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Wednesday, September 25
Updated: October 5, 12:03 PM ET
Dafoe: 'Things are starting to heat up'

By John Buccigross
Special to

Editor's Note: John Buccigross caught up with former Boston Bruins netminder Byron Dafoe, who addressed a select handful of media members on Tuesday.

For the first time since his silent summer, Byron Dafoe spoke Tuesday afternoon about being an unrestricted free agent. Dafoe finished fourth in the league with a career-high 35 wins last season, despite having a .907 save percentage, which ranked 15th. He also posted the second best GAA of his career (2.21), which ranked ninth.

Against Montreal in the opening round of the playoffs, he was 2-4 with a 3.19 goals against.

Byron Dafoe
Byron Dafoe is 132-104-40 in five seasons as a Bruin.
So how good is Byron Dafoe? Has be been a very good goalie on a team with suspect defensemen? Or, has he been an OK goalie on a very good team? Right now, according to the NHLPA, the big three in goaltender salaries are Patrick Roy ($8.5 million), Curtis Joseph ($8 million) and Martin Brodeur ($7 million). (NHL salaries are usually the base pay. Sometimes money is deferred and sometimes there are bonus clauses. But, they are generally a good point for argument.)

After Roy, Joesph and Brodeur, there is Ed Belfour at $6.5 million, Olaf Kolzig at $6 million, Jose Theodore at $5 million and Mike Richter at $4 million. Should Dafoe make more than any of those goaltenders? "Bysie" made about $3.4 million last year. Working for him: He is a popular player on his team and plays with a lot of heart and enthusiasm. You always get your best effort with Byron. He's played just three full NHL seasons, but when he has he has won 30 or more games each time, and his goals against has not been over 2.24. He has 27 games of NHL playoff experience. He's played just 380 NHL games, so he should be learning how to get better. He's the best unsigned goalie out there. If a team suffers a major goaltending injury, Dafoe is there.

Working against him: After his big 10 shutout year in 1998-99, Dafoe's save percentage has been .889, .906, .907. He is 10-16 in the playoffs with a 2.32 goals against. There are a lot of good goalies these days and a lot of them make in the $3 million range. His two years of battling injuries (1999-2001) brings into question Dafoe's durability. He seemed to correct that in the summer of 2001, which led to last year's 35-win season.

Solution? Dafoe should be a Bruin. His track record doesn't deserve any more than a three-year contract. If I'm the Bruins, I offer a three-year deal at $3.8 million, $4 million and $4.2 million. That's three years at $12 million. A good contract for a good guy to PLAY and live in a great city. If he wants more, I don't blame the Bruins for moving on. But, the Bruins have to know they are better team with Dafoe in the net and that with him, they are certainly a playoff team. Without him, they are not.

No.1 : The last contract you negotiated, you did on your own. This time you have an agent (Bryant McBride). Is it more difficult not having control this time?
The last time there was a lot of miscommunication between me and my ex-agent. Where as Bryant and I are together in everything we do.

Byron Jaromir Dafoe was born February 25th in Sussex, England. He grew up in British Columbia, Canada.

No. 2: Why haven't you signed a contract to play hockey this season?
Basically, from July 1 on, teams we talked to said they were all set, had us in mind, and wanted to see what happened through training camp. And that brings us up to now. In the last week, we have actually had contact with a few teams. I think the level of concern for some of the general managers with their goaltending is that it might not be where they need it to be come the start of the season. Again, this has just happened the last few days, so I think things are starting to heat up a little bit.

Byron and his wife Kim have two kids: Eric James, born on Jan 23, 2000, and Chase Alexander born on Feb. 25, 2002 (Byron's birthday).

No. 3: What are the chances of you signing with the Bruins again?
I never say never in this business, but it's not a team we're counting on by any means. We've had little, if any, conversation with them over the last six months, definitely in the last couple months. By their actions, it has sent a message to us and we're fine with that and willing to move on.

