The day the music died: Among the liveliest topics at a recent gathering of former Boston Bruins, the Hockey News reported, was a six-game playoff series against the Kings in 1977.
"It was the sixth game in L.A.," said former Bruin left wing Wayne Cashman. "They were getting ready for a big pregame hype with a guy to forcefully sing the anthem, the way Kate Smith did in Philadelphia. It was really going to get the Kings going.
"Sure enough, the guy starts singing, and you could tell the place was ready to go mad and get the Kings going. But then, all of a sudden, there was silence. The singer's lips were moving, but you couldn't hear a word. There was confusion galore.
"Then, I looked over to the side and saw a big smile on (Bruin trainer) Frosty Forristal's face and I realized what had happened. He cut the wire to the mike.
"We then went out and got three goals before the Kings could turn around and won the series."
Goaltender Glen Hanlon doesn't usually play when the Detroit Red Wings visit Winnipeg.
But when Coach Jacques Demers heard that Hanlon's parents and several of his friends had driven 130 miles Sunday to see Hanlon play, he started Hanlon in goal against the Jets.
"It's little things like that which make guys want to play good hockey for him," said Hanlon, who responded by stopping 48 shots in a 4-4 tie.
What does the popular Demers think of Mike Keenan, coach of the Philadelphia Flyers?
"He never gives anyone any credit," Demers said of Kennan, who is best described as taciturn. "Maybe that's why he is the most disliked coach in the league, not just by people in the league, but by his own players."
Wise guy: When the New York Rangers played their 4,000th National Hockey League game recently, a journalist noted that the team had played 3,348 since it last won the Stanley Cup in 1940.
John McMullen, owner of the New Jersey Devils, on fan mail:
"Some religious organization tells me that until I change the name of our team from Devils to Angels, we're not going to win."
So far, the Angels name hasn't brought a World Series to Anaheim.
Referee Mike Noeth, assigned at the last minute because Andy Van Hellemond developed a sore hip, called 29 penalties last Friday in the Washington Capitals' 5-3 victory over the Pittsburgh Penguins, including 17 against the Penguins.
Especially frustrated was Pittsburgh's Mario Lemieux, who was assessed 16 minutes in penalties and watched the last 12 minutes 3 seconds from the penalty box after being called for a hooking minor, an unsportsmanlike minor and a 10-minute misconduct.
"I guess he was upset because he wasn't having a good game, and he was trying to blame it on us," Lemieux said of Noeth. "There were a lot of penalties that weren't penalties, and it was hard to get any momentum going. Last year, (Noeth) cost us a couple of games. He's not ready for the NHL."
Much like his predecessor, Bob Johnson, Coach Terry Crisp of the Calgary Flames uses what appears to be a notebook behind the bench.
"It's like a one-page Day-Timer," Crisp said. "It tells me who's doing what, where the players are on the bench, what combinations are effective, the plus and minus stats of the players, how we're killing penalties and stuff like that."
Crisp, though, said it's not a notebook.
He calls it a bench organizer.
Add Crisp: He is among many who say special teams have taken on greater significance this season.
"Like baseball, where the bullpen has become the determining factor in most games, the specialty teams in hockey have assumed that role," Crisp said. "And with so many penalties being called, you have to be able to prevent the other team from exploiting a power-play advantage."
Pat LaFontaine of the New York Islanders, acknowledged as one of the league's best skaters, attributes his skill to his upbringing.
"When I was younger, skating was always stressed before puck-handling, stick-handling and shooting," he said. "My father was coach most of the time, and he said you could always learn how to shoot as you got older. With my size, I was never a big guy, so I had to learn how to skate."
Asked to compare himself with his peers, LaFontaine said that Edmonton's Wayne Gretzky is quickest in terms of lateral movement, but that the best overall skater in the NHL is Pittsburgh defenseman Paul Coffey.
"He's probably the best skater I've ever seen," LaFontaine said.
When General Manager Phil Esposito of the New York Rangers dealt Mike Donnelly to the Buffalo Sabres last week for Paul Cyr, it was his 28th trade since taking over the Rangers July 14, 1986.
Add Esposito: He apparently has been talked out of dealing defenseman James Patrick, who has been the subject of trade rumors.
Patrick is on pace to break the club record for points in a season by a defenseman, which was set by Brad Park when he had 82 in the 1973-74 season.
"James is one of the three best defensemen in the league--maybe the best two," Coach Michel Bergeron said.