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Posted On Monday, 11.14.2011 / 9:08 PM

By Corey Masisak - Staff Writer / - Live Blog: at Hall of Fame inductions

Gilmour honors Burns during speech

TORONTO -- Tie Domi, who narrated the video celebrating Doug Gilmour, said he was a player who "wouldn't, couldn't and shouldn't have made it." Yet here Gilmour was, standing at the podium and ready to deliver his Hockey Hall of Fame induction speech.

Gilmour began by talking about how he played for a lot of teams, so he couldn't thank everyone, but he thanked the owners, the trainers who "put us back together again" and the fans who provided inspiration, the coaches who "were willing put up with all my practical jokes, because I needed that."

Among the people Gilmour did single out included Don Cherry, "a little biased, I know" he said, and Cliff Fletcher, who traded for him in both Calgary and St. Louis.

Gilmour thanked his family, especially his mother, for letting him continue to follow his dream of playing hockey despite being the youngest child. He thanked his teammates, who he said none of this would have been possible.

He finished up by thanking Pat Burns, who was Gilmour's coach in Toronto. Gilmour said earlier in the day he worried about getting emotional during his speech, and it was mentioning Burns that caused him to do so.

"We all miss him," Gilmour said. "The League misses him. More importantly, we think he'll be here [in the Hockey Hall of Fame] one day."

With that, the ceremony to celebrate the Hockey Hall of Fame Class of 2011 was complete.

Thanks for following along.
Posted On Monday, 11.14.2011 / 8:34 PM

By Corey Masisak - Staff Writer / - Live Blog: at Hall of Fame inductions

Bettman congratulates new inductees

TORONTO -- Commissioner Gary Bettman went to the podium and talked about being the greatness of the Hockey Hall of Fame.

"In a time when so much of our daily life is consumed by temporary bursts of information, with stories and rumors told in the span of 140 characters, it is still refreshing to be in this Hall, which is a haven from the mundane, from the exploitive," Bettman said. "The Hall's very foundation is lasting, permanent and eternal. The Hall is enduring, it is real and it is authentic. Most of all, it is meaningful."

Bettman said the Hall represents a generation of fans who have cheered these four inductees, along with future generations who will cheer future greats. He said this night is about a proud father, himself a Hall of Fame member, who gets to see his son inducted.

He also congratulated Joe Nieuwendyk, and said he was "a little biased on this one" when congratulating a fellow Cornell alum and, pun intended, a Star(s) general manager. Bettman also congratulated Doug Gilmour, who he said is "almost God-like" here in Toronto.

Bettman finished by saying, "the name Ed Belfour is synonymous with playing the game at the highest level of emotion and intensity." He also congratulated media honorees Terry Jones and Mickey Redmond.

"The Hall is enriched by the presence of all of you," Bettman said.
Posted On Monday, 11.14.2011 / 8:29 PM

By Corey Masisak - Staff Writer / - Live Blog: at Hall of Fame inductions

Belfour poignant, emotional during brief speech

TORONTO -- Ed Belfour won the Vezina trophy twice, the Stanley Cup in 1999 and a gold medal at the 2002 Winter Olympics. He added "Member, Hockey Hall of Fame" to his impressive hockey resume Monday night.

TSN's James Duthie introduced Belfour and called him a "man of few words," but that his play on the ice was more important than words. During a video commemorating Belfour's career, narrated by former teammate Jeremy Roenick, he called Belfour one of the most intense players he's ever played with or against.

Belfour began his speech by thanking his mentor from his early days in Chicago, Vladislav Tretiak, for being here and traveling from Moscow to be here. He also thanked former teammate Chris Chelios for being here as well.

Tretiak was Belfour's goaltending coach when his NHL career began in Chicago, and Belfour talked earlier today about how the Russian legend was one of his idols growing up ... and how Tretiak didn't speak English when he first became the Blackhawks goalie coach. Roenick mentioned in the video introduction that Belfour wore No. 30 early in his career, but switched to No. 20 as a tribute to Tretiak.

He thanked fans for the "Ed-die, Ed-die" chants, saying they gave him inspiration every time he played. Belfour also thanked his family.

