Strachan on hockey

AL STRACHAN -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 9:18 AM ET

Judging by the way general managers are talking, there won't be much player movement in the next few weeks.

But activity may pick up sharply after the Olympics.

During the Olympic break, trades are banned, and most GMs want to wait to see the state of their team going into March.

The Philadelphia Flyers are typical. Captain Keith Primeau has been out with a concussion for most of the season and the Flyers have been waiting patiently for his return.

But if he is not ready after the Olympics, he is toast. GM Bob Clarke will sit him out until next season and make the most of the salary-cap break that he gets as a result of the long-term injury.

Could Primeau come back for the playoffs when players are unpaid?

"No, no no," Clarke said. "At that point, he'll have barely played for two years. He can't just come back at that point and play in the playoffs."

If that is the case, the Flyers will try to pick up another scorer, even though they recently acquired Petr Nedved.

It might be someone from the Chicago Blackhawks, many of whom are available. It might be Mark Recchi from the Pittsburgh Penguins, who is one of Clarke's favourites. It might be someone from the sliding New York Islanders --but not Alexei Yashin. It might be Doug Weight of the St. Louis Blues.

Weight almost certainly will be moved, even though he earns $5.7 million US and has a no-trade clause in his contract. Usually, such clauses are nothing more than a means of extracting an extra payment from the team.

But in Weight's case, he genuinely wants to play in St. Louis. So, as a player in the fifth year of a five-year deal, he could arrive at an understanding with Blues GM Larry Pleau. He will go to a team with a shot at the Stanley Cup with the expectation that in the summer, he will sign a new contract with St. Louis.

"If that decision (to accept a trade) comes down to it," Weight said, "I'll have to make a decision. There's no getting around those things.

"Obviously, if they came to me and wanted to unload me, it's going to be a situation where I'm going to have a chance to be in the playoffs and be with a team that's considered a top team -- or one of them -- and has a chance to win."

Another Blue who could be available is Keith Tkachuk. He earns $7.6 million and has a team option next year at $3.8 million.

It now seems likely that teams looking for goaltending help could get Dwayne Roloson from the Minnesota Wild. The long-established tandem with Manny Fernandez has been scrapped and Roloson has become a backup.

Roloson is aware of the likelihood that GM Doug Risebrough will move him.

"The writing is on the wall," he said. "I just feel one of us is going to be gone."

Roloson, who earns $1.675 million, will become a free agent this summer.

HACK AND WHEEZE

It's all very well for hockey critics to suggest that the sport needs to crack down on the use of substances that are banned by the International Olympic Commission.

But with Dick Pound, the head of the World Anti-Doping Agency, making outlandish, unsupportable allegations about substance-abuse in the NHL, and the United States Congress determined to turn the matter into a political football, a less-glamorous problem has been created.

What should a sick hockey player do about a serious cough or cold that is affecting his game?

Prior to Jaromir Jagr's three-point effort against the Penguins yesterday, the New York Rangers star's production had slowed for that very reason.

The affliction has continued for two weeks because Jagr, who intends to play in the Olympics, is scared that he might inadvertently ingest a banned substance.

"I can't get rid of it," he said. "It gets worse and worse and I cannot take anything. I can't sleep from the coughing."

Jagr has consulted the New York Rangers' doctor to no avail.

"What can they do?" Jagr asked. "They cannot give you any strong medicine because they drug-test you."

But the problem goes beyond Jagr. His roommate, Petr Prucha, is losing sleep because he is awakened by Jagr's coughing. And coach Tom Renney is worried that whatever Jagr has could be contagious and spread throughout the team.

Does Pound have an answer for that one?

ON THE MOVE

The New York Islanders are looking to move a few miles to upscale Suffolk County.

The team won't go far because of an astonishingly lucrative TV deal that pays the team $13-$15 million annually and stretches approximately until the starship Enterprise comes back.

There is a possibility that the Nassau Coliseum could be rebuilt but, one way or another, something has to be done. As NHL commissioner Gary Bettman said: "If there was no team here and somebody came to us and said: 'We'd like to bring a team to the Nassau Coliseum,' our answer would be: 'Are you kidding?'"

Long Island is, after all, the place that spawned Bettman and as he points out: "Being from here, I know that this is a good hockey market."

Notice that he doesn't say he ever attended an Islanders game.

RIDDEN OUT OF TOWN

Cory Cross never dazzled any fans during his years with the Maple Leafs, but he was one of the most likeable people you could hope to meet.

This week, the Edmonton Oilers traded him away. He had become the crowd's favourite whipping boy -- not unlike the way Toronto fans treated Larry Murphy -- and was subjected to constant abuse.

"I was hoping they wouldn't boo me," Cross said. "But when it happens so much, you're trying not to make any mistakes. When you do make some, somebody starts yelling at you. Your whole confidence level goes down.

"I'm sure the fans will pick on somebody else. I feel sorry for the next guy who will have the fans on his case because it's not a fun environment when people are taking advantage of you.

"It's unfortunate, but you move on and they can boo somebody else."

HERE AND THERE

The Phoenix Coyotes are on a home stretch that lasts until March 7 ... Calgary Flames coach Darryl Sutter on fighting majors being handed out after his goalie, Philippe Sauve, and Colorado netminder David Aebischer delivered reciprocal hugs: "They could have give them two minutes for wiping mascara off, or something like that."... Carolina Hurricanes winger Erik Cole on the ice in Florida: "The league should start giving fines. That's how bad the ice is." Don't worry, Erik, the league does give fines. You'll probably get one for telling the truth ... Has anyone considered that Mats Sundin's production might be off because he is wearing a visor?


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