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By Times staff writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published February 16, 2003

Welcome mat

The 18 teams in Russia's Superleague apparently will try to make the most of the NHL work stoppage expected after the 2003-04 season.

Lightning wing Ruslan Fedotenko said he has heard that if a stoppage occurs, NHL players from Russia and other former Soviet republics will be invited to play.

Fedotenko, who is Ukranian, said he does not know the details but believes players could be signed on a game-by-game basis to allow them to return to the NHL when the labor dispute is resolved.

"I would consider it," Fedotenko said. "I cannot say right now for sure, because my family is here and everything is here. But it could be a possibility to go play hockey someplace rather than just sit here."

"For hockey players, it is important to play, so I think they will come," former Soviet goalie Vyacheslav Tretiak told Canada's National Post. "If there is a strike, the longer it lasts the more players will come here. It may not only be Russians. Some Canadians might come. The Russian league has an open-door policy."

700 memories, and more

It took Brett Hull 4,598 shots to become the sixth player to reach 700 goals. Asked how the milestone fits into his career, Hull said, "That might take a minute to figure out. But it means a lot more that I've got the rings to go along with it. To have the personal accomplishments, but also to have won a Stanley Cup and be part of that, it completes the circle."

Trading places

For those wondering what side player/owner Mario Lemieux will come down on in the upcoming labor battle, here's a hint:

"Right now, it's difficult to keep your stars," he said after dumping Alexei Kovalev for Rangers cash. "They deserve a lot of money. They're the stars. But there really needs to be a structure in place that allows all teams to compete."

Around the league

With 44 points in 53 games, Flames right wing Jarome Iginla needs 11 points to avoid matching the largest single-season drop-off by a scoring champion who played at least 70 games the next season. Wayne Gretzky fell from 163 to 121 points for Edmonton in 1991-92. ... Buffalo businessman Tom Golisano may make a bid for the Sabres this week. The Buffalo News speculates it will be for between $50-million and $57-million. ... Red Wings center Sergei Fedorov is unapologetic for recent comments in which he complained about his ice time. Fedorov leads Detroit's forwards with an average 20:12. "Steve (Yzerman) told me, at the end of the day, the best thing is not to talk to the media. Go talk to the coach." ... Speaking of unapologetic, Rangers GM Glen Sather said getting Kovalev and increasing New York's budget to $80-million was good business. "Why is it bad for the league?" he said. "The guys in Toronto whine ... but they were in the deal. They just didn't want to give enough to get him. Depends on how badly you want him. It's free enterprise. That's how the U.S. works." ... The Oilers will have an AHL team in Toronto next season. At a news conference, Edmonton GM Kevin Lowe said, "It will be great to bring a championship to Toronto. The Leafs will never win one again." Noticing the cameras, he said, playfully, "Is that going to be on the news?"


"My role is to beat the (expletive) out of anyone who hits Peter Forsberg." -- Avalanche enforcer Chris McAllister after his trade from the Flyers.

-- Compiled by Damian Cristodero, using information from other news organizations.

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