Rangers defenseman Stephane Quintal said recently that he wanted
to be traded to the Canadiens, for whom he played from 1995-96
through '98-99, but he shouldn't expect a warm welcome from his
former Montreal teammates if a deal is consummated. The reason?
As an unrestricted free agent last summer, Quintal could have
re-signed with the Canadiens but instead went for the big bucks
in New York ($11.4 million over four years) and alienated many
Pittsburgh coach Herb Brooks, who took over after Kevin
Constantine was fired on Dec. 9, deserves a lot of credit for
turning around the Penguins--they were 8-14-3-4 under
Constantine; 29-23-5-2 with Brooks behind the bench--and guiding
them to the playoffs. In addition Brooks was instrumental in
nurturing former Czech national coach Ivan Hlinka, who joined
Pittsburgh as associate coach on Feb. 21 and who is expected to
succeed Brooks next season....
One of the easiest ways to break down an opponent's forecheck is
to have a defenseman move the puck quickly and accurately, a
maneuver that takes on even more importance in the postseason.
Here are the top five backliners at that skill: 1) Nicklas
Lidstrom, Red Wings; 2) Chris Pronger, Blues; 3) Raymond
Bourque, Avalanche; 4) Eric Desjardins, Flyers; and 5) Teppo
Why did Red Wings forward Brendan Shanahan, who could have
commanded nearly $8 million per season as a free agent this
summer, sign a new deal with Detroit last week worth $26 million
over four years? Shanahan loves playing wing on Steve Yzerman's
line, he received the no-trade clause he wanted, and he had
little desire to be a pawn of the NHL Players' Association in
its salary battle with the league, as the Bruins' Byron Dafoe
was last year. Dafoe held out until Oct. 29 before finally
agreeing to the contract Boston offered him last summer, and
subsequently had a poor season.