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BLUELINES: Fleury having his picture airbrushed

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  • The latest in the "Now You See Theo Fleury, Now You Don't" saga occurred when Chicago's team picture was taken. Instead of Theo, Hawks' PR man Tony Ommen donned Fleury's outfit. When Theo returns, Ommen's head photo will be deleted and Fleury's will be airbrushed into the picture.
  • Chatting with Kevin Lowe after the beat New Jersey 6-3 Saturday, we asked why Edmonton wasn't higher in the standings. "That's what I'm wondering," says the GM. He's wondering even harder after Monday's 6-1 trouncing in Boston. Now that he's fed up with , expect Lowe to make more moves.
  • Now that Roger Neilson is a Hall-of-Famer, the next push in the builders category will be for Fred Shero. Expect Emile "The Cat" Francis — who vigorously and successfully lobbied for Bernie Federko — to do the primary pushing for the late coach.
  • Whether the Leafs want to trade him or not, insists that he won't waive his no-trade clause because, he believes, "this Toronto team can win." Besides, Pat Quinn knows he'll need Corson in the playoffs.
  • Toronto Star columnist Damien Cox rips Hockey Night In Canada broadcasters for trying to "drag hockey back" to its brawling days. "This is happening," says Cox, "just as the game is finally on the right path."
  • Who can blame the for wanting to dump , considering his indolent play and the fact that he arrived at training camp 25 pounds overweight?
  • Protective netting experimentation continues. The , who got considerable complaints from Day 1 over their black webbing, are switching to a lighter, transparent kind. After its debut last week against the , Philly fans gave it a more favorable review. COO Ron Ryan, supervising the project, says, "It looks white, but it's kind of a monofilament clear, as clear as you can get."
  • Toccet, the racehorse named after retired Rick Tocchet, will be running next spring in the Kentucky Derby. The nag, owned by a fan, last ran in the Breeder's Cup, viewed by Rick and his wife.
  • says he likes his new nickname, "The Sentimental Gentleman of Swing," bestowed upon him by a visiting broadcaster.
  • Currently coaching the Central Hockey League's Tulsa , Garry Unger reflects on his NHL career in un-NHLPA terms. "If money had dried up at any time during my career, I would have said, 'Drop the puck.' I'd have played for nothing." Unger admits his life changed after teammate Bob Gassoff was killed in a motorcycle accident while leaving a party at Unger's ranch in 1977. "A month before Bob's death, a kid asked me if I knew where I'd spend eternity," says Garry. "I blew him off, but after Bob died it made me think. I became a born-again Christian. For the past 22 years I've been very active in sports ministry."
  • With his retirement from the NHL last week, will once again follow the footsteps of his father, Bill; this time in the hockey operations capacity. Dineen, one of only eight players to net 300 goals and tally over 2,000 penalty minutes, will now join the ' front office.
  • on the change in locker rooms since the stock market downturn: "In '98 and '99, you couldn't go a day without hearing stock market talk in the dressing room. You barely hear a peep now. I know there have been some hard lessons, but hopefully they haven't been too hard for too many guys."
  • Oklahoma City continues to be one of the best hockey towns on the continent, averaging almost 9,000 a game. Runner-up in the Central League is Laredo, just over 7,000.
  • Amazing that Calder Trophy candidate once was available to everybody after clearing the Waiver Draft.
  • Several GMs have been wondering out loud just what the NHL schedule-maker was thinking when he dreamed up this year's games list.
  • wastes no time crediting Brian Sutter with making him the ace he is today. "Brian gave me a role and a lot of responsibilities," says St. Louis. "I was playing against top lines and killing penalties, and those are important roles to fill. I was happy that I was the one doing it, even if I had always been an offensive guy."
  • "There's no reason for the players not to trust us," says Gary Bettman. So why doesn't Bob Goodenow get off his butt and at least start talking? "At the end of the day," insists Goodenow, "one of our tenets is, there needs to be a market for players and for player values." There's also a market, Bob, for face-to-face talks.
  • Ken Hitchcock's new nickname: "The General."
  • Andy Van Hellemond on why the quick face-off is working: "Players are coming on with a purpose now."
  • watchers insist that 's renaissance is traceable to John Tortorella. When the coach demanded that Vince work harder at both ends of the ice, John never relented. Lecavalier listened and now is playing like an All-Star. "That was the turning point for John," says. "When you have a coach who is willing to challenge the superstar, to live and die by the sword, it impresses everybody. That was a bold statement, not only for this team but as far as putting a stamp on him as a coach."
  • Everett, Wash., launches its first Junior team next fall at the 8,250-seat Everett Event Center. Doug Soetaert is VP-GM.
  • sources had the Leafs offering budding for holdout Kyle McLaren.
  • One of the great characters of the Original Six, trainer Lefty Wilson, died of congestive heart failure at age 83. Lefty also was an NHL spare goalie and blanked his own for a period on Jan. 22, 1956 after Toronto's Harry Lumley was injured.
  • During the ' White House visit, ex-Texas owner, President Bush, chided Wings and Detroit Tigers owner Mike Illitch: "This goes to prove it's easier to win in hockey than in baseball." 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: Bruins, Sabres, Blackhawks, Red Wings, Oilers, Devils, Islanders, Rangers, Flyers, Blues, Lightning, Maple Leafs, Blue Jackets, Kyle McLaren, Jeremy Roenick, Martin St. Louis, Vincent Lecavalier, Eric Boguniecki

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