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Posted On Friday, 02.10.2012 / 3:05 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Gretzky Fantasy Camp Blog

Gretzky talks respect in game, Crosby



LAS VEGAS -- Wayne Gretzky said Friday from the Bellagio that he believes the respect factor from player to player was lost for some time, but it is coming back into the game now and it's essential that it remains.

"As much as the League is trying to police itself, and I think they do as good a job as they can do, I think it was Sidney Crosby that said it's still up to the players to monitor themselves and understand that you can't just hit guys in the head," Gretzky said in a sitdown interview with the NHL Network.

"If a guy has his head down, yeah you've got to hit him, but you can also take your foot off the pedal a touch with that respect factor," Gretzky continued. "I think it's gotten way better the protection of each and every player. And, listen, the physical aspect of our game can never be taken out. That's what makes our game special. We need to keep that physical presence in our sport, but it can be done in a way when it's not crossing the line."

Gretzky said in his day that respect factor existed because players understood there was life outside of hockey.

"The players understood they had to do whatever it took to become a champion, become a winner, but the guy on the other side also had a wife, kids, a mom and dad," Gretzky said. "There was always that feeling that, 'OK, I can't really cross the line, this is as far as it can go.' For some reason we lost a little bit of that respect factor from the players point of view to each other. We're getting that back now."

Regarding Crosby, Gretzky called him the game's best player and said he's hopeful that No. 87 can soon put this part of his career in the rearview mirror.

"You don't replace the best player, and he's without question the best player in our game today and he has been for a few years," Gretzky said. "More important his importance to that franchise, to helping that team win, and for those fans to get to watch him play, because he is a special hockey player. Then you top that off with what he does as far as being the front guy for the game itself, the ambassador for our game, the people of Nova Scotia, the people of Canada -- you don't replace that.

"It's very disappointing that a player of that caliber is injured, and I hope when he does come back he comes back at the right time, where he does feel healthy and can put this part of his career in the rearview mirror and continue without having to face these setbacks."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Friday, 02.10.2012 / 2:56 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Boudreau extols virtues of two ageless wonders

DETROIT -- Despite being 41, Teemu Selanne is leading the Anaheim Ducks in points with 18 goals and 32 assists and doesn't show any signs of slowing up despite his increasing age.

"He never has a bad day," said Anaheim coach Bruce Boudreau, who has now had some time to study Selanne up close after taking over on Nov. 30 as Ducks coach. "He's very receptive to when you're talking to him. He wants to play every night. He never wants to take a day off. Some nights he skates faster than others, but when he's on top of his game, he looks like he’s a 25-year old."

In that regard, Selanne is a lot like Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom -- who's also 41 and still the Wings' top defenseman.

"I'd like to know the water they drink and what they do in the offseason," Boudreau said. "They must keep themselves in incredible shape in the offseason. Their lifestyle must be great. But if Nick is anything like Teemu, the passion for the game is got to be up there with anybody's."

Passion, Boudreau said, is the No. 1 factor that allows guys like Selanne and Lidstrom to keep going at such a high clip.

"That's a big part of hockey," Boudreau said. "Sometimes when you get older, it gets difficult to wake up in the morning and drag yourself to the rink because your bones and your body are sore every day. And I never see [Selanne] come to the rink without a smile on his face. If Nick is the same way, then it's like they've both found the Fountain of Youth. Wish they'd share it with a couple of us older guys."

Having them both play in the same game on Friday night at Joe Louis Arena, facing each other once again with Detroit's 18-game home winning streak on the line, certainly gives the game an added appeal from a fan's perspective.

"[Selanne] is our leading scorer and Nick's the perennial all-star, anchor of their defense, anchor of their power play and I'd venture to guess that in the last minute of a game … if you're a Detroit Red Wing, who do you want on the ice whether you're winning or losing?" Boudreau said. "It's going to be Nick Lidstrom. They're right up there. Outside of Bobby Orr, nobody's won as many Norris Trophies when his career is up, as Nick Lidstrom. He's going to rank in the top three defensemen all-time in this League and Teemu's going to rank in the top 10 forwards of all time. You've got two of the greatest players in the history of the game playing tonight."
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Posted On Friday, 02.10.2012 / 2:48 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Selanne brushes off talk about trade to Red Wings

DETROIT -- The closer the calendar gets to the Feb. 27 trade deadline, the more Teemu Selanne's name is likely to be thrown out for public consumption.

