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Wild counting on improved power play, Dubnyk repeat

Tuesday, 09.29.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015-2016 Season Preview

Dan Myers - Correspondent continues its preview of the 2015-16 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams.

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Not much changed in the offseason for the Minnesota Wild, who will attempt to reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the fourth consecutive season in 2015-16.

The front office likely wasn't inclined to make many moves after the Wild were one of the NHL's best teams over the final two months of the 2014-15 regular season.

Minnesota is counting on several young players to take another step in their development so it can move past the Western Conference Second Round of the playoffs for the first time since 2003.

"There are a lot of good young players in the organization, and I think it shows," defenseman Ryan Suter said. "I think they've done a good job. They can make plays and they are fun to watch."

Red Wings expect to make playoffs again with Blashill

Tuesday, 09.29.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015-2016 Season Preview

Paul Harris - Correspondent continues its preview of the 2015-16 season, which will include in-depth looks at all 30 teams.

DETROIT -- A new coach and two key free agent additions will attempt to help the Detroit Red Wings to their 25th consecutive appearance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs this season.

Jeff Blashill takes over as coach, replacing Mike Babcock, who left in May for the same job with the Toronto Maple Leafs. Blashill coached Detroit's American Hockey League affiliate in Grand Rapids the past three seasons.

The Red Wings also signed free agents Mike Green and Brad Richards on July 1.

Green, who signed a three-year contract reportedly worth $18 million, is the offensive-minded defenseman with a right-handed shot Detroit has lacked for so long.

Suter says Wild are close to Stanley Cup contention

Tuesday, 09.29.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015-2016 Season Preview

Mike Brophy - Correspondent

TORONTO -- Don't be fooled by that early exit from the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Defenseman Ryan Suter is convinced his Minnesota Wild are close -- really close -- to being legitimate Stanley Cup contenders.

"Hopefully that's the case," Suter said this week.

Suter's reason for the upbeat take on the Wild's chances of winning a championship comes from the fact they were eliminated by the eventual Stanley Cup in two of the past three seasons. In fact, the Chicago Blackhawks have sent the Wild packing in each of the past three seasons, but in 2013-14 Chicago lost the Western Conference Final.

Healthy Zucker, developing Dumba are Wild X-factors

Tuesday, 09.29.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015-2016 Season Preview

Dan Myers - Correspondent

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- In order for the Minnesota Wild to advance in the Stanley Cup Playoffs past the Western Conference Second Round and conquer the Chicago Blackhawks, who have eliminated them in each of the past three postseasons, it will require career seasons from their young forwards, the continued development of youth on the blue line, and perhaps a rebound campaign from a veteran or two.

Here are the X-factors that may decide whether the Wild can take the next step:

Red Wings' Tatar hopes to build off breakout season

Tuesday, 09.29.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015-2016 Season Preview

Mike Brophy - Correspondent

TORONTO -- On paper, it may look to some as though Detroit Red Wings forward Tomas Tatar took a while to reach the NHL.

He spent the better part of four seasons playing with the Grand Rapids Griffins in the American Hockey League before graduating full-time to the Red Wings in 2013-14.

The Red Wings, however, do not view it that way. They believe their leading goal-scorer from last season arrived on schedule and fully prepared to play in the NHL.

"His junior rights were owned by Plymouth of the Ontario Hockey League and we had conversations about having him play with Tyler Seguin in Plymouth or playing in the AHL," general manager Ken Holland said. "He didn't know a lot about junior hockey and really wanted to play pro. We said come on over and we'll see how it goes. He stayed the entire year in the AHL and held his own."

NHL officials work with locals at Kraft Hockeyville

Monday, 09.28.2015 / 9:43 PM / 2015 Kraft Hockeyville

Kristen Nelson - Staff Writer

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. -- Four NHL officials went back to basics Monday, re-examining what makes a good referee.

Before they drop the puck for the preseason game between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning on Tuesday (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN), the veteran officials worked with about a dozen amateur referees from the Johnstown area.

As part of the Kraft Hockeyville USA celebrations, the officials came into Johnstown a day early to run a clinic in the newly improved Cambria County War Memorial, which recently underwent $150,000 worth of renovations.

"The building looks much brighter than I remember, the new seats, it all looks great," official Ian Walsh said. "I've had a lot of great experiences here in Johnstown, so it's great to come back."

Carlsons celebrate spirit of 'Slap Shot' at Hockeyville

Monday, 09.28.2015 / 5:33 PM / 2015 Kraft Hockeyville

David Satriano - Staff Writer

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. -- The city of Johnstown, Pa., is synonymous with the film "Slap Shot."

