NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman met yesterday in Washington with congressmen leading the push for steroids legislation.

After delivering what amounted to a rosy state-of-the-sport speech at the National Press Club -- goals, attendance and TV ratings are up, while fighting is down in the NHL's first post-lockout month -- and before catching a game, Bettman went to Capitol Hill. He met with Reps. Tom Davis (R-Va.) and Henry A. Waxman (D-Calif.) for about 30 minutes.

"We had a candid dialogue," Bettman told the Associated Press before watching the Washington Capitals host the Atlanta Thrashers. "If Congress, because of what's going on in some other sports, thinks we need to do more, then we'll work with Congress."

However, Bettman reiterated criticisms he's made of House and Senate bills that would standardize drug-testing and punishment in U.S. pro sports.

"We don't think performance-enhancing drugs is much of an issue" for the NHL, Bettman said. "If you look at the history of hockey players throughout the world being tested . . . you rarely ever get a positive test."

The NHL didn't test for performance-enhancing drugs under its old labor agreement; the new deal instituted testing and penalties, including a 20-game suspension for a first offense. . . .

Columbus Blue Jackets star forward Rick Nash, 21, was put on injured reserve and could miss four to six weeks after injuring his left knee. Nash, the No. 1 pick in the 2002 draft, injured his knee when he was hit in the third period of Thursday's 2-1 loss in Calgary.

* COURTS: Time Inc. has asked a judge to bar reporters from seeing its defamation settlement with Mike Price, arguing copycat suits could follow if it is revealed how much it agreed to pay the fired Alabama football coach over an unflattering Sports Illustrated story.

In court documents, Time said it settled Price's claim, which asked for $20 million, partly to protect the identity of confidential sources used to compile the Sports Illustrated account of Price's night of drunken partying in Pensacola, Fla., in 2003.

Even if U.S. District Judge Lynwood Smith agrees to unseal some of the settlement, Time said the dollar amount of the deal should remain private.

Time and Price settled the lawsuit last month, but the publisher within days asked a judge to throw out the agreement, which the company claims Price and his lawyer violated with public comments about the deal. Price has asked the judge to enforce the agreement.

Price is now the head coach at the University of Texas at El Paso.

* COLLEGE BASKETBALL: Fresno State won't play in any postseason games next year as part of several self-imposed sanctions for violating NCAA rules, the athletic directors at California State University, Fresno, announced.

This week, the university was notified by the NCAA that investigations showed the athletic program had committed a major infraction of rules governing college basketball. Former Fresno State basketball coach Ray Lopes and his staff made hundreds of phone calls to recruits, said Athletic Director Thomas Boeh.

-- From News Services