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Slap shots

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published November 17, 2002

No sex or drugs, but rock 'n' roll

Lightning defenseman Brad Lukowich said he spent five days this summer as a roadie for the band Nickelback. He said he met the group when he played for the Stars and it played a concert in Dallas. He also said bassist Mike Kroeger designed the wedding rings for Lukowich and his wife, Cara.

A typical day with the band? Lukowich said there was time for golf and hanging out in the bus.

"It's not the stuff you see in the '80s," Lukowich said. "They're all family guys. We watched the Harry Potter video a lot."

Tossing a few Cherry bombs

Don Cherry thinks the NHL should put skirts on its players if it won't let them hit, and European players are useless if they don't score. Those are two of the sentiments recently spewed by the bombastic analyst for Hockey Night in Canada.

On the crackdown on obstruction: "I don't like the hooking. I don't like the holding. I don't like the obstruction. But you've got to let them hit. This is not women's hockey. Pretty soon they're going to be wearing skirts."

On European players: "No, I'm not letting up on the Europeans. I don't mind (Pavel) Bure or (Alexei) Yashin. I don't mind Markus Naslund. But if you get Europeans who don't score, they're useless, because they don't do anything else."

On the toughest player in the league: "I hate to say it because I don't like the guy, but (Philadelphia's) Donald Brashear, because he's so big and powerful. Peter Worrell in Florida is another guy. But they're not the best fighters I ever saw. That was Stan Jonathan of the Bruins. He's the only guy I know who didn't care if he won. He just wanted to hurt you."

Five questions with Coyotes defenseman Paul Mara:

Q : Do you think you are a better player than when you left Tampa in the trade for Nikolai Khabibulin?

A: Playing in Phoenix is awesome. The players and coaching staff have really worked with me, and I think my game the past few years has really taken great strides.

Q : Your physical game was knocked in Tampa. Has that improved?

A: Immensely. It's tough as a young defenseman coming into the league when you're 19, 20 years old playing against the top lines every night. Coming to Phoenix, I've grown up and matured a lot with age and playing time. My physical play has been fine. I haven't had any complaints.

Q : How much weight have you put on?

A: Since I left, probably about 20 pounds. I'm going about 220 now, so I'm a lot more confident with my body as it's grown the past couple of years.

Q : One time the Lightning sent you to the minors, you said you already had proven yourself an NHL defenseman. It got the coaching staff mad. Do you regret saying that?

A: I don't regret saying that at all. At the time they sent me down, I had proved I could play in the NHL.

Q : Did the Lightning give you enough of a chance?

A: It's hard to say. In their minds they did and in other people's minds they didn't. It's worked out for both sides, I guess. I'm extremely happy here in Phoenix, and they got a good goalie. I think the trade that went through worked out for both sides.

Typical Cloutier

Canucks goalie Dan Cloutier got into a verbal spat Tuesday with the Blues' Scott Mellanby. Cloutier slashed Mellanby behind the leg and had to be restrained by a linesman.

Cloutier, whose temper is well known, ended up losing his jersey in the struggle with the official, and it was easy to read his lips as he spouted curses. Cloutier was lucky to escape with only a minor penalty and a misconduct.

"People say that stuff hurts my concentration," the former Lightning goalie said. "I think it helps me get into the game. I got off a little bit there but I got right back into it and focused on my job."

Around the league

To spark the offense and reverse a 2-3-1-1 slide, the Penguins broke up the line of Mario Lemieux, Alexei Kovalev and Aleksey Morozov. Lemieux is playing with Alexander Daigle and Martin Straka. ... With Pasi Nurminen playing well the Thrashers have held off making a contract offer to goalie Byron Dafoe. ... The Flames recently went a franchise-record 192:42 without a goal. ... Rangers goalie Dan Blackburn, 19, has a full-page photo in the December issue of YM, a magazine aimed at teenage girls.

Quotable

"I know when I first came up, I had a few fights, but I didn't feel I was a true fighter until I had my Probie fights." -- Worrell on the impending retirement of Chicago tough guy Bob Probert.

-- Compiled by Times staff writer Damian Cristodero from personal interviews and information from other news organizations.

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