Sunday, February 2, 2003

NHL All-Star notebook


Ozolinsh skips All-Star skills competition

By Mark Long
The Associated Press

SUNRISE, Fla. - Sandis Ozolinsh skipped the All-Star skills competition Saturday night because he was "uncomfortable" returning to South Florida following a midweek trade to Anaheim.

The seven-time All-Star defenseman also did not show up for a mandatory media availability session Saturday morning and could get fined, but a team spokesman said Ozolinsh will play in the All-Star game Sunday.

"He's still kind of stunned from the trade," team spokesman Alex Gilchrist said. "And he's uncomfortable about coming back here. If the game wasn't here, he would be here."

The Florida Panthers traded Ozolinsh to the Mighty Ducks on Thursday as part of a four-player deal. The trade was criticized because it came as the league's All-Star weekend began in South Florida and Ozolinsh's had been the team's only representative until center Olli Jokinen was added as a replacement.

Ozolinsh had planned to compete in the skills event wearing a generic jersey, but then decided to skip the competition altogether. Although he is now in the Western Conference, Ozolinsh will start for the Eastern Conference team but will be introduced as a member of the Mighty Ducks, Gilchrist said.

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IT'S JUST A GAME

Don't count Martin Brodeur as someone who wants to add more meaning to the NHL All-Star game.

The New Jersey Devils goalie was asked if he would be in favor of having the winning conference receive home-ice advantage in the Stanley Cup finals - an idea that is being debated in baseball.

Brodeur did not like the thought that someone from the Atlanta Thrashers, New York Rangers, or Buffalo Sabres could be the reason why the first-place Devils faced Game 7 in places such as Detroit, Dallas or Vancouver.

"In the last period of the game and you have to rely on those guys in last place to have home-ice advantage? I don't know if that would right," Brodeur said.

Last month, baseball owners approved such a plan that would give more importance to its midseason game by linking it to home field in the World Series. It needs approval from the players before it could go into effect.

One difference between baseball and hockey in that regard is home field in the World Series alternates each year between the American and National Leagues. Home-ice advantage in the Stanley Cup finals is determined by the team with the best record.

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SEVENTH MAN

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman is giving up his job, for one day at least.

One fan will be given the NHL "7th Man Award" and serve as commissioner for a day during the Stanley Cup finals.

Each of the 30 NHL teams will select one local winner until one person is chosen as the big winner. The 7th Man Award carries with it a trip to New York to become "Commissioner for a Day" and then fly to Game 1 of the Stanley Cup finals to drop the ceremonial first puck.

"The notion of having each team pick its most passionate fan and letting them have my job for a day so I can take the day off is a fun way to celebrate our fans," Bettman said.

The contest runs from Feb. 2-March 1. Fans can enter by logging on to NHL.com or team Web sites and submitting an essay of 250 words or less describing why they should be the winner for their favorite team.

The final winner will be chosen by a panel consisting of Bettman, television announcers John Davidson, John Saunders, Linda Cohn, and Pierre McGuire, and entertainer Denis Leary.

This award culminates the NHL's Year of the Fan campaign that has run all season.

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WIDE BODIES

San Jose's high-scoring Teemu Selanne says he laughs when he sees NHL highlights from the 1980s because the equipment for goaltenders has gotten so much bigger.

"When you try to shoot, it has to be an absolutely perfect shot to go in because there's no room," Selanne said. "A lot of players just hope they're going to get the rebound. They don't expect the shot is going to go in."

Selanne favors a rule change reducing the size of goaltender equipment.

"A better chance to score is going to be better for everybody - except the goalies," he said. "They like a 1-0 game. They're the only ones."

Dallas goalie Marty Turco said shooters shouldn't complain.

"I say put them in there for five minutes and they'll see how minimal our equipment is, and how easy it is to score," Turco said. "I wouldn't say there's a shortage of goals. Markus Naslund has 35 already. They should pay more attention to a shooter like him. Then they'll be all right."




UC BEARCATS
Marquette 82, UC 76
Daugherty: Snarl gone from 'Cats
Rankings become least of concerns

XAVIER
Xavier 66, Richmond 52
Victory a little sweeter for West

OTHER COLLEGE BASKETBALL
No. 7 Kentucky 87, South Carolina 69
Miami 57, Buffalo 55
Ohio State 65, Northwestern 52
No. 8 Louisville 95, No. 19 Indiana 76
Syracuse stuns No. 2 Pitt
Texas A&M denies Knight 800th victory
Top 25 roundup: Who's No. 1? Maybe Texas
How the Top 25 fared
Women: UConn blasts No. 1 Duke
Smith's late basket lifts Norse men to 76-75 victory

REDS / MLB
Shake this winter chill, make tracks for Florida
Reds Spring Training Guide
A look at the Grapefruit League
Leading off, Adam Dunn?
Judge: Put Rose in HOF

BENGALS / NFL
Bengals Q&A
Ditka interested in coaching Lions
Garcia frustrated by 49ers' coaching conundrum
Rice's heart fonder for Hawaii

COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Hula Bowl: South 27, North 24
Paterno: 2006 might be final year at Penn State
Grambling QB wins Gaither Award

HORSE RACING
Streaking Champali adds WEBN at Turfway
Medaglia d'Oro wins Strub Stakes after three-month layoff
Record number nominated for Triple Crown races

PREP SPORTS
Groeschen: St. X swimmers step up
Schmidt: Former prep football stars get shot at pros
Withrow gets top seed in Division I
Sectional tournament pairings
St. Henry hits All 'A' state
Ohio boys games
Ohio girls games
Ky. boys games
Ky. girls games
Prep sports results

GOLF
Herron pulls away by 4 strokes in Hope Classic

NBA BASKETBALL
NBA: Penalized Pacers prevail

HOCKEY
MacInnis, Roy lead West to skills victory
NHL YoungStars: East 8, West 3
NHL All-Star notebook
Ducks waddle past Admirals

AUTO RACING
The Boogity Man is back
Tight battle up front in Daytona
NASCAR notebook

TRISTATE SPOTLITE
Ex-GCL, XU players skip along in ACC
Local man knows story behind numbers
Enquirer's Page Two power rankings

AS THE SPORTS WORLD TURNS
Lewis prefers Tyson rematch over quality opponent