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Slapshots

DAMIAN CRISTODERO
Published March 14, 2004

Howe to do it

Gordie Howe knows how to stop incidents such as Todd Bertuzzi's sneak attack on Steve Moore.

"Give 'em a season," he said in regard to punishment. "That will slow them down. Come down strong on them and maybe some people will think. Some guys don't mind five or six games. Maybe they want to go fishing."

Howe, watching the Lightning practice Tuesday in Detroit, was speaking generally but did not let Bertuzzi off the hook. Howe said he has no problem retaliating for cheap shots, but don't do it from behind. He also wondered why Vancouver's Markus Naslund, the recipient the hit that began the foolishness, did not take care of it himself.

Asked how he would have handled it, Howe, who wielded the sharpest elbows in the league, said, "I would have asked the coach to put me out against him, that's all."

He remembered a game against the Blackhawks in which Stan Mikita was whacking at the back of his legs. "I'm bleeding at my calves," Howe said.

Howe said there was a point when teammate Ted Lindsay was driving to the net with the puck.

"All 18,000 eyes are watching him," Howe said. "I just turned around and belted (Mikita) one. I knocked him out. ... Stan came out, and he's a hell of a hockey player, a real trooper and he said, "Are we even?' I said, "Yeah, okay.' But I didn't hit him from behind. You don't have to jump somebody."

Five Questions

With NHL director of operations Colin Campbell (from a conference call):

Q: If Steve Moore doesn't come back, will Todd Bertuzzi continue to be out?

A: I'm not going to go that far. That's something the commissioner will have to access at the time.

Q: Why does the NHL still allow fighting?

A: Fighting in the game of hockey has been there, and maybe at some point in time it will be banned ... This isn't the place to debate that. It's been in the game forever. If you're alluding to the fact this happened because of a fight, it wasn't a fight. It was a punch from behind.

Q: The injury could have been serious here, could have resulted in death. When does the NHL say, "Wait a minute, this has gone too far"?

A: If we didn't have fighting in the game, he could still do this. Nothing to do with a fight.

Q: That's your answer, "This has nothing to do with a fight"?

A: This is about an incident with Todd Bertuzzi. This is not a debate or a press conference about whether fighting should be in the game or not.

Q: You don't think it's ...

A: Next question.

Forewarned

NHL legal counsel Bill Daly said when Canucks players made it sound as if they would seek revenge against Moore, the hockey operations department "got right on top of it" and discussed the matter with both organizations.

"I think there's only so much the league can do in advance of something like this," Daly said. "I think we took appropriate steps to try to prevent this from happening. Trash talk in every sport happens off the playing field. You try to address it the best you can."

The league should think about addressing the Flyers and Senators before their April 2 game. The teams had an all-out brawl in their last meeting with a record 419 penalty minutes and Philly coach Ken Hitchcock called Ottawa's Jacques Martin a "gutless puke" for sending enforcers to fight skill players.

Around the league

Thirty-two players were moved in 20 trades on Tuesday before the deadline. The record, set last season, is 46 players moved in 24 trades. ... Speculation in Detroit that Manny Legace would start the first game of the playoffs died down after Curtis Joseph beat the Blue Jackets Thursday in his first game back from a sprained ankle. ... The Blackhawks have used 19 rookies this season. The Elias Sports Bureau says the record is 22 by the 1967-68 Kings. ... With the Panthers hanging onto playoff hopes, the team published its 10 reasons why Florida will make the postseason. Then came the trade of popular forward Marcus Nilson. Said goalie Roberto Luongo: "Was that in the top 10 reasons we're going to make the playoffs?"

Quotable

"That was an assault. Obviously, I can understand people watching that and not liking our sport." - Colorado's Peter Worrell on Bertuzzi incident

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

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