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Sunday Long Read
(Page 2 of 4)
Sunday Long Read

Sunday Long Read: Modano remains face of Stars

Sunday, 03.09.2014 / 3:00 AM / Sunday Long Read

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Dallas Stars president Jim Lites tells the story as if it happened yesterday. That's how well he remembers it. That's how much the conversation Lites had with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones nearly 20 years ago resonates with him.

"I remember Jerry Jones saying to me about two years into our stay here, 'Jim, I can't believe how much success you guys have had, I never would have thought hockey would be successful in Dallas,'" Lites told NHL.com. "And then he said, 'That Mike Modano is as important to this community as Troy Aikman. I can't believe how dynamic he is.'

"I mean, the Cowboys are the Cowboys and Troy Aikman is Troy Aikman, but Mo was that good, that big," Lites continued. "He's the guy every man wants to be and every woman wants to be with."

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Sunday Long Read: '94 deadline completed Rangers

Sunday, 03.02.2014 / 3:00 AM / Sunday Long Read

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Neil Smith was sure of two things when he began his day on March 21, 1994: His New York Rangers were atop the NHL standings, and they weren't good enough to win the Stanley Cup.

There was a third thing: With the NHL Trade Deadline hours away, he had work to do.

The fifth-year general manager arrived in the summer of 1989, a couple of months after New York was swept out of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the Pittsburgh Penguins, extending the Rangers' drought to 49 years.

Smith cut his hockey teeth about 30 miles away from Madison Square Garden with the New York Islanders during their run of four consecutive Stanley Cup championships from 1980-83. The last three of those, as well as the trip to the 1984 Stanley Cup Final, included playoff victories against the Rangers, with the fans on Long Island chanting "19-40!," reminding their big-city rivals of the last time they had won the Cup.

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Sunday Long Read: Blackhawks now kings of Chicago

Sunday, 02.23.2014 / 3:00 AM / Sunday Long Read

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

CHICAGO -- It has been a long, bitter winter here.

The wind, for which this great city is forever associated, has howled off Lake Michigan and often made sub-zero temperatures feel positively arctic. The snow has piled up with unrelenting consistency. One more storm could push the total past 70 inches, making this winter one of the worst in the city's history.

It hasn't been easy on one of America's great sports towns, either.

Chicago's beloved Bears had their season ended by the hated Green Bay Packers in one of the worst ways imaginable when that Discount Double Check guy, Aaron Rodgers, returned from injury to secure a win-or-go-home victory at Soldier Field on a late-game heave.

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Sunday Long Read: Broten's legacy exceeds profile

Sunday, 02.16.2014 / 3:00 AM / Sunday Long Read

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

For Neal Broten, mornings in River Falls, Wis., typically start around 7 a.m. Located about 40 miles from Minneapolis, Broten owns 75 acres in the small town where he and his wife, Sally, used to tend to the needs of 44 horses. The couple began selling those horses a decade ago, so Broten now spends much of his time removing snow during the winter and working the grounds during the summer.

Since ending his hockey career in 1997, Broten has had nearly no affiliation with the game that made him a household name throughout the hockey community in the United States.

He did skate last month with his brothers, fellow former NHL players Aaron Broten and Paul Broten, in an alumni game that was part of the 2014 Hockey City Classic, where the University of Minnesota hosted Ohio State University at TCF Bank Stadium. That was Neal's first time skating in two years.

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An oral history of the 2010 gold-medal game

Sunday, 02.09.2014 / 3:00 AM / Sunday Long Read

Dan Rosen and Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writers

The conversations across Canada, the NHL, even across the world, were focused on an 18-year-old phenom who already was a household name.

It was 2006, the Olympics in Turin, Italy, quickly were approaching and Sidney Crosby was an NHL rookie. A certainty to one day represent Canada in the Olympics, provided NHL players continued to participate, was he ready as a teenager to play for the defending gold medalists in the world's finest best-on-best tournament?

Not yet, Wayne Gretzky determined. Not now, decided The Great One, then the executive director for the Canadian men's Olympic hockey team.

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Sunday Long Read: Career never a job for Hitchcock

Sunday, 02.02.2014 / 3:00 AM / Sunday Long Read

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- When it comes to hockey, Ken Hitchcock is a creature of habit.

During the season, the routine of the St. Louis Blues coach rarely changes, no matter the day's agenda.

First, Hitchcock heads to a nearby Starbucks, or any of his favorite coffee shops in the area. Then it's off to the rink, where he preps his players with video sessions while preparing for a practice or a morning skate with his assistant coaches. In the afternoon, he spends the majority of his time scouting an opponent. Then, as evening arrives, Hitchcock sends his players out on the ice or watches other NHL games.

