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NHL Insider

'Breakaway' details NHL's influx of Eastern Europeans

Saturday, 11.17.2012 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

The stories revealed by Tal Pinchevsky in his debut book "Breakaway" recount the emotions -- both high and low -- and bravery of so many athletes who put themselves and the livelihoods of their own family members on the line to change the course of history and hockey all at once.

In "Breakaway," Pinchevsky, a staff writer for, details the clandestine movements by a few Eastern European players who opened the door to North America and the National Hockey League that so many have walked through since.

The book recounts how players from Czechoslovakia and the Soviet Union literally broke away from the Cold War and found freedom in North America -- and a hockey community that welcomed them, their families and their unique talents with open arms and checkbooks.

Wild choose finalists in emergency goalie contest

Thursday, 11.15.2012 / 10:00 PM / NHL Insider

The Minnesota Wild are closer to having a new emergency goaltender after holding a contest for the spot on Thursday.

After almost using 51-year-old Paul Deutsch in the role for one game last season, the Wild had 11 goaltenders from around the state compete for the chance to become the team's emergency goalie. Per NHL rules, none had professional experience.

The goaltenders, who ranged in age from 23 to 44, auditioned before a panel of judges that included Deutsch, Wild goalie coach Bob Mason, and Wild TV analyst and former NHL goalie Mike Greenlay.

Treye Kettwick, a 29-year-old from Minneapolis, and Joshua Swartout, a 24-year-old from St. Louis Park, Minn., were chosen as the finalists.

Hockey background helps White dominate ice dancing

Thursday, 11.15.2012 / 10:00 AM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer

Ensconced in a suite at Vancouver's Rogers Arena, longtime hockey player Charlie White had a great seat for the gold-medal game at the 2010 Winter Olympics. So did a group of neighboring Canadians, who shot some icy stares at the Michigan-born White when the United States tied the game with 25 seconds remaining in regulation time. But after Canada won 3-2 in overtime to take the gold medal, White knew he was in the line of fire.

"As soon as they scored, I just jetted out of there. I knew I had it coming," White said. "It was a great game. Being able to see them go at it like that was really cool."

Once the agony of losing in overtime passed, Americans hailed their runner-up hockey team for helping to grow the game in the United States. They did the same for White, whose silver medal with partner Meryl Davis in the 2010 Olympic ice dancing competition has made him among his sport's most prominent ambassadors. It was a huge moment for the University of Michigan student and defending world champion -- one that might not have happened had he not grown up playing hockey.

Flyers' Snider cuts ribbon on fourth refurbished rink

Friday, 11.09.2012 / 10:08 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

PHILADELPHIA -- Ed Snider has owned the Philadelphia Flyers since they came into the NHL in 1967, and built them over the last 45 years into one of the League's marquee franchises, including a pair of Stanley Cup titles.

But what the 79-year-old Snider is doing now is even more rewarding.

The Ed Snider Youth Hockey Foundation (ESYHF) cut the ribbon Friday on the fourth ice rink it has refurbished in a unique partnership with the city of Philadelphia.

Tarken Ice Rink, in the Oxford Circle part of the city, joined the Laura Sims Skatehouse in West Philadelphia, the Scanlon Ice Rink in Kensington and the Simons Rink in West Oak Lane as new areas of opportunity for kids in the city to have places to learn hockey as well as further themselves academically.

"When you talk about the Philadelphia Flyers, that's my business, my profession," Snider said. "It's something that I'm proud of, and I want to see us get another Cup. I look at this as something entirely different. This is nothing to do with my profession. This has to do with my desire to help inner-city kids. This is what it's all about. It means a tremendous amount to me."'s all-presidential team

Tuesday, 11.06.2012 / 10:11 AM / NHL Insider

David Kalan - Staff Writer

In the 95-year history of the NHL, the League has yet to see an Obama -- or a Romney for that matter -- crack an NHL roster. Several U.S. presidents, however, have shared surnames with former NHL players, with 26 players sharing the last name of the 28th President, Woodrow Wilson. Plenty of Taylors, Harrisons and Johnsons abound in NHL history, and as millions of people line up at the polls Tuesday in the United States and decide whether Barack Obama will receive another four years or if Mitt Romney will become the 44th man to sit in the Oval Office, it seems appropriate to see which presidentially named players could make up an all-time competitive starting lineup.

Much like the standard pool of players at the annual NHL Draft, some positions and names are deeper than others. The goaltenders with presidential names are not a particularly large group, for example, and some presidents only get so many matches. William Howard Taft for instance shares a surname with just one NHL player -- defenseman John Taft, who played 15 games for the Detroit Red Wings during the 1978-79 season. Of course that still makes Taft one better than Abraham Lincoln, who, despite being considered by many historians as the greatest president in U.S. history, has never shared a last name with an NHL player. Neither has the first U.S. president, George Washington.

Mullen brothers followed unlikely road to NHL

Saturday, 11.03.2012 / 10:00 AM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - 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.

Past helps Mullens relate to Sandy aftermath

Saturday, 11.03.2012 / 10:00 AM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - 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.

The night Plante made goaltending history

Thursday, 11.01.2012 / 10:19 AM / NHL Insider 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.

Plimpton's tryout changed hockey, journalism

Saturday, 10.27.2012 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - 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.

'Coached by Claude': Julien raffled off for charity

Friday, 10.26.2012 / 2:30 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - 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 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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