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Letter from the Beliveau family

Thursday, 12.18.2014 / 9:41 AM / News

Hello everyone.

You can be certain that our grandfather, had he been with us today, wouldn't have addressed all of you without first expressing his deepest gratitude for the many heartwarming tributes that were shared over the past few days. We would like to take this moment, first and foremost, to say a special thanks to all of you.

Thank you to all his fans for their passion and kindness. He respected all of you unconditionally. Thank you to all of the doctors who treated him over all these years: Dr. Douglas Kinnear, Dr. David Mulder, Dr. Maurice Godin, Dr. Michael Churchill-Smith, Dr. Robert Côté and Dr. Pierre Lanouette. You were a source of infinite support for our family, and you have his most sincere admiration. A big thank you to the members of the nursing staff who watched over our grandfather with gentleness and care until his last day. Thank you to the Montreal Canadiens organization, the Molson family, and every person who worked so hard to present such memorable tribute ceremonies. We also wish to thank Suzanne Pelletier and the staff at the Urgel Bourgie funeral complex in Longueuil, who took care of him with compassion and dedication, even after his death.


Canadiens to honor Koivu for work on, off ice

Thursday, 12.18.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

MONTREAL -- The similarities are striking, albeit unmentionable.

A week after the Montreal Canadiens did a masterful job celebrating the life of the franchise's greatest ambassador and captain, they will attempt to do it again Thursday for another giant figure in Canadiens history prior to their game at Bell Centre against the Anaheim Ducks.

No, Saku Koivu cannot be compared to Jean Beliveau. Nobody can.

But if there is one Canadiens player who has come close since Beliveau's retirement as a player in 1971, or as close as can be reasonably expected of a human being, a strong argument could be made that it is Koivu.

Beliveau and Koivu captained the Canadiens for 10 years and was the best player on his respective team for a number of those years.

But the biggest legacy in the cases of each man is his spirit of generosity, involvement in the community, and genuine desire to make a difference in people’s lives.

"I think [Koivu] was a great captain," said Dr. David Mulder, the Canadiens' longtime chief surgeon who had unique relationships with Koivu and Beliveau. "I think there was only one Jean Beliveau."


Pickard opens eyes as feel-good story for Avalanche

Thursday, 12.18.2014 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent

CENTENNIAL, Colo. -- There were no great expectations for Calvin Pickard when he reported to Colorado Avalanche training camp in September, not with Vezina Trophy finalist Semyon Varlamov and recent trade acquisition Reto Berra as the top two goalies.

"I wanted to make a good impression and make a statement that I'm close and ready to play at this level," Pickard said this week.

He probably didn't do either in his one preseason appearance, a 5-2 loss to the Anaheim Ducks when he allowed four goals on 27 shots, but circumstances can change dramatically, and they certainly have for Pickard.


Unmasked: Analytics provide new evaluation tools

Thursday, 12.18.2014 / 3:00 AM / Unmasked

Kevin Woodley - Correspondent

Analytics and advanced statistics have boomed in popularity across the NHL during the past couple seasons, with more and more stories either dedicated to or including shot-based numbers such as Corsi and Fenwick as indicators of puck possession as well as predictors of success for teams and players.

So what about the goaltenders? Are there metrics suitable for evaluating them?

In a perfect world there would be some kind of goaltender rating which factors in everything, similar to the quarterback rating used in the NFL.

In reality, as Columbus Blue Jackets goaltending coach Ian Clark once explained, the position may be too dynamic for one definitive statistical measure because there are so many outside variables which can affect each goalie's statistical performance.


Harkins draws inspiration, drive from father, brother

Thursday, 12.18.2014 / 3:00 AM / Prospects

Aaron Vickers - Correspondent

Forward Jansen Harkins of the Prince George Cougars of the Western Hockey League has developed into a top prospect for the 2015 NHL Draft, but he isn't above asking his father for advice during rides to the rink, just like he did as a kid.

It's a perk that comes when your father, former NHL player Todd Harkins, doubles not only as his ride to and from the rink most days, but also as his team's general manager.

"He knows what it takes and how hard you have to work," said Jansen, who earned an A rating on NHL Central Scouting’s November players to watch list. "He's really instilled that [work ethic] in me my whole life. He's always been around coaching me and teaching me. He's been a lot of help to me. And now I have him up in Prince George living with me.

