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Slap shots

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO

© St. Petersburg Times, published January 7, 2001


COOL JOB: Blue Jackets coach Dave King loves college athletics, and has been a sideline guest at Ohio State football games. King said he admired Buckeyes coach John Cooper, who took his firing without whining.

King, a former football coach in Saskatchewan, was asked if he was interested in coaching at Ohio Stadium, known as The Horseshoe.

"I'd do fine in The Shoe, so long as they flooded it and froze it before every game," he said.

When it was mentioned he, too, would probably struggle against Michigan, King said, "We wouldn't let them wear their skates."

HEAD SHOT: With the Panthers down 2-0 to the Maple Leafs on Dec. 30, Len Barrie goaded Toronto's Darcy Tucker into a scrum behind the net and then punched Toronto's Bryan McCabe in the mouth. McCabe chased Barrie and jumped on him as Barrie covered his face.

"It was a cheap play on his part," McCabe said. "I have no respect for that. Just standing there chirping, and boom, here comes the left, right in the mouth."

Barrie got a double-minor for roughing and a match penalty for intent to injure.

"What is a match now?" Barrie said. "If a match is punching a guy in the head, then they should send us a fax, and then I won't punch anyone in the head anymore. He was yelling and screaming, so I popped him."

BIG SHOT: The Wild's 1-1 tie with the Thrashers on Wednesday featured the first goal for Minnesota's Curtis Leschyshyn since Feb. 12, 1999.

Asked if he knew how many games he went without a goal, he said, "It's my first goal in, uh, I'm going to say over 90 games."

Told it was 99, Leschyshyn said, "Well, see, I knew that. I didn't want to reach triple digits."

"He got all of it," Wild assistant coach Mike Ramsay said of the goal. "I think it was going about 22 mph."

BIGGER IS BETTER: Mario Lemieux weighs 238 pounds, which is 6 more than when he retired. The extra weight is from new muscle in his upper body.

"I think it's good I'm playing with him, maybe I'd get abused," Penguins defenseman Darius Kasparaitis said. "A couple of guys tried to hit him and ended up falling down."

Lemieux said it wasn't always that way.

"Usually, I was the one going down," he said.

LAST WORD: Brett Hull on sitting out three games with a bruised rib muscle: "Nobody likes to practice, nobody likes meetings. But at 7:30, when the puck drops, there's not much more I would rather do."

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