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Original Issue

In The Crease

Don't be surprised if you see former Penguins coach and current
assistant general manager Eddie Johnston working behind the
bench with rookie coach Ivan Hlinka before the regular season is
over. Hlinka, the former Czech national coach, has had
difficulty adapting to the NHL's emphasis on line matchups....

What kind of message is the league sending with its three-game
suspension of Sharks defenseman Bryan Marchment for his
knee-on-knee hit on the Canadiens' Martin Rucinsky last week?
The ban seems extremely light, considering that Marchment has
been suspended 10 other times in his career, three of which were
for similar hits. Rucinsky suffered a severe charley horse and
may return next week....

Since taking over for the fired Steve Ludzig more than two
months ago, Lightning coach John Tortorella has left no doubt
that he's in charge. On Feb. 25, Tortorella benched captain
Vincent Lecavalier for the third period in a 5-4 loss to the
Sabres, and last Thursday he shipped promising defenseman
Sheldon Keefe to the minors to work on his game. Tampa Bay has
responded well, going 6-3 in its last nine games through

Look for these two young minor leaguers to start making names
for themselves in the NHL next season: Canucks prospect Rene
Vydareny, 19, a 6'1", 198-pound aggressive defenseman with an
excellent shot, and the Predators' Jonas Andersson, 20, a
high-scoring 6'3", 200-pound power forward....

The Canadiens recently were denied permission to talk to Coyotes
director of hockey operations Laurence Gilman, who is considered
an expert on NHL bylaws, for a similar role with Montreal. Not
many people in hockey know more about such mundane but important
matters as waiver rules and scheduling....The two small deals
Ottawa made at the trade deadline have been big winners.
Acquiring center Mike Sillinger for his grit and face-off
ability and Curtis Leschyshyn for a physical presence on the
backline plugged holes for the Stanley Cup-hopeful Senators....

NHL general managers would like the two-referee system, which
was used full time this season, also to be implemented in the
minors and juniors so that officials would be well-schooled when
brought up to the top league. Young referees promoted to the NHL
have had difficulty adjusting to the two-man system, which only
the NHL employs. The biggest obstacle to getting the other
leagues to follow would be finding--and paying--those extra