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NHL Insider

Hockey wives coming to aid of Lokomotiv victims

Thursday, 09.22.2011 / 5:41 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

Dozens of hockey families were touched by tragedy earlier this month when a plane carrying the Lokomotiv Yarsolavl hockey team of the Kontinental Hockey League crashed in Central Russia.

No one will ever forget those lost on the Yak-42 airliner that went down shortly after takeoff on Sept. 7.

In an effort to keep their spirits alive and provide some monetary relief for the families affected, hockey wives Kodette LaBarbera, Katerina Jokinen, Brijet Whitney and Erica Lundmark are hoping to make a difference.

Former Dallas teammates call Modano franchise icon

Thursday, 09.22.2011 / 11:27 AM / NHL Insider

Steve Hunt - Correspondent

"Simply the best Dallas Star to ever put on the jersey. It's going to be a lot of years before anyone comes around like Mike Modano again. He is the epitome of what it is to be a Dallas Star." -- Steve Ott

FRISCO, Texas -- Being the face of a franchise is not a role just any player can take on. It takes a special individual -- not just on the ice, but off it, as well.

During his 21 NHL seasons -- 20 of which were spent as either a Minnesota North Star or Dallas Star, Mike Modano epitomized exactly what the face of a franchise should be.

In 1,499 NHL games, he finished with 1,374 points, the most ever for an American-born player. He was an eight-time NHL All-Star and part of the Stars' Stanley Cup-winning team in 1999.

Johansson ready for bigger role with Caps

Wednesday, 09.21.2011 / 7:29 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Teams with aspirations of winning the Stanley Cup don't often deploy a 20-year-old with no experience playing hockey in North America in a prominent role, but Marcus Johansson earned a spot on opening-night roster for the Washington Capitals last season and ended up being one of the team's top forwards by the end of the campaign.

His final numbers -- 13 goals and 27 points in 69 games -- undermine the positive strides he made in the second half of the season and how integral he became to a team that lost its offensive mojo.

The question is: What should we expect for an encore?

"Your hope is that his development went from here to here to here [making the outline of a set of stairs] and now that it continues to higher level," Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau said. "If it rises to higher levels -- we thought he was pretty good at the end of the year. For a guy that hadn't played that many games, he got stronger as the year went on. I don't think it is unfair to expect more of the same as it was at the end of the year and beyond than he was at the beginning of the year." 

Reunion takes Toews brothers back to childhood days

Wednesday, 09.21.2011 / 5:39 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Their "locker room" once was the kitchen.

"Who knows if that’ll ever happen again? I think it was a pretty cool thing. Not too many people get the chance to do that, where everything kind of aligns and that can happen. So for us to get a shift or two together at this level is a pretty amazing thing." -- Jonathan Toews

Their home ice used to be a rink their father made each winter, staying up all night to carefully move an elevated sprinkler around to get the surface just right. There even were lights so they could play at night -- and so their parents could call them in -- and a trail of rubber mats leading out there from the kitchen.

That was where Jonathan Toews and his younger brother, David Toews, first fell in love with ice hockey.

"We'd play 1-on-1 all night," said David, a 21-year old center prospect who recently became teammates with his older brother after the Chicago Blackhawks acquired him from the New York Islanders. "My dad built lights for the rink and you could turn them on and off from inside the house, so when it'd be time for dinner or we'd have to go to bed or something, he'd just flash the lights. We'd try to stay out as long as we could -- until we could hear them yelling from the house for us to come in."

Poulin recovered, ready to compete for time with Isles

Monday, 09.19.2011 / 9:43 AM / NHL Insider

Pete Jensen - Staff Writer

Kevin Poulin
Goalie - NYI
RECORD: 4-2-1
GAA: 2.44 | SVP: 0.924
When goaltending prospect Kevin Poulin suffered an unlikely -- yet severe -- setback last February, an already shaky situation in net got even worse for the New York Islanders.

Poulin, who was in the midst of a promising start through the first 10 games of his NHL career, dislocated his kneecap during pregame warm-ups prior to the Islanders' Feb. 8 game against Toronto, causing him to have season-ending surgery.

But seven months later, as New York charges into training camp with a healthy arsenal of goaltenders, the 21-year-old is fully healed and ready to re-establish himself as a viable option in the crease for the Islanders organization.

