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The Old and the New
Embarrassed by the paucity of talent in its previous expansion drafts, in 1991 and '92, the NHL devised a plan to ensure that better players would be available to this year's two new teams, the Florida Panthers of Miami and the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim (Calif). It didn't work.
While the Panthers and the Ducks may not be as bad as the Ottawa Senators, who last season crawled to a 10-70-4 record in their first year, they probably won't be much better. Aside from a few decent goaltenders, last week's expansion draft yielded the usual NHL flotsam and jetsam.
The Panthers got goalie John Vanbiesbrouck from the Vancouver Canucks. The Ducks picked up the only 20-goal scorer taken in the draft, Terry Yake of the Hartford Whalers, and filled out their roster with such retreads as Anatoli Semenov (taken by the Tampa Bay Lightning in the 1992 expansion draft) and Jim Thomson ( Minnesota North Stars, '91, and Senators, '92). As an added attraction, enforcer Stu Grimson, a.k.a. the Grim Reaper, will go from Chicago to Anaheim, where he'll no doubt provide wholesome entertainment for fans of the Disney-owned Ducks.
Surveying what Anaheim's $50 million entry fee had bought, general manager Jack Ferreira could only shake his head and say, "Scoring, it's going to be tough some nights." Winning, it will be practically impossible most nights.
The subsequent amateur draft for all NHL clubs was in sharp contrast to the expansion draft. The talent pool was deeper than anyone could remember, and it featured a crop of Canadian-born 18-year-old power forwards in the mold of Boston Bruin star Cam Neely. The No. 1 pick, center Alexandre Daigle, whom the Senators signed almost instantly to a five-year deal worth a reported $12 million, promises to brighten the picture in Ottawa right away, even as he shakes up the league's salary structure.
Fit to Serve
President Clinton's appointment last week of Florence Griffith Joyner and Tom McMillen as cochairs of the President's Council on Physical Fitness and Sports raises the question of whether the 38-year-old council can become more than just a cheerleading agency. Griffith Joyner, a triple gold medal sprinter at the 1988 Olympics, and McMillen, a former Democratic congressman from Maryland who was a member of the 1972 U.S. Olympic basketball team and went on to play 11 seasons in the NBA, replace Arnold Schwarzenegger, who was appointed in 1990 by President Bush.
While Schwarzenegger, with his box-office clout and Conan-the-Republican swagger, brought visibility and a certain pump-you-up vigor to the office of chairman, his tenure was confined largely to muscle-flexing photo ops. The choice of Flo-Jo, who remains as famous for her fashion-model looks and six-inch fingernails as she does for her Olympic heroics, promises more of the same. McMillen, on the other hand, brings some substance to the job. Yes, he's a former jock, but he is also a Rhodes scholar who served in the House from 1987 to '92. His experience should give him insight into guiding some meaningful legislation through Congress. It's needed.
Though recent studies reveal that more than 40% of American kids between the ages of five and eight are considered to be at some risk of developing cardiovascular disease as adults, schools nationwide face massive cutbacks in funding for athletic and P.E. programs. McMillen has raised the possibility of linking funding for fitness and physical-education programs to the issue of national health-care reform. Last week, speaking at a symposium on kids' fitness in Washington, D.C., he expressed concern that the Clinton-sponsored Goals 2000: Educate America Act. a bill that purports to address every aspect of education, contains not a line about physical education. That's the sort of concern that rarely gets raised in a photo op.