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Posted On Monday, 09.26.2011 / 5:21 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Classic chatter

Laviolette and Tortorella eager for Winter Classic

Just because Peter Laviolette has already experienced the spectacle that has become the Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, don't think for a second he considers having the perfect recipe for success.
 
Laviolette, whose team dropped a 2-1 overtime decision to the Boston Bruins in the 2010 Classic at Fenway Park, does feel that each player needs to enjoy the experience since, for some, it will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.
 
"I think the Winter Classic presents itself a little differently than the Stanley Cup Final," Laviolette told NHL.com. "It's a tremendous event and there's always a focus
that goes into winning hockey games so that can't be lost in it. But you also need to enjoy it. It's not very often you get to play outside in front of 40,000 or 50,000
fans and those opportunities are rare. The day will be terrific and the days leading up to it. It's nice that family members get to be a part of something like this do, so the players will really enjoy it from both sides so the game.
 
"I don't think you'll have to worry about the game being competitive, but the thing is, you want to make sure you enjoy the event too."
 
Rangers coach John Tortorella can't wait to play hockey where the Phillies play baseball.
 
"I'm a huge baseball fan and I've run around this ballpark but never have been inside," Tortorella said. "There may even be some World Series' games here. I asked some people where the rink would be placed and they said they always put it behind the pitchers' mound because they don't want to take the mound out. I can't really envision it right now but to have this park packed … it'll be exciting for us all."
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Posted On Monday, 09.26.2011 / 5:06 PM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Classic chatter

Call him Mr. September

James van Riemsdyk has had quite the coming-out party at Citizens Bank Park.

A little over a week ago while taking batting practice with eight other Flyers' teammates at the ballpark, van Riemsdyk launched a pitch over the left field wall that was an estimated 350 feet. During a little shooting competition at the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic announcement at Citizens Bank on Monday, he was the only Flyers player to shoot a puck from home plate into the goal cage stationed at second base.

In addition to van Riemsdyk, Rangers captain Ryan Callahan and forward Marian Gaborik also scored.

The shot was impressive when you consider the fact each player had to lift the puck over a two-foot high wall just beyond the pitcher's mound before it entered the cage.

"I did what I normally do, I closed my eyes and just shot as far as I could," van Riemsdyk told NHL.com.

Van Riemsdyk, who is entering his third season with the Flyers in 2011-12, was a rookie when the Flyers dropped a 2-1 overtime decision to the Boston Bruins at the 2010 Bridgestone Winter Classic.

"I'm looking forward to the outdoor feel once again and how the fans kind of get up for it," van Riemsdyk said. "The whole event, in general, is great and family members get to skate with the players. I'm hoping for a little snow. I think that gives it that wintery feel and makes it intriguing."
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Posted On Monday, 09.26.2011 / 3:35 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Hockeyville Hubbub

A special night for Cody Porter

Last month, Conception Bay South resident Cody Porter was focused on attending and making a name for himself at the High Performance Program in Gander, where we was set to try out for Team Newfoundland & Labrador.
 
The 13-year-old arrived in Gander on Aug. 21 and completed his first round of on-ice and off-ice activities the following day. But that night, he failed to compete in his first game due to what he thought was a fever. He went back to his hotel with hopes that he could sleep it off.

On the morning of Aug. 23, Porter was still not feeling well but managed to make his way to the rink. But his condition continued to deteriorate, and he was soon placed in an ambulance. He was rushed to the James Paton Memorial Hospital in Gander, going in and out of consciousness along the way.
 
Within the next hour, Porter's temperature was up to 40 degrees Celsius, or 104 degrees Fahrenheit. It wasn't long after that his vitals flat lined. But with the help of some antibiotics, doctors were able to stabilize Porter and quickly placed him on an air ambulance headed for the Janeway Children's Hospital here in St. John's. During that trip, Porter flat lined a second time.

"I don't really remember much," Cody said. "I only remember getting in the ambulance. That's all I really remember."

"There's no words to explain how fast it all happened," Cody's mother, Laura Lee, told NHL.com. "We never thought he was as sick as what he was. Everything just happened so fast. They had him in St. John's in no time."

Porter was sedated for the next five days. During that time, doctors discovered a growth on his heart. Fortunately, all the tests performed came back negative. In all, he spent 11 days in the hospital. He lost 15 pounds during that span and needed roughly a dozen donations of blood platelets.

"He was asleep for five days and once they woke him up, he was doing good," Laura Lee said. "It took a few days for him to come home, but he's doing well now. The growth shrunk and it went away."

Tonight, Porter will find himself standing at center ice to drop the ceremonial puck for the Kraft Hockeyville game between the Winnipeg Jets and Ottawa Senators at the Mile One Centre. It will be a great moment for a child who has been through so much in the last month.

"I'm really excited about tonight," Cody said. "It's going to be really cool."

"I'm going to cry," his mom said. "I'll be crying the whole time. He's a pretty special boy."
 
Porter hopes to continue his hockey career soon. Doctors have informed him that he won't have his full strength back until around Christmas, so he'll be staying off skates for the time being. He hopes to try out as a second-year Bantam next season.
 
"They said I can go back to playing hockey next year," Cody said. 

