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Posted On Friday, 12.23.2011 / 9:35 AM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Melrose Matchup: Flyers at Rangers

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.20.2011 / 4:11 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Melrose Matchup: Blackhawks at Penguins

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Posted On Monday, 12.19.2011 / 12:00 AM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Giving the gifts

The holidays are right around the corner with both Hanukkah and Christmas coming this week. In the spirit of the season, I'm putting on my Santa costume on and telling different teams and players in the NHL that have been nice this year what they can expect to find under their trees on Sunday morning.

Toronto Maple Leafs:
I dug in my archives and I found the parade route that the Leafs used in 1967 when they won their last title. Everyone in Toronto thinks the Leafs are going to win the Stanley Cup this year, so I want to do my part and make sure they're ready to march down Young Street like they did in '67. The people in Toronto have been long suffering, and it's not right that the last parade in Toronto was for a baseball team. I think that's got to change, so I'm going to do all I can for the people of Toronto and help out the Leafs and their fans with the actual parade route, so they'll be ready if it ever happens.

Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks:
I'm going to give these teams three free sessions with self-help guru Tony Robbins, because right now they are both screwed up mentally. Neither team has any confidence and both lose games when they have the lead going into the third period. So these teams just need mental makeovers. I know Tony and I know in three sessions, he'll be able to change both of those teams. Books will be given out and available at each session signed outside the door.

Nashville Predators:
Carrie Underwood is going to write a new song for the Predators and it's going to be called "Love and Pekka Rinne will keep us playing into May." Mike Fisher will be the tall, dark handsome guy in the video who says nothing and just smiles the whole time.

Philadelphia Flyers: I'm going to bring back Ed Van Impe to make a comeback in place of Chris Pronger. He's going to supply that nasty defenseman that slashes everything that moves around the front of the net. With Pronger out for the rest of the year, I had to do something for the Flyers because we saw last year in the playoffs that it's not the same defense without Pronger. Without Pronger I put the Flyers down in that second tier of teams. I'd put the Bruins, Pittsburgh, Chicago and Vancouver in that upper tier. The Flyers are now in that level beneath them with teams like the Rangers. The Pronger injury is catastrophic.

Evgeni Malkin: I'm going to continue to give Malkin superpowers until Sidney Crosby comes back. Malkin's been just great every game since Sidney's been gone. He had a hat trick Saturday night, Wednesday night he was fantastic in a losing effort. He's just playing awesome hockey right now. Pittsburgh is certainly a playoff team, but to be a Stanley Cup team, Malkin's going to have to be the guy that leads them. Arguably Pittsburgh's got its two best players out right now in Crosby and Kris Letang, but they're still scoring in bunches every night, and to keep doing it Malkin will have to keep playing at a high level.

Boston Bruins: I'm giving these guys nothing. I gave them the Stanley Cup last year and I also gave them Tyler Seguin, so I think that's enough to hold them over for another Christmas.

St. Louis Blues: I'm giving the Blues the exact same thing. I already gave them Ken Hitchcock and Brian Elliott, which has completely turned the team around. They have been overserved already. Right now, Brian is the most confident he's ever been and he's played well for stretches before with Ottawa. With a guy with his history, you're certainly taking a sigh of relief after each good game, but St. Louis is playing a good style of hockey right now and Elliott and Hitchcock are big reasons why.

Teemu Selanne and the Winnipeg fans: These two got their Christmas present this weekend when I gave them Teemu's emotional return to Winnipeg Saturday night. It was a magical night, the city came out and responded, a lot of great memories were rekindled and Teemu was cheered every time he touched the puck. The Winnipeg fans certainly loved the win, but I think they would almost have loved to see Teemu score a hat trick in a win for Anaheim just as much. It was a great night for Winnipeg, a great night for Teemu and a great night for the NHL.

New Jersey Devils: I'm going to give this team a return to their previous glory for Ilya Kovalchuk and Marty Brodeur. I think Kovalchuk is starting to come out of it, but for New Jersey to make the playoffs, these two guys will have to be the players of old, so that's the Christmas present I'm going to give the fans and players in New Jersey. If you really sit back and look at the play of Marty and Johan Hedberg, Hedberg should be playing more. You want to play Marty, but when he struggles you feel bad when you pull him. As a coach you don't want to put him in that situation, but hopefully with Santa's help, Marty will regain his greatness for the last 50 games of the season.

