76ers Brown, Iverson fined $7,500 each
The fines were for comments made about referee Derrick Stafford after a loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.
The fines were handed down by NBA senior vice president of basketball operations Stu Jackson, who has had a busy second year as the NBA's unofficial policeman.
Following Sunday's 106-92 setback, Brown and Iverson both made comments about Stafford, who handed out two of the three technical fouls the 76ers received at the 6:58 mark of the third quarter.
Stafford gave a technical to Iverson, who argued an out-of-bounds call. Brown was given a technical by Joe Forte, and forward Tyrone Hill was given a technical by Stafford.
"One of the officials has it personal for some of our players and if that wasn't the greatest forum to see that, nothing is," Brown said. "He's been personal with us for a long, long time."
Brown did not name Stafford, but said he was not upset with Forte.
"I think that referee Derrick has a vendetta against us and it was evident tonight," Iverson said. "We weren't able to talk to him at all. We asked about things, he gave us smart comments and pretty much 'joked' us."
Goodrich indicted in hit-and-run deaths
DALLAS, March 11 (UPI) -- Former Dallas Cowboys cornerback Dwayne Goodrich was indicted Tuesday in connection with a hit-and-run accident.
The accident killed two good Samaritans trying to pull an injured motorist from a burning car.
A Dallas County grand jury indicted Goodrich on two charges of manslaughter, three charges of failure to render aid and one of aggravated assault with a deadly weapon. He remained free on $65,000 bond and his trial was tentatively scheduled June 9.
A manslaughter conviction carries a penalty of two to 10 years in prison and a conviction on the failure to render aid charge up to five years in prison.
Demont Matthews, 23, and Joseph Wood, 21, were fatally injured Jan. 14 on a north Dallas freeway. A third Samaritan was hit but he survived with a broken leg. The burned driver also recovered.
Witnesses said a BMW traveling in excess of 100 mph drove between the burning car parked along the side of the road and a concrete barrier. Police investigators found no sign of skid marks that would indicate the driver made an attempt to stop.
Goodrich, who turned himself into police, said he thought he had struck some debris along the roadway, according to his lawyer. Police investigators have since found hair and tissue on the windshield of the car involved in the accident.
Goodrich's attorney said his client was remorseful and ready to accept responsibility when he learned what had really happened.
White Sox steroid testing controversy
TUCSON, Ariz., March 11 (UPI) -- The Chicago White Sox's first day of steroid testing reportedly has resulted in controversy.
A Chicago radio station reported that Tuesday's testing session resulted in a split between teammates, a rift that required intervention from Players Association general counsel Gene Orza.
The dispute apparently stemmed from 16 members of the team refusing to submit to trial testing. Under rules of the recently signed collective bargaining agreement, failure to take a test is equivalent to failing one.
According to the report, the block of players were hoping to force mandatory testing. Under terms of the new labor deal, if more than 5 percent of the players fail the test, screening will become mandatory.
But he decision to bypass testing did not sit well with some members of the White Sox, who were vocal in their opposition to the strategy. Many of the players opposed to the block of 16 cited the number of young players who followed veterans in eschewing testing.
"If you are a player who wants to stand for that, fine, but don't implicate young players," White Sox catcher Sandy Alomar said. "They said some of the veterans asked them not to do it. If you are a veteran guy and you don't want to do it, that is fine. The young guys do what they are told. They want to support the veteran guys."
After debate amongst the White Sox, player representative Kelly Wunsch contacted Orza, who convinced the players to submit to testing.
Orza refused to comment on the situation, citing the program's confidental nature, but White Sox General Manager Kenny Williams applauded his team's thought process.
"Although the players and their union do their own business, I admire our players greatly for taking a stand," Williams said.
Under the new CBA, all players on the 40-man roster will be tested in two parts, and up to 240 players can be tested a second time.
Giants sign free agent FB Jim Finn
EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J., March 11 (UPI) -- Fullback Jim Finn fulfilling a dream to play for his hometown team, signed with the New York Giants on Tuesday.
Finn, who spent the last three seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, played at Bergen Catholic High School and his family resides in Fair Lawn, N.J., both a short distance from Giants Stadium.
