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NHL Insider

Pronger feels 'pretty good' in return to the ice

Friday, 09.09.2011 / 1:01 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

VOORHEES, N.J. -- For his first time on the ice in more than four months, Philadelphia Flyers defenseman Chris Pronger said Friday that he felt pretty good.

However, he knows a true test of the condition of his surgically repaired back won't come until the weekend.

"We'll see how I feel (Saturday)," he told reporters at Virtua Skate Zone here following his 25-minute solo skate. "Having not skated or done anything on the ice in 4 1/2 months, you've got to take it slowly and see how you feel day by day. I felt pretty good out there. Usually the first time on the ice is when you feel good. Then it's Day 2, 3, 4, and 5 you're a little suspect. We'll see how I feel (Saturday)."

Ten years later, 9/11 still resonates in hockey

Friday, 09.09.2011 / 11:03 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

"When I moved here, living in Manhattan, just meeting people that had been affected by it, it was a reality check.  Knowing how huge those towers were and the devastation it caused, it was a big eye-opener when I moved here."
-- Marc Staal

Brian Gionta arrived at South Mountain Arena in West Orange, N.J. early in the morning on Sept. 11, 2001 with anticipation and nerves. It was around 8 a.m. on his first day of training camp in the NHL and Gionta was preparing to make an impression on the New Jersey Devils.

An hour later, training camp meant so little. An hour later, the world was a much different and more dangerous place.

Gionta grew up in Rochester, N.Y., which is about a five-hour drive from lower Manhattan. He grew up adoring the New York City skyline, and on that fateful morning, while he was starting his NHL journey, the World Trade Center was falling.

Rangers dynamic duo takes NHL Store by storm

Thursday, 09.08.2011 / 6:13 PM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- "You're the man, Henrik!" a random Rangers fan yells.

Henrik Lundqvist can't help but smile Thursday afternoon as he walks through the NHL Store in midtown Manhattan, where he is about to sign autographs and conduct a Q&A session with local fans. Following the loud fan's lead, the group of Ranger faithful picks up on the vocal lead and erupts  into a chant of "Henrik, Henrik, Henrik."

It sure is good to be king.

But, on this day, the New York Rangers' All-Star goaltender hasn't come alone.

He's also brought with him his newest teammate, forward Brad Richards, who entered the summer as the biggest catch of the free-agency crop before signing a nine-year, $60-million deal with the Rangers on July 1.

Trying summer sends players in search for solace

Thursday, 09.08.2011 / 6:11 PM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

There's no blueprint for dealing with tragedy, and there's certainly no proper way to react when tragedy is relentlessly showing up on your doorstep.

During the past four months, the hockey world has been overwhelmed by a near-constant wave of horrific news that began with the shocking death of Derek Boogaard in May and ended -- hopefully -- with the deaths of 43 people when the team plane of Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL crashed in Russia on Wednesday.

In between, 27-year-old Rick Rypien was found dead at his Crowsnest Pass, Alberta, home on Aug. 15 and the recently retired Wade Belak, a father of two, died in a Toronto hotel 16 days later.

When one mourning period was ending, it seemed another was beginning.

"The whole summer," Tampa Bay Lightning star Martin St. Louis said, "we really haven't had a chance to catch our breath with one thing after another."

Datsyuk's mind far from hockey matters

Thursday, 09.08.2011 / 5:12 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Despite the fact Pavel Datsyuk was among friends and prepping for what is sure to be another exhilarating NHL season during the Player Media Tour stop here at Prudential Center on Thursday, the devastating plane crash in Russia that claimed the lives of 43 people just 24 hours earlier was very much on his mind.
When asked what needs to be done in order to move forward from Wednesday's tragedy, in which a majority of victims were members of the Kontinental Hockey League club Lokomotiv, Datsyuk looked at his inquisitor with a blank stare and said, "pray."
Datsyuk was in no mood to talk hockey following his on-ice session and media appearances. But to his credit, he answered every question and skated for the video cameras. Deep down, however, he was hurting.

