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Posted On Saturday, 06.04.2011 / 2:34 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Combing the NHL Combine

The last competitor

After two days and 100 draft prospects, the final player stepped off the last bike. Windsor Spitfires forward Alexander Khokhlachev, No. 29 on NHL Central Scouting's final ranking of the top North American skaters for the 2011 Entry Draft, was the last player to finish his stint at the NHL Scouting Combine.

Khokhlachev said he had some advance warning -- he certainly had enough people to talk to about their testing experiences -- but said nothing really could have prepared him.

"They tell me what's happening here," he told NHL.com. "I know it's very hard. We just need to do this. Just all the scouts are here, and work hard.

"I work out, but never like this. I did push-ups, bench press. But not these bikes -- that's pretty hard."

Going last might have been even harder than any other competitor, because as Khokhlachev finished each exercise, the personnel from York Fitness, which oversees the testing for Central Scouting, was breaking down its equipment.

Khokhlachev said it didn't really bother him. "Just going and do your work," he said.

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Saturday, 06.04.2011 / 2:01 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Combing the NHL Combine

Binnington honest about his testing

While some players might try to gloss over their issues during the fitness testing at the NHL Scouting Combine, Owen Sound Attack goalie Jordan Binnington didn't find a need to hide.

"I got sick after both of them," he told NHL.com. "I guess they were both pretty tough."

Binnington, NHL Central Scouting's third-ranked North American goaltender for the 2011 Entry Draft, was in the second-to-last group Saturday, so that was a lot of time to hear stories from friends about what the testing would be like.

"(Daniel) Catenacci came back and he said, 'Holy (cow), it's tough, so long,'" said Binnington. "He got me all scared for it. Some guys were just like it's alright, you'll do fine. Dougie Hamilton was telling me you'll be alright, you'll do fine."

Even though he had little time to prepare for the Combine -- his team played in the Memorial Cup just nine days ago -- he felt pretty positive about his performance.

"I didn't have much time to prepare," he said. "No excuses. I worked my hardest."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Saturday, 06.04.2011 / 12:56 PM

By Dave Lozo -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Stanley Cup Final: Canucks vs. Bruins

Everyone is dying for Game 2 to get here

When there are two days off between games without a travel day in between, that means media and players will have a lot of time to fill with very little to talk about.

Game 1 of this series was Wednesday. That means reporters peppered players with questions after the game Wednesday, then at practice Thursday and Friday, then again Saturday morning. By the time Saturday rolls around, everyone is desperate for a hockey game to be played, just so there's not another question to ask or answer.

"I think everyone's dying to get back at it," Bruins forward Nathan Horton said. "It's been a long two days. We need to be better and we know we can. That's what we talked about."

Defenseman Tomas Kaberle, who has been available for reporters Thursday, Friday and then again today, was standing with just two reporters around him while other players had larger gatherings. But before anyone could ask a question, almost out of desperation, he asked to wait for more reporters to come to him just so he wouldn't have to answer the same questions over... and over ... and over ... and over again.

Coach Claude Julien also met with reporters for a third straight day. It was business as usual during his press conference, but he wasn't sitting close enough to the microphone to be heard. Cameramen in the back of the room made the problem aware to him, so Julien pulled the microphone closer.

"Test, test," he said.

Not that it wasn't funny, but it was as if the room was filled with fraternity brothers and Dane Cook was performing. After three days, we're all desperate for something new.

For the players, that something new tonight will be not feeling the same nerves they felt in Game 1.

"That Stanley Cup title might be in your head for Game 1," Tyler Seguin said. "I was nervous for sure. Now you know what it's like. You got your feet wet."

Follow Dave Lozo on Twitter: @DaveLozo
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Posted On Saturday, 06.04.2011 / 12:13 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Combing the NHL Combine

Howson could have an active Draft

Columbus Blue Jackets General Manager Scott Howson currently holds the eighth pick of the 2011 Entry Draft. It doesn't mean he's going to be there by the time the 2011 Entry Draft starts.

"Possibly we'd look to move the pick -- even for a player, if we could," Howson told NHL.com. "We're open for anything. I don't think it's likely we'd move up, more likely we'd either make the pick or move back or perhaps trade it for a player."

Howson said if the Jackets stay at No. 8, he has an idea in mind on what kind of player he's looking for.

"We generally draft for best player available, but there are some positions we would like to fill with this pick and it seems like those positions will be available with the pick," he said. "If he's the best player on our board, that'll dictate it."

