Tarnstrom, Spacek moving up

ROBERT TYCHKOWSKI -- Edmonton Sun

, Last Updated: 9:27 AM ET

Dick Tarnstrom's team jumped from 15th place to eighth with one phone call.

Jaroslav Spacek's team got the same instant promotion a few minutes later, going from 14th to eighth in the time it took Edmonton GM Kevin Lowe to say "deal."

After serving time with perennial losers in Pittsburgh and Chicago, Tarnstrom and Spacek couldn't pack their bags fast enough upon learning they'd been dealt to a team with a decent shot at actually making the playoffs.

"I'm pretty glad it happened," said Tarnstrom, a 31-year-old defenceman who'd been playing about 17 minutes a night for the Penguins before yesterday's swap for Cory Cross and Jani Rita. "I'm really looking forward to coming up there. Everything about it is exciting. I know I'm coming to a good team, a lot better than what we had in Pittsburgh this year. We have a chance to get a playoff spot. That's very attractive."

Same goes for Spacek, Chicago's fourth leading scorer with 24 points from the blueline. The Oilers got him in a salary dump ($2.25 million) for Tony Salmelainen.

"Fourteenth to eighth, I like it," said Spacek, who plied his trade in Columbus before joining the lowly Hawks. "It's always nice when you're on a winning team. I'm happy to be on a team that can make the playoffs. I would like to have that feeling again."

Of course, neither one of them has any post-season experience to speak of - Spacek has a grand total of four career games, with Florida in 2000, and Tarnstrom has five, in 2001 with the Isles - but they're willing to learn.

"A fresh start for me would be really good," said Tarnstrom, who has a little over half left on his $1.6 million salary. "We had a coaching change this year and a brought in a lot of young guys they really believed in and built the team around them. It's a good opportunity for me to take the next step."

Tarnstrom heard his name in several rumours, but Edmonton was the team that always kept popping up. And that was fine by the six-foot-one, 205 pounder, who knows Raffi Torres and Michael Peca from his short stay on Long Island.

"There were a lot of teams being talked about in the papers," he said. "But Edmonton was showing up quite often. That's good, they have a classic team, a skating team with a lot of skilled guys. I know we had a really hard time with them when they came to Pittsburgh."

His offence, 52 points last season (along with a whopping minus-37), has dropped off this year (five goals and five assists and a minus-10), but he's hoping a new and better team are the cure for that.

Spacek, on his fifth team in seven seasons, is putting up the stats (24 points) and is plus-eight on a dreadful Blackhawk team. "There's a big race in the Western Conference and Edmonton is right on the playoff line right now."

He's still in the playoff hunt. In January. What a concept. "I'm very happy," said Spacek.


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