"It's nice to have someone I can talk to and relate to what I'm going through. It's awesome."


Around the League notebook for Wednesday, Dec. 17

Thursday, 12.18.2014 / 1:11 AM / News

NHL Public Relations


After surrendering the tying goal with 8:21 left in regulation, Loui Eriksson (1-1-2) netted his seventh career overtime (WATCH) goal to lift the Boston Bruins to a 3-2 win against the Minnesota Wild.

* Eriksson's overtime tally was his first with a team other than Dallas, where he played from 2006-2013 and scored his first six career overtime goals (first: Dec. 16, 2008). According to Elias Sports Bureau, since the 2008-09 season, only Alex Ovechkin (10) and Steven Stamkos (8) have more overtime tallies than Eriksson.

* Rookie netminder Niklas Svedberg stopped 35 shots, including all 20 he faced in the second period. Per Elias, Svedberg is the first rookie goalie to stop 20 shots in one period for the Bruins since Oct. 27, 2005 when Hannu Toivonen denied 20 shots in the second period of a 36-save victory against the Toronto Maple Leafs.


Hartley, with extension, focused on Flames' rebuild

Wednesday, 12.17.2014 / 7:51 PM / News

CALGARY -- Bob Hartley is committed. So are the Calgary Flames.

Hartley, who has coached Calgary to a 71-79-13 record over two-plus seasons, has signed a multiyear contract extension, it was announced Wednesday.

"I'm coaching hockey because it's my passion, it's what I like the most," said Hartley, whose contract was to expire at the end of this season. "I wanted to be here, I'm a coach, but I wear the 'Flaming C' with lots of pride. There was not a second, not a minute that I didn't want to continue what we started. It was not the term and it was not about money, it was about getting the opportunity to keep growing in this organization, to keep working with the players we have.

"I've said it many times: I feel very fortunate to be working not only with good players but good people, and that makes our job very enjoyable. Tomorrow it's back to daily business, which is what I love the most. Let's go win some hockey games."


Blues' Schwartz week-to-week because of foot injury

Wednesday, 12.17.2014 / 7:47 PM / News

St. Louis Blues left wing Jaden Schwartz is week-to-week because of a right-foot injury, general manager Doug Armstrong announced Wednesday.

Schwartz sustained the injury in the Blues' 5-2 win against the Los Angeles Kings on Tuesday.

The Blues put Schwartz on injured reserve and recalled forward Dmitrij Jaskin from the Chicago Wolves of the American Hockey League.

Schwartz, 22, is second on the Blues with 11 goals, tied for second in points (27) and tied for third in assists (16).


Fleury out for Penguins, being tested for mumps

Wednesday, 12.17.2014 / 6:56 PM / News

Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury is being tested for the mumps and will not play Thursday against the Colorado Avalanche.

Fleury and defensemen Robert Bortuzzo and Olli Maatta reported not feeling well and were being tested for the virus as a precaution.

"We will probably get those results back in a three-day period," Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford said, according to the Penguins website.

Penguins captain Sidney Crosby was diagnosed with the mumps on Sunday and on Tuesday teammate Beau Bennett was announced to have it.

It was determined Crosby was past the infectious stage of the disease Monday, and the Penguins said Crosby skated Wednesday on his own.

"He looked good on the ice," Penguins coach Mike Johnston said, according to the Penguins website. "It was a full skate. He worked on some extra conditioning drills."


Predators' Neal fined $2,000 for diving/embellishment

Wednesday, 12.17.2014 / 5:00 PM / Department of Player Safety News

NEW YORKNashville Predators forward James Neal has been fined $2,000 as supplementary discipline under NHL Rule 64 (Diving/Embellishment), the National Hockey League announced today.

Revised for the 2014-15 season following offseason approval by the League's Board of Governors and the National Hockey League Players' Association, NHL Rule 64 is designed to bring attention to and more seriously penalize players (and teams) who repeatedly dive and embellish in an attempt to draw penalties.

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Quote of the Day

I don't know how he does it. I don't know how he gets his body parallel with the player and pulls it through his legs like that. I know he's tried it a couple times in practice and it's never worked, so how he does it in a game, it's incredible.

— Capitals defenseman Mike Green on teammate Alex Ovechkin's highlight-reel goal against the Devils on Saturday