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Posted On Saturday, 09.24.2011 / 9:32 PM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / - Hockeyville Hubbub

Saturday night wrapup

The celebrities game at Robert French Memorial Stadium went down to the wire, but it was the Kraft Hockeyville squad edging the Conception Bay South stars in a wild 8-7 affair.

Truth be told, the score could have been much worse had it not been for the tremendous goaltending by CBS's Rod Hennessey, who made several tremendous saves to keep the game close. CBS actually held a 3-2 lead after the first period, but Kraft Hockeyville rallied for sox goals in the second en route to victory in the two-period game).

At the intermission, CBC's Don Cherry and Cassie Campbell-Pascall addressed the capacity crowd and told them how proud they should be to be Newfoundlanders. Cherry reminded them of how special it was in 2008, when Detroit forward Danny Cleary became the first NHL player from the province to ever win the Stanley Cup.

After the game, fans headed for the exits and were treated to a fireworks show. Hopefully they'll now head home to rest up, because there is another busy day in the works Sunday. NHL alumni Kris King, Laurie Boschman, Shaun Van Allen and Patrick Lalime will run clinics in the morning before a family skate in the afternoon. Later in the day, NHL officials will run a clinic for aspiring referees and/or linesmen.

It was a terrific start to the weekend. Make sure you continue to check in with for all the latest from 2011 Kraft Hockeyville.
Posted On Saturday, 09.24.2011 / 6:46 PM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / - Hockeyville Hubbub

CBS gets check; Cole honored

The two biggest things about being crowned Kraft Hockeyville are the opportunity to host an NHL preseason game and $100,000 for arena upgrades.

The showdown between the Winnipeg Jets and Ottawa Senators is still two nights away, but tonight at Robert French Memorial Stadium, the mayor of CBS, Woodrow French, was part of a ceremony at center ice along with Kraft representatives. It was to pass along the check that will benefit youth hockey players for years to come.

Afterwards, Hall of Fame announcer Bob Cole, a St. John's native, dropped the ceremonial puck for the game that is pitting celebrities from Conception Bay South and Kraft Hockeyville.

"That was great," Cole told me as the game got under way. "A lot of fun."
Posted On Saturday, 09.24.2011 / 1:57 PM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / - Hockeyville Hubbub

Kraft exec congratulates Conception Bay South

As fans made their way around the Stanley Cup Jamboree, they were addressed by Jack Hewitt, the Vice President of Marketing Services for Kraft Canada.

Hewitt expressed his heartfelt congratulations to this small, passionate town that earned more than 995,000 votes to win a competition that began with 653 communities. To honor the remarkable accomplishment, the folks here will be treated with festivities throughout the weekend that will culminate with Monday's preseason game between the Winnipeg Jets and Ottawa Senators.

"Your pride, passion, dedication and commitment got you the title of Kraft Hockeyville 2011. Congratulations," Hewitt told the hundreds of rabid fans in attendance. "We have a great weekend planned for you. You're going to have a wonderful weekend. Enjoy it."
Posted On Saturday, 09.24.2011 / 1:53 PM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / - Hockeyville Hubbub

Van Allen happy to be back in Newfoundland

Shaun Van Allen hadn't been in Newfoundland for almost two decades. So when he was asked to represent the Ottawa Senators' alumni group as part of 2011 Kraft Hockeyville, he didn't think twice.

"This is awesome," said Van Allen, who had two stints in Ottawa (1996-2000, 2002-04) and also played for Edmonton, Anaheim, Dallas and Montreal. "It's been a long time since I've been back in Newfoundland. It was back in '92-93 when I played in the minors (for Cape Breton). There's always support here all the time. There's a lot of enthusiasm. It's a great atmosphere to play hockey."

Van Allen, 44, played in 794 NHL games between 1991 and 2004. He was just making a name for himself as a pro when the Winnipeg Jets left town for Phoenix in 1996. But the Jets are returning to the League this season and will play Van Allen's Sens in the main event of this Kraft Hockeyville experience on Monday night.

