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Posted On Monday, 10.17.2011 / 12:26 PM - Making of a Royal

Video: LaFontaine as youth hockey coach

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Posted On Monday, 10.17.2011 / 12:25 PM

By Pat LaFontaine -  Special to / - Making of a Royal

The difference between dad and coach

Royals coach Pat LaFontaine blogs about coaching his son, Daniel

Even before I became an assistant with the Long Island Royals seven years ago, I always asked my son, Daniel, each year if he wanted me around the team. As long as he gave me the green light, I was OK going behind the bench. He liked me coaching and liked me on the bench, but he liked having another coach there, too, so I kind of helped out.

When I became the head coach three years ago, I had an opportunity to continue coaching Daniel, but I still asked him if he would prefer I wasn't behind the bench. I've always been very cautious because I try and put myself in someone else's shoes and never wanted (Daniel) to feel any pressure, although all boys want their dads to be proud. I wouldn't say much. My dad never said much to me and I don't say much -- the assistants usually say something to Daniel because he only hears dad's voice.

Thing is, he doesn't hear a coach's voice when I'm talking so I don't say much. In some cases, if you're not careful, it could be a lose-lose situation. Having Stevie (Steve Webb) there, and formerly Jack Greig, was great. They were the ones who would always speak to him and I kind of just stayed out of it, in an indirect way, when it came to speaking to the team. Hopefully that'll have an impact for him and some of the things I've learned. I'm excited about when he asks me, "Hey Dad, is Coach Webb going to be there?" What's exciting for me is he really wants to impress Coach Webb … I'm just his dad. You know what? I'll take that to the end. That puts a smile on my face, and I hope for him this is something he chooses to do and he loves to do. If he chooses to, and I can help in an indirect way, it's been fun. I ask him every year, do you want me to coach, because I can sit in the stands, but he likes me behind the bench.

I guess I see some similarities between what Daniel does on the ice and my teenage years on the ice. He works hard, sees the ice well and seems to be more of a playmaker. But he can score goals when he has to. He's a team player, like all the kids on this club. As a coach, you have to be real objective and I try to talk to the players just as a coach. I have the other coaches talk to Daniel, and it seems to have worked in a good way because right now I think all dads who have 15- and 16-year-olds … we're not too cool. I think we embarrass our kids sometimes because we try to say too much.
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Posted On Monday, 10.17.2011 / 11:00 AM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

The greatest sweaters in NHL history

Former NHL head coach and player Barry Melrose starts a new gig this season: He will be blogging for throughout the 2011-2012 season. 

When it comes to jerseys, I'm a traditionalist. I hate third jerseys. I love the history of our sport, I love the tradition of our sport, and you'll see that in my favorite sweaters. Today's jerseys are too busy. They're scared to be simple. Maybe that's what the kids want: the bells and whistles and all the stuff going on. People think different means more, but if you look at the jerseys I've picked you'll see they're very simple. I still think that makes the greatest jersey. Just look at the Green Bay Packers of the NFL. To me the simple jerseys are the best by far.

Here are the five greatest sweaters in NHL history:

5. Buffalo Sabres

I love the Buffalo Sabres jerseys, but I'm talking about the "French Connection" Buffalo Sabres of the early 70s. Gilbert Perreault, Rick Martin, Rene Robert -- the jerseys that Buffalo had when it came into the NHL. I just love the colors, and I love the striped socks, which are very similar to the Toronto Maple Leafs' striped socks. It was a different color than the old original six though. Very similar, but the colors popped and were sort of innovative for the time.

4. Boston Bruins

These are the Bobby Orr Boston Bruins of the 60s and 70s. They had the socks that were striped right from the bottom to the top, very simple, and I loved the black and yellow. When I played for the Cincinnati Stingers in the WHA, we basically had the same jerseys as the Boston Bruins. They were simple, the colors popped, and they had the yellow circle spoked "B" on their chest. Just a great jersey. I think I might love it so much because you used to see Bobby Orr skating around in it scoring all those goals and making all those great plays. Just a great look.

3. Toronto Maple Leafs

I played in Toronto in the late 70s and early 80s when they switched to the jerseys with lines down the shoulders. Awful. I waited my whole life to play for Toronto and I never got to wear the traditional Toronto jerseys from the 1960s, which I think are the third greatest sweater of all time. I was excited about playing for the Leafs. They were my team forever and I always dreamed of wearing the old jerseys from when they won three straight Stanley Cups with Dave Keon. The jerseys are so simple, the blue and the white, the simple small Maple Leaf embroidered on the front. It's just great. They're sort of going back to them now, but it was always a mistake to switch it in the late 1970s. Philly brought the shoulder colors all the way down and a lot of teams started doing it. I didn't like it then and I don't like it now.

