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NHL Insider

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.

Older, wiser Jagr hopes for positive NHL return

Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 5:21 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

VOORHEES, N.J. -- There were 66 players divided into two sessions on the ice for Philadelphia’s opening day of training camp here Saturday at the Virtua Flyers Skate Zone.

The one player in the spotlight, however, was also the oldest -- 39-year-old right wing Jaromir Jagr.

Following a three-year stint with Omsk in the Kontinental Hockey League, the Flyers signed Jagr to a one-year deal worth $3.3 million on July 1, the first day of free agency this offseason. He was introduced to the local media for the first time during a press conference following his morning session with most of the veteran players.

"I was pretty sure when I left for the KHL that it was the last time I would play in the NHL, but you can never say never," Jagr said. "You never know what life's going to bring you."

Bruins welcome Pouliot, Corvo into fold

Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 5:16 PM / NHL Insider

Matt Kalman - Correspondent

BOSTON – They're the new kids on the block, but at least publicly they haven't been picked on or hazed by their new teammates in the Bruins' dressing room.

Defenseman Joe Corvo and forward Benoit Pouliot were the only two NHL regulars acquired by the defending Stanley Cup champions during the offseason. Both are expected to crack the lineup and are finding that their teammates are more than welcoming to new additions.

"It was pretty easy joining the guys," Pouliot, who signed with Boston as a free agent in July, said shortly after the first on-ice day of training camp at TD Garden. "A lot of the guys have been good to me, so I can't really complain. The first practice is out of the way. It was good. It was a long one but it feels good."

Just because the Bruins won the Cup doesn't mean they're any less down-to-Earth than your average hockey player.

Yemelin gets physical in first Montreal scrimmage

Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 4:46 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

BROSSARD, Que.Montreal Canadiens fans have heard so much about, yet seen so little, of Alexei Yemelin in the seven years since he was a second-round draft pick, some may have needed conformation of his existence.

At the team's first intra-squad scrimmage Saturday, fans saw first hand just how real Yemelin is.

The 25-year-old bruising Russian defenseman with seven years of professional experience in his homeland stood out during the game, administering a number of big hits and showing head coach Jacques Martin how valuable he could turn out to be for the Canadiens this season.

"You can see he moves well, he's a good skater," Martin said. "He plays physical and brings a dimension that could help our defense this season."

No contact, but Crosby able to skate at top speed

Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 4:28 PM / NHL Insider

Alan Robinson - Correspondent

PITTSBURGH – This was what the thousands of fans who showed up for the opening day of Pittsburgh Penguins training camp wanted to see: Sidney Crosby at full speed for the first time in eight months.

Crosby pushed himself harder, longer and at a faster pace  throughout a nearly 70-minute practice Saturday than he has at any time during his concussion-caused layoff. Afterward, he said he felt fine and plans to test himself similarly throughout camp, unless there are unexpected setbacks.

The practice session began with him receiving a loud and lengthy standing ovation from fans who waited three hours for him to take the ice with the third and final practice group of the day at Consol Energy Center.

Gaborik honors lost friends, hopes for chemistry

Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 4:05 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- With heavy legs and an even heavier heart, Marian Gaborik returned Saturday to the Rangers and went right to work at training camp.

It was maybe the best medicine for the star right wing, who is still grieving the deaths of his close friends and former teammates, Derek Boogaard and Pavol Demitra.

"It's been a crazy offseason," said Gaborik, who eulogized Demitra at his funeral Thursday in Slovakia. "To see Boogie go, Pavol and a couple of other guys were lost as well -- this summer has been tough, but you have to move on. Obviously I'm never going to forget these guys. I'm always going to have them in my heart, but I have to move on."

Gaborik spent six days in his native Slovakia and didn't return to North America until Friday, meaning he missed the Rangers first day of on-ice fitness testing here at the MSG Training Center. Gaborik, though, skated three times with fellow Slovaks such as Marian Hossa and Zdeno Chara, who were also in for Demitra's funeral, "to get my mind off things."

Ex-Lokomotiv goalie Varlamov eager for start of camp

Saturday, 09.17.2011 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent

DENVER – While eager to begin a new chapter in his hockey career, Semyon Varlamov has been carrying a heavy heart since the Sept. 7 plane crash that claimed the lives of nearly the entire Yaroslavl Lokomotiv hockey team.

The 23-year-old Colorado Avalanche goalie, acquired July 1 from Washington, was a product of the Lokomotiv system in his native Russia and he remains heartbroken about the loss of so many of his friends.

"That was my old team," Varlamov said softly Friday after undergoing a battery of medical and physical tests at the Pepsi Center in preparation for the first official training camp sessions Saturday.
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