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POSTED ON Monday, 11.14.2011 / 2:43 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2011 HHOF blog

Retirement proved difficult for Nieuwendyk

TORONTO -- Joe Nieuwendyk admitted Monday that he struggled mentally immediately after he retired in December 2006.

"I really struggled for a year and a half after that," said Nieuwendyk, who had to end his career due to chronic back pain that didn't allow him to lace his skates on some mornings. "I think a lot of players go through that. I loved being around my teammates. I couldn't wait to get out of the house in the morning and go spend time with them before we even practiced. That was the hardest part."

But Nieuwendyk's post-playing career quickly began in Florida as a special consultant. He moved quickly up the ranks, becoming a special assistant to the GM in Toronto before moving into his current position of GM of the Dallas Stars prior to last season.

Those early days after retirement are forgotten now because Nieuwendyk again feels the competitiveness he felt as a player.

"Cliff Fletcher brought me to Toronto and obviously fast-tracked me to my position in Dallas," Nieuwendyk said. "I'm very thankful for that, and for me it is has been terrific because it's the closest thing to playing again. I still feel the competitive juices and I'm around the guys enough where I get a little bit of that again. It's been terrific."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl



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POSTED ON Sunday, 11.13.2011 / 5:27 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2011 HHOF blog

Carbonneau on teammates, friends and rivals

TORONTO -- Guy Carbonneau has a special bond with three of this weekend's inductees. He won the Stanley Cup with Joe Nieuwendyk and Ed Belfour in Dallas in 1999, and he played in some legendary games in the Montreal-Toronto rivalry against Doug Gilmour.

Carbonneau talked to NHL.com about both:

What's it like to be here this weekend to help honor two of your ex-teammates that you went through so much with?

"It's unbelievable. I always say you make a lot of friends just by playing hockey but probably your best friends will always be the players you won the Cup with. I remember '86, '93 and '99 was a great season for everybody. Having a chance to play against all four guys that are inducted, and especially with Joe and Eddie in '99, it's a thrill."

What was it like to go against Gilmour in those Montreal-Toronto rivalry games?

"He was a great competitor. He was a lot more offensive than I was, but we played the same style. Neither of us wanted to give an inch and those are great memories. Any time you play against a great competitor makes you raise your game a little bit and that's what I always enjoyed."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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POSTED ON Sunday, 11.13.2011 / 5:18 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2011 HHOF blog

McDonald talks Howe, Gilmour and Nieuwendyk

TORONTO -- Lanny McDonald won the Stanley Cup with Doug Gilmour and Joe Nieuwendyk in 1989, his final season in the NHL. In retirement, McDonald watched Gilmour go on to become a legend in Toronto and Nieuwendyk win the Stanley Cup twice more, first in Dallas and then in New Jersey.

But, prior to joining forces with Gilmour and Nieuwendyk, McDonald played in some tough games against Mark Howe, both when he played with his dad in Hartford and then alongside Brad McCrimmon in Philadelphia.

"Unfortunately I made a mistake to run Mark in Hartford one game and got an elbow from Gordie later on," McDonald told NHL.com on Sunday. "Mark was one of those quiet, calm guys that just played the game at the top level all the time. When you look at the plus minus of him and Brad McCrimmon that year, one was plus-85 and one was plus-83, that tells you how good he was game in and game out."

McDonald, who was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1992, also expressed his excitement to see Gilmour and Nieuwendyk.

"They both win a Cup there (in Calgary) and Nieuwendyk goes on to win two more Cups and Gilmour has a phenomenal career not only point-wise but especially how he played in the playoffs every year," McDonald said. "It's an absolute honor to hang out with these guys and be a part of this celebration."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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POSTED ON Sunday, 11.13.2011 / 5:07 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2011 HHOF blog

One-on-one with Mark Howe

TORONTO -- I caught up with Mark Howe for a one-on-one after he received his Hall of Fame jacket at the Legends Classic on Sunday. Here is what he had to say about being Gordie Howe's son, the moment he realized he will be in the Hall of Fame, nerves going into Monday's induction speech and how he goes about his normal life after such an emotional, whirlwind weekend:

Q: You're getting a lot of questions about your father and what it means to have your father here with you, but you talked at the Fan Forum about the moment in Philadelphia when you became Mark Howe, not just Gordie's son. Does it feel that way again here, that this is your induction?

"I know it's my induction but part of being the son of Gordie Howe is accepting that fact. And, it's a fact that I figure I'm the luckiest person on the face of the earth to have Gordie Howe as my father. What I hope for this weekend is that maybe I get the attention just because my dad wants me to get the attention when historically it has always gone to him. My wishes are that the people come here and pay me the respect and put him secondary. I would never consider it that way, but it would make him feel better."

Q: We always hear guys talk about how it's an unbelievable feeling, but at some moment it sets in that you're going into the Hall of Fame. What was that moment for you?

