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THE INSIDE TRACK | The Hot Corner

A consumer's guide to the best and worst of sports media and merchandise. Ground rules: If it can be read, played, heard, observed, worn, viewed, dialed or downloaded, it's in play here.

October 08, 1998|HELENE ELLIOTT

What: "Hockey Scouting Report, 1998-99" by Sherry Ross;

Greystone Books

Price: $12.95

This is a must-read for fans who want to go beyond the statistics and get hockey insiders' views of players. It's found in the offices of most NHL teams, which reflects the esteem in which it is justifiably held.

Ross, a longtime hockey writer and columnist who writes for the New York Daily News, compiled the book with the help of general managers, coaches and scouts. It lists basic information on the top players on each team and goes into depth with sections on each player's finesse game, physical game, intangibles and a projection for his performance. There's also a diagram on each page that shows the area on the ice in which that player is most effective, an innovative and useful feature.

The comments are insightful, interesting, concise and straightforward. Colorado's Peter Forsberg "would be less predictable if he shot more often. He could score 50 goals if he wanted to." The word on Detroit's Sergei Fedorov is that he "can be 'on' one night, 'off' the next. He had a fabulous playoffs, but we anticipate an unspectacular 70-point season."

The book is equally frank about Philadelphia's Eric Lindros. Under intangibles, the report is, "Lindros knows he can make things happen, wants to make things happen, but doesn't always know how to make the right things happen. . . . He'll be considered a big failure again if the Flyers don't win the Cup."

Early publication deadlines meant some trades and signings are not up to date and some players are listed with their previous teams, but that's really quibbling. This is an essential reference for all fans, serious or casual. If you want lines of statistics, buy an NHL Guide and Record Book. For the real story, buy this one.

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