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NHL Insider

Stars' Fiddler gets unique 'hat trick' at concert

Wednesday, 06.11.2014 / 4:32 PM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

Dallas Stars forward Vernon Fiddler has a single three-goal game to his credit, scored on Nov. 12, 2010 as a member of the Phoenix Coyotes. But at AT&T Stadium in Arlington, Texas on June 7, the veteran center came away with a whole other kind of hat trick.

Attending the latest stop on country singer George Strait's "Cowboy Rides Away" tour, Fiddler was in the right place at the right time when the legendary musician flung his cowboy hat into the crowd as the concert ended. Fiddler barely had to move as the iconic piece of country memorabilia came right to him.

"At the end, he comes out for his encore and my buddy said, 'You're going to catch this hat, watch.' I looked at him and thought, 'What are you talking about?'" Fiddler told NHL.com. "[Strait] walked off the stage and it looked he wasn't going to even throw his hat. He came back on stage and said, 'I forgot. Somebody might want this.' He chucked it and it boomeranged around four or five rows away from me and then came back and landed right on my lap."

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Wild GM says coach Yeo earned contract extension

Friday, 06.06.2014 / 3:44 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Myers - NHL.com Correspondent

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild made official their commitment to coach Mike Yeo, holding a press conference Friday at Xcel Energy Center to announce the three-year contract extension Yeo signed May 31.

Yeo, who at 40 yeards old is the youngest coach in the NHL, guided the Wild this season to the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the second time in franchise history, the first such trip since 2003. The original three-year contract Yeo signed when he was named the third coach in Wild history June 17, 2011, was set to expire at the end of this month.

"Mike is the only guy that was going to be here," Wild general manager Chuck Fletcher said. "As the season goes on, the right time to do these things is at the end of the season."

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Blackhawks' next goal: extensions for Toews, Kane

Tuesday, 06.03.2014 / 8:03 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Entering this season, the Chicago Blackhawks had accomplished their "One Goal" organizational credo by winning the Stanley Cup twice in four years.

They fell one goal short of playing for it again this season, losing in overtime of Game 7 of the Western Conference Final on a goal by Los Angeles Kings defenseman Alec Martinez. That abruptly ended the reign of the defending Stanley Cup champions with a 5-4 loss.

Less than two days later, the Blackhawks reassembled at United Center to sum it all up by looking back at what happened and forward to next season.

"We lost in the conference finals to the Red Wings five or six years ago and that was treated more as a celebration," left wing Patrick Sharp said Tuesday. "It felt good to get that far. This year it feels pretty disappointing. I feel like we all felt we should still be playing. It's a disappointing time."

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Duguay triumphs in bubble battle of Rangers alums

Friday, 05.23.2014 / 3:04 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- An off day in the Eastern Conference Final between the New York Rangers and Montreal Canadiens only can mean one thing.

It's time for two fan favorites who once starred for the Rangers to go head-to-head in a bubble hockey showdown for off-ice supremacy at the NHL Powered by Reebok Store. That's exactly the type of entertainment forward Ron Duguay and defenseman Jeff Beukeboom provided Friday afternoon.

Duguay, who warned Beukeboom prior to faceoff that he owned a bubble hockey table at home, came away with a 5-4 victory. The event was made extra special when longtime Rangers anthem singer John Amirante sang the Canadian and U.S. national anthems.

"If the Rangers reach the Stanley Cup, we'll have a rematch," Duguay said afterward.

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Ducks re-evaluating after stinging end to season

Monday, 05.19.2014 / 5:42 PM / NHL Insider

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

ANAHEIM -- It's much too early for Anaheim Ducks general manager Bob Murray to fully dissect what went wrong with his team in the Stanley Cup Playoffs, specifically a Game 7 that is already being talked about as the worst loss in franchise history.

Anaheim caved under the pressure and succumbed to the rival Los Angeles Kings 6-2 in Game 7 of the Western Conference Second Round series in a building in which it had started the season 20-0-2. Murray talked Monday on the team's exit meetings day, and the game still haunted him.

"When you sit and watch, after the all years in this business, you worry the night before that your team may be too nervous, too apprehensive," Murray said. "There's all sorts of things that go through your mind, and they're your worst nightmare. But it's something you have to take and move on from. You've got to learn from that. We're at that point where we can't allow this to happen. We've got to move forward."