There are already rumors swirling about the League-leading Detroit Red Wings having interest in adding the skilled 41-year old Selanne to their already-talented collection of forwards. Selanne is good friends with Finnish Wings forward Valtteri Filppula, so people are already starting to connect the dots and wonder if he'd waive the no-movement clause in his contract for a Stanley Cup chase in Motown.

However, Selanne on Friday morning at Joe Louis Arena warned not to get too caught up in trade talk concerning his name just yet.

"I'm trying to avoid that question," Selanne said, when asked whether he'd accept any potential deals before the trade deadline. "Obviously, everybody in this room believes that we can make the playoffs and that would be almost wrong to think about any other options. That's not in my mind right now. Let's see what happens. My main focus is right now and today."

The Ducks are 11-2-2 in their last 15 games and 10 points out of the final playoff spot in the Western Conference going into Friday's action. They're also starting an eight-game road trip on Friday night against the Red Wings, which Selanne is real interested to see play out.

"This road trip is going to pretty much decide which direction we're going to go and everybody's looking ahead and up," he said. "Hopefully we can do it and let's see what happens after that. The way things went in the first half [of the season], it was really tough. That's why I think it's time to enjoy every moment and make sure that our way is going up in the standings, not going down. This is the time to push now and enjoy it."

As for fans in Detroit already having Selanne's name highlighted as a potential "perfect fit" with Filppula with the Wings, Selanne chuckled.

"We don't go that far," he said, smiling. "[This trip] is so important for everybody right now and we know the urgency, what we have to do. But that's the only focus we have right now. Everything else is stuff to put aside and forget from now on."
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Posted On Friday, 02.10.2012 / 2:19 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Gretzky Fantasy Camp Blog

Savard: Don't blame Crawford in Chicago

LAS VEGAS -- Ex-Blackhawks Hall of Fame forward Denis Savard is quick to come to the defense of Chicago goalie Corey Crawford, who has been benched and criticized for his lack of consistency this season.

"Everybody seems to think that Crawford has not played as well as he can, but I don't believe that," Savard told NHL.com Friday morning from the Bellagio. "I think the kid has played well most of the year. They haven't played well in front of him in the games that I have watched closely. I know Corey and he's a competitor, a winner and a really great kid. Of course you'd like to see him put a string of wins together so his confidence doesn't get shattered, but they just need to play better in front of him."

The Hawks are 0-5-1 in their last six games and have dropped to sixth in the Western Conference. Crawford hasn't played since he allowed five goals on 28 shots before getting pulled in the third period of an 8-4 loss to Edmonton on Feb. 2.

"People look at 28 shots and he gave up five goals, well there were probably 15 quality chances against him and that number has to get reduced," Savard said. "I always put on the board 21/7 when I coached. I would say, 'If we do 21 shots against and seven quality chances, we're going to win.' I think their mentality has to get back to that. If they do that, it'll help the kid gain his confidence back.

"I'm pretty sure that's the message they've been given, but they just have to start doing it now. They can't wait any longer."

Does that mean Chicago needs some help before the trade deadline, particularly on the back end?

"I think (GM) Stan (Bowman) would probably say, 'Hey, you know what guys, this is us, let's turn this around. We were a good team for the first 45-50 games,' " Savard said. "I know they have room under the cap and I'll tell you this, this organization is committed to winning and if they feel they need to make some changes they will. It's pretty clear that they want to win. The Hawks will spend right to the top of the cap to try to get it done."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Friday, 02.10.2012 / 1:56 PM

By Dan Rosen -  NHL.com Senior Writer /NHL.com - Gretzky Fantasy Camp Blog

Fuhr interested in a new challenge

LAS VEGAS -- Grant Fuhr is comfortable living back in Edmonton and doing community and corporate relations work for the Oilers. He's also busy coaching a bantam team and rehabbing from having surgery on both knees three weeks ago.

Life is good for the Hall of Fame goalie and five-time Stanley Cup champion goaltender, but he wouldn't mind a different challenge down the road.

"I'd like to coach junior," Fuhr told NHL.com Friday morning from the Bellagio. "That's what I'd really like to try at some point in time."

