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Slap shots

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 5, 2003


It's a woman's world

Canadian Olympian Hayley Wickenheiser, the world's best female player, began a weeklong tryout with Kirkkonummen, a men's pro team in Finland, on Thursday. The forward is expected to play Friday, when she will become the first woman to play in a men's pro game at a position other than goalie.

"It was a pretty high-tempo practice," Wickenheiser told the Toronto Globe and Mail. "I felt good, and my legs felt good."

She declined an offer from Lightning founder Phil Esposito to try out for ECHL Cincinnati, of which Esposito is a minority owner.

Can I get a witness?

Downtown Springfield, Mass., where the Lightning shares an AHL affiliate with the Coyotes, probably is not going to be featured in Better Homes and Gardens any time soon. But defenseman Darren Rumble didn't know how rough his neighborhood could be until a recent Sunday, when he was awakened at 8 a.m. by police investigating a homicide.

Rumble, who has been up and down between Springfield and Tampa Bay, said he was told the killing, in which the victim took a bullet to the head, occurred the night before about 40 yards from his apartment in a parking lot overlooked by his living room window.

"They asked me if I had heard anything," Rumble said. "I didn't. I can't believe I wouldn't have heard something. You wished you could have seen something and helped out, but it was not to be."

Rumble said when his family visits, "I give them strict instructions that when I'm at practice or at a game, not to walk around there, especially at night."

Five Questions with Flames center Chris Drury:

Q : You won a Little League world championship, a Stanley Cup with the Avalanche and played in the Olympics. Which was most satisfying?

A: The Stanley Cup. It's such a grind; four series and going to seven games in the last one and in the second round. That was the most fulfilling.

Q : Should the NHL go to the 2006 Olympics?

A: Yeah. It was a great experience. There was so much emotion built into a short period of time. Every other day, it was the biggest game of your life. It made for good hockey, and I know the fans appreciated it.

Q : How emotional was it?

A: Coming back from that when it was all over, I couldn't move for three or four days. I was completely emotionally and physically drained.

Q : Were you surprised the Avalanche fired coach Bob Hartley?

A: I've taken the stance that I haven't commented on it and probably never will.

Q : The Flames have four home wins. What's the problem?

A: There hasn't been anything I've been able to pinpoint. Maybe we lose a little bit of focus when we're at home. But there are a lot of games left for redemption. This month is huge for us to get some points here.

Around the league

Coaches for the All-Star Game will be announced Thursday. Starting lineup will be announced Saturday. Reserves will be announced Jan.16. ... Kings right wing Adam Deadmarsh has post-concussion syndrome and said he might not play again. ... Thrashers right wing Shawn McEachern was minus-24 through 37 games. He was plus-60 in 11 previous seasons. If the Red Wings remain No.1 in the West, Dave Lewis will be the All-Star coach. Lewis never played in the game during a 15-year career and attended only one as a fan. ... Wild coach Jacques Lemaire said he doesn't bother checking the opposition for illegal sticks. "I want to win the game on the ice," he said. "I want to beat you." ... As if the Predators' 3-2 victory against the Senators wasn't improbable enough, former Lightning defenseman Bill Houlder got the winner, breaking a 144-game streak without a goal. ... The Coyotes beat the Capitals 2-1 in overtime on Wednesday with 14 shots. "The boys were saying it was a little Ali vs. Foreman rope-a-dope," Phoenix coach Bobby Francis said.

Quotable

"He's pretty happy the shirt came off. He's been working hard on his body." -- Red Wings defenseman Mathieu Dandenault on teammate Darren McCarty, whose jersey and undershirt came off during a fight

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

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