No. 4: Have they ever made an offer or a counter offer to you?
The dollar numbers were never discussed and no offer was ever made.

"Bysie" played junior hockey in the WHL for Portland and Prince Albert.

No. 5: Has any NHL team offered you a concrete, multiyear deal yet?
We've talked, there's been discussions with lengths of contracts, dollar number and I think that's basically as far as we've gotten.

The Bruins acquired Dafoe from Los Angeles with Dimitri Khristich for Josef Stumpel, Sandy Moger, and a fourth-round pick that turned into Pierre Dagenais in August of 1997.

No. 6: How are you staying in shape?
I worked out the majority of the summer with John Whitesides, the Bruins strength and conditioning coach. Since the beginning of September, I've been skating with Merrimack University's hockey team and putting myself thorough a mock training camp to do everything I can to make sure I am as close to game ready as possible.

Merrimack is a Division 1 hockey program that plays in Hockey East.

No. 7: Where do see yourself fit salarywise? There are so many goalies who make $3.5 million, and that's what you made last year. Are you afraid you're asking for too much?
I haven't got a number etched in my mind by any means. A lot of it is going be what the market bears and a lot of has to do with the right fit. I want to play on a team that is built to win now and is doing everything they can to win the Stanley Cup, and that's going to bring a lot of flexibility to length and dollar amounts in my contract. First and foremost, it's finding the right organization where I would fit in.

No. 8: I thought you would be a good fit in Toronto. Are you surprised teams like that didn't show more interest?
A little bit. I anticipated July 1 would come and things would be ironed out and I'd be enjoying my summer and getting ready for training camp with my new organization. We had very good conversations with Toronto, and I was right up on the list. Of course, when it all came down they ended up going Belfour. A little surprised? Yes. But, again it was out of our control, it wasn't us asking too much money or us pushing them off, it was just how it went down.

Possible Dafoe teams: Philadelphia, Toronto, St. Louis, Vancouver.

Now, we re-join the previously written column ...

I bought my first compact disc in July of 1986.

It was the day I bought my first stereo system: Sony tuner, Bose speakers, and a bare-bones Fisher CD player that still runs fine today. The Tweeter store where I bought the system had a promotion that awarded a customer a free CD with the purchase of this relatively new technology. This CD player. So, I didn't actually buy the CD, or you could say I bought it for $147. So, with the purchase of my "hi-fi" as my Nana, Belle Buccigross called it at the time, I could choose any CD -- I picked The Outfield's "Play Deep." ("Josie's on a vacation far away, come around and talk it over, so many things I wanna say, you know I like my girls a little bit older.")

So Mick and Keith are a little more outgoing than Stevie Y and Nick ... but you get the idea.
My purchase helped the The Outfield's 1985 debut album go double platinum. (Gold = 500,000 CDs sold, platinum = 1 million, double platinum = 2 million and so on ...) I still have the CD, can still sing along with every song, word for word, and in fact I'm listening to it now as I type this. It still has the Flintstones sticker on the back. Back in college, I began the practice of putting Flintstones stickers on the back of my CDs, just in case there was an issue over whose CD was whose. I wasn't letting Gordon McCracken take my Echo and the Bunnymen CD without a trial. CSI: CD.

The second CD I bought, which was really the first, was Peter Gabriel's "So." I still have that one and on the back STILL is Fred, Wilma, Pebbles, and Dino in their red Oldsmobuickstone. I'm convinced my "sticker system" is why I've managed to hold on to most of the CDs I have acquired over the years, and why I'm approaching 1,000 CDs. (That's an average of a little more than a CD a week for 16 years, or two a paycheck. I mow my own lawn, so I buy CDs.)

