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Posted On Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 11:00 AM

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

Pens' prospect Despres could make NHL debut

WASHINGTON -- Injuries to defensemen Kris Letang and Zbynek Michalek have opened the door for former Penguins' No. 1 draft pick Simon Despres to potentially make his NHL debut Thursday night against the Capitals here at Verizon Center.

Despres, the No. 30 pick in 2009, was recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton on Thursday, and since Alexandre Picard was sent down, the Penguins still have only six defensemen here to play. The Penguins have not taken their morning skate yet so there is no confirmation on the lineup, but unless coach Dan Bylsma wants to dress only five blueliners (not likely), Despres will be in the lineup.

Despres, 20, has 3 goals and 4 assists along with a plus-3 rating in 22 games as a rookie this season for WBS. All three of his goals were game-winning goals and his 7 points are tied for the team lead among defensemen.

Here are the forward lines for the Penguins at the team's morning skate.

Chris Kunitz - Sidney Crosby - Pascal Dupuis
Steve Sullivan - Evgeni Malkin - James Neal
Matt Cooke - Jordan Staal - Tyler Kennedy
Arron Asham - Richard Park - Craig Adams

Coach Dan Bylsma rotated the defense pairings throughout the skate.

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Posted On Tuesday, 11.29.2011 / 5:20 PM

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

Letang, Michalek out for Penguins

NEW YORK -- The Penguins will be without two of their top-four defensemen tonight at Madison Square Garden as both Kris Letang and Zbynek Michalek are heading back to Pittsburgh for further evaluation. Both players were with the Penguins at the morning skate.

Pittsburgh recalled defensemen Alexandre Picard and Robert Bortuzzo from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the American Hockey League. Both are expected to play as the Penguins have only six defensemen remaining in New York.

Letang suffered a broken nose when Montreal forward Max Pacioretty hit him Saturday. Pacioretty was suspended for three games by the NHL on Monday for an illegal hit to the head.

Michalek missed 10 straight games from Oct. 29 - Nov. 19 because of a broken finger, but he has played in the last four. The nature of his injury has not been disclosed.

Picard played six games with the Penguins earlier this month, averaging 12:41 of ice time and picking up a plus-4 rating. Bortuzzo made his NHL debut with the Penguins at Los Angeles on Nov. 5. He was scoreless and had a minor penalty in 10:38 of ice time.

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Posted On Monday, 11.14.2011 / 9:03 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Live Blog: NHL.com at Hall of Fame inductions

Nieuwendyk earns his rightful place in Hall

TORONTO -- Joe Nieuwendyk was eligible for the Hall of Fame last year. He didn't make it, but it doesn't matter anymore.

Nieuwendyk, the great two-sport athlete from Whitby, Ont., is now a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. Hey, the guy did score over 500 goals, register over 1,200 points and win the Stanley Cup in three different decades with three different teams.

Oh, and he was also a heck of a lacrosse player.

Nieuwendyk started his speech by adjusting the microphones. He talked about being blessed in his life because he has so many wonderful people who are responsible for him getting into the hall of fame.

"It simply has been humbling," Nieuwendyk said.

Nieuwendyk rehashed the crossing emotions he was having after receiving his call from the Hockey Hall of Fame selection committee in June.

"I was packing to go on a trip to Calgary to pay my last respects to the most caring and kind man I ever had the privilege of meeting in hockey, Harley Hotchkiss," he said. "As I was flying out there I had time to reflect on my own life and all that was important. After seeing so many familiar faces and Harley's wonderful family, it made me realized that tonight is all about friends and teammates."

He thanked his parents, Gord and the late Joanne, who made sacrifices for their four kids -- Rick, Gil, Wendy and Joe.

Joanne died of cancer in 1996, but her passion stays inside of Nieuwendyk. He recalled the time after the Flames won the Cup in Montreal in 1989, when after the game Joanne grabbed Joe's hockey stick and started directly traffic in the streets so the team bus could get through.

"Mom was the nurturer and No. 1 supporter. She was always the hockey mom that led the cheers. I miss her everyday and I know she's proud tonight."

Nieuwendyk had a lot to say about his best friend and former teammate, Gary Roberts, who he grew up with in Whitby, Ont. They played against one another when they were five years old and eventually became teammates.

"When I played my first game with the Flames, Gary was by his side. Twenty years later when I laced 'em up for the final time as a Florida Panther, he was again by my side. He truly is a remarkable person and a terrific friend. I always knew throughout my career that he had my back. He always knew I had his back, too, unless Marty McSorley was chasing him around the ice. In those cases he was on his own."

Nieuwendyk said that he called his parents every night for a month after he went to Cornell because he wanted to come home. He was happy that they made him stick it out in Ithaca, N.Y.