True to Duthie's introduction, Belfour was again a man of few words, but these were poignant and emotional.
Posted On Monday, 11.14.2011 / 3:51 PM

By Corey Masisak - Staff Writer / - 2011 HHOF blog

Mark on Gordie: 'He was an absolute freak of nature'

TORONTO -- Mark Howe has spent his post-playing days an NHL scout, but there is no player he’s seen more games of than his father, Gordie.

That combination gives him a unique prospective when it comes to discussing the career of “Mr. Hockey.”

“His passion and love for the game -- and I watched him play when he was 35 in Detroit,” Mark Howe said. “He was still a heck of a player, one of the top two, three guys in the League. But when he was a player at 45, he was a better player than when he was 35.”

When Gordie was in his mid-30s, Mark was a young boy watching from the seats in The Olympia in Detroit. Eventually, Mark had a chance to play professional hockey, and he decided to play in the old World Hockey Association for the Houston Aeros -- where he was able to skate on a line with Gordie and his brother, Marty.

“[WHA fans] got a chance to watch Gordie Howe play at age 45, 46. He won the MVP one year and it was staggering,” Mark Howe said. “I watched him from the stands every day as a kid growing up, but when you’re in the locker room and around that individual every day you get to appreciate him. Even when he was 52 in Hartford, playing maybe 8-10 minutes a game with no power-play time and on the fourth line, he still had 36, 37 points. What that man did from 45-52 is something that will never, ever be matched.

“When I was 18 in training camp, I was skating circles around him because I had been skating for a month, and then about three weeks later Marty and I are going, ‘Man, we can’t keep up with this guy.’ He was an absolute freak of nature physically, but it was his love of the game that separated him from everyone else.”

Mark Howe said his father actually wanted to play another year before deciding to retire at the age of 52 in 1980. Now he will join his dad in the Hockey Hall of Fame, and a large contingent of the Howe family is here to celebrate.

“I am proud. It is great to see him get in here,” Marty Howe said. “It has been a hell of a weekend, and it continues tonight. We’re all happy. We’ve got close to 50 people here, and we had a private dinner last night. We celebrated a little bit. It is great. I’m happy.”

Added Gordie Howe: “It's a tremendous honor. To heck with Gordie Howe - it's Mark Howe. And Marty's here too so he's as proud as I am. ... Hockey brought the Howe family together pretty nicely.”
Posted On Monday, 11.14.2011 / 3:05 PM

By Corey Masisak - Staff Writer / - 2011 HHOF blog

Connections run deep among Hall of Fame inductees

TORONTO -- Joe Nieuwendyk’s NHL career spanned 20 seasons with five teams. He won the Stanley Cup three times in three cities.

One of those victories did not come in 2003-04, his lone season with the Toronto Maple Leafs. That doesn’t mean that year wasn’t a special one for him.

“Growing up about 40 minutes down the road in Whitby, it was probably the highlight of my career, and I say that with all sincerity,” said Nieuwendyk, who will be inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame on Monday night. “Growing up a Leafs fan, Borje Salming and Lanny McDonald -- that’s why this weekend has been so special. Just to do it for one season was incredible.”

Nieuwendyk is one of four new members of the Hockey Hall of Fame, and all four have played hockey for a team in this city. Three of them played for the Maple Leafs, while Mark Howe spent a season with the Toronto Marlboros of the then-called Ontario Hockey Association (the predecessor of the Ontario Hockey League).

Each of them had different experiences playing in this city, but they all look back on that time with fond memories.

“I loved playing here,” said Ed Belfour, who was with the Leafs for three seasons. “The focus of the hockey world is here in Toronto, and I loved being part of that. I love it when everybody knows the game and talks about the game and the passion that you could feel in this city. All those rivalries with Montreal and Ottawa, leading up to the games you could feel the electricity in the city and it was great to be apart of that.”

Belfour backstopped the Leafs from 2002-03 until 2005-06. He was here for Nieuwendyk’s one season, and he also was Doug Gilmour’s teammate ... for one game.

Gilmour was a fan favorite in Toronto for parts of six seasons in the 1990s, and remains incredibly popular here. He returned to the Leafs during the 2002-03 campaign, but injured his knee in his first game back and did not play again.

