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Haydar appreciates his career, wherever he's played

Wednesday, 12.12.2012 / 9:45 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

For a few seconds there only is laughter on the other end of the phone as a conversation about the what-ifs and what-could-have-beens in a professional hockey career momentarily are forgotten.

If you're Chicago Wolves forward Darren Haydar, a 33-year-old minor-league lifer stuck in a world that constantly changes around him, what else can you do but laugh when yet another interviewer asks you about Crash Davis, the infamous forever dreaming farmhand played by Kevin Costner in the movie "Bull Durham."

Haydar has been referred to as the Crash Davis of the American Hockey League. He knows it and finally can laugh about it.

Hextall recalls goal as proud moment for him, Flyers

Saturday, 12.08.2012 / 10:00 AM / NHL Insider

Davis Harper - Staff Writer

Ron Hextall won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top goaltender in 1986-87, his rookie season. He led his Philadelphia Flyers to the '87 Stanley Cup Final, where they lost in seven games to the Edmonton Oilers -- but was so good he became one of five members of the losing team to take home the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the playoffs. During the series, Wayne Gretzky called Hextall "probably the best goaltender I've ever played against." He played 13 seasons in the NHL and was enshrined in the Flyers Hall of Fame in 2008.

For all his shot-stopping abilities, Hextall also was the most aggressive goaltender the NHL had seen, legendary for his fiery and physical nature on the ice. His prodigious puck-handling and passing abilities made him almost a third defenseman on the ice for the Flyers. Thus, it scarcely came as a surprise when, on Dec. 8, 1987, Hextall became the first NHL goaltender to score a goal by shooting the puck into the net. The goal, scored at 18:48 of the third period, put Philadelphia up 5-2 on the Boston Bruins in front of a capacity Spectrum crowd.

On the 25th anniversary of Hextall's achievement, talked with Hextall and the teammates, commentators and opponents who were on hand to witness history.

Wounded Canadian veteran conquers sledge hockey

Saturday, 12.08.2012 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

When Dominic Larocque was growing up in the Montreal suburb of St-Timothee, he was about as active as a young man could be.

He played high-level hockey up to the Junior A level, played top-tier football for his school, and played competitive soccer for his city.

So when Larocque turned 18 in 2005, he decided he would use that energy to benefit his country and enrolled in the Canadian Armed Forces. Within two years, he would be deployed to Afghanistan, where he served near Kandahar.

About four months into his tour, on Nov. 27, 2007, Larocque's life took a drastic turn when the light armored vehicle he and two other soldiers were riding in drove over an improvised explosive device (IED). The three were taken by helicopter to a hospital to have their wounds tended to.

Kings' Robitaille has fun appearing on Disney cartoon

Thursday, 12.06.2012 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer

As a Hall of Fame player and an executive for the reigning Stanley Cup champions, life in Los Angeles has been pretty good for Luc Robitaille.

More than 25 years since arriving in Hollywood, the notoriety has afforded the hockey icon some unique opportunities. The latest has the Los Angeles Kings' president of business operations appearing on the season premiere of the popular animated children's program "Phineas and Ferb," shown by the Disney Channel on Dec. 7.

"It was a lot of fun. The guys over there are big hockey fans. It was fun to be there," Robitaille told "These guys made it really easy on me; it was cool."

Robitaille admitted he wasn't familiar with the show, which has had guest appearances from Tina Fey, Michael J. Fox and Kevin Smith. Robitaille agreed to do it at the urging of his assistant, Kehly Sloane, whose son is a big fan. For the creators of the series, which premiered on Disney in 2007, it was a thrill to have the legendary Kings player on the program.

Eight great moments in Montreal Forum history

Thursday, 11.29.2012 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

Richard Milo - Correspondent

MONTREAL -- Forever considered as the temple of hockey, the Montreal Forum was the home of the Canadiens for 70 years until they moved to the Bell Centre in 1996.

The Forum served as home for the Habs for 22 of their NHL-record 24 Stanley Cup victories, and 12 times they lifted the Cup on Forum ice.

The Canadiens had so much success at the Forum, its walls were said to be inhabited by the ghosts of the past that helped the home team accomplish some extraordinary feats.

Former general manager Frank Selke asked toward the beginning of the 1950s that a passage from John McCrae's poem "In Flanders Fields" -- written during World War I -- be reproduced on the walls of the Canadiens dressing room, a passage that would come to define the team's sense of history and success: "To you from failing hands we throw the torch; be yours to hold it high."

Holding the torch high was what the Canadiens always took great pride in during their years at the Forum, but the building was actually not meant for them initially.

When it opened on the corner of Atwater Ave. and Ste-Catherine St., the Forum was actually meant to house the Montreal Maroons, the city's other NHL team. But the Canadiens were invited to play the Forum's inaugural game because their own venue -- the Mount-Royal Arena -- relied on a natural ice surface that was not ready for game action yet. The Canadiens would only move to the Forum on a permanent basis two years later, and they would share the building with the Maroons until 1938 when their co-tenants folded.

