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Posted On Saturday, 01.14.2012 / 3:42 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Sutters signing same tune on game day

CALGARY -- Just hours before puck drop between the Los Angeles Kings and Calgary Flames -- better billed as Sutter versus Sutter -- both Darryl and Brent didn't waver.

The game isn't about them.

Despite it being the first time the two brothers have faced each other from behind the bench, coupled with the game being Darryl's first in Calgary since leaving the Flames organization in December 2010, Brent reiterated that there is no storyline from a family perspective.

"That's the neat thing about it," Brent said. "It's not even an issue with us. It is for everyone else, but not for us. It's LA versus Calgary. I haven't given it much thought. It's not the first time brothers have coached against each other and it won't be the last. It's not that big of deal, it really isn't."

In short, it isn't a story.

"We've done it our whole lives," Darryl said.

It was tough for Kings forward Colin Fraser to disagree.

"They grew up together, probably beating each other up their whole lives," said Fraser, who was coached by Brent as a member of the Western Hockey League's Red Deer Rebels.

Brent isn't rushing to get the game over with. He knows the questions about Darryl will continue to come long after Los Angeles departs for Sunday's game against Edmonton.

"Someone will ask the question again, I know (the media) well enough," Brent said. "It's not that big of a deal, it really isn't."
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Posted On Saturday, 01.14.2012 / 3:28 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Kopitar ready to go after leaving previous game

CALGARY -- There is no doubting the participation of Los Angeles Kings forward Anze Kopitar in tonight’s game against the Calgary Flames, according to coach Darryl Sutter.

In fact, despite taking a hard hit from Brendan Morrow that forced Kopitar out of the game in the Kings' 5-4 shootout loss against the Dallas Stars Thursday, Los Angeles' leading scorer would've been ready to return had there been more time on the clock.

Kopitar had a goal and two assists before being crunched by Morrow with just 7:48 left in the third period. He missed both overtime and the shootout.

"By the time we left the Staples Center he was ready to play," Sutter said. "I think if we would've played two that night he would've been back for the second one."

Which means Kopitar will be at Sutter's disposal when he returns to the Scotiabank Saddledome for the first time since Dec. 2010 when he left the organization after an eight-year tenure, first as coach and then general manager.

"(It's) nice to come see lots of people working in the building that you spent early morning and late days with," Sutter said. "I came here in a tough situation in every area, on and off the ice. It was one of the most successful on-and-off the ice teams in the NHL for a long time. That's pretty good."

KINGS
Dustin Brown - Anze Kopitar - Justin Williams
Dustin Penner - Mike Richards - Jarret Stoll
Brad Richardson - Andrei Loktionov - Trevor Lewis
Kyle Clifford - Colin Fraser - Trent Hunter

Rob Scuderi - Drew Doughty
Willie Mitchell - Slava Voynov
Jack Johnson - Matt Greene

Jonathan Quick
Jonathan Bernier
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Posted On Saturday, 01.14.2012 / 3:18 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Biron starts, Dubinsky remains out for Rangers

TORONTO -- The Maple Leafs have had the Rangers number this season, and so tonight the Blueshirts will switch things up slightly. After suffering a pair of 4-2 losses to Toronto, coach John Tortorella has elected to start Martin Biron -- who has yet to face the Leafs this season, but sports an impressive 8-2-0 record as Henrik Lundqvist's backup. 

"It's been easy for both of us because we've been winnng, the team has been playing really well in front of us and when the team is winning, I think as a goalie you don't think too much," Lundqvist said after the morning skate. "It's been an adjustment for me not to play as much, but so far it's been working for me and I think it's a good thing for the team in the long run to have two fresh guys. Going into the season, I knew I would play less."

Lundqvist was in net for both Leaf victories at Madison Square Garden earlier this season. He feels the presence of Biron, whose prior start in Toronto was a 2-1 victory early last season, drives both of them to be at the top of their game.

"Marty, he is playing so well, I need to push myself to get minutes and I think he feels the same way -- if he wants to start, he needs to play well," Lundqvist said. "So we push each other to work really hard and get better and it's a healthy competition."

