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NHL Insider

Kopitars help build Slovenian national program

Friday, 09.07.2012 / 10:21 AM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

Almost a decade later, Matjas Kopitar still vividly remembers the day his eldest son left Slovenia to play pro hockey in Sweden. It was the beginning of a hockey journey that would see Anze Kopitar eventually win the Stanley Cup with the Los Angeles Kings. It was also a pivotal moment for Slovenian hockey, which in April was promoted to the top division at the IIHF World Championship.

But at the time, Matjas Kopitar was devastated.

"That was the worst time in my life. He was still a kid, he was 16," said Kopitar, who played in his native Slovenia as well as Austria, and currently serves as the head coach of the Slovenian national team. "It was really tough for the whole family. Especially for his brother, they were really connected."

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Ryan 'happy to come home' to Ducks

Thursday, 09.06.2012 / 5:16 PM / NHL Insider

NHL.com

Bobby Ryan made it clear he was very happy to be skating with his Anaheim Ducks teammates.

"I wanted to come back to [my home in] Newport Beach and come back to this team and this group of guys," Ryan told the Orange County Register on Wednesday. "Always -- that was the No. 1 thing."

In an interview with a New Jersey newspaper in June, Ryan was saying something different. Frustration over having his name constantly come up in trade rumors led him to lash out at the team that selected him with the second pick of the 2005 NHL Draft.

Ryan said Wednesday he regretted doing that interview, calling it "a mistake and a slip up on my part."

Bobby Ryan
Right Wing - ANA
GOALS: 31 | ASST: 26 | PTS: 57
SOG: 204 | +/-: 1
"I just told [the reporter], at this point, I'm tired of fielding questions [about being traded]," Ryan said. "I'm tired of asking. Just move me if that's what the best interest of your team is. And if you think it's in the best interest for me, great. I'm OK with that.

"But about 10 minutes after the interview, I was like, 'Gosh, I shouldn't have done that, seeing that I'm teeing off on the 37th hole of the day after 11 o'clock.' It was kind of stupid.

"At that point, you can't kick yourself for too long. I knew that if [Ducks general manager Bob Murray] really had a problem with it, he would reach out to me. That never happened."

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Tarasenko ready for life in NHL with Blues

Thursday, 09.06.2012 / 4:21 PM / NHL Insider

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- As Vladimir Tarasenko walked into the crowded room set up for his introductory press conference Thursday, the 20-year-old was in awe.

The St. Louis Blues' prospect will need some time to get used to the NHL life -- which includes well-attended press conferences -- but getting Tarasenko here and getting him acclimated with his teammates is the first step, one he finally was willing to take after opting to leave the KHL for the NHL.

Prospect Vladimir Tarasenko is introduced by the St. Louis Blues alongside general manager Doug Armstrong and his translator Irina Sandler. (Photo Credit: Louie Korac / NHL.com)

Tarasenko, who was the 16th pick in the 2010 NHL Draft -- chosen two spots after the Blues selected Jaden Schwartz -- had 100 points in 176 KHL games spanning four seasons. The Past two were spent playing with Sibir Novosibirsk and SKA St. Petersburg.

However, Tarasenko said it felt like the time was right to jump across the Atlantic Ocean and play in what he called the best league in the world.

"I am very excited to be here in St. Louis, to be playing for the St. Louis Blues," Tarasenko said through a translator. "I am happy to help the team win the Stanley Cup this year.

"I have received very good experience in the last two years in the KHL, and I believe this is the right time for me. I am ready to play in the best league in the world."

The Blues, who won the Central Division last season, finished second in the Western Conference with 109 points and reached the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, see Tarasenko as a top-nine forward. Blues general manager Doug Armstrong said he also believes the time is right for Tarasenko to make the transition.

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Some NHL stars defied age with historic seasons

Thursday, 09.06.2012 / 4:00 PM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

The NHL is a young man's league, but that doesn't mean the kids have a monopoly on big-time accomplishments. Landmark achievements and individual awards usually belong to younger players, but players who've reached their 35th birthday have made their share of history.

Here's a look at some of the best seasons by the NHL's 35-and-over crowd:

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Ovechkin embraces change in a busy summer

Thursday, 09.06.2012 / 1:35 PM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

Since returning to Washington a few weeks ago to catch up with some of his teammates, Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin has been sporting a closely-cropped hairstyle. But the new do is a minor change compared to some of the other alterations the scoring winger made this past summer.

One of the most noteworthy changes to Ovechkin's offseason regimen was his workout. Whereas he previously spent his summers focusing on building up his lower body, the new summer routine involves a greater emphasis on stretching and mobility.

"I started working out in a different way. I started working out more on my body and movements. Right now I'm doing stretch stuff with the balls. At the gym, I'm doing different stuff than I did before. We'll see how it goes," Ovechkin told Mike Vogel of the Capitals' website. "I changed up lots of things. I spent all summer with my girlfriend, traveling around. I spent only two or three weeks in Moscow, maybe less than that."

It might be Ovechkin's relationship with tennis star Maria Kirilenko that has had the greatest influence on the star player's summer.

