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NHL Insider

Markov's return could be a big boost for Canadiens

Tuesday, 01.08.2013 / 5:26 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

The Montreal Canadiens enter the 2012-13 season looking to erase the memory of a last-place finish in the Eastern Conference.

While there is a new coaching staff led by Michel Therrien and a new front office led by general manager Marc Bergevin, it could very well be the team's most tenured player who allows the Canadiens to bounce back into the playoffs. Defenseman Andrei Markov played his final game with Vityaz Chekhov in the KHL on Tuesday and reportedly will be heading back to Montreal on Thursday.

"There's no doubt right now that he's able to play, he's healthy, he's 100 percent and he's a huge addition to our team." -- Montreal coach Michel Therrien

And when he arrives, he will be healthy.

Markov has undergone back-to-back reconstructive surgeries on the anterior cruciate ligament in his right knee and was limited to 20 games during the past two seasons. His new coach is eager to see the 34-year-old defenseman back on the ice.

Therrien already has a relationship with Markov -- he's the only Canadiens player who was on the club during Therrien's first stint in Montreal, which ended in 2002-03 -- so the coach has a good idea of what to expect from the two-time All-Star defenseman.

"Andrei's going to be one of our leaders," Therrien said at a press conference Monday. "Andrei hasn't played much the last two years, as you all know, and I talked to him before the lockout and he was excited about being able to start the season with his teammates."

Stamkos focused on getting Lightning into playoffs

Tuesday, 01.08.2013 / 4:15 PM / NHL Insider

Steven Stamkos had a remarkable season in 2011-12, scoring a League-best 60 goals, finishing second with 97 points, and being a finalist for the Hart Trophy.

So how does the Tampa Bay Lightning forward top all that?

Simple, he told reporters in Tampa on Tuesday.

"Get into the playoffs," Stamkos said. "That's the big key and that's our goal here as an organization -- get back into the playoffs."

The Lightning finished 10th in the Eastern Conference last season, eight points out of a playoff spot, after finishing fifth in the East in 2010-11 and advancing to the 2011 Eastern Conference Finals.

"We saw what we did a couple years ago," Stamkos said. "Just have to get in [to the playoffs] and things can happen. That's the model we have this year. We want to be a playoff team."

Recapping the offseason roster moves by all 30 teams

Tuesday, 01.08.2013 / 10:01 AM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

It's been a long offseason for NHL fans, but with the lockout over, the skates are being sharpened and the pucks are ready to be dropped as training camps prepare to open around the League.

Because it's been several months since fans last saw their favorite teams on the ice, has this simple team-by-team primer to remind fans what's happened since the Los Angeles Kings beat the New Jersey Devils to win the Stanley Cup back in June.

Bergevin, Therrien eager to see new-look Canadiens

Tuesday, 01.08.2013 / 9:55 AM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

BROSSARD, QuebecMarc Bergevin was hired as the general manager of the Montreal Canadiens on May 2, and he in turn hired Michel Therrien as his coach on June 5.

Both men have been waiting ever since to see their new team.

No NHL club had as significant an overhaul over the last offseason than the Canadiens, who not only hired Bergevin and Therrien but also added several new faces in both the front office and the coaching staff coming off a season when they finished last in the Eastern Conference.

With the framework for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement awaiting ratification and an abbreviated training camp to follow, the newcomers to the Canadiens' brain trust will need to familiarize themselves with the players – and vice versa – in very short order.

"For me, it's a fresh start," Bergevin said at a press conference Monday. "I've been waiting for this for a long time, since May 2. I'm ready to go back to work. I've been working, but it was different kind of work. The last time I saw so many junior games in the [Quebec Major Junior Hockey League] was when I was playing for Chicoutimi in '84."

Hockey return celebrated on Twitter by players, execs

Monday, 01.07.2013 / 5:03 PM / NHL Insider

News of an agreement for the framework for a new Collective Bargaining Agreement early Sunday spread quickly throughout the hockey community during the past 36 hours, and that was certainly evident in social media.

Players and executives began to prepare for the potential start of the 2012-13 season in earnest, and excitement was abundant for NHL teams to get back on the ice.

"Can't wait to get back to LA to get the season going," Alec Martinez (@amartinez_27) said on his Twitter account. "Thank you to all the fans who supported us throughout the entire process!!"

Added Vancouver general manager Mike Gillis (@GMMikeGillis): "It's great to be back. Thank you to all Canuck fans for your loyalty. We'll see you soon."

Giving thanks to hockey fans was definitely a theme for the day. So was chronicling travel stories as players began the process of making their way back to NHL cities from hometowns or European cities where they have played during the lockout.

