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The NHL
Kostya Kennedy
February 15, 1999
The Land of Oz Sandis Ozolinsh's return restored Colorado to Cup-contender status
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February 15, 1999

The Nhl

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At week's end Brind' Amour had 52 points, to rank 11th in the league in scoring, and had played in 452 consecutive games, the longest active streak. He has averaged nearly 30 goals per season over his nine years in the NHL, wins a majority of his face-offs and plays outstanding defense. Yet Brind'Amour, 28, has never been voted onto an All-Star team and invariably gets lost in the shadows cast by star teammates Eric Lindros and John LeClair.

"People don't appreciate how good Brind'Amour is" says one general manager. "The guy is a competitor. He does all the dirty work. He plays against the top lines, and he scores. He's everything you want." Says another voter, "If Lindros or LeClair or both get hurt, Brind'Amour is capable of carrying that team."

Those who supported Peca, last year's winner of the 1996-97 Selke Trophy as the league's best defensive forward, stressed that he is also a threat on offense. (Through Sunday he had 20 goals.) Yashin got his votes because, said one of his backers, "he's an elite player who's not considered an elite player," and one Demitra supporter said he had "really made himself a player."

Larry Murphy's Record
He Keeps Going And Going....

As a Kings rookie in 1980-81, Larry Murphy set an NHL record for first-year defensemen by scoring 76 points and, according to then teammate Dave Lewis, "Murphy had a confidence that bordered on cockiness. That bothered some veterans, but it didn't take long to see he was a remarkable player."

So remarkable that when Murphy, now a Red Wing, arrived in the Detroit dressing room before last Friday's game against the Avalanche, his teammates gave him a standing ovation. Two hours later Murphy appeared in his 1,447th game, breaking Tim Horton's NHL record for defensemen.

Though he's nearly 39 and has played for six teams, Murphy, whose 1,137 career points through Sunday were third highest among backliners in league history, hasn't changed much over the years. Never swift askate or a physical force, he has succeeded with savvy and outstanding vision. Since the Red Wings acquired Murphy from the Maple Leafs for future considerations in March 1997, he and Nicklas Lidstrom have formed the NHL's top defensive pairing. Though he and Lidstrom are regularly called upon to shut down the opponent's top line, Murphy was still fourth among NHL defensemen this season in scoring, with 34 points.

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