Thursday, May 20, 2004

Flyers coach looks to Primeau to lead team

Blackhawks sign Sutter to 1-year deal

The Associated Press

VOORHEES, N.J. - Facing elimination for the first time in the playoffs, the Philadelphia Flyers are turning to - who else - Keith Primeau.

"You ride the horse that got you here," Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock said Wednesday. "Primeau has been a great player. How many are going to come on board with Keith? That's the challenge. We need more than just Keith Primeau if we are going to extend the series. That's the important thing is to get more people following his lead, get closer to his lead, and join him."

Primeau and the rest of the Flyers are trying to prevent the Tampa Bay Lightning from reaching the Stanley Cup finals for the first time in franchise history. The Lightning can advance with a victory in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference finals tonight in Philadelphia.

Tampa Bay took control of the series with a 4-2 win Tuesday night. The Lightning are 2-0 in close-out games this spring, but have alternated wins and losses against the Flyers.

"We want to try to finish it, but I think some other people over there in Philly have some other ideas about it," Lightning coach John Tortorella said. "Hopefully we're going to break the trend and win two in a row. It will be two teams in a great building, great situation ... looking forward to it."

CHICAGO: The Blackhawks signed coach Brian Sutter to a one-year contract extension Wednesday.

The Blackhawks went 20-43-11-8 this season and finished last in the Western Conference this season. Their 20 wins were the fewest in the NHL, and the lowest by a Blackhawks team since the 1956-57 squad won 16. Chicago also had a franchise-record 19-game losing streak.

Assistant coach Denis Savard was also given a one-year extension, and scout Brian Cassidy joined the staff as an assistant.

TV DEAL: NBC is back on the ice after 29 years. The network will broadcast NHL games the next two seasons under a revenue-sharing deal, replacing ABC as the league's broadcast partner.

The deal, announced Wednesday, will call for NBC to broadcast seven regular-season games beginning in January and six playoff games in regular Saturday afternoon time slots. The network also will televise Games 3-7 of the Stanley Cup finals in prime time. NBC last regularly broadcast NHL games 29 years ago. The network televised the league's All-Star game from 1991-94.

Later Wednesday, ESPN and the NHL agreed to a deal to keep the league on ESPN2 next season, with options for the cable network to extend the deal for two more seasons.

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