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Week In Review after games played on Saturday, December 16th, 1989

 

12/10/89 Kings @ Nordiques Sunday Matinee HNIC Special

HNIC Opening December 10, 1989

Ron McLean and Don Cherry on the Ice

Beginning of the Game

Coach's Corner

Joe Sakic Interview

 

League Will Expand To 28 Teams, But Will Take Its Time

League Will Expand to 28 Teams, But Will Take Its Time

December 10, 1989|By FRANCIS ROSA, Boston Globe

WEST PALM BEACH -- With their wallets ready to bulge and the happy look of expansion on their faces, the NHL board of governors at 2 p.m. Saturday gave themselves a standing ovation.

 

They emerged from a six-hour meeting in which they opened the league`s arms to seven new teams -- the NHL to reach 28 teams by the end of the `90s.

``Come on in, whoever you may be,`` they said in effect. ``The entry fee will be not less than a measly $50 million.`` Even so, the line will form on the right.

President John Ziegler said, ``We have agreed in principle to become a league of 28 teams by the end of the century. The first step is to seek expansion by one or more teams to begin play no earlier than the 1992-93 season.``

The entry fee will be ``not less than $50 million, U.S. funds.... The exact amount to be set by the board of governors at a later date,`` he added. ``There`s still a lot of work to be done. We are not far enough along to set exact dates.``

Saturday`s decision was just the first step. The details of who, how, where, when and at what price will be the next steps -- after the expansion committee has gone through preparing the application papers. Those forms should be nearing finalization at the next meeting of the board of governors, during the third week in February, the exact date and site still undetermined.

Once the application forms -- and they involve considerable work -- have been completed, the league will accept them and franchises will be awarded, and there would be an expansion draft possibly in the summer of 1992.

Saturday`s action triggers the biggest hockey expansion since the league went from six teams to 12 in 1967. That was done in one fell swoop. This one, apparently, will be in two or three strides -- possibly 3-4, or 3-2-2.

Marcel Aubut, president of the Quebec Nordiques -- one of the four World Hockey Association teams that entered the league in the 1979 expansion -- and a member of the expansion committee, said his committee ``has been meeting almost every week since September, and we worked very hard.`` He feels ``our game is healthy and there`s a demand for it.`` He admitted, ``There is a lot of rationale behind the idea of adding three teams in the first step`` to the 28-team league, adding, ``We`re not likely to add seven all at once.``

Of course not. The most sensible thing would be to reach the 28-team total by adding three teams in the first expansion and balancing the league out to four six-team divisions and then adding four to create four seven-team divisions, four or five years later. By then, the price for a franchise could reach $100 million. That would be a tremendous lure for teams to be in the first progression. Their worth would increase instantly.

Harry Sinden, president and general manager of the Bruins, said, ``I`m pretty excited about it. I think it`s good. I think it`s great for the present league and for communities that don`t have hockey. It`s a necessary thing because I think there`s a demand -- if that`s the right word -- for it.``

 

He mentioned some of the considerations running through the minds of NHL people, such as ``would we do it all at once or make them wait? Would there be any more players available 10 years from now than there are now? And would the entry fee rise all the way to $100 million in five or six years?``

The initial thing the league had to decide, he pointed out, was ``should we consider expansion? You can`t get to the other steps until you determine that you do want to expand. Once that is done, you look at the other things, you find out where the good possibilities are, then you look at player availability, then you have to look at possible realignment. First you decided to expand, then you look at by how much, for how much and so on.``

That initial decision was made Friday -- not really to anyone`s surprise. What was unexpected was the length and breadth of the expansion.

What was left out, however, was any kind of statement from the league saying perhaps, ``We need a team on the West Coast; we need a team in the Midwest. All that Ziegler would say along those lines was, ``North America is our market, or particularly a hockey place. Hockey country is our principal marketplace. Hockey country -- where it is played or where it is known.``

Peter Pocklington, president of the Edmonton Oilers, said, ``We realized the market is big. There are a lot of cities really excited about getting a franchise. If you understand the business, what it does for a community, ($50 million) is inexpensive.``

At least $50 million -- my, how the money tree has grown. The fee for the first expansion in 1967 was $2 million per team. By the end of successive expansions -- two teams in 1970, two in 1972, two in 1974 and four in 1979 -- the price was up to $6 million. This time it soared. The $6 million it cost the four WHA teams, Edmonton, Quebec, Hartford and Winnipeg, to enter in 1979 is estimated to measure out to $18 million in today`s economy.

 

Kings Are Becoming Regal In Los Angeles

Kings Are Becoming Regal In Los Angeles

 By JOE SEXTON Published: December 11, 1989

 

INGLEWOOD, Calif.— THE locker room of the Los Angeles Kings is, aptly enough given its proximity to Hollywood, a scriptwriter's dream, for there is a story at every stall. And they are good tales, too, short on gimmicks and rich in substance and variety and even a bit of intrigue.

Take, for instance, Barry Beck. Or sit, for a minute, with Larry Robinson. The former is a defenseman, who like some aggrieved screen hero, is mounting his second comeback in the interests of making things right for himself and history. The latter is the accomplished, aging star who declines to give up the limelight just yet, old but still capable of getting in the way of a shot or two.