However, of all the CDs here in my basement office -- and they range from AC/DC to Nat King Cole to Andrea Bocelli to Travis Tritt to Tenacious D to Pete Yorn to Earl Klugh to KISS to Toad the Wet Sprocket to Better than Ezra to Allison Krauss to Led Zeppelin to Run DMC to The Clarks to Ben Folds Five to Ben Folds to Disturbed to Elliot Smith to ABC to one of my all time favorites, and I have to be one of only 37 people who have this CD, The Lover Speaks -- I do not own a Rolling Stones CD. That's right, I have "The Best of General Public," but I don't have the Stones' "Some Girls."

So, when I got a call from a friend asking to see the Rolling Stones in concert at Madison Square Garden last week, I said, "Yes," in 2.6 seconds, and then thought 2.6 seconds later, "I don't have any Stones CDs." Listening to a group's CDs is how I like to warm up for the show on the way to the concert. Since I had no Stones, I went with The White Stripes.

Well, I'm here to say, after seeing the Stones in the Garden, it won't be long until I have all of their CDs. The show was perfect. A mega star feeding off the energy of New York City. The band was tight and on, and Mick Jagger, who turns 60 next July, sounded strong and sang the songs the way you like them sung -- not some strange melody that a bored lead singer sometimes resorts to. They gave it all, played as a team, and fed off their reputations as one of the best groups ever. They were a lot like last year's Red Wings. It was a pleasant, indelible surprise.

My enjoyment of the Rolling Stones was a surprise. The Red Wings winning it all last year was not. That was our call here all last season after the column debuted in November. What about this year? Well, certainly there will be surprises. Preseason predictions are difficult to make because of unfilled rosters, injuries and how teams with high turnover gel. After 20 games, we will have a much better idea, though surprises still can arise. See also: the Carolina Hurricanes.

This week, I'll breakdown the Eastern Conference, ranking teams from 15-1, and giving you the eight teams I feel have the best chance at this point to make the playoffs. Trades can change things. Next week will be the West, the champion, and some of the NHL awards. Associated with each team will be a song lyric from all these CDs at my feet. Music and hockey go together like Jack and ginger, chicken and parm, Melrose and mullets. I'm so pumped for the hockey season to start that my jugular is about to spring a leak.

Rock, roll, and get your butt to the faceoff dot. FAST!!!!

Game on. Again.

15. Florida Panthers
I'm tired of feelin' sick and useless.
-- "Country Yard" by the Vines
The NHL All-Star game will be held Feb. 2 in the Panthers' home arena, but it is hard to imagine any Panthers playing in it. Jay Bouwmeester and Stephen Weiss will be in the YoungStars game, but that will likely be it. However, this organization IS on the right track. They have at least one really good young player at each position, and they will get another one in next summer's draft as they are a pretty good bet to finish with the fewest points in the NHL. That being said, I would buy season tickets to the Panthers just to watch Bouwmeester skate 41 games a year.

14. Atlanta Thrashers
High above the mucky muck, castle made of clouds,
there sits Wonderboy, sitting oh so proudly...
Wonderboy, what is the secret of your powers?
-- "Wonderboy" by Tenacious D
Ilya Kovalchuk, "The King," and Dany Heatley, "Tenacious D," give Atlanta two strong pillars to build their Stanley Cup house on, although it won't happen until at least 2007. I thought the Thrashers made a MAJOR mistake not drafting Rick Nash. You can never have enough good forwards. I see no benefit drafting teenage goalies, especially because goalies tend to peak late in their careers and good veteran goalies can be had in free agency. I would have signed Byron Dafoe and gone with him and Milan Hnilicka for the next three years.

13. Buffalo Sabres
I try to find a way out of this maze, it's got me crazed
I'm in a daze.
-- "Rock and a Hard Place" by Ludacris
Of course, they are not a BAD team. They had 82 points last year and their young players will probably get better: Maxim Afinogenov, Tim Connolly, Taylor Pyatt. They actually have three solid lines and good goaltending. But, unless strong ownership comes in quickly, you just get the sense that things could fall apart, especially if they keep to their promise of opening up the offense and give up 250 goals and get defensively sloppy. They are well coached and have good fans, so it's not out of the question they could be better than 13th, but I see no chance at making the playoffs.

