NHL

BLUELINES: Fleury to the Island?

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  • One of the wildest ideas — involving Theo Fleury — is being floated on Long Island. It goes like this: If the Rangers fail to exercise their option for next season, Fleury could be picked up by Mike Milbury at a reduced rate. Fleury on a line with Alexei Yashin would be a treat. Isles broadcaster Ed Westfall tells us it won't happen "because Fleury has too much baggage." We'll see.
  • One of the best-kept Olympic secrets involved a suggested comeback for Pat LaFontaine. Craig Patrick figured the Isles/Sabres icon was fit enough to skate for Team USA. The offer was made, but Patty declined.
  • NHL officials are zeroing in on safety measures to avoid another flying puck tragedy. Adding another eight feet to the current eight-foot plexiglass wall is one idea. The concern there is a possibility of ultra-high panes shattering and thereby harming spectators. One league exec involved in the studies tells us fans sitting in corners tend to be less vigilant about flying pucks and must enter the safety equation. Best bet: The league will use the European system of protective netting above the glass. Andy Murray, who coached in Europe, says it works. "In Europe," says Murray, "it didn't take time at all to get used to it."
  • Guaranteed: The NHL will adopt the Olympic-proven "hurry-up" face-off in a lengthened form.
  • The two-ref system continues to annoy execs. One GM tells us, "The two of them get in the way of play an average of five times a game." Complaints have been registered with Andy Van Hellemond and Colin Campbell.
  • The best bet on Bill Guerin's destination next September is Broadway. Billy is — and was — a Glen Sather-type. In Boston, they're saying Slats may go as high as $9 million a year for five years to get BG.
  • Now that he's experienced the Islanders-Rangers rivalry, Pavel Bure tells us it's more intense than the best he faced in the former Soviet Union — between his club, Red Army and Dynamo Riga.
  • Pavel's dad, Vladimir, lives on the other side of the Hudson River, where he's the Devils' fitness consultant.
  • And don't forget that Pavel already has whispered he'd like kid-brother Val to join him as a Ranger. That might be arranged this summer. Petr Nedved for Val Bure?
  • Biggest mistake of the trade deadline frenzy belongs to Ottawa for unloading popular and effective hitter Andre Roy.
  • It was Glenn (Chico) Resch — as a Senators' scout-coach — who recommended Frederic Cassivi as a potential NHLer. Since then, the French-Canadian goalie bounced from Syracuse to Worcester to Cincinnati to Hershey before landing in Atlanta.
  • More and more second-guessing is taking place about NHL players and their Olympics involvement. Eric Lindros, Mike Richter and Steve Yzerman have had nothing but woes in their post-Olympic weeks.
  • Pals with Don Waddell, Rick Dudley has been offering some insights regarding Thrashers' moves.
  • Don't be surprised if Roger Neilson says bye-bye to Ottawa and rejoins buddy Mike Keenan in Florida as a Panthers aide.
  • We'd love to sit in on a Keenan-Chuck Fletcher meeting when the pair discusses Florida's future and possible summer trades.
  • Richter's helmet was unable to protect the goalie from injury because he turned his head and Chris Tamer's drive caught him on the right side, driving the helmet into his ear.
  • There's never been a better captain for a hard-pressed team than Jeff Odgers — a neat candidate for the Masterton Trophy.
  • When hard-nosed Garth Snow learned that he was the Isles' Masterton candidate, he quietly shed a tear or two.
  • Tucson has a shot at landing an AHL club. If plans jell, it would be the Arizona affiliate of the Coyotes. Talks have already been held about placing the club in the 9,000-seat Tucson Convention Center. The Coyotes still have three years left on their pact with Springfield and share the Falcons with Tampa Bay. Other possibilities to expand the AHL to 30 teams are Oklahoma City, Las Vegas and San Antonio.
  • Funny crack from Robyn Regehr when he learned that Calgary players will have to pay the new provincial tax as well as visiting players: "They're trying to speed the game up here in Alberta by lightening us up in the pockets."
  • Mike O'Connell on why he didn't make a huge move before the trade deadline: "We like our nucleus. They seem to like each other, they play hard for each other, and we didn't want to disrupt that. We wanted to bring in players who complement that. Sean Brown and Jeff Norton both will do that."
  • Groundbreaking for the Coyotes' new 17,500-seat arena in Glendale is set for April 3. Target date for completion is December 2003.
  • Here's the kind of story the NHL should be promoting: Despite a badly bruised right foot with a fractured bone, Paul Mara continues to play in pain. "That's hockey," Mara says. "Most of our team is battling thorough one type of injury or another." You won't find that tenacity in any other sport.
  • The Blues have a future winner at the University of New Hampshire. Colin Hemingway — according to our scout — could be playing forward for St. Loo right now. Apart from skill, attitude is Hemingway's forte.
  • Has Todd Bertuzzi improved in two years? Don Cherry is calling Bert one of the best two players in the world; the other being Jarome Iginla. Todd tells us that married life — and kids — is what helped turn his life around in a positive direction.
  • Our Ron Spence on the two-ref system: "Put the second ref in the stands where he belongs. All scribes know you don't miss anything up there!"
  • Our Edmonton insider tells us that Mike York took his trade from New York very hard, but is now getting out of the funk. 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 postgame features and reports for both the Islanders and Devils on FSN. His columns appear regularly on MSGNetwork.com.
  • Tagged: Bruins, Red Wings, Oilers, Devils, Islanders, Rangers, Senators, Blues, Canucks, Coyotes, Panthers, Jets, Bill Guerin, Steve Yzerman, Alexei Yashin, Garth Snow, Petr Nedved, Mike York, Andre Roy, Paul Mara

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