Perhaps, though, one's preference in plots inclines toward the revival of the rejected, and in that case there is always the option to move to the corner of the room where Mikko Makela, the former Islander, has hung his skates and hopes. Maybe, however, for those who don't tire of the traditional, there is the ongoing saga of the savior and thus the desire to fight through the crowd and listen to Wayne Gretzky.

''Interesting cast, no,'' asked Kelly Hrudey, the goaltender for the Kings, surveying the room.

Indeed. But is it an authentic hockey team, one capable of producing excitement and accomplishment on the ice as well as anecdotes off it?

''I think they might finally have begun to believe it,'' said Tom Webster, the coach. ''The mix is coming.''

As a result, the Kings have won 6 of their last 8 games, emerging from the slump that had marred their earl-mid season. Despite losing yesterday afternoon, the Kings remain in second place in the Smythe Division, 11 points removed from first.

Stocked with an array of the game's most prolific sharpshooters - Gretzky, Bernie Nicholls and Luc Robitaille - and patched together with an ensemble of former retirees and retreads - Beck, Makela, John Tonelli and Keith Crowder -they have achieved an arguable cohesion, even if they employ it in a still dangerous game plan.

Bernie Nicholls

''With us, we just go score as many as we can,'' said Beck. ''It's not the play that's won Stanley Cups. But you can do O.K. with it.''

Last spring Beck decided he again couldn't do without hockey. The longtime defenseman for the Rangers who endured a career that usually rendered him either disabled or a disappointment had come out of retirement briefly in 1987 only to suffer another injury to his bad shoulder.

''Over my career, I'd tried to come back certain times when I shouldn't have,'' said Beck. ''I'd played as soon as I could. But I'd be lying to myself. And I'd do it again and again.''

Beck, convinced his pain-free shoulder wasn't lying to him, opted to try it again last April. He rented ice a couple of days a week and skated mostly alone. He stepped up his pace and increased his optimism as the months passed, and didn't let a sore groin and broken thumb rekindle any fatalism in his outlook. He eventually sold a house in Vancouver, took his cash and his resume and sat down with the Kings.

He didn't want any part of New York and now considers himself grateful to be just a small part of owner Bruce McNall's generously paid, aggressively assembled outfit in Los Angeles.

''About the Rangers, I figured let that all rest, let that team move forward,'' said Beck. ''If what happened there was thrown in my face, that was fine. I'd accept all that. No one was more disappointed in the way things went in New York than me. It still runs pretty deep.

''Now, I'm here, and I don't care how it happened.''

Robinson, the perennial All-Star defenseman for the Canadiens, didn't have to come out of retirement to play for the Kings. He just felt that it was into retirement that he'd be ushered if he stayed in Montreal. McNall, the man who made a fortune dealing in rare coins and history in dealing for Gretzky, signed Robinson for two years, with an option for a third.

''I was prepared to play more than one year, and Mr. McNall was prepared to pay me to do it,'' said Robinson, who has played in all 28 games this season for the Kings, getting 35 points and the second highest defensive rating on the team. ''McNall's a businessman, and he's in the business of winning hockey games. He's got a nucleus to do that. From there, winning the whole thing's at least a possibility.''

Last season, in their first with Gretzky, the Kings went from 18th in the National Hockey League standings to fourth, knocking off Edmonton in an acutely emotional, riveting round of playoff hockey. The Kings, who had never sold out more than eight home games in a season, played before 24 sellouts at the Forum. Advertising sales increased by a million dollars.

''We're extremely serious about winning,'' said Hrudey, who came to the Kings late last season from the Islanders in another big trade. ''People aren't here, as they were in the past, to finish off their last couple of years in comfort.''

There exists, though, the question of just how comfortable the Kings are with one another. Management has traded with an almost ferocious frequency, adding in the last calendar year more than half a dozen players from different organizations. It also dismissed its coach, Robbie Ftorek, in the off season, and replaced him with Webster, an unknown quantity.

''Sure, you've got to be able to blend, but they've gone for specifics, and they've been smart,'' Steve Kasper, acquired from the Bruins last year, said of the front office. ''They need a checker, they've gotten one. They need a goalie, they've gotten one. And they've gotten quality.''

The players, meanwhile, maintain that they've also got an audience with Webster whenever they want, a luxury and respect they did not enjoy under Ftorek.

''Last year, you could go to the guy and he wouldn't necessarily listen, wouldn't even pay attention,'' Nicholls said of Ftorek. ''He had his ideas, and players didn't have a lot of say.''

Makela, the talented forward thought to have grossly underachieved with the Islanders, has not quite got over the shock of the trade that sent him here last month. He's gone from the bench to Gretzky's right wing, his world turned upside down and his game perhaps turned around as a result.

''To play with these guys is pretty nice,'' said Makela, who had an assist and 5 shots in his first game with the Kings. ''But everything here surprises me.'' That, in itself, is not a shock, for the Kings are a team with a story for every stall. Whether they can together write the Stanley Cup story remains to be seen.

 

Czech Star Will Try With Oilers

Czech Star Will Try With Oilers

Originally published Friday, Dec. 15, 1989 JIM MATHESON, Journal Staff Writer

When Vladimir Ruzicka arrives here next month, the newest Edmonton Oiler will declare only one thing – his pride.  The Czech national team captain signed to play in the National Hockey League Thursday.

