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Sunday Long Read
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Sunday Long Read

Sunday Long Read: 2004 WJC final, U.S. vs. Canada

Sunday, 12.20.2015 / 3:00 AM / Sunday Long Read

Tim Wharnsby - NHL.com Correspondent

The IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship returns to Helsinki this month, a dozen years after one of the most compelling 11 days in tournament history played out in the Finnish capital.

Junior hockey always has held an anything-can-happen characteristic, and that trait was ever present during the 2004 WJC. There was drama at every turn, it seemed.

1989 NHL Draft defined Red Wings for decades

Sunday, 11.08.2015 / 3:00 AM / Sunday Long Read

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

The run by the Detroit Red Wings as the most dominant team in the NHL for the better part of two decades gained its momentum in 1989 on the floor of an arena that is no longer in service. It is a tale combining enough good fortune, skill, conviction and intrigue to power a best-selling page-turner.

Looking back on it now, 26 years later, Hockey Hall of Fame executive Jim Devellano, the Detroit general manager at the time, keeps coming back to the same thought about the historic draft that moved the Red Wings indelibly forward.

"I don't think there was a better draft in the history of hockey than our draft, the Red Wings' draft, in '89," Devellano said. "I'm also here to tell you there was some luck involved."

Decade of Crosby-Ovechkin filled with highlights

Tuesday, 10.06.2015 / 12:00 PM / Sunday Long Read

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

In this special weekday edition of the Sunday Long Read to kick off the 2015-16 season, NHL.com looks at the rivalry that has helped define the League for the past decade: Sidney Crosby of the Pittsburgh Penguins vs. Alex Ovechkin of the Washington Capitals

Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin were in the spotlight, a place they have occupied individually throughout their hockey careers. This time, however, it was different. This time, they were sharing the attention, going head-to-head under the glare of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

This was a defining moment.

Islanders closing Coliseum chasing one more Cup

Sunday, 04.05.2015 / 3:00 AM / Sunday Long Read

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

"It's the land that time forgot over there. It's all the same ushers, it's the same people working there. To me, it feels like I stepped back through a portal to 1984." -- Former New York Islanders captain Patrick Flatley

UNIONDALE, N.Y. -- Depending on where you live on Long Island, you either drive north or south on the Meadowbrook Parkway. When you see the gigantic smoke stacks alongside the highway, you know you're almost there.

You get off at Exit M4. On most nights, many of the car horns are playing to the tune of "Let's Go Islanders," a repetitive sound you've heard nearly every trip you've made to Uniondale.

Nassau Veterans Memorial Coliseum, the only home the New York Islanders have had, opened in 1972, the same year the Islanders entered the NHL with the Atlanta Flames. This Saturday, the Islanders will play their final regular-season game there, against the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Lorne Frey chief pilot for Rockets

Sunday, 03.22.2015 / 3:00 AM / Sunday Long Read

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League had 11 defensemen on NHL opening-night rosters this season, each featuring a unique skill set.

There's the all-around brilliance of Duncan Keith of the Chicago Blackhawks and Shea Weber of the Nashville Predators, the offensively gifted Tyson Barrie of the Colorado Avalanche, and defensive-minded Scott Hannan of the San Jose Sharks.

The common denominator among all of them is 64-year-old Kelowna assistant general manager Lorne Frey, a scout so dedicated to the business he might have some coffee in his blood stream.

"I hired him before we had control of the expansion franchise," Kelowna owner and general manager Bruce Hamilton said. "He's as close to me as anybody is. We don't make any decisions without both of us being involved.

"At the end of the day, my say is the last one, but generally we both agree before we come to that. We've been doing it that way for 20-some years now."

Sunday Long Read: Kelowna develops defensemen

Sunday, 03.22.2015 / 3:00 AM / Sunday Long Read

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

The murals on the walls of Prospera Place, home of the Kelowna Rockets of the Western Hockey League, are striking for their size and the stories they tell.

They trace a genealogy of winning; the Rockets have made the WHL playoffs 18 times in 20 years in Kelowna, won the championship three times, played in four Memorial Cup tournaments (they're one of five teams since 1972 to play in three straight (2003-05)), and won the Memorial Cup in 2004.

Along the way, the Rockets, led by owner/general manager Bruce Hamilton and assistant GM Lorne Frey, have produced an alumni list full of well-known NHL players.

Among them are 11 defensemen who opened the 2014-15 season on an NHL roster, more than any junior or European development program.

If the Penn State University football team is known as Linebacker U., then the Kelowna Rockets could be called the Cradle of Defensemen.

