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Free LCS 1997-98
Reader Hockey Pool
head coach: Paul Maurice
roster: C - Keith Primeau, Bates Battaglia, Jeff O'Neill, Kent Manderville. RW - Sami Kapanen, Kevin Dineen, Nelson Emerson, Paul Ranheim, Stephen Leach. LW - Robert Kron, Gary Roberts, Martin Gelinas, Stu Grimson, Steven Rice. D - Steve Chiasson, Glen Wesley, Curtis Leschyshyn, Kevin Haller, Adam Burt, Sean Hill. G - Trevor Kidd, Mike Fountain, Kirk McLean.
injuries: Kirk McLean, g (back - strained it while bending over to tie a skate lace, day-to-day).
transactions: 12/21 - Recalled Pat Jablonski, g, from Cleveland (IHL); 1/2 - Traded Jeff Brown, d, to Toronto for a conditional 1999 draft pick; 1/3 - Traded Geoff Sanderson, lw, Enrico Ciccone, d, and Sean Burke, g, to Vancouver for Martin Gelinas, lw, and Kirk McLean, g; 1/3 - Called up Bates Battaglia, c, and Tripp Tracy, g, from New Haven (AHL); 1/7 - Returned Tracy to New Haven; 1/9 - Returned Jablonski, g, to Cleveland, called up Mike Fountain, g, from New Haven.
Eastern Conference - Northeast Division Team GP W L T PTS GF GA Montreal 46 24 16 6 54 136 109 Pittsburgh 45 23 14 8 54 125 104 Boston 44 20 16 8 48 111 106 Ottawa 46 19 20 7 45 111 111 Carolina 46 17 23 6 40 116 129 Buffalo 43 15 20 8 38 101 114
12/16 Ottawa W 2-1 12/18 at Ottawa L 3-2 12/20 Washington L 2-1 12/23 at Philadelphia L 4-2 12/26 Florida L 5-2 12/27 Buffalo W 4-1 12/30 Anaheim W 2-1 12/31 at Pittsburgh L 3-2 01/03 Dallas L 6-1 01/05 Ottawa W 4-1 01/06 at NY Rangers L 4-2 01/08 Philadelphia T 3-3 01/10 at NY Islanders W 2-1 OT
by Brad Kane, Hurricanes Correspondent
In return for quite possibly the two most talented players on the Hurricanes' roster, Carolina acquired winger Martin Gelinas and goaltender Kirk McLean. Gelinas, like Sanderson and Burke, had been in his coach's doghouse. When your coach happens to be Mike Keenan...well...let's just say that Gelinas needed a change of scenery. McLean, like Burke, has underachieved this year, and also had been on the trading block for quite some time.
For Carolina, the impetus for the trade was one of "addition by subtraction". Burke and Sanderson were not playing well, they both wanted out, and Rutherford thought the team would be better off without them. The objective became to get anyone, or anything, for the duo. After all, it's not as if the 'Canes actually improved themselves. McLean for Burke may give a slight edge to Vancouver, while Gelinas for Sanderson may be a small advantage for Carolina -- if only because Gelinas is a better defensive player. (Of course, I would be remiss to not mention the fact that defenseman Enrico Ciccone also headed to Vancouver. This part of the trade is most certainly addition by subtraction for Carolina. After all, the Hurricanes went 1-11-1 in games were Ciccone played. His penchant for taking boneheaded penalties quickly wore out his welcome in Greensboro.)
In the end, the intangibles of the deal shed some light on why Rutherford pulled the trigger -- namely, Burke's contract status. Burke will be an unrestricted free agent at season's end, and had been unable to come to terms with Carolina on an extension. Rutherford finally gave up any hope of acquiring a forward or even a draft pick for the netminder. He had toyed with the idea of sending Burke to the 'Canes AHL affiliate in New Haven to, at the very least, get him out of the locker room. But, Rutherford resigned himself to the fact that getting another goalie having a less-than-stellar season was the only way to get Burke out of town.
McLean is signed through next year, which leaves this writer wondering what Carolina intends to do. With Trevor Kidd already anointed Carolina's goalie of both the present and the future, where does McLean fit in? Like Burke, his best years are most likely behind him, and also like Burke, he makes two-million-plus a year. If McLean is not taken in the expansion draft (not likely -- Nashville should be able to get a goalie of similar ability who's younger), or traded (less likely due to his high salary...unless Philadelphia gets REALLY desperate), Carolina will have this same situation on their hands next year at this time -- two number-one-caliber goalies fighting for playing time.
