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NHL Insider

Laviolette was rookie coach when attacks occurred

Friday, 09.09.2011 / 6:44 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

The tragedies of Sept. 11, 2001 will resonate with anyone who was old enough to understand the gravity of what happened. It's one of those moments where you remember exactly where you were and what you were doing when the terrorist attacks happened 10 years ago Sunday.

Philadelphia Flyers coach Peter Laviolette is no exception.

"I was probably two minutes into my first training camp as a head coach in the National Hockey League," he said. "Day 1. I'll never forget."

Laviolette was a 37-year-old first-year coach of the New York Islanders on that fateful day. The Islanders were holding training camp in Lake Placid, N.Y., and Laviolette had just led the first group of players onto the ice.

"I might have heard first from the players, but shortly after that, five after nine or seven after nine, (General Manager) Mike Milbury came over and told me what had happened," Laviolette said. "Nobody was sure at that point. We didn't really know."

Leetch still feels loss of close friend in 9/11 attacks

Friday, 09.09.2011 / 4:02 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

Brian Leetch has no memory of scoring the overtime winner. He barely remembers playing in the game.

It was Oct. 6, 2001, the New York Rangers' first regular-season home game in the post-9/11 world. Leetch's job forced him to be on the ice at Madison Square Garden that night, but looking back on it, his mind was elsewhere.

Leetch was lost somewhere between the devastation he felt as a person who called New York City home and the heartache he was enduring as one of thousands who lost a dear friend in the World Trade Center the morning of Sept. 11, 2001. 

Kesler still unsure when he'll be able to return

Friday, 09.09.2011 / 1:51 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

The only guarantee Selke Trophy winner Ryan Kesler can offer is that he won't be able to join his teammates on the ice in Vancouver when training camp begins next week. The Canucks center had surgery to repair a tear in his hip in late July and he's nowhere near being ready to play yet.

"Not a chance," Kesler told Friday during the Player Media Tour.

So if he's not ready for training camp, can it be assumed he won't be ready for the start of the season either?

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.
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Quote of the Day

There's standards that this team is going to play to and there are expectations. We're going to hold these guys accountable to high standards.

— Coach Dave Lowry on Canada's junior team, the defending IIHF World Junior champions