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NHL Insider

Burke eyes trade market to improve Maple Leafs

Tuesday, 04.10.2012 / 1:54 PM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

Brian Burke believes the Toronto Maple Leafs are too small and need to find a top-line center and goaltender during the offseason in order to compete for a playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.

The Leafs' general manager said Tuesday during a season wrap-up press conference in Toronto that he doesn't see a lot of answers to his team's problems via free agency, so he will undertake the roster re-tooling through trades during the summer. He believes that the team has the assets to acquire the needed resources.

Burke, who has had his position with the Leafs for four seasons, expressed particular displeasure over the Leafs' 8-0 loss on March 19 in which his team was pushed around by the bigger, stronger Boston Bruins.

"My view on how hockey teams are built and how hockey games are won has not changed," Burke said. "I still believe that big, physical teams win hockey games, and if you have two evenly-matched teams from a skill perspective, the bigger team's going to win. We need to get bigger. That's my top priority as far as an overall priority."

With the Florida Panthers reaching the Stanley Cup Playoffs this year, the Leafs now have the longest postseason drought of any team in the League at seven seasons. Burke said he hasn't slept in two months because of that, but as he has said in the past, the last thing he wants to do is construct a roster that's only good enough to claim the No. 8 seed and lose in the first round.

Jets: Bigger expectations to come next season

Sunday, 04.08.2012 / 7:51 PM / NHL Insider

Patrick Williams - Correspondent

WINNIPEG -- The equipment bags sat scattered across MTS Centre's home dressing room as the Winnipeg Jets said their early-April goodbyes.

The early departures have become a rite of April for the club. Sunday cemented that ritual further after the Jets finished their first season in Winnipeg anchored in 11th place in the Eastern Conference with a 37-35-10 record.

Andrew Ladd
Left Wing - WPG
GOALS: 28 | ASST: 22 | PTS: 50
SOG: 265 | +/-: -8
The organization has missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the past five consecutive seasons and has struggled to edge much beyond the 80-point mark in that span. With only one trip to the Stanley Cup Playoffs -- a 2007 visit that ended with a sweep by the New York Rangers -- there is significant work to be done to move the club up from the League's bottom-third and make it a viable Playoff contender on a yearly basis.

"It's not acceptable to be sitting here doing this at this time of the year," Jets captain and two-time Stanley Cup winner Andrew Ladd said.

Boucher on Stamkos: 'It's just desire'

Sunday, 04.08.2012 / 1:27 PM / NHL Insider

Patrick Williams - Correspondent

WINNIPEG – Steven Stamkos needed a run of 23 goals in his final 26 games to become the first center to hit the 60-goal mark since the 1995-96 season.

Stamkos managed just such a run, and he did it in the teeth of the Stanley Cup Playoff race for a Tampa Bay Lightning club that saw injuries decimate its roster and, ultimately, its postseason hopes.

Steven Stamkos
Center - TBL
GOALS: 60 | ASST: 37 | PTS: 97
SOG: 303 | +/-: 7
But Lightning coach Guy Boucher has far more to say about the work ethic of his 22-year-old star who became the 20th player to score 60 or more goals in one season than he does about the physical skill set that Stamkos possesses.

"What I like is that he just pushes always for more," Boucher said. "He just wants more all the time. It's never enough, and it's not the goals. He never has enough of getting better -- that's why he scores the goals. It's a by-product of his attitude, his work ethic, and his willingness to pay the price.

"It's not just about skill," Boucher continued. "Skill, in his case, is not the biggest [factor] in why he scores those goals. It's just desire."

Doan happy to see Coyotes finally win division

Saturday, 04.07.2012 / 11:49 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Myers - Correspondent

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- Much has changed about the National Hockey League since 1995, when Shane Doan broke into the League with the Winnipeg Jets.

For one, the Jets left town and became the Phoenix Coyotes. The Coyotes have gone through myriad of changes in the front office, behind the bench, on their jerseys and even on where they've played.

Shane Doan
Right Wing - PHX
GOALS: 22 | ASST: 28 | PTS: 50
SOG: 226 | +/-: -8
Over that time, only two things have been constant -- Doan and the dearth of banners in the rafters of Arena.

Now, there's just one.

Phoenix's 4-1 win against the Minnesota Wild Saturday at Xcel Energy Center secured the first division title -- or title of any kind -- since the Jets/Coyotes franchise entered the National Hockey League 33 years ago.

Martin feels no bitterness toward Canadiens

Saturday, 04.07.2012 / 1:34 PM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer

When Montreal Canadiens general manager Pierre Gauthier announced the firing of coach Jacques Martin on Dec. 17, the team was 13-12-7 and sitting 11th in the Eastern Conference.

