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Original Issue

In The Crease

With Dallas defenseman Derian Hatcher suspended for seven games,
including the first five of the playoffs, because of his brutal
hit last week on Coyotes center Jeremy Roenick, expect Stars
defensemen Sergei Zubov and Darryl Sydor to get targeted by the
Oilers in their first-round series. Without Hatcher's physical
presence Edmonton will try to bang those two finesse blueliners
whenever possible, which, even if it doesn't hurt Dallas in the
opening round, could have an effect on the Stars later in the

Don't be surprised if two original Panthers are traded in the
off-season. Forwards Scott Mellanby and Bill Lindsay have worn
out their welcomes, the former for being outspoken behind closed
doors in defense of his teammates and the latter for falling out
of favor with management....

Andrei Zyuzin, the Sharks' 21-year-old defenseman, missed 12
games late this season because of personal problems. The reason
he rejoined the team on April 14? His mother, Lidia, flew to San
Jose from Ufa, Russia, and persuaded him to do so....

The cry you may have heard coming from Anaheim last week was
Mighty Ducks general manager Pierre Gauthier lamenting the
three-year, $30 million contract extension the Avalanche handed
center Peter Forsberg. After the season Gauthier must re-sign
star wing Paul Kariya, who becomes a restricted free agent. The
agent for both players is Don Baizley....

With the retirement of Wayne Gretzky, the Rangers have a big
hole at center, so don't be shocked if they call the Canucks
about reacquiring Mark Messier. (He would waive the no-trade
clause in his contact for the right price.) Both teams would
benefit from such a trade. The rebuilding Canucks would dump
Messier's $6 million salary in 1999-2000 and possibly get a
younger player or a draft choice in return. The Rangers would
not only fill their hole at center but also score a p.r. coup
and perhaps satisfy star defenseman Brian Leetch, who becomes an
unrestricted free agent in July and is still a close friend of
Messier's. Before re-signing with New York, Leetch wants to know
that the team will be competitive.