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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.

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter: @drosennhl
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Posted On Monday, 11.14.2011 / 7:18 PM

By Arpon Basu -  Managing Editor LNH.com /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Myers a healthy scratch vs. Habs

MONTREAL -- Buffalo Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers was a healthy scratch for the first time in his career Monday night.

Myers' spot in the Sabres lineup for their game against the Montreal Canadiens was taken by Mike Weber, who was dressed for the second time all season.

"Some of his decisions haven't been very good," Sabres coach Lindy Ruff said after the morning skate, though he wouldn't confirm that Myers was scratched. "For Tyler to be better, inside the game he has to make some better decisions."

Myers, 21, is a minus-6 over his last four games, including a minus-3 in Saturday's 6-2 loss in Boston where he made a number of costly giveaways that led directly to Bruins goals.
 
"It's not good enough for me," Myers said. "I have to be better."

Myers, the Calder Trophy winner two years ago, was signed prior to this season to a 7-year, $38.5 million contract extension that kicks in next season.
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Posted On Monday, 11.14.2011 / 3:51 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 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.”
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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."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl


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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."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl


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Posted On Monday, 11.14.2011 / 3:05 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 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.”
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Posted On Monday, 11.14.2011 / 2:48 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Isles recall Neiderreiter from conditioning assignment

Nino Niederreiter, the No. 5 pick in the 2010 Entry Draft, will make his season debut for the New York Islanders when they host the New York Rangers on Tuesday night.

The 19-year-old native of Switzerland has 3 goals and 1 assists in 6 games at Bridgeport of the AHL this season. The winger spent two weeks with the Sound Tigers while on a conditioning stint after suffering a groin injury during training camp.

Islanders coach Jack Capuano said that Niederreiter was playing well enough in camp to make the team before the injury.
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Posted On Monday, 11.14.2011 / 2:43 PM

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

Retirement proved difficult for Nieuwendyk

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

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

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

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

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

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl



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Posted On Monday, 11.14.2011 / 2:34 PM

By Patrick Williams -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Despite success, Boucher expects more from Bolts

WINNIPEG -- The Tampa Bay Lightning are on a 7-3-0 roll, but coach Guy Boucher is not easily impressed.

Saturday night's 3-0 loss to the St. Louis Blues left Boucher in an irritated mood on Sunday, so he kept his club off the ice for self-assessment. Tampa Bay's 3-5-2 road record and the Lightning's inability to respond until late in the game against the Blues frustrated Boucher.

"I think probably because it toned me down," Boucher replied when asked why the Lightning did not skate on Sunday. "I kind of protected the players, but it still came out today.

"We have high standards for ourselves," he continued. "Even though we're missing players, we still have the same standards and expectations, and it's important that we respect the process. We don't respect the process on the road and we have to understand."

Defenseman Victor Hedman has not played Tampa Bay's previous three games because of an upper-body injury. Boucher indicated that Hedman's status for tonight's game will be a game-time decision, but it is expected that he will play. Hedman's absence has been a significant blow for a blue line that has been without Mattias Ohlund all season.

The Lightning will also be without left wing Ryan Malone, who will miss his third game with an upper-body injury.

Here is the projected lineup for Tampa Bay tonight:

LIGHTNING
Nate Thompson - Steven Stamkos - Martin St. Louis
Tom Pyatt - Vincent Lecavalier - Teddy Purcell
Brett Connolly - Dominic Moore - Adam Hall
Ryan Shannon - Blair Jones - Steve Downie

Victor Hedman - Eric Brewer
Pavel Kubina - Marc-Andre Bergeron
Brett Clark - Bruno Gervais

Dwayne Roloson will return to the net for the Lightning, with Mathieu Garon backing up.
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Posted On Monday, 11.14.2011 / 2:18 PM

By Corey Masisak -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - 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."

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