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NHL Insider

Fletcher discusses Wild's early success on 'NHL Hour'

Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 8:11 PM / NHL Insider


The Minnesota Wild, a team that has missed the playoffs in each of the last three seasons, begins December at the top of the overall NHL standings after the best start in franchise history. GM Chuck Fletcher discussed his team's early success Thursday on "The NHL Hour with Commissioner Gary Bettman."

Fletcher, son of Hall of Fame executive Cliff Fletcher, fired coach Todd Richards after last season's disappointing finish and replaced him with Mike Yeo, who had coached the Wild's AHL affiliate, the Houston Aeros, to the Calder Cup Finals last spring. He also made a pair of major trades with San Jose, sending defenseman Brent Burns to the Sharks for young forward Devin Setoguchi, a top prospect taken with the eighth pick in 2005, then swapping Martin Havlat for Dany Heatley in a 1-for-1 exchange of forwards.

"We wanted a trade that would make us better now and add prospects for the future," he said of the Burns deal. "I believe it's a trade that will help both teams."

The remodeled Wild have been at their best in close games -- they've won 10 of 16 contests decided by one goal. Fletcher said that's a reflection of the way the team is structured, from the coach on down.

After wild ride, Boudreau right to work with Ducks

Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 8:07 PM / NHL Insider

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

ANAHEIM, Calif. -- The loyalty that Anaheim Ducks general manager Bob Murray showed Randy Carlyle was extraordinary in the modern NHL.

The Ducks stumbled out of the gate year after year following their 2007 Stanley Cup run and even missed the playoffs in 2010. Yet Murray not only stood behind Carlyle through every crisis, he gave him a three-year contract extension in August to keep him behind the bench through 2014.

But Murray finally had to make one of the most difficult decisions of his executive career after disconcerting losses to Chicago and Toronto last week that were perhaps the worst of Carlyle's seven-year tenure.

Boudreau relieved over hiring, ready for Ducks challenge

Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 7:34 PM / NHL Insider


Bruce Boudreau admitted his head was still spinning as he appeared as a guest on Thursday's "NHL Hour With Commissioner Gary Bettman", but the former coach of the Washington Capitals who was fired this past Monday added his dizziness was a better feeling than if he hadn't accepted the coaching job with the Anaheim Ducks late Wednesday evening.

"Quite frankly I didn't leave myself enough chance when I did get fired to sit back and dwell on it because this happened so quick. I mean, if I had still been at home right now I'd probably be pretty miserable and sad," Boudreau said.

Capitals-Ducks meeting had major repercussions

Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 7:13 PM / NHL Insider

David Kalan - NHL.com Staff Writer

The cities of Anaheim and Washington, D.C. sit just under 2,300 miles away from each other, at opposite ends of North America and opposite ends of the National Hockey League.

Given the distance, it is unusual that two places should intersect so glaringly in any situation as they did in the past 30 days of Bruce Boudreau's wild ride, but in the sport of hockey that notion is particularly true. Having always played in opposite conferences, the two teams have faced off a grand total of 25 times in the 17 seasons both have been in the NHL, they have never played more than twice in a season, and on two occasions they went nearly two calendar years without seeing each other.

As a result, the teams have almost no collective history between them whatsoever, but sometimes the quirks of fate make an unexpected crossroad, and starting on the first day of November, and ending on the last, the Capitals and Ducks crossed paths in a way that sowed seeds of change that ultimately left Boudreau tasked with a massive reclamation project that he played a very real part in creating.

"I wouldn't have laid (odds on it)," Broudreau said when he was introduced as Anaheim's coach Thursday. "If I had a crystal ball this wouldn't have been something that I would have thought was going to happen."

Bettman addresses realignment talk on 'NHL Hour'

Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 6:38 PM / NHL Insider


With the topic of realignment scheduled to come up again at next week's Board of Governors meetings, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman discussed the matter at the opening of his weekly radio program Thursday night.

"There's a lot of speculation about what's going to happen on realignment, and the answer is, as I sit here today, I'm not sure," Bettman said.

"From the Board perspective of making whatever decision they want to make, people are all over the place. If you ask each of the 30 clubs what their preference is, my guess is you'd get 30 different preferences. And as a result, what we really have to do is find the biggest layer of common ground. You're not going to get everybody's first choice, but as we go through this process, and there are many steps of the realignment process that have to be done in and outside the boardroom, the fact of the matter is the starting point is to figure out what the will of the board is."

Blackhawks shift Kane back to right wing

Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 5:25 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

It wasn’t too long ago that Chicago Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville told reporters the experiment of moving Patrick Kane to center was “no longer an experiment.”

Things were going well then, with Kane flanked by the gritty Daniel Carcillo on the left and two-way star forward Marian Hossa on the right. It seemed like the playmaking Kane had found a new home on the ice for the long haul and it was right down the middle of it.

