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Stanley Cup Final
POSTED ON Sunday, 01.01.2012 / 3:51 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Live from New Year's Day practices

Lilja first on the ice

PHILADELPHIA -- Decked out in an orange tuque and his Winter Classic home jersey, Flyers defenseman Andreas Lilja was the first player to skate on the temporary ice rink built in the middle of the Citizens Bank Park infield this morning.

This isn't Lilja's first Winter Classic -- he played with the Detroit Red Wings at Wrigley Field for the 2009 outdoor game -- but said he's going to have far more fun playing for the home team this time.

"The thing I remember most was we were the visiting team, and we had such a long walk to the game," Lilja told NHL.com. "I think it took us at least five minutes to walk to the game. But it was an awesome feeling."

He expects more of the same when he takes the ice Monday.

"I heard it was unbelievable yesterday (for the Alumni Game)," said Lilja. "I hear it was unreal. … I'm really looking forward to that tomorrow."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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POSTED ON Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 8:23 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2012 Molson Canadian Winter Classic Alumni Game

Remembering Brad McCrimmon

PHILADELPHIA -- Brad McCrimmon made his mark on many players all over the NHL during his 18 seasons as a player as well as his coaching career. It was that coaching career that took him to the Lokomotiv team in Russia this year, and led to his tragic death in September's plane crash.

McCrimmon spent five seasons with the Flyers, and in today's Alumni Game, his presence was felt as each player had a No. 10 patch on their left shoulder.

"About a month ago I requested to do it and the entire organization thought it would be a great idea," said Mark Howe, McCrimmon's defense partner for three seasons during which the Flyers went to the Stanley Cup Final twice. "Brad was a very important part of the team in the '80s and a dear friend to a lot of people in the locker room and it was only fitting he be remembered as part of the team."

The players certainly were proud to do something to memorialize McCrimmon.

"Brad McCrimmon was a tough loss for all of us," said Rick Tocchet. "For me especially. He was one of the main reasons I stuck in the NHL. I sat beside him in the locker room. He was a big part of my life, teaching me how to be a pro."

Contact Adam Kimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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POSTED ON Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 8:11 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2012 Molson Canadian Winter Classic Alumni Game

Desjardins soaking it all in

PHILADELPHIA -- When Eric Desjardins walked out of the dugout for today's Alumni Game, he wanted to make sure he remembered every second of it.

"I had the iPhone from my son," Desjardins told NHL.com. "I wanted to have memories. Sometimes there are so many things going on, it's tough to get it all in. I wanted to have something to look after and remind me I was here."

Desjardins put in his usual solid effort, playing 14:52, and didn't look much different from the player who spent 17 seasons in the NHL, his final 11 with the Flyers.

"It felt great," he said of the reaction he received from the fans. "It was a lot of fun. Not only to come back and play for the Flyers, but outdoors like this in the big stadium, it was a great feeling."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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POSTED ON Saturday, 12.31.2011 / 8:06 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2012 Molson Canadian Winter Classic Alumni Game

No little save for Little

PHILADELPHIA -- Growing up in Medicine Hat, Alta., Neil Little admitted he was a fan of the dynasty Edmonton Oilers teams of the 1980s. He got an up-close look at one member of that dynasty in today's Alumni Game when Glen Anderson had a penalty shot in the third period.

Anderson, who scored 498 goals on his way to a spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame, broke in alone, but Little -- who played two NHL games -- got his shoulder on the shot, knocking it high and wide.

"Yeah, how about that?" Little told NHL.com. "That was enjoyable."

Little stopped 11 of 12 shots he faced in just over 27 minutes of action. While he never got a long run in the NHL, he's been a part of the Flyers' organization as a player and scout for all but one season in Finland since 1993.

"That was special," Little said after the game. "I was a little nervous off the bat, but that's to be expected. After that it was fantastic. Just soaked it up and enjoyed the moment.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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POSTED ON Thursday, 12.29.2011 / 6:45 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Classic Preparations

Alumni game to be a Clarke family affair

VOORHEES, N.J. -- At the Philadelphia Flyers' practice rink, there's a balcony off the general manager's office that allows him to observe his players in action.

For years as GM of the Flyers, Bob Clarke occupied that spot. Yesterday, it was his daughter, Jodi -- who works for the team as a receptionist -- watching from that same spot.

When asked what it was like to watch her father -- a Hockey Hall of Famer, three-time Hart Trophy winner and two-time Stanley Cup champion -- back in action, she had a unique reply.

