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Posted On Sunday, 01.13.2013 / 5:04 PM

NHL.com - 2012-13 Training Camp blog

Fans give Jackets standing ovation before practice

How happy were Columbus fans to see their Blue Jackets back on the ice? So happy that they packed the team's practice facility for the opening day of training camp -- which began with a standing ovation from the crowd.

John Davidson, the Jackets' new president, had a simple message for his players before practice began: "We're going north." He also said the franchise's goal is to be the hardest-working team in the NHL and a club that brings high intensity every day.

"We want the fans to come watch a team that's going to work our tails off," he said.

With Rick Nash, the franchise's all-time leading scorer, gone to the New York Rangers in an offseason deal, Davidson said he's OK with a "score by committee" approach. Perhaps not surprisingly for a former goaltender, he's more concerned about how his team plays in its own zone.

"I'm more worried about keeping the puck out of the net," Davidson said. "If we do that, we'll be fine. It's obvious with our club that we're going to need four lines, and they're all going to have to do some scoring for us."

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Posted On Sunday, 01.13.2013 / 4:05 PM

NHL.com - 2012-13 Training Camp blog

Holmgren: No change in Pronger's status

As far as general manager Paul Holmgren is concerned, the Philadelphia Flyers aren't expecting captain Chris Pronger back anytime soon -- if at all.

"He’s coming in today," Holmgren said Sunday as the team opened training camp when asked about Pronger's status. "He’s going to see the doctor."

Pronger has not played since November 2011; he's been unable to recover from the symptoms he suffered from following a concussion. He's still under contract for the next five seasons, but Holmgren said there hasn't been any change in his status.

"Down the road? I guess you could say slight chance," he said when asked about Pronger's chances of playing, "but I’d probably classify it as highly unlikely. Nothing’s changed."

Holmgren said Pronger has been able to do a few things for the Flyers off the ice.

"Chris actually does a lot of things for us," he said. "He’s been to the odd game. He does a lot of video scouting for us of young players. He tells it like it is. He tells it as he sees it."

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Posted On Sunday, 01.13.2013 / 3:24 PM

NHL.com - 2012-13 Training Camp blog

Gillis: Canucks won't give away Luongo

Roberto Luongo's time in Vancouver may be coming to an end, but Canucks general manager Mike Gillis won't give away the winningest goaltender in franchise history.

Luongo has been the subject of trade rumors since the Canucks signed Cory Schneider to a three-year, $12 million deal this summer with the expectation that he'll take over the starting job. Luongo is set to begin the third year of a 12-year contract that carries a $5.3 million cap hit, and the Canucks would rather not carry both players.

But Gillis isn't just going to throw the best goaltender in franchise history over the side.

"We're at a point where we expect high-caliber players coming back to us should moves be made," he said during meeting with the media on Sunday. "We're sticking to that."

Luongo has said he would waive his no-trade clause if asked, and has told Gillis to take as long as needed to make a deal.

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Posted On Sunday, 01.13.2013 / 2:19 PM

NHL.com - 2012-13 Training Camp blog

Stars open camp without unsigned Jamie Benn

The Dallas Stars opened training camp on Sunday without unsigned restricted free agent forward Jamie Benn, though general manager Joe Nieuwendyk hopes to have him under contract soon.

"I'm optimistic that we'll have him back on the team, but it won't be today," Nieuwendyk told ESPN.com on Sunday morning. "We'll focus on the guys we have here because it's a short camp and we need to get ready. But in the meantime, certainly we'll keep working away at trying to get Jamie re-signed."

Benn was second on the Stars in scoring last season with 63 points, including 26 goals, in 71 games. The 23-year-old has 160 points in 222 games during his three seasons with Dallas.

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Posted On Sunday, 01.13.2013 / 2:02 PM

NHL.com - 2012-13 Training Camp blog

Canucks sign defenseman Cam Barker

The Vancouver Canucks, looking for depth on the blue line, have signed free-agent defenseman Cam Barker to a one-year contract.

ESPN's Pierre Lebrun reports that the deal is worth $700,000.

Barker was Chicago's first-round pick (No. 3) in the 2004 NHL Draft and spent 4 1/2 seasons with the Hawks before being dealt to the Minnesota Wild at the 2010 trade deadline. He played last season in Edmonton after signing with the Oilers as a free agent in the summer of 2011, but was not tendered a contract in June and became a free agent again.

Barker signed a 25-game tryout with the Texas Stars of the AHL during the lockout, scoring three goals and eight points in 23 games, but the team opted to sever ties with him after it expired. He has been skating in Vancouver since then.

Coach Alain Vigneault said Sunday that he will give Barker an opportunity, and that Barker will practice and scrimmage with the team this week.

The 26-year-old native of Winnipeg, Manitoba, has played 296 NHL games, scoring 21 goals and collecting 94 points along with 286 penalty minutes. He has three goals, nine points and two penalty minutes in 17 playoff games.