"Growing up I heard so much about the Giants and Jets and it was a pedestal I dreamed of being on," Finn said. "To get a chance to play in front of the hometown crowd in Giants Stadium, where I've been going to watch games since 1985, is a dream come true. My family and friends will be able to see me on a regular basis."
Finn, 26, has served primarily as a blocking fullback and will fill that role with the Giants.
Last season, the 242-pound Finn played in 12 games, including two starts, and had just five carries for eight yards and six catches for 31 yards.
Coles gets "Offer sheet" from Washington
ASHBURN, Va., March 11 (UPI) -- The Washington Redskins' raid of the New York Jets continued Tuesday when wide receiver Laveranues Coles said he had agreed to an offer.
Coles, a restricted free agent, visited Redskins offices for the second straight day on Tuesday and said he has come to terms on an offer sheet, although the Redskins did not make an official announcement.
Various published reports say Coles has agreed to a seven-year, $35 million offer sheet that includes a $13 million signing bonus.
If Washington officially tenders an offer sheet to Coles, the Jets will have seven days to match the offer. If New York does not match, the Redskins would keep Coles and give the Jets their 2003 first-round draft pick, which is 13th overall.
The Jets have until Thursday to decide whether to match the Redskins' five-year, $8 million offer sheet to Jets kick returner Chad Morton. The Redskins already have signed starting guard Randy Thomas and placekicker John Hall away from the Jets as free agents.
The Jets reportedly offered Coles a six-year, $24 million deal that included a $6 million signing bonus, far less than the Redskins' offer.
"They already made the statement to me that they don't pay that kind of money," Coles told Newsday.
The 5-11 Coles had a breakout season in 2002, catching 89 passes for 1,264 yards and five touchdowns. He became the standout receiver in an offense that also featured wide receivers Santana Moss and Wayne Chrebet.
In his first two seasons in the league Coles played in 29 games and started 19. He totaled 81 catches those two seasons for 1,238 yards with eight touchdowns.
Coles, who played collegiately at Florida State, is a speed receiver with good hands. He grew up in Jacksonville, Fla., and went to the rival high school of current Redskins wide receiver Rod Gardner.
Big new contract for Pujols
JUPITER, Fla., March 11 (UPI) -- Albert Pujols of St. Louis has agreed to terms on a one-year contract that will make him the highest-paid third-year player in major league history.
While financial terms were not disclosed, Cardinals General Manager Walt Jocketty said the salary is greater than the $800,000 that New York Yankees second baseman Alfonso Soriano will be paid this season.
"This signing is an indication of what we think of Albert, not only as a player, but also as one of our community leaders," Jocketty said. "He stands among today's top players and his two-year totals are unmatched in the history of the game."
Pujols was runner-up to San Francisco slugger Barry Bonds last year in voting for the National League MVP award. He hit .314 with 34 home runs, 40 doubles, 127 RBI, and 118 runs scored in 157 games.
The 23-year-old native of the Dominican Republic became the first player in major league history to hit .300 with at least 30 homers and 100 RBI in each of his first two seasons.
Pujols won NL Rookie of the Year honors in 2001 after batting .329 with 37 homers, 47 doubles, 130 RBI, and 112 runs.
Quinn released by Royals
SURPRISE, Ariz., March 11 (UPI) -- Mark Quinn, whose once-promising career has been derailed by injuries, was released Tuesday by the Kansas City Royals.
The 28-year-old outfielder has a career .282 batting average, but has been unable to stay healthy the last two seasons.
After missing the start of the 2002 campaign with a cracked rib, suffered while Kung Fu fighting with his brother, Quinn played in just 23 games before going down with a hamstring injury.
Between the two injuries, he hit .237 with two homers and 11 RBI in 23 games. He never returned from the hamstring injury, and went down this spring with the same ailment.
When healthy, Quinn is a solid offensive player, hitting 45 homers and driving in 167 runs in 293 career games.
Quinn is the all-time home run leader among players whose last name begins with the letter Q, and is just the fourth player ever to hit two homers in his major league debut.
Packers dump Wayne
GREEN BAY, Wis., March 11 (UPI) -- The Green Bay Packers have released starting weakside linebacker Nate Wayne, their leading tackler last season, after failing to restructure his contract.
