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2011 NHL Face-Off

Fans celebrate return of their Jets

Sunday, 10.09.2011 / 3:24 PM / 2011 NHL Face-Off

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

WINNIPEG -- Winnipeg native John Kirby and his son, Nathan, can't wait to be a part of the incredible celebration that will take place inside MTS Centre today when the Jets finally touch down to the delight of the hometown faithful.
It's been 15 years since the Jets last played an NHL game in front of the rowdy Manitobans, but that all changes when the team hosts Montreal Sunday in front of an expected 15,000-plus.
John Kirby, born and raised in Winnipeg and a fan of former Jets captain Dale Hawerchuk, has an idea what the atmosphere will be like.
"Think of a Stanley Cup final game when the crowd is on their feet and the whole place is just rocking," Kirby told "That's what it was like in some of these preseason games. That's the only way I can describe it."

Avs' elder statesman and top rookie ready to go

Friday, 10.07.2011 / 5:51 PM / 2011 NHL Face-Off

Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent

CENTENNIAL, Colo.Milan Hejduk, the Colorado Avalanche's elder statesman, is 35 and he's about to suit up for his 13th NHL season-opener. Gabriel Landeskog, team's youngest player at 18, is preparing for his NHL debut.

Yet the feelings will be similar for veteran and rookie Saturday night when the Avalanche faces off against the Detroit Red Wings at the Pepsi Center in the Avs' first game of the new season.

"It seems like every time you feel a little nervous," Hejduk said after practice Friday. "You don't know what to expect and you're a little nervous the first few shifts. And then things settle down and you're fine. It's always that way, every year.

Senators want Zibanejad to keep it simple in debut

Friday, 10.07.2011 / 3:35 PM / 2011 NHL Face-Off

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

DETROIT -- Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean has given 18-year old Swedish rookie center Mika Zibanejad some fairly simple advice heading into Friday's season-opener against the Detroit Red Wings.

"Mika's looking forward to it," MacLean said. "I'd just tell him to breathe. Make sure you breathe, because that's an important part of it. Continue to breathe. If you breathe, you can think.”

It sounds kind of humorous hearing MacLean say that, but it makes sense. Zibanejad's nerves likely will be sky high, and if he gets caught in the whirlwind of emotion, it might become a bad experience for him and the Senators. So, just remember to breathe.

Zetterberg confident Wings have another run left

Friday, 10.07.2011 / 3:19 PM / 2011 NHL Face-Off

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

DETROIT -- Henrik Zetterberg was asked last spring whether he'd watch the rest of the Stanley Cup Playoffs after his team was eliminated in the Western Conference Semifinals and he politely answered, "No … I will not."

The sting for losing Game 7 to the San Jose Sharks still was fresh, and he and his teammates were at Joe Louis Arena for locker cleanout day and to pose for the 2011 team photo, which made it hurt even worse.

Zetterberg also was staring at another long summer that provided ample time for training and stewing about coming up short in Detroit's annual Stanley Cup quest. In some ways, the time off was refreshing, but in other ways, it dragged.

Last loss to Lightning still stings Hurricanes

Friday, 10.07.2011 / 2:40 PM / 2011 NHL Face-Off

Kurt Dusterberg - Correspondent

RALEIGH, N.C. -- There's one thing the Carolina Hurricanes and Tampa Bay Lightning can count on before the first game of the season: The emotional tank is full.

"There's something on this one -- opening night," Carolina coach Paul Maurice said. "You want to get on that good feeling, that good roll."

For the Hurricanes, there is a little extra itch to get the season started. Their 2010-11 season ended with a 6-2 home loss to Tampa Bay, a game the Hurricanes needed in order to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs. So on top of Friday's home crowd and the divisional matchup, there is an element of payback in the air after a long summer.

Babcock proud of former assistant MacLean

Friday, 10.07.2011 / 2:27 PM / 2011 NHL Face-Off

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

DETROIT -- The way Mike Babcock sees it, the more assistant coaches that he can help move into head coaching positions, the better.

Babcock, the coach of the Detroit Red Wings, already has seen former assistant Todd McLellan succeed as the coach of the San Jose Sharks. In fact, McLellan has knocked Babcock's Wings out of the last two Stanley Cup Playoffs in the Western Conference semifinals.

Stars look to start Gulutzan era in winning fashion

Friday, 10.07.2011 / 2:27 PM / 2011 NHL Face-Off

Steve Hunt - Correspondent

DALLAS -- Since arriving in Texas in 1993, the Dallas Stars generally have been solid on opening night, posting a 9-2-6 record. But Friday's game against Chicago isn't just about the start of a new season; the matchup with the Blackhawks also signifies the beginning of the Glen Gulutzan era as the club's coach.

"I've got family down. Mom and Dad are here, so it's going to be a little bit special, for sure," Gulutzan said after Friday's morning skate. "I'm ready."

Stars center Steve Ott likes where his team is headed under new leadership, adding there is a different vibe surrounding the club heading into this season than there was last season under Marc Crawford.

Winnipeg Face-Off party starts memorable weekend

Friday, 10.07.2011 / 12:13 PM / 2011 NHL Face-Off

Patrick Williams - Correspondent

WINNIPEG -- While Winnipeg Jets coach Claude Noel sat Thursday in a quiet place to scout the Montreal Canadiens' game against the Toronto Maple Leafs, much of the rest of the city watched it in a decidedly different setting.

Crowds packed The Forks, Winnipeg's principal gathering spot set along the Red River, for the 2011 Molson Canadian NHL Face-Off. The event attracted a wide mix of families, couples and young adults. The Jets' new logo adorned all varieties of apparel. Vintage Winnipeg hockey jerseys -- as well as other NHL jerseys -- could be spotted throughout the crowd, as well. All 30 NHL clubs had flags adorning a nearby parking garage.

Bruins raise banner before starting new season

Thursday, 10.06.2011 / 7:55 PM / 2011 NHL Face-Off

Matt Kalman - Correspondent

BOSTON -- Mark Recchi will always remember his last time on NHL ice as a member of the Boston Bruins.

The future Hall of Famer not only got to put on the classic home uniform of the Original Six franchise Thursday night during the Bruins' pregame ceremony to raise their 2011 Stanley Cup championship banner, he also got to put on "The Jacket."

Defenseman Andrew Ference picked up an ‘80s-styled Bruins windbreaker on eBay midway through last season -- and all the way through the Game 7 win in the Cup Final, the Bruins passed the ratty old coat to the outstanding player in that particular night's game.

Isles' leadership group a mix of veterans, youth

Thursday, 10.06.2011 / 3:57 PM / 2011 NHL Face-Off

Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Last season, the New York Islanders were a group that was decimated by injuries before even playing their first game.
They played much of the 2010-11 season without their captain, Doug Weight, and all of it without alternate Mark Streit. Younger players were forced to take on leadership roles perhaps before they were ready.
That's why Isles GM Garth Snow went out of his way this offseason to sprinkle in more veterans who were not only capable of accepting leadership roles, but ones who relish them.
"I think we've got a good mix," coach Jack Capuano said at the Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum on Thursday, just moments after naming Brian Rolston, Steve Staios, Kyle Okposo and John Tavares alternate captains. "You don't want to talk about last year too much, but when we did lose Eats and Motts (Mark Eaton and Mike Mottau) and Dougie (Weight) to injury, it gave other guys a chance to step up leadership wise. I love the mix that we have right now with our youth and our veteran guys."
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