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Round 2
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Stanley Cup Final
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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POSTED ON Sunday, 12.04.2011 / 11:30 PM

NHL.com - Melrose Minute

My all-time team of big guys in NHL history

What I tried to do in this was pick big guys, but they also had to be good. These guys are big, big men, but they're also very good players, because in the end you can't just rely on your size to play in the National Hockey League.

And so, without further ado, here is my best all-time lineup of big guys:

Ken Dryden, G -- In net, we're starting with Ken Dryden. He's 6-foot-4, and the numbers speak for themselves. He won the Conn Smythe before he won rookie of the year (in 1971), which hasn't happened since, and he's one of the greatest goaltenders ever to play our game. He was a part of those great Montreal teams -- some say the best teams in NHL history -- and he was an iconic figure on those teams. We all remember the photos of him leaning on his stick -- he made that pose very, very famous.

A goalie with Dryden's height, to play like he did, completely changed the game. They talk about positions that have changed the most or the biggest difference between now and the 1970s. It's goaltending. Every team now has got a great goaltender, and if you look at these goaltenders they basically all play the same, they're all 6-2 to 6-5, and some like Ben Bishop are as tall as 6-7. They're all butterfly goalies and they're well-schooled. They're not reaction goalies anymore. They go to where the puck is going to go, and they're the best athletes on the team now. In the old days you put the fat kid in net. Now the best athletes on the team are in net. That's the biggest difference and you could certainly say Ken Dryden was on the cutting edge of that.

Zdeno Chara
Defense - BOS
GOALS: 5 | ASST: 13 | PTS: 18
SOG: 76 | +/-: 18
Zdeno Chara, D -- He's 6-9, but the guy is great, too. Zdeno Chara was an easy choice. He's won a Stanley Cup, he's one of the best defensemen in the game right now, he's just a unique player, he's the captain of an original six team and the guy's gigantic. And he's not just a freak of nature -- the guy's a great athlete. Both of his parents were great athletes and his father went to the Olympics as a greco-roman wrestler. Chara came over to Prince George, British Columbia at a young age, began practicing and just developed, developed, developed. If you ask GMs in hockey which defenseman they'd take first if they got to draft them all, I've got to think a large number would pick Chara. He's that good.

A buddy of mine was an assistant coach at Prince George and he talked to me about Chara. He really thought he was going to be a player. He told me that Chara had just improved so much since he came over, he's a workaholic, he's a great kid, he's a sponge for information, and he's just awesome. Sometimes athletes that tall can struggle with coordination, but the guys who saw him play in juniors said he'll make it. They didn't say he'd become the best defenseman in the game, but they did say he's going to play in the NHL and play well. In addition to being a presence though, the guy scores 10-20 goals a year. He gets points. He's on the power play. He's a complete player. He's not a one-dimensional freak. He's a great defenseman who happens to be gigantic.

Chris Pronger, D -- He's 6-6 and all you have to do to see the impact of Chris Pronger is see what Philadelphia looks like with him out of the lineup. He's a lot like Chara size-wise, but he's a great passer of the puck. That's the biggest difference between the two if you had to find one. There aren't very many better first passers in the NHL than Pronger and that's an important part of today's game. He'll play the point on the power play, he'll kill penalties, he always plays against the other team's best player, and if you noticed, Pronger made the Final three times in five years with a different team each time.

Pronger is one of the great defensemen ever to play the game. He's mobile, he can skate, he's mean as a rattlesnake, tough to play against and his size just makes him more effective.

Mario Lemieux, F -- It's nice when we're talking about one of the five greatest players in the history of the game as one of the big guys on my team, but if you look at him, 6-4, 230-240 lbs., great talent, some of the best hands the game's ever seen, scored over 600 goals -- he's another guy that if he hadn't been hurt or had cancer his numbers would have been Gretzky-esque. And he's also, arguably, done as much off the ice as he's done on the ice. He basically saved Pittsburgh twice -- once when he came into the NHL because Pittsburgh was a terrible, terrible franchise, and once when he restructured all the money they owed him and kept the franchise in Pittsburgh. Now everyone knows it as maybe the best franchise in the NHL.

He's just a great ambassador of our sport, but that frame makes him really the first great big guy with talent. Big guys before were physical players and fighters, but here we had a guy that big who was maybe the most skilled player in the game. Just a unique individual and a unique player. If he had stayed healthy his whole career I don't think he would have beat Gretzky -- Gretzky's numbers are that freakish -- but he certainly would have been up there.

At 6-foot-5 and 205 pounds, Pete Mahovlich used his oversized body to score 288 goals and 773 point in 884 NHL games for the Canadiens and Red Wings. (Photo: Getty Images)
Pete Mahovlich, F -- Pete was 6-5 and when I think of Big Pete I always think of that goal he scored against the Russians in the '72 Summit Series, where he beat the whole Russian team, went in and scored. It's one of the greatest goals ever. He was also very skilled, similarly to Mario. He had one of the best sets of hands the NHL ever saw, and he was also one of the funniest guys in the NHL. He was a great teammate. Everyone loved playing with Pete.

