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Truth & Rumors: March 28, 2005

Posted: Monday March 28, 2005 12:43PM; Updated: Monday March 28, 2005 12:43PM
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Dominik Hasek is leaving Ottawa. The Senators goaltender is heading to his home outside Prague in the Czech Republic, vowing to retire for good unless a new collective bargaining agreement between NHL owners and players is in place before the start of the 2005-06 season. "Am I optimistic? Yes," he said. "But I was optimistic before, when I said I thought it would get settled in January. I hope I'm not mistaken a second time. May is the crucial month. The owners are feeling it. Before, it was just the players that were feeling it. This time, the pressure is on both sides."
-- Ottawa Citizen

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King President Tim Leiweke said the NHL would return this fall, even though the labor dispute that canceled the season may not be settled. He wouldn't comment on the use of replacement players, but all signs indicated that would be the NHL's strategy in the absence of a new collective bargaining agreement with the players' association. "We're back playing hockey in September. We will have a King season," Leiweke said.
-- Los Angeles Times

Roger Farina, the a 37-year-old career soldier who was chosen as the 2003 NHL "Fan of The Year," is beginning a campaign to force NHL teams to refund season ticket money, using the motto, "Play or pay by the end of May." They're using the money and the fans aren't getting what they paid for, NHL hockey," says Farina. "I think they're subsidizing the war chest by the teams keeping the fans' money, or at least some of it." Along with 14 other top fans chosen by NHL clubs in the past two seasons, he's formed a Web site: www.fansstrikeback.com.
-- Lawrence Eagle-Tribune

Oilers star Ryan Smyth's charity tour of NHLers through Western Canada fell flat on its face. With poor ticket sales in Red Deer and Regina, and only 1,800 on hand in Moose Jaw, the tour came to a crashing end when the Winnipeg date had to be cancelled. The dismal fan response doesn't take away from his efforts to try bridging the gap between fans and players by raising money for charity.
-- Calgary Sun

Contrary to popular belief, Red Wings Kris Draper never did end up joining Derian Hatcher and Chris Chelios as a controversial member of the Motor City Mechanics of the UHL.
-- Calgary Sun

The World Championships, which might draw a decimal point or two more attention on this side of the Atlantic after the lost NHL season, are slated for April 30-May 15 in Austria (Innsbruck and Vienna). The Yanks are angling to ice a youth-oriented squad, with Mike Modano the aged headliner and Doug Weight still a possibility. Mike Knuble, whose well-deserved payday remains in suspended animation with the Flyers, will suit up for the Americans. Ditto for Hal Gill. Ty Conklin is expected to be the mainstay in the U.S. net in Austria.
-- Boston Globe

Coyotes defenseman David Tanabe has accepted an invitation to compete for the U.S. at the World Championship. Coyotes defenseman Paul Mara is rumored to be considering playing for the U.S. team, too.
-- Arizona Republic

Soccer

Chelsea coach Jose Mourinho took time off from his daily schedule at the English Premier League leaders to help promote Middle East peace efforts as he started a two-day visit to Israel on Sunday. Mourinho faces disciplinary hearings by both European soccer's controlling body, UEFA, and the English FA for after recent outbursts and accusations but he put all those worries aside in Tel Aviv as he watched and played with Israelis and Palestinians. Mourinho was in Israel at the invitation of deputy prime minister Shimon Peres's peace organization which asked him to lend his support to a coaching program for Israeli and Palestinian children.
-- Reuters

Mourinho hinted that he had not personally witnessed his Barcelona counterpart Frank Rijkaard enter the referee's dressing room during a Champions League match. UEFA have charged the Premier League leaders with bringing the game into disrepute after Mourinho accused Rijkaard of speaking to referee Anders Frisk at halftime in the first leg of the first knockout round tie on Feb. 23. "I am the manager and I have people who assist me," Mourinho told a presentation to Israeli and Palestinian coaches. Frisk has subsequently retired from refereeing after saying he had received death threats from Chelsea fans.
-- Reuters

Violence before, during and after Germany's friendly victory in Slovenia on Saturday left the 2006 World Cup hosts fearing a revival of hooliganism before next year's finals. Around 200-250 Germans vandalized Celje city center before kick-off, smashing windows of cars and restaurants while shouting racist slogans. At the ground they threw flares on to the pitch and ripped out seats. Around 9,000 of damage was caused, according to the Slovenian media.
-- The Guardian (UK)

Violence reared its ugly head again in Africa's World Cup qualifying campaign when a riot brought a premature end to Mali's home match with Togo in Bamako on Sunday. The game was abandoned amid chaotic scenes as thousands of spectators invaded the pitch after Togo went 2-1 ahead in the 90th minute to keep up with the leaders in Group One. Police used tear gas and batons to disperse the rowdy crowd as fans poured into the streets surrounding the stadium, with cars attacked and reports of several people injured.
-- Reuters

David Beckham has a problem and it is really not to do with Spanish press photographers hounding his children or the other irksome aspects of the fame he worked so hard to achieve. He is positioning himself for a return to the English Premiership, but instead of the expected clamor for his signature, only Tottenham seem willing to accommodate him. With Arsenal and Chelsea keener on Manchester City's Shaun Wright-Phillips, and a return to Manchester United out of the question, Beckham's options are limited.
-- The Guardian (UK)

Arsenal will move for Beckham if contract talks with Real Madrid fail to tie him to ending his career in Spain. Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger has targeted Wright-Phillips but may turn to Beckham, who is keen to end his exile in Spain Wenger would consider a move for Beckham -- but only if he agrees to a pay cut from his current salary of 100,000 a week.
-- The Daily Mail (UK)

Real Madrid goalkeeper Iker Casillas claims Manchester United are interested in signing him. Casillas' contract with Real runs out at the end of next season.
-- The Daily Mail (UK)

Liverpool and England midfielder Steven Gerrard has stressed his commitment to Liverpool and has dismissed rumors about a transfer to Chelsea in the summer as "absolute rubbish." Gerrard often been linked with a move away Liverpool, especially if they fail to qualify for the Champions League next season.
-- The Guardian (UK)

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