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It was with mild reluctance a handful of us in The Hockey News office went ahead with the inaugural Man-Games Lost hockey pool Tuesday.

First of all, we don't wish ill will or misfortune on any player or team. We know how disappointing it is for the individual, the team and the fans of the team when a player is out of the lineup due to injury.

But we have to find solace in these injuries.

Like a lot of hockey fans, we're involved in pools and fantasy leagues. We contribute to the publication of our own Ultimate Fantasy Pool Guide each summer and we take part in our own inter-office pool.

That's why it's so painful to see these injuries happen right before our very eyes and that was the reasoning behind the Man-Games Lost pool.

Seven of us drafted six rounds of players (three forwards, two defensemen and a goalie) with the sole criteria being the number of games a player missed due to injury (not suspensions or healthy scratches). Goals, assists, penalty minutes, shutouts don't count for a hill of beans.

If good fortune doesn't shine on us for the other traditional pool, then maybe we'll do better in the Man-Games Lost pool.

We established a list of players not eligible for the pool because their unfortunate absences look to be extended. The list includes players such as Steve Sullivan, Steve Rucchin, Teppo Numminen, Tim Taylor, Fernando Pisani, Eric Lindros and Mike Rathje.

Chicago's Tuomo Ruutu was the first overall pick. He has missed 38 per cent of Chicago's games the past two seasons.

St. Louis' Jay McKee has had seven separate injuries the past three seasons and missed about 35 per cent of his team's games. He went second overall followed by Toronto's Kyle Wellwood, Minnesota's Marian Gaborik, Tampa Bay's Dan Boyle, New Jersey's Colin White and Toronto's Carlo Colaiacovo in the first round.

A solid pick was made in the third round when Adam Foote was selected, then placed on injured reserve less than an hour later.

Another astute selection was made in the third round when Martin Havlat was taken. He left the season opener with an injury.

Most of the other picks were either time-worn veterans (Dominik Hasek, Gary Roberts, Owen Nolan, Jeremy Roenick), players nursing pre-season injuries (J-S Giguere, Scottie Upshall, Mathieu Schneider) or players with track records for breaking down (Steve Reinprecht, Branislav Mezei, Ed Jovanovski, Todd Bertuzzi).

There is no cheering in the office when a selected player goes down. After all, this is done for solace purposes only.

And because The Hockey News has a well-earned reputation for getting a player injured shortly after putting him on our cover or making him the focus of a feature, we know selecting players for a Man-Games Lost pool will be nothing other than a vote of good health for the 42 recipients.

HOME AWAY FROM HOME A close friend passed along the information that Ottawa Senators owner Eugene Melnyk spent the Oct. 3 season opener at his second home in Barbados.

He watched the game at Bert's Bar, the popular watering hole in Christ Church, well known for its Senators theme and big-screen TVs showing NHL games.

During the national anthem prior to the Senators game versus the Toronto Maple Leafs, Melnyk stopped what he was doing and stood up like a proud Canadian.

“That was nice to see,” Pat Gunn said. “He must feel terrible being stuck down in this tax haven where he's unable to pay his Canadian taxes, the poor guy.”



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