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Round 2
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Stanley Cup Final
POSTED ON Tuesday, 08.14.2012 / 9:06 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - NHL Free Agency 2012 blog

Flames invite Begin to camp on tryout contract

The Calgary Flames announced Tuesday that Steve Begin will attend training camp on a professional tryout contract.

Begin, an 11-year NHL veteran, missed the entire 2011-12 season after hip surgery. He played two games for the Nashville Predators in 2010-11 after appearing in 77 games for the Boston Bruins the previous season.

"Everybody thought I was done," Begin told the Flames' website. "But I love the game so much that I wanted to make a comeback.

"I'm doing everything to get back in shape -- I'm in great shape right now -- and I'll do everything I can to make this team."

Begin played 123 games for the Flames after he was chosen by them in the second round (No. 40) of the 1996 NHL Draft. He had 18 points and 192 penalty minutes.

"I'm coming back to where it all started. It makes it more exciting for me," he said. "I can't wait to go back. I still have a few friends back in Calgary and I know the city so it's going to be great. It makes the opportunity even better."

Begin, 34, also played for the Montreal Canadiens and Dallas Stars. He has 100 points and 539 PIM in 488 career games.

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POSTED ON Tuesday, 08.14.2012 / 1:35 PM

By Tal Pinchevsky -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Summer with Stanley blog

Ranford gets another chance to host Cup

Bill Ranford won the Stanley Cup twice as a player with the Edmonton Oilers, earning the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 1990. But those wins predated the modern tradition entitling members of the Stanley Cup-winning team to a day with the trophy. So when Ranford won another Cup, this time as the Los Angeles Kings' goaltending coach, the town of New Westminster, British Columbia knew it was going to have a big celebration this summer.

Monday was already scheduled to be a big day for the town located in the eastern part of the metro Vancouver area. Anne Callaghan, the United States Consul General, was scheduled to visit the office of Mayor Wayne Wright that day. But when the Cup was delivered to Ranford around noon, Callaghan's visit was likely overshadowed.

Kings' goaltending coach Bill Ranford poses for a photo on his day with the Stanley Cup. (Photo: Jeff Vinnick/NHLI)

For his efforts with Kings goalie Jonathan Quick, who himself won the Conn Smythe for his outstanding play, Ranford received the Cup in the town known as "the Royal City" and immediately enjoyed private time among friends and family. From there, Ranford delivered the Cup around 4 p.m. to the local Queen's Park Arena, where fans had been lined up for three hours to get a chance to see the Cup. A photographer took photos of locals, who got to pose with the Cup in exchange for a small donation to the local hockey program.

After two hours at the arena, Ranford hosted a private party with the Cup, which was scheduled to spend time on Tuesday with Kings scout Brent McEwen in Saskatoon, Saskatchewan.

To Ranford's credit, this wasn't his first Cup unveiling in New Westminster. In 2004, shortly before coming on as a goaltending coach with the Vancouver Giants of the Western Hockey League, Ranford lobbied the Hockey Hall of Fame for a day with the Cup. Taking into consideration his two wins as a player, the Hall of Fame gave Ranford and New Westminster their day with the Cup. Eight years later, the pair made a triumphant return to the Royal City.

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POSTED ON Monday, 08.13.2012 / 1:48 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - NHL Free Agency 2012 blog

Avs sign Giguere to extension through 2013-14

The Colorado Avalanche have signed veteran goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere to a one-year contract extension through the 2013-14 season.

Giguere appeared in 32 games during his first season with the Avalanche in 2011-12, posting a 15-11-3 record with a 2.27 goals-against average and .919 save percentage. He finished ninth in the League in GAA and posted the best number by a Colorado netminder since David Aebischer's 2.09 in 2003-04. Giguere's .919 save percentage was also the best by an Avalanche goalie since Aebischer's .924 that same season.

