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May 9, 2006

May 9, 2006

The Hockey News has been providing the most comprehensive coverage of the world of hockey since 1947. In each issue, you'll find news, features and opinions about the NHL and leagues across North America and the world.

DEPARTMENTS

Big hits blur lines

When Buffalo blueliner Brian Campbell delivered a massive hit to the head-chest area of Philadelphia’s R.J. Umberger in Game 2 of their first round series, Campbell knew two things: One, he had executed a big play, a game-changing that rocks an opponent’s world. Two, he fully expected Umberger to get back up. And therein lays both the pleasure and the paradox of so-called “clean hits” in the NHL today. It was a big hit and, by definition, a clean one, but it was also a blow to the head and Umberger didn’t get up. At least not right away. And that has led to another round in the debate on the definition of “clean.” Is it the same as “legal”? Are they interchangeable words or is there a thin line of distinction? There are no…

DEPARTMENTS

Ascension of Huet turned Habs around

DEFINING MOMENT On March 8, one day before the trade deadline, the Canadiens dispatched struggling and injured goalie Jose Theodore to Colorado. It mattered little that Montreal received netminder David Aebischer in return. Rather, the deal confirmed Cristobal Huet’s status as the team’s No. 1. He made it easy for GM Bob Gainey, accumulating 15 of a possible 20 points in 10 starts prior to the trade. Huet ended the season with seven shutouts in only 36 games, along with a 2.20 goals-against average and .929 save percentage. Had he posted those numbers over a full season, he’d likely win the Vezina Trophy. As it was, he almost single-handedly carried Montreal into the playoffs. ATTENDANCE REPORT The Habs sold every seat for every game this year, establishing a single-season attendance record…

IN THIS ISSUE

Stevie’s last dance?

When recurring groin problems forced him to miss 18 of Detroit’s first 39 games, Steve Yzerman admits he contemplated a mid-season retirement. Even when he played, Yzerman wasn’t skating well, relegated to the fourth line by coach Red Wings Mike Babcock and playing less than 10 minutes on some nights. “It was difficult to get going, it was a struggle for a little while and (retirement) was something to consider,” Yzerman said. “But I’m glad I stuck with it, and felt that if I could remain healthy and get in some good work and practice and play some games that I could get better.” That he did. Since the Olympic break, Yzerman has been skating fluidly, passing with precision, getting shots on net, winning important faceoffs and handling an increased workload. His 11-game…

DEPARTMENTS

Sabres spurred by Drury’s words

DEFINING MOMENT The Sabres were embarrassed by their performance in a 4-1 loss at Calgary Jan. 21. It was the third stop of a six-game road trip and the Sabres appeared to be pacing themselves. “We have been dressing… a lot of guys who are under 100 games played in this league,” said co-captain Chris Drury afterward. “We’re going to go into some buildings and veteran teams down the stretch are going to be licking their chops if we’re not mentally and physically ready to go to war.” The Sabres took Drury’s criticism to heart and responded by going 15-1-2 in 18 games. ATTENDANCE REPORT The Sabres sold out 18 games, six more than in 2003-04. They’re figuring on 10,000 to 12,000 season-ticket packages for next season. HSBC Arena averaged 17,079…