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NHL Insider

Nashville gets its first Tennessee player

Friday, 07.23.2010 / 11:57 AM / NHL Insider

Evan Weiner - NHL.com Correspondent

When David Poile began his job as the general manager of the expansion Nashville Predators in the summer of 1997, he knew he wasn't going to be drafting players from the Tennessee area right off the bat.

Nashville was not hockey territory -- the city's hockey history consisted of a few low-level minor-league teams starting with the Nashville Dixie Flyers, a team that played in the old Eastern Hockey League from 1962-71. The Nashville South Stars of the Central Hockey League lasted just one season. 1981-82 as the top farm club of the Minnesota North Stars. The Nashville Knights played in the ECHL between 1989 and 1996.

Poile's task was two-fold: Not only did he have to put a competitive team on the ice, but he had to introduce Nashville and the mid-South region to the game of hockey on both the NHL and youth levels.

Seven candidates for a breakout season in 2010-11

Thursday, 07.22.2010 / 3:42 PM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning had one of the all-time breakout seasons in 2009-10. The No. 1 pick in the 2008 Entry Draft jumped from 23 goals and 46 points as a rookie to 51 goals and 95 points in his second NHL season, earning him a share of the Rocket Richard Trophy as the NHL's top goal-scorer and proving the Bolts were right to spend the top pick on him.

So who will be this season's Stamkos? While it's hard to picture anyone matching the kind of improvement Stamkos had, NHL.com takes a look at seven players who already have seen NHL action and are candidates for a breakout season in 2010-11.

Jonathan Bernier, Los Angeles Kings -- L.A.'s 2006 first-round pick (No. 11) was rushed into the NHL at age 19 and wasn't ready -- but he is now. If there were any doubts, Bernier laid them to rest with a superb showing (3-0-0, 1.30 goals-against average) during a late-season call-up that left Kings fans wondering if he should be their team's playoff starter -- and with little doubt that he's their goaltender of the future.

Singer star Bublé's first love was hockey

Thursday, 07.22.2010 / 1:27 PM / NHL Insider

NHL.com Staff

The international singing phenomenon, who has sold more than 25 million albums worldwide and won Grammys, Junos, and World Music Awards, is famous beyond his wildest dreams. His latest album Crazy Love released in 2009 debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 chart and features the hit "Haven't Met You Yet."

Despite all of that success, Bublé still is left wanting.

What, you ask, could a world-famous singer possibly want from a life already so rich in rewards and memories.

To be a hockey player -- of course.

A look at who's on the hot seat in the West

Wednesday, 07.21.2010 / 2:21 PM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

It's vacation time for a lot of us. But with the new season beginning to come into view, here's a look at a player from each of the 15 teams in the Western Conference who will be under pressure to perform as soon as the puck drops:

Ryan Getzlaf, Anaheim -- The Ducks already were struggling when Getzlaf injured his ankle just before the Winter Olympics. He wound up missing 16 games, a big reason he dropped from 91 to 69 points -- and Anaheim went from the second round of the 2009 playoffs to an unwanted early vacation last season. Getzlaf is an NHL rarity -- a power center -- and the Ducks aren't the same team without him in top form.

Jarome Iginla, Calgary -- The face of the franchise for the past decade just turned 33 -- one year older than the number of goals he scored in 2009-10, when he had his lowest scoring season since 2000-01. Iginla has gone from 50 goals in 2007-08 to 35 in 2008-09 to 32 last season, and with no one else on the roster who had more than 27 goals, the Flames need their captain to find the scoring touch he had a few seasons ago or face another early start to summer.

A look at who's on the hot seat in the East

Tuesday, 07.20.2010 / 3:37 PM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

The summer sun is a reminder that we're still a couple of months away from the start of the 2010-11 season. But while players and management take it easy for a few more weeks before training camp starts in September, the pressure already is starting to build for some players who know they'll have to be big-time producers for their teams to improve or contend in the upcoming season.

