Veteran winger Ulf Dahlen made his first NHL appearance in two years last night against the Philadelphia Flyers, while oft-injured youngster Yogi Svejkovsky missed his first game of the season. Dahlen, who lagged behind during the preseason, was signed to bolster the offense, and was originally slated for the top line, where Svejkovsky had been skating before slightly pulling his groin in practice this week.
Coach Ron Wilson said the decision to scratch Svejkovsky was precautionary, and that the winger could have played had it been the playoffs. Dahlen, 32, was signed this summer as a free agent after spending the past two years playing in his native Sweden. He last played in the NHL with Chicago in the 1996-97 season. Dahlen skated on the fourth line with Jeff Halpern and Joe Sacco and spent time on the power play as well.
"He's been a little bit behind all through training camp," Wilson said. "And it's my policy, unless you've really built up some chips--like if you're Peter Bondra and struggling in training camp you're still going to play--but if you're somebody else and other people have outperformed you, they deserve to play. That's the message we want to get across to the team, and that's only fair and I don't think anybody can ever have any complaints when you operate that way."
Svejkovsky tried to skate with the team yesterday morning but had difficulty stopping and starting. Groin injuries were an epidemic in the NHL the past few seasons, and if not allowed to heal properly they can threaten a player's season. Svejkovsky said he will try to skate today and hopes to play Saturday against San Jose.
"I don't want to miss any more games," Svejkovsky said. "I already missed too many games the last couple of years. I want to play as soon as I can."
News and Notes
Defenseman Joe Reekie, who had a lacerated finger, returned from a two-game absence, replacing call-up Alexei Tezikov. . . . Former Capitals fan favorite Craig Berube fought Brendan Witt in the second period, with both men unleashing blows with both fists. . . .
The NHL's Board of Governors will meet today in Denver to address key issues, including the league's participation in the 2002 Winter Olympics. Representatives from each team will be briefed by the league on the status of participation, which sources say is highly likely. The group also is expected to approve the sale of the Colorado Avalanche. The status of the Buffalo Sabres' proposed sale also will be discussed, a deal that appeared to be final about 18 months ago, yet still has not been finalized.