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NHL Insider

Spezza says Stars improved by adding 'great pedigree'

Saturday, 08.29.2015 / 5:07 PM / NHL Insider

Dallas Stars center Jason Spezza was excited to see the acquisitions of forward Patrick Sharp, defenseman Johnny Oduya and goaltender Antti Niemi, knowing their skill and experience could help the Stars reach the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

A year ago, the talk was that Spezza's arrival in Dallas after a trade with the Ottawa Senators was supposed to help the Stars advance past the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 2008. Instead they missed the postseason for the sixth time in seven seasons.

Spezza said this week he hopes the players from last season learned a few things that will help them in this one.

Coyotes forward Domi: 'I just want to make the team'

Saturday, 08.29.2015 / 4:30 PM / NHL Insider

Arizona Coyotes forward Max Domi, preparing for his third NHL training camp, has learned to set his priorities.

"I just want to make the team," Domi told the Coyotes website this week. "I'm not looking too far ahead. There's a lot of young guys here that are trying to come in and earn a spot too."

Domi, the 12th pick of the 2013 NHL Draft, was one of the final players cut by the Coyotes the past two seasons.

Boychuk expects Islanders to go on playoff run

Friday, 08.28.2015 / 7:15 PM / NHL Insider

Derek Van Diest - Correspondent

EDMONTON -- Johnny Boychuk admits he was pleasantly surprised with his first season with the New York Islanders.

The veteran defenseman wasn't sure what to expect after being traded to the Islanders from the Boston Bruins on Oct. 4, six days before the 2014-2015 NHL season began.

Boychuk, 31, was so pleased by his experience with the Islanders, he agreed to a seven-year contract extension reportedly worth $42 million on March 12, opting not to test free agency in the summer.

"I had no idea what it was going to be like when I first got there," Boychuk said this week after attending Perry Pearn's 3-on-3 Hockey Camp in Edmonton. "I knew when I got traded, I was going to a younger team on [Long Island]. You look at it, and I'm one of the oldest guys on the team, I guess. I went there, and they used me a lot. It was a positive environment, and the coaches were great. Even though we had a lot of youth there, they worked extremely hard and they build into a good, strong, physical team."

Bill Torrey, Denis Potvin recall time with Al Arbour

Friday, 08.28.2015 / 5:15 PM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - Managing Editor

Bill Torrey had to work hard to convince Al Arbour that he'd be the right man to coach the second-year New York Islanders.

Once he did, it turned into a marriage made in hockey heaven.

"We had a very special relationship, one I never regretted for a day," Torrey said of Arbour, who died Friday at age 82 in Sarasota, Fla. "Al Arbour was a special person. He was a special man. He was a great family man. He was a great hockey man. Outside of his family, nothing was more important to him than his players and his team."

Torrey, New York's general manager, needed all of his powers of persuasion to get Arbour to take over as coach after the expansion Islanders set NHL records for fewest points (30) and victories (12) in 1972-73.

It wasn't easy.

Colleagues, proteges remember Arbour's influence

Friday, 08.28.2015 / 4:00 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor

The hockey world lost a true legend on Friday when former New York Islanders coach Al Arbour passed away at the age of 82.

Arbour, who won the Stanley Cup four times as a player (Detroit Red Wings in 1954, Chicago Blackhawks in 1961 and the Toronto Maple Leafs in 1962 and 1964), guided the Islanders to 19 consecutive series victories in the Stanley Cup Playoffs from 1980-84 and four straight championships (1980-83).

Here are reflections from some of the people Arbour impacted over the course of his career:

Arbour timeline highlighted by Islanders dynasty

Friday, 08.28.2015 / 2:22 PM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - Managing Editor

A timeline of the life of Hockey Hall of Fame member Al Arbour, who died Friday at age 82.

Nov. 1, 1932: Born in Sudbury, Ontario

1953-54: Makes his NHL debut when he was called up to the Detroit Red Wings. Arbour has one assist in 36 regular-season games; however, he does not play in Detroit's run to the Stanley Cup.

