March 26, 2004  
Volume 97, Issue 93  

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Outside the Western gates

By Matt Larkin
Gazette Writer

Gazette File Photo
BETCHA CAN’T SPEAR JUST ONCE! Mark Messier — aka Lay’s spokesman — decides that chips aren’t his thing anymore and goes after the Penguins’ Mark Strbak.

The following are highlights from the past week of professional sports:

A stunning barrage of upsets were the talk of the NCAA March Madness Tournament throughout the first week of action. After a fairly predictable opening bracket, the second round saw major contenders and high seeds Kentucky, Gonzaga, Mississippi State, Stanford, Maryland and North Carolina State all ousted from competition. Favourites Duke, St. Joe’s, Connecticut and Kansas all advanced to the Sweet 16, but the trend thus far in the tournament suggests that hoops fans should continue to expect the unexpected going forward.

The dark cloud of violence continues to hover over the NHL, as league disciplinarian Colin Campbell remains a busy man. A brawl between the Calgary Flames and Nashville Predators on Mar. 20 resulted in the suspensions of Flames’ defenseman Krzysztof Oliwa as well as head coach Darryl Sutter. Toronto Maple Leaf Wade Belak also drew attention from the league office on Saturday night, earning an eight-game suspension after a questionable slash on Colorado’s Ossi Vaananen.

The outbreak of hockey violence continued on Sunday and Monday; New York Rangers’ captain Mark Messier will miss two games after spearing the Penguins’ Martin Strbak, while the Calgary Flames received yet another slap on the wrist as winger Chris Simon was suspended two games for a knee-o-knee hit delivered to Dallas’ Sergei Zubov. Thankfully, the NHL has seen some positive news of late. New Jersey Devils’ goaltender Martin Brodeur became the fastest NHL netminder ever to reach 400 wins with an overtime victory over the Florida Panthers on Monday, Mar. 22.

The NFL has seen a flurry of activity of late, as three members of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers found new homes. A pair of talented-yet-erratic NFL receivers swapped places, as the Bucs dealt the outspoken Keyshawn Johnson to the Dallas Cowboys for Joey Galloway, a former Pro Bowler who never saw the success in the Lone Star state that he enjoyed as a Seattle Seahawk. Two other star Tampa Bay players joined new teams this week, as defensive tackle Warren Sapp signed with the Oakland Raiders and safety John Lynch became a Denver Bronco.



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