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EAST KNAPSACK: Ex-teammates rip Bure

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Jim Kelley

 
   
 

Eastern Conference Knapsack

Our weekend offering of tidbits of information for your knapsack of hockey knowledge. Florida: There are lots of people in hockey who believe the Panthers misplayed their cards in the Pavel Bure deal and could have had Mike York from the New York Rangers had they just stuck to their guns. The Rangers wanted Bure, but said they didn't want to part with York. The Panthers complied, and within minutes the Rangers traded York to Edmonton for Tom Poti and Rem Murray.
Western Conference Knapsack
That said, few if any of Bure's teammates (we will exclude his brother, Valeri, in that generalization) claim they will miss him. "For me, I'm disappointed playing with Pavel this year," said Bill Lindsay, one of the original Panthers who was claimed off the waiver wire by Montreal the same day Bure was traded. "Ten million dollars, I expected more from him. He's a guy playing 30 minutes a night, and if I'm going to bust my b---- playing eight minutes a night — look, I'm not the best player in the world, but I'm going to damn well try hard. And I've got to come and watch a guy that makes $30 million come to the rink last and leave first. I was slightly disappointed. Not slightly, I was disappointed. He's our leader and if he's with us and helping us, we gel and we're winning more hockey games. "And Pav's not a bad guy off the ice. He's a good guy. There's nothing wrong with him, but heck, he's making $10 million and he had to be our guy. If our $10 million guy doesn't care, we're not going to win. "(Bure's) a great player. He's electric," Lindsay added. "He left everyone craving for that. We needed that from him in the room. The one experience I had from winning was that (1996) Stanley Cup run (pre-Bure). "I could look every one of those guys in the eye and say, 'Thank you man, you gave it your all.' If I have to shake Pav's hand, you know what, I don't know if I could really do it and tell him thanks for everything. I felt in a way he hung me out to dry because he's better than that and he knows he's better than that." Said backup goalie Trevor Kidd: "Any fan or anybody that doesn't think the organization did the right thing by trading Pavel, if they spent five minutes in the dressing room, they wouldn't be speaking negatively about the trade. "Everybody that's been around him knows what he brings to a team. That's goals and that's it. A lot of people probably won't understand if you just look at the goals, but if you have a guy making that much money, there has to be other things involved than just putting the puck in the net. "Look around the league at guys making that kind of money. Joe Sakic, Paul Kariya, they're solid goal scorers, but they offer so much more to the team." Said Paul Laus: "You can't force a guy to be around the guys. He had his own things. You can't grab him and say, 'You have to be here 24 hours a day.' We thought with his brother (Valeri) here that maybe that would have brought him closer, but it didn't." For his part, Bure simply had this to say: "Everybody has their opinion and I can't do anything about it. Would I say something bad about them? No, I would never do that and I never will because I think it's no class. "I've played with big stars like Mark Messier and we're still friends. I care about what he has to say because he's Mark Messier. Look at where this is coming from." Ouch. FYI: Somewhat surprisingly, Val Bure is not waiting until the end of the season to undergo minor surgery to clean up some knee ailments. He's scheduled it for right now and will miss the remainder of the season, as will goaltender Roberto Luongo, who has an ankle problem that will keep him out but not require surgery at this time. FYI II: Lindsay didn't have to grab a quick flight to join his new team. He merely walked across the hallway as the Canadiens were in town to play the Panthers when the waiver transaction was announced. Atlanta: For the record, the midweek trade of captain Ray Ferraro to the St. Louis Blues marks the third time in as many years the Thrashers have traded their captain. This is not an unusual occurrence for an expansion team, as older players are brought in for leadership and then moved along as the younger ones take over. The problem for the Thrashers is their young players seem to be as young as each new year's draft class, so the position is wide open once again with no Thrashers draftee still ready to assume the position. FYI: Both Colorado and Detroit made bids on defenseman Jiri Slegr. When the Avs got Darius Kasparaitis, they pulled out and the Red Wings closed the deal. The Thrashers had made an offer to Slegr, but the two sides were about half a million apart, hence the trade. Boston: There are a lot of "big" names on the Bruins roster this season, but whenever Nick Boynton scores, the Bruins are automatic winners. The club has a win in all 14 games Boynton has scored in this season. The unheralded defenseman had a career-high two-point night Thursday against the Buffalo Sabres, but his broken-stick goal proved to be the game-winner. Getting timely help like that has been a boost for the Bruins, who are winning despite not having No. 1 center Joe Thornton in the lineup. The Bruins have been downplaying Thornton's injury, but Thursday's game was his seventh straight miss, he's slated to miss the next two and there's some concern about the remainder of the season. ''It's going to be a while,'' B's coach Robbie Ftorek said in a way that did not have an optimistic ring. ''He has taken a couple of nice steps the last couple