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IN THE CREASE
Pierre McGuire
May 04, 1998
A player to watch: the Penguins' 21-year-old rookie Alexei Morozov, a 6'1", 180-pound right wing with outstanding speed, puck-possession skills and the ability to beat opponents one-on-one off the rush. Once he bulks up, the rest of the league better watch out. The development of Morozov may make it easier for general manager Craig Patrick to hold his hard line against unsigned restricted free-agent center Petr Nedved, who sat out the entire season....
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May 04, 1998

In The Crease

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A player to watch: the Penguins' 21-year-old rookie Alexei Morozov, a 6'1", 180-pound right wing with outstanding speed, puck-possession skills and the ability to beat opponents one-on-one off the rush. Once he bulks up, the rest of the league better watch out. The development of Morozov may make it easier for general manager Craig Patrick to hold his hard line against unsigned restricted free-agent center Petr Nedved, who sat out the entire season....

In Game 1 of the opening-round Canadiens-Penguins series referee Rob Shick was accidentally hit in the face with a stick during the first minute of play and needed six stitches under his left eye. Shick, who has had numerous concussions in his 12-year NHL career, finished the match, but he shouldn't have. In fact, one Canadiens player said Shick looked glassy-eyed all night. For the playoffs the league has standby officials at each game in case of injury. The NHL should establish a formal procedure for determining if an injured official should continue, so that the outcome of games and the health of players and other officials aren't jeopardized because of impaired judgment....

Mathieu Dandenault, Tomas Holmstrom and Kirk Maltby may not be well known, but those foot soldiers are important to the Red Wings. Those forwards have improved their skills considerably and move the puck efficiently and creatively....

The free-agent derby begins on July 1, and one of the top players available will be Pittsburgh center Ron Francis. The Penguins would love to keep him, but other teams know that Pittsburgh is struggling financially. A dark horse to sign Francis could be St. Louis. Larry Pleau, the Blues' general manager, coached Francis in Hartford, and Joel Quenneville, the St. Louis coach, played with Francis there. Also, the Blues may have money to burn because they have nine potential free agents, including stars Brett Hull and Al MacInnis, who could sign elsewhere.

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