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Posted On Monday, 09.26.2011 / 2:17 PM

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

'Worst-kept secret in sports'

Commissioner Gary Bettman, at a podium erected on top of a dugout at Citizens Bank Park, just made official what the commissioner himself called, "the worst-kept secret in sports," that the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic will be played at 1 p.m. on Jan. 2, 2012, between the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers.
 
Dignitaries from both clubs were in attendance, including Rangers Ryan Callahan, Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards, and Flyers Chris Pronger, James van Riemsdyk, Matt Carle and Scott Hartnell. There also were a few hundred Flyers season ticket holders in attendance.
 
They just showed a great promotional video highlighting the great Rangers-Flyers rivalry, and the Commissioner also confirmed HBO is back on board for another edition of the critically-acclaimed, award-winning "24/7" series.
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Posted On Monday, 09.26.2011 / 1:30 PM

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

Welcome to Philadelphia

The NHL has invaded Citizens Bank Park for today's announcement of the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.

The home of the Philadelphia Phillies has been turned into a temporary hockey heaven, as Flyers, Rangers and the beautiful Classic logo are all over the ballpark.

Dignitaries expected today include Flyers Chairman Ed Snider, Rangers GM Glen Sather, Flyers GM Paul Holmgren, coaches and players from both teams, Philadelphia Mayor Michael Nutter, and Phillies President David Montgomery.

You can follow along here at this blog, and NHL.com and the NHL Network will have live coverage.

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Posted On Thursday, 09.08.2011 / 4:00 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 2011 Player Media Tour

Flyers' Giroux not out to make friends

In the days of the Original Six, players from opposing teams almost never fraternized with each other. Nowadays, with free agency and players from multiple teams sharing the same agents or offseason trainers, it's common to see guys from multiple teams socializing.

That carries over to events like this week's Player Media Tour, where guys from multiple teams are spending two days in New York and Newark. It's a pretty lighthearted event, and the guys are pretty relaxed.

Most are like Philadelphia Flyers forward James van Riemsdyk, who told NHL.com that he's enjoying getting to meet some guys he's known only from watching on TV or playing against them.

However, his Flyers teammate Claude Giroux isn't up for making friends in New York. He's more of a subscriber to the olden days.

"It's kind of cool," Giroux told NHL.com of spending time with the opposing players, "but at the same time I play against them and don't really like all of them. I guess it's part of the game, you have to go with it. I think when you're on the ice you're not there to make friends."
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Posted On Thursday, 08.18.2011 / 3:46 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - The Research Project

Skills Contest brings camp to end

The final event of the 2011 NHL Research, Development and Orientation was the All-Star Skills Competition, and it featured some pretty special moments.

The fastest skater contest was a near dead heat between Owen Sound's Jarrod Maidens and Sarnia's Alex Galchenyuk. Galchenyuk edged him by one-tenth of a second  in the preliminary round, and when they raced again in the final, it was Galchenyuk by a whisker again, getting around in 15.040 seconds, compared to 15.045 for Maidens.

The Breakaway Challenge allowed the players to show their creativity, and they didn't disappoint.

The first to star was Sudbury's Mathew Campagna, who on his third try got the puck to stick to his blade and raised the stick over his head with one hand. As he skated in, he slashed his stick down, but it hit the goalie right in the chest.





Sarnia's Nail Yakupov tried a Superman dive with the puck in his hand and tried sliding it over to his stick, but couldn't get the shot off. Another attempt featured Galchenyuk lobbing the puck chest-high as Yakupov skated in, but his shot attempt went wide.

The winner, though, was London's Andreas Athanasiou, who put the puck between his skates, flipped it into the air and flicked it out of the air with his backhand and into the net.




USNTDP right wing Miles Koules won the accuracy shooting contest, twice needing just five shots to break the four targets.

Athanasiou won the final event, the Elimination Shootout. Through two rounds, he and Portland defenseman Derrick Pouliot were the only skaters remaining. Pouliot's third attempt landed in Collin Olson's glove when the USNTDP netminder made a fine save. At the other end, Athanasiou beat Daniel Atlshuller for the victory.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Thursday, 08.18.2011 / 1:33 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - The Research Project

The perfect test subjects

What made it so easy for the NHL general managers in attendance to judge how potential rule changes and innovations could affect the game was the high quality of play from the top 2012 Entry Draft prospects used to try out the changes.

