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NHL Insider

D-man Hamrlik has withstood the test of time

Thursday, 03.17.2011 / 1:30 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

MONTREAL -- Montreal Canadiens defenseman Roman Hamrlik will be joining a select group of players Thursday night when he suits up for his 1,300th career game against the team that drafted him with the first pick in the 1992 Entry Draft, the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Hamrlik will become just the 49th player and 16th defenseman in NHL history to reach the 1,300 game mark, and he is one of only four active players -- along with Boston's Mark Recchi and Detroit's Mike Modano and Nicklas Lidstrom -- to play that many.

Even though Hamrlik has played for five NHL clubs over his 19-year career, he said what he will appreciate most about this moment will be the jersey on his back.

With Pronger out, Gustafsson gets his chance

Thursday, 03.17.2011 / 1:19 PM / NHL Insider

John Manasso - Correspondent

ATLANTA -- With Chris Pronger out with a hand injury, the Philadelphia Flyers are tinkering with defensemen.

Rookie Erik Gustafsson will play the second game of his career and first since Feb. 26 on Thursday against the Thrashers while veteran Nick Boynton, claimed off waivers from Chicago shortly before the trade deadline, will sit out. Boynton has only played in three games for the Flyers since arriving, all of them since Pronger missed his first game on March 10. Boynton played 11:24 in his first game with Philadelphia, 17:54 against Atlanta last Saturday in a game in which the Flyers lost 5-4 in overtime after taking a 3-0 lead into the third period, and only 5:39 in Tuesday's 3-2 win at Florida in which he was on ice for both of the Panthers' even-strength goals. He posted an even rating in the first two games.

Boynton, 32, had been playing on the third pair with Sean O'Donnell, 39, and it's possible that Flyers coach Peter Laviolette was looking for a little more mobility on the backline with the 22-year-old Gustafsson, an undrafted player out of Northern Michigan who had five goals and 31 assists in 59 games for Adirondack of the AHL and only 10 penalty minutes.

"He's already been here once," Laviolette said of Gustafsson, who was a healthy scratch on Tuesday after being called up. "I think we got a good idea of what type of player he is and right now at this point he's had a good year. He gets up here, he gets experience before the playoff happen."

Pacioretty could return to Canadiens for playoffs

Thursday, 03.17.2011 / 12:13 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

MONTREAL -- There was good news on the health of Montreal Canadiens forward Max Pacioretty on Thursday as coach Jacques Martin announced he will be allowed to begin working out a week from Saturday with an eye toward accepting contact in practice within 3-5 weeks.

It was a surprising and welcome update seeing as it was only last Tuesday that everyone watched in horror as Pacioretty was wheeled off the ice on a stretcher with his head immobilized after being hit by Boston Bruins defenseman Zdeno Chara and having his head driven into a stanchion.

"It's encouraging, because at one time it was a question mark whether he would be able to come back and play, so that's good news," Martin said. "And it's encouraging that he'll be able to start his training in a short time and should be able to play in the playoffs."

Martin said Pacioretty will remain on complete rest until March 26, at which point the normal concussion protocol will be respected as he begins workouts.

Ovechkin, Datsyuk are two one-of-a-kind players

Wednesday, 03.16.2011 / 3:09 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

"It's not so much about me and Datsyuk right now. It's two good teams playing against each other. We have good players and they have good players, so it's going to be a good match."
-- Alex Ovechkin

DETROIT -- It's like choosing between a Ferrari and a Lamborghini.
Almost everybody who follows the NHL seems to have an opinion about which Russian superstar they'd take if forced to pick between Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin and Detroit Red Wings center Pavel Datsyuk.
Pav or Ovi? Ginger or Mary Ann? Is there even a correct answer here?
Probably depends on which uniform you wear, but one thing is certain -- whenever Datsyuk (22 G, 34 A) and Ovechkin (28 G, 46 A) play each other, it's "must-watch" television. That will be the case on Wednesday night, when "Ovi" and the Capitals invade Joe Louis Arena to face "Pav" and the Red Wings (7:30 p.m. Versus, RIS).

New concussion protocol goes into effect tonight

Wednesday, 03.16.2011 / 2:54 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- The revised NHL Protocol for Concussion Evaluation and Management goes into effect starting with Wednesday's games.
Starting tonight, players suspected of having a concussion will be removed from the game and sent to a quiet place free from distraction so they can be examined by the on-site team physician. The physician will use the Sports Concussion Assessment Tool test to evaluate the player. Symptoms include loss of consciousness, motor incoordination or balance problems, a blank or vacant look, slow to get up after a hit to the head, disorientation, clutching of the head after a hit or visible facial injury in combination with another symptom.
In the past any player showing concussion symptoms was assessed on the bench by the team trainer.

