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NHL Insider

Young Isles relish showdown with the Rangers

Tuesday, 03.15.2011 / 12:47 PM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

"You just see the passion the fans have for it and it really pushes us as players to really want to beat the Rangers. I know the feeling's mutual between them and us, how we want to beat each other." -- Andrew MacDonald on the Islanders-Rangers rivalry

NEW YORK -- When it comes to the rivalry between the Islanders and Rangers, it's not that Frans Nielsen has any hatred toward the team that calls Madison Square Garden home -- it's that the fans do.

"You can talk with a lot of fans at practice or after games, and you can really feel that hate they have," said Nielsen, who is in his third full season with the Islanders. "You want to do it for your fans. You don't want to let them down. Especially when we play in a close game, when you sit on the bench, you can almost follow the fights in the stands. You can see that it's something special."
Defenseman Andrew MacDonald agreed.

Habs GM Gauthier: 'There is will to make game safer'

Monday, 03.14.2011 / 9:40 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- In his letter to his team's fans last week, Montreal Canadiens owner Geoff Molson wrote the team's general manager, Pierre Gauthier, would be present at the annual general managers meetings and would carry out the club's message regarding what it believes is the urgent need for improved player safety across the National Hockey League.
Gauthier said Monday he believes his counterparts around the League are on board and "there is a will to make the game safer."
"A lot of people have seen that we have a great game, we have a fast game and we have really improved the game with our new rules since the lockout, but one of the things that has crept in is there are some collisions at full speed," Gauthier added. "We need to address that fact. We need to adjust. I think there is definitely a will amongst the group here to do something."

Niemi, Crawford face each other tonight in Chicago

Monday, 03.14.2011 / 7:10 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO – They've battled head-to-head almost the entire time they've known each other, only now Antti Niemi and Corey Crawford are wearing different sweaters.

After competing against each other for two years as goalies in the Chicago Blackhawks organization, Niemi and Crawford now find themselves thriving this season starting for different NHL teams.

Niemi signed with the San Jose Sharks last summer as a free agent -- after beating Crawford for a roster spot and leading the Blackhawks to the Stanley Cup. His departure, prompted by the Hawks' salary-cap woes, opened a roster spot in Chicago for Crawford – who spent the previous five seasons with the American Hockey League's Rockford IceHogs.

Isles give fans at NHL Store optimism for future

Monday, 03.14.2011 / 6:42 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hunter - Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- During the question-and-answer session between several New York Islanders and fans Monday afternoon at the NHL Powered By Reebok Store, a question was posed to Kyle Okposo as to what special ingredient the team possesses that has been making it successful. The fan admitted he had only moved to the area and started following the team in January.

"You picked a good time to start watching us," Okposo said, drawing laughter from the crowd. "Nothing happened before then."

While that's not exactly true, the way the Islanders have been playing since mid-December has allowed their fan base to at least put a poor start to the 2010-11 season behind them, if not forget about it entirely.

And when Okposo, linemates Frans Nielsen and Michael Grabner and defenseman Andrew MacDonald appeared at the store as part of a panel hosted by commentator Billy Jaffe, they were greeted by a loud and enthusiastic throng that came out clad in Islanders apparel and eager to support their team.

Bettman discusses concussions, player safety

Monday, 03.14.2011 / 5:46 PM / NHL Insider

Shawn P. Roarke - Senior Managing Editor

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman insisted Monday the League is taking the appropriate steps to insure the safety of its players and that concussions do not represent an epidemic, despite highly publicized incidents in the past three months.

Bettman made his remarks at the end of the first of three days of meetings among NHL general managers, who have gathered at the Boca Beach Resort to discuss the state of the game in general, and more specifically the issues of head hits and concussions.

That work, according to Bettman, began in earnest during Monday's session. After a comprehensive report from NHL Hockey Operations, the general managers broke into three smaller groups to brainstorm ideas to make the game safer.

GMs appetite to improve player safety is strong

Monday, 03.14.2011 / 4:40 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- The general managers spent the first day of their annual meetings digesting a comprehensive presentation by the NHL's Hockey Operations Department that examined how and why concussions are caused.
The tone at the end of Monday's meeting here was positive. Many GMs said the appetite to create a safer workplace for the players is strong, but it's essential for them to take a wait-and-see approach for now. That's because there is plenty of debate about player safety, specifically as it relates to head hits, over the next two days.
Nobody can say for certain whether the GMs will recommend any type of rule change or new language for a current rule before parting ways on Wednesday afternoon, but the general feeling on Day 1 is there is a movement to improve the current standards regarding player safety in the NHL.


Study: Concussions from illegal hits down

Monday, 03.14.2011 / 1:22 PM / NHL Insider

Shawn P. Roarke - Senior Managing Editor

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Rule 48, born at last season's General Managers' meetings, was critiqued at the opening session of this year's GM meetings.

According to data compiled and studied by the NHL's Hockey Operations and delivered to the general managers Monday morning, there have been significant changes in the incidence of concussions during the League's 2010-11 season.

The meetings here began Monday and will run through Wednesday.

NHL GMs meetings to focus on head hits, Rule 48

Monday, 03.14.2011 / 6:30 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- The National Hockey League general managers will meet here beginning Monday to discuss the state of the game with an emphasis on player safety, specifically head hits and the impact of Rule 48, which was introduced this past spring.
The meetings will continue through Wednesday.
The NHL has been leading the four major professional sports leagues in concussion protocol since forming the Concussion Working Group in 1997. The League took a proactive step toward curbing concussions last year with Rule 48, which renders illegal any lateral or blindside hit where the head is targeted and/or becomes the principal point of contact.

Hawks savor visit to White House

Friday, 03.11.2011 / 9:55 PM / NHL Insider

Bob Condor - Editor-in-Chief

WASHINGTON­ -- President Barack Obama took a seven-minute shift with the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday, delivering a speech with the sort of hop and skip that team's coach, Joel Quenneville, seeks from his skaters.

"I thought the President had a great attitude," said Quenneville, who didn't seem to stop grinning the entire time he was on the South Lawn at the White House to recognize Chicago's first Stanley Cup since 1961 -- when, Obama quipped, a movie cost 69 cents, he was still in diapers and the "legendary" Glenn Hall played with a wooden stick and no mask.

Quenneville and his team had a 20-minute private meeting with the President before the ceremony outside.

Hejduk one goal shy of tying Sakic record

Friday, 03.11.2011 / 4:47 PM / NHL Insider

Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent

"It's still fun. Obviously it hasn't been as much (fun) as it used to be in the last couple months. But I try to still enjoy it. I still like the game and being around the guys. It'd be nice if we put some wins together. It would be more enjoyable."
-- Milan Hejduk

DENVER -- In what has become a depressing season for the Colorado Avalanche, veteran Milan Hejduk has been one of the few bright spots and is closing in on a record held by icon Joe Sakic.

The 35-year-old right wing needs 1 goal to match Sakic's franchise record of 11 consecutive seasons with 20 or more goals, a mark he could reach Friday when the Avalanche meet the Anaheim Ducks at the Pepsi Center.

"It would be nice," Hejduk said following Friday's pre-game skate. "It definitely would be a nice accomplishment."
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Quote of the Day

I was going nuts and I saw [Subban], he was going crazy, and the ref had no idea where to go. [Subban] was skating to me, and I was skating to him and the ref was right in between us and I don't know, I kind of hit him pretty hard, I thought, but those were some emotions and I'm pretty sure he understands that.

— Montreal forward Alex Galchenyuk on the celebration following his OT goal against Ottawa in Game 2