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IN THE CREASE
Pierre McGuire
October 23, 2000
Canadiens wing Dainius Zubrus scored his first NHL hat trick in a 5-4 win over the Blackhawks last Saturday, but four nights earlier his teammates weren't so thrilled with him. Immediately following a home win against the Oilers, the Canadiens were leaving for a game the next evening against the Rangers when Zubrus realized that he'd forgotten his passport and working papers at his home. Montreal's flight was delayed 40 minutes while Zubrus's papers were brought to the airport; the Canadiens arrived at their New York hotel at 2:45 a.m. Seventeen hours later Montreal fell to the Rangers 3-1....
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October 23, 2000

In The Crease

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Canadiens wing Dainius Zubrus scored his first NHL hat trick in a 5-4 win over the Blackhawks last Saturday, but four nights earlier his teammates weren't so thrilled with him. Immediately following a home win against the Oilers, the Canadiens were leaving for a game the next evening against the Rangers when Zubrus realized that he'd forgotten his passport and working papers at his home. Montreal's flight was delayed 40 minutes while Zubrus's papers were brought to the airport; the Canadiens arrived at their New York hotel at 2:45 a.m. Seventeen hours later Montreal fell to the Rangers 3-1....

The Blues can thank scout Teddy Hampson for discovering Russian defenseman Alexander Khavanov, who has quickly become St. Louis's No. 3 blueliner, behind Chris Pronger and Al MacInnis. Khavanov, 28, played in the East Coast Hockey League in 1992-93 and then returned to Russia for seven seasons. (He had a short stint with a Finnish club team four years ago.) He was drafted 232nd by the Blues in 1999 on the recommendation of Hampson, who heard about him from sources in Europe....

Attendance is usually soft early in the season when baseball's playoffs are in full swing, so why doesn't the NHL schedule more games between rivals to boost fan interest? For example, if the Canadiens had hosted the Maple Leafs instead of the Oilers, maybe Montreal would have sold out opening night. Likewise, if the Mighty Ducks had played the Kings instead of the Wild, maybe they would have filled their house. These are just two of many examples of poor scheduling in the league....

Don't be surprised if the NHL's most improved team turns out to be the Blackhawks. New coach Alpo Suhonen has installed a high-tempo, puck-possession style that relies on speed, skill and puck movement. Chicago is already one of the more interesting clubs to watch.

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