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Original Issue

In the Crease

Look for 30-year-old Avalanche center Joe Sakic, who will be a
restricted free agent this summer, to try to hammer out a
long-term extension that would keep him in Colorado for the rest
of his career....

Hockey observers were surprised last week when the red-hot
Capitals (15-3-4-0 in their last 22 games through Sunday) picked
up 32-year-old wing Joe Murphy, who was waived by the Bruins
because of repeated acts of insubordination toward coach Pat
Burns. However, Washington general manager George McPhee
promised the players already on the Caps' roster that if Murphy
acts up and spoils team chemistry--he has a reputation for being
irritatingly eccentric--he will be out the door in a hurry....

Last week the Canadiens suspended defenseman Vladimir
Malakhov for one week because he broke the provision in his
contract prohibiting him from skiing, a particularly bizarre act
considering he hadn't played a game this season after injuring
his right knee in September. But by revealing his misstep,
Montreal, which was planning to deal Malakhov (an unrestricted
free agent this summer) after he returned to the lineup, which
he did last Saturday, hurt its bargaining position....

The expansion Columbus Blue Jackets, who will begin play next
season, will be the only NHL team to have its practice facility
directly connected to its arena. The Blue Jackets hope to use
the 700-seat facility, which will cost $7.4 million, to attract
fans to practices....

One reason the Blues (34-15-6-0) remained atop the Central
Division despite a plethora of injuries was the outstanding work
done by Greg Gilbert, the coach of St. Louis's farm team in
Worcester, Mass. The Blues' roster has eight players who were
under Gilbert's direction in the minors.