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Posted On Sunday, 01.13.2013 / 1:47 PM

NHL.com - 2012-13 Training Camp blog

Capitals sign Eric Fehr

The Washington Capitals said Sunday they have signed right wing Eric Fehr to a one-year, $600,000 contract.

Fehr, 27, had 13 goals and 25 points and was plus-13 in 21 games with HPK of the SM-liiga in Finland this season. In 2011-12, Fehr scored two goals and added one assist with 12 penalty minutes in 35 games with the Winnipeg Jets. He was traded to Winnipeg by Washington on July 8, 2011, in exchange for a fourth-round draft pick (Thomas Di Pauli) and Danick Paquette.

The 6-foot-4, 212-pound forward has 48 goals, 96 points and a plus-27 rating in 265 career NHL games with Washington and Winnipeg. Fehr tallied 46 goals and 93 points in 230 games with the Capitals from 2005-11, including a career-high 39 points (21 goals, 18 assists) in 69 games with Washington during 2009-10. In 26 career playoff games, all with Washington, Fehr has five goals and one assist.

The Winkler, Manitoba, native was the Capitals’ first-round choice (No. 18) in the 2003 NHL Draft.

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Posted On Sunday, 01.13.2013 / 1:30 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2012-13 Training Camp blog

Free-agent forward Darche skates with Devils

NEWARK, N.J . -- Unrestricted free agent left wing Mathieu Darche is starting training camp with the New Jersey Devils with the hopes of playing well enough to earn a contract.

Darche, who spent the last three seasons in Montreal, was on the ice Sunday at Prudential Center for the Devils' first official practice of the 2012-13 season despite not yet having a contract.

"It was unfortunate it didn't work out in Montreal; that my hometown and I was disappointed with that, but I'm real excited to be here," Darche said. "I've got a few days to prove that I'm in good shape and I can help this team. I still feel I can help a team and hopefully I'll be able to show that in the next few days."

Darche, 36, said his agent received a phone call from Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello on Saturday. After agreeing to come to New Jersey, Darche called former Canadiens teammates Brian Gionta and Scott Gomez, a pair of former Devils, to ask them what the team is all about.

"They said if there is a place where you should go when somebody calls you it's this place because this organization won't jerk you around -- they'll be honest," Darche said. "I think the style of play they play here suits my game. It's a simple game and from what they told me they are the type of team that like players that do the little details to have success. That's what wins and that's what I've been known in Montreal to do."

Darche, 36, had five goals and seven assists for 12 points in 61 games with Montreal last season. He had career highs in goals (12) and points (26) points in 59 games in 2010-11 and has 72 points in 250 career NHL games with Columbus, Nashville, San Jose, Tampa Bay and Montreal.

"I think he's gotta do what I've seen him do in Montreal," Lamoriello said when asked what Darche has to do to earn a contract. "He accepts his role. He's a fourth-liner who can get into a third-line in a short period of time. The thing I like the most about him is he's a very good penalty killer and good defensively, and I don't think you can have enough of those players as far as depth goes. We'll see."

With Darche, the Devils have 18 forwards on their training camp roster, but Ilya Kovalchuk won't join the team until Wednesday and Adam Henrique is still out while rehabbing a thumb injury he suffered while playing in the American Hockey League.

Devils coach Peter DeBoer said it's still too early to tell if Darche will be able to earn a roster spot.

"I'm excited to see him," DeBoer said. "I've always been a fan, obviously from the other bench. I haven't had the opportunity to coach him but it was a nice call when Lou told me he was coming to camp."

Lamoriello said Henrique will be re-evaluated Monday, but isn't expected to be ready to play for at least a few more weeks.

Jacob Josefson did not skate Sunday due to a lower-body injury, but Lamoriello said he's expected to skate Monday.

"I think that's going to be something that every team is going to have to deal with this condensed schedule, handling injuries," DeBoer said. "The nice thing about our team is that I believe we showed last year we had interchangeable parts. We could take somebody out and somebody could jump in and take their spot. I'm comfortable we have that kind of depth."

Petr Sykora, who scored 21 goals for the Devils last season, did not earn an invitation to training camp and remains an unrestricted free agent. Lamoriello said the Devils want to instead give an opportunity to some of their younger guys who they called up from the American Hockey League, including Mattias Tedenby, Harri Pesonen and Tim Sestito.

"It's not saying it's out of the question later, but right now we're going to go along this way," Lamoriello said.

Forward Stefan Matteau, New Jersey's first-round pick last year (No. 29) is in training camp. Lamoriello said the Devils are simply taking advantage of the rules that allow teams to have junior-aged players in camp and play them in up to five regular-season games without burning the first year of their entry-level contract.

Matteau has 28 points in 35 games with the Blainville-Boisbriand Armada of the QMJHL.