"J.S. provided leadership, stability and a veteran presence to our team last season," Avalanche general manager Greg Sherman said. "He helped solidify our goaltending position and we are pleased to have J.S. under contract for the next two seasons."

Giguere, 35, has fashioned a 246-206-70 career record with a 2.52 GAA, .913 save percentage and 36 shutouts in 557 NHL games. The Montreal native ranks eighth among active goaltenders in career games (557) and shutouts (36), and is 10th in wins (246).

His 246 career victories tie him with George Hainsworth and Pete Peeters for 46th place on the all-time list. Giguere's 36 shutouts rank 41st in NHL history, and his 557 appearances place him 49th in games played by a netminder.

Giguere backstopped the Anaheim Ducks to the 2007 Stanley Cup championship. Four years earlier, he became the fifth player in League history to win the Conn Smythe on a losing team when he led Anaheim to Game 7 of the 2003 Stanley Cup Final, where it lost to the New Jersey Devils.

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POSTED ON Monday, 08.13.2012 / 9:20 AM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Summer with Stanley blog

Mitchell's Cup journey connects his past with present

PORT McNEILL, B.C. -- For Willie Mitchell, it wasn't enough to thank the tiny town that raised and nurtured him -- as both a hockey player and young man -- during his one day with the Stanley Cup.

For the veteran defenseman of the Los Angeles Kings, it was important to also honor the First Nation community that continues to stoke his spiritual side every summer as he searches for balance through the area's incredible natural surroundings, away from the pressures of being a professional athlete.

For Mitchell, 35, it was important to thank the entire north end of Vancouver Island -- even if the effort left him worn out for the little private time remaining.

So Mitchell split the bulk of a long day with the Stanley Cup between his hometown of Port McNeill and at the 'Namgis First Nation in Alert Bay on nearby Cormorant Island. In Port McNeill, Mitchell posed for pictures in the arena where he learned to skate with a crowd estimated at approximately 6,000 – more than double the population of the little logging town.

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POSTED ON Sunday, 08.12.2012 / 3:45 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Summer with Stanley blog

Mitchell takes Stanley on the water

PORT MCNEILL, B.C. -- Willie Mitchell and the Stanley Cup have been left behind temporarily at the community arena in Port McNeill, where the last few thousand fans waited for their chance to get a group picture with the guests of honor.

The rest of the Mitchell entourage, including grandfather Les, who was once invited to training camp with the New York Rangers in the Original Six era, is already aboard three different boats bound for Alert Bay on a nearby Island.

Mitchell and the Cup will take a helicopter over a bit later for a traditional ceremony at the Namgis First Nation Longhouse. But it's not like Mitchell, an avid fisherman, hasn't had a chance to take the Cup out onto the ocean that is such a big part of his life and this small community on the northern end of Vancouver Island.

The Los Angeles Kings' defenseman woke his father, Reid, with a 3:30 a.m. call to take the Stanley Cup fishing, a trip that left other family members with blood from the day's catch still on their clothes during the morning ceremony at the arena, and left more than a few tourists out on whale watching expeditions shocked to see hockey's famous trophy out in a boat in the wee hours.

... More to come

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POSTED ON Sunday, 08.12.2012 / 1:30 PM

By Kevin Woodley -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - Summer with Stanley blog

Mitchell brings the Cup to Port McNeill

PORT MCNEILL, B.C. -- With a population listed just over 2,600 people, it's safe to say traffic jams aren't the norm for the town of Port McNeill.

But with Willie Mitchell bringing the Stanley Cup to the north end of Vancouver Island on Sunday, the lineups were as long as that big stick the Los Angeles Kings defenseman uses to poke the puck away from top NHL forwards.

Organizers were expecting up to 7,000 people to see Mitchell and the Cup, more than doubling the population of the oceanside fishing and logging town Mitchell grew up in -- and still returns to every summer. The local arena was already overflowing, with lineups winding in every direction out the door, more than half an hour before Mitchell and the Cup were expected to arrive by helicopter in an adjacent field.

