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Stanley Cup Notebook

Bettman lukewarm about glowing puck

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Posted: Wednesday June 10, 1998 07:19 PM

  NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman says Fox's blue dot to highlight the puck is fine if it helps television fans (AP)

DETROIT (AP) -- Gary Bettman isn't a fan of FoxTrax. He isn't a detractor, either.

Actually, the NHL commissioner has no feelings at all about the gimmick that the Fox network uses to highlight the puck for television fans.

"I don't need it, [but] it doesn't bother me," Bettman said Wednesday while appearing at a breakfast with the media at the Stanley Cup finals. "I don't like the blue dot -- but if it makes it easier for [TV] fans, that's fine."

Fox introduced FoxTrax during the NHL All-Star Game in Boston in January 1996. The computer-enhanced puck left a comet-like trail of color -- blue or red -- depending on the speed of the shot.

It was the NHL's answer to criticism that the puck is hard to pick up on television by the casual hockey fan. Now the NHL might want to answer criticism from hard-core fans who dislike the "blue dot" that Bettman referred to.

It is supposed to identify the location of the puck when the camera has a tight shot on the near boards. Very often, the dot just hovers on a player's arm or leg, or on someone's lap in the audience.

TV Ratings

The NHL ratings slump continued for Game 1 of the finals, with Fox getting a 3.3, down 17 percent from last year's opener. (A rating point represents 980,000 households.)

The biggest difference came in having Washington, the seventh biggest market, in the final instead of Philadelphia, the fourth largest. Washington finished 37 percent lower than Philadelphia last year.

Detroit, which is in the finals for the second consecutive year, finished 12 percent higher than last year, nearly doubling the rating from Washington.

Ratings this postseason have also been hurt by teams from big markets like New York, Los Angeles and Chicago not making the playoffs or being eliminated early.

New York fell 57 percent, Los Angeles 39 percent and Chicago 25 percent.

Bad-will Hunter

As expected, Washington's Dale Hunter was an irritant to the Detroit Red Wings in Game 1. Hunter, known for his in-your-face style, gave a particularly nasty time to Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman.

"We didn't have any particular assignments, but I think Hunter can get under anybody's skin," Capitals coach Ron Wilson said. "In particular, I think he irritated Steve. But Dale is not going to let this opportunity pass by. At 38-years old, I don't think he expects to play the next four years in the finals."

Wilson said there was no way he couldn't use Hunter, anyway.

"All I had to do was turn around and who is over my right shoulder but Dale Hunter's dad," Wilson said. "So, if I did not put Dale in, I might have had a beer thrown on me."

Bellows recalled

Washington forward Brian Bellows took a jet home to Minnesota after Game 1 to be with his wife, Tracy, who is about ready to deliver a baby.

It is not known whether Bellows, who has four goals in 18 games, will be available for Game 2 on Thursday night.

Lineup change

Washington left wing Todd Krygier, who has been sidelined with a groin injury suffered in the Buffalo series, will probably return to the lineup on Thursday night, Wilson said.

Krygier skated on Tuesday and Wednesday and he said he feels good.

It will be a homecoming of sorts. Krygier's parents, Roman and Charlene, live in Bloomfield Hills, Michigan. He spent the early part of his youth in Novi, Michigan, before his parents moved to Buffalo.

"We had season tickets to the Sabres, but I still like coming back here because my parents live here," Krygier said. "It's good. All of our parents have sacrificed a lot and to let them have a chance to see us play is great."

Other Cups

Capitals defenseman Calle Johansson abruptly ended an interview in the locker room after the morning skate when he noticed it was a little after 11 a.m. EDT on Wednesday.

"Excuse me, I have to go watch some soccer, Brazil-Scotland," he said.

Zednik on a roll

Wilson could not say enough good things about rookie Richard Zednik, who scored the Caps lone goal in Game 1.

"He is just a fun loving kid and he goes out there and he is very relaxed," Wilson said. "He is not intimidated by this atmosphere at all. He is a new breed of European player, who comes over as a youngster and plays junior hockey and isn't intimidated by any stretch of the imagination with the surroundings."

Zednik's seven goals are tied for the team lead in the playoffs with defenseman Sergei Gonchar.

Reputation

Joe Kocur, who made his NHL reputation mostly with his fists, was out of hockey but living in Detroit when the Red Wings signed him as a free agent a year ago. Detroit coach Scotty Bowman admits he didn't know what he was getting.

"I didn't know much about Joey," Bowman said. "I never knew what kind of player he was, just sort of the reputation that goes around. He is really a smart player. He knows how to play hockey.

"That sounds strange, but he has really got a big sense for the game."

Stay relaxed

Capitals goalie Olaf Kolzig looks like a poster boy for cool. But looks can be deceiving. Kolzig says he has to work hard to stay relaxed.

"I'm always going to get nervous, but as long as I can vent, I'll be fine," said Kolzig, who faced 31 shots in a 2-1 loss in Game 1. "My venting takes different forms. Sometimes it's yelling an obscenity. Sometimes it's breaking a stick.

"I don't take anything home with me. It all stays at the rink."

 

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