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Players union keeping an eye on Kravchuk deal

By DAMIAN CRISTODERO

© St. Petersburg Times, published November 12, 2000


For those interested in the inner workings of the NHL, here's something that will wet your whistle.

The players association is keeping a close eye on the Flames' waiver pickup Friday of Senators defenseman Igor Kravchuk. The union wants to make sure the move isn't part of a scheme by Ottawa to circumvent the $1-million no-trade bonus in the defenseman's contract.

The union will watch for future trades between the Flames and Senators to make sure they are legitimate or to see if the Senators make a killing for top-tier players in exchange for, say, future considerations.

"It's too early to say what will happen until we see if any funny stuff is going on," Kravchuk's agent, Scott Norton, said. "Certainly they have the rights to put a player on waivers, but to waive a player of his value is an unusual situation."

The union is interested because of an earlier situation in which Rangers general manager Glen Sather shipped Stephane Quintal to the Blackhawks through waivers, avoiding a $1-million no-trade clause in Quintal's contract.

The teams then made a trade that brought defenseman Brad Brown and left wing Michal Grosek to the Rangers for future considerations.

The union may argue such a scenario is illegal and the $1-million should be paid.

WEDNESDAY NIGHT FIGHTS: If you watched the Penguins' 5-2 victory over the Flyers on Wednesday night, you saw Jaromir Jagr and coach Ivan Hlinka have words several times on the bench.

The two also spoke behind closed doors for 20 minutes after the game. Nobody said what was discussed, and Hlinka later said everything was fine. A possible point of contention is the new forecheck Jagr reportedly drew up and the coaches endorsed.

Hlinka, who is as big a hero in the Czech Republic as Jagr, said Jagr is under enormous pressure as the anointed greatest player in the world.

"Sometimes it's easier to go there (achieve such status) than to stay there for a long time, and he's stayed there a long time already," Hlinka said. "It's a lot of pressure on him."

Said Jagr of Hlinka: "He's a great guy. You have to work together, and somebody has to be in the middle. Not all the players are going to go to the coaches and say what they feel. I'm the captain. I have to go to the coaches and say, "The team feels we should play this way. What do you think?' "

SAND STORM: The Arizona Republic reported that Coyotes owner Richard Burke and general manager Bobby Smith have banned goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin and forward Claude Lemieux, both unsigned free agents, from the locker and training rooms at the team's practice facility. The players can use only the ice.

Both players have tentative deals with the incoming ownership group that includes Wayne Gretzky. Burke said the move was made because the free agents were getting too close to the players they eventually will replace, like goaltender Sean Burke.

"Every time he turns around, somebody is pointing out there's this guy on the ice who's going to replace him in a month," Burke said. "Where's team morale?"

Said Lemieux: "It would make it a lot easier to keep using the facility, but that's okay. I understand. I've got a great deal with the new guys. I don't have a deal with them."

PELLE REMEMBERED: Friday marked the 15th anniversary of the death of Flyers goaltender Pelle Lindbergh, who was killed when he drove his Porsche 930 Turbo into the wall of a Somerdale, N.J., elementary school.

The crash occurred during a night of drinking after a victory over the Bruins. Passengers Ed Parvin and Kathy McNeal survived serious injuries.

"Pelle was such a likable guy," Lindbergh teammate Brian Propp said. "I've been to the school and looked at the wall, the angle the car struck at. If it had hit five feet either way, it would have caromed off, but it just stuck there."

SHORT TAKES: The Red Wings are considering trades to shake the team out of its slump, but coach Scotty Bowman said trades may not be necessary. "The guys who have been rewarded (financially) for their play have to reward the team with better play," he said. ... The Wild has been shut out five times, including three of its past five games. It has been held to one goal four times. It got six in a victory over the Lightning. ... Speaking of the Wild, listen to assistant coach Mario Tremblay: "We need to work harder than any other team, want the puck more than any other team. We have to crash the net, dive for rebounds, refuse to be stopped when going for the puck. You have to take the attitude that, "Hey, we need to get that puck.' And, of course, we have to shoot the puck." Come to think of it, maybe he was talking about Tampa Bay. ... The Predators, of all teams, had the league's fourth-best road record (4-1-0-1) heading into Saturday night's games. ... Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello told the Newark Star-Ledger that he and holdouts Jason Arnott and Scott Niedermayer are nearing "a point of no return."

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