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Ice Age: Lots of news, now here are the views

Friday, 12.04.2009 / 5:00 PM / Ice Age

By Phil Coffey - NHL.com Sr. Editorial Director

So much news, so little space. Actually, plenty of space this being the Internet and all, but you folks have better things to do than shuffle through 8,000 ideas from my puny brain. So let's just cut it in half and call it even, OK?

News: Blackhawks sign Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith to long-term deals.

View: Never heard anyone say you can have too many good players, so Hawks fans should be delighted. There may be salary-cap considerations down the road -- but for now, an exciting, young team has locked up its core. That's a good thing.

News: Brendan Shanahan has joined the NHL as Vice President for Hockey and Business Development and will work in the New York offices.

View: Note to self: Keep head up when walking the halls.

News: Refrigeration truck begins journey to Boston for 2010 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic.

View: Pardon the expression, but this should be very cool. Fenway Park is so associated with baseball that the juxtaposition of hockey at the old ballyard will be every bit as memorable as the scene at Wrigley Field last Jan. 1.

News: Tomas Vokoun on the mend.

View: The Florida Panthers goalie has been a great teammate in trying to put Keith Ballard at ease after Monday's unfortunate incident when Vokoun took an accidental stick to the cranium. Here's hoping he's back to 100 percent soon.

News: Alex Ovechkin suspended two games for hit on Hurricanes' Tim Gleason.

View: Important safety tip -- never lead with your knee. But as Brian Duff pointed out in his thoughtful column, Ovi isn't likely to change his game. Nor should he. His combination of skill, power and passion make him the player he is.

News: Olympic chatter is up. World Junior rosters being announced.

View: Santa Claus came early.

News: Montreal Canadiens conclude 100th anniversary celebration.

View: A look at the current standings may not provide much solace to Habs fans these days, but looking back at the club's past, wow, it is second to none.

News: Sidney Crosby nets a hat trick against the Rangers on hat night in Pittsburgh.

View: Hollywood can't make that kind of stuff up.

News: Marian Gaborik leads League with 21 goals.

View: With 80 goals total heading into play Saturday, Gaborik's importance to the Rangers cannot be overstated.

News: Dany Heatley gets through a tough week.

View: Playing in Edmonton, where he rejected a trade this summer and then against his former team in the Ottawa Senators, made for a nerve-wracking week for Heatley, who can now relax and think about life with the first-place Sharks.

News: Corey Perry continues to emerge as a lethal point producer for the Ducks.

View: See you in Vancouver with Team Canada.

News: Martin Brodeur becomes a United States citizen.

View: If not for those darn Olympic eligibility rules, we could have had a real good time with this one. Still, congratulations Marty.

Kessel meeting expectations -- In 14 games so far, Phil Kessel has scored 8 goals and 5 assists for the Maple Leafs. Considering he is coming off shoulder surgery and missed training camp and the start of the season, that is pretty impressive.

"He's an elite player, which isn't news to anyone in Boston," Leafs GM Brian Burke told Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe. "The speculation here in Toronto, what people wondered, was whether he would be able to produce without (Marc) Savard setting him up. But we felt from the outset that he was more than just a sniper."

On this point, Bruins GM Peter Chiarelli, who swapped Kessel for first-round picks in 2010 and 2011, plus a second-round pick, can agree.

"He's a good player, a very good player," Chiarelli told Dupont. "But that was never a question. We always said he would score, and he has, and I think he'd say that he benefited from playing here (Toronto)."

Kessel is being paid like a superstar and thus far has delivered. He is playing 20:48 per game and is a fixture on the power play. So, did the Bruins miss the boat here? Not according to Chiarelli, who says Kessel wanted to be traded and not re-signed.

"Phil has a special skill set," he told the Globe. "But the circumstances were such that we couldn't get him signed here. He didn't want to be in Boston."

"A valuable addition for us, a dimension we didn't have," Burke said. "But that said, Peter Chiarelli drove a hard bargain here. We knew those two first-round picks, along with a second, was a hell of a price to have to pay. Did we get full value? We'll see."

Well Said I -- "Trust me, when I told my mom I passed she said, 'Don't forget where you came from.' I said, 'Don't worry,' but this is something that I'm excited that it's happened in my life. My kids are all American. I love being in the States, but for sure I will always have a home in Canada."

-- Martin Brodeur on becoming a United States citizen.

Don't forget Huet -- With the Blackhawks re-signing Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith to long-term deals this week, it's easy to overlook some of the other Hawks, but that would be a mistake, especially in the case of goalie Cristobal Huet.

As Tim Sassone wrote in the Arlington Heights Daily Herald on Wednesday, Huet's performance in an 11-round shootout win over the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday might have been his high point in a season that couldn't have started any worse for him.

Huet stopped 10 of 11 attempts by the Blue Jackets in the, giving the Hawks nine opportunities to win the game, which they finally did 4-3 on Brent Seabrook's goal.

"He's been playing great, keeping us in games," Seabrook said. "We have lots of confidence in him and it's nice to get some wins for him."

Huet has won eight of his last 11 starts and has surrendered two goals or less in eight of those 10 games. Not bad for a guy who seemed to be considered Chicago's weak link this season.

"Give him credit," Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "I know it was tough around here at the beginning of the year, and he responded. He welcomed the challenge. He's out challenging, he looks like he's in control on his rebounds, he's concentrating on the puck and just seems like he's on top of not just the crease, but on top of his game."

