When the Flyers host the Maple Leafs on Thursday, it will be their latest home game in December since they hosted the Rangers on Dec. 28, 1978, at the Spectrum. Since December 1979, "Disney on Ice" has occupied the Flyers' home arenas, first the Spectrum and now the Wachovia Center. . . .

The Devils played in Vancouver last week for the first time in six years. Six years! How many New Jersey coaches ago was that? . . .

The family of former Blackhawk

Keith Magnuson

asked a judge last week in Newmarket, Ontario, for leniency instead of jail time in the case against

Rob Ramage,

who was found driving impaired four years ago in the crash that killed Magnuson, a passenger in the vehicle. Ramage faces a five-year sentence. Magnuson's son,

Kevin,

asked for community service, arguing that Ramage had suffered enough. . . .

The Canucks'

Brendan Morrison

could miss 12 weeks as a result of wrist surgery. . . .

The Islanders'

Chris Simon

- suspended for 30 games, a league record - is seeking counseling after deliberately trying to injure the Penguins'

Jarkko Ruutu

by stepping on the back of Ruutu's leg on Dec. 15. "I want to start off by making clear that there is no excuse for my actions . . . and I apologize to everyone involved," Simon said in a statement. "The Islanders and I agree that the right thing to do is for me to take some time away from the team. I have enjoyed a long career achieving my dream of being a player in the National Hockey League, and I'm proud of my accomplishments. But I acknowledge that time and assistance is needed before I return to the game."

Club owner

Charles Wang

added that Simon's actions "do not reflect what the New York Islanders stand for. They were reckless, potentially dangerous, and against our team concept of grit, character and heart." . . .

Finally, our dear friend

Peter Puck

returned to television last week in Toronto. Peter, a cartoon character shaped like a hockey puck who explains hockey rules to viewers, had been in hockey hiatus for 28 long years.

"Peter Puck is a part of hockey's cultural heritage," said

Chris Hebb,

senior vice president of broadcast and content for Maple Leaf Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Maple Leafs. "Now, the thousands of hockey fans who grew up watching Peter Puck can relive cherished childhood memories of the past and also introduce their own children to this beloved character."