Well, the long haul lasted about a month. At Thursday’s practice in Chicago, Kane was moved back to his old spot of right wing on the top line -- which is centered by Hawks captain Jonathan Toews and includes speedster Viktor Stalberg on the left side. The “experiment” at second-line center now focuses on rookie Marcus Kruger, who’s worked his way up from being cut on the last day of training camp.

"Kane at center has been a good option for us," Quenneville told reporters after Thursday’s practice. "Kruger is playing well. It gives us a different look. We just wanted to try something else."

Doan ready for regular-season return to Winnipeg

Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 4:51 PM / NHL Insider

Patrick Williams - NHL.com Correspondent

"The connection between the two (organizations) is obviously there, and you can't deny that. You get excited about that. You get excited about people getting emotional about their team. The fans of Winnipeg love their Jets. They're going to be passionate about their team. They're not going to take kindly to anyone playing against them." -- Shane Doan

WINNIPEG -- Shane Doan and the city of Winnipeg both have done considerable growing since April 1996.

When Doan last played hockey in this city for the original Winnipeg Jets, he was a 19-year-old NHL rookie battling the attendant pressures of being a first-round selection with a club facing relocation. Doan played 74 games with the original Jets in that 1995-96 season, notching 7 goals, before the club moved to Phoenix.

Doan needed some time to evolve into the franchise player he is now. He spent half a season in the American Hockey League at one point and did not break out until his fifth pro season, when he scored 26 goals for the 1999-2000 Coyotes. Doan's 1,142 NHL games lead the franchise, and he trails only Nicklas Lidstrom and Martin Brodeur among active players for the most games played with one team. Along the way, Doan also built a family and became a key public face for the Coyotes in the competitive Phoenix sports market.

Contract extension comes as relief to Krejci

Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 3:11 PM / NHL Insider

Matt Kalman - NHL.com Correspondent

BOSTON -- It turns out it wasn't the recent trade rumors that motivated Boston Bruins center David Krejci to break a nine-game goal drought and lead his team past the Toronto Maple Leafs into first place in the Northeast Division Wednesday night.

It was actually his celebratory mood that inspired Krejci's 1-goal, 2-assist performance in the Bruins' 12th win in their last 13 games.

The 25-year-old native of the Czech Republic had signed a three-year contract extension with the team in general manager Peter Chiarelli's hotel room prior to the game, it was revealed during a Thursday press conference at the TD Garden. Any distractions his uncertain status was causing Krejci during his recent scoring slump were wiped away with one stroke of the pen.

"Well, I know that my agent and Peter talked in the summer. I didn't know what was going on," said Krejci, who was scheduled to be a restricted free agent next summer but will now make $5.25 million annually beginning next season. "Obviously, it was on my mind a little bit, especially when things weren't going my way at the beginning of the season. And it got me thinking, you know. But then we got a deal done and I'm happy to be here for more years and now I can just focus on hockey."

Despite sizzling start, Crosby looks to get better

Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 3:08 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

WASHINGTON -- He has 11 points in five games after spending 10 and a half months on the shelf recovering from a concussion, and yet nobody around the Pittsburgh Penguins is surprised with how quickly Sidney Crosby has raced back onto the scene and into the NHL scoring race.

"Not really. Not really at all," linemate Pascal Dupuis told NHL.com. "He was with us in practice and we could see his speed and everything was still there. He was the best guy in practice for the last couple of weeks before he got back. We kind of had that feeling that he was going to come back on top of his game. But to come back like this and look the same as he did before is probably what surprises other people."

"He's played some awesome hockey," added Penguins coach Dan Bylsma. "The way he's prepared for months coming into playing these games has been at a high level, so you expected to see him at that high level speed-wise and skill-wise."

If Crosby stays at his current pace of 2.2 points per game and doesn't miss another game, he would finish with 136 points this season. That would give him the most points for any NHL player since 1995-96, when Mario Lemieux put up 161 points and Jaromir Jagr had 149.

Even if you think it's unrealistic for him to continue at such a torrid pace, Crosby has at least landed himself in the discussion for this season's Art Ross Trophy. He has 57 games to make up the 21 points that current leader Phil Kessel has on him right now.

New set of challenges face Boudreau in Anaheim

Thursday, 12.01.2011 / 2:45 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

That didn't take long.
A little less than 72 hours after being released from his duties in Washington, Bruce Boudreau resurfaced as head coach of the Anaheim Ducks on Wednesday night when general manager Bob Murray fired Randy Carlyle with the team 14th in the Western Conference despite a 4-1 win over the Canadiens.
So now that Boudreau becomes the fastest coach in League history to go from fired to hired, the big question is can he turn around a team that has been entrenched in a six-week free-fall. After opening the season 4-1-0, the Ducks have suffered several bad stretches, including losing streaks of six and seven games.
While many would agree that the 56-year-old Boudeau has a proven track record in the regular season, the 2008 Jack Adams Award winner has suffered miserably in the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Boudreau sported an impressive 201-88-40 regular-season record in four-plus seasons with the Caps, but was never able to guide the club past the second round of the playoffs.
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