"I think any time you can add another Canadian team to the NHL, it's a great experience for Canada," said Van Allen, a Calgary native. "I would say it's the driving force behind hockey and it's great to have another team back."

Van Allen, who spent roughly two hours signing autographs today here in Conception Bay South, was asked if he had a favorite memory during his time with the Senators.

"One of my favorites would be the first time we ever made the playoffs (in 1997)," he said. "Last game of the year, Steve Duchene scored late in the game. That clinched us. We won, 1-0."
Posted On Saturday, 09.24.2011 / 11:54 AM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / - Hockeyville Hubbub

Memories that will last a lifetime

Never in a million years did the citizens of Conception Bay South think the Stanley Cup would be on display in their town.

But on Saturday, hundreds lined up for the opportunity to have their picture taken with the most prestigious trophy in all of sports.

The excitement on the faces of adults and children alike is absolutely priceless. There are jerseys of several different teams -- Montreal, Boston, Calgary, Toronto and Pittsburgh, just to name a few -- being represented here.

But one young lad is standing out amongst the crowd.

Colin Hull, a 10-year-old from here in Conception Bay South, was wearing a Winnipeg Jets sweater -- the last one the club wore before it left for Phoenix in 1996. Colin wasn't alive then, but he was smiling ear to ear Saturday in his old-school jersey as his father took a picture of him with Lord Stanley.

"My dad bought it for me when he went to the MTS Centre in February," said Colin, who said he's still hoping his old man will score tickets for Monday's game between the Jets and Ottawa Senators that will take place at the Mile One Centre in nearby St. John's. "I'm a fan. I hope we get to go."
Posted On Saturday, 09.24.2011 / 10:17 AM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / - Hockeyville Hubbub

Conception Bay South is buzzing

The 2011 Kraft Hockeyville festivities are now in full swing.

Parents have packed the stands here at Robert French Memorial Stadium and are taking pictures of their children on the ice, where former NHLers Kris King and Patrick Lalime are running drills.

We're also about 45 minutes away from the arrival of the most prestigious trophy in all of sports, the Stanley Cup. It will be present during a four-hour party, where Newfoundlanders can have their picture taken with the Cup and get autographs from NHL alumni.

Be sure to check in with throughout the day.
Posted On Thursday, 09.22.2011 / 12:45 PM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / - Hockeyville Hubbub

Let the fun begin!

It's that time of year again, as a small town in Newfoundland is set to be the home of Kraft Hockeyville this weekend.

With the festivities set to get under way in Conception Bay South on Saturday morning, work is currently being done by NHL ice guru Dan Craig and his crew at Robert French Memorial Stadium. The in-ice logos are going in as we speak, less than 48 hours before the NHL Alumni Clinics begin at 8 a.m. Newfoundland time (or 6:30 ET).

Alumni scheduled to participate in this weekend's events include Kris King, Patrick Lalime, Laurie Boschman, Shaun Van Allen and Mathieu Schneider.
Posted On Friday, 09.09.2011 / 12:14 PM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / - 2011 Player Media Tour

Campbell ready for new challenges with Panthers

Brian Campbell knows the task of helping turn the Florida Panthers into a contender is a challenging one. However, it's one he gracefully accepted back in June when he waived his no-trade clause to once again work with former Chicago Blackhawks general manager Dale Tallon.

"It wasn't a case that I really wanted to leave Chicago," Campbell told Friday morning during the 2011 Player Media Tour. "I enjoyed my time there and I liked everybody. I liked my lifestyle living in Chicago, and I still am. It was tough, but knowing and talking to Dale Tallon, I knew I could trust him from his days being in Chicago. He's a man of his word. Looking at all the scenarios, I felt it was the best thing for me personally, and that's what I had to look at. I was happy to make the move to South Florida."

