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NHL Insider

Muller's rise in coaching ranks about accountability

Wednesday, 10.24.2012 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

To understand what Carolina Hurricanes coach Kirk Muller is all about, you apparently need to know only one word:

Accountability.

* It's what Carolina general manager Jim Rutherford said he saw from his team last season after Muller took over and led the Hurricanes to a 25-20-12 record, including 20-12-10 after Jan. 1.

* It's the word New Jersey Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello used when he was asked to describe Muller's best attribute -- both as a player and from what he's seen from him as a coach.

* It's how former Devils defenseman Ken Daneyko described Muller's captaincy in New Jersey from 1987-91.

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Wrestler Piper owes plenty to Cup-winner Connor

Saturday, 10.20.2012 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

In 1969, two tough 15-year-old Winnipeg boys got into a tussle. That's how it started.

Aspiring boxer Rod Toombs handled the larger Cam Connor, sparking an enduring friendship that has lasted more than four decades. It wasn't the last fight for either kid.

Connor eventually was a first-round pick of the NHL and the World Hockey Association. In a pro career that lasted 10 seasons, he won a Stanley Cup with the 1979 Montreal Canadiens and totaled more than 1,000 penalty minutes.

Toombs adopted the moniker "Rowdy" Roddy Piper and became a pro wrestling icon.

Former NHL player Cam Connor and wrestling star "Rowdy" Roddy Piper are still buddies long after growing up and scrapping together in Winnipeg. (Photos: Getty / Rebecca Taylor ( MSG Photos)

"I whupped him and we became friends," Piper told NHL.com. "He was the only friend from my childhood. I love him. He's the only guy I keep in touch with."

The pair spent countless hours at the gym working out and engaging in dozens of wrestling matches. Even back then, the future Roddy Piper didn't like to lose at wrestling. Piper was navigating numerous wrestling circuits when his best friend was selected by the Phoenix Roadrunners with the fourth pick in the 1974 WHA Draft.

From there, Connor quickly established himself as one of hockey's toughest players. In his second season with Phoenix, he had 18 goals and 295 penalty minutes in 73 games.

Just as Connor's hockey career was winding down, "Rowdy" Roddy was becoming a worldwide phenomenon. His hockey-playing pal was there every step of the way.

"We became good buddies," said Connor, who retired in 1984 and has worked for the past 18 years as a computer consultant. "We hitchhiked to Toronto together. I was with him his first day he got into wrestling at a local circuit in Winnipeg. He fought all over the world and had me come and meet him. I was there when he fought Mr. T. I was in the fifth row sitting there with Billy Crystal."

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NHL joins millions in 'going purple' for Spirit Day

Friday, 10.19.2012 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

NHL.com

On Friday, Oct. 19, the National Hockey League will join millions of Americans in "going purple" for Spirit Day, to stand out against bullying and support lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth. In the observance of Spirit Day, the League is joining the social campaign to promote awareness of the challenges faced in the LGBT community.

The effort to "go purple" started in 2010 as a response to the young people who had committed suicide in response to extreme bullying. Last year, millions of Americans donned the color to show their support for the cause, including Ellen DeGeneres, Goldie Hawn, Conan O'Brien, and the casts of several TV shows, including "Good Morning America" and "Jersey Shore." This year's official Spirit Day ambassadors include basketball great Shaquille O'Neal, TV personality Maria Menounos, and actor George Takei.

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Girls' Hockey Weekend proves success around globe

Tuesday, 10.16.2012 / 2:24 PM / NHL Insider

Deborah Francisco - NHL.com Staff Writer

The International Ice Hockey Federation is still tallying the numbers from the second World Girls' Ice Hockey Weekend, which took place Oct. 13-14 in countries all around the globe. But the single goal of raising awareness for female hockey was accomplished as hundreds of events in 30 countries took place.

"Not everybody buys into female hockey, but more people are, and this just brought up the awareness of female hockey in a lot of areas," Hockey Canada Director of Female Hockey Joanne Hughes told NHL.com. "It's increasing the profile of female hockey tremendously."

While women's hockey is one of the fastest-growing sports worldwide, it's still unrecognized in many countries and many cities struggle to put together just one female team or league.

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Girls' Hockey Weekend growing showcase for sport

Friday, 10.12.2012 / 8:31 PM / NHL Insider

Deborah Francisco - NHL.com Staff Writer

When Tanya Foley, the women's program manager for the International Ice Hockey Federation, first contacted a group of 14 world hockey leaders in 2011 to gauge interest in a girls' event, she had no idea how popular it would become in just two years.

"It was really funny because we started looking at doing it late-summer last year," Foley told NHL.com, "I decided to just throw this out there and see what kind of response we got. I expected nothing, and we had 20 nations sign up right away."

Foley's idea was to take what Hockey Canada and USA Hockey were already doing with Esso Fun Days in Canada and Hockey Weekend Across America, as well as similar programs in Finland, and turn them into an international endeavor to recruit girls to the game.

