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Rising cost: The cost of an NHL franchise has skyrocketed. In 1967-68, the Oakland Seals, Los Angeles Kings, Minnesota North Stars, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins and St. Louis Blues joined the league for $2-million each. Twenty-five years later, the three latest expansion entries _ Tampa Bay Lightning, Ottawa Senators and San Jose Sharks _ came aboard for $50-million each.

Return to Ottawa: Hockey, Canada's national pastime, is returning to its capital for the first time in 58 years. The expansion Ottawa Senators are returning to the NHL for the first time since 1933-34. The Senators won the Stanley Cup in 1908-09, 1910-11, 1919-20, 1920-21, 1922-23 and 1926-27.

Dynasty: NHL dynasty teams include clubs such as the Detroit Red Wings (1950-55), Montreal Canadiens (1956-60, '65-69, '76-79), Toronto Maple Leafs (1962-64), New York Islanders (1980-83) and Edmonton Oilers (1984-90). "Dynasty" is defined here as a team with three or more consecutive Stanley Cup wins, five or six consecutive playoff appearances including four Stanley Cup wins, or seven consecutive playoff appearances including five Stanley Cup wins. The Pittsburgh Penguins, with two consecutive Stanley Cup titles, are the closest thing to a dynasty in the '90s.

Record futility: In 1930-31 the Philadelphia Quakers won a record-low four games over a 44-game season. The 1974-75 expansion Washington Capitals are next with eight wins over an 80-game season. The 1967-68 Los Angeles Kings and (1967-68) Philadelphia Flyers are tied for most wins by an expansion team (31).

Back pain: Ironically, two of hockey's biggest names _ Wayne Gretzky of the Los Angeles Kings and Mario Lemieux of the Pittsburgh Penguins _ both have suffered career-threatening back injuries. Gretzky, the NHL's all-time leading scorer, will be sidelined indefinitely because of a herniated disc. Lemieux, a three-time scoring champion and two-time MVP winner, underwent surgery in July 1990, also to repair a herniated disc.

_ JOHN HARRIS

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