Fuhr is the former goalie coach for the Flames and Coyotes, but he's talking about being a head coach in the Western Hockey League.

Why make the jump? Why bother?

"I enjoy the kids and I enjoy the process of what it takes to be successful," Fuhr said. "I think that's the fun part of it. For instance, this year I coach bantams and you see how focused parents and kids are about the end of the road, but they have no idea about the process of how to get to that point. I can mention it to them, point it out to them, and it's interesting to see that nobody has ever done because nobody knows. They just see the end result."

Fuhr, though, said he has not been putting out feelers to friends in the Western Hockey League as of yet. He moved back to Edmonton from Phoenix five months ago and is still getting settled. He also enjoys working with the Oilers, and can see his role growing in the community capacity.

"I've kind of got the perfect world right now," he said. "I've got free time. I still hang around the rink a bunch. I get to see junior games, NHL games and I get to coach kids games. I still get my share of hockey, but at the same time if I want to pick up and go play golf I can go play golf."

That will change if he starts coaching in the Western Hockey League.

"But that's OK," he said. "Hockey is still the right part of life."

Follow Dan Rosen on Twitter at: @drosennhl
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Posted On Friday, 02.10.2012 / 1:46 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Lidstrom and Holmstrom ready for milestone game

DETROIT -- It's fitting that two of the Detroit Red Wings' most accomplished stars, captain Nicklas Lidstrom and forward Tomas Holmstrom, will reach impressive career milestones tonight at Joe Louis Arena.

The 41-year old Lidstrom will be playing his 1,549th game in a Red Wings uniform, which will tie him with legendary Alex Delvecchio for second-most in team history behind only Gordie Howe’s 1,687. Meanwhile, the 39-year old Holmstrom will be playing the 1,000th game of his NHL career -- all with the Red Wings -- which will make him just the sixth player in franchise history to achieve such a feat.

The five ahead of him are Kris Draper (1,137), Steve Yzerman (1,514), Lidstrom, Delvecchio and Howe.

Both Lidstrom and Holmstrom are Swedish, as well.

"It's a real nice night for both of them," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "I was bugging Tommy (Holmstrom), saying he missed a game a while back just so he could go at the same time as Nick. They do everything together, so why not do this together? Any time you get a chance to tie Alex Delvecchio, that's a special, special thing. I don't know if Nick wants to hang around long enough to tie Gordie, but good for us and good for them. They've been very important parts of this team and they still are with leadership from Nick and just the drive and enthusiasm that 'Homer' brings to the rink each and every day."

Lidstrom has been good friends with Holmstrom ever since they came to the Wings in the 1990s, so seeing his buddy reach a milestone like 1,000 games is special even for him.

"He's always had bad knees, had some problems with them, but he's always battling through … not just the knees, but other injuries, too," Lidstrom said of Holmstrom. "He's had two hernia surgeries, numerous surgeries on his knees. Seeing him battling through those things and knowing he's in pain … he's icing down both knees after most every practice. Just his determination and his willingness to battle through it to be on the ice, it shows a lot about his character."

Holmstrom feels likewise about Lidstrom tying Delvecchio.

"It's huge for him, too," Holmstrom said. "He's played a bunch of games."
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Posted On Friday, 02.10.2012 / 1:30 PM

By Brian Hedger -  NHL.com Correspondent /NHL.com - At the Rink blog

Wings' Cleary OK with sitting out

DETROIT -- Danny Cleary will miss his first game of the season tonight when the Red Wings host the Anaheim Ducks, but the Detroit forward actually is relieved about it.

Well, technically speaking, it's his left knee that's most relieved after having fluid drained from it Thursday. The procedure likely will cost him the next three games, starting with tonight's game, but Cleary isn't fretting over it.

"I had 20 (cubic centimeters) of fluid drained … there was, like, two 'baker's cysts' in the back of my knee," he said after Detroit's morning skate Friday. "It's a great relief in regards to flexion and being able to walk. I had a cortisone shot put in later in the evening, so it feels a lot better today."

The cortisone injection typically comes with a 3-5 day recovery period, which is what will keep Cleary out of the lineup. The 33-year old forward has 11 goals and 16 assists this season while playing right wing on Detroit's third line, which has become one of the team’s most productive two-way line combinations.

