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The Hockey News

Interesting to watch the battle for the final playoff berth in the Eastern Conference play out, mainly because two of the teams in the hunt – Philadelphia (currently eighth in the East) and Buffalo (tenth) have started to develop quite a rivalry over the last few seasons.

In the 2006 playoffs, the Sabres humiliated the Flyers 7-1 in the deciding game of their first-round series, in the process providing a harbinger of the misery that was to come for Philly fans the following season. Since then, Philadelphia has picked up two now-former Sabres (Martin Biron and Daniel Briere) to speed their rebuild.

And now, one team could wind up a single point behind the other for the right to keep playing after the regular season ends. I’m not saying the tension between the two franchises has reached Toronto/Montreal or Islanders/Rangers intensity, but little by little, the Sabres and Flyers are cultivating the type of ill will that, allowed to fester a bit longer, could get them there.

• Another depressing reminder of the status – or lack thereof – the NHL has in the United States these days: while LeBron James gets small Caribbean countries handed over to him as payment for endorsement contracts, Washington star Alex Ovechkin signs a six-month endorsement deal with an American haircutting chain that specializes in $14 lid snips.

I don’t know what’s worse – the fact the chain picked Ovie’s, um, natural do as an example of their best work, or the fact they wouldn’t even commit to him for more than a half-year! For his sake, let’s hope Mike Commodore doesn’t sign with the Caps in the off-season.

Adam Proteau is The Hockey News' online columnist and a regular contributor to His blog appears Mondays and Wednesdays, his Ask Adam feature appears Tuesdays and Fridays, and his column, Screen Shots, appears Thursdays.

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