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Names & Games: It's hockey over Hollywood

Sunday, September 29, 2002

By Pete Aldrich, Post-Gazette Sports Writer

The kid has a movie-star family and movie-star looks. So, wouldn't it make sense for 16-year-old Wyatt Russell -- the son of Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, and half-brother of Kate Hudson -- to make a run at a movie career?

Instead, Wyatt Russell has taken his Hollywood pedigree to a Vancouver suburb, where he is a goaltender for the Richmond Sockeyes of the Pacific International Junior Hockey League.

While playing youth hockey in Los Angeles, Kurt Russell asked Paul Fricker, a goalie instructor, to work with Wyatt. Fricker then approached Sockeyes Coach Ron Johnson about Russell playing for his team.

"I said we have to make sure the boy is capable of playing," Johnson said. "People will see through it if he can't."

After scouting Russell at a midget tournament in Richmond, and having him attend a summer hockey camp he operates, Johnson put him on his roster.

"He's a legitimate goaltender that has a real passion for the game," he said.

Before joining the Sockeyes, Russell attended the training camp of the Western Hockey League's Prince George Cougars.

"At first, obviously, some are going to think it's just some movie star's kid that's on the team because of his parents," he said. "Then I practice and I play like I can play. I play like I normally do and they realize it's not just a publicity stunt."

Fricker, drafted by the NHL's Hartford Whalers in 1980, said Russell has potential.

"The kid is no chump," he said. "He isn't just some son of. He is a good goalie."

Russell's parents have purchased a $3 million, five-bedroom, 7,000-square-foot home in Vancouver so they can be near their son.

Perhaps one day the son can watch his acting family do their thing, too. But Wyatt hasn't had time yet to see his mom's new film, "The Banger Sisters," or "Four Feathers," starring half-sister Kate.

"I'm a bad son and a bad brother," he said, chuckling. "I'm planning on going to see them."

Bald is beautiful

Andre Agassi won't be a barber in his next career -- which isn't that surprising for a bald guy.

Agassi has yet to master giving his 11-month-old son, Jaden, a haircut.

"I was just trying to sort of use the clippers to even things out, and I had the wrong blade on there," Agassi said. "So, I went with it and shaved his head."

Like father, like son.

Alive and kicking

When Seattle Mariners Manager Lou Piniella took out his frustrations on his hat during a recent blow-up with an umpire, he might have been thinking about a future in the NFL.

Said Piniella: "I'm going to send the picture to [Tampa Bay Buccaneers Coach] Jon Gruden. If he needs a field-goal kicker halfway through the season, I'm ready."

Should Martin Gramatica be looking over his shoulder?

Marriage on the move

There are plenty of benefits to being a billionaire, including the ability to move your wedding to another country at the last minute.

Dallas Mavericks owner and Mt. Lebanon native Mark Cuban married Tiffany Stewart last weekend in Barbados. The private ceremony was to have been held in Jamaica, but the uncertainty with Tropical Storm Isidore prompted the move to Barbados.

Cuban was ranked 149th on this year's Forbes annual list of the 400 richest Americans. The magazine listed his net worth at $1.3 billion.

Playing with pain

Former PGA Tour player Mike Reasor, who passed away last week, might be remembered best for his two worst rounds.

In 1974, Reasor suffered a separated left shoulder, torn rib cartilage and damaged knee ligaments when he was thrown from a horse between rounds of the Tallahassee Open.

Despite the injuries, he insisted on playing the closing rounds to remain eligible for the following week's event.

Swinging only a 5-iron with one hand, and with the other hand tucked inside his belt, Reasor shot closing rounds of 123 and 114, among the highest scores recorded on tour, although no official records are kept.

"On the last three holes on Saturday, word had gotten around the course what this crazy fool was doing," Reasor said last year. "We had more people watching us than the leaders."

The agony of defeat

How hard did Jennifer Capriati take losing to Amelie Mauresmo in the U.S. Open quarterfinals earlier this month?

Well, according to Sports Illustrated, Capriati stewed by stripping down to her black silk bra on the dance floor at Serafina, a Greenwich Village club. Capriati was accompanied by her "friend" -- "Friends" star Matthew Perry.

Hockey royalty

When Queen Elizabeth II drops the puck for a ceremonial faceoff before the Sharks-Canucks preseason game Oct. 6 in Vancouver, she will be escorted by Wayne Gretzky.

The Toronto Sun reported that the queen, because she is unfamiliar with hockey, initially rejected the Canucks' invitation. But when she learned the act was purely ceremonial, she agreed to attend.

Maybe the queen was worried that the Canucks wanted to use her on the power play.

Foes become friends

Did you see the lovefest that took place Friday night, when Larry Bird presented Magic Johnson at the Basketball Hall of Fame induction? Weren't these guys once bitter rivals?

Apparently, retirement makes you soft.

Said Johnson: "I thank God I got to know you not only as Larry Bird the basketball player, but as Larry Bird the friend."

Said Bird: "I'd like to call out to Celtics fans across the country: It's time to lay down your weapons."

Does that mean the Lakers and Celtics can start liking each other now?

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