Hindsight is indeed 20-20, but here's something to think about. Take a deep breath: In the offseason, when it was apparent that Burke was not going to come to contract terms with the team, Rutherford could have realized that he was not going to get anything for him, kept him as the starter for 97-98, used prospect J.S. Giguere (traded to Calgary with Andrew Cassels for Kidd and Gary Roberts) as Burke's backup, groomed Giguere as the starter for 98-99 when Burke would be gone, kept Cassels, which means that Sanderson would still be around (scoring goals, too), and passed on Roberts, who has not had the impact team officials thought he would. Whew... Keep in mind, as it's written above, it's all 20-20...
In other trade news, the move of defenseman Jeff Brown to Toronto was almost forgotten when the deal with the Canucks went down less than 12 hours later. Brown, one of three members of the Carolina blue line to make more then two million this year (Steve Chiasson and Glen Wesley are the others), became an odd man out, benched since December 20. Carrying eight defensemen before the two trades, Rutherford noted that the team was not actively trying to move any backliners. Both he and Maurice were quoted as saying that depth on defense was important in case of injury. Hmm, well eight minus two is six and six defensemen are generally needed in a game, so that safety net has just been shot to hell. To Rutherford's credit, there are a few young defenseman at New Haven who can step in and play at the NHL level, and have done so before. They include Steve Halko and Nolan Pratt. Trading Brown and Ciccone opens up the possibility for a call-up for either of the two.
AN ALL-STAR INJUSTICE
Naturally, Carolina (along with San Jose and Tampa Bay) was overlooked. The fact that Sami Kapanen has had a great year was also overlooked. Fact is, Sami should be in Vancouver January 18. Here's his credentials: A team high 17 goals, also leading the team in points, checking as hard as Chris Chelios in his prime, quite possibly the NHL's smartest player, a friend to household pets everywhere, etc. It's not as if you have to look long and hard to find at least one player who shouldn't be there. Last I looked, Kapanen had as many goals as Ottawa's Daniel Alfredsson has played games...
Bates Battaglia became the first player in franchise history to score his first NHL goal in overtime with a tally against the Islanders last Saturday. Recalled after the Vancouver trade, Battaglia has seen his ice time increase with each game that he's played. Against the Isles, Battaglia played on the 'Canes second line with Roberts and Kevin Dineen. Acquired in a trade with Anaheim for Mark Janssens at last year's trading deadline, Battaglia is a solid defensive player who gives Carolina depth at where they need it most -- center. Battaglia is also the first rookie to even play in a game for the Hurricanes this year.
Speaking of centers, rumor has it that Rutherford is not done dealing yet and the GM has his sights set on acquiring a top-flight pivot-man. There were some reports that Rutherford had inquired about getting Cassels back from Calgary (no comment, please), but beyond that no names have surfaced. Earlier reports about Rutherford pursuing the unsigned Sergei Fedorov have not come to fruition, and Carolina has not been mentioned as a suitor in some time.
To the glee of team officials, attendance is up at the Greensboro Coliseum. The 'Canes have drawn more than 8,000 fans in five of the last six home games, topping out at 11,908 for last Thursday's 3-3 tie with the Flyers. That's even better when you consider that game was the first contest where the Hurricanes had to compete head-to-head with some of their college basketball neighbors. Also last Thursday, North Carolina hosted Georgia Tech in front of 21,572 and Wake Forest played Clemson before 13,003.
Nikos Tselios, the Hurricanes first-round pick in the 1997 draft, had an eventful holiday season. Tselios, a defenseman, played for Team USA at the World Junior Championships in Finland between Christmas and New Year's. Also, he was traded by his team in the Ontario Junior Hockey League, Belleville, to Plymouth, a team owned by Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos.
It's old news now, but it's still worth repeating -- the Hurricanes found themselves the basis for a week's worth of Tank McNamara cartoon strips just before Christmas. McNamara creators Jeff Millar and Bill Hinds poked fun at, among other things, the large, black curtains put in place to lower the capacity of the coliseum and the conundrum of marketing hockey in NASCAR country. The most humorous strip involved a promotion where a fan is invited to shoot a puck through a six-inch hole to win the entire franchise. The fan declines, out of fear that he may actually win...
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