“This was my longest-standing team, and this is what I still call home,” Gilmour said. “My years in Toronto were just ... I can’t say enough about the management and the ownership and my teammates and the runs that we had. None of this was possible without them.

“The fans here have been great through my career. You play for them. It is amazing when you go out on the ice here, like we did on Saturday night, and part of your getting ready mentally is going out on the ice and seeing the fans and their reactions -- it really gets you motivated. Believe me, [Saturday] night was the closest we’re ever going to get to that again. It was just great and I say thank you to all of them for the support.”
Howe was 17 years old when he moved to Toronto for a season of junior hockey. His team that year was very successful (47-7-9) and included several future NHL players, including his brother Marty, Bob Dailey, Mike Palmateer and Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau.

“I was here long before [the other three inductees],” Howe said. “I know Detroit is Hockeytown and I grew up in the States, but anybody, especially when you play pro, if you ever got to watch the morning skate at Maple Leaf Gardens or in the Montreal Forum, the tempo of the practice was just phenomenal. It was like game-pace tempo, and most coaches would have to cut practices short because you come into those building and there’s just so much energy and you’re so excited.

“I got to do that everyday with the Marlies. After a while, I got to work with the broom crew and I got to go down in the old boiler room and do my sticks. The Leafs were struggling at the time but the Marlies had a great year and we got a lot of great press. The people I boarded with, the Tanner family, were great people. If there’s a city that might compare to this is maybe Montreal for hockey history, but even to just be a part of it for one year was special.”

Nieuwendyk is connected to Gilmour and Belfour through previous NHL stops. He won the Cup with Gilmour in Calgary in 1989 and with Belfour in Dallas a decade later.

The Howe family will be in the spotlight Monday at the Hockey Hall of Fame, and for good reason. There will also be a special connection to the Maple Leafs and to this hockey-mad city.

Felix Potvin and I lived about 30 feet from the [Maple Leaf] Gardens, so we would just walk out and just walk into our apartment,” Gimour said. “It was just so electric down there and we saw it all the time. It is just something that you can’t replace.”

Added Nieuwendyk: “This is a fabulous honor to go in with the guys I’m going in with. I played against Mark and I can see why he was a loved teammate and a competitor. I have firsthand knowledge of the other two guys, and I couldn’t go in with a better class. It is a thrill.”
Posted On Monday, 11.14.2011 / 2:18 PM

By Corey Masisak - Staff Writer / - 2011 HHOF blog

Love of the game still there for Belfour, inductees

TORONTO -- When someone from the Hockey Hall of Fame called Ed Belfour to tell him he would be part of the Class of 2011, he didn’t answer because he was asleep.

Belfour was taking an afternoon nap, because he had a men's league game in Frisco, Texas, that night.

"I still wish I was playing. That is my release to get back into the game and still be involved," Belfour said. "I play sometimes two or three times a week in a men's league, and I play on two, three different teams. I really enjoy it and I love the game. It is a little different playing out because I don't have to warm up as much."

He doesn't play in net, but Belfour continues to play the sport he loves. Joe Nieuwenduyk also plays, but not quite as regularly as Belfour. Other Class of 2011 members Doug Gilmour and Mark Howe have not been playing hockey of late, but they were all on the ice Sunday at Air Canada Centre for the Legends of Hockey game.

Howe is a scout for the Detroit Red Wings, so he's in hockey rinks all the time. He just hadn't been skating in them.

"Very little because of my back," Howe said. "When we played yesterday and up until two weeks ago, I had not skated in five-and-a-years. My youngest son Nolan works out of a rink near Princeton, N.J., so I went over there and skated with him for three days just so I could hopefully get around the rink a little more.

"I wish I could skate more. I still have fun, but a lot of times it is the aches and the pains and when your feet and your legs start going numb on you, it is time to call it quits."

That said, Howe is going to pull on a sweater again soon. He played 10 seasons for the Philadelphia Flyers, and he will be on the ice against the New York Rangers in early January at Citizens Bank Park.

"I'm going to try and gut it out in the Winter Classic alumni game, and I'll pay for it dearly but I'm looking forward to it," Howe said. "I think the fun of that will overtake the pain and agony that I'm probably going to have for a month after."

