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Thursday

Games lost: 5; total 110.

Negotiating session: No.

Next negotiating session: None scheduled.

The first on line

Anaheim defenseman Don McSween filed an unemployment claim, becoming the first NHL player known to take advantage of California law allowing benefits to locked-out employees. McSween, who made $30,000-$50,000 a year in the minors before joining the Ducks last season, was scheduled to make $300,000 this season. He would be eligible for the maximum benefit of $230 a week for up to 26 weeks. "It's not that much, but more or less it makes a statement. For a guy like me, any little bit helps," said McSween, who played in 32 games last season and earned about $100,000, easily the most of his seven-year career. Ducks officials received notice of the claim and verified the last day of McSween's employment, stating the reason he is not working was an "owner's lockout," said Andy Roundtree, vice president for finance and administration.

Reduced schedule

The league, confirming what has seemed inevitable, said it will not be able to save its entire 84-game season. "An announcement will be made before too long and it will involve some reduction in the number of games on the schedule," said Jeffrey Pash, the league's general counsel. Pash, speaking at a luncheon sponsored by the New Jersey Devils, said the league aims to have a "credible" regular season leading to the playoffs. "Obviously, the longer the start date is in the past, the more likely you have to truncate your season," he said. "As (commissioner Gary Bettman) said, we're not going to push the season past June." NHL spokesman Arthur Pincus said an announcement regarding the schedule will be made "in the next few days."

Call put on hold

Bettman telephoned the players association in an effort to resume negotiations. Bob Goodenow, executive director of the union, didn't take the call because he was visiting with Panther players in Miami and Lightning players in Tampa. He is expected to respond to Bettman today. The last formal session between the two sides was on Oct. 10.

Ruuttu injured

In Helsinki, Chicago's Christian Ruuttu left the ice after being hit by a stick in the face six minutes into the game. Ruuttu, who played for Jokerit, lost three teeth and needed more than 10 stitches in his face. St. Louis' Esa Tikkanen, winner of five Stanley Cups, provided the winning assist on a goal by Russian defenseman Yuri Kuznetsov at 17:33 in the final period as Helsinki IFK beat Jokerit 3-2. Jokerit's big-name NHL players, Jari Kurri of Los Angeles and Teemu Selanne of Winnipeg, failed to score a point. Kurri played center and did well during faceoffs. "That was surprising," he said. "I don't take many faceoffs as I play on the wing back home."

Sundin to Europe

Toronto's Mats Sundin was cleared to play in Europe's top league for the first time in five years after a vote by the players on his former Swedish team Djurgarden. All 24 players voted in favor of Sundin returning to the Stockholm team. Sundin, who started his NHL career with Quebec before he was traded to Toronto during the off-season, practiced with Djurgarden for the first time this week.

Thoughts of suicide

Former NHL star Bryan Trottier contemplated suicide to end a four-year financial mess that left him $9.5-million in debt, according to a published report. "I never thought I was suicidal, but apparently I was," Trottier told the New York Daily News in a interview from his suburban Pittsburgh home. "There were days where I thought, "If I could just run (my car) into a brick wall.'

" The 38-year-old Trottier, who played on six Stanley Cup winners in his 18-year career with the New York Islanders and Pittsburgh Penguins, filed for Chapter 7 protection under the U.S. bankruptcy code Oct. 11. He and his wife, Nickie, listed assests of $141,629 and debts of $9.5-million. "I was trying to think of ways I wouldn't screw up the life insurance. I couldn't think of the way, so it was completely out of the picture. Plus, I didn't want to hurt anybody. But I did think about it. I felt everything I was doing was affecting my family _ either financially or emotionally. I said to myself, "One big hit. One last tragedy. I thought if it was a tragedy "

LockoutSpeak

"Our sense is the union is not at this point prepared to have discussions with us."

_ Pash

_ TIMES WIRES

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