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NHL Insider

Lemaire returns to teach Devils all the right ways

Friday, 02.04.2011 / 3:16 PM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

Jacques Lemaire had nothing left to prove in the NHL when he announced his retirement last April. Eight Stanley Cups as a player with the Montreal Canadiens and one as coach of the New Jersey Devils in 1995 speak volumes about his accomplishments.

Yet eight months later, the 65-year-old found himself back in New Jersey coaching a team that was 9-23-2, dead last in the NHL. The Devils were 20 points out of a playoff spot, something that became a given for them during the past 15 seasons.
So when Devils GM Lou Lamoriello made that phone call just days before Christmas, why would Lemaire agree to abandon his retirement and replace John MacLean behind the bench in what was a completely hopeless situation?
"I took it because of Lou," Lemaire said. "There's no doubt that this is the first thing why I took the job. The second one is I feel that it's a top organization and it was hard to look at them play the way they were playing and I know a lot of these guys I coached in the past. I felt sorry for them for what was happening to them. I thought I could help."


Perseverance pays dividends for Hendricks

Friday, 02.04.2011 / 1:25 PM / NHL Insider

John Manasso - Correspondent

"Hendy is a guy who can play any [forward] position and play in all situations. He brings a lot of energy and he's well liked by his teammates."
-- Washington Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau on Matt Hendricks

Matt Hendricks had set a deadline.

If he reached the age of 30 and hadn't made it in the NHL, he was going to play in Europe. Many other players do it. In the right country, the pay and lifestyle are better than what they are in the American Hockey League. He had a family and kids to worry about.

He was 29. Originally drafted in the fifth round in 2000, he stayed in school and played four seasons at St. Cloud State in his native Minnesota. He made stops in the AHL in Milwaukee, Lowell, Rochester, Hershey, Providence and Lake Erie. There also was a stint in the ECHL with Florida during the NHL work stoppage in 2004-05.

All of that can get to be too much for a hockey player, even if he's chasing the dream.

Caps looking up division standings

Friday, 02.04.2011 / 12:01 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

For the past two seasons the Washington Capitals have won the Southeast Division with relative ease, finishing a combined 49 points ahead of the competition.

To put it in perspective, three other teams -- New Jersey, Vancouver and San Jose -- also have won their divisions each of the past two seasons, and the combined margin for those six titles is only 51 points.

Washington's quest to capture the division flag for a fourth straight season has been met with much greater resistance. Some of it is self-inflicted -- the Capitals have gone winless in 20 of their past 33 games since beginning the season with a League-leading 14-4-1 start.

Vinik and Leiweke discuss visions for Lightning

Thursday, 02.03.2011 / 8:01 PM / NHL Insider

The Tampa Bay Lightning have made plenty of news this week, for all the right reasons.

On Monday, owner Jeff Vinik and CEO Tod Leiweke, along with general manager Steve Yzerman, revealed a long-term vision for the Tampa Bay organization that included the unveiling of a new logo plus home and road jerseys.

On Tuesday, Vinik and his wife announced a donation of more than $10 million over the next five years through the Lightning Foundation to deserving community heroes and charity partners in Tampa Bay.

Capping off a busy three days, the Lightning on Wednesday announced a privately funded $35 million transformation of the St. Pete Times Forum.

Flyers salute Hall of Famer Bobby Clarke

Thursday, 02.03.2011 / 7:52 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- Scott Hartnell never had the privilege of witnessing Flyers legend Bobby Clarke in action, but judging by that toothless grin, he can ascertain his passion for winning.
Winning was all Bobby Clarke was passionate about.
"I didn't watch him in the 70's, but from just talking with (GM Paul) Holmgren and the guys who were around when he was player, he was the ultimate competitor," Hartnell said. "He gave it his all every shift. You can see by his toothless smile back in the day; he just left it all out there on the ice."
Clarke, 61, returned to the ice on Thursday, in fact, when the Flyers presented their Hall of Fame center and his family the original retired number banner that hung from the rafters at the Spectrum prior to the team's game against the Nashville Predators at Wells Fargo Center, Clarke was joined by his grandson.

Around the NHL: Thrashers' Enstrom on IR

Thursday, 02.03.2011 / 6:30 PM / NHL Insider

The Atlanta Thrashers on Thursday placed defenseman Tobias Enstrom on injured reserve, retroactive to Jan. 22.

Enstrom, 26, is tied for the team lead with 41 points (8 goals, 33 assists) in 50 games this season.  He paces the Thrashers and ranks fourth among NHL defenseman with 33 assists.  The 5-foot-10, 180-pound defenseman was selected to participate in the 2011 NHL All-Star Weekend, but was unable to due to a broken finger.

The Nordingra, Sweden, native has 161 points (24 goals, 137 assists) in 296 career games over four seasons with the Thrashers from 2007-11.  He is the franchise’s all-time leader in points and assists by a defenseman, and ranks second in goals by a defenseman trailing only Yannick Tremblay (33).  Enstrom also appeared in a franchise record 296 consecutive games from Oct. 5, 2007 to Jan. 22, 2011.

