'Canes hot to trot for Forsberg?

BRUCE GARRIOCH

, Last Updated: 8:41 AM ET

The Carolina Hurricanes met with President George W. Bush at the White House on Friday and accepted congratulations for winning the Stanley Cup last June.

Ideally, they'd like to make a return trip to Washington next winter.

As the race for the post-season heats up, the Hurricanes have been largely overlooked by almost all the NHL experts as potential repeat champions, but don't think for a second GM Jim Rutherford isn't gearing up for another run.

He doesn't get nearly enough credit for the work he has done with Carolina and don't be surprised if he makes another big move at -- or before -- the Feb. 27 trade deadline.

Last year, Rutherford brought in veteran centre Doug Weight from St. Louis and Pittsburgh winger Mark Recchi during the final few months to give the Hurricanes the push they needed.

This season, they may jump into the Peter Forsberg sweepstakes.

The Flyers centre has all but officially waived his no-trade clause and once the bidding begins, the Hurricanes are going to be right in the thick of it.

The Hurricanes, who have $5 million US in salary cap room, would be on the hook for roughly $1.2 million of Forsberg's $5.75-million salary this season.

Because the Flyers are looking for a prospect and a draft pick in return, Carolina likely would not have to give up someone on its current roster.

PROTECTING CROSBY

Pittsburgh Penguins coach Michel Therrien, aware his club could be in for a war this afternoon at the Bell Centre in a rematch with the Montreal Canadiens, said yesterday the NHL has to do more to protect Sidney Crosby.

"We see more and more (Crosby) receiving cheap shots in games," Therrien said. "It has got to stop. He's the best player in the league. The league has got to protect players like this." Crosby was butt-ended by on the opening faceoff in a 5-4 Pittsburgh shootout win on Thursday.

AROUND THE BOARDS

If talks between the Penguins and city officials fall apart next week, the word is Pittsburgh owner Mario Lemieux will go back to Kansas City to try to get a deal done to move the team there ... Florida Panters centre Nathan Horton has declared he's not happy with his playing time and wants out ... The Vancouver Canucks continue to look for a man in the middle, but are also eyeing Forsberg ... There's a strong belief the Philadelphia Flyers are going to go looking for a GM to replace Paul Holmgren in the off-season. Would they bring back Mike Keenan? Another name surfacing for the Philadelphia position is that of the OHL's London Knights owner/coach Dale Hunter.

RUMOURS DU JOUR

All eyes are on Boston Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli these days. Sources say he has held talks with several teams about Brad Boyes, Brad Stuart, Wayne Primeau and Marco Sturm. The Coyotes, Oilers, Kings and Avalanche have all made calls regarding Stuart, while several teams -- including Dallas, Chicago and Montreal -- have inquired about Boyes ... Talk won't go away the Maple Leafs and Senators are going to make a pitch for Florida Panthers' Gary Roberts at the deadline ... Todd Bertuzzi (back), meanwhile, could return to the Panthers lineup in the next 7-10 days. That might be just enough time to showcase the


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