More than ever, coaches want their goaltenders to control
rebounds. With the rule change last season allowing goals to
stand even if an opponent's skater is in the crease, players are
more aggressively seeking rebounds close to the net. The three
best goaltenders at controlling rebounds are Martin Brodeur of
the Devils, Curtis Joseph of the Maple Leafs and Manny Fernandez
of the Wild....
One member of Kings management says Los Angeles has three bona
fide suitors for franchise defenseman Rob Blake, who is
scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent on July 1....
Last week in Colorado, Blackhawks wing Steve Sullivan was
bloodied by a high stick. While Sullivan made his way to the
bench for medical treatment, a fan taunted him unmercifully.
Later in the game Avalanche goalie Patrick Roy accidentally
cleared the puck over the plexiglas, and the heckler was hit in
the forehead. Sullivan had the last laugh in two ways: The fan
not only was cut by the puck, but Sullivan also returned to the
ice to score two goals....
Blues defenseman Chris Pronger, who had surgery last week to
repair a torn knee ligament, had NHL observers buzzing about his
threshold for pain. In addition to playing with that injured
left knee for three weeks, Pronger didn't miss a game after
breaking a finger about three weeks ago....
Don't be surprised if Wayne Gretzky's ownership group finally
gets control of the Coyotes during this weekend's All-Star
festivities in Denver. The deadline to buy the team from Richard
Burke is Feb. 15, but the final obstacles to the deal appear to
have been overcome, and the league would like nothing more than
to trot out Gretzky before the large media gathering....
NHL owners have relied on expansion fees (about $3 million per
team per year) for a decade as nine new teams entered the
league. With expansion no longer on the horizon, it will be
interesting to see how clubs, a number of which have been crying
poor the last few years, make do without the income.