Wayne, 28, had a career-high 132 tackles in 2002, along with three interceptions and 2 1/2 sacks.
"The decision to release Nate Wayne was a business decision," said Packers Coach-General Manager Mike Sherman. "We tried to work out a situation that would work for both parties, but were unable to come to agreeable terms. He has been a contributor to our success over the past three years and he will be missed by the team."
Wayne told the paper he saw the handwriting on the wall, but still was stunned.
"It's tough after you've gone through a lot and you think you've done a lot for the team-helping the team to 12-4 records (the last two seasons) and playing hurt last year," Wayne told the Green Bay News-Chronicle. "How many guys do that?"
After being acquired by Green Bay from Denver in 2000, Wayne started 40 games in three seasons with the Packers.
Green Bay will likely use Torrance Marshall, a backup for the last two seasons, at weakside linebacker.
Long-term deal for Clifford Robinson
AUBURN HILLS, Mich., March 11 (UPI) -- The Detroit Pistons Tuesday rewarded veteran big man Clifford Robinson with a contract extension through the 2004-05 season.
Financial terms were not disclosed.
The 14-year veteran is in his second season with the Pistons, and is averaging 12.5 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 3.2 assists per contest in 34.6 minutes.
"After weighing my options, I felt like this was the place where I would like to finish my career," said Robinson, 36. "I'm happy with the team and the players here in Detroit and I look forward to being a part of the continued success of the franchise."
The Pistons are in first place in the Central Division with a 39-23 record.
"Clifford's veteran leadership both on and off the court has been pivotal to the resurgence of our organization," said Pistons President Joe Dumars. "Looking ahead towards the playoffs this season and beyond, Clifford Robinson's steady play will be a key to our success."
The 6-10 Robinson, an All-Star in 1994, has averaged 15.9 points, 4.9 rebounds, 2.3 assists, and 32.0 minutes in 1,078 games with Portland, Phoenix, and Detroit. He was named NBA Sixth Man of the Year in 1993.
More NCAA slots filled
SAN DIEGO, March 11 (UPI) -- San Diego used a surprising 72-63 victory Monday night to prevent Gonzaga from earning an automatic bid to the NCAA Tournament.
Seeking a fifth straight West Coast Conference tournament title, the Bulldogs (23-8) built an early 12-point lead, but San Diego (18-11), playing on its home court, rallied for the third NCAA berth in school history and the first since 1987.
"If you told me four years ago I'd be in this position, I'd tell you you were nuts," said San Diego guard Matt Delzell. "This is the ultimate."
Tournament MVP Jason Keep scored 18 points before fouling out in the final minute. His dunk with 8 1/2 minutes remaining put the Toreros ahead for good at 55-53.
Ronny Turiaf led all scorers with 26 points and pulled down 12 rebounds for Gonzaga, which likely still will receive an at-large bid to the field of 65.
The same cannot be said for Fairfield (19-11), which was beaten by top-seeded Manhattan, 69-54, in the championship game of the Metro Atlantic Athletic Conference tournament in Trenton, N.J.
Luis Flores played all 40 minutes, scored 22 points on 7-of-12 shooting and grabbed 10 rebounds for Manhattan (23-6), which will make its first trip to the NCAA Tournament in eight years.
The Jaspers, coming off an 82-81 double-overtime triumph over Niagara in Sunday's semifinals, used a 15-0 run to build an early 20-7 advantage. The lead never dropped below nine points over the final 10 minutes.
No. 17 Creighton clinched a fifth straight trip to the NCAA Tournament with its school-record 29th win in an 80-56 rout of Southern Illinois in the championship game of the Missouri Valley Conference tournament at St. Louis.
The Bluejays (29-4) held Southern Illinois to 16 percent shooting while crafting a commanding 42-16 halftime lead.
Larry House scored 20 points and tournament MVP Kyle Korver added 12 for Creighton, which avenged an 80-72 road loss on March 1.
The final was a stark contrast for both teams.
The Bluejays won their first two games in the tournament by a single point, while the Salukis (24-6) had a seven-game winning streak snapped.
"Hopefully, this one game won't change the mind of the Selection Committee and we'll be in good shape come Sunday afternoon," said Southern Illinois Coach Bruce Weber. "We'll go home, take a couple days off, come back Friday and get ready for our next tournament game."
