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NHL Insider

Campoli happy to have found a home

Tuesday, 09.27.2011 / 4:57 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

BROSSARD, Que. -- Chris Campoli arrived in Montreal on Tuesday and added to what was already a crowded Canadiens blue line, which begs the question as to why an unrestricted free agent defenseman would want to put himself in that situation.

The simple answer is that for Campoli, it was better than the alternative.

So instead of working out with his hometown Mississauga St. Michael's Majors of the Ontario Hockey League while waiting for the phone to ring on Tuesday, Campoli was skating alongside Josh Gorges at Canadiens practice.

"It wasn't the ideal situation, there's no doubt about that," Campoli said of his in-limbo status since becoming an unrestricted free agent July 22 when the Chicago Blackhawks walked away from a $2.5 million arbitration award. 

Bruins-Canadiens rivalry evident even in preseason

Tuesday, 09.27.2011 / 12:04 AM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

MONTREAL -- Carey Price was having a bit of trouble shaking the rust at Montreal Canadiens training camp. As it turns out, all he needed was the right opponent.

"I think it might have been just seeing a Boston uniform, it might have rolled the clock back a little bit," Price said after making 30 saves in a 2-1 loss to the Bruins at the Bell Centre on Monday night. "But I felt a lot better tonight."

The Canadiens-Bruins rivalry was revived for another year with back-to-back preseason games Sunday and Monday in Halifax and Montreal, and while the casual fan might figure it wouldn't compare to the regular season, the players involved beg to differ.

Kane happy to be center of attention -- even temporarily

Monday, 09.26.2011 / 6:03 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Sunday's news that Chicago Blackhawks star right wing Patrick Kane will get at least a brief look at center on the second line wasn't just a spur-of-the-moment hunch.

Rather, it was something the team's front office and coaching staff has kicked around for a while -- dating back to the summer. After centering the Hawks' second line between Andrew Brunette and Marian Hossa in a practice at the United Center on Monday, Kane told reporters that Hawks General Manager Stan Bowman approached him with the idea a couple months ago.

"Stan just came up to me and asked me over the summer," said Kane, who appeared a little unsure of the idea. "I said I'd be willing to try it if they wanted to. He didn't tell me why. He just said it was something they wanted to try."

Horton's return to action is a great first stride

Monday, 09.26.2011 / 5:06 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

MONTREAL – The last time we saw Nathan Horton on the ice, it wasn't a very comforting sight.

In fact, it was downright scary to anyone who saw him laying on the ice in Game 3 of the Stanley Cup Final after being levelled by a late check from Vancouver defenseman Aaron Rome.

So when Horton suited up with the Boston Bruins in Halifax on Sunday night to face the rival Montreal Canadiens in a preseason game, it wasn't only a huge relief for him, but to anyone who witnessed the aftermath of the hit that sidelined HortOn for the final four games of Boston's Stanley Cup triumph against the Canucks.

"To me he looked like a guy who hadn't missed a beat, he skated well, he moved the puck well, he made some tough plays, won some battles, had some quality chances," Bruins coach Claude Julien said Monday, hours before his team was to play the Canadiens for the second time in as many nights. "I really liked his game for a guy who hadn't played since midway through the Finals."

Blackhawks considering Kane at center

Sunday, 09.25.2011 / 9:45 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

DETROIT -- The Chicago Blackhawks have already moved Patrick Kane away from his old neighbor Jonathan Toews inside the locker room.

Now there's a possibility Kane could also be moved away from Toews on the ice -- to center on the second line. Following a 4-3 shootout loss to the rival Detroit Red Wings on Sunday at Joe Louis Arena, Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said he's seriously contemplating the idea.

Kane, who hasn't played center since 2008 for former Hawks coach Denis Savard, could see time there in Chicago's remaining exhibition games.

"We might try (Patrick) Kane at center," Quenneville said. "It's something we're going to at least take a look at."

Red Wings transitioning on the fly

Sunday, 09.25.2011 / 6:06 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

DETROIT -- If you've ever wondered how the Detroit Red Wings are going to keep competing for Stanley Cups without going through a major rebuilding season, you're not alone.

