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AROUND & ABOUT

NHL thinking internationally

NEW YORK -- The National Hockey League may have North Americans face off against Europeans in the 1998 All-Star Game, a league official said.

NHL vice president of special events Frank Supovitz said the league is "looking into the possibility of having an international-type game, but nothing is official yet."

Currently, the midseason event, which will be held in Vancouver on Jan. 18, has players from Eastern Conference teams facing those from Western Conference squads.

Elsewhere:

The National Hockey League paid a private detective about $525 to investigate former New York Islanders owner John Spano, while other major sports spend thousands more on background checks, people close to the case told Bloomberg News. Spano was arrested Wednesday on federal bank and wire fraud charges, five months after the NHL approved his purchase of the Islanders. Meanwhile, the National Football League and Major League Baseball estimate that it costs them more than $30,000 and as much as $50,000 to adequately check the backgrounds of potential owners.

The St. Louis Blues acquired Darren Turcotte from the San Jose Sharks for forward Stephane Matteau, adding depth to the team's center position. Turcotte, 30, had 16 goals and 21 assists in 65 games with the Sharks last season. Matteau, 27, had 16 goals and 20 assists in 74 games with the Blues.

The Chicago Blackhawks traded veteran left wing Murray Craven to the San Jose Sharks for left wing Petri Varis and a 1998 sixth-round draft pick. Craven, 33, appeared in 75 games last year, scoring eight goals and 27 assists. He has 250 goals and 464 assists in 942 career games.

Martinez finally upends Seles

Conchita Martinez, who had never even won a set in 11 previous matches against Monica Seles, defeated her nemesis, 7-6 (7-5), 6-4, to reach the semifinals of the Bank of the West tournament in Stanford, Calif.

"It's been many, many years. I can't explain how happy I am," Martinez said. "First of all because I beat Monica and second of all because I could finally play my game. So many times that I played her I got tense and couldn't play my game. I was not scared at all today."

Martinez advanced to a semifinal match today against third-seeded Amanda Coetzer. The other quarterfinals were late Friday.

In Los Angeles, top-seeded Goran Ivanisevic of Croatia overpowered Byron Black of Zimbabwe, 7-6 (7-3), 6-2, to advance to the semifinals of the Infiniti Open.

Second-seeded Thomas Enqvist of Sweden, returning from a foot injury, also advanced, as did France's Guillaume Raoux, a 7-6 (7-5), 6-4 winner over third-seeded Mark Philippousis of Australia.

Warriors sign Foyle

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Adonal Foyle, the Golden State Warriors' first-round draft pick, signed a three-year contract with the NBA team. No financial terms of the contract were released. Foyle, a 6-foot-10 center from Colgate, entered the draft after his junior year.

Tour stage winner disqualified

DIJON, France -- Mario Traversoni was awarded the victory after another stage of the Tour de France ended in a controversial sprint and the disqualification of the top two riders.

It was the third time in 19 stages that an apparent winner had the victory taken from him.

Jan Ullrich of Germany stayed in the overall lead with only two days left with a 6-minute, 22-second lead over Richard Virenque.

In Friday's stage from Montebeliard to Dijon, Bart Voskamp of Netherlands and Jan Heppner of Germany interfered with each other in the final sprint and were disqualified. Voskamp went off line to force Heppner to the side. Then, just before the finish, Heppner then moved into Voskamp and nearly fell but was saved only by leaning on Voskamp.

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