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NHL Insider

Seven team records likely to stand test of time

Friday, 09.14.2012 / 11:51 AM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - Columnist

Just as there are individual records that figure to last for decades (e.g. Wayne Gretzky's 92 goals in a season), there are team standards also likely to stand the test of time. Some are locked in (Philadelphia's record of 24 ties in 1969-70 is one, given that games now end in shootouts); others are achievements that will be nearly impossible to top no matter what the circumstances.

Here are a few marks that don't figure to be broken any time soon.

Luongo ready to return if Canucks can't trade him

Wednesday, 09.12.2012 / 5:57 PM / NHL Insider

Kevin Woodley - Correspondent

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Roberto Luongo was back in Vancouver on Wednesday for a good time -- and a good cause -- but as the old Trooper song goes, no one expects him to be around for a long time.

Luongo admitted he never expected to be back in Vancouver representing the Canucks either, not after last season ended with him on the bench watching Cory Schneider start the final three games of a first-round Stanley Cup Playoff loss to the eventual champion Los Angeles Kings.

Luongo said a few days later he'd waive his no-trade clause, and after Schneider signed a three-year, $12 million contract extension in late June, the former No. 1 suggested in a radio interview it was "time to move on." But with training camp just around the corner, Luongo now sounds open to at least starting the season with the Canucks.

"Two months ago, after what had just happened and [Schneider] had just signed, I didn't really see myself being here," Luongo said before teeing off at the team's annual charity golf tournament -- his first comments locally since the end-of-season address. "But I realized once we got into August that was a possibility and I was OK with that."

A look at some of the biggest deals in NHL history

Wednesday, 09.12.2012 / 12:13 PM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - Columnist

There's not a hockey fan alive who doesn't think he can be a general manager -- after all, that's part of the fun of fantasy hockey. We all think we could make "the" deal, the one that turns our team into a Stanley Cup champion.

But as any real NHL GM can tell you, it's not as easy as it looks. Aside from dealing with salary cap considerations, pulling off an impact trade is a matter of making sure you're not trying to put square pegs in round holes (or vice versa).

Big trades are big gambles. Make the right one (like L.A.'s deal for Jeff Carter in late February) and you might win the Stanley Cup. Make the wrong one ... you get the picture.

Gretzky gets to play in Russia with Messier, Dryden

Tuesday, 09.11.2012 / 3:18 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

Wayne Gretzky holds the 1987 Canada Cup. (Photo: Getty Images)

NEW YORK -- Wayne Gretzky, 51 years old and not even a part-time rink rat anymore, felt like he was reliving his youth last week when he had to chase around Igor Larionov, Alexander Mogilny, Alexei Yashin and others during a two-game exhibition series in Russia.

The only difference is Gretzky never before had played a game on Russian ice. It's yet another experience the Great One never will forget.

"We went there on the basis that this was a fun trip. We're older players and we don't play a lot of hockey now, we really don't," Gretzky told Monday night prior to being honored at the annual Canadian Association of New York Hockey Achievement Award Dinner. "But once the puck was dropped, the emotion and the energy from the fans, the crowd, took the game of hockey that we were playing to another level."

Langway trade still resonates in DC thirty years later

Monday, 09.10.2012 / 3:30 PM / NHL Insider

Ben Raby - Correspondent

WASHINGTON -- Washington Capitals owner Abe Pollin made a bold move in 1982 when he hired a 33-year-old rookie general manager. Ten days later, David Poile made a bold move of his own by completing a blockbuster trade that would shape the franchise for years to come.

This past weekend marked the 30th anniversary of the Capitals acquiring Rod Langway, Doug Jarvis, Brian Engblom and Craig Laughlin from the Montreal Canadiens for Rick Green and Ryan Walter. It is arguably the biggest trade in Capitals history and a move that would go a long way in changing the perception of, and the culture around, the organization.

"They were coming off the 'Save the Caps' campaign that summer," Poile recalled in a phone conversation. "If they didn't reach a certain number of season tickets, there was a chance the team wasn't even going to be there."

After eight years in the NHL, the Capitals still were searching for their first winning season and that elusive first playoff berth. The team was playing for its eighth head coach and fourth general manager and filling the Capital Center in Landover, Md., was an ongoing challenge.

Kopitars help build Slovenian national program

Friday, 09.07.2012 / 10:21 AM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - 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."

Ryan 'happy to come home' to Ducks

Thursday, 09.06.2012 / 5:16 PM / NHL Insider

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."

Tarasenko ready for life in NHL with Blues

Thursday, 09.06.2012 / 4:21 PM / NHL Insider

Louie Korac - 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 /

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.

Some NHL stars defied age with historic seasons

Thursday, 09.06.2012 / 4:00 PM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - 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:

Ovechkin embraces change in a busy summer

Thursday, 09.06.2012 / 1:35 PM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - 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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