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NHL NOTES

Deal Gives Crawford His Freedom

June 20, 1998| From Associated Press

Marc Crawford is free to talk with any team he wants.

The status of Crawford, the former coach of the Colorado Avalanche, was settled Friday at a meeting conducted by NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman.

At issue was whether Crawford quit after the 1997-98 season or was fired.

In an agreement between the sides, Crawford was given permission to start discussions with any club for the 1998-99 season, subject to compensation before signing a contract.

Colorado agreed to pay Crawford all salary and bonuses due him through the end of the 1997-98 season.

To sign Crawford for next season, a team must give Colorado a first- or second-round pick, depending on the new team's performance in 1998-99, plus cash considerations.

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The San Jose Sharks have acquired goalie Steve Shields and a fourth-round draft choice from the Buffalo Sabres for goalie Kay Whitmore, a second-round draft pick and future considerations.

Shields, 25, had a 3-6-4 record with a 2.83 goals-against average last season with Buffalo, his first full season in the NHL.

The 6-foot-3, 210-pounder served as a backup to Dominik Hasek during the 1997 Stanley Cup playoffs, and ended up playing in 10 of 12 postseason games with a 4-6 record and a 0.922 save percentage.

"Steve is a big goaltender with good mobility," said Dean Lombardi, Shark general manager. "He has proven to be an NHL-caliber goaltender while displaying the potential to become a number one."

Whitmore spent the 1997-98 season with the Ice Dogs of the International Hockey League.

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The Edmonton Oilers hope to keep Curtis Joseph. They got some protection in case they can't.

Goaltender Eric Fichaud was acquired from the New York Islanders on Thursday night, just before rosters were frozen for next week's expansion draft.

Fichaud gives the Oilers insurance if their attempts to keep Joseph from leaving via free agency are unsuccessful.

Fichaud split time with Tommy Salo this past season until he suffered a rotator cuff injury. He played 17 games, with a 3-8-3 record, a 2.97 goals-against average and a 0.905 save percentage. He was 13-18-3 in 1996-97.

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The Detroit Red Wings enjoyed one more public celebration before going their separate ways for the summer.

A crowd of almost 20,000 season ticket-holders and suite-holders was invited to Joe Louis Arena for the final toast to the team's second consecutive Stanley Cup championship.

The "Thank You" rally, televised locally, included a video celebration of the team's triumph through four grueling playoff rounds, speeches by players and coaches and the display of the Stanley Cup.

With eight Stanley Cups to his credit, Coach Scotty Bowman gave some hint that he might be back for one more season next year.

"I hope we'll all come back and do it again," he said. "I salute this team as the greatest team I've ever been connected with."

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