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Slapshots

The end of the world as we know it

DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published December 21, 2003

A promoter in Brandon, Manitoba, has come up with an idea called the Battle of the Hockey Gladiators, which, basically, is a series of bareknuckle brawls between old-time hockey pugilists.

The last man standing gets $50,000.

The Canadian Press reported former NHL tough guys Tony Twist and Kurt Walker were the first applicants accepted. The Winnipeg Sun reported that former Lightning player Enrico Ciccone also wants in.

Promoter Darryl "Beef" Wolski told the Canadian Press he dreamed the idea three years ago, and it has "taken on a life of its own." He said 64 contestants, each paying a $250 entry fee, will dress in hockey uniforms and punch it out on the ice in a made-for-TV event scheduled for Labor Day weekend 2004.

"The only people we're going to accept are people who have played or are playing hockey," Wolski said. "We won't take street thugs."

A panel of judges will determine the winners of the elimination bouts. Wolski said he is looking for a venue.

"This is a novel idea and people are running with it," he said. "You either love it or hate it. There's no middle ground."

Best in the game

That might be Detroit's Pavel Datsyuk, who entered Saturday second in the league with 19 goals and 40 points.

The third-year center has played more because of injuries to eight regulars and the offseason losses of Sergei Fedorov and Igor Larionov. Datsyuk has thrived.

"He's a pretty special player," wing Steve Thomas said. "He's so good with the puck. He can strip the puck off guys pretty easily. I don't know how he does it."

Said coach Dave Lewis: "He should be an All-Star, certainly."

Datsyuk, who is Russian, does not speak English well and does most interviews with an interpreter. About all he will say on his own is, "I like to play."

"He's taken the responsibility and run with it," Lewis said. "When he's on the ice he's dangerous."

Five Questions

With Lightning prospect Adam Henrich: Q : Would you fight another Lightning prospect?

A: I know a guy who has a twin brother and he fought him. If things get out of hand, you have to take care of it, right?

Q : Have you ever fought a friend?

A: I don't know about a friend. I've fought some people I know. That's the way the game goes.

Q : How is it playing against a friend like fellow Lightning prospect Paul Ranger? A: You go out there and it's a little weird. But it's fine. On the ice you take it seriously.

Q : If you felt it necessary would you fight him?

A: We're good buddies, but we're warriors and play hard. I'll go hard at him but nothing cheap. If it happens, it happens.

Q : And you will go out to dinner later?

A: Yeah, we might even laugh about it.

Around the league

Ducks goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere, he of a new four-year, $20-million deal, has been benched in favor of Martin Gerber. Giguere call it "an insult." ... Mike Comrie said money wasn't an issue in the dispute that led to his trade from the Oilers to Flyers. He would not elaborate. The Edmonton Journal reported Comrie didn't like getting a qualifying contract offer in a form letter, or being shut out of training camp because he had no contract. ... It looks more and more as if Rick Dudley will coach the Panthers the rest of the season. He told the South Florida Sun-Sentinel he would consider Detroit associate coach Barry Smith. ... The Blackhawks are 1-12-3-3 in their past 19. Yet, coach Brian Sutter was surprised when asked about his job status. "As a coach, your job is to get as much out of your players and to get them to compete every night," he said. "I would say we're getting a lot out of them." ... Canadiens defenseman Sheldon Souray had three goals Thursday against Nashville, equaling his total in any previous season. ... Avalanche owner Stan Kroenke told the Denver Post he is considering creating a regional sports cable network.

Quotable

"There will be some really pretty Christmas photos this year." - Bruins forward Rob Zamuner after he broke his nose.

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

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