"I'm so impressed with the level of the play and the intensity these guys bring," said NHL Senior Vice President of Player Safety and Hockey Operations Brendan Shanahan.

Dave Tippett and Dan Bylsma, who coached the teams, both were struck not only by the talent of the players, but by their competiveness.

"We're standing back behind our bench and saying that when we were 17 years old, they're a long way  ahead of where we were at that age, for sure," said Bylsma. "Tip said it, these guys competed really hard. There was a lot of passion out there. At the same time they gave us a good look at a high-quality game and trying some different things."

Among the players that impressed Bylsma was goaltender Malcolm Subban.

"I think there's a skill level in a few players that's real evident," he said. "We saw three or four kids, and really I thought Subban in net played really well for his two games that he played."

Tippett was impressed by a few players, as well.

"The young Russian, (Nail) Yakupov, you can tell he's a dynamic player," he said. "You get to know the personalities … (Mathew) Dumba, the captain of the Hlinka tournament, he's got great enthusiasm, great passion for the game. It's great to see these kids. They get put in situations like this with a lot of eyes on them, and they still enjoy the moment. Those are fun times for young players."

The final session for the players featured a catered lunch and question-and-answer session with Montreal Canadiens forward Michael Cammalleri and Colorado Avalanche forward Gabriel Landeskog, the second pick of the 2011 Entry Draft.

"It's part research and development and it's part orientation for us to introduce them to what to expect in the NHL," said Shanahan. "After lunch they're going to have a Q&A with Mike Cammalleri and Gabriel Landeskog, talk about what it's like to be a pro player, what it's like to be a junior player in his draft year. They (the prospects) are giving us a lot and we also want to give them something back as well, an experience to prepare themselves for this big year for them."

Following lunch, there will be an all-star skills contest where the players will further be able to showcase themselves.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Wednesday, 08.17.2011 / 7:32 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - The Research Project

Referee's view

While a number of the rules being tested Tuesday at the NHL Research and Development Camp were obvious, there were other things being looked at, including some technological changes. One of them was allowing the referees to communicate with each other via wireless headsets.
 
Scott Ferguson, a referee from the Ontario Hockey League, said he found pros and cons with the system.
 
"The pros are, the puck's loose around the net, I can yell at my partner 'It's loose' when it's down low," he said. "We can communicate on calls, support each other on calls, which is good. Some of the cons are it blocks your hearing on one side. There was one time where a player came out of the penalty box and I couldn't hear him coming, and he almost ran me over. When you're in the corner you want to be able to hear that. You want to be able to move and get out of the way. Sometimes it affects your focus. You're saying something, you're trying to watch a close play and (your partner) is yapping in your ear. Sometimes you can lose your focus."
 
Ferguson did say the earpiece he wore was comfortable and he had no problem hearing his partner.
 
"There are some pros, some cons," he said. "They'd have to do more work with it. You have to get used to it, that's the biggest thing."
 
Of the other changes, Ferguson liked the faceoff option used in the second session, where the linesman placed the puck in the faceoff dot, both skaters got set, and then the puck was picked up and dropped.
 
"I found today they weren't shooting (off the faceoff) as much as they usually do," Ferguson said. "They have a harder time timing the linesman, I thought. … Both set, puck was down, there was no advantage, there was no cheating, I thought that was good."
 
Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Wednesday, 08.17.2011 / 6:36 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - The Research Project

Working the rules

There's a reason Dave Tippett and Dan Bylsma were asked to participate in this year's NHL Research and Development Camp, and part of it is their adaptability. Faced with a rule change that prevented a shorthanded team from icing the puck, Bylsma opted to pull his goalie to create 6-on-4 advantage.

It backfired, however, when Tippett's team was able to score a shorthanded goal into an empty net.

"You can't ice it, but if you get any kind of possession, you're going to get a chance," said Tippett. "What happens when you're 6-on-4 is you get four guys around the net banging away, like a frantic last minute. Then it's 2-on-2 up top and you're an even-man battle up there, and then just like what happened, they had a guy fall down and we scored on an empty net."

Tippett said had he never thought to pull his goalie -- it became a moot point because his team didn't have any power plays in the second session -- but he had other plans in mind for when his team got the advantage.