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Seven of the most unlikely single-game performances

Wednesday, 09.05.2012 / 9:55 PM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

The NHL record book is filled with accomplishments by the greatest stars in hockey history -- Wayne Gretzky's record-setting 92 goals in 1981-82, Bobby Orr winning scoring titles as a defenseman and Martin Brodeur piling up 119 (and counting) shutouts are just a few.

But there are also guys in the record book that weren't household names -- players whose brush with greatness was confined to a single night.

Here are some of the greatest and most unlikely one-game performances in NHL history:

Sam LoPresti

March 4, 1941

LoPresti, a native of Eveleth, Minn., lasted just two seasons and 74 games in the NHL, but that was more than enough time to earn his line in the record books for most saves by a goaltender in a single game.

LoPresti took the ice for Chicago at Boston on March 4, 1941, and was immediately under siege from the powerful Bruins, who were on their way to a first-place finish. The Bruins pelted the rookie goaltender with shot after shot, only to see him make the save. They did manage to get three pucks past LoPresti, but he set an NHL record that still stands by making 80 saves -- earning an ovation from the Boston Garden crowd despite the loss. No goaltender since that night has faced more than 73 shots.

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Wait and 'C': Might Zetterberg be next Wings captain?

Wednesday, 09.05.2012 / 1:00 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

The reality that former Detroit Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom is actually retired is starting to sink in a little more now that the calendar has flipped to September.

Henrik Zetterberg
Left Wing - DET
GOALS: 22 | ASST: 47 | PTS: 69
SOG: 267 | +/-: 14
A group of Red Wings are going through informal on-ice workouts this week as the scheduled start of training camp approaches, and the feel is certainly different without Lidstrom's presence. Several big names are attending, however, and among them is Henrik Zetterberg -- the guy who most feel will take over the captain's role.

"We'll see what happens the next few weeks," Zetterberg told reporters on Tuesday at the Troy Sports Center in suburban Detroit. "If they ask, I will be honored. It's something that you always hope you'd have a chance to do in your career, especially with a team like this in a city like this, with the past and the ownership and the history we have. It would be a true honor."

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Healthy Andy McDonald ready to roll for Blues

Wednesday, 09.05.2012 / 9:50 AM / NHL Insider

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- Andy McDonald knows the score.

Andy McDonald
Left Wing - STL
GOALS: 10 | ASST: 12 | PTS: 22
SOG: 64 | +/-: 4
The St. Louis Blues forward understands the biological clock doesn't tick forever, and Father Time catches up with everyone.

For McDonald, who turned 35 on Aug. 25, it's only natural to have those after-hockey thoughts and think about how much more gas is left in the tank, especially with the life span of a hockey player.

But as McDonald enters his 12th NHL season -- his fourth full season in St. Louis -- he feels like Father Time will have to wait a while longer for him to hang up his skates.

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Grand finales: Top farewell seasons by NHL players

Tuesday, 09.04.2012 / 9:55 PM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

The only certainty in an NHL player's life is that at some time, he won't be an NHL player anymore.

For some, the end is just a matter of the years catching up to him. For others, it's related to injuries. Still others may opt to play elsewhere -- or have the decision made for them. But while some players' skills may have eroded to the point that there's no question their time is done, others leave while they're still capable of being solid contributors, if not stars.

Here's a look at some of the best finales in NHL history:

Mike Bossy

Final season: 1986-87 (38 goals, 37 assists, 75 points in 63 games)

Bossy began what turned out to be his final NHL season having scored at least 50 goals in each of his first nine, helping the New York Islanders to four straight Stanley Cups and a fifth straight trip to the Final. At age 30 and coming off a 61-goal, 123-point season, he was on course to pass Gordie Howe as the greatest goal-scorer in NHL history.

But in '86-87, Bossy's back decided it no longer wanted to cooperate. He felt a twinge in the back at training camp, and the injury got worse during the season, forcing him to miss 17 games and hampering him in several others. He had a career-low 38 goals, then was able to play in just six of the Isles' 14 playoff games and scored only twice.

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Follow the leader: The NHL's 10 best captains

Saturday, 09.01.2012 / 8:00 AM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

There's more to being a leader than merely wearing the captain's "C" on your jersey. Leadership is knowing how to push your teammates to levels they didn't know they could reach, making sure they don't accept anything less than their best on the ice -- and off.

"I think in the end, it's just trying to help people realize their potential and figure out how to motivate them," Hall of Famer Mark Messier once told a writer. "You have to get to know a player on a much deeper level than just hockey. … In the end, they have to know that the only thing that matters to both of you is trying to find a way to win, and that you don't have any ulterior motives against them. You're just trying to find out how to get the best out of them, and they respect that."

Here's a look at 10 of the NHL's all-time best in providing the leadership that got the most out of their teammates.

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Quote of the Day

The last time I did it was 1994 and surprise, 20 years later it’s still working. I don’t do it very much, though. I don’t think I had it. I’m kind of surprised. It was probably because I went to church before the game.

Panthers veteran forward Jaromir Jagr on the move that produced his second goal in a 4-2 victory against the Senators on Sunday
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