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Yzerman could have used an assist

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 27, 2002

Apparently 1,000 assists don't mean all that much if you don't say thank you.

Detroit's Steve Yzerman found that out Sunday, when he did not return to the ice after a 3-2 victory over the Senators at Joe Louis Arena to acknowledge the hometown fans as they applauded his milestone.

Yzerman, who assisted on Mathieu Dandenault's overtime goal, pleaded innocent.

"It wasn't until (Monday) morning that I found out they made an announcement," he said. "Nobody told me what was going on. You sit in the locker room and you can't hear anything going on out there. Somebody from the organization should have come down and told me.

"Eventually (video coordinator) Joe Kocur did, but by that time I was standing in a T-shirt and shorts. I just wanted out of there. I was not happy with the way I played."

He said the play wasn't that memorable; just a chip out of the corner that started the game-winning sequence.

"It was nice, but it wasn't a classic play," Yzerman said, adding his milestone doesn't come close to matching his two Stanley Cups.

"I've played a long time on a good team with a lot of good players and it slowly added up. So I don't really look at it as any great achievement."

MORE HELPERS: Speaking of assists, Carolina's Ron Francis got No. 1,170 Saturday against the Flyers to pass Ray Bourque for second all-time. Good thing. The Hurricanes will celebrate Ron Francis Night on Tuesday in Raleigh, N.C.

"They put some heat on me when they scheduled that awards night," Francis said. "I only had a couple of games left. I think any time you get close to a milestone, you want to get it done so you can focus on the next task at hand, which is winning hockey games."

HOMEBOYS: Rangers television analyst John Davidson was in an awkward position Tuesday when he had to criticize rookie goaltender Dan Blackburn, who was pulled after allowing four early goals to the Islanders.

Blackburn lives with Davidson and his family. General manager Glen Sather requested the arrangement because Blackburn is just 18.

Davidson has taken some heat for the apparent conflict of interest.

"Listen, this is sports, not the Afghanistan war," he said. "He's an 18-year-old kid in New York City. You can't throw him into an apartment complex. He's not 35. I'm trying to help the kid out. You have to look at the big picture."

Of reporting on Blackburn's bad game, Davidson said, "It wasn't that hard. ... You can't really make excuses for a goaltender anyway because you can see it. It was harder for my wife and kids to watch from home."

BROTHER ACT: Atlanta center Pascal Rheaume scored four goals Jan. 19 against Florida, doubling his output for the season. In 13 games since being acquired from Chicago, Rheaume has nine goals and five assists. He said he still gets asked about sister Manon (remember her, Lightning fans?) more than himself.

"It's normal because it's something you're not going to see too often," he said of his sister as goaltender. "I don't mind. I'm not the jealous type."

ODDS AND ENDS: Flyers goalie Roman Cechmanek was quoted in a Czech paper saying the three-year, $10-million contract he recently signed "assures (the Flyers) won't sweep the floor with me anymore. And I don't care whether I stay with the Flyers or whether they'll ship me somewhere else." ... Boston goalie Byron Dafoe was upset with coach Robbie Ftorek for not pulling him during Wednesday's 8-4 loss to the Rangers. "In my 10 years of hockey," Dafoe said, "I've never been humiliated like that before. I don't know what the game plan behind that was." ... Picking up defenseman Joe Reekie was the first of several moves the Blackhawks hope to make now that the team believes it can make noise in the playoffs. ... Edmonton's Anson Carter has just two goals since Dec. 22, when he was not picked for the Canadian Olympic team. ... The Panthers had 47 fighting penalties in Mike Keenan's first 24 games as coach and 78 in 50 games. The Flyers and Thrashers led the NHL last season with 69. ... Rangers forward Theo Fleury was fined $1,000 for giving the ol' "up yours" salute to fans at Nassau Coliseum wearing mock Rangers jerseys with "Crackhead" written across the back.

-- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.

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