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Wild's young stars developed through playoff run

Saturday, 05.17.2014 / 2:08 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Myers - NHL.com Correspondent

ST. PAUL, Minn. -- The Minnesota Wild's season has been over for a few days but they were still coming to terms with how it ended when players emptied their lockers Friday.

Tied 1-1 in overtime with the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 6 of the Western Conference Second Round, Patrick Kane scored the series-clinching goal after a dump-in attempt took a goofy hop off a stanchion behind the Wild net and landed on his stick. Just like that, Minnesota's season was over. Disappointing as the ending was, it was a successful year when the Wild's youngsters made major strides.

"We played some good hockey and it was a great series and it could have gone either way," forward Nino Niederreiter said. "But obviously it's a bitter end."

One thing is for certain: The Wild took a step forward this season, with its prospects leading the way.

"I believe that there are a lot of positives," Wild coach Mike Yeo said. "But I also am realistic that it's really hard [to keep improving]. And so we should look forward to that challenge."

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Shero turned Penguins into playoff team, Cup champ

Friday, 05.16.2014 / 1:51 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Pittsburgh Penguins had just completed a fourth straight season of having failed to qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs when Ray Shero was hired as general manager in May 2006.

It wasn't going to be an easy fix, but the former player agent and son of Hall of Fame coach Fred Shero was up to the task. He stressed the importance of long-term building and not a one-season fix to reach the playoffs, having a vision and definitive plan in place.

Under his reign the Penguins qualified for the playoffs each of the next eight seasons and won the third Stanley Cup in franchise history in 2009. But major postseason pitfalls since that championship run cost Shero his job Friday.

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Laviolette eager to work with Poile, coach Predators

Wednesday, 05.07.2014 / 5:26 PM / NHL Insider

John Manasso - NHL.com Correspondent

When Peter Laviolette accepted the Nashville Predators coaching job Tuesday, four other NHL jobs were vacant, some with teams that might be considered to have more talented rosters.

Laviolette said he chose Nashville in large part because of the relationship he developed with Predators general manager David Poile while the two worked for the United States in the time leading up to the 2014 Sochi Olympics. They knew each other before Laviolette became an assistant coach, and Poile the GM for the U.S., but the relationship strengthened during that period.

"We spent an awful lot of time talking over the phone and in meetings," Laviolette said Wednesday via conference call from Minsk, Belarus where he is coaching the United States in the IIHF World Championship, "and it's an opportunity to work for a first-class general manager, one of the best in the League, and that's appealing to me."

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Flyers consider promoting Hextall to GM

Friday, 05.02.2014 / 8:53 PM / NHL Insider

Sean McCullen - NHL.com Staff Writer

Two days after the Philadelphia Flyers were eliminated from the Stanley Cup Playoffs, owner Ed Snider said some changes may be coming within their personnel department.

Paul Holmgren, who has been general manager since 2006, will be "head of hockey operations," and Snider hinted Holmgren may relinquish the GM title to Ron Hextall this offseason.

"We're going to all sit down, and it's going to be up to Paul. We're in the process of analyzing everybody's title," Snider said.

Holmgren may not be ready to hand the day-to-day reins to Hextall, the former Flyers goalie.

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Returning Maurice set to point Jets in right direction

Wednesday, 04.16.2014 / 5:09 PM / NHL Insider

Patrick Williams - NHL.com Correspondent

WINNIPEG -- The decision for Paul Maurice to remain behind the Winnipeg Jets bench was an easy one for the veteran NHL coach.

The one big hurdle for Maurice was family considerations, because his wife and children did not accompany him to Winnipeg after he replaced Claude Noel on Jan. 12.

But when the Jets offered Maurice a four-year contract extension earlier this week, the decision to uproot and head to Winnipeg turned out to be an easy one for his wife and children as well.

"They all smiled and said, 'Let's go,'" Maurice said in a conference call Wednesday.

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Quote of the Day

Just the feel for the direction they were headed and what they're trying to do, it just felt that this is a really good thing for this organization. They've got the pieces. We can put something together and go on a run or two and be together for a while, and I'm really excited about that opportunity. The team we have here has an opportunity to win, and that's the most attractive thing.

— Washington defenseman Matt Niskanen on why he decided to sign with the Capitals