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EA Sports Gives Preview of NFL Expansion Draft, Report on NHL

Column by Bo Light and Brian Petersen
Sports Columnists

Welcome to Everything About Sports, the column that asks the really tough questions. Did Connecticut beat Syracuse? Who will go in the expansion draft? Will the Student Center Committee get Cracker and Morphine for Spring Concert? Read on.

This Week in Football

The NFL's Expansion Draft is coming up tomorrow, and while Jacksonville and Carolina will be looking to pick up some hidden gems, most teams are hoping to get rid of some overpriced, under-talented rejects, thus freeing up a little more room under the salary cap.

Here's how the draft works: Each team has left six players exposed to the draft, and each time a player is picked, his team may then pull back an exposed player, so no more than three players can be picked from any one team. Jacksonville will pick first, and both teams must draft at least 30 players, but no more than 42. Confused yet?

There is in fact a lot of talent in the expansion draft - Cleveland's Michael Dean Perry has been mentioned often - but much of the talent comes with a high price ($3.2 million in Perry's case), so the trick for Jacksonville and Carolina is to find low-priced, undeveloped talent that for some reason hasn't been spotted at the player's current club.

Some players likely to go high in the expansion draft:

Terrell Buckley, cornerback, Green Bay - Fast and strong; pricey but worth it at $1.8 million. Buckley's main weakness is his height (five feet, nine inches), which limits his effectiveness in man-to-man coverage, but he is perfect for an expansion team that won't have enough talent to play man-to-man anyway.

Harry Colon, defensive back, Detroit - Harry's limited strength makes him a dubious choice at DB, but his sense of where the ball is and how to get there would make him an excellent special teams player, and $425,000 is a low price for a man who will make a lot of stops.

Marv Cook, tight end, Chicago - At $700,000, he could be one of the best deals in the draft. Tim Popson, backup tight end for San Francisco, could also go high, because he comes with a $135,000 price tag.

Perry, on the other hand, is not likely to go at all, and neither is Atlanta's Chris Doleman or Cleveland's Mark Carrier, because their price tags are just too high. It's possible (and in fact likely) that Cleveland left Perry and Carrier exposed hoping to scare people with their price tags, but no expansion team wants to chance finding out whether there was an actual reason they were exposed.

Hockey: A Sport with No Teeth

On the ice, the NHL has finally started play, and the traditional (and some not-so-traditional) powers are rising to the top.

First and foremost are the Pittsburgh Penguins, who have jumped out to a 10-0-1 start despite playing without the temporarily retired Mario Lemieux. Amazing goaltending and a talent-laden first line have been the keys to success for the Penguins, who are serious Cup contenders.

Over in the Central Division, Detroit, the NHL's newest kings of futility, have pushed into the Western Conference lead behind goaltenders Chris Osgood and Mike Vernon and more offensive firepower than the Sixth Fleet.

Some surprises start coming when we see Quebec and San Jose challenging for honors in their divisions, and the Tampa Bay Lightning tied for the lead in the Atlantic Division. The thought here is that the prolonged lockout has dulled the abilities of many teams, lowering them to mediocrity, and the resulting parity has allowed perennial doormats to exact some measure of revenge on the rest of their divisions. It won't last.

While the NHL spent the end of 1994 fighting about its contracts, another league rose to power briefly, and even now retains enough clout to challenge the big boys for popularity, if not talent. The International Hockey League celebrates its fiftieth anniversary this year, and the lack of other games in most markets led to a tremendous upswing in attendance for this group of NHL affiliates and small independents.

Currently leading that league are the Peoria Rivermen (a St. Louis affiliate), who rode a nine-game winning streak into first place; the Cincinnati Cyclones (Florida Panthers), who have stayed near the top with an intense defense, and the Kalamazoo Wings (Dallas Stars), who have the best goalie tandem and the best road record in the league, but can't seem to win at home.

Trivia Question

Who were the last two expansion teams in the NFL? Send answers, along with your comments and Dennis Rodman's hair dyes to Winners get dinner with Tree Rollins (no expenses paid). We'll hold off answering last week's trivia question until next week, when E. A. Sports moves back to Friday (it's sweeps week). And just to help people along with answering the various trivia questions that have been offered lately, we offer the following hints:

1) Green Bay was not a recent expansion team, nor was Cleveland.

2) The first NBA All-Star Game was not held in New Orleans or Phoenix, and Tree Rollins was not the MVP.

3) Boris Becker at Wimbledon, 1985:

1st round: d. Hank Pfister, U.S.

2nd round: d. Matt Anger, U.S.

3rd round: d. Joakim Nystrom (5), Sweden

4th round: d. Tim Mayotte, U.S.

Quarterfinals: d. Henri Leconte, France

Leconte, by the way, upset top-seeded Ivan Lendl in the first round. Hope this helps everyone out. See you next week.