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Hockey Weekend Across America

Fotiu impressed by growth of New York-area hockey

Sunday, 02.17.2013 / 2:50 PM / Hockey Weekend Across America

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

Participating in a free hockey clinic with dozens of area children in New York's Central Park, former NHL player Nick Fotiu can't help but smile. Growing up in nearby Staten Island, NY, he never had anything like this.

When young Nick Fotiu wanted to play hockey growing up in New York, he and his friends opened up a neighborhood fire hydrant to flood a lot and create a makeshift rink. No, it was not legal.

Since becoming the first New York-born player to play for the Rangers in 1976, Fotiu has been an active participant in the area's hockey community, primarily through his work with Rangers alumni and USA Hockey.

"It's a real thrill for me to come out here. At Rockefeller Center or Central Park, wherever," said the 60-year-old Fotiu. "Being with the kids is what it's all about. I tell them, it's not only hockey that makes it fun. It's the jokes you play. It's all part of the game."

The game of hockey has grown tremendously in the tri-state area since Fotiu first came into the League. Whereas Fotiu was something of a novelty through parts of his NHL career, the sport has since been flooded by players from the region.

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Central Park gives perfect backdrop for Hockey Day

Sunday, 02.17.2013 / 2:27 PM / Hockey Weekend Across America

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

Kicking off a national day of celebration, the National Hockey League, USA Hockey and the New York Rangers all descended on the fabled Trump Rink in historic Central Park to provide a picturesque hub for Hockey Day in America.

The rink did not just provide an outdoor studio for NBC and NBC Sports Network, who together are broadcasting an NHL triple-header as part of the Hockey Day in America festivities. The park also hosted one of the countless grassroots hockey events taking place across the country.

Split squarely down the middle, Trump Rink hosted a day-long open public skate side-by-side with a youth hockey clinic overseen by USA Hockey and featuring former Rangers like Ron Duguay, Nick Fotiu, Dan Blackburn and Ron Greschner.

"USA Hockey gets the kids involved. And what a great place to get involved, Central Park in New York City," said Fotiu, who became the first New York-born Rangers player in 1976. "I help out and we make it a little more fun. That's what hockey is about. Having fun."

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'Hockey Day' Q&A with Stan Mikita

Sunday, 02.20.2011 / 5:41 PM / Hockey Weekend Across America

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Former Chicago Blackhawks legend Stan Mikita didn't stand out among those at Sunday's "Hockey Day in America" celebration at Millenium Park merely because of his stature in the Windy City.

"Good thing they didn't ask for the birth certificates until halfway through the year. We'd already been playing with them." -- Stan Mikita

He also stood out because underneath his dark coat was a loud red, white and blue cotton sweater with "U.S.A" embroidered diagonally across the front.

"I'm wearing this one, because I couldn't find one that said, 'Hockey in the U.S.A,'" Mikita quipped. "I've had this for years and years, and just didn't quite have the time or opportunity to wear it anywhere. Today was a day that I could."

So, he did while welcoming fellow die-hard American hockey fans to Sunday's celebration -- despite the wet, cold conditions. In between public appearances, Mikita wandered into the makeshift media room at Millenium Park's Park Grille restaurant and wound up in a conversation with an NHL.com reporter.
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Brown adds musical element to "Hockey Weekend"

Friday, 02.18.2011 / 9:38 PM / Hockey Weekend Across America

NHL.com

Turns out Ayla Brown is an ideal performer to help fill the "Hockey Weekend Across America" gap between Friday's nationwide callout to wear hockey jerseys to work and Sunday's unprecedented day of NHL games televised on NBC (a regional tripleheader starting at noon ET, followed by Pittsburgh at Chicago at 3:30 p.m. ET). Brown will sing the national anthem at the University of Maine at University of Massachusetts-Lowell NCAA game Saturday night, then debut some of her newest music during intermission.

Here's why Brown is so perfect for the Hockey USA celebration: She was one of 24 semifinalists on "American Idol" during 2005-06. Her inspiration as a singer started at roughly age 3 when she started belting out Disney movie tunes.  She played four years of Division I basketball for Boston College after twice earning Massachusetts Player of the Year honors during her high school career.
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USA Hockey to promote new youth development

Thursday, 02.17.2011 / 4:45 PM / Hockey Weekend Across America

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

"We view this as a revolutionary model. USA Hockey developed a proven system for developing young athletes. The ADM will have the effect of increasing player participation, creating a positive environment for children to learn and play hockey without being so structured that we're choking kids off before they can really develop their skills to a level that would make them even better players." -- Gary Bettman

Watch it. Play it. Live it.

That's the message NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman reiterated in his opening remarks during a media conference call Thursday when defining Hockey Weekend Across America.

The nationwide initiative, created by USA Hockey in 2008 to engage the hockey community in celebrating hockey at all levels and exposing the sport to new fans, is slated for this weekend.

