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Original Issue

In The Crease

In addition to the hurry-up face-off rule (left), NHL brass is
watching the Olympics with an eye toward making other changes in
how the NHL plays. Coyotes owner Wayne Gretzky is pushing for
the NHL to reinstate the offside tag-up rule (abolished before
the 1996-97 season), which allows players who have entered the
offensive zone to get back out before the puck crosses the blue
line without a stoppage in play. The other important change
being discussed is the removal of the red line, which would open
the ice and improve offensive chances in the goal-starved
league.... How much is defenseman Chris Chelios respected by USA
coach Herb Brooks? Brooks is allowing Chelios, the American
captain, to make all the scheduling decisions for U.S.
practices, meetings, meals and social activities.... Last month
Blues defenseman Al MacInnis, who's regarded as having the
world's hardest shot, switched from a wood stick to a
carbon-fiber one made by Louisville, which adds even more
velocity to his blasts. MacInnis's new sticks, however, kept
breaking where the shaft meets the blade, so the company
installed an aluminum sleeve over the weak area. MacInnis says
he won't be switching back to wood.... For years Sweden has been
known to use a counterpunching neutral-zone trap in
international competition, but Anders Hedberg, who became the
Swedish G.M. nearly two years ago, has moved from that style of
play. In Salt Lake City, Sweden has used the Torpedo, an
aggressive forechecking system that also frees the team
offensively. When Sweden forces a turnover, all four Swedish
players without the puck sprint down the ice and spread as far
apart as possible, looking for a break. That system was an
important factor in Sweden's 5-2 win over Canada last Friday.