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February 28, 1997

February 28, 1997

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.

NHL TEAMS

Sens tight as race tightens

As the Ottawa Senators battled to lay their hooks in their first-ever playoff spot, they couldn’t help but wonder about a couple of big ones that got away. Twice in a three-game span, they blew two-goal third-period leads and had to settle for ties, costing them two points in what was becoming an increasingly tight Eastern Conference playoff race. The first came Feb. 8 as they led the San Jose Sharks 3-1, but had to settle for a 3-3 stalemate. Then, against the New York Islanders Feb. 11, they squandered a 5-3 third-period advantage. When it was suggested to left winger Shawn McEachern the full impact of losing those two points might not be felt until April, he said: “Oh, no. 1 know how important they are right now. I’ve been in a…

NHL TEAMS

Devils hoping veteran Zezel can take over Broten’s role

Two years ago, Neal Broten became the ingredient the New Jersey Devils needed to win a Stanley Cup when they obtained him in a trade with the Dallas Stars. This time around, they are hoping Peter Zezel can provide a similar spark. With rumors swirling about a possible trade for Doug Gilmour or Adam Oates, the Devils acquired Zezel from the St. Louis Blues for defenseman Chris McAlpine and a ninth round pick in the 1999 entry draft. Zezel, excited to be on a team with Cup aspirations, has no illusions about his role. “I’m not a No. I center,” Zezel said. “I’ve never been in that category, so 1 don’t have to deal with being compared to (Oates and Gilmour).’’ GM Lou Lamoriello did not rule out the possibility of making another trade…

FEATURES

Don’t expect frenzy of Group II signings

Don Baizley’s phone will be ringing off the hook this summer with offers for free agents Paul Kariya, Peter Forsberg and Joe Sakic, right? Don’t count on it. That’s because there remains little freedom of movement for Group II (restricted) free agents and Baizley knows it. He is the agent for Kariya of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim and Forsberg and Sakic of the defending Stanley Cup-champion Colorado Avalanche. “There is a real reluctance for teams to get involved in pursuing restricted free agents unless there is a real likelihood they will get the player,” Baizley said. His clients are among a host of high-profile players who are scheduled to become restricted free agents this summer. Others include Tony Amonte of the Chicago Blackhawks, Mike Modano and Derian Hatcher of the Dallas Stars, Sergei…

LEAGUES

Goalies help in Rangers’ fight for division title

Kitchener Rangers’ veteran goalie David Belitski and rookie call-up goalie Shawn Degagne got into a real fight during a post-game skate last season. They’re now roommates, the best of friends, and have helped the Rangers to first place in the Ontario League’s Central Division. “We were getting skated after a game with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds,” Belitski recalled. “We got beat pretty bad and it was one of those things where tempers flared. We were doing dog-fights in the comer, where you throw the puck in, two go in and one has got to come out with it. We just had it out, you might say.” The Rangers had been in a dog fight much of the season, but opened some space with a recent 8-0-3 run. “I would like to see…