Based on brothers Jeff Carlson, Steve Carlson and Jack Carlson, who played here for the Johnstown Jets in the mid-1970s, parts of "Slap Shot" were filmed at Cambria County War Memorial Arena and around town, with Jeff and Steve, and David Hanson, in the film making up the Hanson brothers.

So when Johnstown submitted its application for Kraft Hockeyville USA, it's not surprising that Hanson and the Carlsons were front and center.

"We really felt moved to try and help the effort," said Hanson, who played Jack Hanson in the movie. "We did that and of course the history of Johnstown before and after the Hanson brothers is pretty great. It's pretty good to be a part of it.

USA Hockey coach thrilled to run Hockeyville clinic

Monday, 09.28.2015 / 1:00 PM / 2015 Kraft Hockeyville

David Satriano - Staff Writer

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. -- Roger Grillo knows a thing or two about developing young hockey players into NHL stars.

Grillo, who has coached high school and college hockey for more than 20 years, was the coach at Brown University from 1997-2009 and an assistant with Vermont from 1990-97. During his time at Vermont he coached two future Stanley Cup winners in forward Martin St. Louis and goalie Tim Thomas.

"Marty and Tim were both a real treat and pleasure to coach," said Grillo, a regional manager for the American Development Model with USA Hockey who was at Cambria County War Memorial Arena here Sunday to run a clinic for kids. "Both were very high-end, talented players who helped those teams at Vermont have a ton of success. To see both of them do what they did in NHL was a real thrill."

National passion made Hockeyville a win in U.S.

Monday, 09.28.2015 / 10:00 AM / 2015 Kraft Hockeyville

David Satriano - Fantasy Staff Writer

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. -- For nine years Kraft Hockeyville allowed Canadian cities to host an NHL preseason game and win money to upgrade their arenas; 2015 marked the first time the event also came to the United States.

The inaugural winner of the title of Kraft Hockeyville USA went to Johnstown, Pa., which held events this past weekend, including skating clinics for children at Cambria County War Memorial Arena with former NHL players and a FanFest at a local park with the Stanley Cup. The main event will be Tuesday, when the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning play at the arena (7 p.m. ET; NBCSN), which received upgrades to the lights, sound system, boards and scoreboard with some of the $150,000 that went to the winning city.

"Kraft Hockeyville has been a success in Canada for the last nine years. It was something that the NHL was an integral partner with us saying, 'Why don't we try and bring it to the U.S. market?' What it is is a hockey program, and more importantly it's a community program and it allows communities to show their passion for the sport of hockey," Julian Franklin, Director of Consumer Relations and Brand Activation for Kraft, said Sunday.

Johnstown legend calls Hockeyville defining moment

Monday, 09.28.2015 / 9:00 AM / 2015 Kraft Hockeyville

David Satriano - Staff Writer

JOHNSTOWN, Pa. -- It was fitting Don Hall was the first person to step onto the ice at Cambria War Memorial Arena since the city was named the winner of Kraft Hockeyville USA.

Hall is a legend in Johnstown and has been for more than 60 years. He played for the Johnstown Jets of the Eastern Hockey League for 11 seasons from 1950-1962 and had 424 goals and 1,056 points. When Hall retired, he was the all-time leading scorer in organized hockey. So when Johnstown was announced as the winner, Hall was front and center.

The city was awarded a preseason game to be played Tuesday between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Tampa Bay Lightning (7 p.m. ET, NBCSN) and received $150,000 for arena upgrades.

"I was very excited. I'm a big Penguins fan and Eddie Johnston who played in the NHL, he and I are good friends," Hall said on Sunday after he put on the skates and was in a chair being escorted around the "Kraft Hockeyville" logo at center ice, his skates the first markings in the ice. "I know a lot of the Penguins and it's very exciting for me. I was here when they made the announcement and the crowd was very excited. The building was excited. It's the most incredible thing that's ever happened in Johnstown since the flood (of 1889). And that's not counting 'Slap Shot.'

"When 'Slap Shot' came (to film) in 1976, everyone got into it. It was a big affair. This is much bigger. This is our celebration."

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Quote of the Day

Well, for me this one's concerning, the way we performed. Because three games in, playing a desperate team on the road, I was expecting something else than this. Right now, I'm just disappointed. The other games, I thought we did some things that you can build off your game. There wasn't a lot accomplished in tonight's game.

— Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards after a 4-2 loss to the Sabres on Monday dropped Columbus to 0-3-0
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