Gilmour also hasn't played much hockey recently, but he is the general manager of the Kingston Frontenacs of the Ontario Hockey League.

"That was my first game in two years, and believe me I could tell," Gilmour said.

Nieuwendyk is the GM of the Dallas Stars, and still plays every now and then with some of his former teammates and other former players from the organization.

"I do [play] -- we've kind of formed a little bit of an alumni out in Dallas now, which I think is important for the long-term growth of the game in Dallas," Nieuwendyk said. "Now we have Mike Modano coming back to us, which is going to be huge. We get together once in a while and lace 'em up and it is fun."

Posted On Sunday, 11.06.2011 / 12:22 PM

By Corey Masisak - Staff Writer / - At the Rink blog

Lightning, Panthers battle for second in Southeast

The Tampa Bay Lightning and Florida Panthers have rarely been among the top team in the Eastern Conference at the same time, which has made it tough for the two geographical rivals to foster a significant rivalry on the ice.

It is possible that could change this season. Second place in the Southeast Division is on the line Sunday when the Lightning travel to BankAtlantic Center to face the Panthers. Both teams sit on 14 points, and the winner of this contest will be two shy of the Washington Capitals for first in the Southeast.

Only once in the two franchise’s young histories have both Florida-based clubs reached the postseason. The Panthers made a surprise run to the Stanley Cup Final in 1996, while the Lightning were kicked out in the first round by Philadelphia. Since that season the Lightning have progressed – claiming the Cup in 2004 and reaching the conference finals last season. Florida has qualified for the playoffs only twice since that magical run and have not won a series.

The Panthers could be in the midst of a revival this season. General manager Dale Tallon made wholesale changes in the offseason, and Florida has been an improved team in the early stages. Even better, goaltender Jacob Markstrom looks like a future star, and Panthers fans eagerly await the arrival of potential franchise cornerstone Jonathan Huberdeau, who could help make the Panthers a more permanent fixture among postseason contenders.

One of the team’s new pickups, forward Tomas Fleischmann, has four goals and eight points in the past six games, and the Panthers are 3-1-2 in that span. He struggled mightily in the postseason for Washington in 2010 and missed several months with a blood clot problem, but Fleischmann has 32 points in 34 games for Colorado and Florida since leaving the Capitals.

Steven Stamkos dominated the NHL in the first half of last season, and he might just be getting warmed up to repeat the feat. Stamkos had a hat trick Friday night to help Tampa Bay defeat Chicago, and he now has nine goals – one behind Toronto’s Phil Kessel for the League lead.

The Lightning made “The Leap” into contention last season, but struggled at the start of this campaign. Tampa Bay lost five straight at one point, but the Lightning have now won five of seven and could climb has high as sixth in the East with a victory against the Panthers. 
Posted On Thursday, 11.03.2011 / 3:44 PM

By Corey Masisak - Staff Writer / - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Oilers, Kings

Here are the projected lineups for the Edmonton Oilers and the Los Angeles Kings for their matchup Thursday night at Staples Center. The Oilers have won five straight to surge to the top of the Northwest Division, while the Kings could be level with the Stars on points at the top of the Pacific Division with a victory.


Taylor HallRyan Nugent-HopkinsJordan Eberle
Ryan SmithShawn HorcoffRyan Jones
Magnus PaajarviEric BelangerSam Gagner
Ben EagerAnton LanderLennart Petrell

Ladislav SmidTom Gilbert
Jeff PetryTheo Peckham
Colten TeubertCorey Potter

Devan Dubnyk


Simon GagneAnze KopitarJustin Williams
Scott ParseMike RichardsDustin Brown
Dustin PennerJarret StollBrad Richardson
Kyle CliffordTrevor LewisEthan Moreau

Willie MitchellDrew Doughty
Rob ScuderiJack Johnson
Alec MartinezMatt Greene

Jonathan Quick
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Quote of the Day

Life's about opportunity and how you respond to that opportunity, and obviously he must have some swagger about him, some confidence about him, because he was solid. He made some good saves. He was 6-foot-3 on every shot, which is a good thing for a goalie. He played well. We got a win.

— Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock on rookie goaltender Garret Sparks, who made 24 saves in his first NHL start, a 3-0 win vs. Oilers
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