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Notes on a Scorecard

The refreshing topic of the day is ice--as in ice hockey. . . .

What was it, about two weeks ago when the New York Rangers skated around the Madison Square Garden rink with the hardware? . . .

Well, it is less than three weeks until the Kings begin practice at the Iceoplex in North Hills in the San Fernando Valley on Sept. 4. . . .

Coach Barry Melrose is eager to prove that their drive to the Stanley Cup finals two years ago was no fluke and their failure to reach the playoffs last year was a fluke. . . .

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“I want us to be a much tougher club this season,” Melrose said. “I want other teams to worry about coming into the Forum. That didn’t happen last season.” . . .

With that in mind, the Kings traded Luc Robitaille to the Pittsburgh Penguins for Rick Tocchet and a second-round draft choice. . . .

The fan reaction has been negative. Popular opinion is that the Kings should have gotten more for one of the NHL’s most prolific scorers. . . .

“Once the fans see Rick, they’ll realize that we got an awful lot for Luc,” Melrose said. “He’s a great, great player. He’s been on two Stanley Cup winners and his numbers are huge. He’s the kind of power forward that every team needs.” . . .

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Wayne Gretzky’s critics said that his fingerprints were found all over the trade. . . .

“The truth is that the first player we discussed Tocchet with was Marty McSorley,” Melrose said. “That’s because Marty played three months with him in Pittsburgh. Wayne is taking a lot of undue heat. Two people made the deal--Sam (General Manager Sam McMaster) and I.” . . .

The Kings might be able to flex more muscle now, but the question is whether they will have enough firepower. . . .

“We lost last year not because we couldn’t score goals, but because we weren’t strong enough,” Melrose said. . . .

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“A healthy Tocchet--and the doctors tell us that he is 100%--can score more than 40 goals. Don’t forget that we’re getting Tony Granato back full time. He can score. So can Robert Lang, and he’s improving. Jari Kurri has another two or three outstanding years left. I’m not worried about us putting the puck in the net.” . . .

Among the newcomers Melrose likes is the general manager, McMaster.

“Sam is a very hard worker and well organized,” Melrose said. “He knows young players. We can’t afford to make the same mistakes we have in the past in the draft.” . . .

The consensus was that the Kings got a bargain when they were able to select goaltender Jamie Storr with the seventh pick overall. . . .

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Storr will be given a chance to make the roster. But he won’t sit around as a seldom-used backup to Kelly Hrudey. He will stay with the big club only if he is good enough to play 20 to 25 games. Otherwise, he will spend the season gaining experience in the minors. . . .

Melrose looks back at his first two years of coaching in the NHL and says, “I’m a strong believer in the old saying, ‘Losing feels worse than winning feels good.’ ” . . .

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How strong is the Pacific 10 Conference at quarterback? Under the passing efficiency system installed by the NCAA in 1979, Jim Plunkett, in his Heisman Trophy-winning season of 1970 at Stanford, would have finished behind Dave Barr of California, Rob Johnson of USC, Danny O’Neil of Oregon and Steve Stenstrom of Stanford last year. . . .

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Those four and all the other starting quarterbacks in the league are back this season. . . .

USC Coach John Robinson on practicing in the heat: “It’s a little scary. That’s why we have rules that you can’t put on pads the first few days.” . . .

Biggest upset over the weekend was the defeat of 3-year-old star filly Lakeway by Heavenly Prize at Saratoga, the track known as the graveyard of champions. . . .

Former junior lightweight champion Rafael (Bazooka) Limon, best remembered for his three great fights with Bobby Chacon, has been licensed by the State Athletic Commission. Record books list him at 40, but he claims he lied about his age and he is really 35. . . .

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Before Lennox Lewis gets around to Riddick Bowe, he will defend his World Boxing Council title against lightly regarded Oliver McCall in London on Sept. 24. Lewis-Bowe is being planned for December or March in Las Vegas. . . .

No wonder the annual Zurich meet, which is Wednesday, often is the best in track and field. The promoter has a $2-million talent budget. . . .

Name Game: A member of the German women’s team that won the 400-meter relay in the European Championships was Bettina Zipp.


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