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Sunday Long Read
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Sunday Long Read

Sunday Long Read: Broten's legacy exceeds profile

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

Tal Pinchevsky - 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.

An oral history of the 2010 gold-medal game

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

Dan Rosen and Corey Masisak - 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.

Sunday Long Read: Career never a job for Hitchcock

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

Louie Korac - 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.

Sunday Long Read: Messier helps Ice Center in NYC

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

Davis Harper - 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?

Emerson Etem: Local player makes good

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

Emerson Etem - Special to

Emerson Etem is one of the more promising young forwards in the Anaheim Ducks organization and likely would be an NHL regular on any other team without the logjam of talented forwards on the Ducks roster. He was the American Hockey League Player of the Month for December.

Etem has a unique background, born from the roller hockey rinks near his hometown Long Beach, Calif., halfway between the locations the Los Angeles Kings and Anaheim Ducks call home.

My parents put me in roller hockey classes at the local YMCA when I was 3. I don't know why they picked hockey. My brother Martin played and I picked it up. It was just out of curiosity. I played soccer in the summer and tennis when I was younger but I stuck with hockey. I just wanted to try it out and I liked it.

Nelson Emerson: A player pays it forward

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

Nelson Emerson - Special to

Nelson Emerson is a former Los Angeles Kings player who works in player development for the team. Following a 13-year NHL career as a five-time 20-goal scorer, Emerson spent two seasons as an assistant coach before his current role.

He is involved with the Junior Kings youth program and co-coaches his sons with Kings assistant general manager Rob Blake. Coincidentally, Emerson and Blake were sitting in a dorm room at Bowling Green State University in 1988 when they heard the news that Wayne Gretzky had been traded to the Los Angeles Kings.

I have twin 12-year-old boys who have been playing youth hockey here since 6 or 7. They're both forwards. One's a goal-scorer and the other's a grinder but they don't play on the same line. They started playing on ice. Some kids do start on roller hockey, but I think now, because of the facilities available, they're able to start on ice earlier.

Thatcher Demko: A Gull takes flight

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

Thatcher Demko - Special to

San Diego native Thatcher Demko is a freshman goaltender at Boston College, and he recently represented the United States at the 2014 International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship. He was the top-rated North American goaltender in NHL Central Scouting's midterm rankings for the 2014 NHL Draft and is considered a strong candidate to be a first-round selection.

The first time I tried going ice skating I was 3 years old. My dad took me to the rink and he said I hated it and was crying and complaining the whole time. So he said we'll wait another year and we'll try it then. Then one day he said he was putting roller skates on me, and got one skate on when the phone rang inside the house. He ran back in to grab the phone and when he looked outside he said I was wheeling around on one skate. That's when he thought I was ready to go back to the ice.

Jonathon Blum: The accidental hockey player

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

Jonathon Blum - Special to

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.

Alec Martinez: Transplant finds hockey home

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

Alec Martinez - Special to

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.

Sunday Long Read: Roots take hold in California

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

Curtis Zupke - 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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Quote of the Day

Yeah, it was a pretty special moment for me. Today was my Dad's [55th] birthday. I have a lot of family in town, so it was a special moment for me to score my first one today. A win definitely would have capped it off, but you can't have everything.

— Sabres rookie Jack Eichel after scoring a goal in his National Hockey League debut
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