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Original Issue

In The Crease

Don't be surprised if the Devils sign speedy and skilled forward
Brian Gionta of Boston College after the NCAA tournament to help
them in their run for a second straight Stanley Cup. The 5'7",
160-pound Gionta, who was drafted by New Jersey in the fourth
round in 1998, is tied for the Division I lead in goals (29)
through Sunday. He's another example of astute drafting by the

It's time the Senators' beloved assistant coach Roger Neilson,
who's ailing with malignant melanoma, is voted into the Hockey
Hall of Fame in the Builders category. During his 25-year NHL
career Neilson has brought numerous innovations to the game,
like videotape instruction....

Bruins forward Joe Thornton, who has been dominant for the last
couple of weeks (17 points in his last 10 games), was pulled
aside by coach Mike Keenan recently and told to stop taking
unnecessary stick-related penalties. Keenan, who likes
Thornton's aggressive play, is concerned Thornton may develop a
rep with referees as a dirty player....

The pressure is on the Hurricanes' amateur scouting department
because Carolina will have three compensatory draft picks (for
losing free agents Sean Hill, Gary Roberts and Paul Coffey last
summer) in addition to its own selections in the June draft.
Those extra choices could be in the second, third and fourth

Many G.M.'s are worried that the club that trades for
restricted-free-agent goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin, whose
rights are owned by the Coyotes, will accede to his demand that
he be paid for the 2000-01 season, which would set a dangerous
precedent. Khabibulin is looking for a long-term deal averaging
about $4 million a year....

What does Eric Lindros do while he waits for the Flyers to trade
him? Two weeks ago he and six friends went to an outdoor rink in
downtown Toronto to skate. Five boys, ages 10 to 12, were on the
ice, so teams were chosen, and the group played shinny for an
hour and a half.