Carbonneau relished being part of final Forum night

Thursday, 11.29.2012 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

Guy Carbonneau knew the odds were stacked against his Dallas Stars on March 11, 1996.

"I'm pretty sure we had a few dollars on the board to see if we could win that game," Carbonneau told

All the motivational money in the world likely wouldn't have mattered that night. The Stars drew the unenviable task of facing the Montreal Canadiens in the final game at the Montreal Forum, which was won handily by the home team 4-1 in front of a standing-room crowd of 17,959.

"You think about it a little bit before, but you know it's going to be a special night," said Carbonneau, who spent his first 12 NHL seasons with Montreal. "There was a lot of support from the fans and a lot of people I knew in the past. Once you get out on the ice, it's not something that you really worry about."

Wild goalie contest ends in tie, to be continued

Wednesday, 11.21.2012 / 8:21 PM / NHL Insider

Believe it or not, the shootout needs overtime.

The contest to determine the Minnesota Wild's new emergency goaltender ended in a tie Sunday, requiring finalists Treye Kettwick and Joshua Swartout to try it again another time.

Each goalie was expected to face eight shooters during the second intermission of an American Hockey League game between the Houston Aeros and Rockford IceHogs at Xcel Energy Center.

But after the first two rounds of four ended even (each goalie was scored on twice), three sudden-death shots were saved by each goalie before the intermission time ran out and the AHL game had to resume.

With no other tiebreaker in place, the Wild will resume the contest at a later date.

Night at The Joe bonded cast of new 'Red Dawn'

Wednesday, 11.21.2012 / 12:30 PM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer

In the new movie "Red Dawn," an update of the 1984 Cold War version, a militia of teenagers is tasked with saving their small town from a North Korean invasion. The result is the kind of non-stop action that made the original so popular. But before shooting their first scene, the film's actors came together for an intense training regimen producers hoped would get them in shape.

"We did six weeks with Navy SEALs and two weeks with Marines," said actor Josh Peck, who in his role as local high school football star Matt Eckert also had a week of gridiron training. "It was hard. I don't know if I'd ever done a pull-up before. Now I can do a lot of pull-ups."

Following their combat training, the "Red Dawn" cast had to find other ways to develop on-screen chemistry. When filming started in Michigan, they did this by making numerous trips to a nearby mall and the local gym. Then, a month into shooting, Peck came up with the perfect way to cultivate camaraderie.

The cast of the new version of 'Red Dawn' found time to bond at a Detroit Red Wings game while filming their action scenes in Michigan. (Photo Credit: Film District)

A longtime hockey fan and Los Angeles Kings diehard, it was only a matter of time before Peck gathered some of his co-stars for a trip to see the Detroit Red Wings play at Joe Louis Arena. Peck enlisted two of his best friends on the set, neither of whom had been to a hockey game before.

"We randomly got to go to a Red Wings game," Peck told "I went with Julian Alcaraz and Chris Hemsworth. I took them both to their first-ever hockey game. It was kind of cool to watch it through their eyes."

The first-timers enjoyed the experience, particularly Hemsworth, an Australian-born actor best known for playing Thor in "The Avengers." Enjoying an exciting game at The Joe was a fun break that offered an exciting outlet for a group that spent its days filming physically demanding action scenes.

"Chris was stunned -- especially at a game that is so fast-paced and takes so much athletic ability. We had a real good time and Joe Louis Arena is awesome," Peck said. "What better way to spend a Saturday night after filming than to go see the Red Wings?"

Wild ride has Brust on cusp of AHL shutout record

Sunday, 11.18.2012 / 3:52 PM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

Barry Brust is less than one period from ousting a Hall of Fame goaltender from the record books one season after his North American career stood at a crossroads.

The 29-year-old goaltender for the Abbotsford Heat has a shutout streak of 231 minutes, 41 seconds. If he can extend it another 18:11 -- the opportunity to do so could come Friday at Texas -- he will break the American Hockey League mark of Johnny Bower, who established the record with the Cleveland Barons in 1957.

"Everything has just kind of fallen into place," Brust told during a lengthy layover in Chicago on Thursday night with his team flying to Rochester.

Wild goalie contest a draw, will need round two

Saturday, 11.17.2012 / 5:01 PM / NHL Insider

Joshua Swartout was there to see how close 51-year-old Paul Duetsch got to suiting up for the Minnesota Wild last season.

Swartout was one shootout away from having the same chance Sunday, but it is going take at least two.

Swartout, a 24-year-old from St. Louis Park, Minn., and Treye Kettwick, a 29-year-old from Minneapolis, were named the finalists in the Wild's contest searching for its new emergency goaltender.

They took part in a celebrity shootout during the second intermission of the game Sunday between the Houston Aeros and Rockford IceHogs at Xcel Energy Center. After 12 rounds, the goalie duel was called a draw, and both agreed to return for a second engagement at a date to be determined.

Last season, Duetsch almost served in that role due to a unique series of events surrounding Minnesota's game against the Nashville Predators on Nov. 23.

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