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Long time Russian coach Viktor Tikhonov replaced
Viktor Tikhonov has been associtated with Russian/Soviet hockey for most of his life. First as a player with the VVS and Dynamo Moscow clubs but more so as a coach of the CSKA and USSR national hockey teams. Tikhonov led the Soviet and Russian national teams from 1978 to 1994 during which they won three Olympic gold medals (1984, 1988 and 1992) and eight world championship titles. He also led the Soviet national team to the 1981 Canada Cup victory, beating Canada 8-1 in the final, played in Montreal.
Florida Panthers shuffle their front office
Mike Keenan has that uncanny ability to find his way back with an NHL team every few years. But returning to a team he was fired from about a year ago raises a few eyebrows. The Florida Panthers fired Rick Dudley from the GM post and hired ex-coach Mike Keenan to the position. Followed with this (re)hiring was the announcement of Jacques Martin as coach of the team. There is a lot of speculation that Keenan's firing last year was likely part of a power struggle and that he can probably thank his good friend Jacques Martin for bringing him back to Miami.
Lightning and Flames to face off in the Stanley Cup finals
The scene is set for the 2004 Stanley Cup finals - the Tampa Bay Lightning
will take on the Calgary Flames
. The Lightning were the part of the initial NHL expansion of the 1990s, joining the league along with the Senators in 1992. They have certainly come a long way from those early days, putting behind a bunch of ownership problems and on-ice growing pains. They have put together a highly skilled and cohesive team with a combination of good amatuer drafting and savvy trades.
Will the NHL return to Hartford?
If the Pittsburgh Penguins are put up on the block, ex-Pens owner Howard Baldwin will be on the shortlist of interested parties. And his preferred location for the Pens would be Hartford, Conn. Most hockey fans know that Hartford is no stranger to hockey, long the home of the WHL and NHL's Whalers. The Whalers packed up and moved to Raleigh, NC in 1997. So one has to question whether a National Hockey League team can be supported in Hartford. If the Penguins do end up leaving Pittsburgh in 2007, Kansas City and Houston would also be in the running for the franchise.
NHL's new TV deal. Hockey on thin ice?
The National Hockey League agreed with NBC on a two year television deal. The move comes as the NHL's existing contract with ABC expires in a few weeks and from the looks of it, the league has taken a hair cut when it comes to revenues. The NBC deal includes no upfront guaranteed payments and is solely based on profit sharing. As part of the deal, NBC would first recouperate its production costs and only then would advertising revenues be shared between the network and NHL. It is theoretically possible that the NHL will end up with no money
from the airing of its games on NBC.
Pat Burns continues to recover from colon cancer
As the hockey world basks in the glory of the Stanley Cup playoffs, many people around the league are keeping an eye on Devils head coach Pat Burns. Burns was diagnosed with colon cancer
just before the NHL playoffs began. He did not disclose his ailment until after his team was eliminated from the first round of the playoffs and the team continues to be tight lipped about his condition. The most recent news is that his colorectal cancer was diagnosed at an early stage and that the 52 year old is responding well to treatment. No word though if he will be able to return behind the bench with the Devils next year, though that would depend both on his health and an agreement being reached between the owners and players on a new collective bargaining agreement.
Down to the final four
The National Hockey League playoffs are now down to the conference finals. In the Eastern confernce we have the Tampa Bay Lightning taking on the Philadelphia Flyers. The Bolts have had a relatively easy go of it, dispatching the Islanders and Canadiens with ease. They are well rested and have no signidicant injuries. On the other hand, the Flyers had to go through the defending Stanley Cup champions, the Devils in the first round and the Maple Leafs in the second round.
Alexander Perezhogin - Another black eye for hockey
Marty McSorley and Todd Bertuzzi have been guilty of the two most violent acts in recent hockey history. But Alexander Perezhogin might now be near or on top of this infamous list with an extremely violent attack in an American Hockey League (AHL) playoff game. The incident happened as the Cleveland Barons were taking on the Hamilton Bulldogs in game 5 of the North Division playoff semifinal. Barons defenseman Garrett Stafford and Bulldogs forward Alexander Perezhogin were tangled up in the front of the net, Stafford was knocked down and took a swing at Perezhogin, missing the Hamilton forward. Perezhogin turned around an lay a vicious two handed swing at Stafford's head, hitting the defenseman in the face with his stick, causing severe lacerations and a third degree concussion as Stafford lay convulsing on the ice. Stafford was attended to by paramedics as a melee ensued on the ice.