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Features

Nash, Voracek return to city where NHL careers began

Friday, 01.23.2015 / 4:36 PM / 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

COLUMBUS -- There are two players who were drafted by the Columbus Blue Jackets and have more than 300 career NHL points, and each is in the city this weekend for the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game.

Rick Nash is widely acknowledged as the best player in team history. Selected No. 1 in the 2002 NHL Draft, he became the first franchise player for the precocious organization, and the team's best player for nearly a decade before being traded to the New York Rangers.

Jakub Voracek was the first pick by the Blue Jackets in 2007, the year the NHL Draft was held in Columbus. After being selected seventh overall, Voracek began to develop into a solid player, but he didn't become a star until after the Blue Jackets traded him to the Philadelphia Flyers as part of a package for Jeff Carter in 2011.

Both have returned to the city where their NHL careers began.

"I love coming back to the city," Nash said. "It is always strange to come back for hockey because I suited up in this rink for nine, 10 years, but it is fun to see the capital of the hockey universe be Columbus."

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Columbus' Foligno, Johansen proud to show off city

Friday, 01.23.2015 / 4:24 PM / 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend

Craig Merz - NHL.com Correspondent

COLUMBUS -- NHL All-Star Weekend is an opportunity for the two hometown players to showcase their city but also a respite from a hard season for the Columbus Blue Jackets.

Forwards Nick Foligno and Ryan Johansen will be the Blue Jackets' representatives for the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game at Nationwide Arena on Sunday (5 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports). Blue Jackets goaltender Sergei Bobrovsky withdrew from the game after he sustained a lower-body injury Wednesday against the Winnipeg Jets.

The Blue Jackets (20-22-3) were expected to compete for a spot in the Stanley Cup Playoffs but are 14 points behind the Boston Bruins for the final Eastern Conference wild-card spot, partly because numerous injuries have cost the Blue Jackets nearly 300 man-games.

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Tree house to serve as All-Star legacy in Columbus

Friday, 01.23.2015 / 3:42 PM / 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

COLUMBUS -- The Ronald McDonald House of Central Ohio is the largest in the world, with the ability to accommodate more than 130 families while their children are spending time in area hospitals.

It also now is the only one with a hockey-themed tree house.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman, along with NHL All-Stars Patrice Bergeron of the Boston Bruins, Nick Foligno of the Columbus Blue Jackets and Jonathan Drouin of the Tampa Bay Lightning, were at the Ronald McDonald House on Friday to unveil the 2015 NHL All-Star Legacy Treehouse as part of the festivities for All-Star Weekend.

"I think this is what you enjoy the most," Foligno said. "Obviously you play and you get to be in the spotlight, but these are the reasons that you want to give back and use that spotlight back for good," Foligno said. "To see those kids' faces when they walked into the tree house … it was so gratifying. What they're going through, to be able to help them … for even 10 minutes is so gratifying. It is outstanding to see what they've done here."

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All-Star captains not stressed by NHL Fantasy Draft

Friday, 01.23.2015 / 3:23 PM / 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

COLUMBUS -- The NHL Draft often is called a crapshoot because of how difficult it is to project the future of 18-year-old hockey players.

The 2015 NHL All-Star Fantasy Draft presented by DraftKings on Friday (8 p.m. ET; NBCSN, SN, TVA Sports) is the exact opposite of that.

There are no projections to be made for captains Nick Foligno of the host Columbus Blue Jackets and Jonathan Toews of the Chicago Blackhawks, just a list of the best players in the world to choose from.

"I’m happy that I can't really [mess] this draft up; I can't really draft a bad player," Foligno said. "I'll be nervous I'm sure, but I'm going to have a great time."

Foligno will be helped at the draft table by alternate captains Drew Doughty of the Los Angeles Kings and Patrick Kane of the Chicago Blackhawks, and Toews will receive advice from Rick Nash of the New York Rangers and Ryan Getzlaf of the Anaheim Ducks.

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Stamkos, Ovechkin took tough road to All-Star Game

Friday, 01.23.2015 / 3:05 PM / 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

COLUMBUS -- The adversity they faced last season has given Alex Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos a different perspective on what it means to be NHL All-Stars this season.

"It's tough to say I knew I would be sitting here at this time last year," Stamkos said Friday during NHL Media Day presented by DraftKings at Nationwide Arena.

At this time last season Stamkos, the captain of the Tampa Bay Lightning, was rehabbing his surgically repaired broken right leg and clinging to a faint hope of playing in the 2014 Sochi Olympics.

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Top NHL prospects fill out AHL All-Star roster

Friday, 01.23.2015 / 11:32 AM / AHL Update

Kinsey Janke - Special to NHL.com

The brightest stars in the American Hockey League will be at Utica Memorial Auditorium for the 2015 AHL All-Star Classic presented by Turning Stone Resort Casino.

Some of the best young players in professional hockey, representing all 30 National Hockey League organizations, will play in an East vs. West format. The 46 players heading to Utica include 18 first- and second-round NHL draft picks; 36 of this year's All-Stars already have NHL experience, including 14 who have skated in an NHL game in 2014-15.