12. Tampa Bay Lightning
Everybody knows, it sucks to grow up...
the years go on and we're still fighting it.
-- "Still Fighting It" by Ben Folds
They should improve on their 69 points from last season, but this young team still is a ways away from the playoffs. If teams in front of this predicted list get hit hard with injuries, the Bolts could get in that 9th-11th place area. Nikolai Khabibulin is a great goalie, but after that there is little depth and the Lightning don't have gifted wingers to help their gifted centermen.

11. Boston Bruins
My hearts breaking, man you really ripped it out,
you take pleasure watching, as I claw my way out.
-- "Bottled Up Inside" by KORN
They did it again. Once again the Bruins were close to being Stanley Cup contender and it was all stripped away. If they go with their current goalie crop they will likely miss the playoffs. The B's won't score as many goals as they did last year and they will certainly give up more. Mike O'Connell should re-sign Dafoe now. He and Harry Sinden should have signed Bill Guerin to an extension when they traded for him in 2000. If Teemu Selanne had signed with the Bruins, then Boston would have lost little. They still have very good forwards, but when your defense and goaltending are such big question marks, there is uncertainty. If they make a good trade involving Kyle McLlaren they could become a playoff team again.

10. Pittsburgh Penguins
He makes me happy when I'm feeling down,
takes away my worry, takes away my frown
... gotta see him, see him today,
he gonna blow me away.
                      -- "Rock and Roll Doctor" by Black Sabbath
The Penguins CAN make the playoffs. If Mario plays 75 healthy games, and Johan Hedberg's save percentage is at least .920, the Pens have a shot. Their forwards are pretty good, but their defense has to be better. The Penguins gave up 249 goals last season, but do have more experienced players to begin this season than last. While I want it to happen, because watching Mario play healthy hockey is the everything, it seems unlikely that No. 66's health can withstand a full NHL season anymore and the Pens HAVE to have that to make the playoffs. If Mario and Alexei Kovalev both have their "A" games, this team is the most watchable in the Eastern Conference. Tasty talent every night.

9. Montreal Canadiens
It's a matter of instinct, a matter of conditioning, a matter of fact.
-- "Brian Wilson" by the Barenaked Ladies
Jose Theodore may have had the best year he will ever have last season. He won the Vezina and the Hart trophies, the first Canadien since Guy Lafleur in 1978 to win the MVP. The Habs are on their way back. They certainly can make the playoffs. In fact, any of the first eleven on this list COULD make the post season. In my mind, only Florida, Atlanta, and Tampa Bay have no shot. Montreal made it by two points last year with career years from Theodore and Yanic Perreault. It's just a hunch that they will just miss this season.

The Playoff Teams

8. New York Islanders
You were everything I wanted,
but, I just can't finish what I started.
-- "My Friends Over You" by New Found Glory
The Islanders had a 44 point improvement last year, the fourth largest in NHL history. They will not get 96 points this year. But, they are still a very soild team all the way around, one that is very well coached, has excellent ownership, great fans, and a GM who has new life. Michael Peca will miss 15-25 games to start the season and that will prevent the Islanders from getting off to a fast start. Any other early significant injuries early and the Islanders could find themselves in a hole they can't get out of. They need to remember what got them a playoff spot last year -- hunger, enthusiasm, and a whole bunch of Alexei Yashin.

7. Carolina Hurricanes
Someone's always telling me I'm no good,
well I don't care what you say...
I understand that some things will never change.

-- "Never Change" by Puddle of Mudd
Their margain for error is very small. Keep in mind the Capitals and Rangers both had more wins than the Hurricanes last year. The Canes made the playoffs because they got to overtime 21 times and they stayed relatively healthy. They had 91 points last season and it's hard to imagine them getting too many more than that. Where they should improve is their home record. Carolina had just 15 home wins last season. The playoffs showed they have a very loud arena that will at least carry over to the first part of this year. Plus, 14 of their first 19 games are in Raleigh. Carolina should get off to a fast start this season, which might allow them to get sufficient playoff padding.

