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The NHL / Chris Baker : Bergen’s Career Is Threatened by an Injury

Center Todd Bergen retired from hockey last summer at the age of 23 because, it was said, he’d had a disagreement with Coach Mike Keenan of the Philadelphia Flyers.

Bergen said he was going to join the professional golf tour.

But he unretired when he was traded to the Minnesota North Stars this season. He was so happy that, instead of reporting to the North Stars, he went fishing for a couple of days without telling anyone where he was going.

When he finally did report, it was discovered that Bergen had a pulled stomach muscle, and he has yet to play a game.

What’s more, he may never play again.

Saying that he could treat himself better than doctors, Bergen stopped showing up for treatments and dropped out of sight for a while. The North Stars said they had no idea how to contact him.

A Minneapolis reporter found him at his apartment in Bloomington, Minn., where Bergen said he was working out.

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Bergen said he needed a mental vacation.

Bergen’s injury didn’t improve during the layoff, however, and doctors say now that he will have to undergo intensive therapy six times a day for the next four to five months. Bergen’s stomach muscles have been severely weakened and need to be built up again.

The North Stars maintain that the Flyers didn’t tell them that Bergen was injured before the trade was made.

And how did Bergen get injured?

That seems to be a big mystery. He was said to have had one of the hardest shots in the league, however, and his hard shooting may have caused the injury.

Minnesota General Manager Lou Nanne said: “One side of his abdominal muscle is 30% less than the other side, and he’s going to have to rebuild it.

“They said he wasn’t hurt, and he was at home because he didn’t want to play for Keenan.”

Nanne said that he’ll ask the Flyers for compensation if Bergen is unable to play for the rest of the season.

Jimmy Devallano, general manager of the Detroit Red Wings, thinks the National Hockey League could get a network TV contract if it switched the format of games from three 20-minute periods to two 30-minute halves.

TV networks have trouble filling two intermissions.

“That way we would be able to cut out at least one intermission and save at least 20 minutes,” Devallano told the Associated Press.

“I think it’s worth a try. I’d like to see how it works . . . I think it will make our game more attractive to TV.”

Devallano said he will ask the NHL for permission to play two 30-minute halves during the exhibition season next fall.

King center Marcel Dionne has a theory on why the NHL doesn’t have as big a drug problem as some other sports.

“Hockey players are more intelligent,” Dionne said. “No, it’s a fact. We’re more down to earth people than baseball, basketball and football players. We’re not spoiled brats.”

But doesn’t the NHL have a problem with alcohol?

“Guys are drinking half as much as they did when I started,” Dionne said. “And problems with alcohol can be overcome much easier than drug problems. You can spot a guy who has a drinking problem right away.

“I’ve told a few guys that they had better watch their drinking over the years.”


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