"Funny," she told NHL.com, then started laughing. "When he started skating a month ago, it was slow and very methodical. But now that they're all back together, you see a little more jump in their step and they seem to be reliving their youth and having a ball."

Clarke was joined by a few former teammates, including Bill Barber, Reggie Leach and Bernie Parent, for a skate this morning here at Virtua Flyers Skate Zone.

Also on the ice was Peter, Bob's 12-year-old grandson. For mom Jodi, that was really what she wanted to see.

"Him and my dad in the last year do pretty much everything together," said Jodi. "When he was littler it was harder, but now they're buddies. My dad is taking him to the family skate, he's taking him to the Alumni Game. Peter will probably be on the bench. He just wants to experience everything with my little guy and I love that. My daughter, she likes it but she's more interested in shopping with Grandma than she is watching Grandpa do anything. I'm very excited for my son."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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POSTED ON Thursday, 12.29.2011 / 1:41 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Panthers mull signing of Madden

With seven forwards currently on the injured list, it appears the Florida Panthers are giving serious consideration to bringing in 38-year-old John Madden to shore up their depth.

The Miami Herald's George Richards reported on his Twitter account Thursday that Panthers coach Kevin Dineen said Madden is in Florida to take a physical and continue contract talks.

Panthers General Manager Dale Tallon told the Herald on Wednesday that he and Madden's representative were discussing a deal. The big question was how long it would take Madden to shake off the rust that comes with not having played since the end of last season with the Minnesota Wild.

"John has always been a good skater," Tallon told the Herald. "And he's a pretty solid guy, has been for a long time."

Madden has won three Stanley Cups -- two with the Devils and another in 2010 with the Blackhawks. In 12 NHL seasons, Madden has 345 points in 867 games.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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POSTED ON Wednesday, 12.28.2011 / 12:03 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Classic Preparations

College teams get first view of Winter Classic rink

PHILADELPHIA -- While the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic between the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers is the prime event for the ice rink being built here at Citizens Bank Park, it's far from the only event.

Representatives from four college teams that will play here after the NHL leaves got their first tour of stadium Wednesday, and walked away highly impressed.

"It's kind of breathtaking," Drexel University coach Greg Marinari told NHL.com. His team will play Villanova University on Jan. 5, one day after Penn State plays Neumann University. "It's very exciting to see all the work they're putting in."

Marinari said he told his players about the game following a game in early December, and said the reaction "was so loud outside the locker room that the parents were asking what the big announcement was."

Bill Downey, Penn State's director of hockey operations, said his players had the same reaction when they learned they would be playing outside at Citizens Bank Park.

"We were actually on a trip down to Liberty University in Virginia, we're on the bus … they were getting all the information from social networking, via Twitter and Facebook," Downey told NHL.com, "so we could hear them start rumbling in the back of the bus. We didn't want to tell them until the end of the weekend, but in this day and age, that stuff comes out pretty quickly. They were thrilled. I know they couldn't be more excited to play in the game."

The game will be a boon for PSU, which moves from a non-varsity team to NCAA Division I next season. Currently, PSU plays as an independent in the American Collegiate Hockey Association, before joining the new Big Ten conference in 2013-14.

"To have an opportunity for our school to come play here, it's going to mean so much to the players moving forward, as a memory for them," said Downey. "I couldn't be more happy for the players, and for the program it's such a step in the right direction."

Downey said he was in Pittsburgh last year for the 2011 Winter Classic, and has talked to people from other college and NHL teams that have played outside for advice. What they've told him is that there's not a lot, really, you can plan for in advance.

"We've been talking to a bunch of people, trying to figure some things out," he said. "It's such a crapshoot with what the weather is going to be like. You can plan for a thousand things, but you might drive yourself crazy doing that. When the day comes, we'll be ready to go and be mentally focused.

"I think the biggest thing is to try and eliminate some of the awe factor of walking into a venue like this and just allowing them to play a game as normally as possible. They're all going to be excited and just having them prepare and be ready mentally to play the game is most important."

Marinari said he's gotten the same advice for when his team faces Villanova in another chapter in their area rivalry -- both are members of the ACHA Eastern College Hockey Association.

"You're still putting on your skates, you're still putting on your pads," he said. "Maybe now you're putting an extra layer underneath, but you're still playing a hockey game.

"It's very exciting. I cannot wait."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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POSTED ON Tuesday, 12.27.2011 / 2:38 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Classic Preparations

The work goes on

PHILADELPHIA -- Rain fell here at Citizens Bank Park, but outside the stadium, it didn't slow the work being done in building Spectator Plaza.