6. Toronto Maple Leafs
I just wanted you to tell me the truth
You know I'd do that for you
Why are you running away?

-- "Running Away" by Hoobastank
Curtis Joseph is out. Ed Belfour is in. The Leafs won't get 100 points this year, but they are still a very solid team and certainly a playoff one. Unless they have a complete collapse in net, the passion of their veteran leaders should be enough to get them into the playoffs. The loss of Gary Roberts doesn't hurt them as much as it would in the playoffs. If early season games have teams getting 10-15 power plays a night, teams like the Leafs, with players like Mats Sundin, will benefit greatly. Teams could be better than other teams personel-wise , but if their power play rots, it might not matter.

5. New Jersey Devils
If you want to destroy my sweater,
hold this thread as I walk away.

-- "Undone (The Sweater Song)" by Weezer
Bobby Holik. Jason Arnott. Petr Sykora. All gone. The Devils are now built around lots of speed. They will fly around the ice and forecheck like crazy. If they can finish, they will be dangerous, but I am skeptical they have enough scoring wingers. If they do, watch out. Patrick Elias is one of my favorite NHL players. The Devils defense is very mobile and new coach Pat Burns always does well in a new enviroment. He's the only NHL head coach to win three Adams Trophies for coach of the year with three different teams. Martin Brodeur will either have the worse year of his career or the best.

4. Philadelphia Flyers
Tell me exactly what I am suppossed to do,
now that I have allowed you to beat me.
Do you think that we could play another game,
maybe I could win this time.

                      -- "The Game" by Disturbed
After the Flyers' disturbing playoff loss to the Senators, the Flyers made a major change hiring Ken Hitchcock. This is what the Flyers need, a powerful head coach who doesn't have to worry about the GM firing him on a whim. The Flyers are certainly one of the teams that could win the East. John LeClair is healthy and shooting big, wind-em-up slap shots again. Jeremy Roenick worked out big time in the offseason. This team has good players at each position and assistant Coach Craig Hartsburg should improve the Flyers dismal power play. Health and a good power play will keep the Flyers in it until at least May.

3. Washington Capitals
Nothing good comes easily,
sometimes you gotta fight.
-- "Amber" by 311
Does Jaromir Jagr care? That's all that really matters in D.C. If your highest paid player is not in shape, like Jagr wasn't last training camp, and your highest paid player is not playing like he should, it has a nasty affect on the team. The Caps had other issues last year. Olaf Kolzig's knee wasn't 100 percent and he had an off year. Injuries to Calle Johansson, Steve Konowalchuk, Jeff Halpern and Jagr missing 13 games all led to the Caps missing the playoffs. Despite all that, they had more wins than the Hurricanes, and if they stay healthy this year, they should have enough to win the Southeast. If it ALL goes well, they will be in the 95-100 point area.

2. Ottawa Senators
All my life I've been searching for something...
nothing satisfies, but I'm getting closer to the prize
at the end of the rope.
-- "All My Life" by the Foo Fighters  
If Zdeno Chara doesn't hurt his knee last May against Toronto, I'm convinced the Senators would have been in the final last June. This team is real good. Mobile and tough defensemen and ultra-talented wingers. Their question marks are goaltending and centermen. Patrick Lalime was sensational in the playoffs after a regular-season .903 save percentage. If Jason Spezza can make an impact, the Sens go Radek Bonk, Todd White, Mike Fisher and Spezza up the middle, and that should be enough to get them near 100 points.