Detroit Red Wings: I'm going to give them access to the Fountain of Youth for one more year. They had that six-game losing streak at the beginning of the year, and boy did it wake them up. They look like the old Detroit Red Wings. Jimmy Howard has been good all year long -- probably their most consistent player -- but not Datsyuk's back, Zetterberg is flying, Franzen is scoring and Lidstrom and Kronwall and Stuart are giving them good play and the team looks great.

Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets and New York Islanders: I know it's been a tough year for them, but I'm going to give them a great Christmas present: a lottery pick. Those will be the three teams that have the best opportunity to get a lottery pick come next June. I think the Islanders are a team that isn't ready to compete for a playoff spot just yet, Columbus is just in too big of a hole and Carolina is just a mess right now, particularly with Skinner and Pitkanen out. But if you're looking for a silver lining, these three teams are all going to get very good players next June -- and in the case of New York and Columbus, it might be the piece that finally pushes them into the top eight consistently.

New York Rangers: I'm going to give them the return of Marc Staal. I really like the Rangers. I think they're really close to being a really good team. Richards is becoming a bigger factor every game, Girardi is one of the most underrated defensemen in the NHL, they play with some grit and some character and they've always had the goaltender. If you put Staal back in that lineup, I think this will be a team that can do some damage come playoff time.

All in all though, this has been a great season so far for the NHL and only people like Jacques Martin or Randy Carlyle have gotten any coal. Bruce Boudreau got an exception. With a glance into Santa's crystal ball, the gifts I'm giving this holiday season will make sure the rest of the season is even better than what we've had so far.

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Posted On Saturday, 12.17.2011 / 10:53 AM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Melrose Matchup: Bruins at Flyers

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Posted On Friday, 12.16.2011 / 12:40 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Melrose Minute: Mullet of the Week

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Posted On Thursday, 12.15.2011 / 11:07 AM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Barry's Best: This week's best players

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Posted On Thursday, 12.15.2011 / 11:05 AM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Melrose Place: Barry talks coaching changes

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Posted On Tuesday, 12.13.2011 / 12:00 AM

NHL.com - Melrose Minute

5 Most Important trades in NHL History

Dozens of trades happen every season in the NHL, but there are only a handful that stick out like these do. These, in my mind, are the five most important trades in NHL history:

5. 1957: Detroit trades Ted Lindsay and Glen Hall to Chicago for John Wilson, Forbes Kennedy, minor leaguers and cash

Glenn Hall's accomplishments are impressive, but the real important thing here was Ted Lindsay. Lindsay was a great player -- a member of the production line in Detroit with Gordie Howe and Sid Abel -- and he was one the most well-known players in the NHL. There weren't a ton of trades in a six-team League, so a trade was pretty big news and one with a star involved was even bigger. The reason he was traded is the most important thing, though. He was starting a player's union and this move was made strictly to get him out of Detroit and keep him from organizing the Red Wings' locker room. Detroit was one of the top teams in the NHL and Chicago was one of the worst, and they wanted to quiet him and quiet his influence and it worked. After he went to Chicago, the union folded and didn't get started again for several years. Ted knew it would affect his career, he knew it would have consequences, and he did it anyway. He didn't have to, either. He was a star and one of the most well-paid players in the League, but he did it to help out everyone else. This trade showed what lengths the old owners would do to stop a players' association from being founded.

As well, his influence on the young players in Chicago had an impact as they moved toward the Stanley Cup in 1961 even though he was no longer on the roster. He was a warrior. That Chicago team in 1961 definitely had his influence.

4. 1992: Quebec trades Eric Lindros to Philadelphia for the rights to Peter Forsberg, Ron Hextall, Chris Simon, Mike Ricci, Kerry Huffman, Steve Duchesne, a 1993 first-round pick (eventually Jocelyn Thibault), a 1994 first-round pick (later traded to Toronto and then Washington) and $15 million.