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Years later, former Knicks and Rangers maintain bond

Friday, 10.12.2012 / 1:40 PM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

Any office environment can benefit from a cooperative workplace in which everyone gets along. If that workplace happens to be an arena housing both an NHL and NBA franchise, then winning sure doesn't hurt.

NHL INSIDER

NYR moments part of MSG retrospective

By Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer
When Madison Square Garden opens its doors following its final round of renovations in November, the redone concourse will include a visual retrospective including great moments in Rangers history. READ MORE ›

During Madison Square Garden's historic spring in 1994, a winning spirit helped to establish a strong bond between Knicks and Rangers players. With both teams enjoying recent success following prolonged playoff droughts, those relationships have been rekindled.

"It's a close-knit family. We have our training center up in Westchester and because both teams live under the same roof there as well as down in the city at the Garden, it's one big family," said Adam Graves, who played 10 seasons with the Rangers and now works in the team's Prospect Development and Community Relations departments. "It's great they're friends. That's where it's special."

The keystone of that relationship was the epic spring of 1994, which saw the Rangers win their first Stanley Cup in 54 years and the Knicks come within one victory of the NBA title. In their respective playoff runs, the two teams crossed paths countless times at the Garden and developed a respect for one another that remains strong almost 20 years later.

"[Knicks] coach [Pat] Riley made sure we were a family. That's the way he was brought up. He came from a big family and he brought that with him. He made sure we all appreciated one another and respected one another and fought hard for one another," said John Starks, a longtime Knicks guard who now serves as the team's adviser for alumni relations and fan development. "With the Rangers, it was the same exact thing. Playing six, seven months together, you develop a close bond. The Rangers were no different than the Knicks. Those guys fought hard for one another and they protected one another."

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Great Rangers moments part of Garden retrospective

Thursday, 10.11.2012 / 4:01 PM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

Since 1879, Madison Square Garden has moved three times and undergone countless renovations, including the final stage of its current facelift, which is scheduled to be completed next month. Through all those changes, the hallowed arena has hosted every conceivable event and some of the most enduring moments in sports and entertainment, earning a reputation as the world's most famous arena.

On Thursday in Manhattan's Madison Square Park, the site of the original Madison Square Garden, some of the people involved in those historic moments came together to mark the opening of a new exhibit commemorating the venue's incredible legacy. They included New York Rangers greats Mark Messier and Brian Leetch, Knicks legends Walt Frazier and John Starks, trailblazing rappers DMC of Run DMC and Mike D of Beastie Boys, boxer Bernard Hopkins, and even former New York governor Mario Cuomo.

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Davidson looking for challenge from next job

Saturday, 10.06.2012 / 3:59 PM / NHL Insider

NHL.com

John Davidson has one plan for his future.

"If the phone rings, I'll answer it," Davidson told the Bellevue News-Democrat on Friday, after his parting ways with the St. Louis Blues was officially announced.

The Hall of Fame broadcaster turned successful front-office executive is back on the market after agreeing to a buyout of his contract as Blues president.

The 59-year-old, who reportedly interviewed with the Columbus Blue Jackets after Tom Stillman's purchase of the Blues became official in May, said he has no intention to retire.

"I want a challenge," Davidson told the Columbus Dispatch. "I'm interested in hearing what might be out there. There's lot of energy in this old broken-down body."

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Shining a light on some lesser-known NHL records

Wednesday, 10.03.2012 / 12:37 PM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

You don't have to be a hockey whiz to know that Wayne Gretzky holds a bushel of NHL records, including most goals (92) and points (215) in a season and in a career (894 goals, 2,857 points), or that the Montreal Canadiens have the most Stanley Cups (23 since the NHL was formed in 1917).

But there are a number of marks and standards that aren't nearly as well known -- and some of those, like the marks held by Gretzky and the Habs, figure to be around for a while.

Here are a few of the NHL's lesser-known records:

Best single-season power-play percentage: 1977-78 Montreal Canadiens

The 1970s and '80s were the golden days of power plays. It was not unusual to have multiple teams clicking at rates that would be unheard of today -- Nashville was tops in power-play percentage last season at 21.9, and no team in the last two decades has exceeded 26 percent.

The New York Islanders became the first team to convert on more than 30 percent of its power plays when they led the League with a 31.7-percent success rate in 1975-76. But that mark was topped two seasons later when the Montreal Canadiens turned 31.9 percent of their power-play chances into goals -- edging the Islanders, who converted at a 31.3-percent rate.

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Hitchcock to 'give back' with free coaching seminars

Monday, 10.01.2012 / 10:32 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock is planning to "give back" to a community of coaches who want to sign up for guidance from a Jack Adams Award winner.

Hitchcock is arranging three days of free seminars in St. Louis from Oct. 9-11 for area coaches at various levels ranging from travel to high school to house leagues. He said Thursday there were already 80 coaches signed up for the clinics that will take place at the St. Louis Mills Ice Zone, the Blues' practice facility.

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Quote of the Day

I'll be happy, believe me, if we win our last playoff game. Not taking anything away, but we've had a fairly good lead for a while now. It would be more surprising if we didn't get the division. Business as usual.

— Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau after clinching their third straight Pacific Division title