Feaster weighing options as deadline approaches

Thursday, 02.03.2011 / 5:14 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

Every year there are teams in the NHL that are unsure if they will be buyers or sellers as the trade deadline approaches, and no team exemplifies that more this season than the Calgary Flames.

Six weeks ago the Flames were plummeting toward the bottom of the NHL standings with a roster full of expensive veterans -- a prime candidate for other teams to call, right? Calgary has won 11 of 17 since a pivotal shift in philosophy, and if the success continues it could be interim general manager Jay Feaster who is placing those calls looking to add a veteran or two .

"From the day I took over the mandate from our team president Ken King and from ownership hasn't changed and the mandate is we want to be a playoff team this year," Feaster said. "One of the things we talked about when I took over is we have to be intellectually honest with ourselves about where we are. If, in fact, it is a pipe dream that we can make the playoffs then that leads you down one path as you approach the deadline.

"What has transpired here with going 11-3-3 is we're only two points out of the eighth spot and five points back of Nashville in fourth place. Now it is not a pipe dream, but that's right now as we talk today. We've won five in a row, but if we lose five in a row we're going to be back at the bottom looking up. It is a constant, daily analysis and there's no question that where we sit as we get closer to the deadline will impact to a large extent what we do at the deadline."

Two key points at stake as Avs host Wild

Thursday, 02.03.2011 / 4:46 PM / NHL Insider

Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent

DENVER -- While the Colorado Avalanche wait to see whether Peter Forsberg feels ready to resume his NHL career, the team is gearing up for a pivotal game Thursday night against the Minnesota Wild at the Pepsi Center.

The Avalanche have lost three of their past four games and fallen into 11th place in the hotly-contested Western Conference playoff race with 56 points -- two behind eighth-place Chicago -- with 32 games remaining.

The Wild, with 57 points, sit 10th with 32 games left but have won five of their past six games and are coming off a 1-0 shootout victory against Los Angeles on Tuesday.

"We're just looking to get back to our identity as a team," Avalanche coach Joe Sacco said after the morning skate Thursday. "The things I'm looking for tonight are effort, energy and passion. If we have those things, I think the execution will take care of itself."


Flyers looking for better start against Predators

Thursday, 02.03.2011 / 2:38 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

PHILADELPHIA -- The Philadelphia Flyers hope to use the energy and emotion emanating from within Wells Fargo Center to their advantage prior to the opening faceoff against the Nashville Predators on Thursday.

"You almost hope for a back-to-back situation after those types of losses. But Nashville is a pretty underrated team, so we need to be ready to play. When you're playing against a team you don't really know, you want to come out and get off to a good start and kind of dictate the pace of play and try to make them adjust to us rather than making adjustments to them." -- Matt Carle

The joint certainly will be jumping, too, as Flyers icon Bob Clarke will be presented with his No. 16 banner that hung in the Spectrum during a pregame ceremony. On top of that, the Flyers also would like to nix any lingering memory of Tuesday's 4-0 loss to the Tampa Bay Lightning.
"A good start will be big," forward Scott Hartnell said. "The crowd will be pumped, as it always is, and we have to use that to our advantage. We have to get pucks deep. Against Tampa, we turned pucks over and got cute sometimes and it cost us early on."
Flyers coach Peter Laviolette has opted to go right back to rookie goalie Sergei Bobrovsky against the Predators, who will counter with rookie Anders Lindback. Bobrovsky was pulled after giving up three goals on six shots in the opening period against the Lightning and was replaced by Brian Boucher as Philadelphia lost for just the third time in its last 13 games.

Penguins' Malkin set to play Friday vs. Sabres

Thursday, 02.03.2011 / 1:51 PM / NHL Insider

The Pittsburgh Penguins have won four straight without Evgeni Malkin, so how good will they be with him back in the lineup?

They'll find out Friday, when the high-scoring center plays against the Buffalo Sabres. It'll be his first game since Jan. 18 due to a knee injury and a sinus infection.

Malkin has been practicing with the team for a few days, and coach Dan Bylsma on Thursday pronounced him healthy and ready to play.

It's good timing for the Penguins, because a team renowned for being deep in centers is running short in the position. Sidney Crosby is working his way back from a concussion, and the team announced Mark Letestu needs surgery on his left knee.
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Quote of the Day

I had one really not-good game. I came back to the hotel and he [his father] was on Skype. My mother called first and said, 'Your father wants to talk to you.' So he moved my mother away, and he yelled at me for like 30 seconds. I understood him, and then he said, 'I'm done.' And he was gone. The next game I got my first shutout.

— Anton Khudobin recalls a fond memory, explains why he was so sharp in the Hurricanes' 3-0 win against the Capitals on Friday
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