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NHL Insider

Mullen brothers followed unlikely road to NHL

Saturday, 11.03.2012 / 10:00 AM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

Hockey's greatest folk tales generally involve a frozen pond or suburban rink. They don't usually take place in the mean streets of New York City.

But a remarkable family work ethic and a chance meeting in 1965 with a coaching legend helped Joe and Brian Mullen write one of sport's great and least likely success stories.

"We were playing the Montreal Canadiens on a Sunday. It was about 4 o'clock. We were rebuilding and Montreal had a real powerhouse. I was going for a walk," said Emile Francis, who then served as the general manager and coach of the New York Rangers. "All of a sudden I saw these heads going by. I looked and here were these guys on roller skates. I had never seen anybody play hockey on roller skates in my life."

Among the kids playing roller hockey under the shadow of the old Madison Square Garden were the Mullens, a family of four brothers and a sister who grew up in a nearby apartment in the Hell's Kitchen neighborhood of Manhattan.

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Past helps Mullens relate to Sandy aftermath

Saturday, 11.03.2012 / 10:00 AM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

Three days after Hurricane Sandy devastated the Northeast, Hockey Hall of Famer and Philadelphia Flyers assistant coach Joe Mullen was happy to confirm that his family, which grew up in New York City and now lives in New Jersey, was safe.

Mullen felt fortunate that his family was OK, but expressed concern for the hardships being felt by so many in this region -- most notably in New Jersey and New York.

During Sandy, Mullen's younger brother Brian, who also played in the NHL, lost power in northern New Jersey, as did their mother. Brian's generator helped them both in the short term while another brother-in-law experienced firsthand the endless lines waiting to buy gasoline. But they're all safe and healthy, which is all Joe Mullen could hope for.

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The night Plante made goaltending history

Thursday, 11.01.2012 / 10:19 AM / NHL Insider

NHL.com Staff

At approximately 7:10 p.m. on Nov. 1, 1959, "just another game" turned into one of the landmark moments in NHL history.

The streaking, first-place Montreal Canadiens (8-2-3) were playing the struggling New York Rangers (2-7-2) at Madison Square Garden.

All-Star Jacques Plante, in goal for the Canadiens, was struck in the face with a shot by Rangers forward Andy Bathgate at 3:06 of the first period.

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Plimpton's tryout changed hockey, journalism

Saturday, 10.27.2012 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

By his own admission, writer George Plimpton wasn't much of a skater when he attended Boston Bruins training camp in 1977. But that may have been the least of his worries.

The amateur goaltender and father of "participatory journalism" also was almost 50 years old when he attended Bruins camp on assignment for Sports Illustrated. By then, the legendary writer had made a career of being out of his athletic element. Thanks to "Open Net," his classic book documenting the experience, his mark on the sport endures 35 years later.

Plimpton's first foray into pro sports was chronicled in "Out of My League," which details his attempt in 1958 to pitch against a team of National League all-stars that included Willie Mays. But Plimpton is best known for "Paper Lion," in which he documents his experience playing quarterback for the 1963 Detroit Lions.

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'Coached by Claude': Julien raffled off for charity

Friday, 10.26.2012 / 2:30 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Boston Bruins coach Claude Julien will have a new team and a new challenge Sunday afternoon. He can't wait for it.

Julien will become the coach of the Winthrop, Mass., Squirt B team for one game as part of a charity drive benefitting the Boston Bruins Foundation and Massachusetts Hockey.

"Maybe it's a win-win situation," Julien told NHL.com on Friday. "They get me to coach them and I get to get some of the rust off."

Claude Julien will lead the Winthrop, Mass. Squirt B team for one game as part of a charity drive benefitting the Boston Bruins Foundation and Massachusetts Hockey. (Photo: Getty Images)

Julien is excited to lend his expertise to the 9- and 10-year-olds fortunate enough to win the "Coached by Claude Raffle," which ended earlier this week after tickets were sold for 12 days at $5 apiece.

Julien will send his new team to the ice at 2 p.m. Sunday at Haverhill Valley Forum in Haverhill, Mass.

"I was approached by our Foundation and they asked me if I would be willing to coach a youth hockey team that would win in a raffle and that would help raise money for minor hockey in the area and also for our Foundation that always gives money to great cause," Julien said. "It was a no-brainer for me."

The Boston Bruins Foundation is a non-profit foundation that assists charitable organizations geared toward children throughout New England. Massachusetts Hockey is a non-profit corporation and an affiliate association of USA Hockey.

"Since we can't be doing what we usually are doing right now, this is an opportunity to give back and participate in the community and keep the situation as positive as you can related to hockey," Julien said. "It was an easy answer for me to give them."

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Isles confident Brooklyn move will attract players

Wednesday, 10.24.2012 / 4:49 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

BROOKLYN, N.Y. -- New York Islanders general manager Garth Snow has one fewer question to answer now, and it is a major load off his shoulders.

No longer will Snow have to find his way around one of the most explosive and paralyzing land mines he comes across during the free-agent signing period. He is always asked, "Where will the Islanders be playing in 2015?" The answer he can give is finally a good one.

Owner Charles Wang announced Wednesday that the Islanders will be moving to the brand new Barclays Center in Brooklyn, which is less than 30 miles from the antiquated Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, starting with the 2015-16 season.

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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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Quote of the Day

Hockey means everything to people here [Winnipeg]. They take their team's success to heart. We've had an incredible year and they've given us incredible support.

— Jets center Mathieu Perreault after losing to the Ducks in Game 3 of their playoff series on Monday