"My dad told me to stick with it and I'm glad that he did because it was there I had an experience that far exceeded anything I could have imagined. Those truly were some of the best years of my life."

After Nieuwendyk played his final game at Cornell, he was with his teamamtes scrounging for money so they could get a pizza. The next night he was in New York City going out to dinner with Lanny McDonald as a member of the Calgary Flames.

"I truly learned what the term, 'Kid, you're in for the full share' meant," he said. "My life in the National Hockey League started."

Nieuwendyk talked at length about Cliff Fletcher, the GM in Calgary who drafted him and then served as his mentor when he decided to start a managerial career.

He thanked McDonald for being his teammate and friend.

"The greatest lesson I received winning the Cup at the age of 22 was to see what it meant to you and some of our wonderful veteran players," he said to McDonald during the speech.

Nieuwendyk thanked Bob Gainey and Tom Hicks for bringing him to Dallas "at a stage of my career where I was asked to provide some of that guidance."

He went on to thank the Devils and Lou Lamoriello, the Maple Leafs for fulfilling his childhood dream of wearing the blue and white, and the Florida Panthers.

"I thank you all for the opportunity to compete at the highest level in the greatest game in the world," he said.

Nieuwendyk then talked about his family, including his wife Tina, who he called "the backbone of our family." He had this to say to his three children: "You all have big dreams. Work hard and follow your dreams, and know that your mom and dad will be there every step of the way to support you just like my mom and dad were."

He nearly broke into tears. Nieuwendyk also had this to say for his son, Jackson.

"My children didn't have an opportunity to see their dad play too much, but this is special to me because hopefully I'll gain some credibility with my son and he'll listen to me when I tell him how to win a faceoff."

Finally, Nieuwendyk closed an emotional speech with this:

"Many people are responsible for me being here tonight. Two things I have realized -- One, five minutes is not enough time to properly thank all of you. And, second, there are simply no words to express how grateful I am to have each and every one of you in my life. Thank you."

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Posted On Monday, 11.14.2011 / 8:10 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Live Blog: NHL.com at Hall of Fame inductions

Mark Howe delivers heartwarming speech

TORONTO -- For years he has been known as Gordie's son, Mark. Can we please now refer to him Mark Howe, Gordie's son.

Mark Howe has lived his entire life in the shadow of his famous father, but now that they share a spot in the Hockey Hall of Fame, it's time that Mark gets his just due for being a legend just like his old man.

Howe, a finalist for the Norris Trophy three times in the 1980s, was the first of the four inductees to get enshrined into the Hall tonight.

Howe, dressed to the nines in a tuxedo with a sharp looking bow-tie and vest combination, held his plaque up with Hockey Hall of Fame Chairman Bill Hay and then strode to the podium. He put on his dark-rimmed glasses, pulled out his speech and started to read.

Howe told NHL.com on Sunday that normally when he gives a speech or talks in public, he doesn't read, he just talks from the heart. Tonight he wanted to read just to make sure he didn't forget anything.

Howe opened his speech with a message to the hockey world about the victims of the tragic Lokomotiv plane crash in September, in which he lost his dear friend and former defense partner, Brad McCrimmon.

"I hope the victims of this terrible tragedy receive full compensation for their losses, which is not the case at this time," Howe said. "I find this morally upsetting. The families have lost their loved ones, they do not have to suffer financially as well. The hockey world should do all it can to make it right."

Mark then recognized Maureen McCrimmon, Brad's widow, who was in the crowd.
"It makes my evening complete," he said.

After thanking several people that had an influence on his career, his development as a hockey player and his overall life, he talked about going to Philadelphia in 1982.

"From the beginning it was as if I was born to be a Flyer," he said. "Although I wanted to slash him a few times, I want to thank Mike Keenan for helping me to raise my bar."

He also mentioned some of his old teamamtes, including McCrimmon, Glen Cochrane and Kjell Samuelsson.
"The orange and black will be a part of me forever," he said.

He then moved on to thanking the Illitch family and Jim Devellano for bringing him to Detroit to fulfill a dream of playing for his dad's old team.

Mark then had a touching moment when he thanked his ex-wife, Ginger.

"Although I have been separated for a number of years now, I would be remised not to thank Ginger for bringing the three kids into his world and the commitment she made to them as a mother."

He moved on to his siblings, Kathy, Murray and Marty. He had some extra special words for Marty.
"Marty is so much a part of this evening. You looked out for me, protected me. You're my big brother and my best friend."

Mark talked about his three kids and said he knows how they feel tonight "because I watched my father be inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1972. The three of you are the most important people in my life. I am so proud to be your father. I love you all very, very much."

He talked about his mother, the late Colleen Howe, and said how he wished she could be here tonight. He thanked her for everything, including teaching him how to be the son of Gordie Howe.