Lindros said he would rather not play for Quebec after being drafted by them and Lindros actually made the NHL buckle. This was huge not just because the NHL caved and allowed him to refuse to play there, but the trade was so bungled that Quebec had actually worked out deals with two different teams -- Philadelphia and the New York Rangers. It was a crazy series of events and it changed things because not long after the Sedin twins said they would only play on the same team and the NHL buckled again and allowed Brian Burke to work out the trades he did to bring both of them to Vancouver.

Still, Lindros was the first to test the NHL's resolve and call its bluff. Gretzky didn't do it, Lemieux didn't do it, but Lindros did. He wouldn't go to a bad team and he got the trade he wanted. As well, there's no doubt that that trade won the Cup down the road for Colorado by either giving them players they needed or players that could be traded for draft picks to later help build depth. It also was a step back for the Rangers because the players that were going to be dealt became public knowledge. The Rangers had originally agreed to send Quebec Doug Weight, Tony Amonte, Alex Kovalev, John Vanbiesbrouck and three first-round picks before an arbitrator ruled the deal invalid. If I was a young Alex Kovalev and I heard I was almost dealt, it would have changed how I felt about the organization I played for. This deal had a lot of components, and a lot of impact that changed the landscape of the NHL.

3. 1967: Chicago trades Phil Esposito, Ken Hodge and Fred Stanfield to Boston for Pit Martin, Gilles Marotte and Jack Norris.

All the players Boston got in this deal were huge, but Esposito changed the Boston Bruins. This is also ahead of Lindros because I think Espo was a bigger player than Lindros. This move completely changed the balance of power in the NHL. Esposito was a good player in Chicago and he became arguably the second best player in the NHL in Boston, certainly the best offensive player. He led the League in scoring, Boston won two Stanley Cups and people would say "God shoots, Esposito scores on the rebound." It just completely changed the culture of the Boston Bruins and it really made Esposito into an icon.

In 1972, he was also the face and the conscience of the 1972 Summit Series team for Canada and it all started with this trade to the Boston Bruins.

2. 1995: Montreal trades Patrick Roy and Mike Keane to Colorado for Jocelyn Thibault, Martin Rucinsky and Andrei Kovalenko.

Patrick Roy beats Espo because I think he's the more important player in the history of the NHL. For Montreal to trade a French-Canadian goaltender in his prime, who had just won a Stanley Cup and a Conn Smythe three seasons earlier, was just shocking. To keep the coach and trade Patrick Roy was pretty amazing. The whole thing was pretty poorly handled by everyone -- the coach, the team and Patrick Roy. If everyone had taken 24 hours off and calmed down, I don't think it would have happened. It changed Montreal. They haven't really been a consistent contender since, and Colorado got the piece they were missing. They won the Stanley Cup that year and became a perennial contender.

1. 1988: Edmonton trades Wayne Gretzky, Marty McSorley and Mike Krushelnyski to Los Angeles for Jimmy Carson, Martin Gelinas, $15 million, a 1989 first-round pick (later traded to New Jersey), a 1991 first-round pick (Martin Rucinsky) and a 1993 first-round pick (Nick Stajduhar).

Wayne Gretzky was the greatest player who ever played and no one ever thought he could be traded. Whenever something crazy happens in the NHL, people say, "Well, Gretzky got traded," meaning anything can happen. He was in the prime of his career, Edmonton had just won four Cups in five years and the team was still together. I remember the first time I heard a rumor that he could be traded and I just laughed. I thought it was crazy. Now whenever I hear a rumor I just think, "Well, Gretzky was traded."

More importantly, if Gretzky doesn't get traded, do we have a team in San Jose? Do we have a team in Anaheim? In Texas? Two in Florida? Would we have ever had another team in Atlanta? Gretzky going south showed everyone that NHL buildings could fill in the south and draw well in south. Gretzky didn't just change two teams -- he changed the entire concept of a league. He changed the game of hockey on the ice and he changed the game off the ice. He was that big. Once he goes to L.A. he gets on Saturday Night Live, he's on SportsCenter every night -- that would not have happened if he stayed in Edmonton.
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Posted On Monday, 12.12.2011 / 12:00 AM

NHL.com - Melrose Minute

The top 5 goalies of all-time

No player spends more time on the ice than the man in net, and often he can be the difference between winning and losing. With that in mind, here are my five greatest goaltenders in NHL history:

5. Glen Hall

Glenn Hall won 406 NHL games, taking Calder, Vezina, and Conn Smythe trophies along the way to go with two Stanley Cups as a player. (Photo: Getty Images)
He's one of the top 10 in wins, one of the most famous goaltenders ever to play and he was very unique. Everyone of course knows about him puking before games and that might make him seem nervous, but he did it as long and as well as anyone. When you think of goaltending, Glenn Hall is one of the names that always pops up.