"Maybe Lorne Frey has some special thing going on up there," said Scott Hannan, a San Jose Sharks defenseman and Kelowna alum. "He knows where to draft. … They're just smart hockey guys. And I think when you see that, and to be able to have good coaching staffs and a good facility to train the right way, you've seen that [NHL development] with the defensemen especially. They've been able to develop some really, really good defensemen.

SLR: Forgotten Vipers once rocked Detroit

Sunday, 03.08.2015 / 3:00 AM / Sunday Long Read

John Manasso - NHL.com Correspondent

The 1990s marked a time of seismic change in hockey: The Iron Curtain fell, providing a massive influx of talent from Eastern Europe, NHL franchises migrated from Canada and traditional markets in the Northeast and Midwestern United States to new ones and the League embarked on a rapid and ambitious expansion plan to the Sunbelt and beyond.

That atmosphere proved ripe for exploitation by the right kind of visionary minds. Enter Bill Davidson and Rick Dudley, the former, a glass manufacturing mogul who presided over a pro sports empire, and the latter, a respected talent evaluator with progressive ideas about how to run a pro hockey enterprise.

Together in 1994, they gave birth to the Detroit Vipers, an independent International Hockey League franchise that cut a rollicking, phoenix-like path through the decade. Playing out of the Palace at Auburn Hills, the home of the Davidson-owned Detroit Pistons of the NBA, the Vipers used the Pistons' charter plane for travel. While other minor-league franchises rode buses for hour upon hour, the Vipers whimsically flew to road games as close as Kalamazoo, 140 miles away -- or about a 15-minute flight.

Their top-notch facilities included a hot tub and a sauna. Former player Stan Drulia recalled a game in Cincinnati the night of one of the famous Evander Holyfied-Mike Tyson boxing fights. The players asked the pilot to wait long enough after the Vipers' game before returning to Detroit so that they could visit a local establishment and watch the fight first.

"Those are the privileges you appreciate and we were able to take advantage of," Drulia said.

Sunday Long Read: Adult league thrives in San Jose

Sunday, 02.15.2015 / 3:00 AM / Sunday Long Read

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

SAN JOSE -- Chuck Kosowicz grew up, like many people in Toronto, as a hockey player.

When Kosowicz, 55, came to Northern California 15 years ago for a job with Cisco Systems, he brought his hockey equipment with the hopes of finding a place to skate and a few people with similar interests.

What Kosowicz found is one of the largest organized hockey programs in North America.

"I was just hoping that I could find a place to play," Kosowicz said. "I was crossing my fingers that I could play. I found out there was hockey here and I could play and it was wonderful. I am very happy about that.

"I've probably played more hockey here than I ever had before."

Sunday Long Read: Columbus first-rate hockey town

Sunday, 01.18.2015 / 3:00 AM / Sunday Long Read

Shawn Roarke - Director, Editorial

The scene that surrounded the Columbus Blue Jackets during Game 4 of their first-round Stanley Cup Playoff series at Nationwide Arena was unfathomable for longtime fans in the area.

Here was a team the city could call its own, playing in a state-of-the-art building with a rollicking crowd roaring with every opportunity by the home side. The noise flowed onto the ice surface in waves, the fans screaming for the goal that would extend the series against the Pittsburgh Penguins, the perennial NHL powerhouse and burgeoning rival.

The eyes of the hockey world were on the Ohio capital as the pesky Blue Jackets attacked, looking to make the statement that after a 15-year journey they had arrived as a force.

Ed Gingher, who runs the city's only AAA youth hockey program, was there that night. He is heavily invested in what the Blue Jackets do because it directly impacts the talent pool available to feed his program; plus he does some work for the franchise. He is devoted to the sport, having played and coached it for much of his life.

"I've never heard a building as loud as the one in Columbus during that series," Gingher said.

Sunday Long Read: Landeskog a 'born leader'

Sunday, 12.21.2014 / 3:00 AM / Sunday Long Read

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Tony Landeskog still has the story saved on his computer, the one he read over and over with his son, Gabriel:

"What it takes to be an NHL captain."

"We just printed that out and read through it," Tony told NHL.com. "It was what personality is important to be a captain."

"Take heart and the ability to be heartless," was the lead to the story by longtime hockey writer Alan Adams. "Add experience and the savvy to get a message across. Mix in desire and the wherewithal to instill that same desire in others. And blend in a heaping helping of leadership."

Gabriel Landeskog was 12 years old when that article was published, but the qualities Adams described are evident today in Landeskog, now a 22-year-old in his third season as captain of the Colorado Avalanche.

For those who know Landeskog best, it's not surprising he is the captain of an NHL team. That it happened after his first season raised a few eyebrows. But seeing a "C" on the front of his jersey is about as normal as seeing his name on the back of it.

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