He could have taken his money and run to the Alps. It would have been a cushy retirement job; short work week, great money, close to home and nice perks after making about $12,000 a year playing for Litvinov.

Instead he has chosen to move here with his wife and two children for a much tougher hockey life in North America.

Ruzicka, 26, has signed a four-year contract with the Oilers after being wooed the last several weeks by general manager Glen Sather, chief scout Barry Fraser and, ironically, Sather’s main antagonist Rich Winter.

Why here? The Oiler offer was better and “after all, it’s the NHL,” said Ruzicka.

Ruzicka, who played with Oilers winger Petr Klima on the 1984 Canada Cup team, said he will be here no later than Jan. 10. He’ll play his last Czech game against Brno the day before. Whenever he goes through customs at the airport and walks into his new workplace, it’s a coup.

It’s also a risk; who knows how he’ll adapt. But one thing’s clear, Ruzicka was arguably the best player in eastern Europe.

“Looking at it from our point of view, at this time of year, where can you find a player of his ability?” said Sather, who flew to Czechoslovakia to make his pitch.

“Who knows how it’ll work out but still you can’t find guys like him anywhere unless you trade. Our league is so competitive you have to look all over the world.”

Sather has long been a maverick; he takes risks.

Another Oiler gamble

He gambled on Craig MacTavish. He gambled on Kent Nilsson. He gambled on a kid just up from the minors named Andy Moog against Montreal in the ’81 playoffs. He knows bringing in any player halfway through a year sometimes hurts the team chemistry, but Ruzicka could be part of the right equation.

“I’m a little reluctant because our team is coming together. We have a good mix of guys who get along well. Then you drop a guy into it . . . what happens?”

For a minute or two, he played devil’s advocate.

“He has limited English and it’s a different style of hockey here. There’s the culture shock; he’s not going to be able to go through a training camp like (Jaroslav) Pouzar was able to do. That makes it tougher. We also travel a lot more.” That said, Sather feels it was worth it. “I’m not worried.”

Forget rumors

He’s heard the disparaging stories that Ruzicka is on the lazy side. But he scoffed at them.

“I sure as hell don’t want him tagged with that. How can a guy who scores 45 goals a year, who’s captain of his national team be like that? That’s a far-fetched thing,” said Sather, who saw Ruzicka play in Czechoslovakia.

Ruzicka, who had 42 points in 29 Czech league games this season, is tickled to be coming to the NHL. In a phone conversation from Litvinov, he described the Oiler contract as “excellent.”

He’s concerned that too much may be expected of him, but added, “I’ll do whatever I can not to disappoint them.”

The 6-foot-3, 212-pound centre hopes to wear No. 89 here, presumably to signify the year he got his new job. “It would be nice to play with Mr. 85 (Klima),” he said.

Where he plays is up to coach John Muckler, who said: “I’ve never seen him play. I don’t know what he’s done as a player. When he gets here we’ll evaluate him and see where he fits in.”

The pursuit of Ruzicka started a couple of years ago.

“Phil (ex-Ranger GM Esposito) was trying to sign him,” said Sather. They had obtained his rights from Toronto when they traded Mark Osborne. Esposito couldn’t get him and his rights went back to the Leafs this summer. After a sour experiment and huge payout for Miroslav Ihnacak, they looked around to deal him again. And Sather was more than willing, for an unspecified draft pick.

“It was a long struggle. I’m glad it’s over,” said Sather. “It was so complicated, so complex . . . a lot of people got involved.”

Sather refused to say what it cost the Oilers for his release and salary. The terms will be announced Jan. 1.

 

December 12th
To Montreal: Todd Ewen
To St. Louis: futures

Montreal addressed some of the lack of muscle in their lineup with Todd Ewen from the St. Louis Blues.  Ewen could not crack the Blues lineup much this season, appearing in just 3 games and spending time with the Peoria Rivermen of the IHL.  Ewen has amassed 398 penalty minutes in 98 games in the past 2 seasons with the Blues.  The Canadiens have been criticized for not carrying enough toughness in the rough and tumble Adams Division that features Boston, Buffalo, Hartford, and Quebec, who each can employ multiple enforcers on any given night. 

 

December 13th
To Winnipeg: Paul MacDermid
To Hartford
: Randy Cunneyworth

The Jets and Whalers swap wingers Wednesday.  Paul MacDermid, the right winger goes to the Jets.  Randy Cunneyworth, who has played on the left side this season has been sent to the 1st place Whalers.  Cunneyworth has been the more productive commodity this season, scoring 6 goals and 5 assists, but MacDermid brings more physicality with his 70 PIM, 6 hits, and 9 takeaways.  Both teams feel like they are improving their roster and in areas in need, both positionally and attribute-wise.

 


Christian is Traded to Bruins

December 13-

To Washington: Bob Joyce
To Boston: Dave Christian

Christian Is Traded to Bruins

Dave Christian and the Washington Capitals parted company yesterday after six-plus seasons as the team traded him to the Boston Bruins for 23-year-old left wing Bob Joyce. "I'm excited," Christian said yesterday from his home as he hurried to catch a plane to Buffalo, where the Bruins played last night. "I hope it's beneficial for everybody concerned. I want to get up there and play hockey. It's a fresh start and I think it's going to be a good thing."

