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Near-miss on Khristich changes Hawks' focus

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Senators GM isn't afraid to bash Yashin

Near-miss on Khristich changes Hawks' focus

By Larry Wigge - The Sporting News

Members of the Toronto Maple Leafs executive group claim they were bidding with the Chicago Blackhawks for former Boston Bruins left winger Dimitri Khristich before they signed Khristich to a three-year contract worth around $2.4 million per season. Spurned on the Khristich deal, those same insiders say don't be surprised if the Blackhawks now turn their attention to Edmonton Oilers free-agent right winger Bill Guerin. . . .

Khristich, 30, became a free agent when the Bruins refused to give him the arbitration reward of $2.8 million six weeks ago. The Bruins retained the right to match any offer of under $2.4 million to Khristich, who had 29 goals and 42 assists in 79 games last season. Toronto sent Boston a second-round draft choice to obtain Khristich's arbitration rights. . . .

It appears New Jersey Devils free-agent forwards Patrik Elias and Brendan Morrison have run out of patience. Don't be surprised to see them sign with the Devils by this weekend and in uniform as early as next week. . . .

Seeing the St. Louis Blues trade young defenseman Tyler Harlton and make a switch of eighth-round picks with the Maple Leafs for veteran left winger Derek King likely means that the Blues don't expect Geoff Courtnall back after last Saturday's concussion suffered when he was hit by a forearm in a game against Toronto. Courtnall missed most of last season suffering from post concussion syndrome. King had 24 goals for Toronto last season but turned off the coaching staff when he produced only one goal in 16 playoff games. . . .

Excuse me, but hearing Edmonton Oilers GM Glen Sather talk about how Guerin, who had 30 goals last season, isn't worth the $3.5 million he's asking and then mentioning Buffalo's Miroslav Satan in comparison -- saying that Satan netted 40 goals last season and he just signed for $2.5 million -- strikes me a little funny. Especially since Sather sent Satan to the Sabres in that memorable trade for forwards Barrie Moore and Craig Millar in March 1997. . . .

For the record, the Flyers gave defenseman Ulf Samuelsson a two-year, $4.55 million contract. The Samuelsson signing gave Philadelphia eight defensemen -- and they quickly reduced that to seven by sending Karl Dykhuis to the hobbled Montreal Canadiens for future considerations. The Flyers also waived Luke Richardson in hopes that they can make a deal with someone to take Richardson's $2.5 million contract off their hands. . . .

Experts talk about how players often carry over their performance from the playoffs into the next season. That is oh-so-true in Toronto with young defensemen Tomas Kaberle and Danny Markov, who show their poise and skill every night despite being in only their second NHL season. . . .

Another example of that same subject is the fast start that Colorado center Joe Sakic has gotten off to with Milan Hejduk. Hejduk scored both goals in the Avalanche's 2-1 victory in Montreal on Wednesday to give him six this season. . . .

St. Louis' Chris Pronger, Boston's Ray Bourque and Los Angeles' Rob Blake are 1-2-3 in minutes played this season. Can you guess who's No. 4? No, it's not Detroit's Chris Chelios or Nicklas Lidstrom or the Rangers' Brian Leetch. It's Edmonton Oilers second-year defenseman Tom Poti at 28 minutes, 22 seconds per game. Dallas' Derian Hatcher, Leetch, the Islanders' Kenny Jonsson, Dallas' Sergei Zubov, Lidstrom and Buffalo's Alexei Zhitnik round out the league's top 10 in minutes played. . . .

With three goals and six assists in his first seven games, Detroit Red Wings center Sergei Fedorov has lived up to his preseason promise of trying to duplicate his MVP season in 1993-94. Fedorov has been on a line with veteran mucker Doug Brown and power forward Tomas Holmstrom. Holmstrom has developed into the threat the Red Wings thought he would be with Fedorov setting him up. Fedorov is using skates from his rookie season and credits them with improving his speed. . . .

In case anyone was wondering: Alexandre Daigle, the 1993 first overall pick who has failed to produce for the Senators, Flyers and Tampa Bay, was named the AHL Player of the Week after getting two goals and three assists in two games for the Hartford Wolf Pack, American Hockey League farm club for the New York Rangers. . . .

Does Dave Ellett, once among the NHL's best puck-moving defensemen, have enough left to help St. Louis, which is will be without Rico Persson for the rest of the month and Norris Trophy winner Al MacInnis for even longer? In all honesty, the No. 3 defenseman in the Blues' organization behind MacInnis and Chris Pronger is a 20-year-old Slovakian named Peter Smrek. Ellett, who played the past two seasons in Boston, will find that if he still has his passing skills, he'll fit in just nicely in St. Louis coach Joel Quenneville's system. . . .

Calgary goaltender Grant Fuhr is 0-2 against his former St. Louis teammates. He's still at 399 career victories, too. Fuhr says despite rumors that this would be his last season, he plans to play until the Flames make the playoffs/or he wins 450 games, whichever comes first. Playing behind that Flames team must put more pressure on the brain than I thought.

Larry Wigge has covered the NHL for TSN since 1968. Wigge's columns appear online and weekly in The Sporting News magazine. TSN users can get Wigge's columns via email -- it's easy and FREE! Got a question for Mr. Hockey? Drop Larry a line and watch for his response in an upcoming mailbag.

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updated at Thu Oct 21 21:35:17 1999 PT



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