, who took him with the ninth-pick overall in this year’s NHL entry draft.

By Saturday, Bailey will be looking at playing in his 10th game of the season with the Islanders and that’s when a decision on his future might come.

“I’m living in a hotel and still waiting to see if I’m going to be here,’’ said Bailey, who entered Monday’s game against the Canadiens with two assists in six games.

“The guys here have been really cool and they’ve given me a real nice opportunity. We’ll see what happens in the next few games.’’

Bailey’s 10th game won’t prevent him from returning to the Ontario Hockey League’s Windsor Spitfires at a later date, but it will mean the first year of his three-year contract will kick in.

NHL teams have to think carefully about keeping a player past the nine-game trial period. If he is returned to junior before the 10th game, his contract is effectively put on hold.

So, when he goes to training camp the following season, he will be in the first year of his contract.

The Islanders are still waiting for Mike Sillinger and Mike Comrie to return to health and centre Frans Nielson is out with a leg injury that could keep him out three months.

Bailey moved up to Nielson’s second-line centre spot prompting some to think his spot in with the Islanders is cemented, but general manager Garth Snow would not commit.

“One game at a time and one game at a time,” Snow told Newsday. “We’ll evaluate at the appropriate time.”

Even Bailey said the topic of him staying in the NHL or returning to junior isn’t brought up, but he knows a decision will come soon.

“It’s nine games by Friday (in Boston) and I’ll get some closure,’’ Bailey said. “It’s like I’ve said from the start, it’s a win-win situation and I’m sticking to my guns.

“Both situations are so good and whatever happens is meant to be, (but) I don’t know what to expect.’’

NHL makes deal with European body

The National Hockey League on Monday announced a marketing alliance with the Champions Hockey League, the newly formed European club championship under the authority of the International Ice Hockey Federation.

The CHL began play on Oct. 8 in 12 European cities. The pan-European league is already scheduled to expand to 22 countries for next season.

The deal follows the NHL’s participation in the Victoria Cup, a pre-season tournament in Berne, Switzerland, which featured the New York Rangers and two CHL clubs.

The leagues have agreed to form a working group to look at the future of the Victoria Cup, explore other competition formats between the leagues, create joint promotional and sales efforts and develop other cooperative initiatives to foster growth in hockey across North America, Europe and worldwide.

“We welcome the opportunity to help the Champions Hockey League with all aspects of business development,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said in a statement. “We have watched the initial success of the CHL, and the format and infrastructure that have been established provide a good foundation for the growth of international hockey.” 

Fisher, Shannon anxious to return

Ottawa Senators forwards Mike Fisher (knee) and Ryan Shannon (concussion) skated after the main practice Monday and some hope is held that one of them will be ready to play Thursday against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

That was why Ilya Zubov was returned to Binghamton of the American Hockey League on Sunday.

If neither Fisher nor Shannon is ready, Zubov will probably be recalled.

“We’ll see how it goes,” Fisher said. “If I feel good, I’ll play.”

Ice chips:

Ottawa Senators general manager Bryan Murray was in Denver on the weekend to take a look at Denver University defenceman Patrick Wiercioch, a 2008 entry draft choice, and another free agent assistant general manager Tim Murray had recommended. Then he left for Boulder to visit his daughters. His itinerary, however, is not said to include a trip to Los Angeles, where free agent Mats Sundin continues to work out and court NHL suitors. . . .


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