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BLUELINES: Nieuwendyk's future in limbo

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  • Among the most debatable free-agent questions surrounds and his possible return to New Jersey. Beloved by teammates — and Joe truly enjoyed the — Nieuwendyk would have to take a pay cut to stay. Then, there's the matter of Joe's health and the muscle ailment that sidelined him in the Cup finals. We say it's 60-40 in favor of his return.
  • GM Brian Burke on 's move to Denver: "If I were Anaheim, I'd be pretty disappointed with how things went down. For a guy who made $71 million the last nine years in Anaheim, that¿s shabby treatment," says Burke.
  • -watchers are wondering how reacts to the departure of & Co. Our man in Vancouver, Ron Spence, suggests that it might sour the MVP. In the past Naslund has hinted at an early NHL departure to raise his kids in Sweden. This bears watching.
  • In case you think you know everything about , think again. Betcha didn't realize that the Devs' captain is partly of Slovakian heritage. Add to that the fact that he's expected to be inducted into the Slovak Hockey Hall of Fame. "I can speak a few words of Slovak, but my mother can tell you more about our Slovak background," says Scotty.
  • and — each bought out of his contract — are two reasons why Bob Gainey is now managing the Habs.
  • Glen Sather keeps coming back to two words, "crazy mistakes," in discussing his club's homestretch demise. Thus, you can expect an accent on offense-defense accountability on the Blueshirts. Slats also points out that his wife, Ann, supports his decision to coach. Ann has a wonderful line about the game: "There are two things in hockey — winning and misery!"
  • With Sather doing triple-duty (prez-GM-coach), Don Maloney will be backstopping his boss.
  • Only weeks removed from a Stanley Cup, is drawing attention from both Toronto and Carolina. Best bet to replace OT on the N.J. defense is , whose poise and maturity impressed when he was elevated from Albany.
  • Don't be surprised to find back in St. Louis. Cujo still is popular in the Mound City, his original NHL venue.
  • -on-Broadway is a scenario some savants envision, although we have our doubts.
  • Apart from the fact that he's captain, one neat aspect of 's re-signing with Phoenix is that he has played 1,098 games for the franchise (Winnipeg-Phoenix) — more than anyone in Jets-Coyotes history. Plus, he's a pro's pro.
  • Hard-To-Believe-But-True Dep't: , just acquired by Buffalo, is tied for the NHL lead among goal-scoring defensemen. So far we like Darcy Regier's moves. Next big challenge in Sabreland is finding a way to turn 's talent into a major asset, instead of unrealized potential. Or is attitude the real problem?
  • If the are as obsessed with obtaining as some media types suggest, then a Jay Feaster-Mike Milbury accommodation should be possible by summer's end. We don't see coming to the Island but what about a reunion with Keefe and his buddy — and former Junior teammate — , in St. Louis?
  • Now that Pat Quinn is limiting himself to one job, the Leafs' GM derby is becoming most interesting. The top candidates include such worthies as Neil Smith, Steve Tambellini and — Holy Mackerel! — Colin Campbell.
  • Frankie Nault of the UHL's Flint Generals died in a car accident at the age of 25. He was a veteran of five seasons, including a 1999 Colonial Cup. "Frankie Nault was a hard-working and passionate athlete and will be greatly missed," says UHL President/CEO Richard Brosal.
  • Unless he re-signs , Mike Milbury is stuck without an experienced NHL goalie. Money, and only money, has delayed a Snow signing. "We think he can help us," says Milbury. We believe they'll cut a deal.
  • Contrary to reports we've heard, Milbury insists that is not being offered around the league. Newsday's Alan Hahn reports that the offered for the Isles' captain but Milbury nixed the bid.
  • It's a HUGE pain driving to Kanata, Ontario for ' home games, especially in rush-hour. The Sens hope to alleviate the problem by changing starting time for weekday games to 7:30 instead of 7:00.
  • Goalie David LeNeveu, who broke many of Ken Dryden's Cornell records, signed with Phoenix and projects to be a starter in the not-too-distant-future.
  • Speaking of goalies, who'll replace in Denver? Our guess is .
  • One of the most ubiquitous, and likeable, pet dogs seen around NHL rinks belonged to former ' owner, John McMullen. Alas, beloved Bubba passed away last month at age 12. Doc Mac's pals remember Bubba for a lot of things; not the least of which was his love of bagels.
  • Kudos to the AHL's Manchester Monarchs, which raised $30,000 for the Ace Bailey Children's Fund and the Monarchs Care Foundation. It all came about as a result of the annual Ace Bailey Golf Classic held in Bedford, New Hampshire. , Hubie McDonough, Brad Park, and were among the attendees.
  • Dep't of Confusion: has signed with Washington. Yes, he's Czech but, no, he's not the ex-Devil-current-Duck. What we have here, according to George McPhee, is a sharpshooter. "He could be the best goal-scoring forward outside of the NHL," says the Caps GM.
  • 's name has come up too often since April for there not to be a deal in the works.
  • The British Columbia Hockey Hall of Fame inducts five new members this week. Darcy Rota, Bert Marshall, Doug Lidster, Howie Meeker and Ken Holland are slated for the honor. 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, Red Wings, Kings, Canadiens, Devils, Islanders, Avalanche, Blues, Lightning, Canucks, Coyotes, Ducks, Tim Connolly, Joe Nieuwendyk, Petr Sykora, Roman Hamrlik, Garth Snow, Curtis Joseph, Markus Naslund, Trevor Letowski, Paul Kariya, Michael Peca

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