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Cheap shots, rude remarks: What a rivalry

How to make an NHL rivalry:

Pour two good teams into a Stanley Cup. Mix in some playoff spice. Add a dash of insulting quotes. Sprinkle with a few cheap-shot checks. And, finally, top with one Claude Lemieux.

Voila! You have Colorado-Detroit, the best rivalry in the NHL.

Anyone who watched Sunday's Colorado-Detroit game has to be begging for a rematch in the Western Conference final later this spring.

The rivalry started when Lemieux crushed Detroit's Kris Draper on a controversial check from behind in Game 6 of last year's Western Conference final. It continued this season when two Colorado players were carried off on stretchers after borderline hits by the Red Wings. That led to a shouting match between Colorado executives and Detroit assistant coaches after the game.

And, all along, coaches Scotty Bowman (Detroit) and Marc Crawford (Colorado) have traded R-rated insults.

But Sunday's meeting marked the first time since the infamous Game 6 that Lemieux played against the Red Wings. Before the game, Lemieux said last year's check, which basically broke Draper's face, has been blown out of proportion, mostly by the Detroit players. Draper said Sunday's game was going to be the most nerve-racking of his career.

"My feelings haven't changed," Draper said. "I still feel as intense. I'm a pretty easygoing guy, and a little apology would have gone a long way. But he felt it wasn't a cheap shot, and he was one of the few who felt that way, and that bothers me. I haven't heard a lot of good things from him."

There was plenty of chippy play Sunday in Denver, but the jabs Lemieux and Draper took at one another were strictly oral. After the game _ won by Colorado 4-2 _ Draper did not talk to the media and Lemieux said, "The show's over, I have no comment."

But the show is not over. The teams meet again Wednesday. And this time, Lemieux will go into Detroit for the first time since his hit on Draper.

Here's hoping it won't be the last time these teams play each other this season.

AND THE WINNER IS : Who were the winners of Tuesday's trading deadline?

Early returns go to Florida and Detroit. Both teams raided the fallen Maple Leafs, with Florida acquiring C Kirk Muller and Detroit snatching D Larry Murphy.

Muller is a six-time All-Star and played on Montreal's Cup-winning team in 1993.

"I'm thrilled to get (Muller)," Florida coach Doug MacLean said. "Character, leadership, experience _ he's a good addition for us to say the least."

Murphy, a two-time All-Star, played on both of Pittsburgh's Stanley Cup teams, as well as two Canada Cup championship teams.

"He's a very exciting power-play player," Bowman said. "He's just an experienced defenseman. He's very strong offensively. They've been trying to move him."

AND THE LOSERS ARE : Pittsburgh and the Rangers.

The Pens desperately need help on defense and what did they do? Picked up two forwards.

The Rangers need a little punch up front and picked up nothing. It wasn't for lack of trying, though. Rangers GM Neil Smith was annoyed the Leafs dealt Muller to the Panthers instead of New York.

"I was told it would take one specific thing to get him," Smith said. "At the end of the day, they took something else completely. It's a little bit frustrating because that's not what you were told. I was told by Toronto, "Here is the price you have to pay, New York. If you can't do it, we'll go someplace else or get back to you.' I said fine, good luck.

"Then a deal is announced that was something other than what was discussed. It's frustrating, and you wonder why it happened. But that's life."

DOWN AND OUT: Bad news in Philadelphia. The injury sustained by second-line C Dale Hawerchuk may be more than just a groin injury. There are signs the injury also includes a slight abdominal pull.

That's similar to the lengthy injuries suffered by Paul Ysebaert, Mikael Renberg and Lemieux, and those players missed several months.

Hawerchuk has missed three weeks and may miss another three weeks, if not longer.

BEANTOWN BLUES: Looks as if Rob Dimaio has replaced Adam Oates as the official blaster of the Boston Bruins. After a recent loss, the former Lightning and current B's forward said:

"Guys take shifts off, and take periods off. The season is basically coming to an end here. Now guys are starting to play for jobs for next year. Guys have to realize this is the National Hockey League. It's not junior and it's not the minors. You're not going to be in this league long if you don't give the effort that is needed every shift, every night, the whole game.

"You're a professional athlete. You're getting a paycheck to do something. You have to have pride if you're going to play. You're not going to win every game, but you can at least have enough drive and motivation to realize you have to play hard. If you don't play hard, you're not going to win, especially if you're a team that doesn't have a lot of talent. That's the bottom line."

ODDS AND ENDS: Boston's Ray Bourque needs one more assist to become the fifth NHL player to record 1,000. The others are Wayne Gretzky, Gordie Howe, Marcel Dionne and Paul Coffey. Bourque would become the first to do it with one team. A busy week for former Lightning D Chris LiPuma. San Jose wanted to send him to the minors, but he had to clear waivers. Didn't happen. New Jersey claimed him and also wanted to send him to the minors, but he had to clear waivers first. Didn't happen. San Jose reclaimed him.

_ Information from other news organizations was used in this report.

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