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Original Issue

In The Crease

Two of the NHL's most senior referees, Terry Gregson, 48, and
Paul Stewart, 47, were not chosen to officiate in the playoffs.
NHL director of officiating Andy Van Hellemond was worried that
Gregson and Stewart, who worked 72 and 62 games, respectively, in
the regular season, were not quick enough in the corners to avoid
interrupting the flow of play. Van Hellemond, who has been
concerned that the league's best officials are graying, also
wanted to fast-forward the development of his best young
referees, such as Kevin Pollock, 32, Stephane Auger, 31, and Marc
Joannette, 33. Entering the 2001-02 regular season, none of those
three had worked more than 80 NHL games.... Former NFL
quarterback Bernie Kosar, who bought a minority interest in the
Panthers last year, is about to end his tenure as an NHL owner.
He and majority owner Alan Cohen have bickered about how to run
the franchise, and Kosar is set to sell his interest in the
team.... The Thrashers' electrifying 19-year-old rookie wing,
Ilya Kovalchuk, who scored 29 goals before sustaining a
season-ending shoulder injury on March 10, will earn about $4.4
million in '01-02, but that hasn't stopped his agent, Jay
Grossman, from trying to get more money for his client.
Kovalchuk's three-year contract calls for a $250,000 bonus if he
scores 30 or more goals in a season, a plateau he had seemed
certain to reach before he was sidelined in Atlanta's 65th game.
Last week Grossman asked Thrashers general manager Don Waddell to
pay the bonus, but Waddell declined.