"I guess there is one person left to thank in this building," he then said, referring to his dad. "I'm not going to thank you for being my linemate for six years and I'm not going to thank you for elbowing the guy who may have taken a dirty shot at me. I'm not going to thank you for being the greatest hockey player ever. I want to thank you for being the husband, father and grandfather you are. You are the role model that led my life. I'm so proud to call you my dad."

Mark told a story that after he retired Gordie said he wished just for one game he would have worn his No. 9 Red Wings jersey. He never got the chance in a game, but he honored that request tonight, pulling the red No. 9 sweater over his tuxedo with pride.

"Dad, I love you," he said. "Thank you."

Howe exited the stage. Next up is Ed Belfour.

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Posted On Monday, 11.14.2011 / 7:45 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Live Blog: NHL.com at Hall of Fame inductions

Festivities are under way

TORONTO -- The 2011 Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony has begun.

We are stationed down below the area in Brookfield Place, where the ceremony is taking place. Our location is actually a restaurant called Piazza Manna. We have the broadcast on TSN2 coming into the restaurant and the media is being well fed as well.

The red carpet event was again a success as several honored members of the Hall of Fame as well as numerous other luminaries in the hockey world walked through the gauntlet of media.

Among the honored members that walked were Bob Gainey, Bill Barber, Johnny Bower, Bobby Clarke, Marcel Dionne, Cliff Fletcher, Bernie Federko, Jim Gregory, Igor Larionov, Ted Lindsay, Lanny McDonald, Borje Salming, Steve Shutt, Ray Scapinello, Ed Snider, Vladislav Tretiak, Bryan Trottier and Brian Kilrea.

Among the special guests that walked the carpet were Gary Bettman, Brendan Shanahan, Donald Fehr, Pat Quinn, Gary Roberts, David Poile, Ray Shero, Ken Holland, Mike and Marian Ilitch, Paul Holmgren and Mike Richter.

Shero told a great story to NHL.com about how he played against Joe Nieuwendyk in college when he was a senior at St. Lawrence and Nieuwendyk was a freshman at Cornell.

"It's hard to believe he didn't remember me," Shero said laughing. "But, I remembered him and how good he was, how strong he was as a freshman in college. To see where he is now in the Hall of Fame is just amazing."

After TSN's James Duthie welcomed everybody to the induction ceremony, Hockey Hall of Fame Chairman Bill Hay gave some opening remarks. We're in a commercial break now, but Mark Howe will be the first up for induction when the show returns.

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Posted On Monday, 11.14.2011 / 3:46 PM

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

Gilmour provides retort for Roberts' statements

TORONTO -- Gary Roberts used to wonder how Doug Gilmour stayed in shape. He told NHL.com in an interview last week that despite being neighbors with Gilmour, he never once saw "Killer" training outdoors.

"I was out running every day, biking, trying to get in shape, and then in the first practice in training camp he's skating by me like I'm standing still," Roberts said. "I thought, he must work out in his closet."

No he did not.

"I had a gym in my basement," Gilmour said. "He didn't know that."

Gilmour's private workouts helped him get the better of Roberts all the time, even when Roberts finally convinced him to step out of his front door to train.

"Finally Gary got a hold of me to go for a bike ride and he's got all the gear on, this fancy bike, and I've got a five-speed mountain bike with a baby seat on the back," Gilmour said. "We went about 24 kilometers for a ride and had a race up the hill at the end. I beat him on the race and he threw his mountain bike down the hill because he was so mad."

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Posted On Monday, 11.14.2011 / 3:12 PM

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

Belfour idolized, learned from Tretiak

TORONTO -- Ed Belfour could have picked Ken Dryden or Tony Esposito to be his hockey idol as a 7-year-old boy growing up in Carman, Man. But Belfour went the other way and picked Vladislav Tretiak, the enemy goalie in the epic 1972 Summit Series.

"There were a lot of Canadian kids that idolized Vladislav Tretiak from the Summit Series," Belfour said Monday. "It was so publicized."

For Belfour, though, Tretiak went from idol to coach to friend. Mike Keenan hired Tretiak to be the Chicago Blackhawks goalie coach in 1990, shortly after Belfour got to the Windy City.

Belfour said Tretiak didn't speak a word of English, but they quickly developed a repour that helped Belfour become a Hall of Fame goalie.

"We had an interpreter almost the whole first year and he would come on the ice with us, but for the most part Vladdy would come on the ice too, so he would show me what he wanted done," Belfour said. "He picked up on English very quickly. He did a great job with me and I'm always very appreciative and thankful."

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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."

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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."

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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."

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Quote of the Day

We have no doubt how he can play. You don't, with four teams that are left, you're not getting here without good goaltending. All great goalies left, and [Bishop] is a top-tier goaltender in this league and he's shown it.

— Lightning coach Jon Cooper on goalie Ben Bishop, who shut out the Rangers in Game 5