Here's a look at a player from each of the 15 teams in the Eastern Conference who will be under pressure to perform as soon as the puck drops in October:

Chris Mason, Atlanta -- Goaltending never has been a strength in Atlanta, so it's not a big stretch to say Mason -- signed as a free agent after two solid seasons in St. Louis -- could be the best goalie in franchise history. With a defense that's hardly rock-solid and a mostly young group of forwards, the Thrashers are going to need a big season from Mason to have any chance at making the playoffs for only the second time in franchise history.

Myers has made a lasting impression on Sabres

Monday, 07.19.2010 / 11:01 AM / NHL Insider

Sergei J. Feldman - NHL.com Staff Writer

The old adage says you only get one chance to make a first impression, and Buffalo Sabres defenseman Tyler Myers did just that.

In his case, it just happened to be on the second day of last year's training camp.

The first-round pick (No. 12) in 2008 was all but a lock to make the team heading into camp. But Myers, 20, stood out with not only his overwhelming physical attributes -- he stands 6-foot-8 and weighs 220 pounds -- but his general hockey acumen as well. In the process, perception among the coaching staff quickly changed.

"On Day 2, most everyone started to pencil him in," Sabres associate head coach Brian McCutcheon told NHL.com.

A look at the best 21-and-under NHL talent

Friday, 07.16.2010 / 11:48 AM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

In today's NHL, the premium put on finding young talent has resulted in players getting more opportunity and responsibility at an increasingly early age. While in years gone by, teams would have mandated that young players spend more time in juniors or a couple of years in the minors, today they're giving those kids the chance to play in the NHL -- and many of them are showing they're already capable of being contributors, with the possibility of stardom not far off.

Here's a look at 10 of the NHL's top players who will be 21 and under when the new season faces off in October. We're not just rating potential -- all of them have played at least one full season in the NHL.

Seven out to prove they're more than one-time stars

Wednesday, 07.14.2010 / 1:31 PM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

In music, they're known as "one-hit wonders" -- artists that have a hit single but never are able to replicate that kind of success again.

The National Hockey League has had its own version of one-hit wonders -- guys who were in the right spot at the right time for a season, only to discover that doing it again wasn't as easy. Think of journeyman forward Warren Young, who had 40 goals playing with Mario Lemieux in 1984-85 and never came close to that total again (he finished his career with 72).

A number of players came out of nowhere last season to put up numbers no one expected of them. Their challenge in 2010-11 is to show they've got what it takes to repeat (or at least come close to repeating) the numbers they put up last season.

Here is a look at seven players who will try to replicate their surprising showings from 2009-10:

A look at some off-the-beaten-track NHL marks

Tuesday, 07.13.2010 / 2:29 PM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Mathematicians aren't the only ones who love numbers -- we at NHL.com do, too. Each tells a story of its own, whether it's 1,963 (Wayne Gretzky's career assists, more than any other player's points total); 1,767 (Gordie Howe's record for games played, just 11 more than Mark Messier, who opted to retire before breaking the record) or 602 (Martin Brodeur's regular-season victory total, a number than figures to keep climbing for a few more seasons).

If, as the saying goes, every picture tells a story -- well, so do a lot of the numbers few people ever think about.

With that in mind, here are a few of the more interesting NHL facts and figures involving position players that you might not have known about:

Lamoriello recalls relationship with Steinbrenner

Tuesday, 07.13.2010 / 2:14 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEWARK -- The baseball world wasn't the only fraternity mourning the death of New York Yankees owner George Steinbrenner on Tuesday morning.

The hockey world, including New Jersey Devils General Manager Lou Lamoriello, was deeply saddened when the news broke.

Lamoriello, a member of the board of Yankee Global Enterprises since 2004 and recipient of a 2010 World Series ring, spoke of his relationship with Steinbrenner to the media at the Devils' practice facility at Prudential Center.

"It's a sad day, certainly for his family and baseball, the Yankees and those who knew him well," Lamoriello said. "We lost not only, in my mind, an outstanding individual, but a good friend. And he remained that way."
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