 Christian had one shot and was even in his Bruins’ debut as the Sabres shutout Boston 2-0.

Both Christian and Joyce have a history of scoring goals, but both have struggled this season to put the puck in the net. The 30-year-old Christian is third on the Capitals' career scoring list, having averaged 31.7 goals through six seasons, but had just four goals this season.

 Joyce, who is 6 feet 1 and 195 pounds, had 18 goals and 31 assists in 1988-89, his first full season with the Bruins. But this season he's played in just 23 of 30 games and has three goals and four assists.

 

"When the shock wears off, they may see that the grass is greener for them with a new organization and it will serve as a wake-up call for both players," said Washington General Manager David Poile, who has brought in younger players over the last year to the point that only one player, Rod Langway, is more than 30 years old. But Christian had shown no signs of slowing up and was very much a part of the team's plans until his slump. "We had discussions about whether time would cure all," Poile said. "After knocking that around, we decided this morning that we'd be better off making a trade."

 

Boston General Manager Harry Sinden said, "Maybe we can get David going and they can get Bobby going." Joyce arrived here last night and is scheduled to practice today with the Capitals, whose next game will be Friday night against the New York Islanders at Capital Centre. Christian and Joyce have both worn No. 27, so only the names will change.

 

 

 Joyce's agent spoke with Sinden early this week and, although he didn't ask for a trade, the idea was not discouraged. "Things hadn't gone all that great this year," Joyce said. "I was surprised that it happened so quickly. But it is a positive move." Capitals Coach Bryan Murray called Christian into his office at practice yesterday to tell him Poile was on the phone. "I knew pretty much at that point," Christian said. "I certainly felt we had to move," said Murray, who will try Joyce on a line with Dale Hunter and Yvon Corriveau. "When Bob Joyce's name was brought to my attention, I thought it was a good idea. First of all he's a young player, 6-1, 195, a left winger with a history of scoring goals. He's had a tough year this year, like Dave Christian. I don't know if he's going to be a top star in the league, but I think he has a chance to be a pretty good player. "Dave Christian was an outstanding player here. He played hard and was a very important person in the growth of the team." Christian had played 243 consecutive games until last week, when he was scratched from the Philadelphia and Pittsburgh contests. The day before the Flyers game, Poile said he didn't want to trade Christian, but didn't rule it out. Christian had vaguely talked about a change of scenery, but yesterday said, "At that point I wasn't thinking about being traded." That's probably because he had put down some roots and had become something of a fixture. Only Langway and Scott Stevens have been here longer, but just by one season.

 

 

Christian arrived in 1983 from Winnipeg, which got the Capitals' first-round pick that year. The Jets used it to select Bobby Dollas, who has spent most of the past five seasons in the minors and is now playing with the Canadian national team. The Capitals had been to the playoffs for the first time the season before. In Christian's first season, he led Washington in assists with 52. The team reached the second round of the Patrick Division playoffs, with Murray being named coach of the year. In 1985-86, Christian led the Capitals in goals (41) and points (83). Before the trade he was first among current Capitals in career goals (195) and points (423), and second (to Stevens) in assists (233). For his 10-year NHL career, which includes three-plus seasons in Winnipeg, Christian has 273 goals and 363 assists. "David's done a lot and meant a lot to the Washington Capitals for the last six seasons," Poile said. "He was one of the main figures in the success we've had in bringing the Capitals from one of the lower teams in the NHL to one of the better teams in the NHL."

 

Christian, his wife, Lisa, and their four children eventually will move north, but he'll take the memory of having helped a once-struggling expansion franchise grow. "None at all," he said when asked if he would also take any bitterness. "We certainly have some good friends here and Lisa's family is from this area, so certainly we'll miss all of that," Christian said. "But I know people in Boston and have friends there. We'll go and make the best of it. Life goes on. "Spending seven years here, I certainly enjoyed the time. I watched the interest and fan support grow over the course of seven years." Joyce grew up in Winnipeg and went to the University of North Dakota, as did Christian, who is from Minnesota. In 1986-87, Joyce led the NCAA in goals with 52 and had 89 points in 48 games while playing on a line with St. Louis's Tony Hrkac. But the Bruins' change to a more creative style this season under new coach Mike Milbury did not seem to suit Joyce. He is hoping the Capitals' style and a change in locale will help, although he is more familiar with the former than the latter. "I'm not very aware of the area," Joyce said, a bit apologetically. "A little less snow, I guess."

DAVE CHRISTIAN'S CAPITALS STATS

Year....Games..Goals..Asst..Pts.

1983-84....80....29....52....81

1984-85....80....26....43....69

1985-86....80....41....42....83

1986-87....76....23....27....50

1987-88....80....37....21....58

1988-89....80....34....31....65

1989-90....28.... 4.... 13....17

Totals....504...194...233...427 –

 

BOB JOYCE'S BRUINS STATS –

Year....Games..Goals.Asst..Pts.

