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Word of warning to Leafs: Beware, Khristich

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Near-miss on Khristich changes Hawks' focus

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The Habs need to break their habit of losing

Word of warning to Leafs: Beware, Khristich

By Larry Wigge - The Sporting News

Forget the experts who say the Maple Leafs are favorites to win the Eastern Conference now that they've signed free-agent left winger Dimitri Khristich. "Not if he floats like he did in Washington, Los Angeles and here," Bruins GM Harry Sinden says. Sinden is right. Khristich, 30, has loads of talent, but he has not shown it consistently. . . .

A 4-2-3 start on the road is pretty impressive for the Hurricanes, especially considering they are without their top two goal scorers: free agents Keith Primeau and Ray Sheppard. Ron Francis' leadership has made things easier. "Last year, Ronnie didn't know the players," coach Paul Maurice says. "This year, he walks into the locker room and he knows the players and their personalities. He has helped us define everyone's role. And he's got us revved up for moving into our new building in Raleigh." . . .

The Blues trading for left winger Derek King is a good indication the team doesn't expect Geoff Courtnall to return from yet another concussion. Courtnall missed 57 games last season after suffering from post-concussion syndrome. . . .

Just before he reached 400 career victories, Flames goalie Grant Fuhr already was talking about someday passing the career record of 447 victories by Terry Sawchuk (Patrick Roy leads active goalies with 417). "Whether it takes one year, two years or five years, I think I can do it," he says. After this season, however, Calgary officials won't be looking to pay the $3 million salary that his former team, the Blues, are helping them pay this season. . . .

Some had thought, with injured Peter Forsberg out until December 1, that Avalanche center Joe Sakic would have to increase his normal 28 minutes per game. Instead, he's playing less (about 22 minutes a night) and off to his best start. Why? "Because I don't have to kill penalties," Sakic says. "All those stops and starts sap you of energy. Now I'm fresh, and (coach) Bob Hartley is using me in more offensive situations." . . .

Getting free-agent right winger Bill Guerin from the Oilers for center Daymond Langkow and right winger Mikael Renberg leads the whispers in the Flyers' front offices. . . .

Vancouver has to stumble along with Kevin Weekes and injured Garth Snow now that Islanders GM Mike Milbury says goalie Felix Potvin is no longer trade bait. . . .

After a slash of Blackhawks winger Tony Amonte, which cost him a five-game suspension, Coyotes center Jeremy Roenick says he and boyhood buddy Amonte have made up. "Yeah," Roenick says with a laugh, "he's calling me Captain Hook now."

Larry Wigge has covered the NHL for TSN since 1968. His columns appear online and weekly in The Sporting News magazine. TSN users can get 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 Tue Oct 26 09:34:41 1999 PT



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