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Hockey

Stanley Cup Notebook

Stars spring hotel surprise, shuck construction-zone digs

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Posted: Saturday June 12, 1999 01:00 PM

  Construction and a room shortage at downtown hotels forced Mike Modano (right) and the Stars into a haunted Holiday Inn. AP

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) -- They saw the buses parked outside, the media buzzing about and wondered: Why in the world are all these people hanging around a suburban motel in Grand Island, N.Y.?

It was because the Stars were out -- out of their under-renovation hotel in downtown Buffalo and checked into a chain motel about 15 miles away.

The Dallas Stars were supposed to stay at the NHL headquarters hotel a few blocks from Marine Midland Arena for Games 3 and 4 of the Stanley Cup finals, but switched upon learning it is undergoing extensive renovations.

They couldn't get any closer to downtown because most rooms were booked long ago for a swim meet, a sales seminar and a meeting of 5,000 family members from India.

And a sporting event that had nothing to do with the Stanley Cup, World Championship Wrestling, drew a large crowd Friday night at Marine Midland Arena.

So the Stars landed instead at a Holiday Inn in a quiet suburb, surprising local residents who didn't know they were coming -- especially some Sabres fans already booked into the motel for a wedding.

Interestingly enough, local legend has it that the Stars' hotel is haunted, a rumor that even hotel employees don't mind joking about.

Sabres' Juneau thinking free agency

Sabres forward Joe Juneau, acquired at the March trading deadline from Washington, plans to test free agency after this season.

Juneau, 31, can become an unrestricted free agent after the playoffs end, one reason why the Capitals dealt him.

This is Juneau's second Stanley Cup finals in as many seasons. He also made the finals last year with the Capitals.

Called for icing

The Buffalo Sabres really mean it when they talk about having a home-ice advantage in the Stanley Cup finals.

Their playing surface at Marine Midland Arena will definitely be smoother for longer than what they skated on for two games in Dallas' Reunion Arena.

"We're looking forward to getting on good ice and cranking it up again," Buffalo forward Dixon Ward said following a 4-2 loss to Dallas in Game 2 Thursday night.

The high temperatures in Dallas on the days of the first two games reached the low 90s, with high humidity making it feel even hotter. The heat filtered into Reunion Arena and softened the ice, even though several huge cold-air blowers were installed to try keeping the temperature down.

Sweep-less

Until this year, when the Stars and Sabres split the first two games, the last four Stanley Cup finals ended in sweeps.

The last non-sweep was in 1994, when the New York Rangers beat the Vancouver Canucks in seven games.

That might be good news for the Stars. The '94 Rangers were the last Presidents' Trophy winners to reach the finals and, like Dallas, they won their conference finals in seven games and were down 0-1 in the championship round.

L-o-n-g season

If the Stanley Cup finals go seven games, the NHL season will have stretched over all four seasons: fall, winter, spring and summer.

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman never envisioned hockey as a summer sport, and plans for an earlier end next season.

Bettman plans to start the regular season about Oct. 1, not Oct. 9 like this season, and end the 2000 playoffs at least a week earlier than this season.

One downside to playing hockey into summer: It is very difficult to keep buildings cold and ice surfaces hard when the outside temperature is in the 90s. Even in Buffalo, a city known for long, cold winters, Friday's high was in the low 90s.

 
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