Kasparaitus is a free agent: Colorado Avalanche defenseman Darius Kasparaitis will be an unrestricted free agent on July 1, TSN reports.
According to the Canada-based network, Friday's independent arbitration hearing to determine Kasparaitis' status was canceled after the NHL withdrew it's petition. Sources told TSN the NHL didn't think it could win the case.
While with the Pittsburgh Penguins, Kasparaitis was awarded a two-year deal worth $2.4 million by an arbitrator last summer. He accepted the contract, which paid him $1.15 million in 2001-02, with the understanding he would be an unrestricted free agent after the first season because he would have 10 years of professional experience and would be earning less than the league average. Kasparaitis' agent, Mark Gandler, told The Associated Press at the time that the NHL's collective bargaining agreement specifies a player awarded a two-year contract through arbitration can void the second year if he becomes eligible for free agency after the first year.
Old and useless defenseman to stay with Detroit: Defenceman Steve Duchesne has exercised his option with the Detroit Red Wings for next season, general manager Ken Holland said Thursday. Duchesne will earn $1 million in the 2002-03 season, which will be his fourth with Detroit. Last week, the Red Wings decided not to exercise their $1.6 million option for next season on Duchesne, who turns 37 on Sunday. Had he declined the option, he would have become an unrestricted free agent Monday.