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Vernon is dealt to Panthers

Published Sep. 30, 2005

Veteran goaltender Mike Vernon, a winner of two Stanley Cups in his 15-year NHL career, was dealt to the Florida Panthers on Thursday in a three-way deal.

The New York Rangers also were in on the trade, which saw Florida right wing Radek Dvorak joining the Rangers and forward Todd Harvey going to San Jose.

Vernon, 36, was displaced by Steve Shields as the Sharks' starting goaltender this season. He had a 6-5-1 record and a 2.49 goals-against average in 15 starts with San Jose this season.

Vernon, who won Stanley Cup titles with Calgary in 1989 and Detroit in 1997, fills a need for Florida. Starting goaltender Trevor Kidd is out for two months after dislocating his shoulder Dec. 13.

The Panthers also received a third-round pick in the upcoming draft from San Jose. The Sharks picked up a fourth-round pick in 2001 from the Rangers along with Harvey.

Dvorak, a native of the Czech Republic, has seven goals and 10 assists this season.

Harvey, the Dallas Stars' first-round pick in the 1993 draft, has three goals and three assists in 31 games with the Rangers this season.

NUMBERS UP: Scoring has returned to hockey, and the number of empty seats at National Hockey League games is decreasing, the league said.

Scoring and average attendance are up and overtime ties are down a week before the NHL season's midway point on Jan. 8.

The statistics are welcome news to the league, which is in the first season of a five-year, $600-million television contract with Walt Disney Co. units ABC and its cable partner ESPN.

In the first 513 games this season, the NHL's 26 teams have produced 2,759 goals, the most through the same number of games in three seasons. The increase comes after the league promised to enforce rules that prohibit clutching and grabbing and added another referee.

Meantime, the teams are averaging 16,144 fans through 513 games. That's about even with the 16,130 that went to games in the same period last season, and up 1 percent from the 15,954 during the same period in the 1997-98 campaign. NHL teams play 82 games during the regular season.

BLACKHAWKS 2, PANTHERS 1: Jocelyn Thibault made 29 saves and Doug Gilmour and Alex Zhamnov scored to lead host Chicago. Pavel Bure's franchise-record points streak ended at 11 games. Bure had 12 goals and nine assists for Flordia during the streak. Zhamnov broke a 1-1 tie with five minutes left in the second period. Zhamnov skated down the slot and one-timed Dean McAmmond's return pass under goalie Mikhail Shtalenkov.