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NHL Insider

NBC Sports excited that NHL is back

Tuesday, 01.15.2013 / 6:06 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

NBC Sports executive producer Sam Flood said he and his group always are looking for innovations and ways to upgrade their presentation of the NHL, which he called the company's "No. 1 product."

Rather than bells and whistles, Flood and the NBC Sports Group team have kept firm to their commitment to honor the game and what Flood believes makes it special.

One of those innovations that will debut for the 2012-13 season is "Rivalry Wednesday," which will show traditional rivals facing off. It starts with the Boston Bruins playing at the New York Rangers on Jan. 23 and will include the renewal of rivalries Boston-Montreal and Philadelphia-Pittsburgh.

"Hatred in hockey is a good thing," Flood said. "So every Wednesday night we're going to have teams that don't love each playing. … It's an exciting new twist to it."

Flood said he's also proud of the building his hosting team of Liam McHugh, Mike Milbury and Keith Jones will be working out of at NBC's new international broadcasting center in Connecticut. The studio was supposed to open in February, but Flood said his group pushed hard to be ready to showcase it in time for Saturday's season-opening telecasts.

Devils wonder what happened to ex-teammate Gomez

Sunday, 01.13.2013 / 6:57 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- As Scott Gomez's career trajectory went from decline into full-on nosedive Sunday with the news that the Montreal Canadiens told him to stay home, some of his former teammates in New Jersey couldn't help but question what exactly has happened to the former Calder Trophy winner since he left the Devils.

Scott Gomez
Center - MTL
GOALS: 2 | ASST: 9 | PTS: 11
SOG: 59 | +/-: -9

"He's an unbelievable talent and he has great hockey sense, but he got successful right from the get go -- and rightfully so -- on a good team with good teammates, and the main thing is he was always under great structure," forward Patrik Elias told "That's the biggest thing with him. Maybe when he left here his mind wasn't focused 100 percent on hockey. When you go to the Rangers and Montreal you have to do a lot of stuff off the ice, too, and some guys can't handle that."

Whatever it is, Gomez hasn't come close to recreating the personal and team success he had with the Devils since leaving New Jersey on July 1, 2008, to sign a seven-year, $51.5 million contract with the Rangers.

Lamoriello says Kovalchuk will be on the ice Wednesday

Sunday, 01.13.2013 / 4:19 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello said Sunday that forward Ilya Kovalchuk will miss the first three days of training camp in order to travel back from Russia, where he was playing during the lockout, and get his family situated in New Jersey.

Ilya Kovalchuk
Left Wing - NJD
GOALS: 37 | ASST: 46 | PTS: 83
SOG: 310 | +/-: -9

Kovalchuk, who played in the KHL All-Star Game on Sunday, is expected to arrive in New Jersey on Tuesday and to join the Devils for practice on Wednesday.

Lamoriello said Kovalchuk, who had 42 points in 36 games for SKA St. Petersburg, is not considered in violation of his contract and therefore will not face any discipline from the club for missing the first three days of training camp, which began Sunday at Prudential Center.

"I am very comfortable with this situation," Lamoriello said. "There is no penalty involved. There is no disrespect involved. I've talked to him and I feel comfortable where we're at. We're anxious to get him back here and get him in the lineup with the rest of the people and there will be no repercussions."

Jagr out to prove he can still be star in Dallas

Saturday, 01.12.2013 / 4:06 PM / NHL Insider

Jaromir Jagr met with the media Saturday afternoon after an informal practice at the Dallas Stars' practice facility in Frisco, Texas.

The 40-year-old signed a one-year deal with the Stars this summer after spending last season with the Philadelphia Flyers. Jagr spent the past few months playing for Kladno, the team he owns in the Czech Extraliga.

Jagr is aware of the expectations the Stars have for him entering this season as a big-ticket name, and he wants to live up to those expectations.

"When I decided to sign here, I felt like they were interested and they wanted me here," Jagr told reporters. "On the other side, it's kind of extra motivation to prove the people made the right choice."

Burke says goodbye to Toronto in his own style

Saturday, 01.12.2013 / 2:27 PM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

To the uninitiated, Brian Burke's press conference at Air Canada Centre on Saturday may have looked like an inquisition.

There was Burke, alone at the microphone, seated in front of a slew of reporters for the first time since he was dismissed on Wednesday. There were reporters who were poised to unleash questions about his time as general manager of the Maple Leafs that was brought to a shocking close after less than four years -- and zero appearances in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Instead, Burke spent about 10 minutes absorbing the inquiries after his prepared statements with a mix of honesty and truculence, coming out on the other side with dignity while firing back a few shots of his own.