Citizens Bank Way, the street which runs the length of the stadium from home plate to the back of the left-field seating area, was closed off to traffic and more than a half-dozen tents were put up on the first day of the build-out for the fan fun area.

"It shouldn't affect us too much," NHL Senior Vice President of Events Don Renzulli told NHL.com. "We're expecting about an inch of rain today, but we got a lot of stuff done this morning and then we'll start to move inside and do the things we need to do to stay dry.

"It'll probably hold us up a bit, but a lot of tenting is going up, so once they get one up they'll stay dry as best as they can and then we'll just keep moving. I don't anticipate it'll put us that far behind. We have time built in to catch up."

Among the highlights will be a Molson Hockey House, as well a giant video screen, NHL Network broadcast platform, interactive sponsor tents, food and beverage spots and what Renzulli called, "just a tailgate party."

Spectator Plaza opens at 9 a.m. on Jan. 31, and will be open Jan. 1 and Jan. 2, right up to puck drop between the Flyers and Rangers.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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POSTED ON Monday, 12.26.2011 / 4:54 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Classic Preparations

Work shifts to auxiliary rink

PHILADELPHIA -- The NHL ice crew has moved their activity -- for a little while -- to the Winter Classic auxiliary rink.

Members of the Wells Fargo ice crew spent part of the day slushing in the gaps between the ice trays, and about 4:45 p.m. the hose was turned on.

The goal is to build an inch of ice on the auxiliary rink, which in years past has been used by youth players from the towns of the teams playing in the Winter Classic.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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POSTED ON Monday, 12.26.2011 / 2:42 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Classic Preparations

Renzulli keeping things on track

PHILADELPHIA -- Seated in his temporary office here at Citizens Bank Park on Monday morning, NHL Senior Vice President of Events Don Renzulli said he isn't letting the excitement of what will happen in just seven days affect him.

With just a week remaining until they drop the puck for the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, Renzulli is more focused on keeping the train on the tracks.

"Excitement? No," he told NHL.com. "Part of this is just being able to maintain and keep the build going and make sure you get everything done. The excitement comes when you start to bring people into the ballpark and they start to at least see what's going on and what it took to get there."

What they'll start seeing over the next few days will be pretty impressive.

The biggest attraction will be the Spectator Plaza, which will be constructed on Citizens Bank Way, adjacent to the stadium. With crews arriving from holiday break today, work will start tomorrow despite the rain being forecast for the Philadelphia region.

Renzulli said 10 different sponsors will have interactive areas for fans, with the centerpiece being Molson Hockey House.

"It's a scaled-down version of what they did at the (2010 Winter) Olympics, similar to what they did at (NHL) Faceoff in Winnipeg this year," Renzulli said. "Which is really a kind of a sports bar. … It's a big bar, but they integrate other things in the tent."

There also will be a giant video board, NHL Network will be broadcasting from the plaza, and there will be live music, including a performance by The Zoo, winner of MTV's Ultimate Cover Band contest.

"We do a lot of photo ops outside," Renzulli said. "They'll have a lot of branding of the game. It's not much different than what we've had in the past. There's food and beverages, there'll be sampling of the products of our sponsors. Then it's just a tailgate party."

Work also will continue on turning the inside of the baseball stadium into an outdoor hockey wonderland, from hanging signs and installing décor on field walls and gates, and much more.

The work will continue over the next few days, and besides tomorrow's rain, the forecast looks pretty good right through the game on Jan. 2.

"It's not much different than we've been seeing all along," Renzulli said. "It's mid-to-upper 20s and 30s at night and up into the mid-to-upper 40s during the day. Slight chance of rain or snow shower on the 31st, but with temperatures in the mid-to-low 40s I don't really see that becoming snow. If it does, it's not going to stick. Winds are pretty constant between five and 20 (mph) throughout that time, it just depends on when. Right now they're calling on game-day as mostly cloudy, chance for light rain or snow showers late. So I would anticipate we're not going to see much (precipitation) during the game. Highs in the mid-to-upper 40s, lows in the low 30s, it's overcast, won't have the sun to contend with. Might be a little bit warmer for the fans than it has been at other games, (but) you deal with it."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK


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I didn't think it would actually work, but it ended up working, so I'm thanking my lucky stars tonight.

— Columbus forward Nick Foligno on scoring the overtime goal after telling the Blue Jackets in the locker room that he would win the game