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NHL Slapshots

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 13, 2002


Privacy, please

Privacy, please

Theo Fleury is done talking ... to reporters, anyway. The Blackhawks suspended the right wing indefinitely because of an undisclosed violation of his substance-abuse aftercare program. At a news conference, he told the media to step off.

"Alcoholism is in the same category as HIV, Alzheimer's, all those diseases," he said. "I struggle the same as everybody else who has a fatal disease. It's a day-to-day thing. I have to work on it, and it's not easy. But because it's a social disease, it's looked upon as being a bad thing.

"If you don't go through something of that magnitude, then I don't think you have the right to comment about what's going on in my life. From this point on, I don't think I need to share any more about my personal issues because this is something I'm going to have to battle for the rest of my life."

Where is the love?

Tennis pinup queen Anna Kournikova is dating singer Enrique Iglesias, and her former boyfriend, husband, whatever, Detroit's Sergei Fedorov is reflective.

"We're not seeing each other anymore," he said. "I'll always support her in her career and her life, but that's all I can really say."

Fedorov said the stormy relationship took its toll.

"It was not easy," he said. "But it was a learning experience. I finally feel like I'm standing on two feet now. I've definitely grown up the last 12 years. ... I know where I'm coming from and where I want to be."

Q&A With Lightning defenseman Nolan Pratt:

Q: Is it true you want to be a fireman?

A: It's nothing that I have set my mind that I'm going to do, but I think what they do is amazing and interesting. It's something more I thought about growing up as a kid.

Q: What gave you the bug?

A: Just TV I guess. It takes a special kind of person to do that.

Q: Was your home near Denver threatened by fire?

A: There was a lot of smoke. You didn't actually see the fires, but we were close enough that there was ash in our back yard.

Q: Can you imagine fighting that kind of fire?

A: The fires they had there were incredible. It's tough to imagine yourself in that situation unless you are actually there.

Q: So will you consider it after you retire?

A: It's a possibility. When I'm done with hockey, I'll make decisions. Right now I'm just trying to focus on what I'm doing.

Around the league

The trade of Chris Drury left the Avalanche with just two U.S.-born players: Dan Hinote and Scott Parker. ... How young are the Panthers? When defenseman Stephane Matteau, 33, first walked into the locker room, he said his teammates "were all watching Barney." Of the team's trip to the Colorado mountaintop home of owner Alan Cohen, he said, "He's got the best wine collection you've ever seen. On most teams guys would be figuring out how to get a bottle or two under their jackets to take home. You know where most of the (Panthers) were? Playing Tiger Woods PlayStation." ... Though the Wild thinks it has a big-time player in left wing Marian Gaborik, 20, he will not be considered to be a monthly captain. "You can't rush a player like that," coach Jacques Lemaire said. "You can't say, "Do this, do that.' It's common sense." ... Former Lightning prospect Fedor Fedorov, brother of Sergei, earned a spot with the Canucks after recovering from a detached retina that limited him to 10 games last season.

Quotable

"I took the team out of school to go to a movie, and we missed a test. I couldn't be the captain for long after that, but at least that team stuck together." -- Blackhawks center Alexei Zhamnov on being captain, when he was 12, of Dynamo Junior in Russia.

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