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Chicago fires coach, blames others

Craig Hartsburg was fired Tuesday as coach of the Blackhawks after the team missed the playoffs for the first time since 1969.

General manager Bob Murray, who fired Hartsburg, said the coach wasn't the only one at fault.

"I think he did everything he possibly could. I don't think there's anything left in the bag for him to bring," Murray said.

"I could not see him asking him to go back in that dressing room next year and try it again. I don't think he's bitter. He's peeved, like I am."

Murray blamed himself and the players, especially the veterans, for failing to provide leadership on a team that struggled all season, especially at home.

Hartsburg's ouster is the beginning, Murray said, of what he hopes will be a major overhaul.

But he stressed he must be given the flexibility by those above him, meaning owner Bill Wirtz and vice president Robert Pulford, to make the deals and changes he thinks necessary.

"I'm going to do my job and if I get fired, so be it," said Murray, who replaced Pulford as GM in July.

Assistants Lorne Henning and Newell Brown were also fired.

CANADIAN TEAMS WANT HELP: The heads of Canada's six teams called on Canada for tax relief to ensure their franchises can remain competitive. They were accompanied by commissioner Gary Bettman in their testimony to a parliamentary subcommittee on the future of the sport. Taxes are the heart of the matter, even though Bettman repeatedly said the clubs weren't seeking "special tax breaks." "Canadian teams are not benefiting from the same level of government involvement as their U.S. counterparts," Bettman said. In the past two years, the Quebec Nordiques moved to Denver and and the Winnipeg Jets moved to Arizona, in part because city and provincial governments didn't help finance new stadiums, as is the case in America, Bettman said.

HURRICANES: Curtis Leschyshyn, who would have become an unrestricted free agent after July 1, signed a multiyear contract. Terms weren't released.

FLYERS-SABRES: With Buffalo up 2-1, today's Game 3 cannot get much bigger for the Flyers, who are 0-9 in series in which they trailed 3-1. They are 10-2 when a series is tied at 2. Buffalo, meanwhile, hasn't lost two games in a row since the last week of December and hasn't lost three straight since Philadelphia took the first three meetings in the playoffs last year. Philadelphia planned a players-only meeting for Tuesday. The Flyers' success basically hinges on getting the puck deep into the Buffalo zone and allowing their bigger forwards to outmuscle the Sabres.