Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

June's Tune: Hockey Gears for Comings, Goings

Newspaper article St Louis Post-Dispatch (MO)

June's Tune: Hockey Gears for Comings, Goings

Article excerpt

June is the month of transition.

Wedding bells. School commencements. Longer days to the summer solstice, shorter days toward winter.

The hockey world has slid smoothly into this cosmic coupling of beginnings and endings.

On Saturday at Kiel Center, National Hockey League teams drafted their new teen-aged work force.

On Monday at Norwood Hills, deposed Blues chairman Mike Shanahan served as honorary chairman of the Blues Alumni Golf Tournament.

With these two adjacent events, the symbolism smacks you on the head like a Bob Plager hook.

For Blues prospects, it's a short drive from the first tee on draft day to the 19th hole and status as a Blues alum.

So it is only fit that talk of comings and goings have dominated hockey talk here. Foremost was whether Wayne Gretzky, a free agent as of July 1, will become the newest Blues alum.

He came here last season to play with Brett Hull and for Mike Keenan. He openly enjoyed Hull but apparently disliked Keenan.

Last week, NHL executives, team officials and reporters were abuzz with their versions of Keenan's late-night apology to The Great One.

Keenan had criticized Gretzky - who appeared to be playing in pain - after the Blues lost the first two playoff games in Detroit. After the flight home, Keenan showed up at Gretzky's hotel room here.

Keenan has confirmed that he apologized to Gretzky. Their unconfirmed rest of the story was said to go something like this:

Keenan: "I know you're mad at me."

Gretzky: "Why bring me here if you doubt my ability?"

This popular version ends with Keenan emotionally declaring his respect while hugging Gretzky.

It's unknown whether that is an accurate transcript, or a script for the next "I love you, man!" beer ad.

What is known is that Gretzky has never publicly ripped Keenan.

With No. 99 in limbo, the Blues spent their rare No. 1 draft pick on Marty Reasoner, a Gretzky admirer. "His skating style is the same," Blues chief scout Ted Hampson said. "He's got those hunched shoulders like Gre tzky has. …

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