"From my perspective, they bring you into win games," Burke said. "I didn't win enough games. I think I put some building blocks in place. I was stunned by this turn of events, no question about it. But I do believe ownership has the right to make that call and I'll move on."

Healthy Habs Markov, Gionta could make difference

Friday, 01.11.2013 / 5:51 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

BROSSARD, Quebec -- The Montreal Canadiens have made only a few minor additions to their roster this offseason, but that doesn't mean there won't be anything new about the team's opening-night lineup.

Some very important players were injured for significant portions of last season, one in a series of factors that led to the club finishing last in the Eastern Conference.

One of those pieces, defenseman Andrei Markov, arrived in Montreal on Thursday night and was skating with his teammates during an informal workout at the team's suburban practice facility Friday.

Another was captain Brian Gionta, whose last game was a year ago Thursday when he tore his biceps muscle against the St. Louis Blues.

Capitals' new coaching staff can build on chemistry

Thursday, 01.10.2013 / 5:59 PM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer

Navigating a shortened 2012-13 season should prove challenging for every NHL coaching staff. That's especially true for a Washington Capitals staff built from scratch when Adam Oates was named the team's coach in June.

Short on experience, Washington's coaches have been working to build on the chemistry they established 15 years ago during the most historic playoff run in franchise history.

With Oates and assistant coach Calle Johansson spending time in Hershey with the Capitals' American Hockey League team over the past few months, assistant Tim Hunter made weekly visits to spend time with the staff.

"We had four months to get to know each other and tweak our system and how we're going to play," Hunter said. "Everyone's in the same boat with a shortened season and training camp. The only negative I see is that we have a new system and there's not a lot of familiarity with the players and coaches."

Nonis knows rebuilding Maple Leafs won't be easy

Wednesday, 01.09.2013 / 4:50 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

Dave Nonis believes the building blocks are in place for the Toronto Maple Leafs. Now it's up to him to add to that foundation.

Nonis, promoted Wednesday to replace Brian Burke as general manager of the Leafs, knows the construction job won't be easy.

"We have some good building blocks," Nonis said during his introductory press conference. "We have some good players. … [But] some of those building blocks aren't ready to play here yet. We have to find a way to bridge that gap.

"We need to continue to search for players that can play right now, that can buy us a little bit of time for those young players to come along. We have strength, there's no question. We have improved over the last 48 months in terms of our on-ice product, but we have some work to do and we need to make some changes to our lineup."

Sabres coach Ruff eager to get started

Wednesday, 01.09.2013 / 4:11 PM / NHL Insider

Like everyone else in Buffalo, Sabres coach Lindy Ruff is eager to get a look at Mikhail Grigorenko when training camp opens.

Ruff met the media Wednesday and said he's looking forward to seeing how the 12th player taken in the 2012 NHL Draft handles himself against bigger, stronger players.

"I think everyone is intrigued," Ruff said. "I think he's had an elite year in juniors. He's got very good hands, he's a very good playmaker, and he had a real good tournament at the World Juniors. Now you take that to a level where you're going to play against better competition, stronger bodies, guys who are heavier on the puck and compete at a stronger level.

"I think he'll be able to make plays, and I'm very intrigued to see what he can do against, and with, top-level players."

With a shortened season approaching, Ruff said he sees starting goaltender Ryan Miller playing 36 to 38 times, with backup Jhonas Enroth handling the rest. Miller did not play during the lockout, but Enroth has been playing in Sweden to stay sharp.

Burke's blueprint failed to see Leafs into playoffs

Wednesday, 01.09.2013 / 2:30 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

Brian Burke was brought to Toronto with the belief that he had the blueprint to build the Maple Leafs into a long-term, successful franchise. He leaves after four seasons that saw the Leafs fail to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs in any of them.

Burke was hired Nov. 29, 2008, just 17 months after he helped the Anaheim Ducks win the franchise's first Stanley Cup. At the time, the Leafs had missed the playoffs in the previous three seasons. But Burke was viewed as the man with the plan, and someone who knew exactly what was needed to turn the Leafs around.

He didn't do much in his first season as the Leafs finished 12th in the Eastern Conference. He opted to retain coach Ron Wilson and selected Nazem Kadri with the seventh pick of the 2009 NHL Draft.

Burke also spent the season evaluating all levels of the franchise, and made the summer of 2009 a busy one. He attempted to upgrade on defense by signing expensive free agents Mike Komisarek and Francois Beauchemin, and won a battle for the rights to Swedish goalie Jonas "The Monster" Gustavsson.

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