Crosby eager to get back in the game

Thursday, 09.08.2011 / 3:30 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Sidney Crosby chatted with Steven Stamkos about training. He eagerly talked to someone else about Tim Thomas and his performance for the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final. Crosby found himself interested in a quick discussion about his coach, Dan Bylsma, perhaps being the next coach for the U.S. Olympic team.

He smiled. He laughed. He essentially kicked up his heels and enjoyed his one day at the 2011 NHL Player Media Tour -- and then he was gone, back to Pittsburgh to resume his workouts and rehabilitation from the concussion that has kept him out of action and away from contact since Jan. 5.

But before he left, Crosby sat down with and the NHL Network to further discuss his emotions and his progress one day after holding a news conference in Pittsburgh.

Rep. Quigley talks Hawks at youth hockey clinic

Tuesday, 09.06.2011 / 7:27 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- If the NHL wants friends in high places, it would be hard-pressed to find a more dedicated one that U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley.

Quigley (D-Ill.) is an unapologetic Chicago Blackhawks fan, one so dedicated that he traveled to Philadelphia for Game 6 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final with fellow congressman and friend, U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY). Together they watched Quigley's beloved Hawks win the organization's first Cup in 49 years.

While Quigley grew up a Blackhawks fan and is still an avid follower. He also plays hockey twice a week and is a passionate supporter of the sport. He's a co-chair of the Congressional Hockey Caucus along with Higgins and U.S. Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) -- with the caucus aimed at fostering expansion of youth hockey programs throughout the country.

On Tuesday, Quigley was in full hockey mode at the youth hockey clinic to kick off a new "sock" hockey program at Center on Halsted -- a comprehensive Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community center. Wearing that bright red Mikita jersey, Quigley helped kids learn the shoes-and-socks version of the sport -- something he hopes to see more often at recreational centers and gyms around Chicago.

Coyotes hope Langkow can fill hole in the middle

Wednesday, 08.31.2011 / 9:41 AM / NHL Insider

Jerry Brown - Correspondent

GLENDALE, Ariz. – With the countdown to training camp closing in and the Coyotes roster looking a lot like a Tim Hortons' doughnut – lots of tasty ingredients but that big, unmistakable hole in the middle – Phoenix general manager Don Maloney decided to get creative and reach into the franchise's past for a possible solution.

Just how far a reach it will be remains to be seen.

With Eric Belanger and Vernon Fiddler departed from a center corps that already struggled from production standpoint -- and with young Kyle Turris still unsigned after a summer of negotiations -- Maloney took a deep breath and took on more than $2 million in salary to bring center Daymond Langkow back to Phoenix  from Calgary in exchange for winger Lee Stempniak.

Milestones that could be reached in 2011-12

Tuesday, 08.30.2011 / 12:48 PM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - Columnist

Jarome Iginla
Right Wing - CGY
GOALS: 43 | ASST: 43 | PTS: 86
SOG: 289 | +/-: 0
Perhaps more than any other sport, hockey is a team game. Winning a Stanley Cup requires 20 players performing a variety of roles and working together for a common goal.

This doesn't mean that individual accomplishments aren't important; it's just that no player wants to be seen as placing his own stats before the achievements of his team. Milestones are still something to be celebrated -- as long as they fit into the team context.

Here's a look at some players who have a good chance to reach individual milestones during the 2011-12 season:

Sid not the only star coming back from a major injury

Friday, 08.26.2011 / 10:14 AM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - Columnist

The Pittsburgh Penguins hope Sidney Crosby will be cleared for contact as he works to return from a concussion that ended his season in early January. There's no definite date set for his return, but they're hoping he'll be able to play by opening night or soon afterward.

But Crosby is not the only key player -- or even the only key Penguin -- who's working to come back from an injury that ended his 2010-11 season early. Here are seven other players whose return is critical to their teams' success.
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Quote of the Day

It's always a little bit weird, but it moves on. They've got a good team, and they played well tonight. I think that's just part of it.

— Peter Laviolette on facing his former team (Flyers) for the first time since his departure