There's no excuse for Gretzky's blunder

STEVE SIMMONS -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:27 AM ET

Andy Murray was just being a nice guy and trying to take the heat off the early days of Wayne Gretzky's coaching life.

But what he said isn't true.

Coaches don't incorrectly fill out gamesheets by habit. It doesn't happen all the time, as Murray, the Los Angeles Kings coach, contended when Gretzky's staff got caught napping the other night with an inexcusable error the cost him the services of winger Fredrik Sjostrom.

I can remember maybe three instances in 25 years of covering the National Hockey League where a player had to be scratched because a lineup was incorrectly filled out.

Knowing Gretzky, who hates to be embarrassed in any way, someone -- one from his experienced staff of Barry Smith, Rick Bowness and Rick Tocchet -- would have some explaining to do post game.

Everyone in hockey is watching the early days of Gretzky in Phoenix. This wasn't the kind of notoriety he was looking for.

THIS AND THAT

The only thing wrong with the NHL shootouts is the number of players taking part. There should be five shooters, not three ... All the concern about 15-year-old John Tavares is quickly disappearing. The underage kid has scored six goals already in his first five games of major junior hockey ... The National Football League doesn't give the players a choice in what protective equipment they are mandated to wear: Why should the National Hockey League? ... Some Winnipeg noses are out of joint because the Phoenix Coyotes have un-retired Bobby Hull's No. 9 and given it to son, Brett. Just one question: When did Bobby Hull play for Phoenix? ... Let's see now: Keith Tkachuk reports to camp out of shape and injures his groin in his first regular season game with the St. Louis Blues. A coincidence? I think not.

HEAR AND THERE

What's this we keep hearing about the Blue Jays playing footsy with former Cubs broadcaster Steve Stone about a TV job in Toronto? Are the Jays about to change announcing crews again? ... Right about now, isn't J.P. Ricciardi feeling just a little bit better about losing out in the Matt Clement sweepstakes? ... Best player in the CFL right now is Corey Holmes of the Saskatchewan Roughriders. You can't take your eyes off him ... Antonio Davis is telling the Knicks he won't report after being traded from Chicago and it has nothing to do with the public school system. Davis would prefer having his contract bought out, and wouldn't we all? ... With the great Argos receivers, especially Tony Miles, Arland Bruce and Robert Baker, why isn't the Toronto passing game more explosive? ... There are rumblings around that Danny McManus could be traded to a playoff team looking for insurance and a well-rounded quarterback before this season is out.

SCENE AND HEARD

There's a story going around Miami that Carlos Delgado opted out of the final game of the regular season because he didn't want his .301 batting average to drop below .300. Turns out, he was used as a pinch hitter and preserved his batting average and likely ended with some kind of bonus for his numbers ... The Houston Rockets say they believe in Rafer Madness. Just wondering: How long before Me-Mac and Alston are as close as cousin Vince and Rafer were ... Jesse Lumsden found out quickly -- a bunch of carries for next to no yards in his first real CFL test -- that those aren't the York Lions he's running against anymore ... And far removed from the joy of Canada: The first night of NHL hockey in Los Angeles drew a 0.00 rating on the Outdoor Life Network, which can only mean one thing. Ratings will be up more than 100% shortly ... Eric Gagne isn't happy about the firing of Dodgers manager Jim Tracy. "I don't want to be here if we're just going to play kids and rebuild," the Canadian told the Orange County Register. "...We're the (expletive) Dodgers. We should be like the Yankees."

AND ANOTHER THING

Larry Walker has more than a chance for the perfect ending with the St. Louis Cardinals: A World Series championship and then a wave goodbye ... .. Exactly how did Chuck Lamar last eight seasons on the job as general manager of the Tampa Bay Devil Rays without winning more than 70 games in any single year? ... The Raptors are convinced rookie Jose Calderon will be a factor in his first NBA season. Why? Because he was a dominant player in key international games. Only one problem with that theory: At the most- recent Summer Olympics, Carlos Arroyo, who barely plays in Detroit, was about the best player around and Tim Duncan, who's about the best player in the NBA, was barely a factor in Athens ... In one NHL night, Eric Lindros graduated from fourth line to first line and Brandon Bochenski went from rookie- of-the-year candidate to bench warmer. Stay tuned. Tomorrow everything changes ... And hey, whatever became of Lyall Woznesensky?


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