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By Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published December 22, 2002

Feaster feels for friend

Lightning general manager Jay Feaster did not feel comfortable talking about whether the Avalanche was justified in firing coach Bob Hartley. But the move hit Feaster hard.

The two forged a strong friendship when Feaster was general manager and Hartley coached the Hershey Bears to the 1997 AHL title. Hartley is godfather to Feaster's son, Ryan.

"I love Bob like a brother so it's very, very tough from a personal standpoint," Feaster said. "It's the human side that matters to me. The great thing about Bob is he's such a classy guy, a classy professional. And he's a very, very good coach."

Colorado went to the West final in each of Hartley's first four seasons, and won the 2001 Stanley Cup. But the Avalanche had won just three of 15 home games this season and is fourth in the Northwest.

"It's difficult to comment about what other organizations do and why they do it," Feaster said. "You're not on the inside. From that standpoint I'm not in a position to comment. But for me it's difficult on a personal level."

This is hockey

Edmonton's Georges Laraque got a scare Dec. 14 against the Canucks when he laid a big hit on Mattias Ohlund only to have Ohlund's skate come up and slice through Laraque's nose. Laraque needed six stitches on his lip and 10 inside his nose.

He needed 10 -- yes, 10 -- needles inside his nose to deaden the pain before stitching.

"I was screaming," Laraque said. "The hard part for me was breathing. I've got asthma and my nose is swollen. I had one nostril to breathe out of anyway."

Laraque did not miss a game and thought of wearing a visor three days later against the Wild. But he is a fighter, so decided against it. After Laraque came over to cool a situation between Minnesota's Brad Brown and Jason Chimera, Brown asked Laraque if he wanted to fight.

"I told him, 'You're an idiot,' " Laraque said. "He didn't want any part of me when my face wasn't like this when we played before. Now he wants to fight."

With Red Wings star Sergei Fedorov:

Q : What's up with your contract talks?

A: So far nothing smooth there. I'm taking some time off from negotiations because I'm trying to figure out what I'm going to do with my agents, trying to figure out where we're at and what we're going to do.

Q : Are you looking to change from agents Brian Lawton and Mike Liut?

A: I'm not looking to change. I'm looking through some conversations and meetings with my agents to see what working relationship we've got.

Q : Do you want to stay in Detroit?

A: It would be very sweet and very nice. It's really cool to be here so many years, playing for one team.

Q : By when do you want a contract done?

A: If it's possible, sometime before July.

Q : After Phoenix's Landon Wilson got hit in the eye with a puck, Coyotes GM Mike Barnett proposed the NHL go to mandatory visors. Is that a good idea?

A: I'll be honest with you, when I was playing without one I really felt better. You can see more things. You can adjust more. You can really feel the game better. But after a few injuries to my eyes and nose and face, I decided to wear one.

Closer to the top

Maple Leafs coach Pat Quinn won his 543rd game to move into fifth all-time Thursday, when Toronto beat the Lightning.

Around the league

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

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