"I think it's more to just see where he's at," Lamoriello said of why Matteau is in camp. "He's been playing extremely well. He has size and strength, something you can't teach. He knows how to play the game. It'll be a good opportunity for us to see him, and it's the window we have with the rules."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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Posted On Sunday, 01.13.2013 / 1:10 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - 2012-13 Training Camp blog

Lamoriello: Kovalchuk will be here Wednesday

NEWARK, N.J. -- Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello said Sunday that forward Ilya Kovalchuk will miss the first three days of training camp in order to travel back from Russia, where he was playing during the lockout, and get his family situated in New Jersey.

Kovalchuk, who played in the KHL All-Star Game on Sunday, is expected to arrive in New Jersey on Tuesday and join the Devils for practice on Wednesday.

Lamoriello said Kovalchuk is not considered in violation of his contract and therefore will not face any discipline from the club for missing the first three days of training camp, which began Sunday at Prudential Center.

"I am very comfortable with this situation," Lamoriello said. "There is no penalty involved. There is no disrespect involved. I've talked to him and I feel comfortable where we're at. We're anxious to get him back here and get him in the lineup with the rest of the people and there will be no repercussions."

Lamoriello said he spoke to Kovalchuk when it appeared the lockout was close to ending and Kovalchuk explained to Lamoriello that it was important to him to play in the KHL All-Star Game.

"With the situation he had and what they had done for him, naming him captain in St. Petersburg, he had a conversation with me and said, 'If it gets to a certain point I really would like to play in the All-Star Game and not just simply leave here,'" Lamoriello said. "He said, 'I have tremendous respect for my country. They have treated me a certain way, given me opportunities, named me captain [of a KHL All-Star team].'

"I said we would take it day by day and when it did get close, although I could not give him official permission simply because of the injury situation if that took place, I did understand that this was something that was important to him. He played 30-plus games and I had no problem with this situation."

Lamoriello said he's not concerned with how Kovalchuk's situation could be viewed by other players on the team.

"I think if you know me well enough there is no way we'll ever put an individual in front of the team," Lamoriello said. "I do not have any hesitations. If it were different I'd tell you."

Lamoriello did admit it is not ideal that Kovalchuk will miss the first three days of camp.

"You certainly want all the players here, but this is not the first time something like this has happened," he said. "Throughout my years I've been through just about every type of thing, but this is something where there has been total communication. This is not something there is any, right now, concern whatsoever from my part.

"You have to understand this is not putting him in a different light or making him an exception; this is extenuating circumstances as far as I'm concerned. This is not the norm. I've had a conversation with him. I know him well enough. We've been through a lot. This will be the last time I will talk about it, but I'm comfortable with it."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl

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Posted On Sunday, 01.13.2013 / 12:53 PM

NHL.com - 2012-13 Training Camp blog

Sabres sign Jochen Hecht

The Buffalo Sabres announced Sunday that center Jochen Hecht has agreed to terms on a one-year contract.

Hecht, 35, played in 22 games with the Sabres during an injury-plagued 2011-12 season, scoring four goals and finishing with eight points. The native of Mannheim, Germany, tied his career-best mark with a three-game goal streak from Nov. 26 to Dec. 2.

The Sabres acquired Hecht from Edmonton prior to the 2002-03 season. He has 133 goals and 331 points in 566 regular-season games with Buffalo. Hecht ranks 20th in franchise history in games played, goals and points. He leads all active Sabres with a career plus/minus rating of plus-94, ranking him 23rd among active NHL players.

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Posted On Sunday, 01.13.2013 / 12:25 PM

By NHL.com Staff -  /NHL.com - 2012-13 Training Camp blog

Del Zotto, Gilroy agree to terms with Rangers

The New York Rangers and restricted free agent defenseman Michael Del Zotto have agreed to terms on a new contract.

Del Zotto is the first restricted free agent to sign under the terms of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, which took effect Saturday after both sides signed a Memorandum of Understanding.

TSN's Bob McKenzie reports that the two-year deal carries an average annual value of $2.55 million.

Del Zotto, 22, was chosen No. 20 in the 2008 NHL Draft by the Rangers and made his NHL debut the following season. As a rookie, he had nine goals and 37 points. last season, he had 10 goals and 41 points, both of which led all Rangers defensemen. He has played in 201 regular-season games, scoring 21 goals and adding 68 assists for 89 points, along with 88 penalty minutes.

The Rangers also announced that defenseman Matt Gilroy has come to terms on an NHL contract. Gilroy, a former Ranger who became a free agent last summer, had been playing with New York's farm team, the Connecticut Whale, after signing an AHL deal. He has six goals and 15 points in 34 AHL games.

Del Zotto and Gilroy were on the ice Sunday when the Rangers opened training camp. However, first-line center Brad Richards missed practice; he's reportedly suffering from the flu.
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Quote of the Day

We think that Randy is a very good coach. Our players think that Randy is a very good coach. We think that he's going to get the most out of this group. With the addition of the two assistants, a bit of a different dynamic, we're very comfortable that this is a quality coaching staff that's going to maximize the potential of this team.

— Maple Leafs GM Dave Nonis on head coach Randy Carlyle and his staff