European Stars And Stripes Newspaper Archives Dec 3 1999, Page 41

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European Stars and Stripes (Newspaper) - December 3, 1999, Darmstadt, HessePage 6 Star and s f r i p s t i m e o u t Friday decembers 1999 half a Bure is better than none As far As panthers Are concerned by Larry Wigge the sporting news a s in the lineup one night,.-, and out the next with an injury. You see that Chihua Hua Selling Chalupa on television More often. So How Pavel Bure s critics want to know can the panthers justify paying this fancy skating Winger close to $50million Over six years easy. You Don t calculate Bure s value to South Florida on a per game basis. Even when he s not in the lineup there s an Aura of Pavel mania in the panthers locker room. You can feel it. He works just As hard at practice As he does in the games Lin mate Rob Nieder Mayer says. You constantly judge your improvement to his level of play. And even when he s not around you find yourself doing those same things to get better. It s sort of like just being in the building with Michael Jor Dan. There s just a special sort of feeling in the and in today s watered Down nil thanks to expansion on player can take a team to a differ ent level. The league is so close that by acquiring one player or one asset you can step ahead of two or three teams blues general manager Larry Pleau says. It almost like climbing the Steps two Steps at a so when you add a two time 60-goal scorer like Bure then Trade for goaltender Trevor Kidd defens Eman Todd Simpson and sign defens Eman Lance Pitlick and right Winger Ray Sheppard As free agents you can see Why the panthers Are off to a 13-2 Start. That does t even count the improvement of kids like Jaro slav Spacek Viktor Kozlov Radek Dvorak and Ole Kvasha panthers coach Terry Murray says. Pavel has made an impression on every player honour last season the team was 4 in games Bure started and finished. The panthers averaged 3.18 goals per game with him in the lineup and Only 2.46 without presence of Pavel Bure has made the rest of this lineup be Lievers in the Power of positive thinking. On a scale of 1 to 10, How would Murray rate his team s performances this season As compared to last year s initial spurt with Bure in the lineup on most nights we re a 5 or a 6," Murray answers quickly an enthusiastically. And on some nights we re up to a 7 or 8." giving Kidd a Chance to be Theno. 1 goalie has added a flair in the nets the panthers Haven t had since John Vanbiesbrouc s 1995-96 season when he took the team to the Stanley cup finals. Kidd gives Florida a Chance to win every night. Simpson a great plus minus player in Calgary last season adds a nastiness on defense. Pitlick brings a steadiness on defense and in moving the puck. And Sheppard is a former 50-goal scorer who at 33 last season still had 25 goals and 33 assists for Carolina. The moves made by pan thers general manager Bryan Murray along with his philosophy of giving youngsters the Opportunity for development Are provid ing a blueprint general managers should follow into the new millennium. It All started with the two month investment in time before the panthers were Able to acquire Bure from the canucks last january. When my owner comes to me and asks if we should be making that kind of a commitment and i answer yes then i d better be sure we Are getting the kind of product that is Worth almost $50 million Murray says. I be been in this game a Long t the associated press file photo Pavel Bure has been in and out of the Florida panthers lineup since he was acquired last year at mid season. His coach and teammates think he s made the panthers a better team whether he s on the ice or not. Time and this is the first time be recommended spending that kind of Money on one player. That s a lot of Money and it had better be opponents just nod in respect for the Talent and presence Bure brings to the panthers. You can see the Confidence on their faces when Pavel is around penguins coach Kevin Constantine says. Give him an Inch and hell find an opening and either score the Winner or set it not Only have the players responded to having Pavel Bure around but when he s on the ice every pair of eyes is watching him. When he has the puck it brings people out of their seats and he brings us to our feet on the Bench Whitney says. There Aren t Many players i hockey who can do after a flying Start flyers Rookie taking his lumps by Tim Panaccio the Philadelphia inquirer fort Lauderdale Fla. Simon Gagne s goal against Tampa Bay almost two weeks ago was his first in a month but the drought did t bother him As he Learned about the Rigours of life in the nil. This is not juniors the 19-year-old Rookie said. The game is a lot different. When i started the season i was a Little bit surprised to score a few goals so quickly. Now i am having a Tough time to score or even get a Point. That is part of the game. Sometimes the game comes easy sometimes Tough. But if things go Well and the team wins then things Are not very it s that big picture attitude that management likes in Gagne and Why he is still in a flyers uniform and not Back in Quebe with his Junior club Gagne did t get a Point in his first three games had two goals at Washington went a few More games without doing much and then had Back to Back goals at Home against Buffalo and the new York rangers in mid octo Ber. Then he hit a Wall. He went 13 games without goal and eight without a Point. I Don t know what happened he said just before he broke his scoreless Streak. Lately i have had a couple of chances. I need just one goal Bash and get myself on track i would like to spend this trip and do after the game he said that although the goal was Good for me it was very bad that we lost the we had so Many chances but the goaltender made the Good saves he said referring to Zac Bierk. Gagne tipped Home Mark Recchi s drive from the left Point on a flyers Power play in the third period. I Felt if i went right to the net it would open up for me Gagne said. Coach Roger Neilson conceded that Gagne s play had levelled off but said that always happens to a Young kid especially on who s 19," he said the flyers had no plans to return him to the Junior ranks in Canada where he dominated last season because he is not yet 20, he can t be sent to the of the reasons Gagne s play has bottomed out is that heist t getting As Many shifts with Recchi As he did at the beginning of the season. The preseason chemistry the two had was startling Recchi compared Gagne to a forme Pittsburgh Lin mate John faster version of Cullen Recchi with the oct. 17 game against Buffalo Neilso began to use Recchi at right win we Rich was doubt the associated press file photo Simon Gagne the flyers speedy 19-year-old, still has a lot to learn about mane vering through cramped quarters on an nil rink. Joined by John Leclair because Mikael Renberg did t have a goal in seven fit so nicely he now takes regular shifts with Recchi doubling up on Al Andersson who has just on goal so far this season. With two of the three people on the line struggling it s no wonder Gagne s ice time has dwindled from 15 to 16 minutes that line and others Gagne has a game in october to 10 in no gotten fewer shifts. Vember. Johnny and Eric so it is pretty Tough for my line Gagne said. It is Tough to stay focused when you re on the ice without the Guys you Are used to playing with every time. But i have to play my game. Defensively i do my Job and take my chances has to adjust to the hard checking in the nil and to learn How to find open space around the net when he does t have the puck. A lean foot, 175-Pounder,Gagne still needs to gain upper body strength to fend off people around the net and work himself out of being tied up along the boards flyers general manager Bob Clarke Gagne s tremendous Speed and agility he is expected to figure out eventually How to Combine his natural Talent for moving quickly in tight spaces to avoid checks and find open skills have persuaded Neilson to keep Gagne on the first unit Power play with Lin Dros Leclair Recchi and Eric Desjarduis. Certainly he plays the Power play and plays pretty regularly Neilson said there Are time when we have More penalties than Power plays and he s no tout there and we want Recchi up there with Andros when Pecan which makes him the Odd Man s hard for him but he usually paired la a

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