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Penguins' Lemieux Ready and Raring to Go

September 10, 1996|From Staff and Wire Reports

The sigh of relief was audible from the Pittsburgh Penguins' training complex all the way to Civic Arena. Mario Lemieux is back for at least one more season.

Lemieux said Monday in Canonsburg, Pa., that he is healthy and motivated enough to play, and is convinced the Penguins can challenge again for the Stanley Cup.

Lemieux, who will be 31 next month, returned from a one-year health sabbatical to win his fifth NHL scoring title and lead the Penguins within one victory of the Stanley Cup finals last spring.

After Pittsburgh's Game 7 loss to Florida in the Eastern Conference finals, Lemieux put off any decision about his hockey future.

He did not inform the Penguins until a Sunday night meeting with team owner Howard Baldwin.

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The Montreal Canadiens signed Jocelyn Thibault to a new contract worth nearly $4 million. It will keep the team's starting goaltender in Montreal through the 1998-99 season.

Miscellany

A California promotions company said is has set up a $1-million match race between Donovan Bailey and Michael Johnson, although one of the participants has yet to agree.

"We have to get Donovan Bailey signed," Jim Butler of Loon Promotions in Santa Clara, Calif., said after announcing an Oct. 6 date at SkyDome for the 150-meter race to decide which of the world-record holders is "the world's fastest human." Bailey won the 100 meters and Johnson the 200 in the Atlanta Olympics.

Bailey's representatives were unavailable Monday but a news release put out by Butler's company said Johnson "has signed an agreement in principle to compete in the race."

Last week, at the end of his outdoor season, Johnson said he didn't expect to race Bailey this year.

The Atlanta Olympics were marred by behind-the-scenes management problems because they were simply too big to handle, the security chief for the Summer Games said in Atlanta.

The security operation, for example, was stuck with filthy dormitories for officers, a severe shortage of two-way radios and some volunteers so disgruntled they might have quit if they had not been given souvenir watches, Bill Rathburn said.

"They were too big," Rathburn said of the Games. "I don't think you'll see Games this big again for a long, long time.

"Certainly, the work force here was not nearly large enough to support Games of this size, and it was very challenging throughout. Just to sell all the tickets you can sell is not necessarily the right approach."

Rathburn said, however, that the problems were in the operations of the Games and did not contribute to any security breakdown, including the pipe bomb explosion at Centennial Olympic Park.

A federal judge in Chicago ruled that Northwestern must give 6-foot-5 guard Nick Knapp a chance to play college basketball, even though his heart once stopped during a pickup game.

U.S. District Judge James Zagel said Knapp's risk of injury or death related to the cardiac arrest he suffered in Peoria two years ago wasn't great enough to warrant barring him from playing.

"I find that Knapp's. . . . risk of injury is not substantial, based on the testimony of four cardiologists," Zagel said.

Attorneys for Northwestern, which had declared Knapp medically ineligible, declined to comment on Zagel's ruling. Knapp's attorney, Bob Chapman, said he hoped Knapp would begin playing next month but that the school might appeal.

"I'm ready to play now," Knapp, 19, said.

Knapp was recruited by the Wildcats at Peoria's Woodruff High School. Northwestern already had agreed to offer him a scholarship when he collapsed during a pickup game at the high school Sept. 19, 1994.

To help protect him against another cardiac arrest, doctors implanted a defibrillator, which shocks a stopped heart back to life.

Three Germans arrested after a soccer riot in which hooligans made Hitler salutes and displayed anti-Jewish banners were sentenced to probation and fined in Warsaw.

Two Germans were charged with burning the Polish flag and the third with destroying stadium benches at a Poland-Germany exhibition game in Zabrze last Wednesday. Judge Grazyna Wilk refused to give their names.

A court in the southern Polish city found them guilty and sentenced each to three years' probation and fines of $222.

The NCAA has announced the 10 finalists for its 1996 Woman of the Year award, which recognizes intercollegiate female athletes for outstanding achievements in athletics, academics and community leadership.

The NCAA said the finalists are Mary Alice Brady, track and field, Boston College; Amy DeVasher, swimming, Alabama; Billie Winsett Fletcher, volleyball, Nebraska; Kristi Kloster, track-cross country, Kansas; Marya Morusiewicz, volleyball, Barry University; Nikki Nicholson, volleyball, Georgia; Jenni Rademacher, basketball, North Dakota State; Annette Salmeen, swimming, UCLA; Samantha Salvia, field hockey, Old Dominion; Katie Smith, basketball and track and field, Ohio State.

Pro Basketball

Indiana Pacer center Rik Smits underwent successful surgery for compression of nerves in both feet.

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