1. New York Rangers
I'm going for broke,
gambling and playing for keeps.
-- "It's OK" by Eminem
It's is all on the line for Glen Sather. Miss the playoffs and he's fired, and his legacy will be slightly tarnished. When hockey teams are desperate, they usually play well. This entire organization is desperate. Again, they had 36 wins last year, more than Carolina and as many as the Canadiens. I always thought this team was a lot better than the record showed. One Ranger player told me there was no accountibility last year and players could do really whatever they wanted. That was obvious by the way the Rangers played. That all changes. The biggest factor in the Rangers' demise has been their penalty killing -- 29th and 30th the last two years. New head coach Bryan Trottier WILL change that. Rookie Jamie Lundmark has looked good. He could get 15-20 goals. If Eric Lindros and Pavel Bure play 75 games together, Bure gets 60-70 goals. Of course, that's a monumental "IF." If Sather can pull off a trade to get a scoring winger and another mobile defenseman, the Rangers would have enough to win the East and get to the final. The room is strong, the coaching staff is experienced and tough, and the front office is on its toes to get this team back in the playoffs. Once they are there, they have the pieces to stay for a while.

Hi John,
Just finished reading your "What I did on my summer vacation." I'm glad you're back and psyched that another hockey season is upon us. I wanted to thank you for recognizing some of the real heroes of this world ... firefighters. My Dad was a firefighter for 35 years. He has ALWAYS been my hero. Remember, you heard it here first ... Sharks skate the Cup in 2003.
Bill Maroni

Western Conference preview and predictions are next week.

Thank God you are back! I have been checking and checking. I hope this summer has been good. Please talk to Gino Reda and try to get involved with "That's Hockey." Would love to see you on the show, as I got a taste for your opinions at the draft coverage.
Andrew Brathwaite

If you live outside of Canada, "That's Hockey" is a nightly hockey news and information show that airs Monday-Friday on TSN before the NHL games of the night. Gino Reda is the new host, replacing Gord Miller who is doing play-by-play for the games. (TSN is basically the ESPN of Canada. Disney owns 33 percent of TSN.) Gino and I haven't talked since the "Pina Colada Incident of 1987." It happened at an outdoor concert featuring Tesla, Cutting Crew, Europe and Suzanne Vega in Leamington, Ontario. I can't go into it because of the settlement agreement, but what I can say is Gino Reda, Pina Colada, and Suzanne Vega, DON"T MIX!!!

I heard a nasty rumor that ESPN will be showing 30 percent fewer hockey games this season ... say it isn't so!!!
Andy Moon

ESPN is showing fewer games, but I guarantee you will hardly recognize the difference. Check out the TV schedule that provides and scroll down the list. Plenty of great games. And you can always count on NHL 2Night, five nights a week. We are currently tweaking the NHL 2Night format, so tune in. One more reminder: One-hour preview show next Tuesday, October 8.

I don't see much pub from you about Minnesota and hockey.
Keri (The one who brought you Kool and the PANG)

Pang on a minute!! For the love of Captain PANGaroo, I love Minnesota as much as a hot, black, PANGus steak and a slice of lemon merPANG pie! Don't make me call my friend, Clubber PANG. There is nothing like driving in my Ford MusPANG, listening to K.D. PANG, while in Minnesota. I had to take some PANGer management classes back in 1996. I was having too many PANGxiety attacks attending my PANGlican church in PANGor, Maine. I'm good now.

As we reported here FIRST last week, Minnesota is getting the 2004 NHL All-Star game. In fact, if you go to the archives, you see in last February 13th's column, "Behind the bench with Barry," I responded to D.J. Lacey's e-mail with: "It looks like the 2004 All-Star game might go to Minnesota." My world-class journalism instincts also wrote in that column: "While Steve Levy has an interesting shelf created by a part that starts just above his right ear, Kerry Fraser's hair would pulverize Levy's hair inside three rounds."

