Claude Lemieux, the Stanley Cup MVP for New Jersey last season, was traded twice yesterday, ending up in Colorado in a three-way deal featuring disenchanted stars who are among the NHL's top forwards.
The Devils sent Lemieux to the New York Islanders for right wing Steve Thomas. The Islanders then traded Lemieux to the Avalanche for left wing Wendel Clark.
Lemieux scored 13 postseason goals in leading the Devils to their first NHL championship. But the 30-year-old right wing angered New Jersey general manager Lou Lamoriello by challenging a contract he signed in the off-season, then failing to report to camp because of the dispute.
Lemieux was suspended since the opening of training camp nearly three weeks ago. On Friday, an arbitrator ruled that the fax of the contract Lemieux signed was valid.
Clark, 28, had 12 goals and 18 assists for 30 points in 37 games last season with the Quebec Nordiques, who moved to Colorado in the off-season. He contends the Avalanche is reneging on a promise to renegotiate his contract, which has one year left.
Thomas had refused to report to training camp, demanding $1.7 million a year. Immediately after being traded, he signed a multi-year contract with the Devils.
Jets retain Tkachuk: Keith Tkachuk became one of hockey's three highest paid players this season when the Winnipeg Jets matched the Chicago Blackhawks' five-year, $17 million offer sheet to keep the left wing. Tkachuk, who was a restricted free agent, will earn $6 million this season. Only Wayne Gretzky of the Los Angeles Kings ($6.545 million) has a higher base salary. Mark Messier of the New York Rangers has a base of $6 million but could earn more with incentives.
Southern Cal looking to get players cleared by Saturday
Southern Cal officials are hopeful that two of the three players suspended earlier this week for their dealings with an agent will be cleared in time to play in Saturday afternoon's Pac-10 Conference game at Cal.
Senior defensive end Israel Ifeanyi, senior inside linebacker Errick Herrin and junior tailback Shawn Walters all were officially suspended Monday. The trio also was withheld from competing in Saturday's 31-0 win over Arizona State while the school investigated charges of their dealings with Oxnard, Calif., sports agent Robert Caron.
Gator cleared to play:Gator cleared to play: Defensive lineman Reggie McGrew, one of Florida's top freshmen who sat out the first four games after questions were raised about a class he took in high school, has been cleared to play by the NCAA and will be in uniform Saturday when the third-ranked Gators play at No. 21 Louisiana State.
Milton invited:Milton invited: Maryland junior Eric Milton is one of seven left-handed pitchers invited by USA Baseball to participate in the 1995 NationsBank Baseball Team Trials.
Wirtz retires:Wirtz retires: Lennie Wirtz, a fixture in college basketball officiating for 40 years, retired. He worked the ACC tournament finals 14 times and called six NCAA Final Fours, including the 1970 and 1979 title games.
Bowe-Holyfield organizers sticking to Nov. 4 date
Backers of the third Riddick Bowe-Evander Holyfield fight confirmed that the bout will go on as scheduled Nov. 4 in Las Vegas, the same night that Mike Tyson fights Buster Mathis Jr. in the same city. Ross Greenburg, who will produce the Bowe-Holyfield telecast for pay-per-view, said he expects the Tyson bout on the Fox network to be over by the time Bowe-Holyfield begins at 11:30 p.m. If the Tyson bout isn't over by then, Greenburg said, the Bowe fight will be delayed.
Local card tonight:Local card tonight: A 10-bout amateur boxing card featuring fighters from Maryland, Delaware, Virginia and West Virginia will be held tonight at Martin's Champagne Room in the 2700 block of Patapsco Avenue. Tickets are priced at $10, $15 and $20.
Sparky Anderson, who resigned as Detroit Tigers manager Monday, took that job 55 games into the 1979 season. Who started that year as Tigers manager? (Answer, 7D)