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NHL May Carry Over Olympic Suspensions

From Wire Services
Saturday, February 14, 1998; Page H7

NAGANO, Feb. 13 — The NHL, aware of criticism that Gary Suter of the Chicago Blackhawks is playing in the Olympics despite putting Paul Kariya of the Anaheim Mighty Ducks out of them, may carry over any Nagano suspensions to its regular season.

Commissioner Gary Bettman said today that players suspended during the nine-day Olympic hockey tournament risk having the bans extended into the NHL season when it resumes Feb. 25.

Philadelphia Flyers General Manager Bobby Clarke, also Canada's GM in the Olympics, said the NHL would be wise to protect its players from injuries by honoring Olympic suspensions.

Clarke is especially unhappy that Kariya, one of the world's most popular players, is out of the Olympics with his fourth concussion in three years after taking a stick to the face from Suter Feb. 1. Suter has one game remaining in his four-game NHL suspension.

Kariya, who is partly of Japanese ancestry, told Clarke it was one of the worst days of his life when he learned he couldn't play in the first "dream team" Olympic hockey tournament.

"There's a reason Paul isn't playing here and it's because he was intentionally taken out," Clarke said.

Hockey's governing bodies usually do not honor each other's suspensions. Anaheim's Ruslan Salei, the first NHL player to score a goal in the Olympics, had been assessed a two-game suspension for a head-butt in that Feb. 1 Chicago-Anaheim game. The suspension allowed him to arrive early in Nagano.

Bettman said that each case would have to be decided on its own merits. If the International Ice Hockey Federation takes disciplinary action, "it's something we'll have to look at coming back," he said. "We might decide to make the same determination."

Bettman said the disciplinary action against Suter might have been more severe had the NHL not received a positive medical report on Kariya at the time. Now, some on the Canadian team are speculating Kariya might not play for some time.

The Marijuana Issue
Five members of the International Olympic Committee were named today to a task force to study how the IOC should handle the issue of marijuana use in sports.

The move came the day after an arbitration panel overturned the IOC's disqualification of Canadian snowboarder Ross Rebagliati, who tested positive for the drug. The IOC-established Court of Arbitration for Sport ruled that there was no legal basis for the IOC's decision because it had no agreement about marijuana testing with the International Ski Federation, the governing body for snowboarding at the Olympics.

Four IOC vice presidents — Pal Schmitt of Hungary, Dick Pound of Canada, Anita DeFrantz of the United States and Senegalese judge Keba Mbaye — and Prince Alexandre de Merode, the Belgian who has headed the IOC's medical commission for 30 years, will form the task force.

Skating Changes Mulled
The International Skating Union might change the required elements in the men's short program, further toughening the competition.

The required jumps now are a double Axel, a triple jump in combination and a triple jump alone. No quads.

If the ISU congress in June passes a proposal by the technical committee, the four-revolution quad will join the short program, too. The proposal calls for giving skaters an option to do any quad or any triple as the solo jump. But the quad would not be allowed as part of a combination jump.

Also, a skater would have the option to do a double or triple axel as the other solo jump, but no triple jump could be repeated in the short program, worth one-third of the total score.

Ratings Rise
The most exciting night of coverage gave CBS its second-best rating.

Live coverage of the men's downhill and taped men's figure skating got a 19.3 rating and a 30 share Thursday night, second only to the 20 rating on Sunday night. It was the first time CBS beat the ratings from either of the previous two Olympics. CBS was 0.5 percent higher than the 19.2 in 1992 but 26.3 percent lower than the 26.2 in 1994.

Surgery for Cattaneo
Italian Luca Cattaneo, his left Achilles' tendon torn after a dramatic spill in the men's downhill, flew home to undergo surgery. Giovanni Caldaroni, who heads the medical staff of Italy's Olympic team, said he'll need about three months, but "we are confident to have Luca back on skis by the start of the next season."

© Copyright 1998 The Washington Post

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