Cut, cut: Scene is repeated in Providence
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Buy week for Canucks
Not all NHL business has gone dark. Billionaire John McCaw, looking to unload his Vancouver Canucks for years, last week took on a 50-percent partner, Francesco Aquilini, a British Columbia hotel and residential developer. The move was a surprise for two reasons: (1) the league remains in lockout mode and (2) earlier rumors had McCaw selling to two others with local interests, Tom Gaglardi and Ryan Beedie . . . The Tampa Bay front office had to ask special permission from the league to hold a small, private ceremony last week to dole out flashy Stanley Cup rings. With the likes of Martin St. Louis and Nikolai Khabibulin playing overseas, only 15 players showed up to pick up the rings, each containing 138 diamonds (1 for each of the 106 points in the regular-season standings and 2 for each of the 16 postseason wins). Ex-Bruins Dave Andreychuk and Tim Taylor were among the Lightning in the receiving line. Once the tiny fete was finished, the players went to a hotel across the street for a bite to eat, joined by no one among the coaching or management staff. Does a crowning achievement get any more hollow than that? . . . Count former NHL player Rob Valicevic (ex- of Nashville, Anaheim, Los Angeles, and Dallas) among those officially peeved enough with the current players to cross a picket line. "No qualms," he told the Toronto Star last week. "I'm going to do everything I can to take your job." The influx of NHL players in the minor leagues in North America has bumped Valicevic to the Flint Generals (United Hockey League) . . . A CNN report last week had ex-Bruin Rob Tallas considering joining what undoubtedly will be a massive suit against Merck, maker of prescription painkiller Vioxx. According to the report, Tallas said he took the drug for 2-2 1/2 years to dull the pain of torn shoulder muscles, and last year, following a game in Finland, he suffered a heart attack -- one he is now convinced was caused by the drug . . . Bruins captain Jumbo Joe Thornton and his longtime spoked-B winger, Glen Murray, have signed on to the Primus Worldstars tour that will barnstorm Europe for two weeks next month (Dec. 9-23). Former Bruin Sean O'Donnell, who signed in the offseason with the Desert Dogs, also is aboard the Eurobandwagon . . . Gorton reported that the Bruins have been pleased with the play of Andy Hilbert in Providence. "He's got 8-9 goals, so offensively he's doing pretty well -- he's still coming," said Gorton. "And he's pretty good in the defensive end, too, although we continue to tell him to finish his checks, be more consistent with his physical game. If he's going to enter the [NHL], he'll have to do it, because it's rare that someone makes it just on scoring ability." . . . Gorton said Jonathan Girard has been playing in four-on-four charity games in Quebec and continues to recover from the near-fatal car accident last summer that left him with a shattered pelvis and broken neck. "We haven't talked with him directly," said Gorton, "but from what we hear, he still doesn't consider himself 100 percent yet." . . . Boston defenseman Sergei Gonchar is also penciled into the Primus lineup, even though he continues to recover from a concussion suffered a couple of weeks ago in Russia when he got caught with his head down by budding star Alexander Ovechkin. "It was fairly serious," said Gorton. "Maybe not as serious as at first widely reported, but he'll need 2-4 weeks to recover. He spent at least a couple of days in the hospital. But everything we hear, he should be OK." Continued...