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Posted On Monday, 09.26.2011 / 2:06 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Hockeyville Hubbub

Regin, Machacek visit CBS schools

As it should be, the kids are the big winners in the Kraft Hockeyville festivities.

Just hours before the Winnipeg Jets and Ottawa Senators battle at the Mile One Centre in St. John's, a player from each squad headed out to Conception Bay South to visit two elementary schools. Jets forward Spencer Machacek and Sens center Peter Regin represented their clubs and took turns taking questions from students of both Topsail and St. George's Elementary Schools. They also signed some autographs and took group photos.

"I had a lot of fun interacting with the community," said Machacek, who hails from Lethbridge, Alberta. "I've never been out here. This is a beautiful part of the country. It's amazing. The teachers and the kids are just so excited to have us here. All the energy is a lot of fun. It's a special thing I'm sure for them to have NHL players come in. We were all young like that once. It was a lot of fun."

St. George's Principal Paul Edwards was thankful to both Regin and Machacek, knowing full well the two players created memories for his schoolchildren that will last a lifetime.

"The kids have been excited all week," Edwards said. We're delighted today to have the players with us. The kids are excited and they will be for another few days while Hockeyville is ongoing. There's been quite a lot of excitement and enthusiasm from our school.

Not lost in the shuffle was a visit from NHL alumni Mathieu Schneider and Rob Zamuner to the Janeway Children's Hospital in St. John's. There's little doubt Schneider and Zamuner brightened some kids' days.

"I think it's amazing that they do this," Machacek said of the Kraft Hockeyville experience. "I'm sure every year, it just grows and grows. A lot of people haven't been out here, including myself. To be able to see this part of the country and see the excitement in this town and to give these kids an NHL game, it's pretty special."
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Posted On Monday, 09.26.2011 / 10:56 AM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Hockeyville Hubbub

Auld happy for Winnipeg

Ottawa Senators goalie Alex Auld knows firsthand just how passionate the hockey fans are in Winnipeg.

Auld, a former second-round draft pick (Florida, 1999), spent parts of four seasons playing for the Manitoba Moose in the American Hockey League. He reflected on his time there fondly this morning after the Sens skated in preparation for tonight's Kraft Hockeyville showdown against the Jets at the Mile One Centre.

"It's exciting," Auld said of the Jets' return to the NHL. "I played four winters there and you could see the passion in the fan base and the love they still had for the Jets. It was tough some nights. We were having a tough game, and the, 'Go Jets Go!' chant would go. It was a little discouraging for us, but it's pretty cool. I was pretty excited and I had been hopeful for a couple of years with all the talk about it."

One of Auld's best seasons came during the NHL work stoppage, when he appeared in 50 games for the Moose. Auld helped Manitoba qualify for the Calder Cup Playoffs that season by going 25-18-4 with a 2.56 goals-against average. That season marked the opening of the MTS Centre, which will be the home of the Jets.

"We had a great group of guys," Auld recalled. "Nobody was worrying about who was getting called up or anything like that. We had a good playoff run that year and it was a really fun year. We all really enjoyed it. Opening the new building was pretty cool and closing the old arena. All those things are things you remember forever. Now we'll be playing in Winnipeg again in the NHL. That'll be cool."

 

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Posted On Monday, 09.26.2011 / 8:57 AM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Hockeyville Hubbub

Jets excited to be in Hockeyville

It's extremely rare that an NHL team conducts a morning skate that is open to the public, but that is the norm in Kraft Hockeyville.

The Winnipeg Jets arrived on the ice here at Mile One Centre at about 9 a.m. Newfoundland time and were greeted by roughly 1,000 rabid fans who will surely be back tonight to watch the preseason game between the Jets and Ottawa Senators.

Two-time Stanley Cup winner Andrew Ladd was a good sport and wore a microphone during the pre-game twirl. He's excited to participate in his first Kraft Hockeyville game this evening.

"It was fun … there was a bunch of kids in the crowd," the Jets' captain said. "You can see how excited they are. It's always fun to do events like this and to get people involved that don't normally get a chance to see NHL hockey and to see their reaction to it."

One could understand that the Jets were a tad groggy on the ice this morning, as their bodies were still on Winnipeg time. Newfoundland is 2 1/2 hours ahead, which meant the team was really up this morning before dawn.

"It wasn't a very good morning skate for us, some of the guys were a little sleepy," defenseman Ron Hainsey told me, as the Jets had a 7 a.m. wakeup call -- or 4:30 in Winnipeg. "It's fun. It's always fun when there's energy in the building. I'm sure the game will be fun tonight, too."

Winnipeg coach Claude Noel is battling a cold, but he's nonetheless thrilled to be in St. John's, which will host the Jets' top minor-league affiliate this season. He and his players are happy to embrace the Kraft Hockeyville event, which seems to get bigger each year.