"Watch it … we're on pace to attract more than 20 million fans to our arenas for the 10th consecutive season and 22 of our clubs are even with or ahead of last season's attendance while television viewership numbers are increasingly strong," Bettman said. "Play it … the number of American players age 8 and under has surpassed 100,000, and that's a huge accomplishment and paints an extraordinarily bright picture for the future of our game.
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Growth of sport in USA epitomized by New York

Thursday, 02.17.2011 / 9:00 AM / Hockey Weekend Across America

John Manasso - NHL.com Correspondent

"What we're seeing is just more and more of a core of pretty solid players coming out of New York. There is a good-to-deep impact in the game. The numbers are clearly are up and the impact of those players is clear"
-- Jim Johannson, USA Hockey's assistant executive director of hockey operations

Ike Bogosian played college football. So did his brother.

His son, Zach, however, growing up in the small town of Massena, N.Y., just a few miles from the Canadian border, would never play a down in his life, passing up the family passion.

"Never even put football pads on in my life," Zach says.

Instead, Zach -- with the size, strength and speed of a linebacker -- became the No. 3 pick in the 2008 Entry Draft. While hockey still has to battle for interest with football, baseball and basketball in the Empire State, there is no doubt that the number and quality of hockey players from New York is on the rise. 
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USA Hockey hopes for boost from signature day

Wednesday, 02.16.2011 / 5:23 PM / Hockey Weekend Across America

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Hockey fans across the United States will get the royal treatment from NBC on Sunday with the network scheduled to televise three regional games and one national game while interspersing numerous grassroots hockey stories during six hours of afternoon coverage.

USA Hockey expects to reap huge benefits from NBC's unprecedented exposure for Hockey Day in America presented by McDonald's.

"NBC's relationship with the National Hockey League is to our benefit to such a great degree," USA Hockey Executive Director Dave Ogrean told NHL.com Wednesday. "What NBC is going to do this weekend specifically in focusing on hockey in all of its forms across the United States on Sunday is just going to be invaluable. It's a great spotlight on our game and a great culmination to our Hockey Weekend Across America celebration."

Ogrean hopes the coverage draws particularly strong ratings in the southern markets such as Atlanta, Florida, Nashville, Phoenix, Dallas, California and the Carolinas. The teams from those areas are all off Sunday, but the televisions should be on because more and more of the "non-traditional" hockey population is picking up the game in massive numbers.
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Early mornings shaped Greene's hockey career

Wednesday, 02.16.2011 / 4:37 PM / Hockey Weekend Across America

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- New Jersey Devils defenseman Andy Greene can recall the good old days when getting up early meant freezing your tail off.
 
"It's 5 a.m. and you're dead tired and still trying to wake up for Mites practice," Greene told NHL.com. "It's so cold outside ... that's what you remember most. Your hands and feet are numb because the rink is so cold that early in the morning."
 
Occasionally after a good workout, Greene would be treated to a good breakfast in downtown Trenton, Mich., by his father, Dave.
 
"You feel great because there's only 15 or 20 other people there with you and you have all your friends and then going to breakfast with dad was cool," he recalled. "All the kids enjoyed it so much. It was one of those things that we did once or twice a month, but I always kind of wished it would occur every weekend. It was such a fun experience."
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Medals expected, not hoped for USA

Tuesday, 02.15.2011 / 3:51 PM / Hockey Weekend Across America

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

"Absolutely, without a doubt, we expect to medal each tournament." -- Jim Johannson, USA Hockey assistant director of hockey operations

While there's certainly no guarantee of earning a medal at every international tournament the United States has the privilege to participate in, don't think for a second that management, players and coaches are satisfied coming home empty-handed.

It's actually been a rarity in recent years as USA Hockey continues to thrive and prosper.

The U.S. National Junior Team earned consecutive medals in the World Junior Championship for the first time in tournament history after defeating Sweden in the bronze-medal game in Buffalo in January. The team won the gold medal last year in Saskatoon, Sask., and now has won seven medals at the elite international under-20 tournament -- four of them coming in the last eight years.
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USA Hockey's NTDP model has proven its worth

Monday, 02.14.2011 / 5:07 PM / Hockey Weekend Across America

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

When USA Hockey hired Jeff Jackson in 1996 to coach its national teams, he came armed with a proposal that would bring the country's elite junior-age players to one location and create a year-round development program.

Today, the United States National Team Development Program is considered a top model for developing future NHL stars.

"It was trying to build some loyalty to USA Hockey, some passion in playing for the country, which I think was there but I don't think there was a depth to it that's developed from the program and that's what they were looking for," NTDP Director of Operations Scott Monaghan, who has been with the program since the beginning, told NHL.com.
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I was in there icing my face as she was trying to push a baby out.

— Anaheim Ducks forward Ryan Getzlaf on going to the hospital with a facial laceration while his wife was in labor following Game 1 on Wednesday