North Carolina-Wilmington secured Monday's other NCAA bid with a 70-62 triumph over Drexel in the final of the Colonial Athletic Association tournament.
Brett Blizzard drilled three key three-pointers and scored 13 of his 20 points in the second half for the Seahawks (24-6), who will be making their second straight trip to the NCAA Tournament and third in four years. Last year, they stunned Southern California in the opening round before losing to eventual runner-up Indiana.
Drexel (19-11) sliced a 22-point deficit to 53-48 before Blizzard connected on back-to-back three-pointers.
Nine schools have locked up NCAA Tournament berths.
Troy State, North Carolina-Asheville, Austin Peay, and East Tennessee State won their conference tournaments Saturday. Pennsylvania captured the regular-season title in the Ivy League, which does not have a tournament.
Three more bids are up for grabs Tuesday.
Wisconsin-Milwaukee battles Butler in the championship game of the Horizon League Tournament; Missouri-Kansas City faces Valparaiso in the final of the Mid-Continent Conference Tournament; and Western Kentucky plays Middle Tennessee State for the Sun Belt Conference crown.
Montgomery gets reprimand, probation
WALNUT CREEK, Calif., March 11 (UPI) -- Stanford Coach Mike Montgomery has been suspended for the Pac-10 Conference opener next Jan. 2 against Washington State.
The suspension is punishment for making contact with an official in a Feb. 27 game against Arizona State.
Montgomery, who will be allowed to coach throughout the postseason, was also placed on probation by the Pac-10 for the 2003-04 season.
"Any physical contact with an official by a coach is absolutely wrong and strictly forbidden," said Pac-10 Commissioner Tom Hansen. "The conference must respond to any act by a coach which in any way might even be considered as an attempt to intimidate an official."
Montgomery grabbed an official's arm after a foul was called in the first half of the Cardinal's game against the Sun Devils. He was called for a technical foul, but not ejected from the game.
"The University and the Athletic Department are supportive of Coach Montgomery, but will accept the decision by the Pac-10 Commissioner and will move forward," said Stanford interim athletic director Debi Gore-Mann.
"The contact was inadvertent and there was no attempt to intimidate or threaten," Montgomery said. "My intention was simply to engage the official in a discussion of the play, and the subsequent flurry. It was an error on my part and I apologize."
On Monday, Montgomery was named Pac-10 Co-coach of the Year along with Lute Olson of top-ranked Arizona.
Stanford, which is ranked 14th, faces Southern California in the first round of the Pac-10 Tournament on Thursday at Los Angeles.
Rangers gets Carter from Edmonton
NEW YORK, March 11 (UPI) -- The New York Rangers pulled off another deal before Tuesday's trade deadline, acquiring right wing Anson Carter from the Edmonton Oilers.
The Rangers landed Edmonton's top scorer and rookie defenseman, Ales Pisa, for right wing Radek Dvorak and veteran defenseman Cory Cross, a move that adds more money to the NHL's highest payroll.
The trade came a day after the Rangers suffered a disheartening 2-1 home loss to Florida that kept them four points behind the New York Islanders for the final Eastern Conference playoff berth.
While it was the first deal of the day for the usually active Rangers, it was one of two for Edmonton, which sent defenseman Janne Niinimaa to the Islanders for wingers Brad Isbister and Raffi Torres. The Oilers are eighth in the West.
With just 11 games left in the regular season, the Rangers turned to the cash-strapped Oilers, who parted with their leading scorer. The 6-1, 200-pounder has 25 goals, including 10 on the power play, and 30 assists in 68 games.
Carter has 142 goals, 163 assists, and 144 penalty minutes in 441 NHL games, also playing with Washington and Boston. He already has been involved in deals involving Jason Allison, Jim Carey, Rick Tocchet, Bill Ranford, and Bill Guerin.
This season, Carter makes $2.4 million, which ranked fourth on the Oilers, but is only 14th on the Rangers. He becomes a restricted free agent on July 1.
The speedy Dvorak, who has had major knee problems over the past two years, has just six goals and 21 assists in 63 games. He is being paid $1.575 million in 2002-03, and is signed through next year.