2. Detroit Red Wings

The Red Wings have maybe the greatest crest in sports: The Winged Wheel. It's so simple, but it's just perfect. The wing symbolizes the speed of hockey. The wheel is Detroit, the car capital of the world. The embroidery on the red and white jersey, so simple on the front. A couple of red stripes here and there. Just a great jersey. The colors are good, but the crest is always what I thought set that uniform apart from everybody else. The Wings haven't even made minor changes in decades and there's a reason why. It'd be sacrilegious. That crest is so perfect. Other teams if you look at the TV quick you can't necessarily tell who it is, but if you just glance at the TV and you see the Red and white, you know it's the Detroit Red Wings.

1. Chicago Blackhawks

This is the greatest jersey in sports. No doubt about it. The colors are awesome, and even the third jersey I like the most is the black Blackhawks from a few years ago, but I still love the red. I love the color and everything about it: the great crest, the crossed tomahawks. It's just so eye-popping. The socks are great. The black pants are great, and you can still see Bobby Hull flying up the wing. It's just a great jersey -- the greatest jersey in sports, hands down.
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Posted On Monday, 10.17.2011 / 10:03 AM

By Staff -  / - At the Rink blog

With Dalpe out, 'Canes call up another Sutter

The Carolina Hurricanes recalled left wing Brett Sutter from Charlotte of the American Hockey League on an emergency basis Monday. Forward Zac Dalpe suffered a lower-body injury during the first period of Friday night’s game in Buffalo, and is week-to-week.

Sutter has zero points in four games with the Checkers; Dalpe has zero points in five games with the Hurricanes.

Sutter is the older cousin of Hurricanes alternate captain Brandon Sutter.
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Posted On Monday, 10.17.2011 / 9:36 AM

By Staff -  / - At the Rink blog

Jeff Carter suffers foot injury

COLUMBUS -- As if the worst start in franchise history at 0-4-1 wasn't disappointing enough, The Columbus Dispatch reported on Monday that center Jeff Carter will be listed as questionable on Tuesday with a slight fracture on the top of his right foot.

"It's a little hairline crack where he took a shot (in Saturday’s loss to the Stars)," Columbus coach Scott Arniel told the paper. "It's an old injury. We’ll see where it's at (today). We're hoping it won’t be too long. We might get him back for the weekend. The ones on top you can sometimes play through.

According to the report, the injury is to the same foot that was bruised during the second day of training camp  during the Blue Jackets owners' tournament. Carter had surgery on the foot following the 2009-10 season when he starred in Philadelphia.

Carter apparently re-aggravated the injury at some point after blocking three shots in a 4-2 loss on Saturday in Dallas. For the season, Carter has no goals, three assists and a plus-1 rating through five games. He leads the Jackets in ice time among forwards (19:54), shots on goal (20) and faceoff wins (63).

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Posted On Sunday, 10.16.2011 / 10:09 PM - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

STL@ANA - 13:36 of the third period

At 13:36 of the third period in the St. Louis/Anaheim game, video review was used to determine if the puck shot by Anaheim forward Bobby Ryan completely crossed the goal line. Video review upheld Referee Jackson's call on the ice that the puck completely crossed the goal line, good goal.

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Posted On Sunday, 10.16.2011 / 7:00 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst / - Melrose Minute

Who are the greatest power forwards of all time?

Former NHL head coach and player Barry Melrose starts a new gig this season: He will be blogging for throughout the 2011-2012 campaign. 

There is a certain criteria a player has to fulfill to meet my definition of a great power forward. He has to be a frontline player, he has to be very physical and he has to fight. A power forward to me is not just a big guy who scores goals. He is a big, mean, nasty, physical, tough guy to play against as well as being a very good hockey player.

My guys will have a lot of penalty minutes, they have a lot of goals, but they were also the type of guy the other team didn't like to play against. Here are my five best power forwards to ever play in the NHL:

5. Wendel Clark

Wendel Clark played 793 NHL games for the Maple Leafs, Nordiques, Islanders, Lightning, Red Wings, and Blackhawks, racking up 330 goals and 1,690 PIMs. (Photo: Getty Images)
During the early 1990s, Wendel was probably one of the three toughest forwards in the NHL. He was scoring 40 goals a year, he was one of the best fighters in the League -- he was just a real physical presence out there. If you look at his numbers he played 793 games, he's got over 300 goals and he's got close to 1,700 penalty minutes. He could hit, he could fight and he could score goals.

I coached against him in 1993 when I was with L.A. and Wendel was with Toronto and Wendel was their best player. We stopped Doug Gilmour, we stopped Dave Andreychuk, but we just couldn't stop Wendel. It seemed like he scored every game against us. Gilmour got a lot of ink, Andreychuk scored a lot of goals, but to me, Wendel was the heart and soul of that team. I will always remember late in Game 1 of our playoff series against the Leafs in 1993 when Gilmour came across the middle and Marty McSorely hit him with a great check. Wendel came in and he and Marty had what I think was the last great fight in the playoffs. It was late in the game, they already had it won, but here's Wendel still sticking up for his teammates fighting one of the toughest guys in the NHL.
4. Clark Gillies

Wendel's got more goals than Clark, but Clark's got the Stanley Cups. I think that means something. Look at his numbers: close to 1,000 games, over 300 goals, close to 400 assists and over 1,000 penalty minutes. If anyone knows the 80s and followed that Islanders team -- they had Bossy and they had Trottier and they had Potvin, but they were playing against those Philly teams and most nights Clark Gillies would have been the MVP. He was big, he was tough, he was good enough to play with Bossy and Trottier and he could fight anyone in the NHL to a standstill. Because he has more Cups than Wendel, I have him at No. 4.