Campbell, who helped the Blackhawks win a Stanley Cup in 2010, is joining an organization that hasn't made the playoffs for an NHL-record 10 consecutive seasons. But Tallon was awfully busy this summer signing talent that he hopes will end that dubious stretch. Campbell will be joined by newcomers such as Tomas Kopecky, Ed Jovanovski, Kris Versteeg, Tomas Fleischmann, Scottie Upshall and Sean Bergenheim when the puck drops on Oct. 8 against the New York Islanders.

"I do know some of the guys and I've played with some of them before, so it makes it a lot more comfortable walking into the dressing room," Campbell said. "All the guys that Dale brought in are character guys that have fun coming to the rink. They all want to compete every night. That's going to give us a chance to win.

"I feel like we're going to have success a lot quicker than people think. For us, as long as we think that in the locker room and know that it's playoffs or everything else is a failure and not acceptable, it's a good place to start. I think that's the mindset that we all need to have going into the season."

Posted On Friday, 09.09.2011 / 10:37 AM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / - 2011 Player Media Tour

Thomas' whirlwind summer coming to a close

A shortened whirlwind of a summer has all but come to a close for Tim Thomas.

The Boston Bruins goaltender is finished celebrating a season that saw him win a Vezina Trophy, a Conn Smythe Trophy and a Stanley Cup. With training camp just a week away, Thomas is one of dozens of players participating in the Player Media Tour. On Friday morning, the 37-year-old sat down with and was asked to reflect on what has to be an unforgettable summer.

"There were a couple of times where I was able to appreciate it for a short period," Thomas said. "One was just watching the DVD. It reminded me of everything that happened. I think that's what made it kind of hard to appreciate to a certain extent. So many great things happened for us to win the Cup that even if I had the time, it's hard to wrap your mind around everything that had to go right -- the overtime goals, the save by Ryder, coming back in Montreal in the third period with Chris Kelly and Ryder scoring that overtime goal -- the list just goes on and on and on. It's part of what makes it great, but it's also part of what makes it hard to totally soak in and say, 'Wow.' "

Thomas appeared in 57 regular-season games in 2010-11 and went 35-11-9 with a 2.00 goals-against average and an NHL-record .938 save percentage. He followed up with one of more remarkable postseasons in recent memory as he posted a 1.98 GAA, .940 save percentage and four shutouts in 25 games. One might recall that Thomas was Boston's backup goalie during the 2010 Stanley Cup Playoffs and shortly thereafter underwent major hip surgery.

"It was not even knowing for sure whether you'd be able to get to anywhere near the level that I was the first time I won the Vezina (in 2009)," Thomas said. "I don't think it was retirement-serious at any point, but I didn't know if I was looking at spending the rest of my career as a highly-paid backup that was taking all the heat in the media and from the fans constantly."

Posted On Thursday, 09.08.2011 / 1:21 PM

By Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor / - 2011 Player Media Tour

Grabner 'outworks' Tavares at NHL Store

From the moment he found out he'd be facing John Tavares in a competition at the NHL Store Powered by Reebok, Michael Grabner knew he would be victorious.

The Calder Trophy finalist squeaked past his New York Islanders teammate Thursday afternoon in a skills competition that saw the pair attempt to sell T-shirts to consumers, as well as folding shirts and pressing their names and numbers on Isles' sweaters.

One thing Tavares learned after the competition, though -- Grabner had previous experience.

"It was a little rigged, but my first job was working in a hockey store … I was 14," the speedy Austrian winger said afterwards. "I was used to talking to customers and printing shirts and stuff like that. I'm one-up on Johnny to start the year. It's 1-0 and that's all that matters right now."

Not surprisingly, Tavares first earned his paycheck on the ice. He wasn't pleased in dropping the competition to Grabner, but he was humble in defeat.

"My first job was working for a goalie school," Tavares said. "It was definitely a lot easier than this. I think it was a little bit rigged, but I'll let Mike take this one."

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[Stamkos] is a great teammate and a great leader, that's why he's got the 'C'. He brings that tremendous work ethic to the rink and he's one of the top players in the game. I know if I put the passes where they are supposed to be, there's a very good chance he's going to put it in the back of the net.

— Lightning forward Jonathan Drouin on linemate Steven Samkos
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