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NHL

Slapshots

By Times staff writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published January 19, 2003

700 Club

Red Wings forward Brett Hull is nearing a milestone only five players have reached and, if you listen to Hull's coach and teammates, few will attain in the future.

Hull, 38 and in his 17th season, needs two goals to reach 700 and join a club whose only members are Wayne Gretzky (894), Gordie Howe (801), Marcel Dionne (731), Phil Esposito (717) and Mike Gartner (708).

"Just to be mentioned with those types of names is quite an honor," Hull said.

"He's a pure goal scorer," Detroit defenseman Chris Chelios said. "He knows where to go and doesn't need a lot of chances to score. He just finds the quiet zones and doesn't need a lot of room."

Coach Dave Lewis said there might never be another 700-goal scorer.

"Not the way the goalies are today, and the way the game is played," he said. "The coaches have messed it up with defensive systems. It's harder to score goals than it has ever been."

Said Chelios: "Fifty-goal scorers are few and far between these days. It's pretty tough the way the talent is spread out around the league today."

No. 2 isn't bad

Toronto's Globe and Mail discovered Hayley Wickenheiser was not the first woman to play a position other than goalie for a men's professional team. Maren Valenti has that distinction for the 24 games she played with her hometown Freiburg team in Germany's second division in 1998-99. Wickenheiser, playing for the Kirkkonummen Lightning in Finland, is the first woman to record a point in a men's pro game.

With Penguins left wing Steve McKenna:

Q: You had eight career goals entering this season (in 245 games). You scored five in 43 games. What's going on?

A: I don't know. Maybe I'm getting a little more ice time. I think the guys aren't afraid to give me the puck this year, more than anything, and I'm trying to shoot the big piece into the net.

Q: What has inspired their confidence?

A: I think I paid them off. Their options are limited, I think. They look and I'm the only one there, so they've got to give me the puck.

Q: So now you're looking to score, right?

A: It's nice to be able to contribute offensively, but my role is still to play the third or fourth line, bang around and play aggressively and physically and all that stuff. But there's a little Mario Lemieux in all of us when we were kids wanting to score the big goal, so it's nice.

Q: What's it like when Mario is hurt?

A: He's a huge part of the room and on the ice. Just his presence is unbelievable. We just have to bear down and remember it's still a hockey team with or without him. It's great when he's playing, but everybody has to pick it up when he's not here.

Q: How many goals will you score?

A: Hopefully, more than five.

Around the league

The Senators received their regular paychecks Wednesday, two days after picking up their Jan. 1 checks, which were delayed because of the team's financial problems. ... The Sabres' financial problems forced them to withhold deferred payments from three players who may, according to the Buffalo News, become free agents. Center Curtis Brown and defenseman Jay McKee are each owed $133,000. Defenseman Brian Campbell is owed $25,000. ... Devils right wing Michael Rupp became the first to make his NHL debut on his birthday and score two goals. He did it in Monday's 6-2 win over the Panthers. ... To help stem losses they say could hit $10-million this season, the Flames applied to the Alberta Gaming and Liquor Commission to build a casino in the city-owned Pengrowth Saddledome. ... Detroit's Luc Robitaille has four goals in 46 games and has not scored since Dec. 17 against the Islanders. ... When the Panthers lost 12-2 to the Capitals on Jan. 11, they became the first team to lose by 10 goals since the Lightning lost 10-0 to the Flames on Jan. 2, 1996. ... Panthers owner Alan Cohen, watching from his home in South Florida, was furious that the Caps, in his view, ran up the score. "I applaud their victory. They deserve every goal they got," he said. "It doesn't matter who wears a Washington uniform. We'll never forget."

Quotable

"You can't hide the birth certificate. I think I can understand more than anybody this is a young man's game. But I'm enjoying it every day and not taking it for granted." -- Rangers captain Mark Messier, who on Saturday turned 42.

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

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