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Player Profiles

Inside scoop on Preds puck stopper Pekka Rinne

Thursday, 03.08.2012 / 3:17 PM / Player Profiles

Jeff D'Alessio - Sporting News

His fans back home in Finland know all about his rise from the 258th pick in the 2004 NHL Draft to unlikely NHL leader in goaltender wins eight years later.
Sporting News caught up with 29-year-old Nashville Predators fan favorite Pekka Rinne to find out a few of his favorite things, stuff you won't find in his official league bio.
The one thing that's not as good here as it is back home: I miss snow -- cold, sunny days with a lot of snow. We don't really get snow over here, although I can't complain. It's a nice thing to have the warm weather.

Turco takes whirlwind journey from Austria to Boston

Wednesday, 03.07.2012 / 3:34 PM / Player Profiles

Matt Kalman - Correspondent

WILMINGTON, Mass. -- Instead of starting a family vacation to Italy, Marty Turco took a nine-hour flight from Austria to Toronto and then chartered with the Boston Bruins to their home city after a victory over the Maple Leafs on Tuesday night.

His journey continued Wednesday at the Bruins' aged Ristuccia Arena practice facility, where he was finally allowed to take the ice with the defending Stanley Cup champions after he cleared waivers.

Although not many people would swap the chance to take in the sights of one of the world's most beautiful countries, and partake in some of Earth's greatest food, to play goal at a practice in a Bay State suburb, Turco was overjoyed to make that trade.

"I don't think I've really come to terms or grips with it," the three-time All-Star said about joining the Bruins. "Last year, being a Blackhawk, it was a special feeling. They were also defending champs, Original Six with some rich history. Same goes for this club. The difference is, they had a lot of change in Chicago; this team's intact from last year. That sets them apart, which you can just tell from the way they play and act and talk. It's their togetherness. And you can feel that when you walk into the locker room, instantly. This team is competitive, they're together and they're in it to win as a whole. They've faced adversity; they're going through some at the moment.

"Like I said, it's special for me; you couldn't pick a better team to come to, although it wasn't any wishful thinking on my part. Any team would be great. The NHL's a special place. But even that much sweeter to be a Bruin."

'NHL 36: James Neal' debuts Wednesday

Tuesday, 03.06.2012 / 6:04 PM / Player Profiles

Alan Robinson - Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- James Neal is more than the accomplished wingman the Pittsburgh Penguins long coveted to help elite center Evgeni Malkin get back to the top of his game.
More than an accomplished scorer who can carry a team through long stretches of a six-month season. More than an ego-free player who doesn't mind adapting or altering his own game if it helps make his linemates better.
James Neal is the Penguins' safety net.

All-purpose Landeskog looking Calder-worthy

Friday, 03.02.2012 / 12:00 PM / Player Profiles

Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent

Gabriel Landeskog
Left Wing - COL
GOALS: 18 | ASST: 22 | PTS: 40
SOG: 208 | +/-: 21
DENVER -- Colorado Avalanche coach Joe Sacco doesn't have a vote for the Calder Trophy, but if he did, it would take him about five seconds to pencil in his blossoming left wing, Gabriel Landeskog, into the top spot.

"To me, he's Rookie of the Year right now," Sacco said. "We use him in so many situations -- even strength, power play and on the penalty kill. He plays on what is arguably our top line. He plays late in games when we are up a goal or when we are down a goal. He does everything well."

Landeskog, 19, has been one of the Avalanche's most consistent players since the season started, and he leads the team and all NHL rookies in several statistical categories: goals (18), plus/minus (plus-22), shots (204) and hits (167).

Smith carries Coyotes to the top of the Pacific

Thursday, 03.01.2012 / 12:00 PM / Player Profiles

Jerry Brown - Correspondent

Mike Smith completed a perfect 11-0-0 month with Tuesday's 2-1 shootout victory against the Vancouver Canucks. (Photo: Norm Hall/NHLI)
GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Mike Smith spent last February in Virginia -- after the indignity of clearing waivers -- on a "conditioning stint" with the American Hockey League's Norfolk Admirals.

Stuck behind Dwayne Roloson and Dan Ellis on the goalie depth chart with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Smith knew his chance to be the man in Tampa Bay had come and gone. He was counting the days to free agency, and if there were any takers, one more kick at the can in the NHL.

Virginia might be for lovers, but it's no place to spend Valentine's Day separated from your family and your dream of stopping pucks at the highest level.

