Avs-Canucks may not be rowdy

LANCE HORNBY -- Toronto Sun

, Last Updated: 10:30 AM ET

Steve Moore will not be at GM Place tonight, but Colin Campbell will.

In the first game since the wrath of the hockey world came down on Todd Bertuzzi on March 8, 2004, the Colorado Avalanche and Vancouver Canucks will face each other. Campbell, the National Hockey League's executive vice-president, will cast a long shadow ion the ice, but will be there as a spectator, not a lecturer.

"He's there to keep the temperture down, to show a presence, but I don't think he'll talk to the teams," hockey operations vice-president Mike Murphy said. "Precautions are being taken, but people in hockey know that the games that have the loudest (buildup) often turn out to be tame. I think there's too much at stake for both teams here to have anything happen."

Campbell was not in the building last year when Bertuzzi thumped Moore from behind and possibly ended his career, though he was well aware of the potential for trouble stemming from the Moore hit on Markus Naslund earlier that season.

Both teams have tried to work around a heavy media presence for the game. Time has healed some of the bad blood, and the Canadian members of the Avs declared a truce with Bertuzzi during the Olympic team orientation camp in B.C. in August.

"Everything is in the past," Colorado captain Joe Sakic said. "We're movin' on. We just want to win games."

A major distraction was a story in Denver this week that the Avs are not picking up the options on contracts for captainSakic and defenceman Rob Blake in 2006-07. It doesn't mean the duo is leaving, but the decision opens some cap room this year for the club and theoretically means the duo can be talked back next year at what could be lower prices for free agents. Sakic would want to stay with the franchise.

The Avs have changed almost half their team since the Bertuzzi-Moore incident and one of their newcomers is former Canuck Brad May, who once led the charge to exact revenge on Moore.

This evening should pass without incident, though the pressure on Bertuzzi will get cranked up considerably when the series moves back to Denver on Thursday. The clubs are scheduled to meet six times between now and the end of November.

"I don't know if he can really approach (tonight) any different from any other game," Vancouver's Brendan Morrison said of linemate Bertuzzi. "It might be a diffferent story when we go to Colorado. It'll probably be a little rougher for him, but here, when we go on the ice, he's the guy who's going to get the loudest cheers all night long and I think that kind of comforts him.

"I'm not going to say it's a dead issue. I don't think it'll ever be a dead issue with him and our team. Everyone knows it's here. But I don't think Todd wants it to become a burden to everyone else."

TAKING SHINE OFF SHANNY

Brendan Shanahan's high profile has not allowed him to escape abuse from some quarters for his role in re-shaping the rules during the lockout.

"Regardless of how many pat you on the back, there will always be a couple of daggers as well," Shanahan told The Score television.

Asked if some of his harshest critics were goaltenders, the 562-goal scorer laughed and said "I've never liked goalies anyway."

But in general, the players have shared the public's approval of the 'new' NHL, the No Holding League.

"I'm a little surprised things came across so quickly," Shanahan said. "No one likes change. All of us (on the league's competition committee) are apprehensive to throw our arms up and say it's been a big success. We've had some nay-sayers. You want to make sure it works in the long haul."

EVERYBODY INTO THE POOL

The ever-diplomatic Wayne Gretzky said Team Canada management once considered putting every Canadian NHLer to the list to play in Turin so they wouldn't feel rejected. Eventually, the group cut off the list of candidates at 81.

"Believe it or not, I've still had people call me and tell me I missed someone," Gretzky said.

"It's pretty obvious we're not going to spend a lot of time scouting Joe Sakic. But there are decisions which need to be made which are going to be very difficult."

The 23-man roster must be named by Dec. 22. Gretzky had urged the IIHF and Olympic officials to change the date to mid-January.

"To me that's not a lot of hockey to prove themselves," Gretzky said.

We'll be smart if we win and we won't know our hockey if we lose. But that's the way it is with our country. They expect nothing but the gold medal and that's what makes it fun."

HOLLYWOOD NORD

Bruins fans will be interested to know that a French-Canadian is playing the part of Milt Schmidt in the upcoming movie Maurice Richard. Pascal Dupuis of the Minnesota Wild got the role of the Bruins' captain. The movie was filmed in July at Le Colisee in Quebec City and will be released in December.

"I skated with the old skates, wooden sticks, no helmet and the comb-over," Dupuis said. "There was a lot of waiting, waiting, waiting, changing camera angles. That stuff takes forever."

Dupuis also was going to be the stunt double for Roy Dupuis (no relation) for the skating scenes, but the actor, who has the title role, turned out to be decent on blades.

ICE CHIPS

The Rangers-Islanders game at Nassau Coliseum was the first non-sellout between the two teams in Uniondale since 1998 ... The Chicago Blackhawks sent defenceman Cam Barker back to the Medicine Hat Tigers this week, making him potentially the only player on Canada's 2005 world junior champions who would play on the 2006 team. The only other eligible player is Sidney Crosby ... Calgary centre Matthew Lombardi is on crutches and is expected to miss a month because of a high ankle sprain after falling feet-first into the boards on Monday against Phoenix ... Defenceman Sean O'Donnell, one of the most sought-after free agents in previous years, has been a healthy scratch in three of the Coyotes' first six games.


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