Meanwhile, Rangers forward John Mitchell returns to Toronto for the first time as a visitor since being traded to New York almost a year ago. The soon to be 27-year-old spent his first three NHL seasons with the Maple Leafs.

"It's fun and it's exciting, it's cool to be back in the city where it all began," said Mitchell, who grew up in nearby Waterloo, Ontario.

In the 23 games he has played for the Rangers, it has become evident why his club has been successful: "They have a good team identity here and I think everyone knows what their identity is, so it makes sense," Mitchell said.

Brandon Dubinsky, who was questionable to play Saturday, did not partake in the morning skate and will miss his second straight game recovering from a shoulder injury. That means Wojtek Wolski will remain in the lineup. The highly-skilled Wolski played nearly 15 minutes against Ottawa on Thursday, his first action since playing under five minutes versus Anaheim on Nov. 3. He has yet to score a goal this season in seven games.

While the Rangers study video to figure out their power play woes (1-for-20 over the last eight games), Toronto is coming off a 3-2 loss Friday in Buffalo. It was their first loss this month and the club had a sparsely-attended optional skate this morning. After playing last night, Jonas Gustavsson will start again tonight for the Maple Leafs.
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Posted On Saturday, 01.14.2012 / 3:14 PM

By Aaron Vickers -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Cammalleri to debut with Stempniak, Backlund

CALGARY -- Taking line rushes with Mikael Backlund and Lee Stempniak, newly acquired Michael Cammalleri has found a line, at least temporarily, with the Calgary Flames.

After a hectic 48 hours, Cammalleri wasn't made available to the media after the game-day skate. That didn't stop Stempniak from showing his excitement to play with the Flames newest forward.

"Obviously he's a great offensive player," Stempniak said. "He has a great shot and good offensive instincts. It should be a good fit. Hopefully we can get some goals and get going right off the bat. It should be fun."

Stempniak shouldn't necessarily get too comfortable with Cammalleri, according to coach Brent Sutter.

"I guess we'll get a feel," Sutter said. "I'll get a feel for it from a game and see how it goes and where it's at and whether it's the right center or right winger there. I just have to see it. I don't really have a feel for it right now."

Despite past success between Cammalleri and Calgary captain Jarome Iginla, Sutter wasn't tempted to put the two together immediately. The move would force Sutter to split up Iginla, Olli Jokinen and Curtis Glencross, one of the hottest trios in the league.

"Olli, Glennie and Jarome have been one of the best lines in hockey for the last six weeks," Sutter said. "We're excited to have Cammi come to our hockey team but because you acquire someone you don't shake up your team for one individual. Cammi understands it."

FLAMES
Curtis Glencross - Olli Jokinen - Jarome Iginla
Michael Cammalleri - Mikael Backlund - Lee Stempniak
Lance Bouma - Blair Jones - Blake Comeau
Tom Kostopoulos - Roman Horak - Tim Jackman

Jay Bouwmeester - Chris Butler
TJ Brodie - Cory Sarich
Mark Giordano - Anton Babchuk

Miikka Kiprusoff
Leland Irving
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Posted On Saturday, 01.14.2012 / 2:42 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Jackman returns as Blues work way to good health

ST. LOUIS -- The St. Louis Blues hope that one by one, they start to get some missing pieces back into their lineup.

The first step to that goal came to fruition as defenseman Barret Jackman took part in the morning skate after missing his first game of the season with a hip injury suffered Tuesday at Montreal and will play tonight when the Blues (25-12-6) host the Minnesota Wild (22-16-6).

Jackman, who has 6 assists in 42 games this season, was injured following a hit by Canadiens defenseman P.K. Subban in the second period of a 3-0 Blues win.

"I saw him coming, but I didn't realize he was going to step up as hard as he did," Jackman said of the Subban hit. "I was just trying to get a shot on net to maybe get a rebound out front. I just put myself in a bad position and fell awkwardly.