"We talked about some different scenarios that we'd do, but we were on the other side, where we're trying to push them in," said Tippett. "If they did ice it, we were going to have some faceoff plays, line up quick, see if we can push them when they're tired rather than pull the goalies."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Wednesday, 08.17.2011 / 4:00 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - The Research Project

New vantage point

Kevin Cheveldayoff is one of the many interested observers enjoying this week's NHL Research and Development camp. This isn't the only happy time for the new general manager of the Winnipeg Jets.

Seeing first-hand the excitement being generated with the NHL's return to Manitoba has been a blast.

"It is a surreal experience," he told NHL.com. "The players are going to feel that form the moment they land or drive in, however they get to town for the season. It's an infectious enthusiasm."

Even though he's a first-time NHL GM, Cheveldayoff said he's like every other manager here, just watching and seeing some of the rules changes in action.

"I think there's a lot of little, subtle things you kind of, as you're watching, you go what's going on here, and then you realize, oh, we're testing some things. There are some interesting things that by end of the camp, everyone will get a different flavor on some different things. I think the way that they're trying to tweak some of penalties with respect to having the puck for a period of time (on a delayed penalty), or not being able to ice it and stuff like that. It's good to take a look and see if these are different things that can enhance our game at some point."

What he also liked was seeing so many of his brethren watching and taking notes.

"The thing that's pretty encouraging for me is I'm looking around and seeing a lot of different GMs here that are seeing a lot of different things," Cheveldayoff said. "The League is constantly asking us what would you like to see changed, so this is a good form to implement them. At some point we'll be able to discuss them as a group. I think it's great because you'll see something with your eyes and the person sitting next to you will see something different. When we get into the group setting, we'll be able to fully discuss them."

Just as important for Cheveldayoff is getting to see some of the top prospects for the 2012 Entry Draft in action.

"The other aspect that's great here is to see all the great young kids," he said. "I went over to Europe to the (Ivan) Hlinka Tournament and it's interesting to see some of the kids after they've played on the big ice coming back to the small ice. Some kids stand out more, some kids stand out less. It's tough to fully evaluate them all during the summer. This is more of an opportunity to really hone in on the players, get a chance to see them, then let them develop over the course of the year."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Wednesday, 08.17.2011 / 1:59 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - The Research Project

Which Subban is better?

Most hockey fans are aware of Montreal Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban and his effervescent personality.

His younger brother, Malcolm, is a bit more reserved.

A reporter asked Malcolm about something P.K. had said, about his brothers -- especially Malcolm -- being better hockey players than him.

Malcolm -- a third brother, Jordan, will join Malcolm with the Belleville Bulls this season -- refused to take the bait.

Until age 12 Malcolm was a defenseman, so there might have been room for comparison at one point, but not now.

"I'm a goalie," Malcolm said, "so it's hard to compare now."

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

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Posted On Wednesday, 08.17.2011 / 11:20 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - The Research Project

Koules watching Koules

An interested observer of today's proceedings is watching the game from a slightly different vantage point than he might have a few years ago.

Former Tampa Bay Lightning owner Oren Koules is watching the action, keying in on his son, Miles Koules.

"It's a little different," he told NHL.com. "Being a father, I think I'm more nervous now than being at NHL games."

Miles, a 5-foot-10.25, 189-pound right wing, will play with the U.S. National Team Development Program's under-18 team this season. With the under-17 team last season, he had 14 goals and 12 assists in 42 games.

"I think he's got great vision," said Oren. "Great patience, good hands. He's a lot better than I was, that's for sure."

Dad played for six different teams in three seasons in the Western Hockey League (1979-82), and played one season of minor-league hockey before going on to Hollywood, where he's best known as the producer of the "Saw" movie franchise.

His best hockey season was 1980-81, when he had 28 goals in 67 games for the Spokane Flyers.

While Oren said the WHL worked for him, Miles is going to take the college route.

"He committed to North Dakota last year," Oren said. "He's pretty excited. He's supposed to enter next summer."

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


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Quote of the Day

I remember the first time at Wrigley Field all of us had the long johns, the turtlenecks and the extra equipment because we were afraid of being cold. Halfway through the first period everybody's ripping everything off and we just ended up wearing what we would normally wear for a game at the United Center.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic