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NHL Insider

Rookie Showcase unites next wave of potential stars

Tuesday, 08.28.2012 / 5:04 PM / NHL Insider

Ben Raby - Correspondent

TORONTO -- Edmonton Oilers prospect Justin Schultz was about to be photographed for his first hockey card when the 22-year-old took in his surroundings and realized how much his life has changed in 12 months.

"I think a year ago this week I would have been traveling back to Madison and just loading up on textbooks and getting ready for the fall semester," the former University of Wisconsin defenseman said. "It's a lot different today, that's for sure."

Schultz signed with the Oilers in June after being courted by several NHL teams, and Tuesday in Toronto he was one of 29 prospects decked out in an NHL uniform for photo shoots and promotional purposes as part of the NHLPA's 2012 Rookie Showcase.

The fourth annual event provides Panini America and Upper Deck -- the two official trading card partners of the NHL and NHLPA -- with the opportunity to photograph top prospects for the first time in their official NHL team uniforms. The photos are used for trading cards and memorabilia launches.

Training made Tavares one of League's top skaters

Monday, 08.27.2012 / 12:14 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

In three seasons since the New York Islanders made John Tavares the first pick in the 2009 NHL Draft, the center has gained a reputation as one of the strongest skaters in the League. He's blowing by defenders because of his proper posture, long stride, great power and improved speed.

Tavares has effectively married his skating with his skill to become one of the League's top-10 scorers and an All-Star -- one of the best overall players in the game.

Success so early in his career probably shouldn't come as a surprise considering the almost unfathomable amount of hype that followed Tavares into the NHL. However, for people who remember watching him closely when he was a teenager, there may be a twinge of shock only because Tavares was never one of the strongest or fastest skaters in any game he played.

NHL stars seek out Gary Roberts' tough training

Monday, 08.27.2012 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

TORONTO -- Gary Roberts is standing below a life-size poster bearing his image as he peers over Steven Stamkos' left shoulder. In a matter of seconds the Tampa Bay Lightning's 60-goal scorer is in a dead sprint on the incline treadmill, the one that echoes throughout the workout facility created by Roberts to test the limits on players and provide them the tools for greatness.

Roberts, dressed head to toe in blue-and-black Nike apparel, watches Stamkos push his legs. He is running faster than he ever thought possible before he started training in Roberts' home gym four summers ago.

Roberts is eying Stamkos' speed and time. Lighting teammate Brett Connolly is on the other treadmill. Carolina Hurricanes center Jeff Skinner is waiting to go next. New York Rangers prospect Christian Thomas and St. Louis Blues prospect Anthony Peluso are wiping sweat off their foreheads, back into their hair as they gulp down water and try to recover from the ferociously fast sprint they just completed.

School is in session. Roberts is in charge.

"He could probably have 500 people in here training if he wanted to, but that's not who Gary is," Stamkos told during a recent visit to the Gary Roberts High Performance Centre at Fitness Institute in North York. "He wants to take guys that he knows are good people, he knows are going to work hard and stay true to the program in the gym and through the nutritional aspect."

Stamkos gets boost from Gary Roberts' training

Monday, 08.27.2012 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

TORONTO -- It's not easy to put Gary Roberts out of commission. Steven Stamkos almost did it in with one powerful squeeze this summer.

Stamkos, the Tampa Bay Lightning center, was playfully roughhousing with Roberts, a man 24 years his elder but one many consider to be among the toughest to ever play in the NHL. Stamkos put a vicelike grip on Roberts' bicep, and Roberts' arm started to throb, threatening to at least temporarily ruin his plans for golf that day.

Instead of anger, all Roberts felt was pride. After all, Roberts and his training methods are ultimately responsible for Stamkos' surge in strength during the past four years.

"If you eat properly and train right at a young age, your body goes through the roof, and that's why Stammer can grab my bicep and I can't golf that day," Roberts told during a recent interview at his gym in North York. "I was like, 'My goodness, that's how strong he's gotten.' He's still 22 years old. He's got three or four years left of good quality years of training. He's still got an opportunity to improve.

"That's scary."

Diet, training regimen have Subban in peak condition

Monday, 08.27.2012 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

TORONTO -- Montreal defenseman P.K. Subban reads off his breakfast menu without a single change in his facial expression. For him, barbecuing a steak at 7 a.m. and pairing it with freshly blended vegetable juice, fish oils, Vitamin C and various other multi-vitamins is absolutely normal.

Patrick Holland
Goals: 7 | Assists: 29 | Pts: 36
Shots: 205 | +/-: 9

No eggs. No toast. No potatoes.

"I eat a lot of protein -- steak in the morning, steak in the afternoon, fish, chicken," Subban told during a recent trip to his training facility. "At the start of the summer I order a whole cow from a grain-fed farm. I have it at my parents' house and my mom will season [the butchered meat], and I'll pick them up to have steaks for the week."

Jokes aside, Subban actually does eat the whole cow he orders each summer.

