- The Washington Times - Saturday, October 26, 2002

TAMPA, Fla. If you're shopping on EBay and see someone trying to unload a 1992 Nissan Acura, it's broken in and then some. It's also the best its owner could do until he got a new job.

"Actually, I've already got a few offers," said Bruce Cassidy, the first-year coach of the Washington Capitals.

The subject of Cassidy and his mode of transportation was brought up on ESPN2 by former Chicago goalie Darren Pang, a close friend.

"I asked him what the main difference was between coaching in the minors and the NHL," Pang said the other night. "He told me, 'You drive a better car.'"

"Pang and I were teammates back in 1984, when we won the Memorial Cup," said Cassidy, referring to their days with the Ottawa 67s and winning junior hockey's Stanley Cup. "He'd pick me up every day and drive me to the rink; had an old Mercury Zephyr with at least 175,000 miles on it. Great car."

And Cassidy's current wheels? "I worked out a deal and got a new Dodge Durango," he said, noting it was definitely an upgrade from Pang's Zephyr.

Slap shots

Veteran defenseman Sylvain Cote got into his first game of the season last night after sitting out six straight. He is 30 games short of playing in his 1,200th NHL game, a milestone few have reached.

The problem is that the Caps have eight defensemen, a figure that probably will hit nine when Alex Henry joins the team next week. Cassidy knows what Cote can do (in fact, they were teammates in an all-star game 18 years ago) and has been using others so he can judge their abilities.

"He's worked awfully hard, so I wanted to get him into a game," Cassidy said. "I also wanted to make sure he still felt he was part of the club."

The defensive scratch was J.F. Fortin, whom the coaches feel is turning the puck over too often. Healthy forwards who did not play were right wing Mike Farrell and left wing Andreas Salomonsson, the latter a surprise considering he seemingly has played well since being claimed off waivers from New Jersey.

Tampa Bay's Vincent Lecavalier recovered with amazing speed from his sprained knee. He was listed as not being ready to play for at least 10 days to two weeks as recently as Thursday.

Also left on the sidelines last night was Lightning enforcer Andre Roy, who became eligible to play yesterday after serving a 13-game suspension that started last season. He fought New York Rangers policemen Sandy McCarthy, went to the penalty box, left the box and then wrestled with the two linesmen.

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