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BLUELINES: Do Mario, Iron Mike love NY?

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  • -to-the-Rangers? A former teammate and friend of "Le Magnifique" tells us that he believes such a deal is more than a distant rumor. "The would get about $4 million cash and three players," Mario's pal informs. "As for Lemieux's ownership of the , that probably could be transferred to one of his friends like Tom Reich."
  • Bryan Trottier would seem to be a natural to rejoin Bob Hartley as an assistant in Atlanta. But Hartley tells us that several hockey pals also have been in touch and he won't make a decision until after the season. "I have a great partner in Steve Weeks," says Hartley. "We've developed a good chemistry together and we'll be looking to add somebody else."
  • One well-known player-turned-network-broadcaster tells us that he's talked to more than 100 players about the 2004 CBA. "At least 80 percent of them say, 'Bob Goodenow, cut us a deal.' " He also says that the players with whom he spoke could accept a hard cap providing that the NHL bends on free agency restrictions.
  • Don't be surprised to see reunited with next season. Selanne must decide on his option with the by April 21.
  • Al McInnis on defense partner and rookie : "Was I as poised as Barret when I was his age? I don't know if I even am today and this is my 21st year. He's an impact player."
  • Look for former Columbus coach Dave King to pursue a job in player development with an NHL club.
  • Florida forward 's playing days appear over. "I'm very proud of the 13 years I played," says Matteau. "No regrets. I wish I could've won more Stanley Cups, but 13 years, I beat all the odds."
  • coach John Tortorella is still not sure how gets the job done: "Every time I look at him I don't know how he's stayed in this game so long. He can't skate a lick, but we do tapes daily and he seems to pop up on them an awful lot. He's made himself understand how he can be the best he can with his talent."
  • General Manager Jim Rutherford takes a philosophical look at the Canes' lost season: "If you're going to be bad, you may as well be really bad!"
  • Blues forward offers an interesting reflection on his last days (2000-2001) in a divided Florida dressing room: "Everything was catered to Pavel (Bure)," says the ex-Panther captain. "You can't win when everyone is expected to do one thing and he was allowed to do what he wanted. It finally blew up."
  • was greeted with a tepid reception — including some boos — at the home finale.
  • Congrats to Wayne Gretzky on the birth of his fifth child, Emma Marie.
  • Here's our latest thinking on the ' coaching future: 1. Glen Sather — He's the favorite to return, although his wife Ann might prefer otherwise. The players like Slats — and he knows it. Glen could persuade Ann that it will only be for one more year and that should be the clincher. 2. Scotty Bowman — If he wants it for a year. 3. Larry Robinson — Since he'll probably be available and would want a full time job. 4. Mike Keenan — More a fan-media wish than management's. 5. Herb Brooks — Word is out that he wants in, but it's doubtful that Sather has forgotten last Spring's Herbie flip-flop. Also, Lindy Ruff's name has been bruited about on Seventh Avenue as a potential compromise ' coaching choice between Iron Mike Keenan and Easy Larry Robinson. That's presuming, of course, that Ruff leaves Buffalo.
  • claims the ' bankruptcy caused the club's artistic demise. "Everyone lost heart," says Warrener. "Now guys feel a sense of direction. We're going into the off season with a good feeling."
  • According to the Arizona Republic, the will be sold in two years to pay new investors being sought to infuse money into the financially struggling team and a Glendale arena/retail project.
  • Expect Cliff Fletcher — with more than 25 years of experience as a GM — to be nominated for the Hall of Fame.
  • Kudos to linesman Randy Mitton who completed his 32nd season (more than 2,000 NHL games). The irony is that he hasn¿t been asked to do the NHL playoffs. Ditto for another vet, Gerard Gauthier.
  • Expect endless speculation through the summer about 's playing future. It says here that the Captain will return.
  • How big a task does Darryl Sutter have in front of him, trying to get the back into the playoffs? "It's based on our young players, and how well they go," says Darryl.
  • It's been this kind of year for the : While posing for a team photo after the final game discovered that all his clothes had been stolen!
  • The , by the way, are slated to play about a dozen home games before moving into their new arena in late December.
  • Players Worth Watching: Buddy Smith of the Arkansas RiverBlades. He was the East Coast League's Most Valuable Player. The 27-year-old Smith is the first player in team history to earn First-Team All-ECHL honors and the first to score 100 points. He led the ECHL with 74 assists and 104 points. Then, there's of the Houston Aeros. He won the Eddie Shore Award as the AHL's outstanding defenseman. Murphy led all AHL defensemen in goals (23) and ranked second in points (54). The native of Kerrobert, Sask. skated in his second consecutive AHL All- Star Game this year and made his NHL debut with Minnesota on Dec. 15.
  • Whether the stories are accurate or not, Bettman, Inc. is taking a headline beating. SCARY STRETCH AHEAD FOR NHL ran across the top of an Arizona Republic piece this month on the league's finances. At just about the same time, the
  • New York Post ran a similar piece with the banner NHL ON THIN ICE: 1/3 OF TEAMS FOR SALE AMID EXPANSION, HIGH COSTS.
  • You be the judge, but the word from Colin Campbell is that referee's will continue enforcing obstruction through the playoffs. Some skeptics will tell you the crackdown disappeared before Christmas.
  • Montreal's demanded a trade that fell through last month and the team still wants to move him. "He'll be gone if we get a reasonable offer," says GM Andre Savard. "I would even be prepared to see him become a free agent." Known as "The Hockey Maven" in both local and national circles, Stan Fischler is one of the most outspoken authorities on the game of hockey. Fischler can be seen offering NHL analysis on "MSG SportsDesk" and on Fox Sports Net's "Regional Sports Report — New York Edition." Fischler also provides studio interviews and pre- and post-game features and reports for both the and on FSN. His columns appear regularly on MSGNetwork.com.
  • Tagged: Flames, Canadiens, Devils, Islanders, Rangers, Penguins, Sharks, Blues, Lightning, Coyotes, Ducks, Panthers, Wild, Patrice Brisebois, Dave Andreychuk, Paul Kariya

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