550 miles in two days? No problem for Webb, Lafontaine

Sunday, 09.18.2011 / 4:26 PM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer

When Steve Webb started looking for a partner to ride alongside him from Toronto to New York to help raise money and awareness for charity, he didn't have to look far.

The former Islander volunteers as an assistant coach with the Long Island Royals, an under-16 hockey team coached by Hockey Hall-of-Famer Pat LaFontaine. A close friend and veteran of multiple triathlons, LaFontaine was happy to join Webb.

But he had a problem with the time commitment. A ride like that, which travels approximately 550 miles, usually encompasses up to nine days.

McCrimmon remembered as player, family man

Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 8:13 PM / NHL Insider

FARMINGTON, Mich. -- Brad McCrimmon was many things to many people during his hockey career.

Saturday, during a funeral service at Our Lady of Sorrows Catholic Church, Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock remembered McCrimmon as both a hockey player that was among the most physically imposing of his generation and also as a loving family man. 

McCrimmon, 52, died in the crash of a chartered Yak-42 airplane that crashed shortly after takeoff in the Russian town of Yaroslavl. The plane carried the Lokomotiv hockey team, which was travelling to Minsk, Belarus for its first game of the Kontinental Hockey League season. Thirty-seven members of the Lokomotiv franchise were among the 44 people to die in the crash. Among the players to die were former Red Wings defenseman Ruslan Salei and former goaltending prospect Stefan Liv

Alfredsson sees skating, transition as Sen's hallmarks

Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 7:52 PM / NHL Insider

Erin Nicks - Correspondent

KANATA, Ont. -- In season No. 16 with the Ottawa Senators, Daniel Alfredsson is looking forward to spending time with a younger squad. But as long as Paul MacLean is coach, he better get used to pumping his legs – a lot.

This Ottawa club is destined to become a skating team, which Alfredsson quickly discovered after his first scrimmage and practice on Saturday.

"It was pretty fast-paced," Alfredsson said. "A lot of skating, but I thought it was pretty good. We had a good video session before practice where we went over back-checking situations and in-our-own-zone coverage; then we worked on them in practice. Then we played the scrimmage and I thought it was a good pace overall."

Mueller pleased with return after missing over a year

Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 7:25 PM / NHL Insider

Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent

CENTENNIAL, Colo. – It's quite possible Peter Mueller was never happier about getting banged around than he was Saturday during two scrimmages as the Colorado Avalanche opened training camp at the Family Sports Center.
The physical sessions were the first for the 23-year-old left wing since he suffered a concussion in a preseason game a year ago, one that cost him the entire 2010-11 season.

"I took a couple hits and I gave some hits, and I didn't really feel anything," Mueller said later. "I'm extremely happy with today. It's another step in recovering."
A healthy Mueller could do wonders for the Avalanche, which lost a franchise-record 474 man games to injuries last year and missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs with a 30-44-8 record and 68 points, the second-worst figure in the NHL.

Opening of camp intensifies hockey fever in Winnipeg

Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 6:26 PM / NHL Insider

Patrick Williams - Correspondent

WINNIPEG – A 15-year wait for a new era of the Winnipeg Jets officially ended for the city's ravenous hockey fans on Saturday morning.

Veteran Nik Antropov will go down in lore as the first Jets player to hit the ice at 9 a.m. as the Winnipeg team officially started training camp at the MTS Iceplex, the club's gleaming year-old practice facility. A packed building of 1,500 fans greeted Antropov -- and the teammates who followed his lead -- with unrestrained cheering and the city's ubiquitous "Go Jets Go" chant that has been breaking out at various points across the city since the team moved from Atlanta this spring.

On the ice, the club had three separate briskly paced sessions. Head coach Claude Noel's practice sessions are always lively, and the excitement that comes with the opening of training camp only quickened the pace.
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We've got to find a way to win a game. He's played well in the minors, now he gets his opportunity. We tried [with Jonathan Bernier]. The way I look at it, you get opportunities and you make the most of it. That's what [James Reimer] did. Now another opportunity is here and Sparks ... you gotta grab it. Is he ready? We'll find out.

— Maple Leafs coach Mike Babcock to the Toronto Star on recalling goalie Garret Sparks from the AHL to start Monday in his NHL debut
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