REHAB SET: Pittsburgh Penguins center Mario Lemieux has been cleared to start off-ice training, keeping him on schedule for a possible return in late January.

Lemieux, who had surgery to remove part of a herniated disk July 11, hasn't played this season. His attempted comeback was cut short in training camp by an infection near the site of the herniation. He has played one game since Feb. 14, when he was forced to abandon a 46-game point-scoring streak because of back pain.

The Penguins said his program will begin slowly with stretching exercises. If he remains pain-free, team physician Charles Burke said he could begin skating in early January.

Burke outlined a scenario in which Lemieux could return to action after the NHL All-Star game Jan. 19. Lemieux was the most valuable player in last January's all-star game in Pittsburgh.

ALL-STAR VOTE: Boston Bruins teammates Ray Bourque and Cam Neely continue to lead the Prince of Wales Conference balloting for the all-star game. Bourque is the conference's top vote-getter in results announced yesterday, leading defensemen with 257,561 votes, while Neely, a right wing, leads forwards with 183,556 votes.

Joe Sakic of the Quebec Nordiques was the top vote-getter among centers with 115,274, and Philadelphia Flyers right wing Rick Tocchet had 112,740 votes, rounding out the conference's front line. Patrick Roy of Montreal leads the balloting among goaltenders with 158,157. The game between the Wales and Campbell conference stars will be Jan. 19 in Chicago.

SPEAKING OF BOURQUE: His seven points in three games earned him honor as NHL player of the week. Bourque had a goal and six assists in two victories over Hartford and a 1-1 tie with the New Jersey Devils, giving him 28 points in 29 games this season.

MAYOR FOR SENATORS: Ottawa, which is scheduled to join the NHL in 1992-93, named the city's mayor, Jim Durrell, as president and Randy Sexton as chief executive officer. Durrell's political duties will end when his term expires in November.