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Western Conference
October 09, 1995
CUP CONTENDERS
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October 09, 1995

Western Conference

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Size: The Canucks have a mobile defense that includes Jyrki Lumme and Jeff Brown but lack a baggage-smasher. Having traded winger Sergio Momesso for Ridley, general manager Pat Quinn must find another big forward to ride shotgun.

The Outlook: The Canucks have talent and a solid goalie in Kirk McLean, but they are a finesse team in a physical world. Fourth in the conference.

Chicago Blackhawks

Who Shot J.R.? J.R. shot himself. All-Star center Jeremy Roenick remained a Blackhawk through Monday, but he probably wrote his own ticket out of town by angering management, which thinks Roenick quit on the Hawks after injuring his left knee in April. Team insiders suspect Roenick and his agent used the ailing knee—the Hawks had a 13-game winless streak while Roenick rehabilitated—as a lever to extract a new contract. Roenick burned more bridges when he said he wouldn't mind seeing then coach Darryl Sutter depart. Craig Hartsburg has replaced Sutter.

The Captain: Chris Chelios replaces Dirk Graham, now a Blackhawk assistant coach, as captain. Chelios, 33, has at least one more Norris Trophy season left. If you had to choose one player to get the puck out of your zone in the last minute of a one-goal game, it would be he.

The Defensemen: Chicago lost free-agent Gerald Diduck and might trade Steve Smith, but goalie Ed Belfour will still have one of the league's most talented groups in front of him. Eric Weinrich is the No. 5 man, but he could be a No. 2 on many teams.

Outlook: The Blackhawks still scratch for goals, but defense wins in the playoffs. Fifth in the conference.

Toronto Maple Leafs

How I Spent My Summer Vacation: Star center Doug Gilmour, suffering from two herniated disks, chose conditioning and therapy over surgery, putting 20 pounds on his slight frame. He also learned karate.

The Bust: Forward Benoit Hogue can't possibly play as poorly as he did after coming from the New York Islanders in a trade last season for rookie goalie Eric Fichaud.

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