Hall had several major accomplishments, but what might stand out most of all is his 502 starts in a row. Coaches would never let that happen now. Coaches are worried about goaltenders being tired. Obviously they weren't playing 82-game seasons then, but Glen did play when it was 70 games, and not only that, but a lot of those times there was only one goaltender so he was the only goalie for practice, too. To do that and never be hurt, and do all that traveling, because they were flying commercial then -- they didn't fly charter jets -- or taking the train, that number is just mind-boggling. That a goalie could play that many games without a mask without getting hurt, it's just a crazy, crazy number. Coaches are very careful these days. They'll let him play two games in a row, but not three, or they'll monitor his minutes. It's just a crazy number -- one that we'll never see approached again in the NHL.

4. Jacques Plante

His numbers are right up there with the best. He's one of the most famous goaltenders ever, and he's one that changed the game by having the guts to wear a mask. In those days general managers thought that wearing a mask was a sign of weakness. They actually ordered goalies not to wear masks, and Jacques was powerful enough and strong enough mentally that he said, "To hell with you. I'm wearing a mask. I don't care what the GM thinks and I don't care what the coach thinks. I'm wearing a mask and it won't hurt the way I play." He knew he would play better with a mask on, that he'd be braver and more aggressive. Jacques Plante changed the game of hockey for the better. He played well into his 40s and was on the Blues with Glenn Hall later in his career, he won several Stanley Cups with the Canadiens, had 434 wins in 837 games, which is pretty impressive and he's just one of the great ones. No doubt about it.

3. Terry Sawchuk

He's in the top five in wins, and I put him No. 3 because of the shutouts. He had over 100 of them. A lot like Glen Hall's record, it's just a crazy record playing as many games as he did. He won Stanley Cups, had 447 wins and was a guy that fought a lot of demons. If he was a football or baseball player in the United States they'd have a movie about his life. But the thing that sets him apart is the number of shutouts he had in his career.

We don't look at history enough in our sport. Kids today don't know the history of our sport and who was great in the 40s and 50s -- with all sports. Baseball guys will say the same things -- that young guys don't know what Jackie Robinson went through or what Ty Cobb was like. In our sport, young hockey fans should know Terry Sawchuk and know about his history.

2. Martin Brodeur

Martin Brodeur
Goalie - NJD
RECORD: 6-8-0
GAA: 3.18 | SVP: 0.884
This is going to be the debate, but I'm going with Brodeur at No. 2. He has the most wins in the regular season, and he's great, still playing at 39 years old and still getting wins, but I don't think he's going to pass Patrick Roy in playoff wins. Both have won Stanley Cups, but Marty's No. 2 because Patrick's playoff record is so unbelievable. Still Brodeur is a great goaltender and a great ambassador for the game. He's also a different kind of goaltender. He's very media-friendly, he's a great puck handler and a great passer -- like a third defenseman. Most goalies are told not play the puck, but I imagine most coaches told Marty to play it. He was like another set of eyes back there. He changed the game that way, but the numbers really speak for themselves. He has over 600 wins and is just unbelievable.

And not to take away from Marty, but the teams he played behind were so good defensively. We changed the game after the lockout because of the Devils. On some nights, Marty would see only 18 shots. Very rarely did he see 30 shots. A lot of those games, though, Marty had to make 2 or 3 saves at key times to win playoff games or Stanley Cup games. Sometimes it's easier to play goal when you're seeing 40 shots than when you're seeing 14.

