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The NHL
Kostya Kennedy
May 18, 1998
Bucks Stop Here
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May 18, 1998

The Nhl

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These days Bellows, who was signed as a free agent by the Washington Capitals in March, is a long way from such empty thoughts. He was the offensive hero of Washington's first-round playoff triumph over the Bruins, assisting on the winning goal in Game 3 and scoring in overtime of Game 6 to clinch the series. He added two goals and two assists as the Capitals took a 2-0 lead in their second-round series against the Senators.

Thus continued the remarkable reversal of a career that had been on the verge of an unceremonious end after Bellows, 33, was cut by the Canucks last September. A 462-goal scorer, Bellows had struggled through three years of declining performances. He was viewed as a one-dimensional player with fading skills, and no NHL team would give him a job. Still, Bellows believed an offer would come, and he went to Berlin to stay sharp. Between games he sustained himself on schnitzel und sauerkraut and spent many aimless afternoons window shopping. Time dragged. "After the Nuremberg trip I told my agent that if nothing happened by the March 25 [ NHL] trading deadline, I was going home to retire," says Bellows.

One day before the deadline, the goal-starved Caps gave Bellows a contract for the balance of this season. "I hoped he could give us experience," says Washington general manager George McPhee, "and put the puck in the net." Bellows scored six times in 11 regular-season games before going on his postseason tear. "This is my second life," he says. "If I play next year, great. If I don't, that's O.K. I won't be going back to Germany, though."

NHL Justice
One Jab, Two Blemishes

When Stars right wing Grant Marshall slammed the butt end of his stick into the face of Oilers captain Kelly Buchberger in Game 1 of the Dallas- Edmonton second-round playoff series last Thursday, he caused Buchberger's right eye to swell and become grossly discolored—the latest black eye on a league that is plagued by gratuitous violence.

Brian Burke, the NHL's chief disciplinarian, pored over tapes of the incident before ruling that Marshall would be fined $1,000 (the highest amount allowed under the league's collective bargaining agreement) but would not be suspended. Burke said he felt that Marshall hadn't intentionally hit Buchberger in the eye and that Marshall's gloved hand may have cushioned the blow.

Marshall should have gotten at least a one-game ban. Several players have rightfully been suspended for lesser offenses this season, but Burke says he evaluates each incident on its own demerits. Yet his leniency in the Marshall case raises questions of what unstated factors—the importance of the games being played? the personnel of the teams involved?—are taken into account in the league's arbitrary system of discipline. The NHL needs to levy stiff punishment consistently and should not accept black eyes without sitting someone down.

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