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NHL

Slapshots

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published March 9, 2003

Laughing off love

Sergei Fedorov appeared not to understand the buzz and especially why Jay Leno should make jokes about the revelation he was briefly married to, and then divorced, tennis vixen Anna Kournikova. But he was glad someone got a laugh out of it.

"It's actually very interesting and very funny," Fedorov said Wednesday before Detroit's game against the Lightning. "I didn't think it would be a big deal. It was a very simple question and I finally answered it. That was it."

Fedorov originally came clean in a Hockey News interview.

He did not say how long he and Kournikova were married, and said he could not give any more details. He said the marriage was kept secret out of respect for Kournikova's career.

"Back then, it really didn't matter to me whether it would be public or private. If she wanted to keep it that way, I had no problem with that," he said. "I said nothing because I didn't want to mislead anyone."

He said his personal problems did not affect his play on the ice.

"I kept it together," he said. "I don't know how but I kept it together. ... At least people are laughing, so that's good."

Kariya sounds off

Mighty Ducks star Paul Kariya spoke some plain language during a recent conference call.

Asked about a proposal to return the goal lines to 10 feet from the end boards instead of 13, and make the neutral zone 60 feet instead of 54, the left wing said, "That's what I've been talking about for three years. Whoever decided to move the nets up and put more room where you can't score is brain dead.

"When you think about it, if you want to add scoring and excitement to the game, why would you put more room where you can't score? Who wants to see scrums behind the net? You want to see attacking plays through the neutral zone. If you have more room there, you have a better opportunity to do that."

Five Questions with Avalanche center Peter Forsberg:

Q: You are right in the thick of the points race. How much would it mean for you to win?

A: I don't think about it at all. It's a team thing and that's all I care about.

Q: You played great in the playoffs after sitting out last season with injuries. Was it as easy as it looked?

A: No, it wasn't easy. I had a lot of pressure on me. I just worked out the whole year and was looking forward to coming back.

Q: You and Vancouver's Markus Naslund grew up in Ornskoldsvik, Sweden. What is your relationship like?

A: Of course it's tough to see him score six points because we're chasing them. We're friends off the ice but it's tough. When you get on the ice you play for the team you're playing for. But I'm happy for him.

Q: Do you want a new contract done quickly?

A: We're not talking about it yet. I think we're going to wait. It's nothing I think about. I'll look at it at the end of the year.

Q: Should the NHL go to the 2006 Olympics in Italy?

A: I hope so. It's going to be a little tougher when the Olympics are in Europe; tougher times to watch the games. But it's good for the game for the best players to go and compete.

Around the league

Fedorov, a potential unrestricted free agent, hopes meetings this weekend between his agent and Red Wings brass will lead to a contract extension. "I don't see myself signing anywhere else," he said. ... After finally trading Owen Nolan, the Sharks, the biggest bust of the season, may be ready for a fire sale. Rumors have Vincent Damphousse, Bryan Marchment and Teemu Selanne on the block. ... Flames ownership, not wanting to further alienate fans who are watching a seventh straight non-playoff season, apparently will not trade Jarome Iginla. ... Former Lightning assistant John Torchetti is now an assistant with the Panthers. ... Speculation in South Florida is that the firing of Panthers assistants Paul Baxter and George Kingston is part of a power struggle between general manager Rick Dudley and coach Mike Keenan.

Quotable

"It's hard to describe it all. My voice is gone. My hands are still shaking. It's just a wonderful, wonderful feeling." -- Predators owner Craig Leipold after a 5-4 victory over the Blackhawks on March 1

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

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