Pisa, 26, had a goal and three assists in 48 games with the Oilers. He was third on the team and first among NHL rookies with a plus-11 rating.
Cross, signed midway through the season by the Rangers, was a surprisingly stable member of the defense corps, recording four assists and a team-best plus-13 rating in 26 games.
Ottawa gets Smolinski from Kings
The trade came shortly before the 3 p.m. Eastern time trade deadline as the Senators continued to add players to their roster.
Smolinski is a five-time 20-goal scorer who goes from a team with an outside shot at a playoff spot to the team with the league's top point total. He is the third player obtained by the Senators in the last two weeks, joining former Buffalo players Vaclav Varada and Rob Ray.
Despite missing 11 games because of an eye laceration, Smolinski was third on the Kings in scoring with 18 goals and 20 assists. He is sixth in the NHL with eight game-winning goals.
Gleason, 20, was the 23rd overall pick in the 2001 draft, but never signed with the Senators. He has seven goals and 29 assists in 42 games with Windsor of the Ontario Hockey League, and twice played for the United States at the World Junior Championships.
Panthers send Valeri Bure to Blues
SUNRISE, Fla., March 11 (UPI) -- The Florida Panthers Tuesday dealt underachieving right wing Valeri Bure to the St. Louis Blues for defenseman Mike Van Ryn before Tuesday's NHL trade deadline.
They also signed veteran free agent defenseman Igor Kravchuk.
Bure appeared in the 2000 All-Star Game, but has struggled since. Limited to 31 games last season by a pair of knee surgeries, he totaled just eight goals and 10 assists.
This season, the 28-year-old Russian again has been bothered by knee injuries and has five goals and 21 assists in 46 contests.
Van Ryn, 23, was a 1998 first-round draft pick of the New Jersey Devils who left college to play major junior hockey and later signed with the Blues. He had three assists in 20 games with St. Louis, but spent most of this season in the American Hockey League with Worcester, totaling two goals and nine assists in 33 games.
"He is a first-round draft pick and a great skater with a huge upside," said Panthers General Manager Rick Dudley. "He is another young defenseman with an inordinate amount of talent. Giving up Valeri was tough because he is such a good man. I personally like him a lot, but this was ultimately in the best interest of the hockey club."
St. Louis also obtained a conditional 2004 draft pick.
Kravchuk, 36, has not played this season after collecting four goals and 22 assists in 78 games with the Calgary Flames in 2001-02. The 11-year NHL veteran also represented Russia at the Salt Lake City Olympics.
"We're not worried about Igor being in shape," Dudley said. "Igor is always in shape. Igor is a veteran defenseman with both leadership qualities and a great deal of skill."
In Florida, Kravchuk will be reunited with Mike Keenan, who coached him for parts of two seasons with St. Louis.
Coyotes get Hrdina from Penguins
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz., March 11 (UPI) -- The Phoenix Coyotes Tuesday sent three prospects to the Pittsburgh Penguins for center Jan Hrdina and defenseman Francois Leroux.
The Coyotes remained one of the most active teams heading into Tuesday's NHL trade deadline.
Left wings Guillaume Lefebvre and Ramzi Abid and defenseman Dan Focht were sent to Pittsburgh, which unloaded Hrdina's $1.25 million salary. The Coyotes had money to spare after trading right wing Tony Amonte to the Philadelphia Flyers Monday night.
Hrdina is the key to this deal. He established career highs last season with 24 goals and 33 assists in 79 games, was second in the NHL with a .209 shooting percentage, and played for the Czech Republic at the Salt Lake City Olympics.
Hrdina, 27, slowed by back and hip injuries this season, was third on the Penguins in scoring with 14 goals and 25 assists in 57 games. He has a career-high 11 power-play tallies, and is 14th in the NHL with a .560 faceoff percentage.
Leroux, 32, has spent the entire season with Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League, and had a goal, three assists, and 124 penalty minutes in 57 games. He returns to the Coyotes' organization after spending two seasons with their AHL affiliate at Springfield, Mass.
In 249 games with Edmonton, Ottawa, Colorado, and Pittsburgh, Leroux has three goals, 20 assists, and 577 penalty minutes.
