General managers around the NHL would love to pry 23-year-old
defenseman Jere Karalahti from the Kings' organization. Currently
starring for I.F.K. Helsinki in the Finnish league, Karalahti was
drafted by Los Angeles with the 146th selection in 1993. He's a
mobile blueliner with outstanding skills plus the ability to run
the power play. A late bloomer, he's now the real deal....
According to many agents, the negotiating trend to watch this
summer will be players asking for contracts that have no-trade
and no-relocation clauses. With Atlanta and Columbus joining the
league in 1999-2000 and 2000-01, respectively, a simple no-trade
guarantee won't prevent a team from exposing a player in the
On a recent trip to Detroit, Hurricanes defenseman Paul Coffey
phoned the Red Wings trainers with a special request. Coffey, a
former Red Wing who has had difficulty getting skates that fit
properly, asked if he could have the skates formerly used by
Vladimir Konstantinov, whose career was ended by a spinal cord
injury sustained in a limousine accident in June 1997. Having
worn Konstantinov's skates on Jan. 21, Coffey said they felt
better than any he had used in recent years....
When the Rangers visited the Lightning on Nov. 10, Wayne Gretzky
(above) watched Tampa Bay practice and was impressed by the work
ethic of 18-year-old Vincent Lecavalier. The No. 1 pick in last
June's draft, Lecavalier stayed on the ice long after his
teammates had finished working out. Upon exiting the Ice Palace,
the Great One left an autographed stick for Lecavalier with an
inscription that read, Have a great career. Regards, Wayne
February 8, 1999
If the recently blunted Sabres (3-5-3 in their last 10 games,
through Sunday) hope to sharpen up, they'll have to get better
play from their No. 1 defensive tandem of Richard Smehlik (-6
for the season) and Alexei Zhitnik (-11)....
Before canning Mike Keenan two weeks ago, Canucks general
manager Brian Burke asked Keenan to fire one of Keenan's
assistants. Keenan refused, and the assistant has remained on
the staff of new coach Marc Crawford....
One agent who will be busy this summer is Don Baizley. He has
three high-profile clients who will be free agents: Kariya,
center Peter Forsberg of the Avalanche and wing Theo Fleury of
the Flames. Baizley goes about his business in a quiet and
professional manner, which is one reason he is highly respected
by both players and teams.