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Slapshots

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 9, 2003


In memory of Jemima

Jemima Richards always had warm cookies ready. It was the snack of choice of her grandson, Brad Richards, and his friends who skated on the frozen pond in her back yard in Murray Harbor on Prince Edward Island.

Jemima, who lived across the street from Brad, always had a warm bed ready. During May and June, from the time Brad was 6 until he was 13, he stayed with Jemima while his parents, Glen and Delite, took the lobster boats out five days a week at 4 a.m.

"My parents would drop me off at night before bed time, and she'd get me on the bus to school," Brad said.

Jemima died last month at 83 after a heart attack. Richards missed two games attending the funeral.

"She started watching hockey and hadn't missed a game in the last three years," said Brad, in his third season. "She got a dish and started to learn about it and call people and talk about the games. She was even critiquing me sometimes when I'd phone her. I know she'll be watching every game now, so I will try to play better."

Shut up about shootouts

Remember how exciting the tiebreaking shootout was at the All-Star Game? Don't hold your breath waiting to see one during the regular season.

"No, no, for God sake, no," Canucks general manager Brian Burke said. "To me, it's no different from having the NFL decide games by throwing footballs through a tire. I think it's a gimmick."

Panthers GM Rick Dudley disagreed.

"I think it's one of the most exciting things in sport," he said. "I've watched it 1,000 times (in the minors), and it's an amazing thing."

Lemieux's lament

Mario Lemieux said Thursday that with a decrease in average attendance of about 1,000, the Penguins will lose "lots of money." But he is determined to keep the team out of another bankruptcy.

"My role is to keep this team here forever," he said. "But I can't do it alone. I need the support of the corporate community and the fans. And if it's not there, I've got to protect my interests."

Asked if he would consider selling his share of the team, Lemieux said, "No, I just have to make the numbers work. If the numbers don't work, tough decisions will be made."

He did not say what those decisions entail.

Around the league

GM and new Rangers coach Glen Sather guaranteed the team will make the playoffs. But Sather, who fired coach Bryan Trottier, is 0-2-1-1 in his first four games. ... Boston right wing Sergei Samsonov, who has missed all but seven games with a right wrist injury, could return, best case scenario, at the end of March. ... After Carolina fell Wednesday 6-2 to the Sharks, coach Paul Maurice kept seven players after Thursday's practice for 12 minutes of work. Right wing Jeff O'Neill, one of the seven, threw his helmet across the ice in disgust. "It's a joke is all it was," O'Neill said. "If that's how he wants to carry on, that's the way he can do it. I don't even care. I'm playing for my teammates." ... Amazing stat: 304 of the Devils' 342 victories since 1995-96 have been recorded by Martin Brodeur. Chris Terreri is next with 15.

Quotable

"Did he put himself in the 25 percent category or the 75 percent?" -- Red Wings defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom on the assertion by teammate Brett Hull that 75 percent of players are overpaid.

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

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