1987-88....15....7....5....12

1988-89....77...18...31....49

1989-90....23....3....4....7

Totals....115...28...40....68

 

 

Millen Gets Traded to Nordiques, Won’t Go

December 14th
To Quebec: Tony Hrkac and Greg Millen

To St. Louis: Jeff Brown

 

 

Millen Won't Go

 

Blues' Future Put In Hands Of Young Goalies

So Greg Millen isn't eager to call his travel agent and book the next available flight to Quebec City. How can that be? The Nordiques (9-22-1) are so bad that they will not qualify for the National Hockey League playoffs. Yes, that bad. They are coached by an angry man, Michel Bergeron, who can curse his players in two languages. The citizens of Quebec are snobs, so enamored with themselves and their haughty French culture that they have expressed a desire to separate from the rest of Canada and form their own nation. Millen will have to pay higher taxes. He'll get paid in Canadian money, and eat a big loss in the exchange.

His children will ask: "Daddy, what's a Nordique?" There are no English newspapers. If he's lucky, Millen will live in a neighborhood that gets a cable television station out of Burlington, Vt. If you're not a Frenchman, living in Quebec City is as socially rewarding as being a non-Caucasian in Mississippi before the civil rights movement. Except that they do televise hockey games a privilege that Millen doesn't have as a resident of Chesterfield.

 

When defenseman Jeff Brown, who has come to the Blues from Quebec in exchange for Millen and Tony Hrkac, landed on American ground at Lambert Field on Thursday, he cried freedom. Brown felt emancipated. Millen acted like someone who had just been banished to Siberia which he was. Millen didn't deserve this. His wife, Ann, didn't deserve this. His three young daughters Allison, Emily and Caroline didn't deserve this. And the Blues who now will conduct their version of "The Gong Show" to decide on a new goaltender didn't deserve this. I can only interpret the Millen trade this way: Blues management doesn't believe the team can advance far in this season's playoffs. General manager Ron Caron must believe that, or he never would have created such a void at his team's most critical position. Caron, as always, is taking a risk. This is how he operates on the edge. Gamble. Wheel. Deal. Sometimes you get Brett Hull; sometimes you get Eddy Beers. "Sometimes you must challenge risk to locate a missing Ingredient," Caron said. This deal might look good in two years, because Caron has added another young recruit to a promising nucleus that is constantly expanding. Brown, if he is right, belongs In the company of the brightest young Blues: Hull, Rod Brind'Amour, Adam Oates, Paul Cavallini, Peter Zezel. Millen is 32; Brown 23. Again, Caron has managed to exchange age for youth. (See Bernie Federko).

 

Moreover, the Blues lack scoring punch from their defense, and the hard-shooting Brown will make plays, take chances and ignite the power play. He adds a dimension the Blues have lacked since Rob Ramage burned out and was traded. He is the player Brian Benning failed to become. But Brown, something of a head case in Quebec perfectly understandable has been known to roam too far and take foolish gambles, leaving the defensive end vulnerable. It will be interesting to hear coach Brian Sutter's reaction the first few times that Brown makes an ill-advised rush and gets caught up ice. "We don't have someone like Brown," Caron said. "He can average a point a game. We're adding offensive dimension, risking defensive absence."

 

Caron has been on a roll, stealing players and draft picks from general managers throughout the continent, but this is the kind of trade that needs to be made before the season if your goal is to win today. If the priority is a short-term return, you don't trade Millen unless you're positive that a reliable replacement can fill his equipment. Despite the occasional lapse, Millen is in his prime, having his best season. Trying to position themselves favorably in the Norris Division, slowly making progress on that long road to the playoffs, the Blues now look to the following candidates to play goal: Vincent Riendeau, who has played in 41 NHL games. Pat Jablonski, who has played in 0 NHL games. Guy Hebert, who has played in 0. Curtis Joseph, who has played in 0. Reindeau is 23; the others are 22. Joseph is the $1 million rookie, but youth is difficult to project. In any equation, a young blood will inherit the goal in the Stanley Cup playoffs. "This is Riendeau's fourth year," Caron said. "Either he is able to play now, or he'll never be. And the time has come to find out about the kids." If they flop, the Blues will flop.

 

Is Jeff Brown destined to become the next Caron folly, the next Eddy Beers? Caron certainly has nerves of steel. Unless his young goalies are made of the same fiber, the Blues will go nowhere this season.

 

Kevin Manning Post-Dispatch

Trade Gets Brown Out Of A Rut By Dave Luecking Of the Post-Dispatch Staff

Former Blues goaltender Greg Millen promised that fireworks would erupt at his news conference day afternoon, in the wake of his trade to the Quebec Nordiques. He did not disappoint, and the plot thickened in Millen's first day in limbo, his status as a player in the National Hockey League uncertain. Millen threatened to retire. If he does, the trade that sent him and center Tony Hrkac to the Nordiques for defenseman Jeff Brown could be nullified in accordance with NHL rules. The day's events: At 2 p.m., Millen said at a news conference at the Double Tree Hotel that he would not report to the Nordiques and was considering retirement because "we have a contractual problem with the St. Louis Blues organization." He deferred all questions to his "attorney, friend and business partner," Frank Caputo and provided no further details other than to say it had nothing to do with the Nordiques, whom he called "innocent bystanders in all this." He also expressed concerns about uprooting his family from his home of almost five years.

 

At 5 p.m., the Blues Issued a press release from team President Jack Quinn "so there is no misunderstanding." The release, in effect, said Millen signed on Dec 16, 1988, a new "standard" contract for three years and an option year. NHL President John A. Ziegler signed it on Jan. 9 and the NHL central registry approved it. The statement reiterated that the Blues had transferred the rights of Millen and Hrkac to the Nordiques for the rights to Brown. At 6:30 p.m., Caputo, in a phone call from Toronto, said his visit to St. Louis two weeks ago was more business than pleasure, with a meeting with general manager Ron Caron. Caputo contended that some kind of agreement was made.

 

"Change Brown is an explosive skater, a deft puck-handler, and he possesses a big righthanded shot. His offensive ability has never been questioned, but his defense and intensity has. Nordiques coach Michel Bergeron benched him for two games earlier this season and publicly questioned his work ethic. At that point, Brown was put on the trading block. After the Nordiques shopped him around, he was taken off the block and offered a new contract. Brown said he was pleasantly surprised by the terms and was close to signing. "Actually, I felt pretty good about that the last week or so," Brown said. "We were only $5,000 or $10,000 apart. That's not much for where we were at two or three months ago." Then, Wednesday morning, Bergeron called him in and said a trade was in the works. Brown was only mildly surprised by the turn of events. "They needed a shakeup in Quebec," he said.

 

At least the latest Blues trade made one man happy. Defenseman Jeff Brown, acquired by the Blues from the Quebec Nordiques for center Tony Hrkac and goaltender Greg Millen, hopes the trade will give him a fresh start on his National Hockey League career. "I was kind of getting into a little bit of a rut in Quebec City," said Brown, 23. "I think the change will do me a world of good. I think with the losing and the problems we went through there the last couple of years, the controversies, I got into a rut." When he did, fans and the local media began wondering why. The rumor mill was grinding him up. "There were some things I didn't appreciate in Quebec City," he said. "Things started getting blown out of proportion when a rumor started.

 

 

 

Team Spotlight: The NHL co-Leading Calgary Flames

 

 

NHL Standings

The Hartford Whalers came out of their franchise record 14-game unbeaten streak with a very secure lead on the Adams Division pack, but they are 5-4-1 in their 10 games since.  Normally, this performance would adequately maintain a big lead, but the Adams Division in not a normal division.  4th place Buffalo has lost 2 of their last 11, and Boston is 9-0-1 in their past 10 games not involving the Sabres.  Montreal has been the closest competitor throughout the season thusfar and remain in second, despite struggling as of late, losing 4 of 6,  Hartford still has a 6 point lead in the Adams, but are a bad week or two from sliding into 3rd or even 4th place.

The New York Islanders are quickly supplanting the Whalers as the NHL’s most surprising team.  They have 41 points, good enough for 1st in the Division 7 points ahead of the Capitals.  Their shot differential is a Wales Conference best +2.91 and they have gotten the most bang for their buck with their goaltenders Mark Fitzpatrick and Glenn Healy.  The Capitals, Devils, and Flyers remain log-jammed with 2 points separating the 3 teams, and the Rangers are lurking on the outside looking in, 4 points behind the pack.  Pittsburgh is falling deeper into the hole, with an NHL-worst 17 points, 15 away from Philadelphia for the last Patrick Division playoff spot.

The top 3 teams in the Norris Division, St. Louis, Toronto, and Chicago are all within 1 point.  One team has failed to emerge from the pack as of yet.  St. Louis holds some games in hand and are the only team above .500.  There is a dogfight at the bottom of the Norris for the playoffs between Minnesota and Detroit.  The North Stars hold the spot by just 2 points.

Calgary continues its stranglehold on the Smythe Division.  Even with a torrid run through Eastern Canada, the Kings remain 11 points back.  Winnipeg has been playing well and hold 3rd.  Vancouver has slipped as of late and are in 4th with 31 points, but Edmonton has failed to capitalize.  They are 4 points out of 4th place, but still in striking distance.  They are in need of either Bill Ranford or Grant Fuhr to heat up.

 

 

Now on to the NHL’s league leaders through the tenth week of action.

Wayne Gretzky and the Kings are Surging; Gretzky Shares NHL Points Lead

 

POINTS LEADERS

 

 

GOALS LEADERS

 

Bernie Nicholls has Quietly Racked up 40 Assists to Lead the NHL

ASSISTS LEADERS

 

POINTS PER GAME LEADERS

 

 

PLUS/MINUS LEADERS

 

WORST PLUS/MINUS

Yikes!

 

PENALTY MINUTES LEADERS

 

TAKEAWAYS LEADERS

 

HITS LEADERS

 

FACEOFF PERCENTAGE LEADERS

 

POWERPLAY GOALS LEADERS

 

GAME-WINNING GOALS LEADERS

 

SHOTS ON GOAL

When you are facing LaFontaine and the Islanders, be ready to see lots of rubber

 

SAVE PERCENTAGE LEADERS

 

GOALS AGAINST AVERAGE LEADERS

 

GOALIE RATING PERCENTAGE LEADERS

 

GOALIE WINS

 

MINUTES PLAYED

 

SHUTOUTS

 

Game of the Week:

Big Apple Rivalry Night in Nassau

The cross-town rivalry between the Rangers and Islanders met for the 5th time already this season with the series tied 2-2-0, with each team winning its home games.  The two teams are at opposite ends of the spectrum so to speak.  The Islanders sit atop of the Patrick Division, ahead of the pack with an 18-13-3 record which has far surpassed expectations.  The Rangers, on the other hand came in 12-16-4 and are on the outside looking in, holding 5th place in the Patrick Division and in desperate need of points.  Many picked the Rangers to win the Division in ’89-’90. 

The Rangers got out early, with Ulf Dahlen notching an early powerplay goal with NHL’s +/- leader Doug Crossman sitting in the box.  Brad Lauer chipped in a goal from the 4th line 8 minutes in, to pull the Islanders into a 1-1 tie.  Mark Janssens again put the Rangers ahead with 2:02 remaining in the period on a nice setup from Darren Turcotte.  Tony Granato and Pat Flatley got into a fight with 32 seconds left in the period that saw Granato pick up an additional minor.  It took the Rangers 12 seconds to capitalize, and Brent Sutter set Derek King up with his 7th on the far side of Vanbiesbrouck to tie the game at 2 going into the 1st intermission.

The second period saw 22 shots combined by both teams and 4 powerplays, but nobody could get on the board.  Kris King and Mick Vukota got tangled up in a heavyweight fight, followed by Tomas Sandstrom and Don Maloney in an undercard 4 minutes later.

The third period began with some carry-over altercations between James Patrick and Gary Nylund, and Ken Baumgartner of the Islanders received a 10-minute misconduct.  In all, the game saw 76 penalty minutes including 3 fights, a double-minor altercation, and the misconduct.  Neither team wanted to give an inch.

Dave Volek opened the third period scoring to put the Islanders up 3-2 with his 10th with 15:41 remaining.  John Ogrodnick and the Islanders powerplay would make a huge difference though.  Ogrodnick scored powerplay goals at the 5:39 mark to tie it and the 16:21 mark to take a late Rangers lead.  The Rangers were 4 for 4 with the man-advantage on the night.

The Islanders do not quit though.  As time was winding down in the last minute and the powerplay, Al Arbour pulled the goaltender.  Jeff Norton blasted one from the top of the circle that got through traffic and behind Vanbiesbrouck to tie the game with 49 seconds remaining. 

Overtime was close-checking, with no shots in the first 3:50.  Don Maloney tried to make a pass to break out of his zone and it was intercepted by Derek King, who got the puck to Brent Sutter who set up Pat Flatley alone on the goaltender.  Flatley roofed the puck over the glove of Vanbiesbrouck for the game-winning goal, followed by the Islanders pouring off the bench to revel in the victory.

 

 

 

 

Fight of the week:

As usual, we find ourselves in the Norris Division.  In a rough game Friday night between Chicago and Detroit, the Red Wings were winning 3-2 in the third period.  Joey Kocur had cashed his 12th of the season in on the powerplay with 19 seconds remaining in the second period.  Secord, looking to shake things up, went at Kocur early in the period and the two squared off at the 3:29 mark.  It was a good fight from the getgo, but Kocur ended up with the upper hand, landing 2 crushing rights as he got his arm free before the players went down.  Secord got up off the ice to display a cut lip, and left some blood on the ice.  Inspired, the Blackhawks’ Savard netted a goal to tie the game less than 3 minutes later, but Chicago later would drop the game 4-3.

 

MOLSON 3 STAR POINTS LEADERS

skaters

 

goaltenders

 

3 Stars of the Week:

  1. Bernie Nicholls – Los Angeles
  2. Wayne Gretzky – Los Angeles
  3. Mike Bullard - Philadelphia

 

Bernie Nicholls led the way for the Kings who had a torrid stretch this week of 5 games in 7 days.  Nicholls potted 5 goals and 8 assists for 13 points in those 5 games.  His linemate, Wayne Gretzky also had a huge week with 5 goals and 7 assists to vault to the top of the NHL points lead.  Mike Bullard of the Flyers gets the 3rd star with 5 goals and 4 assists in 3 games, a terrific pace.

 

 

TEAM PP% RANKINGS

 

TEAM SH RANKINGS

 

TEAM GOAL DIFFERENTIAL

Ron Francis has the Whalers believing

 

 

TEAM PIMS

The Red Wings have tried to mix things up in an attempt to pull out of the Norris Division basement.

 

TEAM HITS

 

 

SHOT DIFFERENTIAL

 

TEAM GAA

 

 

TEAM ATTENDANCE

The Spectrum has been overflowing with fans

 

 

GOALS FOR

 

 

REPLAY VS. ACTUAL POINTS

 

 

This Week In the News

 

December 12th, 1989

The Queen of Mean is Sentenced to the Slammer

Leona Helmsley, nicknamed the “Queen of Mean” by the press, receives a four-year prison sentence, 750 hours of community service, and a $7.1 million tax fraud fine in New York. For many, Helmsley became the object of loathing and disgust when she quipped that “only the little people pay taxes.”

 

Leona’s husband, Harry, was one of the world’s wealthiest real estate moguls, with an estimated $5 billion to $10 billion in property holdings. The couple lived in a dazzling penthouse overlooking Central Park and also maintained an impressive mansion in Greenwich, Connecticut. Leona, who operated the Helmsley Palace on Madison Avenue, was severely disliked by her employees.

 

 

Though they lavishly furnished their homes and hotel, the Helmsleys were curiously diligent about evading the required payments and taxes for their purchases. Much of their personal furniture was written off as a business expense, and there were claims that the Helmsleys extorted free furnishings from their suppliers. Contractors were hardly ever paid on time-if at all-and many filed lawsuits to recover even just a portion of what they were owed. Leona reportedly also purchased hundreds of thousands of dollars of jewelry in New York City but insisted that empty boxes be sent to Connecticut so that she could avoid the sales tax.

 

Given her offensive personality, many were quite pleased by Leona’s legal troubles. Even celebrity lawyer Alan Dershowitz could not win her immunity from the law. Following her conviction, Federal Judge John Walker publicly reprimanded her, saying, “Your conduct was the product of naked greed [and] the arrogant belief that you were above the law.” Leona Helmsley was sent to jail in 1992 and was released in 1994. In 2002, Helmsley, whose husband Harry died in 1997, again found herself in court after being sued by Charles Bell, a former employee who accused Leona of firing him soley because he was homosexual. A jury ordered Helmsley to pay him more than $11 million in damages.

 

December 16th, 1989

Letter Bomb Kills US Appeal Judge

MOUNTAIN BROOK, Ala., Dec. 16— A Federal appeals judge was killed and his wife was seriously injured this afternoon by a mail bomb that went off at their home in this Birmingham suburb, the authorities said.

The judge, Robert S. Vance of the United States Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit, died instantly when a package delivered to his home went off around 3 P.M., a spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Chuck Steinmetz, said in Washington. The judge's wife, Helen, was admitted to a Birmingham hospital in serious condition with internal injuries.

The authorities said they had no suspect or motive. Tom Moore, an F.B.I. agent in Birmingham, said the agency was looking into the possibility of a connection with Colombian drug trafficking. Judge Vance ''handled a high volume of drug cases from Florida,'' he said, but he emphasized that drugs were only one possible motive. Top Officials Express Outrage

It is believed to be only the third time this century that a Federal judge has been slain. Mr. Steinmetz said Attorney General Dick Thornburgh and William Sessions, the F.B.I. Director, expressed outrage over the slaying.

United States Attorney Frank Donaldson said he was also concerned about a drug connection. The F.B.I., Postal Service investigators, the United States Marshal and the local authorities are investigating the blast, he said, adding that the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco and Firearms might also become involved. Protection for Other Judges

 

State Attorney General Don Siegelman told staff members to ''dedicate every resource of this office to find the perpetrators.''

 

Federal marshals immediately provided protection to Judge Vance's two grown sons and the other judges on the 11th Circuit court, which has jurisdiction over Alabama, Florida and Georgia.

 

Thomas Greene, the United States Marshal for the Northern District of Alabama, said Judge Vance had apparently not received any death threats because he had never asked for the protection that is offered to any Federal judge at any time.

Gov. Guy Hunt called the attack ''a cowardly thing'' and ''an affront against civilization, against our form of government.''

 

''Judge Vance had a very sharp legal mind,'' the Governor said. ''He was one of the leading judges in the country.''

 

Justice Janie Shores of the Alabama Supreme Court, a friend of Judge Vance's, said the slain judge's colleagues assumed that the blast had something to do with cases decided by him. ''But I didn't know Bob had an enemy in the world,'' she said. ''It must have been a disgruntled defendant.'' She added that the 11th Circuit judges ''handle so many drug-related cases.'' Leading Politician

Judge Vance, 58 years old, was appointed to the Federal bench in 1978 by President Jimmy Carter. As chairman of the state Democratic party from 1967 to 1978, he was a liberal force in Alabama politics and was constantly at odds with Gov. George C. Wallace, who represented the conservative wing of the party.

Mr. Vance led the Alabama delegation to the 1968 Democratic National Convention that was the first ever to include blacks. In 1970, he oversaw both the enlargement and redistricting of the executive committee of the Democratic Party, an overhaul that gave greater representation to black and urban areas.

''He was best known in Alabama for keeping control of the Democratic Party from George Wallace,'' said Ted Bryant, a reporter and political columnist for The Birmingham Post-Herald. ''And he played a role in taking Alabama blacks to the Chicago convention in 1968. But his entire political career was behind the scenes.''

While the state Democratic Party had scant political power, Mr. Vance rose to a position of considerable influence in national party affairs as chairman of the National Organization of State Party Chairmen. It was the tapping of that organization's telephone lines in the Watergate Hotel in the early 1970's that ignited the scandal that ultimately toppled the Presidency of Richard M. Nixon.

Senator Howell Heflin, an Alabama Democrat who is a former judge, said Judge Vance would ''occupy many of the pages of the history of Alabama for his leadership of reasoned sanity'' in those ''turbulent years.''

Before his appointment to the bench, Judge Vance was head of a Birmingham law practice. He received his bachelor's and law degrees from the University of Alabama, where he was president of the student government his senior year.

An Alabama native who came from a working-class family, Judge Vance was known for his outgoing personality and spicy humor. ''He was witty, just very sharp,'' Mr. Bryant said.

 

 

Music

“We Didn’t Start the Fire” by Billy Joel remains at #1 on the Hot 100 Music Chart for the second week in a row

We Didn't Start the Fire

 

Cinema

On December 14th, Glory was released to movie theaters

 

On December 15th, Driving Miss Daisy was released to movie theaters