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Posted On Monday, 09.26.2011 / 3:29 PM

By Kevin Weekes -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Weekes on the Web

Winter Classic commentary

Question: What could be better than popular NHL Network analyst Kevin Weekes returning to the fold as a regular analyst on NHL Net's "On the Fly" and at all major League-wide events? Answer: Setting up Weekes to blog four times a week–both video and text–for NHL.com. Look for Kevin's insightful and always enthusiastic brand of hockey blogging beginning Tuesday, Oct. 4.

In a special sneak peak of "Weekes on the Web," here are Kevin's video views on Monday's 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic announcement that the game will be Jan. 2 at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.

Kevin's take on the Winter Classic:


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Posted On Monday, 09.26.2011 / 3:25 PM

By Kevin Weekes -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Weekes on the Web

Kevin's view on HBO's '24/7'


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Posted On Monday, 09.26.2011 / 3:20 PM

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

Winter Classic commentary

Former NHL head coach and player Barry Melrose starts a new gig this season: He will be blogging for NHL.com throughout the 2011-2012 season. Plus, Melrose will be appearing as an analyst for NHL Network during every League-wide NHL event, starting with today's 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic announcement at Citizens Bank Park in Philadelphia.

To start off each week, look for "Melrose Monday" on NHL.com. Melrose will look ahead at the biggest days on the NHL calendar that week. "Melrose Monday" starts today with Barry's unique take on the Winter Classic between the New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers Jan. 2.

Barry's take on the Winter Classic:


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Posted On Monday, 09.26.2011 / 3:15 PM

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

Why NHL fans should tune in to HBO's '24/7"



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Posted On Monday, 09.26.2011 / 2:41 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Hockeyville Hubbub

Forward lines for Hockeyville game

We're less than 90 minutes away from opening faceoff here in St. John's. Players and coaches seem genuinely thrilled to be a part of the Kraft Hockeyville experience and are primed to put on a good show for these rabid fans tonight.

Here are the expected forward lines tonight for each club:

Winnipeg
Andrew Ladd-Bryan Little-Blake Wheeler
Carl Klingberg-Jim Slater-Tim Stapleton
Evander Kane-Mark Scheifele-Chris Thorburn
Patrice Cormier-Ben Maxwell-Troy Bodie

Ottawa
Colin Greening-Mika Zibanejad-Daniel Alfredsson
David Dziurzynski-Zack Smith-Chris Neil
Mike Hoffman-Corey Locke-Bobby Butler
Corey Cowick-Derek Grant-Mark Parrish

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Posted On Monday, 09.26.2011 / 2:17 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Classic chatter

'Worst-kept secret in sports'

Commissioner Gary Bettman, at a podium erected on top of a dugout at Citizens Bank Park, just made official what the commissioner himself called, "the worst-kept secret in sports," that the 2012 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic will be played at 1 p.m. on Jan. 2, 2012, between the Philadelphia Flyers and New York Rangers.
 
Dignitaries from both clubs were in attendance, including Rangers Ryan Callahan, Marian Gaborik and Brad Richards, and Flyers Chris Pronger, James van Riemsdyk, Matt Carle and Scott Hartnell. There also were a few hundred Flyers season ticket holders in attendance.
 
They just showed a great promotional video highlighting the great Rangers-Flyers rivalry, and the Commissioner also confirmed HBO is back on board for another edition of the critically-acclaimed, award-winning "24/7" series.
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Posted On Monday, 09.26.2011 / 2:06 PM

By Brian Compton -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Hockeyville Hubbub

Regin, Machacek visit CBS schools

As it should be, the kids are the big winners in the Kraft Hockeyville festivities.

Just hours before the Winnipeg Jets and Ottawa Senators battle at the Mile One Centre in St. John's, a player from each squad headed out to Conception Bay South to visit two elementary schools. Jets forward Spencer Machacek and Sens center Peter Regin represented their clubs and took turns taking questions from students of both Topsail and St. George's Elementary Schools. They also signed some autographs and took group photos.

"I had a lot of fun interacting with the community," said Machacek, who hails from Lethbridge, Alberta. "I've never been out here. This is a beautiful part of the country. It's amazing. The teachers and the kids are just so excited to have us here. All the energy is a lot of fun. It's a special thing I'm sure for them to have NHL players come in. We were all young like that once. It was a lot of fun."

St. George's Principal Paul Edwards was thankful to both Regin and Machacek, knowing full well the two players created memories for his schoolchildren that will last a lifetime.

"The kids have been excited all week," Edwards said. We're delighted today to have the players with us. The kids are excited and they will be for another few days while Hockeyville is ongoing. There's been quite a lot of excitement and enthusiasm from our school.

Not lost in the shuffle was a visit from NHL alumni Mathieu Schneider and Rob Zamuner to the Janeway Children's Hospital in St. John's. There's little doubt Schneider and Zamuner brightened some kids' days.

"I think it's amazing that they do this," Machacek said of the Kraft Hockeyville experience. "I'm sure every year, it just grows and grows. A lot of people haven't been out here, including myself. To be able to see this part of the country and see the excitement in this town and to give these kids an NHL game, it's pretty special."
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Quote of the Day

I just wanted to do something to take my mind off the shot and let me relax a little bit. It seemed like the fans liked it. I'm glad I was able to score.

— Oilers forward Taylor Hall on lifting his arms to fire up the crowd before his penalty shot
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