Lefebvre, 21, spent less than 24 hours with Phoenix after he was acquired in the Amonte deal. He had four penalty minutes in 14 games with Philadelphia after totaling seven goals, six assists, and 113 penalty minutes in 47 games with the AHL's Philadelphia Phantoms.
Abid, 22, also shuttled back and forth from the AHL.
In 30 games with the Coyotes, the Montreal native had 10 goals and eight assists.
Focht, 25, was the 11th overall pick in the 1996 draft, but played just 18 games over two seasons with Phoenix. He had two goals, seven assists, and 80 penalty minutes in 37 games with Springfield.
Pittsburgh sends Primeau to Sharks
PITTSBURGH, March 11 (UPI) -- The Pittsburgh Penguins continued their salary purge Tuesday, sending center Wayne Primeau to San Jose.
In return, they got right wing Matt Bradley in a deal involving two teams playing out the string.
It's the second deal in three days for the tight-fisted Penguins, who are 12 points out of the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference with as many games remaining.
San Jose is 13 points out of eighth place in the West with 13 games left.
Primeau, 26, a checking center with only 32 goals in 420 NHL games, is making $825,000 this season, and is signed through 2003-04. Bradley, 24, is collecting $467,500 this season, after which he will be a restricted free agent.
On Sunday, the Penguins sent center Randy Robitaille and the remainder of his $820,000 salary to the New York Islanders for a draft pick. They also sent star winger Alexei Kovalev, defenseman Janne Laukkanen, and forward Dan LaCouture to the New York Rangers for four low-paid players and cash.
San Jose also has been shaking up its roster before Tuesday's 3 p.m. Eastern time deadline, dealing Bradley, captain Owen Nolan and veteran defenseman Bryan Marchment in the last week.
"I've seen that San Jose has been making some moves, and I'm looking forward to being a part of their team," Primeau said.
Primeau has five goals and 11 assists in 70 games with the Penguins this season. He is the brother of Philadelphia Flyers captain Keith Primeau.
"Wayne shores up our center position and brings size, toughness, and skill to our club, which was an area of concern," said Sharks General Manager Dean Lombardi.
Bradley has two goals and three assists in 46 games this season, and 12 goals and 17 assists in 121 NHL games, all with San Jose.
Detroit gets Schneider from Kings
DETROIT, March 11 (UPI) -- The Detroit Red Wings Tuesday acquired offensive-minded Mathieu Schneider from the Los Angeles Kings for two players and two high draft picks.
The Wings were trying to strengthen their blue line as they seek their second straight Stanley Cup. They sent defenseman Maxim Kuznetsov, center Sean Avery, a first-round draft pick in 2003, and a second-rounder in 2004 to the Kings.
He collects $3.5 million this season and next.
Schneider is enjoying one of the best seasons of his 14-year career, recording 14 goals, one in a 3-2 loss to Detroit on Monday, and 29 assists in 65 games. He is seventh among NHL defensemen in scoring.
He is expected to join his sixth NHL team Wednesday, when the Red Wings visit Phoenix. He also has played for the New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Toronto, and Montreal, recording 152 goals and 347 assists in 901 games.
In 1993, Schneider won a Stanley Cup with the Canadiens. He will be looking to do the same this year with the Wings, who have made a habit of acquiring defensemen before the trade deadline.
Four years ago, the Wings obtained Chelios from Chicago, but lost in the Western Conference semifinals. Last year, they got Jiri Slegr from Atlanta and won their third Cup in six seasons.
Detroit has a six-point lead over St. Louis for first place in the Central Division, and is tied with Vancouver for second in the Western Conference. Los Angeles is eight points out of eighth place in the West.
It was the second trade in 10 days for the Kings, who sent veteran defenseman Dmitry Yushkevich to Philadelphia for a draft pick. On Monday, they signed defenseman Aaron Miller to a contract extension.
On Tuesday, Los Angeles got back a defenseman in Kuznetsov, a 6-5, 235-pound native of Russia, who played in a career-high 53 games with the Red Wings this season, totaling three assists and 54 penalty minutes.
Kutnetsov, 25, a first-round pick in 1995, has appeared in 117 NHL games, all with the Red Wings, and has recorded two goals, seven assists, and 117 penalty minutes.
