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NHL Insider

Bylsma adamant Fleury is still Penguins' No. 1 goalie

Sunday, 06.09.2013 / 6:17 PM / NHL Insider

Chris Adamski - Correspondent

PITTSBURGH -- Despite widespread speculation to the contrary, Pittsburgh Penguins coach Dan Bylsma left little room for interpretation when it comes to whom the team's starting goalie will be when the 2013-14 NHL season begins in October.

"Marc-Andre Fleury is going to go back in net and he's going to take the net and he's going to be the No. 1 goalie and he's going to play great," Bylsma said. "There's no question about that. And he's going to win a lot of hockey games for this team next season and he will have an opportunity in the playoffs again when this team gets there."

Fleury, when healthy, was Pittsburgh's unquestioned starting goalie from early in 2006 until Bylsma elected to start Tomas Vokoun for Game 5 of an Eastern Conference Quarterfinal series against the New York Islanders last month. But Fleury, the No. 1 pick of the 2003 NHL Draft, made just one relief appearance in the Penguins' final 11 games of the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

USA Hockey seeing tremendous success in Pittsburgh

Thursday, 06.06.2013 / 6:21 PM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer

The Pittsburgh Penguins may be in tough against the Boston Bruins in the Eastern Conference Final, but it's still been a breakout year for Pittsburgh hockey.

Local player Riley Barber was selected by the Washington Capitals in the sixth round of last summer's NHL Draft, which was held at Consol Energy Center. Months later, Barber was one of four Pittsburgh products -- along with John Gibson, J.T. Miller and Vincent Trocheck -- to lead the United States to gold at the World Junior Championship. Trocheck would be named the Ontario Hockey League's Most Outstanding Player, and Gibson received USA Hockey's Bob Johnson Award for excellence in international hockey competition.

Finally, Pittsburgh was site of the 2013 Frozen Four. Eventual champion Yale made it to Consol thanks to an overtime goal in the regional semifinal against top-seeded Minnesota. That OT winner came from junior Jesse Root, who just so happens to hail from Pittsburgh. And two kids who grew up on his block, Patrick Wey and Parker Milner, won the NCAA title the year before with Boston College.

Red Wings believe they exceeded expectations

Friday, 05.31.2013 / 6:59 PM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer

As the Detroit Red Wings emptied their lockers one day after a 2-1 overtime loss to the Chicago Blackhawks in Game 7 of the Western Conference Semifinals, coach Mike Babcock didn't appear overly heartbroken about the end of his team's season.

Babcock said he planned to spend time with his family and "do as much water skiing as humanly possible" this summer. But he's eager to get back to work in the fall, and he agreed with the assessment that his team exceeded expectations in what was largely expected to be a rebuilding season following the retirement of defenseman Niklas Lidstrom and the departure of veteran forwards Tomas Holmstrom and Jiri Hudler.

"I don't think we made mistakes from a lack of work ethic ever this year. I thought we competed. I thought this group was spectacular as far as that and energy. I enjoyed coaching this year as much as I ever enjoyed it. I had a great time," Babcock said Friday. "Obviously I was disappointed, but we're proud of what happened here."

Sharks will keep McLellan; Torres wants to stay

Thursday, 05.30.2013 / 7:47 PM / NHL Insider

Eric Gilmore - Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- Not all playoff exits are equally devastating.

After losing in five games to the St. Louis Blues in the Western Conference Quarterfinals last year, the fastest exit from the Stanley Cup Playoffs in franchise history, the San Jose Sharks were in turmoil and coach Todd McLellan's job was in jeopardy.

Sharks general manager Doug Wilson waited nearly two months before publicly confirming McLellan would return.

This year, the Sharks swept the Vancouver Canucks in the conference quarterfinals and pushed the defending Stanley Cup champion Los Angeles Kings to seven games in the semifinals.

Two days after the Sharks suffered a 2-1 loss to the Kings in Game 7 at Staples Center, Wilson said Thursday that McLellan and his entire staff, including newcomers Larry Robinson and Jim Johnson, will be back next season.

"I think they did an excellent job. Very proud of the staff," Wilson said.

Seven reasons Rangers fired Tortorella as coach

Wednesday, 05.29.2013 / 7:37 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

The legs behind Henrik Lundqvist's comments Monday are growing, and many are pointing to his words as the reason John Tortorella is out of a job as of Wednesday.

It's a fair assessment considering the goalie known as "The King" has become the most important person in the New York Rangers organization and he was lukewarm when asked about potentially signing a contract extension in the near future.

"I'll talk to my agent and we'll go from there," Lundqvist, who is entering the final year of his current contract, said Monday.

