The Toronto Maple Leafs, at 1-9-1 off to their worst start, fired Coach Doug Carpenter yesterday, much to the chagrin of some players.

"Firing the coach doesn't mean we will go 10-1-1. There's still a lot of problems with this team," said forward John Kordic.

"There is no need to be pointing fingers, blaming other guys," forward Ed Olczyk said. "You have to blame yourself."

Carpenter's teams were 39-46-5. Last season the Maple Leafs had their first .500 record in 11 years.

Assistant Tom Watt will coach until a full-timer is named. Watt, who has coached in the NHL at Winnipeg, Vancouver and Calgary, is thought to be a candidate, as is Jacques Demers, the former Detroit Red Wings coach now working on Quebec Nordiques' radio broadcasts.


The way he is playing, Brett Hull is a bargain at any price.

"He should renegotiate," St. Louis goalie Vincent Riendeau said after Hull's second consecutive three-goal game. "He's underpaid."

"He's like a Wayne Gretzky, I guess," center Ron Wilson said.

NHL general managers blamed the Blues for escalating salaries by signing Hull to a four-year, $7.1 million contract in June, and giving a $5 million deal to former Capitals defenseman Scott Stevens. Hull, who made $125,000 last season but made the big jump after scoring 72 goals, is out to prove he is worth the money.


Bombastic hockey broadcaster Don Cherry can talk tough even when wearing tights.

He was challenged by the Royal Winnipeg Ballet to take a ballet lesson after a television commercial in which he asks a hockey player: "What do you think this is, a ballet practice?"

Afterward, Cherry said he didn't think any of the dancers could make it in the NHL because "they're not quite big enough. Well, the one guy, the instructor, looks pretty good. Hey, listen, if Swedes and Finns can play, anybody can play."


The North Stars sent D Frantisek Musil to the Flames for D Brian Glynn.