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NHL

Slap shots

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published November 16, 2003

Will Joe go? No

Bruins captain Joe Thornton threw the Boston media into a tizzy Monday when he said on TSN in Canada that he might retire after the season. Thornton said all the clutching, grabbing and chopping has diminished his enthusiasm for the game.

"I look back on it with thoughts this could be my last year," Thornton said. "It's not worth the pain. My back is killing me and things like that. It's just not worth the ordeal."

Asked the next day, Thornton took a step back.

"I was frustrated, but that's about it," he said. "I'm not going to retire."

As for the officiating, his opinion hasn't changed.

"We get all these memos they're going to crack down on the holding, clutching and grabbing, but I still haven't seen it," Thornton said. "It's the little things. It's the tugs behind the net. They grab you when you come out from behind the net."

Thornton said he has complained to the referees.

"They say, "You're big and strong. Just stay on your feet and keep your legs moving and play through it,"' he said.

"When it's every game and they keep telling you that, it gets frustrating."

Wrong number

Reporters couldn't reach Mike Keenan Nov.9 after he was fired as Panthers coach mainly because he left his cell phone in an airport in St. Louis, where, the night before, Florida lost 2-0.

According to the Palm Beach Post, somebody found it and either gave it or sold it to a woman named Becky, who was bombarded by calls. Keenan was happy to be unreachable, but when he called the phone to get his messages, Becky was livid.

"This phone," she said, "doesn't stop ringing."

Five questions with Hall of Fame goalie Grant Fuhr:

Q: Why have goalie pads gotten so big?

A: As they make equipment lighter and better, you can wear it bigger. The technology has changed, and goalies are taking advantage.

Q: How can you cheat?

A: You can expand your pads after measurements. They used to measure in the morning. You would have two sets of pads that were identical with one just a little bigger than the other.

Q: How do you expand pads?

A: There were seams that were reasonably expandable. You could flatten them out later.

Q: Will goalies always cheat?

A: Part of the problem is if you have a non-goalie checking it. He's not going to know what to look for. There are lots of ways to get around it.

Q: What did you keep from your playing days?

A: I kept all my masks.

Around the league

After the Lightning beat the Penguins 9-0 on Nov.8, Pittsburgh coach Ed Olczyk forced his players to watch the game on video the next day, which was supposed to be a day off. The Penguins lost their next game 6-2 to the Rangers. ... Panthers owner Alan Cohen apparently changed the team's power structure before the season, which gave general manager Rick Dudley the authority to fire the coach. ... Newsday reported the Islanders, who already waived Jason Wiemer, are shopping wing Mark Parrish and tough guy Eric Cairns as part of a salary dump spurred by slumping ticket sales. ... Speaking of Cairns, the Delaware County Daily Times reported his punchout Tuesday of Todd Fedoruk left the Philly enforcer with four fractures in his face.

Quotable

"I guess I have to come back. Only trouble is, I'd be leaving the rink in a body bag. Either somebody would crush me or I'd be too tired to get up and down the ice."

- Oilers coach Craig MacTavish, one of the league's best faceoff men in his day, after his team on Tuesday lost 50 of 66 draws to the Bruins.

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

[Last modified November 16, 2003, 01:34:40]


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