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock has the same questions. The only difference is that he isn't all that concerned about it. He's not exactly waiting for the fall that some think is the inevitable for Detroit's hockey dynasty. One look at Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland and assistant GM Jim Nill is all the reassurance Babcock needs.

"I don't know how we're going to do it … I just know we're going to do it," Babcock told before Sunday's preseason game at Joe Louis Arena against the Chicago Blackhawks. "I didn't know how we were going to do it when I got here (in 2005). I just knew with Kenny Holland's leadership and Jim Nill, we were going to do it. I go into every year and I don't know how we're going to do it. I just know we are."

That kind of confidence might initially seem like blind faith, but how "blind" can it be when the Wings and Holland have disproven the naysayers so many times?

Crosby works out for Pens' ticket holders

Sunday, 09.25.2011 / 4:52 PM / NHL Insider

Alan Robinson - Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Sidney Crosby, encouraged by a setback-free training camp to date, gave several thousand Pittsburgh Penguins season ticket holders a welcomed surprise Sunday by taking part in a controlled scrimmage.
There was no contact -- Crosby still hasn't been cleared for such work as he recovers from a concussion -- in a session that focused mostly on set plays and faceoffs. He also participated in a shootout that ended the workout, snapping off a quick shot that was deflected high and wide by goaltender Scott Munroe.
"It was very controlled," coach Dan Bylsma said of the scrimmage. "It wasn't much of a display of skill, lines or matchups."
But it was No. 87 on the ice, and that was good enough for the season ticket holder-only audience.

Crawford out to avoid sophomore slump

Sunday, 09.25.2011 / 4:16 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- The question is rooted in a statistical comparison and Chicago Blackhawks goalie Corey Crawford is probably getting tired of hearing it.

Simply put, there are some who aren't entirely convinced that Crawford can elude the so-called "sophomore slump" after an eye-opening rookie season last year – in which he took over for Marty Turco mid-season as the starter and never looked back.

More specifically, however, Columbus Blue Jackets goalie Steve Mason is now being used as a comparison for Crawford – after Mason burst onto the scene in the 2009 season as a rookie and put up impressive numbers. The next season, Mason came back as the unquestioned starter and saw his stats take a big turn for the worse.

Is Crawford in for a similar letdown? Not if you ask him or his teammates and coaches.

Gaborik-Richards duo clicks in first start

Friday, 09.23.2011 / 11:41 PM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- It took just two shifts and a fortunate bounce for Brad Richards to make his presence felt as a member of the New York Rangers.

The summer's crown jewel of free agency scored 4:22 into the first period Friday night when his pass for Wojtek Wolski clipped off the skate of New Jersey Devils defenseman Adam Larsson and past goaltender Martin Brodeur. The goal came seconds after Richards put the puck on a tee to set up consecutive shots for Wolski and Marian Gaborik, and that trio was dangerous throughout the contest.

Richards added an assist on Gaborik's second-period power-play goal as the Rangers squeezed out a 4-3 victory in front of 14,719 at Prudential Center.

Jagr hopes to re-adjust to NHL game in debut

Friday, 09.23.2011 / 3:27 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

It's all systems go Friday when 39-year-old Jaromir Jagr begins his NHL comeback with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Jagr, who sat out Philadelphia's first three preseason games, finally will earn some playing time against the Detroit Red Wings at Joe Louis Arena in the club's fourth preseason game this week. For Jagr, it marks his first NHL game since 2007-08, when he led the New York Rangers with 71 points in 82 games.

Following a three-year stint with Avangard Omsk in the Kontinental Hockey League, the Flyers signed Jagr to a one-year deal worth $3.3 million on July 1.
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Quote of the Day

This is a great day for me. This is something I've been thinking about for a long time. This is a great opportunity that the St. Louis Blues organization, (owner) Tom Stillman and Doug Armstrong are giving me and trusting me in doing...This is going to be a great challenge for me.

— Martin Brodeur, after announcing his retirement as an NHL player and becoming a senior adviser with the Blues on Thursday