"I'm feeling good. The body's getting there, but it's the middle of the season so you've got your wear and tear. We'll see what happens."

------------

The St. Louis Blues' defensive corps was crowded on the ice Saturday morning, giving it a training camp flavor with nine guys out there.

Along with Jackman (hip) returni, Kent Huskins (ankle) and Kris Russell (groin) were also out taking part in the morning skate. Neither will play but continue to work on getting back into the lineup.

"We're not there yet, but it was nice to see Russ and Huskins join us," Blues coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Obviously Husky's a little bit away from playing, but nice to make him part of the team for a few minutes anyway. ... You're talking weeks (with Huskins), yeah. But it's nice that at least he gets to come out and skate. and be part of the team. He's excited by that."

And Russell? Maybe next week?

"Close. I don't know yet. We'll see," Hitchcock said. "We'll participate in a full practice tomorrow hopefully. We'll see, but he's close. That's a good sign there, too. Lots of guys on the rebound here, so we'll see where we get the next three or four days."

The Blues can only hope to play with a full deck soon.

"It'll be nice obviously ... the sooner the better," defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk said. "It's good to see everyone kind of coming around. There's still a little time for some but at least we got them out there skating, which is obviously good.

"Once we get everyone back, it's going to be a pretty tough blue line to beat. Throw Andy (McDonald) and Steener (Alex Steen) up there in front, it's endless. The combinations you can get ... seems like it's going to be a problem for Hitch unfortunately, but it's a good one."

McDonald and Steen continue to skate and make progress. Steen is likely to get reinserted into the lineup sometime next week. McDonald is still wearing a red no-contact jersey and is weeks away.

------------
Blues captain David Backes spent last season as the Blues' lone All-Star representative. This season, it will be goalie Brian Elliott, who has to re-alter his plans of going to Wisconsin.

Backes, who could make a case to be going to Ottawa with 31 points and good numbers in other areas through 43 games, will instead be taking up a new hobby.

"I'm going to take my pilot's license test," Backes said. "I've passed the written test and now I've got the oral (test) and the actual flying test and then I'll have my license. The oral is a couple of hours and then the flying is a couple of hours, so I finally get a full day off and I'll hope to sneak that in."

Backes is glad for Elliott, who did not even know he'd make the Blues out of camp this season.

"'Ells' is very deserving and he'll have a great time in a place that he's played before," Backes said. "Would I love to be going with him, yeah, but there's only so many spots on there and there's a lot of great players in this League.

"It's an honor to go to that game, and if I can go to more in the future, that's great. If not, we get to rest up (like this year) for a great second half of the season into a playoff push."


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Posted On Saturday, 01.14.2012 / 2:37 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Wild get back to basics in looking to break skid

ST. LOUIS -- The Minnesota Wild, who are 0-7-1 in their last eight road games (they've scored only seven goals in those games) and 2-9-3 in their last 14 games to fall out of the top spot in the Western Conference, are coming off a disheartening 5-2 loss at Chicago on Thursday night. Afterwards, coach Mike Yeo and the players voiced their frustration and anger over the recent play.

It's not something a locker room wants to go through, but as forward Kyle Brodziak said, a good kick in the pants is something that's needed at times.

"There's a lot of pride in the locker room and a lot of character," said Brodziak, who has 12 goals and 21 points in 44 games. "When you go through something like this, it's a very tough thing. I think if you stick with it and make sure your attitude doesn't change, eventually you get out of it because you only become stronger because of it. That's what we need to focus on is finding ways to get out of it. Once we do that, we'll be stronger for it.

"It's just a matter of preparing for every game. We can do a better job of preparing ourselves for the games and when we get to the game, we've just got to get back to basics and what we were doing when we had success. We were playing a pretty straightforward game going north with the puck and finding ways to get it behind their D and putting pressure on them and creating offensive zone time. I think that's a good key for us."

Yeo, in his first season as the Wild's coach, didn't reflect on the recent negatives on the road but stressed what has been accomplished in the past.

