Clippers Olowokandi has knee surgery
LOS ANGELES, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- Los Angeles Clippers center Michael Olowokandi had a successful exploratory procedure on his injured left knee Monday.
Olowokandi was placed on the injured list Friday with a sprained left knee. Dr. Arthur Ting performed the surgery at the Fremont Surgery Center in northern California.
"The surgery revealed an erosion behind the knee cap, which was repaired successfully," Clippers teams orthopedist Dr. Tony Daly said. "Michael is expected to be out of action for a period of three to four weeks and will immediately a begin a full rehabilitation regimen under the direction of the team's training staff."
Olowokandi is averaging 12.3 points, 9.1 rebounds and 2.2 blocks in 36 games this season.
The top pick in the 1998 draft, Olowokandi has endured knee problems on and off all season, missing all eight of the Clippers' preseason games with tendinitis.
The Nigerian started the Clippers' first 17 regular season contests, but also was on the injured list in December and sat out five games with a sore left knee.
Olowokandi enjoyed his best season in 2001-02, averaging 11.1 points, 8.9 rebounds and 1.8 blocked shots in 80 games. He is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent after this season.
Kings Center Laperriere undergoes surgery
INGLEWOOD, Calif., Feb. 4 (UPI) -- Los Angeles Kings center Ian Laperriere underwent successful surgery Monday to remove bone chips and scar tissue from his right knee.
Kings team physician Dr. Ronald Kvitne of the Kerlan-Jobe Orthopedic Clinic performed the surgery, which will sideline Laperriere up to six weeks.
The 29-year-old Laperriere has 12 points and 87 penalty minutes in 46 games with Los Angeles this season. He has 175 points and 1,149 penalty minutes in 605 career NHL games with the Kings, New York Rangers and St. Louis Blues. His 924 penalty minutes as a King rank fifth on the franchise's all-time list.
The Kings recalled goaltender Cristobal Huet from the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League. Huet, 27, is 14-7-4 with a 2.38 goals-against-average for the Monarchs. He has a .918 save percentage with one shutout but never has appeared in an NHL game.
Buffalo Sabres up for bidding
BUFFALO, N.Y., Feb. 4 (UPI) -- The NHL got tired of waiting for Mark Hamister and opened the bidding for the financially troubled Buffalo Sabres on Monday.
Hamister, a Buffalo businessman, was given a fourth extension by the NHL last month in his attempt to buy the Sabres, who have filed for bankruptcy protection. but he has been unable to finalize the deal. The league now will look elsewhere, although it left open the opportunity for Hamister to stay in the bidding.
"As of (Monday), the period of negotiating exclusivity granted to the Mark Hamister group for the purchase of the Buffalo Sabres has expired," said NHL Chief Legal Officer Bill Daly. "As a result, the club now is free to purchase the franchise. Mr. Hamister remains welcome to pursue the purchase. Our objective remains to find a purchaser who will maintain the franchise in Buffalo."
Monday's decision opens the opportunity for Rochester billionaire Tom Golisano to re-enter the picture.
During his "State of the Game" address last weekend, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman noted that Golisano's initial proposal also included "comparable public sector support."
Hamister and majority partner Todd Berman were introduced as prospective owners of the Sabres in November and were granted the extensions. The NHL, which also has been dealing with the financial troubles of the Ottawa Senators, said Adelphia Communications, the corporation that formerly owned the Sabres, has been exceedingly cooperative with Hamister and Berman.
The reported price tag of $65 million includes the Sabres, Buffalo Bandits of the National Lacrosse League, the relating companies associated with the two teams, and the rights to HSBC Arena. Hamister apparently was unable to gain approval of a $33 million assistance package from New York State that would be used for arena and other capital improvements.
The Sabres, who joined the league in 1970, have been run by the NHL since June, after John Rigas and two sons were indicted on fraud charges following the collapse of Adelphia Communications. Rigas has been accused of stealing hundreds of millions of dollars from Adelphia, leaving the team in financial ruin and despair.
Hamister and Berman both have Buffalo roots, having grown up in suburbs of the western New York city. Both were born and raised in the area and intend to hire similar hockey personnel to run the club.
In 1969, brothers Seymour and Northrup Knox were awarded the expansion franchise and controlled it for the next 30 years. Seymour Knox died in 1996, and Northrup Knox arranged the sale of the Sabres to the Rigas family just before his death in 1998.
The Senators filed for bankruptcy on Jan. 9, about a week before the Sabres. Owner Rod Bryden has submitted an offer for the team.
No. 7 Pistolesi falls at Paris Indoors
PARIS, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- Stephanie Cohen Aloro advanced Monday with an upset of seventh seed Anna Pistolesi of Israel in the first round of the Open Gaz de France.
Cohen Aloro, a wild card, needed a little more than an hour to win 5-2, 6-3, and reach her third straight second round match on the WTA Tour dating to last year. She qualified for the main draw and won a round last week at the Pan Pacific Tour in Tokyo.
"This is the biggest win of my career," the 166th-ranked player in the world said. "I am trying to move in and take the ball early. It's working. I didn't have any hang-ups. I am happy to have won a wild card berth here after my great week in Tokyo."