The scenery has changed greatly since Hitchcock began the life of a full-time coach in the Western Hockey League in 1984, but the routine has rarely wavered. Why should it? Despite the fact he had no top-level experience as a player or coach, Hitchcock's routine has served him well in a long and winding career in the NHL.

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Sunday Long Read: Messier helps Ice Center in NYC

Sunday, 01.26.2014 / 3:00 AM / Sunday Long Read

Davis Harper - NHL.com Staff Writer

On Dec. 10, 2013, the New York City Council approved plans for the Kingsbridge National Ice Center (KNIC) to occupy the Kingsbridge Armory space in the Bronx. The complex, as proposed, will be, upon completion in 2017, the world's largest indoor ice center. The nearly unanimous vote capped three years of efforts by KNIC Partners, led by Kevin Parker, former global head of asset management at Deutsche Bank, and CEO Mark Messier. The success of the venture, the "alignment of the planets and stars" as Parker calls it, was the culmination of thousands of hours of research and planning. It also involved a healthy dose of community cooperation and, curiously, a bus trip to Philadelphia.

Kevin Parker had an ice problem.

A hockey dad living in the middle of New York City, Parker's two boys, then 8 and 10, had graduated from Pee Wee hockey and were in search of a stiffer challenge. So the Parkers searched, and searched, eventually only finding competitive hockey some 45 miles from their home, traveling to Mennen Arena in Morristown, N.J., and Stamford Twin Rinks in Stamford, Conn. The shorter of those two trips, to Stanford, is 34 miles from midtown Manhattan.

"That just made the situation seem even crazier to me, that if you love hockey and want to play hockey growing up in New York City, you have to travel 35 or 45 miles to go play," Parker said. "So I asked the question: 'Why are there no ice sports? No ice surfaces in New York City?'"

It's a common question among hockey families, school programs and city leagues, and especially pertinent this week. How, in a city that will host two 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series games featuring the three metro-area NHL teams during the next week, can there be almost no year-round ice to be found?

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Sunday Long Read: Roots take hold in California

Sunday, 01.19.2014 / 3:00 AM / Sunday Long Read

Curtis Zupke - NHL.com Correspondent

ANAHEIM -- Emerson Etem could have gravitated toward a number of sports. He sometimes played soccer and tennis when he was younger, and his parents and sister have backgrounds in rowing and swimming.

Actually, if it wasn't for his chosen profession, Etem might not have ended up in sports at all.

"I think I'd be an artist," Etem said. "Or maybe a surfer."

Instead, Etem followed his brother Martin and put on roller-hockey skates at the YMCA in his hometown of Long Beach, Calif.

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Alec Martinez: Transplant finds hockey home

Sunday, 01.19.2014 / 3:00 AM / Sunday Long Read

Alec Martinez - Special to NHL.com

Alec Martinez is a fifth-year defenseman for the Los Angeles Kings. He grew up in Michigan but spent his junior-high years playing for the Junior San Jose Sharks and Santa Clara Blackhawks before his family moved back to the Midwest. He was a fixture during the Kings' 2011-12 Stanley Cup championship run.

My father, Frank, worked for General Motors for 30 years and he got transferred. GM had a joint venture with Toyota just outside of Fremont, Calif., and my family had to move out here for two or three years before we moved back to Michigan.

The hockey scene was a lot different. In Michigan, there were a lot more teams and lot more kids played. There were only a select few clubs in Northern California, so you had to come down to L.A. a lot. In Michigan, in terms of tournaments growing up, you don't really have to leave except for Chicago or Toronto. But, really, that's not very far. When you move to California, the tournaments are in Alaska or Las Vegas.

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Jonathon Blum: The accidental hockey player

Sunday, 01.19.2014 / 3:00 AM / Sunday Long Read

Jonathon Blum - Special to NHL.com

Jonathon Blum was born in Long Beach, Calif., and grew up in nearby Rancho Santa Margarita. He was a first-round pick of the Nashville Predators in the 2007 NHL Draft. The defenseman played 91 NHL games for the Predators before recently returning to the League with the Minnesota Wild.

Playing hockey where I grew up wasn't traditional at all, for sure. I owe a lot to my parents. It's very expensive playing in Southern California, traveling four or five times a year just to help me develop, paying for lessons. The ice time was $600, $700 an hour back then.

I was probably about 5 or 6 years old when I started. We lived on a cul de sac and there were probably about 10 or 15 kids on my block. When school was done we'd get on rollerblades or sneakers and we'd play street hockey or roller hockey. If we didn't have nets we'd use little sewer holes as nets and try to shoot the balls into them. That's how I started.

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Quote of the Day

I remember the first time at Wrigley Field all of us had the long johns, the turtlenecks and the extra equipment because we were afraid of being cold. Halfway through the first period everybody's ripping everything off and we just ended up wearing what we would normally wear for a game at the United Center.

— Chicago Blackhawks forward Patrick Sharp on the 2009 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic