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Fischler 02/21/06


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#1 Rock

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Posted 22 February 2006 - 07:30 AM

Stan Fischler
Bluelines: Milbury and DiPietro as strong as ever?
http://www.msgnetwor...ther&league=nhl

Feb 21, 2006

Although the NHL still has another year to go on its Outdoor Life Network pact, there’s already talk of a switch. One broadcast source tells us that ESPN is already eyeing a return to big-league hockey. With Mark (Anti-NHL) Shapiro out of the ESPN fold, the current boys in Bristol are pro-hockey. No question, the league could use ESPN’s bigger audience.

Those who believe that Mike Milbury is fading out of an Islanders’ leadership role have another thing coming. Word seeping out of Nassau indicates that MM’s position is as strong as ever, and will remain so – only with a new G.M. and Mike’s new title.

If you’re Doug Risebrough, do you unload Manny Fernandez or Dwayne Roloson, who doesn’t win like Manny? Or do you just stand pat? Both become unrestricted this summer. Then again, would Risebrough deal one of his stoppers to a Western Conference team, where goalies are most needed?

While Rick DiPietro plays for Team USA in Torino, the word on Long Island is that management has coddled him too much. This might explain his erratic goaltending, which could change after the new G.M. arrives – whenever that may be.

In Ottawa, there’s talk that the Senators are eyeing Olli Jokinen. That puts John Muckler in good company. Who wouldn’t want OJ?

Our best wishes to good guy Cliff Ronning, who officially called it a career after 18 years of dedicated NHL service.

“Even though I was always one of the smallest kids on my hockey team growing up, I never stopped dreaming about playing in the NHL,” Cliff explains. “Having the ability to live out that dream was unbelievable.”

Ronning leaves 91st on the NHL career points list.

The six-story Canadian Hockey villa at Olympic Village can’t be missed. It has a giant maple leaf flag draped over the balcony. The men’s team re-labeled a seat outside its villa “Pat’s Bench,” for Pat Quinn, who became a mentor to many Canadian athletes at the Salt Lake City Games. He frequently sat on a bench where players could approach him with questions.

No team is more desperate for goaltending help than Edmonton. The Oilers’ save percentage is a woeful .880.

Best wishes to Craig Ramsay. The Rammer is back in action after prostate cancer surgery. When we recently saw him, Craig – one of hockey’s all-time good guys – looked in mint condition. Our only hope is that this mellow man does not tone down his sidekick, John Tortorella. The Champs’ head coach is wonderful even when he’s thrown out of a game. [The last Tortorella toss was Feb. 7 in New Jersey.]

Is This A Knock Or A Boost Dep’t.: Ottawa Sun columnist Don Brennan wrote this about Senators rookie Patrick Eaves. “He’s a nice kid with a nice girl friend and he owns a pair of nice, red shoes. Thankfully, the Senators haven’t suggested to him that he tone down the Elvis Costello footwear yet.”

The NHL’s special investigator, Robert Cleary, is wisely keeping a low profile. Despite the media feeding frenzy, it’s worth keeping in mind that: 1) Nothing has been proven or unproven; 2) No NHL person has been linked in a criminal way and, 3) So far, all stories are based on theory, well-sprinkled with misinformation.

Good Move Dep’t.: The Islanders’ March 4 celebration of its 1980 Cup Champs wouldn’t have been complete without an invite to Jim Devellano. Fortunately, the original oversight was rectified and Jimmy D – who helped mold the dynasty – will show, along with Bill Torrey, Al Arbour, Denis Potvin and most of the cast that launched the four-Cup run.

No, the Islanders are not rushing to name a new G.M. before the trade deadline March 9.
“The most important thing is not the timing, but that we get the right person,” says owner Charles Wang. Now that Dean Lombardi has been interviewed by Wang, the line continues to form at the right. When the Olympics conclude, Steve Tambellini will do a one-on-one with Wang, eventually followed by Brent Sutter, among others. Anyone who thinks there’s a favorite at this point is dreaming.

Talk about opportunity knocking! In light of the recent resignation of NHLPA associate counsel, Ian Pulver, the PA Boss, Ted Saskin, has to give serious consideration to strengthening his roster by adding current Executive Director of the PHPA, Larry Landon. Larry’s strong relationships at every level of the sport, and the respect he has gained as a friend of the sport cannot be overlooked.

The NHL is not the only league with boosted gates. The ECHL boasts an eight percent increase compared to the 2004-2005 season. San Diego leads in sellouts while posting the largest crowd in its history (13,001) for a game with Stockton.

Brad Lukowich delivers a telling commentary on his Islanders. Asked to compare the current club with the Lightning – with whom he won a Stanley Cup – the defenseman opines, “This (Islanders) is the least vocal team I’ve ever seen.”

Bryan Murray believes – hopes! – that the Olympic break will benefit his in-and-out Senators. “We’ll re-establish our offense,” says the coach. “That’s what I’m hoping for.” It might help his offense, but the injury to Dom Hasek at the Olympics counter-balances that sentiment.

NHL Quick Shots columnist Josh Brewster has an interesting take on the Rick Tocchet story: “There’s no point looking for ‘root causes’ in this situation. Don’t blame the league. The NHL has been clear with its employees for years about this kind of alleged conduct. Blame a 41 year-old who may have played Russian Roulette with his freedom.”

Chip Off The Old Block Dep’t.: Remember Larry Carriere (1972-80), the solid Sabres defenseman. His son, Nick, is in his first season coaching Buffalo State. Under Carriere, B State just qualified for the playoffs for only the second time in its program’s 13-year history.

Masters of 20-20 hindsight are finding it easy to dump on Ben Smith for omitting Cammi Granato from Team USA. Some make it seem as if coach Benny wanted to lose. Not so. He built a younger team for good reason. There’s no shame in that.
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#2 RowdyFan42

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Posted 22 February 2006 - 10:08 AM

Stan Fischler
Bluelines: Milbury and DiPietro as strong as ever?
http://www.msgnetwor...ther&league=nhl

Feb 21, 2006

Although the NHL still has another year to go on its Outdoor Life Network pact, there’s already talk of a switch. One broadcast source tells us that ESPN is already eyeing a return to big-league hockey. With Mark (Anti-NHL) Shapiro out of the ESPN fold, the current boys in Bristol are pro-hockey. No question, the league could use ESPN’s bigger audience.

On one condition: Thorne out (or bumped down to second crew), Doc and JD in.
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