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Ovechkin's mom rips Bettman

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ALEXANDER OVECHKIN'S mother Tatyana is upset the NHL hasn't committed to releasing its players for the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia.

"How can (commissioner Gary) Bettman not let them play?" Tatyana, herself a member of two gold-medal winning Russian basketball teams at the Olympics, told the Washington Post. "Doesn't he understand what Olympics are? Let him read books. Let him study history. They stopped wars in ancient Greece for the Olympics. Wars. And he can't stop his league for two weeks? This is nonsense."

Ovechkin, a sniper with the Washington Capitals and fellow Russian superstar Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins have both said they would risk suspension by the NHL to play in the Games.

Capitals owner Ted Leonsis also supports his star player. "It's a players' league, you know, and the players want to do it. And they should have a strong voice," he told the paper.

Rock star treatment

All the U2 fans on the New Jersey Devils are excited the team will be chartering on the same plane the Irish rock band recently used

"Who gets Bono's seat?" Devils winger Jay Pandolfo told the Newark Star-Ledger. "I'm going to see if I can pull that off."

Defenceman Paul Martin said the experience will be "Pretty cool."

"Some guys are pretty pumped up," he told the paper. "I actually got to see them when they were here. That was the first time I'd seen them. I'm not a huge fan of their music, but the live show is one of the best I've ever seen."

Khabibulin stunned by winner

OVERTIME was just 48.7 seconds away for the refurbished Edmonton Oilers, who charged into their 31st NHL campaign with a feisty showdown against their provincial rivals.

The Oilers erased a second-period two-goal deficit and were deadlocked 3-3 with the Calgary Flames in Saturday night's season opener.

All was seemingly well until goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin, the club's big off-season acquisition, left the crease to play the puck.

Khabibulin was unsuccessful with his clearing attempt, and Flames winger David Moss -- who already had a goal in the bank -- was able to take a whack at the loose puck and knock it toward the net and across the goal-line for a 4-3 victory at Rexall Place.

"We had just battled back and we were heading towards overtime. We could have had at least a point. I'm not happy about it right now," Khabibulin said.

"It's always a judgment call. I have to see what's better -- to come out and play it, or, leave it for a defenceman. If I know I can get to the puck first, I'll go out and play it... I can't believe what happened."

"It's a hard way to lose a hockey game," a disappointed Pat Quinn said after his first game behind the Oilers bench. "Those things happen in sports, but I certainly don't like that we lost. We have to learn not to beat ourselves."

Kane's role will increase

EVANDER KANE was held to just 11:09 of ice time in his NHL debut, but Atlanta Thrashers head coach John Anderson said that will change over time.

"He's going to get more and more ice time as he gets experience in tighter contests," Anderson told "I know my first year Roger Neilson didn't want to put me in tough situations, but the problem is if you don't put the person in tough situations then they don't get that experience. I put him out on a penalty kill when we had a two-goal lead and he handled it real well. Just little bits and pieces. I don't want to throw everything at him the first game."

Kane had an assist, four shots on goal and was a plus-1 in a 6-3 win over the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday night.

-- Canwest News Service

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition October 5, 2009 C5

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