They got one of the best players on their board last year when they chose Portland Winterhawks center Ryan Johansen with the fourth pick. He finished seventh in the Western Hockey League with 92 points and second on his team with 40 goals, and his 28 points in 20 WHL playoff games led the league. He also had 9 points in seven games and made the all-tournament team playing for Canada at the 2011 World Junior Championship.

"He had a great year," said Howson. "We couldn't have written it down much better. Having the good year in Portland, being on a winning team, making the World Junior team, being a tournament all-star, leading the Western league in playoff scoring -- he's really made a statement this year."

Howson said Johansen will have every opportunity to make the NHL team this year.

"He'll be given him an opportunity to play," said Howson. "I think he's put himself into a very good position, and it'll be up to him in September to make sure he stays."

Who his teammates could be remains a question. Among the Jackets' unrestricted free agents are forwards Scottie Upshall, Chris Clark and Ethan Moreau, defensemen Jan Hejda and Craig Rivet, and goalie Mathieu Garon.

"I think we'll be fairly active in trying to improve certain areas of our team," said Howson. "We'll certainly talk to some of our free agents."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK

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Posted On Saturday, 06.04.2011 / 11:53 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Combing the NHL Combine

Tampa scout Al Murray talks Draft, Brett Connolly

After serving for three years with Hockey Canada as the head scout of men's national teams, Al Murray will enter his first NHL Entry Draft with the Tampa Bay Lightning as the director of amateur scouting later this month.

"You always want to help try and make a statement for the organization and we've got great direction from the top," Murray told NHL.com. "Steve (Yzerman) has given us really good direction into the type of team he wants to put together and the attributes he wants us to look for in the player.

"We had a whole season to try and find those types of players and we have a group of them we'd like to get. We just hope everybody else in the League cooperates and leaves them there for us."

The Lighting own the No. 27 pick in the opening round of the 2011 Entry Draft at Xcel Energy Center in St. Paul, Minn., on June 24.

Murray was asked how well he felt last year's first-round draft choice, Brett Connolly, had improved and if he could be in the Lightning lineup next season.
Brett Connolly, Tampa Bay Lightning

"Steve's philosophy throughout the organization is to never rush anyone, but not to hold anyone back," Murray said. "Brett's made a big commitment this year. He's from Prince George, B.C., but he's in Toronto and has been here for a couple of weeks training with a personal trainer.

"He'll stay here for the summer; he's made a significant commitment to put himself in every position to try and make the team and to try and do as well as he can, so with added strength and confidence, we're anxious to see what he looks like in the fall training camp, but there will be no urgency to push Brett into a roster spot."

Murray confirmed that Connolly's hip issues, which limited him for much of the 2009-10 campaign, are ancient history.

"That really wasn't an issue all through last season," Murray said.

In his third season with the Prince George Cougars of the Western Hockey League, Connolly produced 46 goals and 73 points in 59 games.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Saturday, 06.04.2011 / 11:19 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Combing the NHL Combine

Perhonen engineered way up leaderboard

The player with the MacGyver-inspired hair has engineered a way to take the lead in the curl-up competition here at the NHL Scouting Combine.

Finnish goaltender Samu Perhonen didn't need a paper clip, drinking straw, some gum and a comb to hit 68 curl-ups -- just hard work.

Perhonen, who plays for JYP in Finland's junior league, is NHL Central Scouting's top-rated European netminder. He said during the interview process, a team had asked him about his thick mane of blond locks.

"Someone asked me what the inspiration was for my hair style," Perhonen told NHL.com. "I said, 'I don't know, maybe MacGyver.'"

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Saturday, 06.04.2011 / 9:43 AM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - Combing the NHL Combine

Sharks looking for a match

For the second straight year, the San Jose Sharks have the 28th pick in the first round of the 2011 Entry Draft. Last year, they grabbed Charlie Coyle with that pick and watched him flourish as a freshman at Boston University and with the U.S. at the World Junior Championship.

Sharks GM Doug Wilson told NHL.com if he stays at No. 28 this year, he's sure he'll find another solid player. However, he's not afraid to move out of that spot -- either up or down.

"At 28 do we think we'll get a good player? Yes," Wilson said. "But if there's a player we need to move up a couple spots to get, we're willing to do that. And we're willing to move out of that spot and find a couple guys in the second round. We can do that, too."

Wilson said making that decision is two-fold -- obviously there has to be a player in mind, and he also has to find a willing partner to make a deal with.

"I think more and more teams are looking to do that," he said of moving at the draft. "It was tougher five or six years ago. I think there are more teams that are willing to look and be creative … It's matchmaking when you have those conversations."