Well Said II -- "I'm not sure how this will play out, but we like all three guys. They're a big part of our organization, and their upsides are huge. They're a big factor in every game and extremely important to us. We should be thankful to have them here."

-- Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville on Chicago re-signing Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith.

Let's move on -- Keith Ballard has apologized to Tomas Vokoun more times than Vokoun can count about the accidental whack to the head Monday night. The way Vokoun sees it, no harm (or not as much harm as expected), so no foul.

"It looked a lot more scary than it really was," Vokoun said Wednesday morning, wearing a black ski cap and a white bandage over his ear that was cut in the middle and required more than 10 stitches. "I do have a nasty cut on my ear, but it's not usual for goalies, but players get cut all the time. It's not a big deal to anybody, it's just because it was such a freak accident."

Ballard spoke with Vokoun on the flight back to South Florida, apologizing so many times that Vokoun had to tell him to stop. Vokoun, Ballard said, tried to reassure him and laugh off the injury. He told the defenseman not to worry about the swipe and told him that he was fine.

"I just felt terrible," Ballard said. "I didn't know what to say. I don't know how many times I apologized and we talked for a bit and he came back and sat with me and we talked for a while longer. In those 15 or so minutes, I don't know how many times I apologized. Finally, he's just like, 'Don't worry about it, it's enough.'"

"It's not a big deal," Vokoun said. "Poor guy had some tough luck for a couple games. We all get frustrated. I'm not surprised he got mad. You can tell, I saw it myself, he didn't even know he hit me. He was trying to hit the net post again after and he skated away like nothing happened. I've play with Ballard for a couple years, you know what kind of person he is. So I knew how bad he felt. Let's hope it's quickly out of the highlights and media so he doesn't have to hear about it again."

Well Said III -- "We've been in a lot of the same situations, been together and included in every event and every little thing whether it's playing games on the road or the Winter Classic and all these things on and off the ice that we do."

-- Jonathan Toews

Take nothing for granted -- Martin Brodeur has the Olympic experience and just about every goaltending record imaginable, but that doesn't mean he has added the starting job for Team Canada in 2010 to his list -- yet.

"This is an interesting story, the goaltending, because it's up for grabs," Brodeur told reporters this week prior to facing Roberto Luongo. "You got Roberto, you got (the Penguins') Marc-Andre (Fleury) and myself. Whenever we play each other we always battle. I'm the one who's been through it the most since 1998, so it's not new to me.

"I don't want to go there and them to say, 'Well you're No. 1.' I want to win the job, and be good enough to be the top guy," Brodeur said. "I want Roberto to be in the hunt for it. I want Marc-Andre to be in the hunt for it."

Not surprising -- Mark Recchi, who knows his way around a hockey rink, started last season as Steven Stamkos' teammate with the Tampa Bay Lightning. Back then, Stamkos struggled early in adjusting to the NHL, but Recchi never doubted Stamkos would get his act together.

"He was really a great player in the last 30 or 35 games, probably almost a point a game at the end of the year and you have to give him a lot of credit and (coach) Rick Tocchet a lot of credit, he was really good for him and he still is," Recchi told The Tampa Tribune. "He's come in this year on fire and he knows he belongs. He's got the right attitude, he knows how to approach the game and when you have a head like him and an attitude like him, you're going to do well."

Stamkos has had a terrific sophomore season with 17 goals and 12 assists in 26 games. He is appreciated for Recchi's help last season.

"I think (Recchi's) work ethic, at his age and with everything that he had already accomplished, he really doesn't have anything else to prove," Stamkos said. "He came to the rink always with a smile on his face and the way he handled himself, especially with how things went last year, he was always a leader on this team. He led by example, he was vocal, and especially for me, him and (Gary Roberts) were great to me. They would pull me aside when they needed to talk to me about certain things, and the list goes on. But the way he presents himself, his work ethic and how he cared about his teammates, those are the things that stood out for me."

"Chuck has been through all of the highs and lows with us and his knowledge and experience makes this a heck of a book to read. It's a beautiful thing!"
-- Bernie Parent

Shameless plug department -- Another one of our guys, Chuck Gormley, has written a book, so with it being the holiday season and all, you might want to check out "Orange, Black & Blue: The Greatest Philadelphia Flyers Stories Never Told" for the hockey head in your life.

Some pretty prominent Flyers have come away loving Gormley's tome, like Hall of Famer
.

"Chuck has been through all of the highs and lows with us and his knowledge and experience makes this a heck of a book to read. It's a beautiful thing!" Parent said, comments that echoed Keith Primeau's reaction to the book.

"Fortunately for me, I was able to live some of these special -- and sometimes not so special – moments," Primeau said. "Now I have the ability to re-live so many special and memorable moments over and over again."

To purchase the book, head on over to www.chuckspuck.com.

Well Said IV -- "It's especially embarrassing to lose like this at home. Last year, we fought hard and competed like crazy to be a competitive team, a playoff team. The respect we got from our fans was incredible. They really bought into us. I have to think that right now we're just letting them down. It's frustrating for them, for sure. They're paying good money at a tough time (economically) to come watch us, and there have been too many bad performances here at home."

-- Columbus' R. J. Umberger after Thursday's home loss to Toronto.


Quote of the Day

It's such a privilege to be one of these 80 great players to do this milestone, and it doesn't get better than this doing it where I started. It means a lot to me. A big thanks goes to all the players tonight who helped me to achieve that and also all the players through my career.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Marian Hossa after scoring his 1,000th career point on Thursday night in Ottawa
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