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BARNES SUSPENDED FOR SLASH

Pittsburgh Penguins center Stu Barnes was suspended, without pay, for four games by the NHL Friday as a result of a slash against Boston Bruins prized rookie Joe Thornton.

Barnes also was fined $1,000, the maximum allowed under the Collective Bargaining Agreement.

The incident occurred in the first period of a preseason game at Worcester, Mass., Tuesday. After Thornton went behind the Bruins net on a power play, Barnes swung his stick, hitting him on the left wrist between his glove and a pad designed to protect him from slashes.

No penalty was assessed on the play.

"Barnes' use of a two-handed, baseball grip slash in an attempt to check his opponent was careless and resulted in serious injury to Thornton," Brian Burke, the league's director of hockey operations, said.

Thornton, the No. 1 overall draft pick in June, is expected to be out from two to eight weeks.

Coyotes suspend Tkachuk

PHOENIX -- The Phoenix Coyotes suspended captain Keith Tkachuk after Tkachuk, the first American-born player to lead the NHL in goals, refused to play without a renegotiated contract.

General manager Bobby Smith said the breaking point came Thursday night when he asked Tkachuk about the final exhibition game tonight against Dallas. Tkachuk said he would skip the road trip as well as the regular-season opener Wednesday night against the Chicago Blackhawks.

Tkachuk is to be paid $2.8 million this season. Smith said Tkachuk will not be fined, but will not be paid during the holdout -- losing about $13,800 a day -- once the regular season begins.

Hirsch tops those on waiver list

TORONTO -- Plenty of familiar NHL names, including a 25-year-old goalie with international experience, will be available in the league's waiver draft Sunday.

Vancouver goaltender Corey Hirsch was among the 146 players left unprotected by the respective NHL clubs

At 25 with three years of NHL experience and a relatively low contract of $650,000, Hirsch -- a former Canadian Olympian -- appeared to be one of the most attractive players available.

Also among those available on Sunday: center Peter Zezel (New Jersey), goaltenders Pat Jablonski (Carolina) and Jim Waite (Chicago), right-wings Mick Vukota (New York Islanders) and Ulf Dahlen (Chicago), left-wings Ed Olczyk (Pittsburgh) and Mike Peluso (New York Rangers) and defensemen Alexander Godynyuk (St. Louis) and Matt Martin (Toronto).

Around the league

The general manager of the Ottawa Senators has told fans not to expect to see all-star forward Daniel Alfredsson in uniform this season. General manager Pierre Gauthier broke weeks of silence Friday night by announcing that the Senators are unable to come to contract terms with 1995-96 NHL rookie of the year Alfredsson (24 goals and 47 assists last year). "We've hit the point of no return," Gauthier said prior to the Senators' final preseason game against the Buffalo Sabres. "The guy's not going to play this year."

Center Mike Modano signed a one-year contract with the Dallas Stars, the team announced. The Stars would not disclose terms of the deal in a statement, but Dallas television station KTVT cited sources close to the team as saying the contract was for $3.5 million. Modano, 27, was a free agent after leading the Stars in goals (35), assists (48) and points (83) last season.

The average price to an NHL game this season rose 6.4 percent from last year to $40.78, according to a survey by Team Marketing Report. It marks the first time the average price for a ticket in a major sports league has eclipsed $40, said the survey conducted by the Chicago-based industry newsletter. The average ticket price in the National Football League this season is the second most expensive at $38.09, followed by $34.08 for a National Basketball Association game last season and $11.98 for Major League Baseball.

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