"I'd been in the minors before, but to go back after you've been in the NHL for 3-4 years … it's an eye-opener," Smith said. "You can go down there and pout and never play another NHL game, or you can go down there and work really hard, like think I did, and try to get back to where you feel you belong. I'm living proof that bad experiences can turn into good ones."

Weiss to set Panthers' games played mark

Thursday, 02.23.2012 / 9:00 AM / Player Profiles

Alain Poupart - Correspondent

SUNRISE, Fla. -- Stephen Weiss doesn't remember many details about his first NHL game almost 10 years ago, other than it came on his birthday, he scored a goal and the opponent was Pittsburgh.

"It shows a commitment both ways, from organization to player and player to organization, because that's our game now. It's a two-way street. Stephen has made a great commitment to this organization and continues to strive to make it better every day."
-- Panthers coach Kevin Dineen on Stephen Weiss

"It was a pretty special day," Weiss said of April 4, 2002 when the Florida Panthers beat the Penguins 3-2. "It was cool. It was one of the easier games I've ever played, really. Everything seemed to fall into place. And then the next six after that were probably the hardest six games I've ever played. As a 19-year-old, definitely an eye-opening experience about how much of a jump it is to play in this League from junior."

Weiss obviously handled the jump pretty well because almost a decade later he's still playing for the Panthers, an organization that has seen its share of players come and go through the years.

When he skates against the Minnesota Wild Thursday night at BankAtlantic Center, Weiss will become the franchise's all-time leader in games played with 614.

Gervais discovering recipe for success in Tampa Bay

Wednesday, 02.22.2012 / 11:34 AM / Player Profiles

Lonnie Herman - Correspondent

TAMPA -- Bruno Gervais stood in front of the electric burners ready to cook his specialty, chicken with asparagus. Throw in a side of pasta. He had everything he needed, all the ingredients. The cameras were ready to roll.

"It was so easy. I created the sauce and then I created the marinade for the chicken," Gervais said. "It turned out great."

His cooking show on Long Island lasted only one episode, but he had more confidence on the TV set than he did on the ice for the Islanders last season.

And it showed.

"I had a big-time loss of confidence with New York," Gervais said. "I was asked to do stuff on the ice which I've never done in my life; it was a change, and that was a tough period. I was just lost. Last year, they asked me, 'What can you bring to the team?' I wasn't sure anymore; I just didn't know. It was the situation and the timing and everything that was going on. A lot of things were going on in my head."

Richards to give fans inside look with 'NHL 36'

Wednesday, 02.22.2012 / 1:00 AM / Player Profiles

Curtis Zupke - Correspondent

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Sometimes after practice, Los Angeles Kings center Mike Richards will put on a pair of shorts in the middle of winter and make his way down to the Manhattan Beach Pier.

He'll stop for coffee and make his way past the ridiculously fit mothers jogging with strollers and the local beachcombers taking advantage of another splendid day in the tony section of the South Bay.

He'll grab his dog, a black Labrador named Arnold, and the two will disappear into the beach tableau.

Surprise recall puts Nolan name back in NHL spotlight

Friday, 02.17.2012 / 10:52 AM / Player Profiles

Curtis Zupke - Correspondent

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- Nobody would have blamed Jordan Nolan if it felt like he was both floating on air and weighed down by emotion in his NHL debut.

When he was recalled by the Los Angeles Kings late last week, the press release noted that he was the son of former NHL coach Ted Nolan.

When he took the ice for his first NHL game, it was against the same New York Islanders team his father once coached.

Rangers' Callahan showing he can score, too

Wednesday, 02.15.2012 / 10:08 AM / Player Profiles

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

Ryan Callahan's story is very similar to that of many NHL players who have come before him.

The U.S.-born right wing was a fourth-round draft pick by the New York Rangers in 2004 and had a terrific junior career with the Guelph Storm of the Ontario Hockey League. Callahan was a superb offensive player with the Storm, posting seasons of 36 goals as an 18-year-old, 28 goals at age 19 and 52 goals as a 20-year-old.

Callahan continued to look like a gifted scorer in his one full season in the American Hockey League, with 35 goals in 60 games with the Hartford Wolf Pack before being called up to the Rangers for good during the 2007-08 season.

Yet when Callahan reached the sport's highest level, he wasn't getting by on his goal-scoring ability. He became known for his willingness to throw his 5-foot-11, 190-pound body at opponents with reckless abandon. If there was a shot that needed blocking, Callahan was happy to throw whatever body part was available in front of it, at even-strength of as one of the game's better penalty-killing forwards.
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