Almost four months later, Gauthier no longer is with the club, which will finish last in the conference this season. The team is 17-23-9 for interim coach Randy Cunneyworth and will finish 15th in the Eastern Conference regardless of what happens in the season finale Saturday against the Maple Leafs. However, Martin is finding no joy in the team's failings since he was let go.

"It's unfortunate. You don't like to see a team that you're associated with lose," Martin said. "We're in the business of winning and I had the opportunity to build some relationships with some of the players in my two-and-a-half years here. I firmly believed we were going to make the playoffs. But I think injuries have been a big factor in their season this year."

Chu: US team ready for early showdown with Canada

Saturday, 04.07.2012 / 11:12 AM / NHL Insider

Julie Chu - Special to

It's been a whirlwind tour so far with the tryouts and the preparation, but it's exciting now that we're in Burlington and we're getting a chance to see the Douglas Cairns Arena and be in this environment and soak up everything about getting a chance to host the World Championships in our home country.

I think that for us, it's a very special thing. The last time we did it was in 2001. It was actually my first World Championship ever. I was just a starry-eyed kid, and I kind of point back to that moment a little bit and it's unreal to think that I'm still able to be a part of this incredible program and see how far we've come and see how far I've come as an individual.

Getting a chance to play at Gutterson Field House reminds us of the history of women's hockey. There were some great pioneers that came in the 90s and the early 2000s that really helped to pave the way and kind of created the environment that we all have the opportunity to play in now. It wasn't that easy. The resources weren't there.

Fatherhood helped Sharp, Howard deal with injuries

Friday, 04.06.2012 / 7:37 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

DETROIT -- One is a goalie; the other has a dog named "shooter" because of his own scoring acumen.

One plays goalie for the Detroit Red Wings, while the other is a star forward for Detroit's Original Six rival, the Chicago Blackhawks. There are plenty of differences that separate Red Wings goalie Jimmy Howard and Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp -- but this season they also have more in common than either one might realize.

Not only did both get off to great starts for their teams, but both also went through frustrating injuries that cut short some statistical benchmarks they were on pace to reach. Yet it's what happened off the ice that makes their situations kind of unique as Sharp and Howard prepare to face each other again on Saturday afternoon at Joe Louis Arena (1 p.m., NBC, TSN2) to conclude the regular season.

Toews out Saturday, hopes for Game 1 return

Friday, 04.06.2012 / 5:00 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

DETROIT -- The hope was to get Jonathan Toews back for at least one game before the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but that's not going to happen for the Chicago Blackhawks.

Chicago's top center and captain is still experiencing symptoms from a concussion and will miss his 22nd straight game Saturday afternoon in Detroit (1 p.m., NBC, TSN2) when the regular season concludes.

"It would've been nice to get him in a game, but Game 1 of the playoffs is way more meaningful than [this] game," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said after practice Friday at Joe Louis Arena. "We have five full days here [before the playoffs start]. Let's side with caution."

Crosby calls remarks by Tortorella, Flyers 'garbage'

Friday, 04.06.2012 / 4:08 PM / NHL Insider

Alan Robinson - Correspondent

PITTSBURGH-- Sidney Crosby dismissed Rangers coach John Tortorella's comments calling him a whiny star on an arrogant team Friday as "garbage" gamesmanship that is equally unwarranted and undeserved.

Crosby, the Pittsburgh Penguins' elite center who is back on his game after missing 61 games this season with concussion-like symptoms, usually shrugs off criticism from an opposing coach or player. But he showed a bit of an edge Friday while dismissing Tortorella's rant following the Penguins' 5-2 win over the Rangers on Thursday night.

Tortorella also suggested Crosby and Penguins star Evgeni Malkin spend considerable time whining to the officials.

Tortorella rips Pens for Orpik hit on Stepan

Thursday, 04.05.2012 / 11:41 PM / NHL Insider

Alan Robinson - Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Rangers coach John Tortorella became visibly upset when Pittsburgh defenseman Brooks Orpik dropped New York center Derek Stepan with a knee-to-knee hit on Thursday night, and he turned his anger on the Penguins franchise.

Orpik drew a five-minute major penalty for kneeing and a game misconduct for upending Stepan with less than five minutes remaining in the Penguins' 5-2 victory at Consol Energy Center – a hit that Tortorella called "cheap, dirty."

Stepan was carrying the puck in the neutral zone and, just as he released a pass at the blue line, he tried to cut the other way to avoid colliding with Orpik, only to be rammed knee to knee. Stepan remained on the ice for several minutes.

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It seems like I'm kind of making it a little difficult on myself here the last two games.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Kane after tying the record for longest point streak by an American-born player with an assist on Duncan Keith's goal with 26.6 seconds left against the Anaheim Ducks Friday
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