1. Patrick Roy

I saw Patrick up close when he won the Cup in 1993 with Montreal and I was coaching Los Angeles. He's won the Conn Smythe three times with two different teams, he's won the Stanley Cup four times and he won with the best team and without the best team. He's got the most playoff wins and I'm a big believer that a big part of greatness is your playoff record. Marty has a great playoff record too, but we've seen Roy do so many things and be such a great competitor. If I have one game and my life is on the line, I want Patrick Roy in net. I think he's the best big-game goaltender to ever play in our sport.
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Posted On Tuesday, 12.06.2011 / 9:00 AM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Barry Melrose's all-time Tiny Team

Earlier this week, I gave you my greatest team of big men of all-time. Now it's time to go to the opposite end of the spectrum and check out the tiny team. A lot of you will notice that I have a few players missing like Dino Ciccarelli and Martin St. Louis. I thought of Dino and Marty, and they probably would have been the next guys on the team, but on the numbers my forwards have them beat. For the sake of Ciccarelli and St. Louis, I'll just say they were too tall to make the team.

Here's my greatest team of little guys in NHL history.

Gump Worsley, G -- Worsley was 5-foot-7, one of the most famous goaltenders in history, and he had one of the greatest nicknames in the history of the game. How many of us have pretended to be Gump Worsley playing in the backyard? He's one of the great characters of our sport, and he had some of the greatest lines. When he played for the Rangers someone asked him which defense in the League scared him the most and Gump turned and said, "My own." That's the type of guy he was. Again, though, he was a great goaltender. His numbers are fantastic. When there were six teams he was always one of the six No. 1 goaltenders in the NHL and he was just a great personality.

Curt Giles, D -- Curt was 5-8 and he was on those good Minnesota North Stars teams that went to the Stanley Cup Final in 1981 and again in 1991, and he played a lot of minutes. He was a defensive defenseman, but he was very physical for his size. It was amazing to think that a 5-8 defenseman at that time -- that was a real tough era in the NHL, and he was certainly able to hold his own despite being that small.

Lars-Erik Sjoberg, D -- I played with this guy in Winnipeg. He's 5-8 and I know a lot of people won't know him because he only played one year in the NHL, but if you look at the history of Swedish hockey or the WHA, where he played for a number of years, he was always one of the best defensemen. He was one of the stars of the Swedish national teams that went to the Olympics in those years. He played the power play and was gritty and that was a tough time in hockey. It was a physical time and a nasty time and Sjoberg played against everybody and played very well. I caught him at the end of his career, but he was a great teammate and a very underrated hockey player.

Marcel Dionne, F -- He was 5-8, but he also had over 700 goals and is probably the greatest player never to win the Stanley Cup. He was part of the Triple Crown line in Los Angeles, which was arguably the best line in the NHL for a period of time, he was very quick and he was a shorter guy but he was square. He had immense power in his legs like Sidney Crosby. He was a great skater and very tough to play against if you were a defenseman. People probably don't give him the respect he deserves because he played in Los Angeles and didn't have a lot of playoff success, but this is one of the great players to ever play in our sport.

Yvan Cournoyer, F -- "The Roadrunner" was 5-7 and was a captain for a few years of those great Montreal teams. After Beliveau left and Henri Richard left he was the guy. There aren't many captains of the Montreal Canadiens. He scored over 400 goals and was one of the fastest skaters ever to play the game. He played in the '72 series and he played with a straight stick, which allowed him to use his backhand as effectively as his forehand. He was one of the last guys in the League to do it that way and he was great when he was doing it that way.

Theo Fleury, F -- Theo, at 5-6, is the shortest player on my team. I was coaching Medicine Hat the first time I saw Theo Fleury and he was a menace up in Moose Jaw, and I could not believe it the first time I saw him play. Our team was real good in Medicine Hat, we won the Memorial Cup, and that night Fleury scored a hat trick against us. The guy was unbelievable. He was so fast, so brave, and an unbelievable competitor. I just loved watching him play. I didn't like coaching against him, but he was one of my favorite guys to watch. We all remember when he scored that playoff goal in overtime and slid down the ice on his knees and fist-pumped at the world. He was an unbelievable, emotional player who played with a lot of heart and character, so he makes up my tiny line.
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Quote of the Day

Philadelphia is where I started my NHL career and this is where I want to be so I am really happy. This definitely gives me a lot of confidence by the Flyers showing that they have confidence in me. I know they want to see me get better as a player and this is the place to do it.

— Zac Rinaldo to the Flyers website on signing a two-year contract extension with Philadelphia