He was really just an unbelievable talent skill-wise. Here was a guy that wasn't very physical, but his hands, his stick, his skating, his ability to move the puck, he was one of the great players of that era. Anyone benefits from playing on a great team like he did, but Pete was a talent in his own right. When you're picked to Team Canada in '72 and you're one of the key players on Team Canada in '72, you're a great player. Pete was front and center on that team, so I think he stands on his own.

Dave Andreychuk, F -- Dave is 6-5, another guy with over 600 goals, he won a Stanley Cup, he always scored a ton of goals in junior and the NHL, every place he went and every organization he went to he scored goals so it wasn't a case of people he was with making him a goal scorer, and he just had a great set of hands around the net. He was a gigantic man physically, and he would get into that tripod stance on the ice that made him impossible to move. He was a great power play performer and just one of the great goal scorers in our game.

He was not a great skater -- he'll be the first to tell you that -- but he got to the puck and he was able to put it in. As a result, Andreychuk is the third man on that gigantic line.
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POSTED ON Friday, 12.02.2011 / 11:14 AM

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

Barry's Best: Top players of the week

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POSTED ON Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 4:30 PM

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

Barry's Mullet of the Week: Sidney Crosby

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POSTED ON Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 3:52 PM

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

Melrose provides suit jacket advice for Dale Hunter

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POSTED ON Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 3:19 PM

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

Melrose Place: Coaching Carousel

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POSTED ON Wednesday, 11.30.2011 / 1:34 PM

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

Melrose on Movember

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POSTED ON Monday, 11.28.2011 / 1:00 AM

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

5 Ugliest Jerseys in NHL History

This was harder than I thought because there aren't a ton of bad jerseys, but there are a few. Here are what I came up with as my least favorite jerseys of all time.

Honorable Mention: New Jersey Devils 1982-1993 - Before we really get started, here's a jersey that I really wanted to put in this list: the Devils jerseys with the green and red "Christmas Tree" jerseys. That was a bad jersey. Christmas is the most wonderful time of the year, but it was never the most wonderful time of the year for the Devils. That was a color combination that I think everyone was happy it left the NHL.

5. The Calgary Flames in 1980 - There was not a lot of imagination here and nothing very innovative -- just a "C" with some flames on it. The white ones were especially poor I thought, but for lack of imagination and creativity, I'll give the white Calgary flames jersey the nod at No. 5. I'm not a lover of Calgary's jerseys in general. I like them better now that they have black in them, but I've never been a lover of their jerseys.

4. The New York Rangers in 1978
- I hate that long stripe from one arm across the shoulder to the other arm. A lot of teams did this in the late 1970s -- including the Toronto Maple Leafs -- when I played for them. The Rangers had it with that square crest on the front. The Rangers had the stripe, Philly started the stripe, Toronto went to the stripe, Winnipeg went to the stripe, and I just never really liked it. I like the Rangers jersey when it just has Rangers across the front much better than the crest.

3. The Gold L.A. Kings jerseys - The purple and gold that they wore for a while they took because they had the same owners as the L.A. Lakers, and purple and gold just aren't hockey colors. They don't invoke fear and intimidation. I've never liked the L.A. Kings' purple and gold jerseys, but the gold jerseys with the gold socks and the gold pants were the worst. I just felt that was too much gold in any one area. Thank God they didn't bring those out when I was the coach there. It's good for basketball, but just not for hockey.

2. The Islanders Gorton's Fisherman - If this one's No. 2, it's hard to imagine that anything is worse than this. That was a jersey that scared kids. That was a bad crest. I'm so glad to have seen the Islanders get back to their original jerseys. They should never have changed. They won Stanley Cups with it, it was a nice jersey and to do that with the Gorton's Fisherman was just bad planning. I'm a traditional guy. If you're lucky enough to have tradition -- so few teams have it -- that should be something you go towards, not something you go away from. You don't see the Leafs or the Canadiens making major changes, and the Islanders, say what you want, are one of the great franchises in our game. They've won a number of Stanley Cups, so I think tradition is what they should be striving for -- not being gimmicky.

1. The Vancouver Canucks: Every jersey from 1978-1997 - It's not just one jersey. It's an era -- right from when they brought the "V" in to the goofy skate on the crest. That whole era is the worst collection of jerseys the NHL has ever seen. At first they had the Hockey Night in Canada jerseys with the stick through the TV screen, and now they're back to that with their alternate, but then they had so many jerseys that were ugly, from the "V" to the goofy skate. There is just no redeeming that group of jerseys.
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For me, it's a great win for our hockey team and for a lot of people back in Columbus, especially our fans in particular … people who have been devoted to this organization, it's big.

— Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards on their win vs. the Penguins in Game 2, the franchise's first-ever Stanley Cup Playoff victory