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NHL Insider

Recchi celebrates third Cup win in retirement

Sunday, 08.14.2011 / 10:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

KAMLOOPS, B.C. -- Mark Recchi has a reminder of his stellar 22-year career tattooed on the outside of his right ankle. It's also a reminder that he might be ready to be a rookie again soon.

Recchi swore to himself that he wouldn't get a tattoo until he was finished with his playing career. So, a week after the Bruins won the Stanley Cup and Recchi announced he was calling it a career, he sat in a chair and let an artist paint a permanent picture of the three most meaningful memories of his time skating in the NHL -- his three Stanley Cup championships.

"It worked out perfectly," Recchi told Saturday during his personal celebration with the Stanley Cup here in his hometown. "The guy did a great job."

Connolly ready to face challenge of Toronto

Friday, 08.12.2011 / 9:41 AM / NHL Insider

Lindsay Kramer - Correspondent

"I'm just looking forward to my time in Toronto, getting ready for that. That's what I'm thinking about now. I think the fan support there, it's just a hockey town. I think it will be just an exciting experience for me." -- Tim Connolly

All the players who sweated and laughed through the Craig Charron Memorial Classic on Sunday in Rochester, N.Y., had earned a few swigs of liquid refreshment.

A teammate offered a beverage to Tim Connolly, who, slapping his hand on a stomach that was as flat and hard as the stall in front of which he stood, politely declined.

"It's crunch time now, you know," he said of the real hockey action coming up. "I still have a ways to go. Now it's about skating and conditioning."

Connolly, at a taut 191 pounds and winded not at all, looked to be the very definition of a player in midseason form. But three months past his 30th birthday and heading into his 11th NHL season, he knew better than to stray from the course.

Seven candidates for a breakout season in 2011-12

Friday, 08.12.2011 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - Columnist

Michael Grabner and Logan Couture proved they were ready for prime time with breakout seasons in 2010-11, though they did it in different ways.

The two runners-up for the Calder Trophy (won by 18-year-old Jeff Skinner of Carolina) both came out of nowhere to pile up more than 30 goals. Grabner, a first-round pick by Vancouver in 2006, went from the Canucks to Florida to Long Island in just over three months, but rewarded the Islanders with a 34-goal season. Couture, who had a 25-game stint with San Jose in 2009-10, busted out with 32 goals and 56 points to help the Sharks win the Pacific Division for the fourth straight season.

Both came one year after one of the all-time breakout seasons -- Steven Stamkos, the No. 1 pick in the 2008 Entry Draft, jumped from 23 goals and 46 points as a rookie in 2008-09 to 51 goals and 95 points in '09-10, proving the Bolts were right to spend the top pick on him.

Ten candidates for a bounce-back season

Thursday, 08.11.2011 / 9:07 AM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - Columnist

Disappointing seasons happen to almost everyone. Sometimes they're because of injuries, sometimes they're just bad luck, and other times they are a combination of circumstances.

Here are 10 players who, for a variety of reasons, didn't have their best seasons in 2010-11 but are good candidates to bounce back in the upcoming campaign:

Marian Gaborik, Rangers ­-- Gaborik dropped from 42 goals in his first season in the Big Apple to 22 -- and even that wasn't as good as it seemed because 10 came in three games against non-playoff teams. Gaborik is healthy after missing 20 games last season, and the Rangers have brought in playmaker Brad Richards to get him the puck. Barring injuries, there's no reason the two-time 42-goal scorer shouldn't have another big year.

Seven who want to avoid one-hit wonder tag

Monday, 08.08.2011 / 12:46 PM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - Columnist

In music, they're known as "one-hit wonders" -- artists that have one hit record but never replicate that kind of success again.

The NHL has had its own version of one-hit wonders -- guys who were in the right spot at the right time for a season, but found out that doing it again wasn't as easy. The poster boy for hockey's one-hit wonders is 1980s forward Warren Young, who had 40 goals playing with Mario Lemieux in 1984-85 and never came close to that total again (he finished his career with 72).

Every year, a number of players come out of nowhere to put up numbers no one expected of them. The challenge for those who did it last season is to show in 2011-12 that they've got what it takes to repeat (or at least come close to) the numbers they put up in 2010-11.

