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Original Issue

Pierre McGuire's In the Crease

Inspired by the energy of the 40,000-plus fans at the Winter Classic at Wrigley Field, Red Wings G.M. Ken Holland—whose team beat the Blackhawks in the New Year's Day game—has a plan to grow the league. At the G.M.'s meeting in March, Holland will propose that the first two games of the Stanley Cup finals be played at a neutral site with promotional rights sold for millions of dollars. This could create a Super Bowl--like environment at the start of the finals and potentially expand the NHL fan base.... The Penguins, 10th in the East through Sunday, sure miss Sergei Gonchar (above). Out since having shoulder surgery in October, he may be the game's most underappreciated defenseman. He scores (65 points in 2007--08), moves the puck, cares about his teammates and handles big minutes. Gonchar should be back by mid-February, but will that be too late to help Pittsburgh make the playoffs?