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Dallas coach won't dance around issue

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO

© St. Petersburg Times, published October 15, 2000


You've got to love Ken Hitchcock. The Stars coach plays it straight with his players and then tells the media.

After Dallas laid a big ol' egg in falling 5-2 to the Hurricanes, Hitchcock said his players were simply not trying hard enough. He also put a ton of pressure on Jamie Langenbrunner by saying he wants the left wing to be another Guy Carbonneau.

First to his underachieving players.

"Sometimes you want to find an easier way to play the game of hockey," Hitchcock said. "But we know how to play with success, and it's a lot of hard work. The thing that we need to change dramatically is the sincerity with which we play our game. "Everyone talks about scoring goals. We need more goals, but it's not that simple. If you put the skill ahead of the work, it won't matter if you score more goals because you'll certainly be giving up more goals. We have to get back to that determination, and the scoring will take care of itself."

The Stars responded with a 4-1 victory over the Flyers.

As for Langenbrunner, Hitchcock said: "We expect Jamie to play like Carbo did from the ages of 25 to 30, which was Carbo's peak time. He was a 20-goal scorer, he was an effective two-way player and he was a Selke Award winner. And that's what we expect Jamie to do."

Langenbrunner embraces the challenge.

"We all know what Guy meant to the team," he said. "We all saw what he did and how he did it. I take a lot of pride in the fact that they have picked me to do this. I know how important it is to the team. It might not show up on the score sheet every night, but it's something that's necessary if we want to win."

GOING STRONG: One Stars player who didn't need a kick start is Brett Hull. The left wing had four goals in his first five games, giving him 614, eighth all-time, and boosting him past his father, Bobby, (610) and Mario Lemieux (613).

"It would have been nice to stay there," Brett said of 610. "But it's also quite a thrill to pass a guy who's a Hall of Famer who was probably the biggest influence on how I play the game."

Brett said his style is "totally opposite" from his father's.

"If you know the game, the first thing you notice is the kid can't skate a lick and his father was one of the more graceful players to play with power and speed," he said. "I play the game through the brain, not through the body. To achieve the same totals is a little eerie with us being so opposite."

"Doesn't matter," the father said. "Brett Hull has more than his dad. He's done a masterful job."

MORE MILESTONES: Kings left wing Luc Robitaille got misty during Wednesday night's 4-4 tie with the Blues.

After his goal at 12:22 of the second period made him just the third player in Kings history to reach 1,000 points, the 18,118 fans at the Staples Center stood and cheered and threw hats on the ice.

It was the 558th goal of his 15-year career. Only Marcel Dionne and Dave Taylor scored as many with the club. It all would have been perfect had the Kings won. But the Blues scored four times in the third period and got the tying goal with 33 seconds remaining.

And we thought that kind of thing only happened to the Lightning.

STATUS QUO: Commissioner Gary Bettman told the Minneapolis Star-Tribune there are no more plans for expansion and no plans to re-align the league.

"If you look at the map objectively, we think every team is in the division and conference that they should be in," he said. "I think the game has never been healthier or more stable. Is it perfect? No, but it's a work in progress, and I think we are in better shape than we have been in our history."

ODDS AND ENDS: Philadelphia's $7-million man John LeClair is receiving anti-inflammatory injections in his back, which has had spasms for a week. And Mark Recchi likely will not play through at least Tuesday because of a suspected concussion. ... Rumors are rampant the Coyotes are about to trade left wing Keith Tkachuk and goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin to the Rangers for Mike Richter, Theo Fleury and prospects Pavel Brendl and Jamie Lundmark. ... The Sharks weren't happy after Jeff Friesen took a nine-stitch cut over his right eye from what they said was a high stick by Chris Pronger. No call against the Blues, but a bench minor against the Sharks when somebody complained.

- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.

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