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Original Issue

In The Crease

During a poor performance against the Devils last week,
Blackhawks defenseman Boris Mironov was told by first-year coach
Brian Sutter to leave the bench because he was done for the
night. Mironov, who has played well under Sutter after
underachieving last season, refused. Sutter eventually put him
back on the ice, and a fuming Mironov immediately leveled New
Jersey's Scott Stevens with a bodycheck. Sutter was happy with
Mironov's response, proving again that he's a master at getting
the most from his team, which through Sunday had the West's
second-best record.... At the Penguins' practice on Jan. 29,
defenseman Darius Kasparaitis and forward Krzysztof Oliwa
engaged in a stick-swinging, punch-throwing melee before
teammates broke it up. Apparently what started as good-natured
ribbing earlier this season has simmered into a feud.... Ken
Hitchcock's firing by the Stars last week may give Team Canada a
boost in Salt Lake City. Last Friday in Los Angeles, Hitchcock,
an assistant for Team Canada, watched seven hours of videotape
of NHL players and European teams with coach Pat Quinn. The next
day Hitchcock took in eight more hours with Wayne Fleming,
another assistant. If nothing else, the Canadians will be
prepared.... Trainers around the league are concerned about the
increasing number of broken feet and toes they are treating.
There are two theories about those injuries: 1) Many players now
use boots that are so form-fitting that there's no give when the
foot is hit, and 2) the carbon-fiber sticks, which have become
the rage, greatly enhance the speed of shots, causing more
damage when a flying puck hits a foot.