I was wondering where in the world is Barry Melrose's mullet? After close inspection with the TIVO freeze-frame, I was relieved to know that the Melrose Mullett was not involved in the attack on Royal's coach Tom Gamboa.
Chris Boyd
Las Vegas

It has been a difficult summer for the AWOL mullet. Then again, summer is always a tough season for Barry's mullet, or any mullet for that matter. I mean, the humidity, bugs, and the Loverboy state fair concert tour, all make for a sweaty, uncomfortable season. Of course, with hockey season approaching, the mullet's spirits are rising. It is currently on the 641 mile New York Thruway, making its way upstate in search of Melrose. It wasn't sure if it could make it in time, but with the recent purchase of an EZPASS at an Oneida truck stop, the mullet's chances of reuniting with Melrose are improving. But, it better hurry. Barry is leaving for Los Angeles soon to be part of the Wayne Gretzky ceremony broadcast on opening night. ESPN2 will carry that Coyotes-Kings game beginning at 10:30 ET (7:30 PT). Tune in to see if the mullet made it back to Barry's head or not.

Some stuff to chew on while you chew on the end of your pen

  • Five NHL arenas have new names as a result of corporate sponsorships. You'll never read those names in this space. I slipped last week when referring to a baseball field, so I feel I've kept my original promise to you regarding NHL arenas. Massive corporate sponsorship has put money in the owners pockets and the players pockets while you pay $75-$100 for a decent seat in these massive structures.

  • The Los Angeles Kings, whose original sweater sported a crown when the franchise entered the league in 1967, will use an updated version on the chest of their jersey.

  • The Pittsburgh Penguins have a new home jersey that brings back the skating penguin.

  • The Mighty Ducks will wear a patch that commemorates their 10th NHL season, while the Stars will wear a patch in recognition of their 10th season in Dallas.

  • In Toronto, Ed Belfour will wear a patch commemorating the fifth anniversary of earning his first BILLION dollars.

  • The standard of enforcement being applied will be significantly stricter in regard to interference and abuse of officials. Additionally, faceoff procedures will follow a new, quicker timeline. There have been NHL preseason games that took just two hours and five minutes to play! Of course, there weren't any TV timeouts.

  • Six statistical categories will no longer be recorded by the NHL. Hits, giveaways, takeaways, blocked shots, missed shots and zone time (missed shots and zone time were kept on a game-by-game basis, but not compiled and released beyond the pressbox).

  • The number of times Mathew Barnaby blows kisses toward inebriated, male hockey fans will continue to be kept.

  • Colorado enters this season with the league's longest sellout streak: 336 games, including playoffs. The Red Wings are next at 277. The Minnesota have sold out all 82 home games they have played in their two-year history. Columbus has sold out their last 56 home games.

  • Pittsburgh's Johan Hedberg worked with a hypnotist in the offseason, Boston's John Grahame began intense study of the martial arts, while retired goalie Dominik Hasek fell asleep 47 times this summer on the couch with the remote in one hand, a beer in the other, and a thick residue of Cheese Puffs circling his mouth.

  • Eleven of the NHL's No. 1 goalies are from the province of Quebec -- Jean-Sebastien Giguere, Martin Biron, Jocelyn Thibault, Patrick Roy, Marc Denis, Roberto Luongo, Felix Potvin, Jose Theodore, Martin Brodeur, Patrick Lalime and Dan Cloutier.

  • Adam Oates of the Mighty Ducks has led the NHL in assists the past two seasons.

  • The Bruins will retire Terry O'Reilly's No. 24 on Thursday, October 24, prior to the B's game with Ottawa. No. 8 better be next.

  • Phil Housley is the all-time leading U.S.-born scorer in NHL history with 1,203 points.

  • And finally, the Avalanche have a 60-5-12-2 record (.848) in regular-season games since 1997-98 when Peter Forsberg scores a goal, including an 18-0-1-2 mark in 2000-01.

    John Buccigross is the host of NHL 2Night, which will air Wednesday-Sunday on ESPN2 beginning with the preview show on Tue., Oct. 8. His e-mail address -- for questions, comments or cross-checks -- is

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