Day 3 of meetings sees GMs discuss replay expansion

Wednesday, 03.16.2011 / 2:30 PM / NHL Insider

Shawn P. Roarke - Senior Managing Editor

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- After two days of intensive debate about potential head-hit legislation and concussion prevention, the League's general managers spent their final day here discussing a myriad of other issues affecting the game.

Wednesday's discussions mostly revolved around video review protocols, the possibility of adding a coach's challenge and the rules governing the legality of shootout attempts.

The concept of using shallower goal nets also was discussed as a possible way to create better passing angles, more maneuverability behind the net and facilitate the ability of attacking players to attempt warp-around tries for goal.

There also was a fair bit of discussion about re-working the annual NHL/CHL Top Prospects Game to perhaps add more testing elements to the game.

Button thinks GMs moving in the right direction

Wednesday, 03.16.2011 / 2:06 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Craig Button nearly jumped out of his sun-drenched chair Wednesday while chatting with

"I don't think there is enough credit given to NHL Hockey Operations and the managers for looking at where the game is at. You get to this point and there are hot-button topics that are there, but they are talking about these things long before. They don't just show up here with an idea and say, 'Let's do it.'"
-- Craig Button

Button, the former general manager turned NHL Network analyst, covered the proceedings here for the last three days with a unique perspective as the only member of the media who has actually sat inside the General Managers Meetings and voiced his opinion.
He wants everyone to know that nothing the GMs have talked about here has been a result of a kneejerk reaction to any one play or hit. That's just not how they operate.
"I don't think there is enough credit given to NHL Hockey Operations and the managers for looking at where the game is at," Button told "You get to this point and there are hot-button topics that are there, but they are talking about these things long before. They don't just show up here with an idea and say, 'Let's do it.'"

Three players adding to iron men totals tonight

Tuesday, 03.15.2011 / 5:45 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

An 82-game NHL regular season can be a war of attrition, with anything from a flu bug to a wayward puck being enough to sideline even the toughest of competitors.

But for three special players, Tuesday's games will mark pretty impressive milestones.

In Calgary, the Flames' Jay Bouwmeester will play his 496th consecutive game, setting a new League record for consecutive games played by a defenseman. He's currently tied with Dallas' Karlis Skrastins.

Stricter penalties, supplemental discipline keys

Tuesday, 03.15.2011 / 5:03 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

"Boarding and charging is a focus of attention for us, particularly in terms of seeking stricter enforcement, more aggressive enforcement." -- NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- The NHL and its 30 general managers believe stricter enforcement of boarding and charging penalties, as well as harsher supplemental discipline for the offenders, are feasible and immediate ways of making the game safer for players.

The GMs have spent two days here discussing player safety, specifically as it relates to reducing the number of concussions. They believe that defining standards for boarding and charging, and putting the onus on the referees and the players to interpret those standards, will create a safer environment, especially along the boards, where a great number of concussions have occurred this season.

GMs unable to reach consensus on ban of head hits

Tuesday, 03.15.2011 / 4:33 PM / NHL Insider

Shawn P. Roarke - Senior Managing Editor

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- In the end, a universal ban on hits to the heads was not the level to which the League's general managers wanted to travel at this week's meetings here.

Instead, they opted to recommend that existing rules governing boarding and charging be more stringently applied. They also believe the threat of stiffer supplementary discipline for those that deliver illegal hits to the head, as well as for repeat offenders in the League's supplemental discipline process, will have the necessary chilling effect to make the NHL workplace a far safer one.

"By the time the season is over there will be 55,000 hits, and a small percentage are resulting in concussions," Bettman said. "We want to eliminate concussions, but the view is, if we can define a rule that makes sense and doesn't cause other problems in the game, we're going to try and do that."

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Quote of the Day

For us it's a little bit different. I've never been in front of this much media. This is more than we've ever had to deal with in Tampa. I guess we're on a little bit bigger stage now. It's nice, you have to enjoy it. This doesn't happen too often.

— Lightning forward J.T. Brown after his first Media Day experience on Tuesday in preparation of Game 1 on Wednesday