Lundqvist was also quite matter-of-fact when he said the Rangers took "a step backward" this season -- a contrast to Tortorella saying they took "a sideways step."

However, there is far more to the decision to fire Tortorella than what Lundqvist said. Though it's certainly possible he had something to do with Tortorella's ouster, Rangers general manager Glen Sather already had enough ammunition to make his decision to go in a different direction.

Sather was admittedly vague when asked for specific reasons Tortorella was fired Wednesday, but here are seven he probably could have talked about:

Seven possible candidates to become Rangers coach

Wednesday, 05.29.2013 / 5:48 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

The decision of New York Rangers general manager Glen Sather to fire John Tortorella on Wednesday altered the landscape in the NHL coaching market. Not only did the amount of openings go from two to three, but one of them now is for an Original Six franchise located in the biggest market in the United States.

Sather gave the Rangers a vacancy to match the Dallas Stars and Vancouver Canucks, and all three have several worthy candidates to consider. Sather said his hope is to have a new coach in place by June 30, the day of the NHL Draft in Newark, N.J.

Here are seven candidates Sather is likely considering, and why each could work in New York:

Murray, MacLean pleased with direction of Senators

Tuesday, 05.28.2013 / 12:51 PM / NHL Insider

Erin Nicks - Correspondent

OTTAWA – According to Ottawa Senators coach Paul MacLean and general manager Bryan Murray, the team is definitely on the right track.

Murray and MacLean spoke to the media Tuesday, wrapping up a roller-coaster season for the Senators. Despite being overwhelmed by injuries to key players Jason Spezza (back), Jared Cowen (hip), Milan Michalek (knee), Erik Karlsson (Achilles) and Craig Anderson (back), the team was able to survive and thrive, making it to the Eastern Conference Semifinals for the first time since 2007.

Despite losing to the Pittsburgh Penguins 4-1 in their best-of-7 series, MacLean and Murray were enthusiastic about the progress the club has made in such a short span.

"We're tremendously pleased with where we are in the process of becoming [better]. We look forward to next season and next training camp," MacLean said. "We learned a lot about a lot of players this year. We've had tremendous growth, not only in our Ottawa team, but our Binghamton team [in the American Hockey League]. Next year's training camp, we're going to have some decisions to make. That's a good sign."

Hartley believes Roy will be success with Avalanche

Friday, 05.24.2013 / 11:15 AM / NHL Insider

John Manasso - Correspondent

Calgary Flames coach Bob Hartley has heard a lot in the past few days that former superstar players don't become great NHL coaches and that it's been a long time since a goalie has succeeded as a coach in the League.

Hartley, who coached Patrick Roy when the Colorado Avalanche won the 2001 Stanley Cup, said what he thinks will separate Roy as the new coach and vice president of hockey operations for his old team is his passion.

"He doesn't accept mediocrity," Hartley told via phone from Saskatoon, where he is at the 2013 MasterCard Memorial Cup. "He never accepted it from himself. I think that's what he's going to bring to this organization. If you don't work hard, you might be sitting in the stands."

Roy latest Hall member to seek coaching success

Thursday, 05.23.2013 / 8:08 PM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - Columnist

Patrick Roy was a Hall of Fame goaltender who won the Stanley Cup twice with the Montreal Canadiens and twice with the Colorado Avalanche. He retired with the most regular-season wins in NHL history and holds the mark for most playoff victories.

But Roy may have taken on the biggest challenge of his career Thursday when he agreed in principle to become coach and vice president of hockey operations for the Avalanche, a franchise that has missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs in each of the past three seasons and four of the past five since it last won a series in 2008.

Roy, who coached the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League for the past eight seasons, will try to become one of the few Hall of Fame players to equal his prowess on the ice with success behind the bench. Only a handful of hockey's elite have become a coach at the NHL level, and only a couple of those have succeeded.

Avalanche icon Roy aiming for successful sequel

Thursday, 05.23.2013 / 6:50 PM / NHL Insider

Shawn P. Roarke - Senior Managing Editor

Since joining the Colorado Avalanche in December of the 1995-96 season, Patrick Roy played a huge role in the fortunes of the franchise.

Now he returns as coach and vice president of hockey operations with the hope of having a similar impact.

Roy was named to the two roles by the Avalanche on Thursday. As vice president of hockey operations, Roy joins his old running mate from the glory days, Joe Sakic, who was named to his executive post earlier this month.

Before the Avalanche were in Colorado, the franchise was known as the Quebec Nordiques, and they weren't very good. In the final eight seasons in Quebec City, the Nordiques made the Stanley Cup Playoffs twice and never advanced past the second round.

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