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Original Issue

In The Crease

Word out of Colorado is that the Avalanche needs a vocal leader
in the dressing room. The player the team misses is right wing
Mike Keane, a free agent who left the club after last season to
sign with the Rangers. Keane is not afraid to challenge
teammates to play better and work harder; and with New York
foundering, he could be back in Colorado for the right price....

Neil Smith, the Rangers general manager, has a difficult
decision: Does he begin now to rebuild a team that is ninth in
the East, or hope his team rebounds in its final 25 games and
makes the playoffs? If he decides to retool, he probably will
try to move, in addition to Keane, high-priced veterans such as
forwards Brian Skrudland and Kevin Stevens and defenseman Jeff
Beukeboom. However, Smith would have to eat a portion of their
sizable contracts. By the way, Smith asked the Red Wings about
unsigned restricted free agent center Sergei Fedorov. Detroit
asked for defenseman Brian Leetch in return, ending the

Nine Canadiens missed practice because of nagging leg injuries
after a game against the Islanders last week. Many Montreal
players attributed their hurts to the soft, rutted ice they had
played on in Carolina three days earlier....

Islanders coach Rick Bowness should be overjoyed with the
addition of center Trevor Linden, who was acquired from the
Canucks last week for defenseman Bryan McCabe and wing Todd
Bertuzzi. The Islanders are a talented young team, but the
22-year-old McCabe was in over his head in the captain's role.
Linden is a solid veteran with leadership ability....

The Canadiens brass knows it needs bigger players if the team is
to become a serious contender. That's part of the reason 5'11",
179-pound Valeri Bure was traded last week to Calgary for 6'3",
213-pound wing Jonas Hoglund and 6'1", 215-pound defenseman
Zarley Zalapski. Two weeks earlier Montreal made a deal with
Tampa and brought in three players, the smallest being 6'1",
208-pound forward Patrick Poulin.

Pierre McGuire coached the Hartford Whalers in 1993-94.