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Original Issue

In the Crease

Director of officiating Andy Van Hellemond deserves credit for
remaining vigilant about his anti-slashing campaign. Before last
Saturday's Maple Leafs-Rangers game in Toronto, he showed
referees Stephen Walkom and Don Van Massenhoven video replays of
a slashing incident that hadn't been whistled in an
Islanders-Devils match the previous night. (Those two were not
the refs.) Through the first two months of last season seven
players suffered hand injuries directly related to slashing,
while none had over the same span this year....

One reason for the Canadiens' improved play (4-2-1) since
general manager Rejean Houle and coach Alain Vigneault were
fired two weeks ago is the addition of Rick Green as assistant
coach. Green, an NHL defenseman for 15 years, has done a
terrific job with Montreal's back line, giving the unit more
direction than it had before....

With defenseman Derek Morris ending his holdout with the Flames,
don't be surprised to see Stanley Cup-worthy teams trying to pry
power-play specialist Phil Housley from Calgary....

As enforcers Stu Grimson of the Kings and Dale Purinton of the
Rangers jostled for position before a face-off in a game last
week, linesman Ray Scapinello told them, "I guess you boys are
going to go." When the puck was dropped, Grimson and Purinton
immediately fought. Proof that all hockey fights aren't

How tough is Toronto defenseman Dimitry Yushkevich? After having
two toes broken on Nov. 29, when he blocked a slap shot by the
Blues' Al MacInnis, he wanted to play in the Leafs' next game.
Team doctors required him to sit out because they were concerned
that his toes would get infected--a bone in one of them had
popped through the skin. Yushkevich, however, played in the
following match three days later....

Coyotes general manager Bobby Smith, who was expected to be
fired when Wayne Gretzky's ownership group officially took
control of the team, looks as if he'll survive, in part because
of Phoenix's 13-8-6 start.