"It started yesterday. When I walked out onto that ice yesterday and I was the first individual out there, I had a moment to reflect, and I'm saying, 'Wow, this is starting to really mean so so much.' It's making me really look forward to Monday and being able to thank so many people that have been so important in my life. It's going to hit home because everybody around him, my friends and family, say you don't know what honor you've received yet. Yeah, I'm waiting and it's coming. Today was a better feeling than yesterday, so I know how special tomorrow is going to be."

Q: The speech is also a nerve-wracking experience for some that go into the Hall of Fame. Are you nervous?

"No. Historically I always get a little nervous, a little pumped up. I wrote my speech on a flight going down to Tampa to go scout a game, and it came from my heart. Historically whenever I speak I just speak from my heart and I don't read, but I'm going to be reading (Monday night) because I want to try to get the words correct and get the people in there. I'm sure I'll be a little bit nervous. The hardest part is it brings up so many emotions. How do you put 56 years of life into five minutes. They're awesome emotions, but I just want to be able to keep my emotions under control."

Q: You go back to being a scout after you leave the Hall of Fame. Is it going to be hard to go back into your regular day to day routine?

"No, it's easy because I'm in hockey rinks and I'm around hockey people all the time. It's been my life and it's something I love, something I have a great passion for. Not often do I sit back and reflect on my past a lot, my history, but I'm going to reflect on this day. I'm sure a lot of the people I run into in the scouting world, they're all going to come up to me and pay their respects. I'm going to be reminded of it quite often I'm sure."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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POSTED ON Saturday, 11.12.2011 / 7:31 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2011 HHOF blog

Inductees honored prior to Sens-Leafs showdown



TORONTO -- Hockey Hall of Fame Weekend is officially under way.

The four player inductees -- Doug Gilmour, Ed Belfour, Joe Nieuwendyk and Mark Howe -- were honored Saturday night at Air Canada Centre prior to the Maple Leafs-Senators game.

The night started with a video tribute that showed several members of the Hockey Hall of Fame, including Gilmour and Nieuwendyk in their Maple Leaf blue. Gilmour got the first of what will be several ovations over the next three days.

After introducing 15 members of the Hockey Hall of Fame, including Mr. Hockey himself, Gordie Howe, the Class of 2011 got their due.

Since Gordie Howe was the final of the 15 introduced, it was only natural that Mark Howe was the first of the incoming Hall of Fame class to greet the crowd. He walked the line and ended with an embrace with his dad.

How cool is that?

Nieuwendyk was the next up and he received a standing ovation. Nieuwendyk spent the 2003-04 season in Toronto and became a fan favorite. He also received an ovation for winning the gold medal with Team Canada in 2002.

Belfour was up next, and keeping with his natural quirkiness (some call it individuality) he was not dressed the part. While everyone else was wearing a suit, Belfour was wearing a leather jacket and did not have on a tie.

Finally, the ultimate fan favorite here in Toronto, Gilmour got his introduction. The fans stood and applauded and cheered almost the entire time as the P.A. announcer read his biography.

Gilmour, Nieuwendyk, Belfour and Howe stood beside the Toronto Maple Leafs logo on the carpet draped over top center ice as the Leafs and Senators came onto the ice and assembled on their respective blue lines.

Gilmour brought the puck out for the ceremonial faceoff and he dropped it between Dion Phaneuf and Daniel Alfredsson. Soon enough, the legends stepped off center stage, the blue carpets were rolled up, the anthem was performed by Beverley Mahood and the game got under way.

The Hall of Famers will be back here at Air Canada Centre for the annual Legend's Game, where they will be honored again and receive their Hall of Fame jackets.

Now it's time for a hockey game.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter: @drosennhl

 
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POSTED ON Saturday, 11.12.2011 / 4:19 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2011 HHOF blog

Button remembers how much Belfour cared

Craig Button worked in the Dallas Stars organization when Ed Belfour was serving as the team's star goalie in the mid-to-late 1990s. Button stayed around the team a lot and spoke to Belfour quite often.

Here Button tells NHL.com a story that he believes helps define the type of private, quirky, and yet caring guy Belfour is, and the type of hard-driving, emotional teammate he was:

"I remember one day in training camp talking to him, and he was like, 'You know what, these guys have to work harder. They have to understand that there is more to this,' " Button recalled during a wide-ranging phone interview. "He cared. He cared about the young players and he understood from where he had come in his career that these were important elements. He wanted to impress upon me that this is what these guys have to do and they have to understand it. He might not have been comfortable telling people about that, but he was always that guy that was doing those things to prepare himself and make sure he gave himself the best chance to perform.

"You'd like to say, 'Ed, you go tell them.' But, you have to understand Ed's personality. So, that is where you took the information from him and tried to impart that onto the younger players. That was good. It becomes part of teamwork in a different way."

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POSTED ON Saturday, 11.12.2011 / 4:07 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2011 HHOF blog

Roberts dishes on ex-teammate and ex-neighbor

We'll open our 2011 Hockey Hall of Fame blog with a funny story from Gary Roberts about Doug Gilmour. Roberts talked to me about his relationship with Joe Nieuwendyk for this story, but he also played with Gilmour in Calgary and Ed Belfour in Toronto.