Though he's had knee issues in the past, Cleary said this particular procedure is a new one for him to go through. He left Wednesday's game against Edmonton -- which Detroit won 4-2 to extend its home winning streak to 18 games -- in the second period after taking a big hit from Oilers forward Ben Eager.

The hit, however, had nothing to do with his decision to get the knee drained.

"It's been bothering me for two months now," Cleary said. "Then all of a sudden the last three or four weeks it started to fill up with fluid. Before we went on the (last) trip out to Vancouver and Calgary it was sore, so I knew I had to get it done. In Wednesday's game I just couldn't skate."

Cleary said it simply was better to have it done now, rather than wait
until the playoffs crept even closer.

"I'm actually very happy to get it done (now)," Cleary said. "It was a big relief. It had to get done at some point. I'm hoping that it really works and that the cortisone shot does its job."

Entering the Detroit lineup in Cleary's place against the Ducks will be rookie Jan Mursak, who will play left wing on the fourth line, with rookie Cory Emmerton at center and veteran Tomas Holmstrom -- playing his 1,000th NHL game -- at right wing.

Slotting into Cleary's spot at right wing of the third line will be Justin Abdelkader, who had been manning the middle on the fourth line for much of the season.

It will be just the fourth game of the season for Mursak, who was challenging to start the season with Detroit in training camp when he broke his ankle against Chicago in a preseason home game.

The injury kept him out for the first 35 games of the season and he's been a healthy scratch in 17 of the 20 games the Wings have played since he was cleared to return.

"Hopefully now, when I can get a few games in a row (my timing) will get a little better and I can make the most out of it," said the speedy Mursak. "I have no problems with my ankle anymore, so I can be the same me as I was before the injury. That's good. There's just little things that I have to do better. I have to be a little better in the defensive zone and I think it will come through the games I play."

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock will be watching to see if it happens.

"We really thought he was going to be a big part of our team," Babcock said. "He broke his ankle. Well documented. He hasn't been able to get into the lineup on a regular basis. (He has) great speed, great tenacity and great shot. He's going to be a real good player for us over time. We just haven't found him a way into the mix. It's a good opportunity and now he's got a chance to keep a job if he works hard and does good things and plays with poise. Good things can happen for him."

Here is how the Red Wings and Ducks might line up tonight:

DUCKS
Bobby Ryan - Ryan Getzlaf - Corey Perry
Matt Beleskey - Saku Koivu - Teemu Selanne
Jason Blake - Nick Bonino - Andrew Cogliano
Niklas Hagman - Rod Pelley - George Parros

Francois Beauchemin - Cam Fowler
Luca Sbisa - Lubomir Visnovsky
Toni Lydman - Sheldon Brookbank

Jonas Hiller will start in goal, with Iiro Tarkki the backup.

RED WINGS
Johan Franzen - Pavel Datsyuk - Todd Bertuzzi
Valtteri Filppula - Henrik Zetterberg - Jiri Hudler
Drew Miller - Darren Helm - Justin Abdelkader
Jan Mursak - Cory Emmerton - Tomas Holmstrom

Nicklas Lidstrom - Ian White
Niklas Kronwall - Brad Stuart
Jonathan Ericsson - Jakub Kindl

Joey MacDonald will start in goal, with Ty Conklin the backup.
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Posted On Friday, 02.10.2012 / 12:05 PM

By Barry Melrose -  NHL Network Analyst /NHL.com - Melrose Minute

Barry's Best: Reimer, Eberle and Yandle

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Posted On Friday, 02.10.2012 / 10:06 AM

By Alex Galchenyuk -  Special to NHL.com /NHL.com - Alex Galchenyuk draft blog

Galchenyuk almost done rehab

Alex Galchenyuk is a forward for the Sarnia Sting of the Ontario Hockey League. The 6-foot, 198-pound forward was born in Milwaukee but is of Russian decent -- his father, Alexander, spent five of his 22 professional seasons playing in the U.S. Alex was the first pick of the 2010 OHL draft, and last season had 31 goals and 52 assists in 68 games. He had 2 goals and an assist in five games for Team USA at the Ivan Hlinka Memorial Tournament, and returned to take part in the 2011 NHL Research, Development and Orientation Camp in August. Despite suffering a major knee injury that could end his season before it really starts, Galchenyuk has offered to maintain a monthly blog for NHL.com that will chronicle his season leading up to the 2012 NHL Entry Draft.

