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Williams to join Rangers as assistant coach

Tuesday, 08.05.2014 / 10:38 AM / News

NHL.com

The New York Rangers agreed to terms with Darryl Williams to become an assistant coach, the team announced Tuesday.

Williams, 46, replaces Daniel Lacroix, who was hired by the Montreal Canadiens. He spent the past six seasons as an assistant coach with the Vancouver Canucks, and joins associate coach Scott Arniel and Ulf Samuelsson on Alain Vigneault's staff.

Williams played two games with the Los Angeles Kings during the 1992-93 season. He had 126 goals and 157 assists in 676 games in the AHL and the International Hockey League.

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Slovak legend Demitra to be honored in documentary

Tuesday, 08.05.2014 / 10:22 AM / News

Michael Langr - NHL.com Correspondent

Three years after the tragic crash of a plane carrying the Lokomotiv Yaroslavl hockey team, which led to death of 44 passengers, one of the victims will be honored with a documentary film.

The film, "Pavol Demitra: 38," will premiere in Trencin, Slovakia on Sept. 7, the three-year anniversary of the crash. Four days later, it will be shown in movie theaters across the country.

Demitra, who played in the NHL from 1993-2010, was a Slovak hockey legend and one of the biggest stars in the Kontinental Hockey League.

The film was produced by actor and director Daniel Dangl, who is famous for his work as producer of a stand-up comedy called "Particka." The show is similar to the American sketch comedy "Whose Line Is It Anyway?" and is a hit in Slovakia and Czech Republic.

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Taste of success leaves Blue Jackets craving more

Tuesday, 08.05.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Craig Merz - NHL.com Correspondent

The Columbus Blue Jackets last season got a taste of the Stanley Cup Playoffs after a five-year absence, and even a first-round exit has not dampened their enthusiasm and expectations for 2014-15.

In fact, moves such as signing center Brandon Dubinsky to a six-year contract extension and trading for left wing Scott Hartnell have the Blue Jackets thinking big.

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Forward Horton among Blue Jackets' five questions

Tuesday, 08.05.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Craig Merz - NHL.com Correspondent

Optimism has always been anchored by realism for followers of the Columbus Blue Jackets.

When the Blue Jackets reached the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time in 2009, it was due to the outstanding play of rookie goaltender Steve Mason. But Mason couldn't match that performance in 2009-10 and coach Ken Hitchcock was fired 10 months after leading Columbus to the postseason.

Scott Arniel replaced him and promised better, but failed to deliver and was fired in January 2012. Only since Todd Richards took over have the Blue Jackets found their way.

They barely missed the postseason in 2013, but qualified for the first wild card following a move to the Eastern Conference last season before losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins in six games in the first round.

More importantly, there is now a culture of winning; since Feb. 26, 2013, the Blue Jackets are 62-37-12 for the eighth-most points in the NHL.

Here are five questions facing the Blue Jackets as they try to make the playoffs in consecutive seasons for the first time:

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Blue Jackets want goals, leadership from Hartnell

Tuesday, 08.05.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Craig Merz - NHL.com Correspondent

The Columbus Blue Jackets didn't trade for forward Scott Hartnell specifically to agitate the Pittsburgh Penguins, but his ability to antagonize certainly didn't hurt.

Hartnell earned a reputation as a Penguins-baiter during his seven seasons with the Philadelphia Flyers before being traded to Columbus for R.J. Umberger on June 23. He was particularly pesky, to put it mildly, when the Pennsylvania rivals met in the Stanley Cup Playoffs in 2008, 2009 and 2012. There wasn't nearly the same level of vitriol when the Blue Jackets and Penguins played in the Eastern Conference First Round in April, a series won by Pittsburgh in six games.

Even though the Penguins have gone through a turbulent offseason they are still considered a contender in the Metropolitan Division and the Eastern Conference. Clearly, the Penguins are still one of the teams to beat.

That's why Hartnell's 91 career playoff games could come in handy for the Blue Jackets, a franchise that has played all of 10 since joining the NHL in 2000.

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Blue Jackets' lineup marked by improving youth

Tuesday, 08.05.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

When the Columbus Blue Jackets had three first-round picks at the 2013 NHL Draft, it looked like those players would be counted on to help the franchise finally become a consistent Stanley Cup Playoff participant.

The franchise might already be that by the time those guys arrive. Columbus reached the postseason in 2013-14 and won its first two games in franchise history. With president John Davidson and general manager Jarmo Kekalainen in charge, the Blue Jackets have quickly morphed from potential rebuilding situation to potential contender.