of days, but not enough.'' The key is to have Thornton healthy and ready for the playoffs, but no one promised that. Buffalo: Veteran defenseman Jason Woolley expressed some disbelief that the club couldn't find a trading partner for him. Woolley had been a healthy scratch for seven straight games before the trade deadline. Woolley is the Sabres' all-time playoff points leader among defenseman (seven goals, 27 assists in 47 games). The Sabres maintain they could not even get a conditional draft pick for him and implied that his $1.325 million salary this year season ($1.425 million next season) was a factor. Woolley had asked to be traded in part because he had been benched in favor of rookie Brian Campbell. "I just wish I was a fly on the wall,'' Woolley said regarding the deadline dealings that netted the club veteran defensive center Bob Corkum for a fifth-round draft pick. "I really have a tough time believing someone didn't want me. I wish they let my agent get a little more involved because I know the calls were there. It didn't go exactly the way I wanted to, but now I step into a different mode here. You have to be ready." Woolley may have been ready, but the Sabres still kept him in the press box for the next two starts running his bench time to nine straight games. Carolina: The recent spate of tied games at home, seven straight, is an NHL record the 'Canes are none too proud of. "If a tie is like kissing your sister, well this is disgusting," said coach Paul Maurice after No. 7. The club did get a win in its next home start, enabling then to post a home unbeaten streak that reads 1-0-7 in eight games. Montreal: The Canadiens picked up goaltender Stephane Fiset from Los Angeles so that Jeff Hackett could undergo shoulder surgery. That will happen any day now. Hackett had hoped to put it off until season's end, but it's likely the Canadiens will want to trade him in the off-season, as Jose Theodore has become the No. 1 man. By getting Fiset, Hackett is free to go under the knife and the Canadiens still have a competent backup and can keep their minor-league prospects playing at that level rather than have them sit behind Theodore. New Jersey: Now that's a trade. The Devils put a line together that included newly obtained forwards Joe Nieuwendyk and Jamie Langenbrunner (Dallas) with Stephane Richer who came over from Pittsburgh. They led the Devils to a 3-1 win against a struggling Chicago Blackhawks team. It's not likely to last as Nieuwendyk will eventually center Petr Sykora and Patrik Elias. The win over Chicago was the Devils' fifth in their last six games, moving them up to pressure the New York Islanders for sixth in the conference standings and serving notice that they will be a factor in the playoffs this spring. The Devils have not been that high in the standings since Nov. 9 and they could well go higher. However, there is a fear in the locker room that Sykora and Elias will not handle the departure of Jason Arnott, their center who was shipped to Dallas, well. Both had the flu the day after the deal was announced. "Maybe this will be a maturing time," said newly rehired assistant coach Larry Robinson. "A lot of people don't mature until they are faced with some kind of adversity. Now, their so-called buddy is not there, and they have to fend for themselves. Maybe it's time for a bit of reality. Hey, welcome to the real world." N.Y. Islanders: Here's a simple sentence that says something about the Islanders: Playoff tickets go on sale Mar. 30. N.Y. Rangers: We've written enough about these guys this week. The next bit of news will be whether or not they can match the Islanders in putting playoff tickets on sale. After picking up Pavel Bure and Tom Poti and putting their payroll over the $70 million mark, it would be the most expensive miss in the history of hockey if they can't. Ottawa: There's nothing etched in stone yet, but don't be surprised if assistant coach Roger Neilson, an NHL icon, leaves the Senators at season's end and hooks up with Mike Keenan in Florida. The two men are very close and have worked together in the past. They both have homes in Florida and Keenan has long leaned on Neilson's textbook knowledge of the game. Neilson, 67 and battling cancer, often retreats to Florida for the warm winter weather. Living there in-season would be a boost to his health. Keenan inherited two coaches — George Kingston and Paul Baxter — and each has a year left on their respective contracts, but it's not unusual for a new head coach to get at least one assistant of his own choosing. Keenan wouldn't rule out that Neilson could be that coach. "It's a possibility," he said. FYI: Martin Havlat, out with a groin injury, ripped the ice at the Corel Centre in Ottawa. "Last year, we had good ice, but this year it's pretty bad," he said. "If there are too many holes in the ice, when you want to turn, your skate goes the wrong way sometimes." Said teammate Marian Hossa: "It was pretty good at the start of the year, but not so good lately. The pucks have been bouncing a bit. You would expect that maybe in some places in the United States, but not in Canada." Maybe they should bury a loonie in it. Philadelphia: We told you Tuesday (even before the Adam Oates acquisition) that center Jeremy Roenick had a serious knee problem coming out of the Tampa game. We weren't wrong. There's a slight tear in the anterior cruciate ligament, a stretched posterior cruciate ligament and some bruising under the kneecap. The Flyers are saying two to four weeks, but Roenick, who never met a projection he didn't think he could beat, claims it will never be four. That may be and it appears surgery is not an option at this time, but any problem