With so many people eager to see both, the plan was to bring people into the arena 50 to 75 at a time for group photos before Mitchell flies it to Alert Bay on a nearby island for another afternoon ceremony.

More to come ...

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POSTED ON Saturday, 08.11.2012 / 5:37 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp blog

Housley happy with U.S. effort despite loss

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- It wasn't the way Phil Housley was hoping this week's National Junior Evaluation Camp would end, but the U.S. coach said there were things to like even with Saturday's 3-2 overtime loss to Finland.

"I really liked the effort all the way to the end of the game," Housley said. "We battled and we were able to tie it up toward the end. I was happy with that. The disappointing thing was we turned the puck over too many times and played right into Finland's hands. They're a passive team when they can't get on the forecheck; they sit back and we played right into it. It was a great, valuable learning experience in how we have to play in December (at the World Junior Championship)."

Tyler Biggs scored game-tying goals twice in the third period after Finland goalie Janne Juvonen had shut down Team USA for almost 50 minutes. Housley said he believes that shows the players have faith that if they stick with the game plan implemented by the coaching staff they'll have a chance to be successful.

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POSTED ON Saturday, 08.11.2012 / 5:27 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp blog

Leafs prospect Biggs has big game for U.S.

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- To be good, it takes a helping of luck, and Tyler Biggs had a double helping of that Saturday.

Biggs scored both goals in Team USA's 3-2 overtime loss to Finland on the final day of the USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp, but neither goal could be classified as a work of art.

"I got pretty lucky with some opportunities," he told NHL.com. "I'm standing in front on the power play, Griz [Matthew Grzelcyk] throws one, bounces off me and goes up and in. I throw one across, it bounces off a guy, comes right back to me."

Each goal tied the game, with his second, with 2:44 remaining regulation, forcing overtime.

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POSTED ON Saturday, 08.11.2012 / 4:22 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp blog

Finland heading home happy after win

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- With a schedule that saw Finland play five games in six days here at the USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp, a 3-2 overtime win against the United States on Saturday will send the Finns home happy.

"To win this game was very important for us because it was the fifth game and we had four losses in a row," Finland coach Harri Rindell told NHL.com. "So we needed to have this. It's always nice to have that kind of end of the tournament."

Miro Aaltonen, who led Finland in scoring this week with three goals and three assists, broke in alone for the winning goal in overtime, knocking his rebound past U.S. goalie Jon Gillies.

Rindell said he was a bit surprised to see his team still be able to finish those kind of plays with all the hockey they played this week.

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POSTED ON Saturday, 08.11.2012 / 3:13 PM

By Adam Kimelman -  NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor /NHL.com - USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation Camp blog

Final score: Finland 3, U.S. 2 (OT)

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- Miro Aaltonen scored at 2:11 of overtime, giving Finland a 3-2 win against the U.S. to close the USA Hockey National Junior Evaluation camp here at Herb Brooks Arena.

Aaltonen broke in alone on U.S. goalie Jon Gillies and knocked in his own rebound as Finland won for the first time in five games here.

Tyler Biggs scored a pair of goals in the third period as the U.S. twice rallied from one-goal deficits to tie the game.

Biggs' first goal, a re-direction of a Matthew Grzelcyk shot at 10:17 of the third, tied the game at 1-1, but Finland's Artturi Lehkonen banged in a loose puck in front to put Finland up 2-1 at 14:33.

Biggs again tied the game with 2:44 left, when he lifted a loose puck in front over a fallen Finnish goalie Janne Juvonen.

Back with more from both locker rooms.

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

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It means a lot to us, we're very excited. We're looking to continue to build on [our] top core talent of young players. It's just a great opportunity for us to really build high.

— Panthers vice president of hockey operations Travis Viola after Florida won the No. 1 pick in the NHL Draft Lottery