Avery, 22, has five goals, six assists, and 110 penalty minutes in 39 games this season, his second in the NHL. The 5-10, 195-pounder won a Cup with the Wings as a rookie, although he did not appear in a playoff game.
Avery was assigned to Manchester of the American Hockey League.
The Kings have three first-round picks in this year's draft.
Carolina sends Battaglia to Colorado
RALEIGH, N.C., March 11 (UPI) -- Left wing Bates Battaglia of Carolina Tuesday was shipped to the Colorado Avalanche at the NHL trade deadline approached.
In return, the Hurricanes picked up right wing Radim Vrbata.
for right wing Radim Vrbata.
Battaglia led the Hurricanes' run to the Stanley Cup Finals last spring. He was a member of the "BBC Line" that totaled 10 goals and 14 assists in the Eastern Conference semifinals against Montreal.
Like so many of his teammates, the 27-year-old Chicago native has struggled this season.
While he was one of five Hurricanes who played all 70 games, Battaglia has just five goals and 14 assists, and is a minus-17.
"Bates Battaglia is a gritty and experienced forward," said Avalanche Vice President of Player Personnel Michel Goulet. "He was instrumental in the Hurricanes' playoff drive success last spring, when he scored key goals for them."
Battaglia goes from the fourth-place Hurricanes to the Avalanche, who trail first-place Vancouver by three points in the Northwest Division. Colorado is trying to set an NHL record with a ninth consecutive division title.
Vrbata, 21, had 11 goals and 19 assists in 66 games in his second season with Colorado. Taken in the seventh round of the 1999 draft, the native of the Czech Republic had 18 goals and 12 assists in 52 games as a rookie.
"This is a trade that involves two very different types of players," said Carolina General Manager Jim Rutherford. "Radim is a young, highly skilled winger."
Phoenix gets Gratton from Sabres
The Coyotes remained on the eve of the NHL trade deadline. The deal came hours after the Coyotes sent right wing Tony Amonte to the Philadelphia Flyers for Guillaume Lefebvre and two draft picks.
It also continued a busy day for the bankrupt Sabres, who shipped captain Stu Barnes to the Dallas Stars for center Mike Ryan and a 2003 second-round pick, and traded rugged right wing Rob Ray to Ottawa for future considerations.
Gratton, 27, joins his fourth team in a 10-year career after he was taken third overall in the 1993 draft by Tampa Bay. He ranked second in scoring on last-place Buffalo with 15 goals and 29 assists in 66 games, and was fourth with 86 penalty minutes.
Gratton also is second in the NHL with a .589 faceoff percentage.
The Sabres swapped Gratton's $2 million salary for Briere's $1.35 million paycheck, and traded size for speed and craftiness.
While Gratton is 6-4 and 225 pounds, Briere stands 5-10 and weighs 178 pounds. Coming off a career season, Briere, 25, has 17 goals and 29 assists in 68 games.
Briere also was a first-round draft pick, getting taken 24th overall in 1996. He struggled to find playing time in the NHL until 2001-02, when he was second on the Coyotes in scoring with 32 goals and 28 assists in 78 games.
Predators claim Warriner
NASHVILLE, March 11 (UPI) -- The Nashville Predators Tuesday added more speed to their lineup when they claimed left wing Todd Warriner off waivers from the Philadelphia Flyers.
It was the second move in eight days for the Predators, who are five points behind Edmonton for the final Western Conference playoff berth, and were relatively inactive before Tuesday's trade deadline. They have not made the postseason since joining the NHL in 1998-99.
On March 3, Nashville acquired left wing Oleg Petrov from Montreal for a draft pick. The addition of Warriner gives even more speed to a roster filled with talented prospects.
Warriner, 29, joins his third team of the season after being traded from Vancouver to Philadelphia on Feb. 5. He has six goals and nine assists in 43 games.
In 447 NHL contests, Warriner has 65 goals and 88 assists.
The move was an affordable one for the Predators, who will pick up the rest of Warriner's $500,000 salary. He is signed through 2003-04.
Warriner was expendable with the Flyers, who have made six acquisitions before the deadline, and added star winger Tony Amonte on Monday.