with the ACL is a serious problem. Even a slight tear of the ACL exposes the ligament to more tearing when placed under stress. Roenick also went so far as to say that he was "glad," in a way, to get injured because it may have facilitated the deal for Oates. "I'm glad I got hurt," Roenick proclaimed. "You never know if we (Roenick and Keith Primeau) didn't get hurt, whether we'd have pulled the deal off the way we did. So in a way, I never like getting hurt, but it might have been a blessing in disguise. It'll give me a little break and get my body energized for playoff time, and we were able to pull a deal off like this to bring Adam in here." Thank you J.R. Pittsburgh: General manager Craig Patrick didn't trade center Robert Lang at the deadline, and he is on the record as saying he will re-sign him in the off-season. Not likely. Lang is at $2.9 million per right now and wants to double that. It's a little rich for the cash-strapped Penguins. FYI: It's not likely the Penguins make the playoffs this season, but sources insist that coach Rick Kehoe, appointed earlier this season to replace the dismissed Ivan Hlinka, will be the team's coach next season. Apparently losing Jaromir Jagr, Mario Lemieux for much of the season and stepping in under pressure is regarded as yeoman's work in the front office and Kehoe will be rewarded for that. Tampa Bay: From the lot-of-good-it-does-now department comes word that going into Thursday night's games, the Lightning, with 14 points, were tied with the Toronto Maple Leafs, Buffalo Sabres and Ottawa Senators, for most points in the East since the Olympic break. Also, their 3-0-3 six-game unbeaten streak was tied with the Maple Leafs for the longest current streak, and the Leafs lost Thursday night. Of course the Lightning will not make the playoffs again this season, but the six-game unbeaten streak is the longest since a team-record seven-game streak (5-0-2) in 1996. FYI: After defenseman Jassen Cullimore knocked Sabres forward Stu Barnes senseless in a game at Tampa this week, Sabres coach Lindy Ruff blasted Tampa management for repeatedly showing the hit on the video scoreboard. To their credit, the Lightning agreed with an official stating it was "an inexcusable error." That it was, but for the record, the Sabres sell the "hit of the game" nightly in their building to a local auto collision shop where it also gets replayed on the team-owned postgame television show. It's hard to take serious a complaint about a lack of class in Tampa when your franchise takes money for the same thing. FYI II: The Montreal Canadiens put a bid in on 38-year-old Dave Andreychuk but offered only middling draft picks and the Lightning, who are desperate for any kind of scoring, said no. Reports indicate that general manager Jay Feaster said he would have traded Andreychuk to a real Cup-contending team had one offered, but didn't get that call. The Lightning hold a contract option on Andreychuk for next season for a relatively paltry $800,000. Toronto: There may well be some bad blood between management of the Leafs and the Calgary Flames. The Leafs hint strongly that they had a deal at the deadline for Flames defenseman Igor Kravchuk and that either Flames GM Craig Button or Kravchuk scuttled it. The acquisition of Tom Barrasso at the deadline is just insurance for when Curtis Joseph returns. The Leafs were inexperienced in goal without Joseph (out with a broken hand) and Barrasso, a former Calder (rookie) and Vezina (best goalie) Trophy winner and two-time Stanley Cup champ, has loads of that. Barrasso also has an Olympic silver medal from 2002. FYI: Joseph isn't practicing with the team yet, but he has had the cast on his hand removed. Washington: The Caps were seething at Toronto's Darcy Tucker about his hit on Sergei Gonchar Thursday, but they were also upset that there was no call on the play. Tucker went some 20 yards in taking a run at the Capitals best scoring defenseman and then jumped into him, belting him with a well-placed elbow. Gonchar was carrying the puck at the time, which made claims by both officials that they didn't see the hit almost impossible to believe. More irritating was the fact that one of the referees was a former Maple Leafs player. "Kevin (former NHL player-turned-referee Kevin Maguire) was telling me it wasn't his zone," coach Ron Wilson told the Washington Times, "but all three zones weren't his zone in regard to us tonight. How (do we) get a former Leaf doing a game? I don't understand that one, and I'm not questioning the integrity, but it's an embarrassing job of officiating. We won the game and we lose an All-Star defenseman." "How can you miss this?" Wilson said he asked the officials from the bench. "The guy runs from 100 feet, 'Gee, we didn't see it.' At some point, we have to get better referees or get their eyes checked. I mean, I don't understand that. How can you miss that? Four sets of eyes didn't see what happened. That's impossible." No Ron, that's the NHL, just ask them about video replay sometime. Jim Kelley can be reached at his e-mail address: jkelley@foxsports.com.
Tagged: Bruins, Sabres, Flames, Blackhawks, Red Wings, Oilers, Kings, Stars, Canadiens, Devils, Islanders, Rangers, Senators, Flyers, Penguins, Avalanche, Sharks, Blues, Lightning, Maple Leafs, Capitals, Ducks, Panthers, Jets, Joe Thornton, Brian Campbell, Stu Barnes, Jason Woolley, Tom Poti, Jamie Langenbrunner, Joe Nieuwendyk, Jose Theodore, Jason Arnott, Petr Sykora, Patrik Elias, Mike York, Keith Primeau, Jeremy Roenick, Robert Lang, Joe Sakic, Dave Andreychuk, Darcy Tucker, Curtis Joseph, Sergei Gonchar, Jaromir Jagr, Paul Kariya, Roberto Luongo

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