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December 25, 1998

December 25, 1998

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.


Cold ‘Beezer’ on hot seat after softies

“Here we go again,” read one headline. “Beezer in freezer,” said another. To those who follow the Philadelphia Flyers on a regular basis, no further explanation was needed. John Vanbiesbrouck, who was brought in last summer to upgrade the Flyers’ questionable goaltending situation, found himself pulled from one big game, a 5-5 tie versus the New Jersey Devils Dec. 8, and benched for the rematch two nights later, which the Flyers’ lost 5-4 behind backup Ron Hextail. After a good start, Vanbiesbrouck’s record slipped to 7-6-4 with an. 884 save percentage, among the league’s poorest. “No goalie likes to get yanked out of a game, but it happens if you’re not playing well or for momentum’s sake,” said coach Roger Neilson. “He’s aware of that.” Vanbiesbrouck knows he has some work to do. The 35-year-old goalie…


Potvin not only concern for de-facto GM Smith

Toronto Maple Leafs’ associate GM Mike Smith had a lot more on his mind in mid-December than what he was going to do about Felix Potvin. That’s not to say Smith wasn’t devoting his energies toward trading Potvin, who left the team Dec. 3 and announced two days later he wasn’t coming back. Smith was on the phone daily trying to deal Potvin. But through the affair, Smith was also consumed by a more important matter. His wife, Judy, has cancer and underwent surgery Nov. 30 and was expected to begin chemotherapy in late December. When Smith wasn’t at games, he was by her side in a Boston hospital. “I’ve had better weeks.” Smith said Dec. 5. “It sure makes all the bull seem pretty meaningless.” As soon as Potvin walked out-and subsequently was…



Clarks help provide hope for newborn’s parents I just wanted to share a story about a great hockey player and his family. On Oct. 9, 1998, my daughter was bom with a brain hemorrhage and we experienced the same nightmare as Tampa’s Wendel Clark and his family. The Clarks’ first child, Kylie, was also bom with a brain hemorrhage, which took place during delivery. My wife and I never imagined such a thing could happen to us. We had never even heard of this happening to anyone else, so we didn’t have anyone to talk to about it. Just recently, after sending a letter to the Lightning, I received a call at work. It was Wendel’s wife, Denise. We talked about Kylie (now three) and how well she is doing. Mrs. Clark also gave…


Smyth tries to stay upbeat in midst of difficult season

Two years ago, Ryan Smyth was a 20-year-old future star on his way to a 39-goal season with the Edmonton Oilers. It seems like a lifetime ago. “Right now I feel like I’m hurting the team,” said Smyth, who had one goal in 24 games. “I just want to help this team win and every time I’m on the ice it doesn’t seem like 1 am.” Smyth’s ice time has been cut dramatically this season. A first-line regular two years ago, he has spent most of this year with the fourth unit. “In fairness to Ryan, he’s only getting two or three shifts a game,” said coach Ron Low, who’s more concerned with Smyth’s defensive liabilities than his scoring slump. Smyth, who had knee surgery midway through last season, missed all of training camp as…