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Big names fail to ace special skill
Star News Services
Published: Wednesday, October 18, 2006

Ottawa Senators head coach Bryan Murray raised some eyebrows on the weekend when he sat his three star forwards during a shootout.

With Daniel Alfredsson, Dany Heatley and Jason Spezza on the bench Saturday at Montreal, Antoine Vermette and Mike Fisher scored in the shootout to give Ottawa the win. Checker Dean McAmmond was also used but missed. Confused? Don't be.

"It's a different skill," Dallas winger Jussi Jokinen said. "You don't have to be a 40- or 50-goal scorer to be good at shootouts."

The 23-year-old Finn is the NHL's shootout king.

Going into Tuesday's game in San Jose, Jokinen had 11 shootout goals in 14 attempts since the new format was added last season -- just seven short of his 18 career regulation-time goals.

While some unheralded players like Jokinen have excelled at the shootout, many big-time stars have been terrible.

Other teams may follow suit with their own specialists. The Minnesota Wild have used Mikko Koivu twice in their two shootout wins this season and he's delivered with two goals. He's now 6-for-8 overall going back to last season.

Koivu isn't alone among star players who haven't quite figured out the shootout. Going into games Tuesday, future Hall of Famer Joe Sakic was 0-for-7, Ilya Kovalchuk 1-for-11, Jarome Iginla 1-for-9, Jonathan Cheechoo 1-for-6, Mark Recchi 0-for-4, Martin St. Louis 0-for-3 and Spezza 0-for-2.

Morrow aims for Cup Brenden Morrow, a guy from small-town Sask-atchewan who would play hockey for next to nothing, has the richest sports contract in the province's history.

Morrow, a 27-year-old native of Carlyle, in southeastern Saskatchewan, recently inked a $24.6-million, six-year extension with the NHL's Dallas Stars.

He is also the newly minted captain of the Stars, taking the C from Mike Modano, a former Prince Albert Raider.

"My first concern was to win a Stanley Cup, and I felt Dallas was a good option," Morrow said. "We've got a goaltender (Marty Turco) that gives us a chance to win every night. The core is set here with (Jere) Lehtinen, Modano and (Sergei) Zubov."

Linden's heavy heart Trevor Linden had never heard the three harshest words in hockey -- you're not playing -- until Tuesday when the 18-year NHL veteran was told for the first time in his productive career he was a healthy scratch.

The Vancouver Canucks' winger, who's played 1,249 games, just out of the top 50 in league history, didn't have his No. 16 jersey hanging in his stall for Tuesday night's game against the Edmonton Oilers. He gamely plowed through an optional skate with four teammates in the morning. His legs were fine, but his heart was a little heavy.

"This is a first," admitted the 36-year-old, who has a goal and an assist in his first six games.

Malkin compared to Lemieux Mark Recchi dares to mention Evgeni Malkin in the same sentence as the one player in Pittsburgh Penguins history to whom almost no one is ever compared.

Yes, No. 66.

Malkin won't play his first shift, take his first shot, make his first pass until the Penguins face the New Jersey Devils today. That didn't prevent Recchi from bringing up the same name, Mario Lemieux, when they were asked how good the 20-year-old Russian centre is.

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