Stevens leads list of hockey's biggest hitters

Saturday, 08.06.2011 / 10:00 AM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - Columnist

Hockey is a game of speed, skill and contact. There are few things in hockey that draw fans out of their seats like a big hit -- one player stepping into another at high speed, leaving the party of the receiving end wondering what happened, often after being sent flying through the air.

Hitting has been a part of hockey since the first puck was dropped. But as players have gotten bigger, faster and stronger, the level of physicality has continued to grow -- even as the number of fights has declined sharply over the last 25 years. Hard hitters don't have to be prolific fighters; they do, however, have to be willing to put their bodies on the line.

A look at some of the NHL's best teenage debuts

Thursday, 08.04.2011 / 4:00 AM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - Columnist

The Edmonton Oilers are hoping that Ryan Nugent-Hopkins' success in junior hockey carries over into his NHL career -- even though there are no guarantees that it will start this fall.

The Oilers took Nugent-Hopkins with the No. 1 pick in the Entry Draft, and they hope he'll be ready for a regular role at age 18 -- just as Taylor Hall was for Edmonton last season. Hall, the No. 1 pick in the 2010 Entry Draft, went through some growing pains but was playing some of his best hockey when an ankle injury ended his season prematurely. He finished with 22 goals and 42 points in 65 games.

The two previous No. 1 picks, Steven Stamkos (2008) and John Tavares (2009), both look like they'll go on to long and successful careers after entering the NHL immediately after being drafted as 18-year-olds. Stamkos had 21 goals as an 18-year-old, but his 96 goals in the past two seasons are the most in the NHL, while Tavares is coming off consecutive 20-goal seasons with the New York Islanders and shows signs that he's capable of a lot more.

You're never too old for a big season

Tuesday, 08.02.2011 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - Columnist

Though the NHL seems to be getting younger every year, the kids don't have a monopoly on big seasons.

Landmark achievements like seasons with 50 goals and 100 points, or winning the Norris or Vezina Trophy, usually belong to younger players. But players who have reached their 35th birthday have made plenty of history as well.

Here's a look at some of the best seasons by the NHL's 35-and-over crowd:


100 points
Gordie Howe, 1968-69 (age 41)
Johnny Bucyk, 1970-71 (age 35)
Wayne Gretzky, 1995-96 (age 35)
Joe Sakic, 2006-07 (age 37)

No athlete in the history of professional sports is comparable to Gordie Howe. "Mr. Hockey" was a great player when he was young and when he was old enough to be the father of some of his teammates. But his best NHL season, in terms of points, was in 1968-69. One day before his 41st birthday, Howe scored a goal in Detroit's 9-5 loss to Chicago (the Red Wings' 76th of 78 games) to reach the 100-point mark for the first (and only) time in his NHL career.

Some records may be etched in permanent ink

Thursday, 07.21.2011 / 6:51 PM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - Columnist

Once upon a time, Gordie Howe's 801 goals and Terry Sawchuk's 103 shutouts were deemed unbreakable -- records that would stand the test of time. Then, along came Wayne Gretzky and Martin Brodeur, who dropped the former Detroit teammates back to No. 2 in their respective categories.

Players like Gretzky and Brodeur have set standards for the players of today and tomorrow to shoot at. But there are some records that don't figure to be broken for a long time, if ever. Here are a few of them:

Longest consecutive point-scoring streak: Wayne Gretzky, 51 games

It would be easy to write multiple stories about the legion of Gretzky records that are all but impossible to break -- 894 goals and 2,857 points in a career; 92 goals and 215 points in single seasons, to name a few.

League's best at doing some of the little things

Monday, 07.18.2011 / 12:55 PM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - Columnist

Alex Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby are hockey icons because of their offensive skills -- after all, the basic premise of hockey is that you have to put the puck in the net more than the other guy, and Ovechkin and Crosby are better at doing that (or helping teammates do it) than just about anyone else around.

But there's more to winning hockey games than just scoring goals, and not even "Great 8" and "Sid the Kid" can do everything. Doing the dirty work and excelling at the little things plays a big role in winning games, as well.
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Quote of the Day

I would definitely love to play with him. He's a skilled player and over the years he definitely has shown that he can score a lot of goals. I think it would work out well.

— Montreal Canadiens forward Alex Galchenyuk on Alexander Semin