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The NHL / Tracy Dodds : Malarchuk Is Saluted After His Close Call

Clint Malarchuk of Buffalo got a one-minute standing ovation from his hometown crowd for just showing up and giving a wave before the Sabres’ game last Friday night.

No wonder the fans were so glad to see the goaltender. The last sight they had of him was chilling. Last Wednesday night, during the first period of a game against the St. Louis Blues, the crowd of 14,448 had watched in stunned silence as Malarchuk knelt in the crease with blood gushing from a partially severed jugular vein.

Uwe Krupp of Buffalo and Steve Tuttle of St. Louis had collided with Malarchuk and they all had slid back into the goal. But only Malarchuk was injured, apparently by a skate blade.

Surgery to repair his neck injuries, which included a severed muscle, took an hour and a half. But he was well enough to hold a press conference the next day in which he broke down and cried when he talked about how close he had come to dying.

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Buffalo Coach Ted Sator said: “There’s a time in sport when winning and losing doesn’t take precedence. I think the bottom line is that our medical staff might have saved a life tonight on the ice.”

Malarchuk said Friday night that he was confident he would be ready for the playoffs.

Referee Bob Hall instructed David Courtney, Kings’ director of media relations, not to announce that Marty McSorley had been assessed double game misconduct penalties for not leaving the ice when he was told to leave after the fracas in a game against Edmonton last week.

McSorley didn’t even hear about the double game misconduct until he was back in the dressing room.

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So the officials didn’t have to deal with reaction--from him or the sellout crowd of 16,005.

It took from Saturday night until Monday morning for the Kings to get a ruling from the National Hockey League on whether McSorley would be sitting out two games or three games because of his infraction.

Yet, when Joel Otto of the Calgary Flames pinned referee Bob Finn, repeatedly pushing him back down to the ice, the Flames were told that night that Otto was suspended for just three games.

NHL officials didn’t even need to see tape of the incident to decide that the suspension should be three games and not, as many at the game expected, 20.

Go figure.

Calgary Coach Terry Crisp is looking ahead to the playoffs, but he’s not looking past his first-round matchup with the Vancouver Canucks.

Crisp went to Vancouver to scout the Canucks in a game against the Oilers last week while his players spent three days in Newport Beach before a game against the Kings.

“The Canucks aren’t a surprise to us at all,” Crisp told Vancouver reporters, giving no special credence to his team’s 6-1-1 record against the Canucks. “We know how well they’re capable of playing. . . . Take your stats and put them in a shredder, because they don’t mean anything in the playoffs. The goals against, the goals for, the power play, the penalty killing, it means zilch. Nothing.”

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After Jim Wiemer scored the winning goal for the Kings against the Oilers Tuesday night, Edmonton Coach Glen Sather was asked about the March 7 trade in which he sent Wiemer to the Kings. He bristled.

“If there was any kind of advantage, I thought it would have been in our favor,” he said. “He’s 30 years old (28, really) and slow to the outside. He scored on a fluky goal. Big deal, it happened. It’s certainly not going to make or break the season because Jim Wiemer scored a goal against us. It’s not as if he’s a superstar. What do you want me to say?”

That slow, old Wiemer scored a goal in the Kings’ next game, at Calgary, too.

There wasn’t a penalty called when Mark Hunter of the Flames hit New York Rangers defenseman Michel Petit with his stick in a game two weeks ago. But when Ranger General Manager Phil Esposito saw the incident on tape, he sent a copy to league headquarters.

So the Flames are thinking about asking the league to look into Petit’s slash on right winger Hakan Loob during the same game.

Said Flame General Manager Cliff Fletcher: “Maybe we should hire somebody full time to look at every tape of every game played.”

In his first eight seasons in the NHL, Wayne Gretzky won the Hart Trophy as the league’s most valuable player.

Last year, Mario Lemieux won it. And it would seem that Lemieux, as the highest scorer in the league, would be Gretzky’s main competition this season, too. But there seems to be a groundswell of support for Steve Yzerman, for playing so well and for holding his team together through the Bob Probert incident.

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It will be an interesting vote. If impact on the team is going to take precedence over points, though, the choice has to be for Gretzky.

There is one problem with Edmonton Coach Glen Sather’s accusation that Gretzky’s critical comments were an attempt to gain a psychological edge over the Oilers going into next week’s playoffs.

Gretzky, who took Sather to task for his part in the trade, made those comments in an interview with Jim Lampley last November and the syndicated program was first aired in Los Angeles last December, Lampley said.

So much for Gretzky’s timing.

Hockey Notes

Paul Coffey, who played for years with Wayne Gretzky in Edmonton, is still among the top scorers (sixth) in the league now that he’s playing with Mario Lemieux in Pittsburgh. Coffey said: “It’s pretty much like it was with Wayne. We seem to be developing the same kind of chemistry.” . . . On Lanny McDonald’s 500th goal, scored against rookie Mark Fitzpatrick, Flame goalie coach Glenn Hall said: “The kid shouldn’t feel bad. Lanny beat him with a wrap-around shot off the post. That’s tough to stop.” . . . Teammate Joe Nieuwendyk was lined up behind McDonald in the runway to the ice as they waited to skate out to acknowledge being selected stars of the game when Nieuwendyk inched his way to the front. Some guessed that he was teasing McDonald, suggesting that McDonald would be the No. 1 star. “I just wanted to get out there onto our bench,” Nieuwendyk said. “I wanted to see how the crowd would react for him.”

With each victory Calgary adds to its club record for most victories in a single season. It was 49. . . . In the fight for which Marty McSorley was suspended, teammate Igor Liba was holding onto the Flames’ Gary Roberts when McSorley took a punch at Roberts. Roberts ducked and McSorley hit Liba right in the face.

The Islanders’ fall from first place in the Patrick Division a year ago to last place is unprecedented since expansion brought on divisions in 1967. . . . Calgary’s Mike Vernon is the only goalie with three consecutive 30-win seasons. . . . Last season only Calgary won 30 or more games outside its division. This season Calgary is 31-10-5 against teams outside its division, Montreal is 30-10-6 and the Kings are 30-15-3. . . . Calgary’s affiliate in the International Hockey League, the Milwaukee Admirals, has won eight straight and has set a club record with 50 victories.


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