Contact Adam Kimelman at akimelman@nhl.com. Follow him on Twitter: @NHLAdamK
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Posted On Saturday, 06.04.2011 / 7:53 AM

By Mike G. Morreale -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Combing the NHL Combine

Right on the 'Button'

When asked to comment on the life of the late E.J. McGuire, NHL Network analyst Craig Button found just the right words.

"E.J. had foresight and he had vision," Button told NHL.com. "But more than that, he had a love for the future of the game and the future of the game is these young players. We spend too much time picking apart players; E.J. celebrated their gifts and qualities that were going to make them special in the NHL."
              Craig Button, NHL Network analyst

Button was working for both the NHL Network and TSN on Friday during the fitness-testing portion of the NHL Scouting Combine at the Toronto Congress Centre.

"This Combine was his vision," Button continued. "It was about making it more thorough, more complete, and giving the teams the information they needed. We talk about the interviewing and fitness testing portion of the Combine, but E.J. was one person who always considered the medical testing equally important. We don't have to go back very far to remember David Carle and how a medical test saved that young boy's life."

An abnormality in Carle's heart that put him at risk for sudden cardiac death if he exerted too much energy was first detected by doctors at the Combine in June, 2008, prompting a visit to the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, Minn.

NHL Central Scouting had Carle rated No. 60 among North American skaters that year, setting him up to go as high as the second round.

Thanks to McGuire's foresight, the young defenseman was properly diagnosed with hypertrophic cardiomyopathy -- a thickening of the heart that had previously been cited in the sudden death of young athletes.

Follow Mike Morreale on Twitter at: @mike_morreale
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Posted On Saturday, 06.04.2011 / 12:50 AM

By Derek Jory -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Stanley Cup Final: Canucks vs. Bruins

A lot riding on the Cup

Losing is a painful experience, especially in the Stanley Cup Final. A bet between friends has ensured it’s going to even more painful and permanent for one of them.

Five years ago Jamie Meegan and Ryan LeSage were sitting around the lunchroom at NRI Distribution in Kamloops, B.C., talking hockey. That conversation turned into spirited discourse, then angry arguing, which morphed into a hectic dispute.

Meegan, a lifelong fan of the Vancouver Canucks, and LeSage, a Boston Bruins diehard, were in the midst of painful off-seasons for their teams, but both had faith their squad would hoist the Stanley Cup before the other.

A money wager seemed too simple and temporary embarrassment wasn’t enough, so when co-worker Will Jordan spawned the idea of the loser having to get a tattoo of the winning team’s logo, the pair shook hands and made if official. Never in a million years did the counterparts imagine their teams would be going head-to-head for the Holy Grail, meaning they’d be going head-to-head in The Bet.

“To be honest,” said LeSage, a 30-year-old from Ontario, told the Canucks’ website, “we wouldn’t be talking to you if only one of the teams was in. It’s pretty phenomenal and amazing that it rolled out like this.”

“Ryan was all over it immediately,” said Meegan, 32, from Kamloops, B.C. “I was on the fence for a bit, then it became a reality.”

The official rules of The Bet are as follows:

-- Whichever of the Vancouver Canucks (Jamie’s Team) or the Boston Bruins (Ryan’s Team) wins the Stanley Cup next, the loser will tattoo the logo of the winning team on their body; basically the loser gets a tattoo of the team they hate the most.

-- The tattoo must be at least the size of a regulation NHL hockey puck (three inches in diameter). It can be placed anywhere on the body but must be shown (in any social situation) at the request of the winner. The tattoo will be completed within 48 hours of the conclusion of the Stanley Cup Final – and the winner pays

After the Canucks’ 1-0 win in Game 1, it’s advantage Meegan, but there’s a lot of hockey left to be played before needle hits skin.




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Posted On Friday, 06.03.2011 / 8:46 PM

By Compiled By -  NHL.com Staff /NHL.com - Stanley Cup Final: Canucks vs. Bruins

Congressmen celebrate Bruins' trip to Final

Reps. Michael Capuano and Stephen Lynch of Massachusetts celebrated the Boston Bruins participation in the Stanley Cup Final at the Samuel Adams statue on Friday.

Both Congressmen represent the City of Boston and are founding members of the Congressional Hockey Caucus, a bipartisan group of lawmakers who support youth hockey in America, particularly programs for disadvantaged and disabled youth who might not otherwise be able to afford to play hockey -- including support for the NHL's Hockey is for Everyone and NHL Street  programs, as well as USA Hockey's youth hockey initiatives.
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One player does not make your team. One player can help your team, but one player does not make your team. We're not a bare-bones organization.

— Columbus Blue Jackets president John Davidson
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