There is star-level talent at every position. There are young players with the potential to improve already on the NHL roster. There are exciting young prospects in the pipeline.

It was actually a pretty quiet summer in central Ohio, in part because Kekalainen didn't need a busy one. The biggest item of business remains locking up restricted free agent Ryan Johansen, who can be the first "franchise center" the organization has ever had.

Here's a look at the projected 2014-15 lineup for the Blue Jackets:

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World view forms Blue Jackets' top 10 prospects

Tuesday, 08.05.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL.com's 30 in 30 package: 2014-15

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

The IIHF World Junior Championship is traditionally the tournament most NHL scouts point to as a barometer to gauge how far a prospect has progressed among his peers.

If that's the case, Columbus Blue Jackets general manager Jarmo Kekalainen must be brimming with confidence after witnessing his players excel for their respective countries at the 2014 WJC in Malmo, Sweden.

Five recent draft picks were very productive in last year's tournament, including forwards Alexander Wennberg of Sweden, Marko Dano of Slovakia and Kerby Rychel and Josh Anderson of Canada, and goalie Oscar Dansk of Sweden. Wennberg, Rychel and Dano were chosen No. 14, No. 19 and No. 27, respectively, in the 2013 NHL Draft. Dansk was selected No. 31 and Anderson No. 95 in 2012.

Additionally, the 2014 WJC Division I Group A tournament featured another diamond in the rough for the Blue Jackets in right wing Oliver Bjorkstrand of Denmark. All Bjorkstrand did was earn recognition as the top forward at the tournament after he had four goals and six points in five games to help his country qualify for the 2015 WJC in Montreal and Toronto.

"I think it means something when kids get a chance to win at that younger level; it helps their confidence down the road because of that winning attitude," Blue Jackets director of amateur scouting Paul Castron said. "We've kind of lacked that type of stuff. So anytime you win, it's good."

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Goaltender Demko not worried about recent struggles

Monday, 08.04.2014 / 7:51 PM / 2015 World Junior Championship

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

LAKE PLACID, N.Y. -- Thatcher Demko said one of the most enduring lessons he learned at the USA Hockey national junior evaluation camp last year was that roster spots aren't won or lost in August.

The goaltender would do well to remember those lessons this year, as the first few days of camp aren't anything he's likely to brag about.

"It's been alright," Demko told NHL.com. "I don't think I've played my best yet."

Demko allowed two goals on seven shots playing the first 30 minutes Monday in USA White's 4-3 loss to Finland. In parts of three games, he's allowed eight goals on 27 shots.

"It's hard for goaltenders to come in the middle of summer," United States coach Mark Osiecki said. "You don't know how much they've been on the ice, what kind of game action they've seen, bodies in front of them and the speed factor of it. It's hard to adjust and it's going to take some time. He's been average; he knows that."

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McDavid eager to get draft-eligible season underway

Monday, 08.04.2014 / 5:46 PM / Prospects

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

BROSSARD, Quebec -- Connor McDavid sat and watched in June as many of his friends, the players he grew up playing with and against, saw their lifelong dreams realized.

The 2014 NHL Draft was a highlight moment for one of McDavid's closest friends, defenseman Aaron Ekblad, who was the first pick by the Florida Panthers. Sam Bennett, McDavid's teammate and linemate for seven years in minor hockey, was selected fourth by the Calgary Flames.

As the draft continued with names being called at Wells Fargo Center in Philadelphia, McDavid saw more and more of the people he grew up with, people who ultimately helped him become the most highly-anticipated hockey prospect since Sidney Crosby.

He was happy for them. But he also started to get antsy.

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Trottier, Irbe among adds to Sabres coaching staff

Monday, 08.04.2014 / 3:59 PM / News

NHL.com

Bryan Trottier and Arturs Irbe were among the four new assistant coaches hired by the Buffalo Sabres on Monday.

Trottier, Danny Flynn and Tom Coolen will serve as assistants to Sabres coach Ted Nolan, while Irbe was named goaltending coach.

"I'm very happy with the group of talented hockey minds we were able to assemble for our coaching staff," Nolan said. "Each one of these coaches brings an extensive and different background from the hockey world and I'm confident they will help get our team to where it needs to go this season."

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Quote of the Day

I didn't even know how to celebrate. I threw my hands up, they gave me a hug, so I guess that's all I needed.

— Sabres forward Tim Schaller on scoring his first NHL goal Sunday against the Bruins