Among them are:

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NHL, Blue Jackets unveil hockey-themed treehouse for 2015 NHL All-Star Legacy Initiative

Friday, 01.23.2015 / 11:00 AM / 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend

NHL Public Relations

COLUMBUS – The National Hockey League and Columbus Blue Jackets – along with NHL All-Stars Nick Foligno (Columbus Blue Jackets), Patrice Bergeron (Boston Bruins) and Jonathan Drouin (Tampa Bay Lightning) as well as NHL Alumni Andrew Cassels and Jamie Allison – unveiled a hockey-themed treehouse within the stairwell at the Columbus Ronald McDonald House, the largest Ronald McDonald House in the world that serves more than 3,500 families each year. Thanks to generous contributions from the Columbus Blue Jackets Foundation, the Columbus Blue Jackets, the Columbus Foundation, Marketing Activations Group and U.S. League partner McDonald's, the NHL invested $190,000 into the Columbus Ronald McDonald House as part of the 2015 NHL All-Star Legacy Treehouse.

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NHL, NHLPA partner with GoPro to deliver hockey fans unique perspectives of the game

HD video content captured with GoPro cameras will be used in NHL game broadcasts and on NHLPA, NHL and GoPro online channels

Friday, 01.23.2015 / 10:00 AM / 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend

NHL Public Relations

NEW YORK / TORONTO – The National Hockey League (NHL) and the National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) today announced a North American partnership with GoPro, the maker of the world's most versatile camera and enabler of some of today's most immersive and engaging content. The agreement is GoPro's first with a major professional sports league. As part of this unprecedented partnership, the NHL will use GoPro's innovative equipment and expertise to deliver hockey fans never-before-seen perspectives of the game and the talents of the top players in high-definition video content during national and regional game broadcasts and across the digital and social media platforms of the NHLPA, NHL and GoPro.

To mark another first, GoPro's Professional Broadcast Solution, developed in a partnership with Vislink, will deliver live HD points of view and will debut during the 2015 NHL® All-Star Weekend, which will be held Jan. 23-25 in Columbus, Ohio. GoPro cameras worn by players will deliver real-time HD content and multiple angles and views to bring viewers even closer to the action on the ice for the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Skills Competition™ on Saturday, Jan. 24 (7 p.m. ET on NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports). Additional GoPro points of view are anticipated for the live broadcast of the 2015 Honda NHL® All-Star Game on Sunday, Jan. 25 (5 p.m. ET on NBCSN, CBC, TVA Sports).

"GoPro is the perfect partner for us in our ongoing commitment to bring hockey fans closer to the game," said Bob Chesterman, NHL Senior Vice President of Programming and Production. "As the preeminent leader in adaptable cameras, only GoPro has the technology to help us and our media partners showcase the beauty and intensity of hockey in new and deeper ways. Our partnership with GoPro will be a big win for both new and lifelong hockey fans."

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Jo Dee Messina, Leo Welsh to sing national anthems at 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game

Friday, 01.23.2015 / 6:03 AM / 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend

NEW YORK - Grammy-nominated country music artist Jo Dee Messina and longtime Columbus Blue Jackets anthem singer, Leo Welsh -- who will be accompanied by two members of the Royal Canadian Mounted Police, will perform the U.S. and Canadian national anthems, respectively, at the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game, the National Hockey League announced Friday. Fans can watch the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game live on Sunday, Jan. 25 at 5 p.m. ET on NBCSN in the U.S. and on CBC and TVA Sports in Canada. Fans outside of North America will be able to watch the game via NHL GameCenter LIVE and international broadcast partners in more than 160 countries and territories around the world.

During the pre-game festivities, Messina will perform the U.S. national anthem while Welsh and two members of the Royal Canadian Mounted police will perform the Canadian national anthem. As previously announced, power-pop band Locksley will perform their hit single, "The Whip," during the player introductions; Grammy Award-nominated and multi-platinum selling recording artist Fall Out Boy will perform during the first intermission; and American rock band and Ohio State alumni O.A.R. will perform during the second intermission of the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Game.

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Sabres' Girgensons looks forward to All-Star weekend

Friday, 01.23.2015 / 3:00 AM / 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend

Shawn Roarke - Director, Editorial

Buffalo Sabres forward Zemgus Girgensons is a pretty low-key guy.

He just likes to chill out when he is away from the rink. At the rink, he hates to talk about himself and will usually try to deflect the conversation toward teammates or another topic.

So it isn't difficult to see that the 21-year-old Latvian is not entirely comfortable with the spotlight provided by his countryman during the voting for the 2015 Dodge NHL All-Star Game. Hockey-mad Latvians outdueled Chicago Blackhawks fans in stuffing the ballot box, resulting in Girgensons receiving the most votes out of any player.

In the voting, the fans chose the first six All-Stars. The second-year center received 1,574,896 votes, more than 300,000 ahead of the runner-up, Chicago forward Patrick Kane.

Girgensons is immensely popular back home, not only for his exploits with the Sabres but for his contributions to the Latvian national team in the World Championships and the 2014 Sochi Olympics. How popular? A Latvian rap group made a song and video about him and his hockey-playing success.

This season, Girgensons has been a beacon of hope for the struggling Sabres. He leads them in goals (13), even-strength goals (11) and shorthanded goals (two). He's also tops among Buffalo's forwards in average time on ice (19:03).

NHL.com caught up to Girgensons during Buffalo's recent stop to play the New Jersey Devils and discussed the viral video campaign, Girgensons' love of his country and international hockey, and what he likes to do when he is away from the rink.

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Quote of the Day

I've been so fortunate, blessed, to play a long time with some great players and be on power plays, play in some great cities and stuff. It's been fun.

— Avalanche forward Jarome Iginla on tying Dino Ciccarelli for 46th place on the NHL's all-time list with his 1,200th career point after their win vs. the Predators on Friday