"The message for us is let's play our game," Yeo said. "We've gone into San Jose and beaten San Jose. We've gone into Detroit and beaten Detroit. It's time to go into another building and give ourselves a chance to win.

"We did those things because we played our game and we were true to the way we were supposed to play it, and that's what we need tonight. That's what we need now to the rest of the season. ... I'm very anxious to see how we come out here and play tonight."

Blues coach Ken Hitchcock and his players are very aware.

"I don't like it when teams come in and the coach is angry, the players are angry," said Hitchcock, whose team is 19-5-6 since he took over. "Usually you get their 'A' game. From an opponent's standpoint, it doesn't feel good. I think our players recognize that we're going to get their 'A' game tonight.

"It's hard when you're standing there as a coach or player to think we might not win another game for a month or we might not win a game for a week. Sometimes you get swallowed up by the day-to-day rather than the week-to-week or month-to-month. If you were to give both teams the chance to be where they're at right now based on what people said they were going to be, they'd be happy. Minny's in the playoff hunt, we're in the playoff hunt. We're both kind of where people thought maybe if we played well, we'd (be where we are). So you've got to look at that."

------------

After taking a risk in placing left wing Colton Gillies on waivers Friday, the Minnesota Wild now prepare for life without him, as Gillies was claimed by Columbus Blue Jackets on Saturday.

The Wild was hoping to get Gillies, who had struggled with only 2 assists in 27 games, through waivers and send him to the Houston Aeros of the AHL, but that never became an option.

"I'm happy for him," Yeo said of Gillies. "He's a guy that has worked very hard for this opportunity and cares very much. I'm happy for him, but having said that for us, it is disappointing because he was still in our plans. We were hoping that he could go down there (to Houston) and get things going and would be back with us soon, but that said, it's a good opportunity for him and we're happy for him."

------------

With their recent struggles, Yeo has opted to sit veteran defenseman Greg Zanon and in his place will be Mike Lundin, who has 1 assist in 12 games this season.

"It's not an easy decision," Yeo said of benching Zanon, who has 3 points in 23 games. "These are veteran guys and a guy like him ... he pays a price when he plays. He's going to play hard for the team, but even talking to him, this is a decision that we made just for tonight.

"Even going in before the game, we thought that we wanted to get Lundy in. When we looked at last game and what we need for tonight, that's the decision we made."

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Posted On Saturday, 01.14.2012 / 2:28 PM

By Louie Korac -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Blues, Wild

Tonight's lineups between the St. Louis Blues and Minnesota Wild:

BLUES
David Perron - David Backes - Chris Stewart
Matt D'Agostini - Patrik Berglund - T.J. Oshie
Vladimir Sobotka - Jason Arnott - Jamie Langenbrunner
B.J. Crombeen - Scott Nichol - Ryan Reaves

Carlo Colaiacovo - Alex Pietrangelo
Barret Jackman - Kevin Shattenkirk
Ian Cole - Roman Polak

Jaroslav Halak
Brian Elliott

Halak is 7-0-3 in his last 10 starts with a 1.76 goals-against average and .934 save percentage over that time. However, he's 0-2-3 in his career against the Wild but received just nine goals of support in those five games.

Andy McDonald (concussion), Kris Russell (groin), Kent Huskins (ankle) and Alex Steen (concussion symptoms) continue to sit out with their injuries. Winger Chris Porter and defensemen Cade Fairchild are healthy scratches.

WILD
Devin Setoguchi - Mikko Koivu - Dany Heatley
Cal Clutterbuck - Matt Cullen - Casey Wellman
Darroll Powe - Kyle Brodziak - Nick Johnson
David McIntyre - Warren Peters - Brad Staubitz

Nick Schultz - Jared Spurgeon
Marek Zidlicky - Justin Falk
Clayton Stoner - Mike Lundin

Josh Harding
Matt Hackett

Harding is 6-2-0 with a 1.69 GAA and .940 save percentage in his career against the Blues. Greg Zanon is the healthy scratch.
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Posted On Saturday, 01.14.2012 / 2:02 PM

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

Bourque thrilled at chance to play in Montreal

MONTREAL -- Rene Bourque says he's always wanted to play for the Montreal Canadiens, and with a name like his that would be understandable even though the Alberta native doesn't speak a word of French.

