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In The CreaseIn The Crease Eastern Conference Notebook: Barnes' 'C' adds insult to trade

Sunday, October 07, 2001

Compiled by Dejan Kovacevic

On March 11, 1999, the Penguins shipped Stu Barnes to the Sabres for Matthew Barnaby. And, with each game that passes, that trade looks better and better for Buffalo.

After consulting his players and staff for weeks, Sabres Coach Lindy Ruff announced Thursday that his new captain would be Barnes. Because of his knack for producing in big games. Because of his tireless work ethic. Because of the respect he commands from his teammates.

Barnes, typically, was unfazed by the honor.

“I don’t think wearing a letter or not wearing a letter should change anything you do,” he told The Buffalo News. “You approach the game on and off the ice the same.”

Since the deal, Barnes has 39 goals, 54 assists and 52 penalty minutes to Barnaby’s 18 goals, 20 assists and 462 penalty minutes.

Wayne Primeau, the player the Penguins acquired for Barnaby from the Lightning in February, might need to win a Selke Trophy to rebalance the scale of this trade.

The Flyers are furious about a low hit Thursday on rookie Jiri Dopita by the Panthers’ Dan Boyle. Dopita’s left knee was sprained, and he is out indefinitely. “They took that out a long time ago when Darius Kasparaitis and other guys were submarining everybody, ”Flyers General Manager Bob Clarke told reporters.

Best defenseman still on the open market is Kevin Hatcher. He’s 35, sitting at home in Michigan, waiting for a call, facing the chance his career is over. It probably isn’t, though. He had four goals, 14 assists and a team-best plus-2 rating with the Hurricanes last season. And during a visit to Pittsburgh last season, Coach Paul Maurice called Hatcher his best defenseman.

When the Devils gave Martin Brodeur a five-year, $40 million extension this week, they also prompted Scott Stevens to state that he, too, would be willing to forgo unrestricted free agency next summer to stay in New Jersey. Not so for Bobby Holik. Still seething over an ugly arbitration hearing, he reiterated his vow to sign elsewhere at season’s end. “They had their chance,” he told reporters.

The Penguins aren’t the only team with a marked imbalance between the quality of their forwards and the quality of their defense. When the Maple Leafs traded Daniil Markov to the Coyotes this summer for Robert Reichel, they thinned an already weak blueline corps. It’s showing, too. In their opener Wednesday against Ottawa, the typically conservative Senators zealously employed a two-man forecheck to force mistakes and won, 5-4.

If you thought the Islanders were nuts to hand all that cash to Alexei Yashin and Michael Peca this summer, consider this: The team’s most optimistic projection for a season-ticket base is 7,500, and its projected loss is $20 million.

Jiri Slegr has found a new role in Atlanta, and a critical one at that. Fluent in Russian, he has acted as rookie sensation Ilya Kovalchuk’s translator in most interviews. When a reporter asked Kovalchuk what he thought of life in America, Slegr translated, “I like it all. I bought a nice car, and I like the girls here, also.”

The Capitals’ Olaf Kolzig is planning to wear a new goaltending mask as a tribute to those who died in the Pentagon attack Sept. 11. The Pentagon will be painted onto the side of the mask, with a memorial ribbon on it.

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