1955-56: After two seasons in the minor leagues, Arbour is recalled and has one assist in four Stanley Cup Playoff games for Detroit.

1957-58: He plays a full NHL season for the first time, finishing with one goal, seven points and 104 penalty minutes in 69 games for the Red Wings.

1958-59: After being claimed by the Chicago Blackhawks in the intra-league draft, Arbour plays all 70 games, finishing with two goals and 12 points.

Penguins' Plotnikov adjusting to life in North America

Friday, 08.28.2015 / 12:02 PM / NHL Insider

Pittsburgh Penguins rookie forward Sergei Plotnikov feels at home when he's on the ice. Everything else is an adjustment.

The 25-year-old Russian signed with the Penguins on July 1 after playing six seasons in the Kontinental Hockey League. He arrived in Pittsburgh on Aug. 16 and is trying to get used to life in North America, on and off the ice.

That starts with the language; he doesn't speak English, though he's trying to learn.

"Most of the time I spend at the rink and around the area," Plotnikov told the Penguins website Thursday through a translator. "I'm trying to learn as quickly as possible. Right now I'm trying to find a place to live and adjust myself."

Oilers' Yakupov aims to build on late-season success

Friday, 08.28.2015 / 9:16 AM / NHL Insider

Derek Van Diest - Correspondent

EDMONTON -- Edmonton Oilers right wing Nail Yakupov is hoping a strong finish to 2014-15 carries over into this season.

Yakupov excelled after Edmonton made a coaching change Dec. 15, replacing Dallas Eakins with Todd Nelson, and showed the attributes that made him the No. 1 pick of the 2012 NHL Draft.

"It's good to finish the season pretty well," Yakupov said this week during Perry Pearn's 3-on-3 Hockey Camp in Edmonton. "I was really excited to play hockey again and to come to the rink every day. I was really excited about that and I'm glad I was able to get back on track. I was also happy to be asked to play in the [2015 IIHF] World Championship at the end of the year, even though I couldn't play because [of an injured hip]."

Yakupov scored 14 goals and established NHL career highs with 19 assists and 33 points in 81 games last season. He had four goals and four assists in 31 games playing for Eakins, then had 10 goals and had 15 assists in 50 games under Nelson.

Hurricanes goalie Ward putting team ahead of contract

Friday, 08.28.2015 / 8:14 AM / NHL Insider

Sean McCullen - Staff Writer

Carolina Hurricanes goaltender Cam Ward said Thursday he wants a new contract, but the top priority for the 31-year-old entering training camp is helping his team win as many games as possible this season.

"I'm just kind of going about my business and making sure that I'm ready to go," said Ward, who is entering the final season of the six-year, $37.8 million contract he signed in September 2009. "Obviously it's no secret that I love playing here and this is where I want to be. Yeah, in a perfect world it'd be great to have something done. But there's no pressure. Obviously I need to prepare myself and go out there and have a great year, not only for myself but for the Hurricanes. It's about the team first."

Ward is 246-191-58 in 512 regular-season games in10 NHL seasons, all with the Hurricanes.

Blue Jackets want leadership from Cup-winner Saad

Monday, 08.24.2015 / 12:11 PM / NHL Insider

The Columbus Blue Jackets are expecting plenty of offense from forward Brandon Saad, who was acquired from the Chicago Blackhawks on June 30 and is likely get a chance to play on the first line.

But coach Todd Richards said Monday that he expects the two-time Stanley Cup winner, who's 22, to provide leadership in the dressing room as well.

"I just want him to come in here and be Brandon Saad, first and foremost," Richards told the Blue Jackets website. "There are things he can add to this team on the ice in game situations and practice, but there's also a lot he can bring to our room. A winning attitude, confidence, knowing that you've won and know what it takes. There will be some leadership there.

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Life's about opportunity and how you respond to that opportunity, and obviously he must have some swagger about him, some confidence about him, because he was solid. He made some good saves. He was 6-foot-3 on every shot, which is a good thing for a goalie. He played well. We got a win.

— Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock on rookie goaltender Garret Sparks, who made 24 saves in his first NHL start, a 3-0 win vs. Oilers
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