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The NHL : City That Never Sleeps Has Team That Turns In Early

December 23, 1987|Jerry Crowe

When the New York Rangers gave up a first-round draft pick and reportedly paid $100,000 last summer to pry Coach Michel Bergeron away from the Quebec Nordiques, they obviously expected to blossom under the veteran coach.

It hasn't happened.

The Rangers are last in the Patrick Division, although apparently they've looked pretty good in practice.

"I call these guys morning glories," Bergeron said last week. "They don't show up at night, but they're great in the morning."

Wrong number: Answering the phone in his office one day last week, General Manager David Poile of the Washington Capitals tried to disguise his voice, making it sound as if the caller had reached a recording.

"Hello, this is David Poile and no, I don't have any answers for what's wrong with the hockey team."

Only the Rangers trail the Capitals in the Patrick Division.

Will he play in Peoria? Jocelyn Lemieux, recently demoted by the St. Louis Blues to their International Hockey League affiliate at Peoria, Ill., said he never felt comfortable in the Blues' locker room.

He said the constant ribbing he took for his chic dress and hair style made him ill at ease.

"Some people are strong mentally and some are not," Lemieux said. "I guess I'm the latter. I have never been loose with the guys. They get on me. . . . It bothers me."

Could be that Lemieux, a first-round draft choice in 1986, is in the wrong line of work.

Andy Moog, tired of being little more than a backup to Grant Fuhr with the Edmonton Oilers, joined the Canadian Olympic team a few months ago.

So, how has the former Oiler goaltender fared with Team Canada?

He's the backup to Sean Burke.

Burke was in goal last Saturday, stopping 36 shots in the Canadians' 3-2 victory over the Soviet Union in a tournament at Moscow. The victory was Team Canada's first over the Soviets in the Soviet Union since 1972.

Burke, described by some in the Philadelphia Flyers' organization as an "impact" player, will join the New Jersey Devils after the Olympics.

And Moog, though nothing official has been announced, has said that he will join the Pittsburgh Penguins, with the Penguins sending a first-round draft pick to the Oilers for his rights. It's part of the trade that sent Paul Coffey to the Penguins, Moog said.

Moog has said that he will not return to Edmonton.

"The Oilers haven't been honest with me," he said. "I'll play anywhere, but not there."

Speaking of the Coffey trade, it afforded Craig Simpson, who was sent to Edmonton, a rare opportunity to play with both Mario Lemieux and Wayne Gretzky in the same season.

"I'm certainly fortunate in that sense," the third-year winger told the Toronto Star.

How do Lemieux and Gretzky compare?

"Mario's one of the best one-on-one players in the game," Simpson said. "He likes to take it himself and beat the defenseman with his little inside-outside move before making a pass.

"With Gretz, you have to be conscious of watching him all the time and keeping up on the play and getting yourself in the open because he tends to like to pull up just inside the blue line. And even if you're behind the play, you've got to keep on your horse and get there because you're going to be part of the play.

"Wayne has an uncanny ability to know where everybody is on the ice, and he really uses everybody well."

All is well in Montreal, where the Canadiens have put together the best record in the National Hockey League.

Or is it?

Speaking of third-year Coach Jean Perron, who was behind the bench in 1986 when the Canadiens won the Stanley Cup championship, defenseman Larry Robinson was quoted in the Toronto Globe and Mail as saying: "He is a rookie coach and he makes rookie mistakes.

"The thing I realize most is, you have to have a feel for the game. And even if you have studied the game a lot and have been involved in the game yourself, I don't see how you get a feel for it unless you've been in the NHL for some time.

"Right now, sometimes we pay for the fact that he doesn't have that feeling."

Robinson later denied having said that, but reporter William Houston of the Globe and Mail said he has Robinson's comments on tape.

Dino Ciccarelli of the Minnesota North Stars pleaded not guilty last week to charges of indecent exposure.

But the North Stars, fearful of the reception awaiting Ciccarelli, said they may hold him out of a game Dec. 30 at boisterous Chicago Stadium.

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