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NHL Insider

Brewers' Morgan played junior hockey in Canada

Friday, 09.30.2011 / 12:21 PM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer

In a sport with its share of quirky characters, there might not be a baseball player quite like Nyjer Morgan.

In his first season with the Milwaukee Brewers, the center fielder has established a number of career highs and will be playing in the postseason for the first time. He's had fun doing it, too, giving some of sport's most colorful post-game interviews and adopting nicknames like Tony Plush and Tony Tombstone. But before any of these alter-egos existed in baseball, Morgan was the junior hockey player known as Flash.

"I was Flash Morgan," he told "Skating around, I was fast, so everybody called me Flash Morgan."

Black and blue: Brown tops among U.S. hitters

Friday, 09.30.2011 / 11:46 AM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

There are times in the heat of battle when a big hit can provide just the impetus a team needs to begin a momentous charge.

For the last six seasons, American-born forward Dustin Brown of the Los Angeles Kings has proven to be quite the momentum-changer. Since 2005-06, no player born in the United States has racked up more body checks than the 6-foot, 204-pound native of Ithaca, N.Y.

Last season, Brown finished third in the League and first among American-born players with 300 hits. He certainly made the most of those bumps and bruises, too.

Sharks following GM's orders perfectly

Friday, 09.30.2011 / 10:40 AM / NHL Insider

Eric Gilmore - Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- A strong preseason doesn't guarantee wins once the real games begin, but undefeated is undefeated, and the Sharks appear to have heard general manager Doug Wilson's demand for a fast start this season loud and clear.

The Sharks improved to 5-0 Thursday with a 3-0 victory at HP Pavilion against the Vancouver Canucks, the team that beat them last season in the Western Conference Finals. They have one preseason game to go, Saturday at Phoenix. After that, they'll have six more days to fine-tune their revamped roster before opening the season Oct. 8 at home against the Coyotes.

For Sharks defenseman Jason Demers, that season-opener can't come soon enough.

Injuries could open up spot on Hawks for Saad

Thursday, 09.29.2011 / 3:55 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- On Wednesday morning, it still remained unclear how the Chicago Blackhawks could possibly keep impressive 18-year old rookie Brandon Saad with them to start the season.

Now the picture has become a little clearer, after injuries to forwards Viktor Stalberg, Ben Smith and Dave Bolland in a preseason game on Wednesday night against the rival Detroit Red Wings.

Hawks coach Joel Quenneville said Stalberg (lower body) is expected to be out three weeks after an apparent leg-to-leg collision with a Red Wings player, while Smith and Bolland are day-to-day with upper-body injuries.

Quenneville said Bolland's injury isn't related to his concussion from late last season, while Smith appeared to be knocked unconscious in the third period on Wednesday by a big hit from Detroit rookie defenseman Brendan Smith that earned him a game misconduct.

Well-rested Hossa hoping for healthy season

Thursday, 09.29.2011 / 1:13 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- It might sound a little odd, but goals and assists aren't the primary concern for Marian Hossa this season.

Those surely will pile up for the Blackhawks forward if he can achieve his primary goal: Staying healthy.

Sounds easy enough, but staying healthy for a full season is something the 32-year-old Hossa hasn't done since playing all 82 games with the Atlanta Thrashers in 2006-07. In each of the four seasons since, while playing on four teams, Hossa has battled multiple injuries.

Noel makes tough cuts for Jets

Wednesday, 09.28.2011 / 12:53 PM / NHL Insider

Patrick Williams - Correspondent

WINNIPEG -- The cut-down day process in the NHL is not entirely unlike that found in high-school sports programs.

A list of player names hangs on a wall. Players are to report to the coach's office, though the news is not in question. There, the coach will take time to speak with the player, an opportunity to offer encouragement and direction. A player then heads off to his new home.

Positional needs, contract status, training-camp play and simple human intuition all factor into the decisions that will shape League rosters heading into opening night Oct. 6. Some of the choices are obvious because of youth and inexperience. Other decisions are much more difficult. The names and organizational needs vary, but the dynamics are quite similar across all 30 NHL member cities.

After that process, the rest depends on the player and the attitude that he packs with him on his way to the American Hockey League, or back to his junior team.

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."
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Quote of the Day

It's not just going to happen on its own. We have to have guys commit to the areas we need to improve on. We're going to be better than last year but there is still a long way to go. But I really like the pieces and where we're headed.

— Sabres forward Tyler Ennis on the progress of Buffalo's rebuilding process