Back then we said he "kept the flies off Bossy and Trottier". Opponents knew that if anybody did something to them they'd have to answer to Clark and that's what a power forward does. He's a deterrent. He was as tough as anyone in the NHL, but he was also an excellent hockey player. It's not just enough to be a tough guy. You have to be an excellent hockey player, too. Clark Gilles certainly was.
3. Cam Neely

Obviously Cam's numbers aren't as high is they normally would be because he was struck down by injuries, but he played over 700 games, he's got 395 goals, 299 assists and more than 1,200 penalty minutes. For a few years he was arguably one of the best players in the NHL. He was scoring 50 goals a year, he was maybe the toughest guy in the NHL, he had a rocket of a shot, and he might have been the best fighter in the NHL for the period of time he was in the NHL. Just a great, great hockey player. Without a doubt, he was one of the scariest guys in that era to play against.

If he stayed healthy his numbers, and the Bruins' would have been even more impressive. Don't forget, of the 726 games he played, he was probably on one leg for half of those. He was hurt and he was not 100 percent for most of his career. He still scored more than a goal every two games. If you put him at 1,000 games, he's got 600 goals. This guy was a great goal scorer, and on the list I have, he was probably the best fighter. If these five guys fought, I would have to say Cam Neely would probably be at the top of it.
2. Brendan Shanahan

Brendan Shanahan is a member of the Triple Gold Club, having won a Stanley Cup (1997, 1998, 2002), World Championship (1994), and Olympic gold medal (2002). (Getty Images)
In more than 1,500 games, he was durable, he scored 656 goals, had 698 assists and almost 2,500 penalty minutes. This guy did it over a long period of time. He fought everybody, his numbers are fantastic, he won Stanley Cups -- just a complete, complete player. He might not have been as tough as Neely, but he may have been a better goal scorer. He was also a great passer, tallying more assists than he did goals. What's more is that he came in as an 18-year-old, and he did it from Day 1.

As for his current job as the League's disciplinarian, I think how he played and what he went through on the ice give him a better understanding of what is going on on the ice with fighting and hitting. He's been there. He's done it. He knows what's going through the minds of tough guys and why they're fighting at that point of the game. He can tell when a fight is done on purpose or when it's done as a tool by the coach. I think Brendan, his career and what he went through as a player and how he played will make him better qualified for that job than a lot of people would have been.
1. Gordie Howe

This may be a surprise, but I think this guy was the first great power forward. More than 1,700 games, 801 goals, over 1,000 assists, but I don't know if people realize that he's got close to 1,700 penalty minutes. And he was big. In Gordie's era when he first came in, hockey players weren't very big. They'd be 5'7", 5'8", 5'9" ... Gordie was 6'2". I played against Gordie when he was in his 50s in Houston. The first thing that struck me when I saw Gordie on the ice was how big he was. He was still nasty and shifty. I can't imagine what he was like in his 20s. He was big, he was mean, he would fight, obviously he was one of the greatest goal scorers we've got in our sport and he was a great passer. If you look at power forward in the dictionary, there's probably a photo of Gordie Howe next to it.

You watch film of back in those days and he towered above guys. You see him going to the net and the D can't handle him because he's so big, so powerful and had a rocket of a wrist shot. I played against Gordie and I know. You knew where he was at all times -- and you did that because it was for your own safety.
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Posted On Saturday, 10.15.2011 / 11:24 PM - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

VAN@EDM - 4:19 of the 2nd period

At 4:19 of the 2nd period in the Oilers/Canucks game, video review conclusively validated referee Dean Morton's call on the ice that Henrik Sedin's shot  was conclusively over the goal line.

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Posted On Saturday, 10.15.2011 / 10:45 PM - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

DET@MIN - 4:11 of overtime

At 4:11 of overtime in the Red Wings/Wild game, Video replay conclusively validated the call on the ice by referee Wes McCauley that Detroit's Johan Franzen's winning goal had clearly crossed the goal line before the net came completely off the pegs. The puck did go off Franzen's skate but video review concluded that the puck was not kicked into the net.

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Posted On Saturday, 10.15.2011 / 7:31 PM - 2011-2012 Situation Room blog

BUF@PIT - 9:24 of 1st Period

At 9:24 of the first period of the Sabres/Penguins game. Video review confirmed referee Paul Devorski's call on the ice that Nathan Gerbe's backhand shot went into the net before the net came completely dislodged.

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