It's all part of a nutrition plan designed for him by his personal trainer, Clance Laylor, who has eliminated all grain, wheat and dairy products from Subban's summer diet.

Slap shot the weapon of hockey's hardest shooters

Sunday, 08.26.2012 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - Columnist

From the early days of hockey until the late 1950s and early '60s, coaches frowned on the slap shot -- it took too long to get off, they said. The big windup let the goaltender get set. It missed the net too often.

Fast-forward to the present era and it's impossible to imagine hockey without the slap shot. It has become a lethal weapon and changed the way the game is played, forcing goaltenders to don masks and compelling teams to adopt strategies to keep big shooters from getting the chance to blast away.

Players are bigger and stronger now, and composite sticks have all but replaced the "twigs" of old, making it difficult to compare shooters of different generations. Today's shooters can be clocked on speed guns in a way that those of previous generations could not be.

But the anticipation in the stands when a player tees up a slapper -- the knowledge that the game could change in an instant -- is every bit as prevalent today as it was decades ago.

Carter's day with Stanley Cup typically low-key

Friday, 08.24.2012 / 7:26 PM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

LONDON, Ontario -- Quiet, reserved and private are three words that aptly describe Jeff Carter, so it was fitting that they summarized his day with the Stanley Cup just as appropriately.

Jeff Carter raises the Stanley Cup in London, Ontario, while wearing his childhood hockey jersey. (Photo: Hockey Hall of Fa)

Surrounded by friends, teammates from his junior days with the Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds, along with immediate and extended family in his parents' back yard, Carter reaped the benefits of his first championship with the Los Angeles Kings just two years after falling two games short as a member of the Philadelphia Flyers.

The shock and sadness Carter felt after his trade from Philadelphia to the Columbus Blue Jackets 14 months ago was something he and his family talked about Friday, but everyone acknowledged that the situation couldn't have unfolded any better for the 27-year-old.

"This is what it's all about," Carter said. "You look back on it now, and obviously at the time, it was tough to take. I loved where we were at and I never wanted to leave. But we're sitting here today with the Stanley Cup, so it's pretty unbelievable."

Panthers' Dineen looking to stay the course

Friday, 08.24.2012 / 12:57 PM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer

"We've got a number of real quality prospects. Historically, I've been in organizations with Anaheim and Buffalo where the road to the NHL goes through the American League. I don't think that's an unhealthy thing. I think players go down there and learn how to be professionals and how to grow as players and people." -- Kevin Dineen

Kevin Dineen's first season as an NHL coach started with a lot more questions than answers. It ended with his Florida Panthers winning the Southeast Division crown and their first postseason appearance in a decade.

Dineen doesn't plan on taking a step back in 2012-13.

When the longtime NHL player was named Florida's coach last summer, Dineen inherited a Panthers' team that had been remade by general manager Dale Tallon. In acquiring 10 new players over the summer, Tallon turned over half the roster of a franchise that had gone an NHL-record 10 straight seasons without making the playoffs.

Top all-time speed demons have changed face of NHL

Friday, 08.24.2012 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - Columnist

Few things in any sport are as exciting as watching an elite skater blaze past an opponent, leaving him looking like he's standing still. End-to-end rushes and breakaways are the types of plays that bring fans out of their seats.

The speed of an NHL game has never been faster, as teams put more and more emphasis on skating. But not every great player is a great skater -- Wayne Gretzky, for one, admitted he wasn't all that fast -- and there are players who can fly but aren't as skilled in the other aspects of the game.

Still, there's no getting around the importance of speed. With that in mind, here's a look at seven of the fastest skaters in NHL history:

Doughty's day with Cup honors grandparents

Thursday, 08.23.2012 / 6:49 PM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

LONDON, Ontario -- Drew Doughty's grandfather, Edward, was the first family member to pull up to his driveway Thursday morning. The 74-year-old didn't show up empty-handed, either. He carried with him a clear, homemade jug of white wine with a Guelph Storm logo painted on the side of it, "holy water" for hockey's holy grail, he called it.

Drew Doughty
Defense - LAK
GOALS: 10 | ASST: 26 | PTS: 36
SOG: 168 | +/-: -2

"He was lucky to win and lucky to be here," Edward said, before playfully poking fun at his advanced age. "I feel pretty lucky to be here too."

It was a special day for Doughty, the Los Angeles Kings' 22-year-old defenseman who had his day with the Stanley Cup two months after his team won hockey's biggest prize for the first time in franchise history. But long before Doughty paraded the Cup through his hometown, long before his brilliant goal in Game 2 of the Final against the New Jersey Devils, and long before he was drafted by the Kings in 2008 after a stellar career at Guelph, he was relying on extended and adopted family to get his career started.

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Quote of the Day

I spent a long summer thinking about that playoff series and what could have been. [The Blackhawks] ended up being the Stanley Cup champions, so we know we lost to a very good team. It's tough to know how close we were, and it motivates us for this year.

— Nashville captain Shea Weber in an interview with the Predators website