"The Hockeyville thing is really good and it's really exciting for us," Noel said. "What's really worked out in our favor is this is our farm team. It couldn't have worked out any better. We end up getting a franchise that we didn't know, or certainly I didn't know, and then we end up putting an American League team here. It all works great for us. The excitement now is double what we've got in Winnipeg and what we've got up here. The frenzy continues out here in the East. It's great for us."
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Posted On Monday, 09.26.2011 / 6:52 AM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Hockeyville Hubbub

Jets, Sens have arrived

We're now just hours away from the 2011 Kraft Hockeyville game, and both the Winnipeg Jets and Ottawa Senators have arrived here at the Mile One Centre in St. John's.

The Jets will hit the ice for their morning skate at 9 a.m. Newfoundland time (7:30 ET), while the Sens will practice at 10 a.m. From there, representatives from each club will head out to Conception Bay South to visit a school and hospital.

The game is slated to begin at 5:30 p.m. Newfoundland time (4 p.m. ET). Make sure to check back with NHL.com throughout the day for Kraft Hockeyville coverage.
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Posted On Sunday, 09.25.2011 / 6:33 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Hockeyville Hubbub

It's almost game time

Another day of fun-filled activities is in the books in Conception Bay South, which means we're inching closer to the main event.

Sunday's festivities kicked off in the morning with two more sessions of on-ice clinics with NHL alumni including Kris King, Patrick Lalime, Laurie Boschman, Shaun Van Allen, Mathieu Schneider and Rob Zamuner. All the alumni were incredibly friendly and enjoyed their time working with Conception Bay South's youth.

A family skate at Robert French Memorial Stadium followed, as kids and parents shared the sheet of ice at the arena that is receiving the incredibly generous donation of $100,000 from Kraft that will go toward upgrading the facility.

Sunday concluded with the officials clinic, which was held by referees Mike Leggo and Gord Dwyer and linesmen Scott Driscoll and David Brisebois. Leggo and Dwyer arrived late due to a delayed flight in Montreal, but got to the rink in time to join the classroom session, where they answered questions from aspiring officials and shared some experiences of life in the NHL.

All in all, it's been another great day at Kraft Hockeyville. Can't wait for the morning skates tomorrow at the Mile One Centre. It's almost time to play hockey.
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Posted On Sunday, 09.25.2011 / 12:59 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Hockeyville Hubbub

Play like a Jet

Kris King spent more than a dozen years playing professional hockey. But it was the four seasons he spent in Winnipeg that he's most fond of.

"Winnipeg was the place where I actually enjoyed my time the most, and that's both on and off the ice," said King, who was dealt from the New York Rangers to Winnipeg in December of 1992. "I think it was the people. We worked hard as a team, but the people within the community made those four years the most memorable four years for me. Coming from a small town of 900 people in Northern Ontario, Winnipeg was a small town in the NHL at the time, so it was a natural fit for me."

King was on the last Jets' team in 1995-96 before the franchise moved to Phoenix. Winnipeg's last game -- a 4-1 loss to the Los Angeles Kings on April 28, 1996 -- will forever be etched in his memory.

"As tough as the ending was, that's the thing that sticks out the most," King said. "Watching Thomas (Steen) and how hard it was for him … to me, he was the Winnipeg Jets for the era that I was there. To see him sitting there and how hard it was for him to realize that this was it … I saw him this summer and he's so excited to have his team back. The fans didn't expect us to win every night, but they expected you to work hard. As a group, we picked up on that real quick. We had some quality guys and we were a good team that was getting close when he had to go to Phoenix."

NHL hockey is back in Winnipeg this season, and the Jets will be landing in Newfoundland later today. They will face the Ottawa Senators tomorrow night as the main event to the 2011 Kraft Hockeyville festivities. King is obviously very excited to have his former team back in the League after a 15-year hiatus.

"Thrilled would probably we a light way of saying it," King said Sunday after helping youth hockey players from Conception Bay South hone their skills. "I'm thrilled for the people of Manitoba and the Jets fans across Canada. They proved to us as players just how hard it was for them to lose a team. It was very, very sad to see what they went through. It was a tough time. But for them to be able to feel the excitement of actually having their team back was really exciting for everybody, especially us alumni."

The Kraft Hockeyville game was originally supposed to feature the Sens and Atlanta Thrashers, but that all changed when the Thrashers relocated to Winnipeg. King believes having the Jets participate in this event will only add to what is always a special event in Canada. The game will be played at the Mile One Centre in St. John's.

"It's actually really ironic how it was Atlanta-Ottawa and then the change was made," King said. "It's great for the people here and it's great to have hockey here."
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Posted On Saturday, 09.24.2011 / 9:32 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 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 NHL.com for all the latest from 2011 Kraft Hockeyville.
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Posted On Saturday, 09.24.2011 / 6:46 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 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."
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Posted On Saturday, 09.24.2011 / 1:57 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 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."
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Posted On Saturday, 09.24.2011 / 1:53 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - 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."
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