Hi everyone.

I got some good news this month -- I have been officially cleared by my doctors to skate, so of course I’m thrilled about that. I am skating mostly every day now, getting closer and closer to full recovery.  Most of my time is now spent in the gym and on the ice, since I need less physical therapy and more of actual training. We've been driving to London mostly just for check-ups with my doctors and I skate there so they can actually see how my progress is going on the ice. In Sarnia I still go to see Dr. John Vargo 1-2 times a week, he’s been helping me out a lot. I think that if I keep skating and working out the way I do right now, I will soon be very close to the point where I was before all of this happened. I’m definitely feeling better and more comfortable every day.  A couple of times I was even out with my team and did some 1-on-0 drills. I guess at this point every single detail is very special and I get excited about it, so I’m happy to share all of this with you guys.

I get asked a lot if I'm going to come back and play in March or not. Of course I want to, and I'm doing everything possible for it right now and everything I'm allowed to do, pushing myself a little harder each day -- that's my goal right now and I'm hoping it's possible, but I also want to be 100-percent ready. I'm not settling down for 50 percent, because if I do get to play some games in the regular season I want to put all my effort in them. I've been waiting for a long time and don't want to make any mistakes at this point and rush it.

Overall, I'm very optimistic at this moment. I had to go through a lot, I had a lot of time to think. I try to set goals for myself waking up every day and I fight to accomplish them and try to set the bar a little higher as I do. It's a full-time routine that you have to go through and literally compete against yourself to make yourself better. I can totally say it's made me stronger in every way.

The CHL Top Prospects game was at the end of last month. Congratulations to all the guys that got chosen. I really wish I could have been a part of it, but it's life and unfortunately a lot of us had to miss out this year. I think it's a great honor for players to be picked to take part in the All-Star-type prospects games, because you get a chance to play with the best against the best. It always turns out to be very competitive and fun at the same time.

I also watched the NHL All Star Game, and thought the Super Kane show at the skills competition was pretty awesome. The highlight of the month I think was Sam Gagner with his eight points in a game, and he's been great ever since. It's kind of cool because we are both with Pulver Sports and I got to meet him at the BioSteel camp two years ago and he's a really nice guy. We recently went to Detroit with my dad and Nail Yakupov to watch the Red Wings-Oilers game, which we enjoyed watching, too.

Anyway, that's my update for now. I just realized that the next time I will be reporting to you guys I might be preparing for my first game and that thought just got me totally pumped and excited.

As always I'm really thankful for all the support I get from my family and friends, and thanks for the support on Twitter from all my fans (@AGally94). It's been amazing.
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Posted On Friday, 02.10.2012 / 12:15 AM

By Sergei J. Feldman -  NHL.com Staff Writer /NHL.com - Fantasy Spin Blog

Fantasy Spin: Jokinen scorching hot for Flames

Hesitate and you might just miss out on one of the hottest players in the NHL, as Calgary Flames' forward Olli Jokinen is having a stretch to remember.

Who would've thought?

Before his recent offensive explosion, Jokinen went 15 games without registering a goal. But he's turned it on as of late.

The 33-year-old is in the midst of a five-game point streak. He also has points in seven of his past eight games. In that span, the 6-foot-2, 210-pound center has five goals and is coming off a hat trick, four-point performance against the San Jose Sharks Wednesday night.

He added the fifth goal on Thursday night against the Phoenix Coyotes.

Jokinen was originally ranked 229th in standard Yahoo! leagues, but has improved his ranking to 31st overall. The former first-round pick has 17 goals, 29 assists and 46 points on 157 shots. In addition, he has 40 PIMs and six power play goals.

With the way the Flame is burning up the League, he could be a fantasy player to watch down the stretch.

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Quote of the Day

The groove of being behind a bench is going to be interesting at first, but thank God we have a few exhibition games to get rid of those cobwebs. Overall the excitement of it all and the freshness and coming back refreshed, all those things are going to be assets. If [the players] come ready to give their best effort in practice and games, good things are going to happen. I'm always looking for results. It's not always on the scoreboard. It's winning and building something.

— Bryan Trottier on making his return to coaching as an assistant with the Sabres