So when he walked into the Canadiens dressing room for the first time Saturday morning after his trade Thursday from the Calgary Flames, Bourque was a bit awestruck by the sheer volume of hockey history decorating the walls.

"It's awesome," Bourque said. "I still haven't really had the chance to look around and look at all the plaques and the names on the wall, and I'm sure they have Stanley Cup banners everywhere. It's exciting. I've always wanted to play here, I just didn't think it would be this soon."

Bourque's excitement will have to wait another day as he will watch the Canadiens face the red hot Ottawa Senators on Saturday night while serving the final game of his five-game ban for elbowing Washington's Nicklas Backstrom in the head.

Bourque was brought in by Canadiens general manager Pierre Gauthier because he brings a physical dimension that the departed Michael Cammalleri did not, but for a player who has been suspended twice in the past month it creates a delicate balance of trying to stay on the good side of the law while also doing what your new team expects of you.

Bourque, however, anticipates no problem in his ability to stick to his physical game while also playing within the rules.

"Obviously what I did was wrong and it was unfortunate, but it was more of a reaction than a body check. So I'm not really worried about being timid out there and staying away from physical contact, because if I'm not doing that you probably won't like my style," Bourque said. "I've never had a problem with a suspension until this past month. It's been seven years with no red flags, then two in one month, it changes your perception. I'm not worried about it, I know what I've done and I'll learn from it."

His new coach Randy Cunneyworth was a physical presence in his own playing days, and says that changed perception may not necessarily be a bad thing for Bourque.

"It makes guys a little bit leery when you know a guy has that reckless tendency," Cunneyworth said. "So maybe you shy away a bit and then you can win those battles."

A very common criticism of Bourque's game is that when he's on, he can be dominant, but those games are not nearly common enough. Bourque has heard it before and hopes this new opportunity with the third organization of his career will give him a chance to correct that inconsistent tendency.

"I'm working on it every game, I have to get better every game," Bourque said. "This is a fresh start for me here, it's a clean slate. I'm looking to shed that reputation, I guess."

How exactly Bourque will be used remains to be seen, but the addition of another big body makes it easier for Cunneyworth to implement his philosophy of how to construct forward lines.

"We're trying to design lines with elements of everything," he said.

That means having a playmaker, a shooter and a grinding, physical player on every line, but before Bourque arrived there weren't enough of those physical type players on the roster to properly spread the wealth and Cunneyworth said he liked the options Bourque provides him.

Bourque, meanwhile, simply likes the idea of pulling on that Canadiens uniform for the first time Sunday night.

"It's sinking in, I'm definitely getting more and more excited as they day goes on," Bourque said. "I can't wait to play tomorrow night in front of the fans here."
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Posted On Saturday, 01.14.2012 / 1:56 PM

By John Manasso -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Concussion to sideline van Riemsdyk indefinitely

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- About an hour before his team hit the ice for its morning skate at Bridgestone Arena, Philadelphia Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren issued a statement that forward James van Riemsdyk would be out indefinitely with a concussion.

"James was hit in the head in each of our last two games," Holmgren said. "He reported yesterday not feeling like himself."

For the Flyers, whose lineup has been hit hard by concussions this season, the news that van Riemsdyk, 22, with 11 goals and 11 assists in 37 games, would be out was just the latest.

Van Riemsdyk had been playing left wing on a line centered by Brayden Schenn with Wayne Simmonds on the right. Zac Rinaldo will take his place in the lineup on Saturday.

"Any time you’re losing personnel, you don't want that," Flyers coach Peter Laviolette said. "It's unfortunate that it happened. I actually liked the way he was moving on that line, I liked the line, I liked the way it was moving. So when guys come out, it's a setback for them, a setback for the team. Now Zac comes back in the lineup, brings his energy, probably move the lines around a little bit.