The 19-year-old Frenchwoman next will take on Spain's Magui Serna, who posted a 6-3, 7-6 (7-5) victory over Daja Bedanova of the Czech Republic in the only other main draw match Monday.
World No. 1 Serena Williams is back in action this week. Williams won her fourth straight Grand Slam last month at the Australian Open in Melbourne, becoming only the fifth woman all-time to hold all four titles at once.
She has won seven of the last nine tournaments she has entered, losing only to Chanda Rubin in the quarterfinals of Manhattan Beach and Kim Clijsters in the final of the season-ending championships in Los Angeles.
The 21-year-old American owns 20 singles crowns in her career, but her first came here in 1999. She also reached the final the following year. Her sister Venus captured last year's event, but is not here to defend her crown.
Dorfmeister captures super-G gold
ST. MORITZ, Switzerland, Feb. 4 (UPI) -- Austrian Michaela Dorfmeister shrugged off her inconsistent form Monday by upsetting the favorites in the super-G at the World Championships.
The 29-year-old, an aggressive, powerful skier, beat American Kirsten Clark by two-hundredths of a second.
Dorfmeister, who was born in Eastern Austria, south of Vienna and far from the Alps, has not had the best of times of late after finishing top of the overall standings in last season's World Cup. She didn't reach the podium until Dec. 13 when she climbed the steps at Val d'Isere.
After a vicious knock on the nose the following week on a training run at Lenzerheide, Dorfmeister skied early on the following day when the conditions were better and posted the best time in the downhill.
Few gave her a real chance of taking the gold medal on Monday, though, including Dorfmeister herself.
"I really have a hard time believing what has happened," she said. "I was not expecting this at all because of my difficult season so far. I was very determined, but also relaxed because I didn't have anything to lose. My focus was more on the downhill."
Dorfmeister, who won silver medals in the super-G at the Nagano Olympics and in the 1999 World Championships, will be among the favorites for the women's downhill on Saturday.
Another skier who surpassed expectations was American Jonna Mendes, who claimed bronze with her first podium finish in any discipline.
The favorites, including Renate Goetschl of Austria and Carole Montillet, had bad days. Austrian Goetschl was eighth while Montillet, affected by the wind which picked up later in the day, was a distant 14th.
Montillet, in particular, struggled on the 2,118-metre long Engiadina course, which has a drop of 550 metres. The aggressive, compact snow created problems for her and other big names, who clearly did not employ the right tactics.
Italy's Karen Putzer, second in the World Cup's super-G standings and a winner in the discipline here in December 2001, had an even worse day. She crossed the line in 24th.
The American women shocked everyone on Monday. Clark is the leader in the World Cup downhill standings, but is seventh in the super-G. She had never grabbed a medal at the Olympics or the World Championships.
American Bode Miller's run in the super-G got him a silver medal in Sunday's men's competition.
Mendes, 23, was an even longer shot. She is 14th in the super-G World Cup table and before Monday had never reached a podium in the World Cup, World Championships or Olympics.
After the first two events, only Austrians and Americans have clinched medals.
Reigning Olympic champion Daniela Ceccarelli of Italy skied out of the course and American Carolyn Lalive continued to struggle in big events when she failed to negotiate the run successfully on Monday.
Ankle injury sidelines Weight
SUNRISE, Fla., Feb. 4 (UPI) -- St. Louis Blues center Doug Weight is expected to miss up to 10 days after suffering an ankle injury in the NHL All-Star game.
Weight, who is second in the league with 44 assists, was injured with 16 1/2 minutes left in regulation Sunday. He took a slap shot off the stick of Vancouver defenseman Ed Jovanovski.
On Monday, Weight, 31, underwent an MRI and the results were negative. He was diagnosed with a deep bone bruise and will be sidelined seven to 10 days.
An extended loss of Weight would have been a huge blow to the Blues, who have played all season without injured captain Chris Pronger, a former Hart and Norris Trophy winner. They are 28-15-6-4 and lead the Central Division by two points over the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings.
"We've been through so many injuries this year as it is," said defenseman Al MacInnis on Sunday. "We were hoping that we weren't going to have anymore."
Weight leads the Blues and is tied for ninth in the NHL in scoring with 55 points. However, the four-time All-Star is mired in the longest goal-scoring drought of his 12-year career, a 28-game dry spell that dates back to Dec. 5.
Also Monday, the Blues recalled defenseman Christian Backman and center Eric Nickulas from the Worcester IceCats of the American Hockey League.
Backman, 22, has 21 points in 50 games for the Ice Cats this season. The 6-4, 204-pound defenseman, the Blues' first-round pick in the 1998 NHL draft, played in four preseason games with the Blues this season, recording two penalty minutes.
Nickulas, 27, signed as a free agent last summer, has 13 goals and six assists in 25 contests with Worcester. He was named the team captain at the start of the season, and is fourth on the IceCats in goals and tied for first with three game-winning goals.
Nickulas was originally Boston's fourth-round pick in the 1994 NHL draft, and made his NHL debut with the Bruins on Jan. 6, 1999 against Toronto.