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Mogilny's study of Soviet history valuable for Sabres // Fetisov played good solider but he's still not in the NHL

All talk and no action appears to have worked against the Soviet Sports Authority in the Alexander Mogilny case.

Mogilny told The Buffalo News last week he might not have done something as disrupting as defecting had the Soviets shown any willingness to let star players perform in the National Hockey League.

"If I had known that after a certain number of years (playing in the Soviet Union) I could come over here, maybe I wouldn't have done what I did," he said through an interpreter. "But I knew there was no chance and I had to make my decision."

Mogilny had watched with interest the treatment given Soviet stars such as Vyacheslav Fetisov, Sergei Makarov, Vladimir Krutov and others.

He especially was interested in the actions of Fetisov, the defenseman many thought would be the first star player to come to the NHL. Fetisov, a New Jersey draftee, was pursued actively by the Devils throughout last season's Soviet Red Army team tour. He even agitated for his release, claiming in Buffalo he would resign from the team if not allowed to play in the NHL.

That Fetisov went back to the Soviet Union, performed the good soldier's role and still wasn't allowed out obviously had an impact on Mogilny.

There has been no word on Mogilny's contract status with the Sabres or even its terms. However, the thinking among some agents at the Stanley Cup finals is they would have asked for a contract appropriate for a player taken first overall, somewhere in the range of $600,000 over four years.

Mogilny’s story one of determination, skill

Give Perreault points

One might have doubts about Gilbert Perreault's coaching ability at the NHL level, but one certainly must give him points for shrewdness.

Perreault knows he is wanted by Buffalo for its upcoming 20th anniversary season -- either as a coach or in some other official capacity.

His resigning as coach of the Victoriaville Tigres may be for the vague reasons of frustration he gave last week, but it also increased the tension in what seems to be shaping up as a high-stakes chess match.

By guiding the Tigres to the Quebec Major Junior League playoff finals, Perreault got rid of the "no experience" tag.

His resignation boosts the ante, as he now will be viewed not as a coach under contract but one who is available. That would seem to put more pressure on the Sabres. Perreault can assume the role of wounded party, sitting at home in tiny Victoriaville while the franchise he helped create tries to host a party year without him.

Perreault may be a quiet man, but no one should underestimate his intelligence.

Dramatic championship win

The Swift Current Broncos won the Memorial Cup (Canada's junior championship), defeating the Saskatoon Blades.

It was a dramatic triumph for the Broncos, who only two seasons ago were devastated by the deaths of four players in a bus accident while the team was en route to Regina. One of those players was former Sabres captain Lindy Ruff's brother, Brent.

Swift Current coach Graham James and six members of the current team were on that bus. James said he thought of the tragedy the moment Tim Tisdale scored the series-deciding goal in overtime.

"Some of the guys whispered to me about it," James told a Toronto writer. "With everyone cheering, it was hard to control my emotions. It's a great tribute to the guys. We can let them rest in peace."

O'Neill in tough spot 

A decision is expected Monday regarding Philadelphia goaltender Ron Hextall's attack on Montreal Canadiens defenseman Chris Chelios at the end of the Wales Conference finals and, once again, league Vice President Brian O'Neill is in a tough spot.

Hextall has been in this position before -- he got eight games for a stick attack on Kent Nilsson. Traditionally, that indicates he's going to be made an example of this time.

The problem is that Hextall was retaliating for Chelios' hit on Flyers forward Brian Propp earlier in the series.

Chelios took Propp into the glass with a hard check and an elbow. Propp suffered cuts on his skull and additional injuries when his head hit the ice.

There was no penalty to Chelios, Propp was lost for the remainder of the series and Chelios proved to be a dominant force for Montreal.

O'Neill has said Chelios should have received at least a major penalty and likely a game misconduct.

To punish Hextall severely at the start of next season while Chelios goes unchallenged is a vexing problem. Still, the thinking is Hextall will get even more than the eight-game suspension he got last time.

 Swedes recalling stars

The Sabres have maintained national origins never entered their thinking, but the deal that sent defenseman Calle Johansson to Washington for goaltender Clint Malarchuk appears to be a shrewd one and not just in terms of personnel.

There is a movement afoot by the Swedish Ice Hockey Federation to bring back many of its NHL stars.

Washington's Bengt Gustafsson and Edmonton Oilers defenseman Tomas Jonsson already have announced they are returning to their homeland and it's likely Calgary's Hakkan Loob will make the same announcement once the playoffs are completed.

One knowledgeable person who has ties to Sweden says Loob, the first Swedish player to score 50 goals in an NHL season, already is signed to return home and the push is on to enlist others, including Johansson.

Ironically, the Swedes are using some of the money NHL clubs contributed for the release of Swedish players. Member clubs have pooled those funds, a portion said to be available to subsidize contracts.

In a related matter, look for the Sabres to send a minor leaguer, possibly defenseman Don McSween, to Tyringe, a Division I South team in Sweden. Reportedly, Buffalo has promised the Federation a player.

Lemieux angers mates

The Canadiens are saying winger Claude Lemieux should not be made a scapegoat in the French-English arguments that popped up in the Montreal media this week.

Privately, however, it's being whispered that few are really upset Lemieux has been taken out of the lineup. His antics are said to have upset many on the team who disapprove of his faking injuries on the ice and his ceaseless attempts to draw injury-related penalties.

In the Montreal-Philadelphia series, Lemieux bumped Flyers goaltender Ken Wregget while the teams were skating in the pregame warm-up.

Lemieux crossed the red line -- a pregame no-no -- to bump Wregget accidently. Both went down, but none of the players went to aid Lemieux.

The scene was repeated Wednesday night in Calgary when Lemieux went down and Montreal coach Pat Burns left him there. Only one player went to Lemieux's aid and, after apparently deciding Lemieux wasn't hurt, skated away.

The Canadiens are said to be embarrassed by Lemieux's antics. In the 1986 finals, he gained international fame by biting the finger of Calgary captain Jim Peplinski during a post-game brawl that netted both teams $42,000 in fines.

Ooh, aah . . .

Sabres center Christian Ruuttu still is in the midst of extensive rehabilitation for his injured left shoulder, but he'll put it to good use next month.

Ruuttu is taking six past and present Sabres to his native Finland for a charity golf tournament, sponsored by FinnAir and designed to help promote golf in that country.

Golf is Finland's fastest-growing sport, but the program has yet to develop a player of international consequence.

Mike Ramsey, Lindy Ruff, Scott Arniel, Dave Andreychuk, Phil Housley and Clark Gillies are all scheduled to take part in the week-long event.

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