Here goes:


When St. Louis shipped Doug Gilmour to the Flames, he bought ex-NHLer Craig Berube's house that was located just down the street in the same South Calgary development as where Gary Roberts lived.

Roberts and Gilmour became immediate friends and carpool mates, even if it meant Gilmour had to wait for the younger Roberts a few times.

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POSTED ON Friday, 11.11.2011 / 12:48 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Vokoun to start, lineup unknown for Caps

NEWARK, N.J. -- Tomas Vokoun will start in net for the Capitals tonight at Prudential Center, but the rest of Washington's lineup won't be determined until later today.

Mike Green will likely get back in after missing six games, but for now he's considered a game-time decision.

Matt Hendricks will also be a game-time decision because his wife, Kim, gave birth to twins Gunnar and Lennon on Thursday. Hendricks was not here this morning, but is supposed to be on his way and should arrive before the game. There is no word on if he will play.

It is also possible that Marcus Johansson swaps with Nicklas Backstrom to play center between Alex Ovechkin and Troy Brouwer. Johansson missed Thursday's practice, but Mathieu Perreault (healthy scratch if Hendricks plays) was in between Ovechkin and Brouwer while Backstrom was centering Alex Semin and Brooks Laich.

It looks like we'll all have to wait until pre-game warmups to figure anything out about the Capitals lineup tonight.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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POSTED ON Friday, 11.11.2011 / 12:43 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Green could return for Capitals

NEWARK, N.J. -- Capitals defenseman Mike Green could return to the lineup tonight at Prudential Center. He has missed the last six games with a right ankle injury.

Both Green and Washington coach Bruce Boudreau used the words "gametime decision" to describe the blue-liner's status for tonight against the Devils, but all indications are that he will play.

Green has participated in every full practice this week, including a bag skate Wednesday. He didn't look to be in any discomfort this morning and came off the ice when the rest of his teammates did. Had he stayed on for extra work, it would have been an indication that he is definitely out.

"It's more how he feels," Boudreau said. "He's cleared to play. It's just up to him."

Boudreau also said the back-to-back against the Devils (Washington plays host to New Jersey on Saturday at Verizon Center) has nothing to do with the decision on Green for tonight.

"Tomorrow might be a different issue, but if he feels good enough to play he's going to play," Boudreau said. "His conditioning is fine after this week."

Washington needs to get Green back in the lineup.

"We're 7-0 with him and 2-4 without him," Boudreau said. "He's a pretty important piece to our puzzle."

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POSTED ON Friday, 11.11.2011 / 12:00 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Brodeur settling in after uneven start

NEWARK, N.J. -- Devils goalie Martin Brodeur finally feels as though he's found a rhythm to his season. It's showing in his play.

Brodeur will get his third straight start tonight when the Devils take on Washington. He has won the last two and allowed only four goals in the process.

This is the first time this season Brodeur is on a starting streak. He lost the season-opener, 3-0, and sat out the second game before coming back in Oct. 13 to play Los Angles. He lasted only one period before suffering a shoulder injury that kept him out until Nov. 2, when he returned but gave up five goals to the Maple Leafs in a loss.

Johan Hedberg, who started the six games that Brodeur had to miss because of his injury, got back in the night after the Devils lost to the Leafs and picked up a 4-3 shootout victory against the Flyers the very next night. Brodeur, though, comes into the game Friday after making 21 saves in a 3-2 overtime win against the Jets on Saturday and then 25 saves in a 3-2 regulation win against Carolina on Tuesday.

"The more you play the more you feel comfortable." Brodeur, who isn't expected to play Saturday in Washington, told NHL.com. "It helps to get in somewhat of a rhythm. I didn't have one earlier due to the lack of playing. It felt for a while like the season never started for me, so this is the start of my season now."

As much as the consistent starts matter to Brodeur, the wins mean more to him because now it tells him he's contributing, not just playing.

"For a forward, even if you win but you don't score, you feel you're left out. It's the same thing with a goalie," Brodeur said. "If you can't put anything together to try to get the team to advance in the standings it's hard. It's nice to do that and be part of the team."

For the Devils, it's just nice to have Brodeur back in rhythm. As solid as Hedberg has been, he just doesn't have the same reputation as Brodeur, who is still arguably the most talked about player by opposing coaches and players when they're getting ready to face the Devils.

"It's good for us because he's starting to play really well," Devils captain Zach Parise told NHL.com. "I think he's got that ability to make the opponents think. He definitely at times gets in players heads and makes them overthink. If you can have that as an advantage, that's great."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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I've been getting frustrated lately, and the only thing keeping me sane was the team winning and other people stepping up and scoring. Then you just kind of let it go and realize you can end the series with one shot, that frustration goes away for a brief moment, and that's what happened.

— Montreal forward Max Pacioretty after scoring the series-winner in Game 4 -- his first career playoff goal -- to eliminate the Lightning and send the Canadiens into the second round