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NHL briefs

By Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published September 24, 2000

Brashear welcomes foul calls

KANATA, Ontario -- After getting hit in the head with a stick last year, Donald Brashear supports the NHL's initiative to cut down on stick fouls.

The Vancouver Canucks left wing, however, doesn't think Marty McSorley should go on trial for hitting him.

"It's not my case," Brashear told the Ottawa Citizen on Friday. "I didn't sue (McSorley) and I could have. I really don't want to be involved, but I'm a witness and I'll have to be there."

McSorley's trial on assault charges begins Monday in Vancouver.

After McSorley slashed Brashear across the temple during a game on Feb. 21, the NHL suspended the Boston Bruins defenseman for the rest of the season. McSorley must meet with commissioner Gary Bettman before he can play again.

Brashear received a severe concussion and only returned for the final three games of the regular season. Brashear welcomes the clampdown on fouls by Andy Van Hellemond, the NHL's director of officiating.

"It seems like the league is going to get more severe and that's good, with all the injuries out there," Brashear said. "If they let these incidents go, there's going to be something terrible. Mine was bad, but something worse could have happened."

BLUE JACKETS: Columbus reassigned three players -- goaltender Greg Gardner, defenseman Jonas Junkka and center Reggie Savage -- to its American Hockey League farm team in Syracuse, N.Y., and released defenseman Jeff Ware, who will report to Syracuse for a tryout. The expansion team has 41 players in camp.

DEVILS: Bill Zito can't understand why his colleagues are so upset with him, when all the agent did was take advantage of the worst blunder Lou Lamoriello ever committed.

Lamoriello, New Jersey general manager, did something unusual this summer. He did not file club options on John Madden and Brian Rafalski by the July 1 deadline.

Hence, two lesser cogs in the Devils' Stanley Cup wheel went from restricted to unrestricted free agents. It ended up costing the Devils millions. Zito, who represents both players, quietly renegotiated new deals at huge salary increases. Rafalski will play for $450,000 this year; next year, a four-year, $11-million extension kicks in. Madden will play for $550,000; then a four-year, $7-million extension kicks in.

This upset agent Rich Winter, who represents Patrik Elias, the Devils' leading scorer. Madden, a fourth-line center, will earn twice as much next season as Elias ($750,000), who is the Devils' top left wing.

OILERS: Edmonton came to terms with its last remaining restricted free agent, signing wing Ryan Smyth to a three-year deal.

Smyth, who again led the Oilers last season with 28 goals, missed two weeks of training camp during the negotiations, but worked out with the University of Alberta team.

Smyth, 24, played in all 82 games last season, finishing with 26 assists, in addition to his 28 goals.

WILD: Minnesota defenseman Sean O'Donnell was suspended indefinitely by the NHL on Saturday, pending a hearing for his fight with Anaheim's Antti Aalto on Wednesday. O'Donnell and Aalto fought during the third period of the Mighty Ducks' 3-0 preseason victory. O'Donnell received a major penalty for fighting, a game misconduct, and a match penalty for attempting to injure. O'Donnell was suspended until a hearing is conducted. No date for the hearing has been set.

Saturday's games

CANUCKS 4, WILD 0: Bob Essensa returned to the site of his greatest success, Winnipeg. Essensa, who played for the Winnipeg Jets from 1988-94, stopped 34 shots, including 16 in the second period.

THRASHERS 3, HURRICANES 2: Yves Sarault deflected Frantisek Kaberle's shot to break a tie with 4:18 remaining for host Atlanta. The victory was Atlanta's first after consecutive losses. Carolina dropped to 1-4 and has 10 goals.

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