The NHL / Julie Cart : Dionne Says Trade Rewarded Him

Marcel Dionne says he got the best end of the deal that sent him to the Rangers from the Kings.

"I got rewarded," he said Tuesday from the Rangers' practice rink in Rye, N.Y. "I've turned out to be going from one extreme to another. This is hockey for me."

Even with Dionne's revelation this week that his request to be traded was a ploy to force the Kings to renegotiate his contract, the 35-year-old center said he's "thrilled to be with the Rangers."

But are the Rangers thrilled to have Dionne? Dionne, who is the second-highest scorer in National Hockey League history, is also the second-highest paid player in the league.

His statistics since joining the Rangers: one goal, on a power play, and one assist in eight games.

"Offensively, he's not done what I expected," said Phil Esposito, Ranger coach-general manager. "When I came here in '75, I hated it. It took me two years. I hope it won't take him two years.

"It's not easy being in one town for 12 years, then all of a sudden you're in Pittsburgh. He'll adjust."

What's not easy for Dionne is the adjustment to the close checking in the Patrick Division after having played in the freewheeling Smythe.

"You have to pay attention to a lot of little things," Dionne said. "They finish their checks here. It's going to come. You don't have to score five goals to win here. We can score two and win.

"I had dreams of coming in and scoring a hat trick, but the team comes first. If the coaches don't like the job I'm doing, they can yell at me."

There's been no yelling yet, but clearly Esposito wants more from Dionne.

The Kings have nominated team captain Dave Taylor for the Masterton Trophy, awarded for dedication to hockey. Taylor is a good choice. He has had a career of excellence, especially in ways that go undetected by the media but are crucial to a team. Rare is the night that Taylor hasn't been prepared to play an all-out game.

Even Mark Pavelich can't quite figure out Mark Pavelich.

The 29-year-old center walked out on the Rangers last year, protesting his treatment by then-Coach Ted Sator, and after 1 1/2 seasons, said he didn't miss hockey at all.

Still, last week, Pavelich returned to the NHL with the Minnesota North Stars.

"I'm not in love with this game," Pavelich said. "I can't really explain why I came back. I had no intention (of returning)."

Pavelich said he was playing guitar with his brother one day when the idea of coming back to hockey struck him.

He called his agent, asked him to look around and, once that process was set in motion, "It was too late to back out," he said.

Pavelich is in the NHL now, but probably not for long. His contract with the North Stars is only for the rest of the season. He said he plans to play in Europe next season. He didn't say if he meant guitar or hockey.

There's been no doubt that the Philadelphia Flyers would make the playoffs. They have been in first place in the Patrick Division, well ahead of the New York Islanders, for some time.

Still, the Flyers are looking for more.

When asked what the team's goals were for the rest of the season, Coach Mike Keenan came up with about five last week. It was like listening to a Rockefeller's Christmas list.

Philadelphia has the best goaltending in the league, with a team average of 3.01 goals against. Ron Hextall, even in a slump, has a 2.92 goals-against average, has a .905 save percentage and has 35 wins.

The Flyer coaches' wish: finish the season with a team goals-against average under 3 and win the Jennings Trophy for the NHL's lowest team goals-against average.

Three other wishes are connected: Catch Edmonton and finish with the league's best record, get five points in the last four road games and finish above .500 on the road and finish with 100 points.

Those goals are part of the Flyers' unique incentive program, a system that pays bonuses based on team accomplishments rather than personal achievements.

NHL Notes The Boston Bruins believe in specializing. Jay Miller, a left wing, has a well-defined role for the team. Miller's job? His statistics tell us. He has 1 goal and 204 penalty minutes in 52 games. . . . The New York chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers Assn. held its annual Good Guy Award luncheon Monday to honor the player most cooperative with the media. James Patrick of the Rangers won this year, but the club also gave last year's winner, Ron Greschner, his award. Greschner wasn't given his award last year because there was no luncheon. One writer said, "Given the situation between the writers and (then-Coach) Ted Sator, we didn't trust ourselves being alone with Sator and the knives on the table."

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