Intermissions are times for off-and-on changes


In many sports, players troop off the field at halftime, get a drink of water, listen to a coach's speech, maybe have a smoke and then go back out for the second half. In hockey, there are two intermissions and the coach doesn't always have a lot to say. So what do the players do?

According to Capitals defenseman Paul Cavallini, hockey players -- who put on more equipment than just about any other athlete -- spend much of their time between each period taking off and putting back on their equipment. They take off their skates, "to help circulation because we've got them laced pretty tight for the games," Cavallini said.

They take off their jerseys and their shoulder pads and change into dry T-shirts, "because we're all soaking wet from playing so hard." If they feel a nick in their skate -- "and if there is a small nick, you do feel it because it's like a part of your body. Something that small can put you off" -- they get it fixed. Some players have their gloves and skates dried between periods. And most players retape their sticks.

"Then we put it all back on in about three minutes and go back on the ice," Cavallini said.

And the band plays on

When New Jersey coach Herb Brooks -- Capitals fans will remember Brooks as the coach who blamed an early-season loss to Washington on the Meadowlands Arena organist -- became upset with the play of Peter Stastny recently, he called the veteran forward's $700,000 contract "the biggest heist since nTC Brinks." In response, Stastny showed up at the rink the next day wearing a Lone Ranger mask.

The Capitals should know

When the Capitals visit the Philadelphia Flyers tonight, they should consider the following:

The Flyers' Rod Brind'Amour and Kevin Dineen get better as the game wears on. Through 63 games, Brind'Amour was minus-11 in the first period, minus-two in the second and plus-one in the third, while Dineen, sometimes his line-mate, was even in the first, plus-three in the second and plus-seven in the third.

Meanwhile, Flyers Keith Acton and Ric Nattress go the other way. Acton goes from minus-one (first period) to minus-five (second) to minus-seven (third). Nattress improves from plus-two in the first to plus-four in the second, then takes a major-league dip to minus-four in the third.

Trade talk

Rumor has it the Vancouver Canucks have an eye on Washington defenseman Sylvain Cote and might be willing to part with a left wing, either Sergio Momesso (13 goals, 18 assists) or former Cap Geoff Courtnall (23 goals, 42 assists). Rumor also has it that the Capitals could be interested in Harford's Pat Verbeek (29 goals, 38 assists) or Edmonton's leading scorer Craig Simpson (24 goals, 22 assists), or Los Angeles' Tony Granato (29 goals, 32 assists) or . . .

"If all things were equal, I'd like to add a another scorer," says Capitals general manager David Poile. "But they're not and I don't see that player being out there right now."

Poile said the chances of making a trade yesterday were "zero," but the trading deadline is March 20. "By then," Poile added, "a lot of things could happen."

If Minnesota moves

Speculation has been that if the Minnesota North Stars pack up and move to Dallas at the end of this season, the NHL will quickly put an expansion team in the Minneapolis-St. Paul area. But NHL commissioner Gary Bettman has been quoted in the Toronto Sun as saying if the North Stars move, Minnesota may be without an NHL team for years. Bettman said after having added five teams in three years the NHL is "not ready to expand" further.

Mighty Ducks at work

If Disney had any doubts about whether a team named the Mighty Ducks could get publicity, it can stop worrying. The Ducks have everybody talking.

Frank Brown of the New York Daily News writes: "Mighty Ducks is a really stupid name for a team. How about the headlines you're going to see: Penguins pluck Ducks, 10-1 . . . Flames cook Ducks' goose, 6-3 . . . Ducks' coach Quacks up after 12th straight loss . . . Sharks eat Duck dinner, 2-1 . . . Blues blast sitting Ducks, 7-2.

Meanwhile, Ken London, television producer for Boston Bruins games, says an Anaheim penalty for too many men on the ice will have to be called "too many ducks on the pond."

Personally, the hope here is that somehow Donald Duck gets to be part of the show.

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