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The EuroReport Daily, 23 Aug 1999 16:39:23


     When all the numbers were put on the table, the Boston Bruins didn't like what they saw with LW DMITRI KHRISTICH (Ukraine). So, rather than accepting an arbitrator's ruling that called for Khristich to get a hefty raise for 1999-2000, they exercised a never-before-used clause that turned him into an unrestricted free agent.

     But while several NHL GMs applauded Boston's stand against a trend that saw Khristich's salary rise from $1 million to $2.8 million in 3 seasons, the Bruins may have a harder time than they think replacing the winger's contribution.

     Sinden's prime beef with Khristich -- aired for all to hear after their loss to Buffalo in the 1999 playoffs -- is the player's lack of contribution in key situations.

     The stats back Sinden's claim. In 2 seasons a Bruin, Khristich has 137 points in 161 regular-season games (.85 per game). In the playoffs, his production dipped to 11 points in 18 outings (.61 per game).

     The playoff numbers won't be missed much, but the Bruins could find themselves missing the playoffs altogether if new Bruin LW Dave Andreychuk and some other forwards can't match Khristich's regular-season contributions.

     Over the last 2 seasons, no Bruin had more goals than Khristich's 58. He also led the team in power-play tallies (18) and plus-minus (plus-36) in that span. He had only 1 game-winning goal in 1997-98, but finished tied for second on the team last season with Steve Heinze. Both had 6, or 2 fewer than Anson Carter.

     Those numbers undoubtedly formed the backbone of agent Larry Kelly's cases the last 2 summers, thus helping Khristich nearly triple his salary. But the Bruins don't feel the contributions are worthy of the monetary spike.

     "We strongly disagree with the arbitrator's assessment that Dmitri is a $2.8 million player," said Sinden. "We made a proposal to Dmitri to return to the Bruins at his last year's salary of $1.95 million, which he has refused at this time. He can now sign with another NHL team, but we have retained the right to match any offer sheet to Dmitri that is less than 80% of the arbitrator's award of $2.8 million."

     After the club's move to walk away from the award, it's hard to imagine Khristich coming back to the Bruins. Just how much he'll be missed remains to be seen.

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