"But we've been through it before, we'll get through this as well."

Some of the Flyers' most high-profile players have fallen victim to concussions this season. Defenseman Chris Pronger will be out for the remainder of the season. The team's leader in points, Claude Giroux, missed four games with one. And rookie Brayden Schenn dealt with one as well.

Laviolette was asked if the Flyers had only had a healthy lineup for one game.

"I don’t even know if we've had that," he said. "Someone's been on the injured list or injured reserve the entire year. But again, that's part of the sport and part of hockey and it is what it is and you deal with it."

Several Flyers said they noticed that van Riemsdyk was hit in the head recently in a game against Ottawa by Bobby Butler on Jan. 8. Danny Briere observed that van Riemsdyk did not practice on Thursday but thought it might have been a groin injury or something else.

"I remember the one hit against Ottawa," Briere said. "Butler kind of clipped him at home. Besides that, I don't remember. We get hit in the head all of the time. But sometimes it starts with one big hit. You see it with, I think (Pittsburgh's Sidney) Crosby's the perfect example of all that. All the battles, you always get hit in the head somehow. And you see it even more after."

Rinaldo echoed that sentiment.

"I think it's just wear-and-tear type of thing, game in game out getting hit in the head," Rinaldo said. "Maybe having a headache and thinking nothing of it and keep battling and stuff like that and just repetitive hits to the head cause concussions."

Rinaldo, who ranks second in the League with 120 penalty minutes, will bring a different element to the lineup than van Riemsdyk. He said he would "keep positive, keep banging bodies, keep doing what I do best and hopefully it works out for the best."

Laviolette said Ilya Bryzgalov will start in goal for the first time in three games on Saturday.
 
FLYERS
Scott Hartnell - Claude Giroux - Jaromir Jagr
Jakub Voracek - Danny Briere - Maxime Talbot
Matt Read - Brayden Schenn - Wayne Simmonds
Harry Zolnierczyk - Sean Couturier - Zac Rinaldo
 
Kimmo Timonen - Braydon Coburn
Matt Carle - Marc-Andre Bourdon
Andreas Lilja/Erik Gustafsson - Andrej Meszaros
 
Ilya Bryzgalov
Sergei Bobrovsky
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Posted On Saturday, 01.14.2012 / 1:48 PM

By Neil Acharya -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Projected lineups for Rangers, Maple Leafs

Here's how the lineups could look tonight when the Toronto Maple Leafs play host to the Eastern Conference-leading New York Rangers at Air Canada Centre:

RANGERS

Artem Anisimov - Derek Stepan - Marian Gaborik
Wojtek Wolski - Brad Richards - Ryan Callahan
Carl Hagelin - Brian Boyle - Ruslan Fedotenko
Brandon Prust - John Mitchell - Mike Rupp

Ryan McDonagh - Dan Girardi
Michael Del Zotto - Anton Stralman
Marc Staal - Stu Bickel

Martin Biron
Henrik Lundqvist

MAPLE LEAFS
Joffrey Lupul - Tim Connolly - Phil Kessel
Joey Crabb - Mikhail Grabovski - Nikolai Kulemin
Clarke MacArthur - Matthew Lombardi - Nazem Kadri
Darryl Boyce - David Steckel - Mike Brown

Keith Aulie - Dion Phaneuf
Carl Gunnarson - Luke Schenn
Cody Franson - Mike Komisarek

Jonas Gustavsson
James Reimer
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Quote of the Day

It was a big dream. [Messi] is probably the best athlete out there, so it's a big honor, for [Kuznetzov] as well. It's maybe a once in a lifetime opportunity to meet the best player in soccer right now. I'm a big Barcelona fan and Messi fan, so it's huge. You can take [Michael] Jordan, [Mark] Messier, [Wayne] Gretzky, those kinds of [people]. It's an honor to meet. It's nice to be in that position.

— Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin told told Monumental Network after meeting soccer star Lionel Messi prior to Argentina's practice at Fed Ex Field in Landover, Md. on Friday