"4 hour train ride, 9 hour flight, 5 hour layover, 6 hour flight. And then back on the ice with the guys! #Ducks," Bobby Ryan (@b_ryan9) tweeted.

Added Matt Martin (@mattymarts17): "Frank Sinatra - [New York, New York] on repeat for today's drive #Isles #SeeYouSoon #NYBound"

Kings' quest, Sid's health, Nash in NY top storylines

Monday, 01.07.2013 / 3:50 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

The storylines heading into the 2012-13 NHL season have been brewing for months. It's almost time to see how they develop.

Will the Los Angeles Kings play like champions? How much better are the Minnesota Wild? Can Adam Oates reignite Alex Ovechkin? What will Rick Nash look like as a Ranger in Madison Square Garden? Are the Edmonton Oilers ready for prime time or is it still too soon?

Also, because the season reportedly will be about 48 games in length, a new storyline has emerged about which teams will be able to get out of the gate the fastest in what will be less of a marathon and more of a sprint.

Here are 13 storylines that bear watching during the next several months:

Bennett's digital scrapbook unique glimpse at history

Sunday, 01.06.2013 / 2:00 PM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer

Longtime photographer Bruce Bennett managed to save all his media credentials from almost four decades of covering hockey. (Photo: Bruce Bennett)

Most people sift through the clutter in their home and potentially find a collection of junk that might be worth a few dollars at a garage sale. Longtime hockey photographer Bruce Bennett spotted a box in his basement and discovered artifacts from almost four decades of hockey history.

He didn't hold a garage sale. He shared it with friends and family.

"I never considered myself to be a pack rat. I had a box in the basement that got bigger and bigger through all the years. Each giant envelope had a decade's worth of [press] credentials in it," said the photographer, who managed to keep each of his game passes from his storied career. "The idea that I always had in my head was to put them all in a picture frame. They would go on the wall and you couldn't see them up close and they would start to yellow and get tossed out."

British youth players travel to U.S. for 28-game tour

Thursday, 01.03.2013 / 9:30 AM / NHL Insider

Shawn P. Roarke - Senior Managing Editor

OLD BRIDGE, N.J. -- Rob Gravina just wants to grow the sport he loves.

For that reason, and that reason alone, the 47-year-old engineer for IBM organized a 148-person strong travelling party from Great Britain to come to the tri-state area for a week of hockey and cultural exchange.

Eighty members of that party were members of five youth hockey teams -- from Mite to Midget Major -- under the banner of the GB Lions that will play 28 games in eight days in New Jersey and New York before heading back across the pond.

Sanderson's autobiography details highs and lows

Monday, 12.31.2012 / 2:00 PM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer

A member of the Boston Bruins' 1970 and 1972 Stanley Cup championship teams, Derek Sanderson was one of the most charismatic and flamboyant figures the game of hockey has seen. On a team led by superstars, most notably Hall-of-Fame members Bobby Orr and Phil Esposito, Sanderson was a character who managed to transcend the game.

So it's more than a little shocking that the former NHL standout who at one point was the world's highest-paid athlete begins his recently published autobiography with the details of how he spent part of his retirement broke and drunk, at one point sleeping on a bench in New York's Central Park.

Those dizzying highs and cavernous lows are all documented in Sanderson's book, "Crossing the Line" [Triumph Books, 320 pages]. The longtime NHL center spares few details in his story, providing a signature narrative style in recounting his blue-collar youth in Niagara Falls, junior hockey exploits, celebrity status in Boston, and a difficult fall from grace weighed down by addiction.

Youth players raise money for Sandy relief

Tuesday, 12.25.2012 / 4:07 PM / NHL Insider

Deborah Francisco - Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- Long Island native Joe Walsh enjoyed an extra special holiday treat Sunday morning as he watched his 8-year-old grandson play in the first Hockey in the Park outdoor charity game at Central Park's Lasker rink.

The game raised thousands of dollars for victims of Hurricane Sandy.

"My Grandpa's house got flooded by the hurricane so it was special to help raise money for this cause," Joe's grandson, Joey Walsh, told

Walsh's home just had heat restored this week.

"It's been quite an experience, so for the kids to want to do this to help the victims of the hurricane, it was fantastic," Joe Walsh said. "Plus, it was a great game."

The game was played between the North Jersey Avalanche and the Long Island Royals, both Tier 1 mite teams with players born in 2004. The proceeds go toward the HELP USA fund for hurricane victims. CCM sponsored the event by providing sticks for all the players and plans to match the final donation total for the event. West Side Skate provided jerseys and members of the New York Rangers attended.

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Quote of the Day

I would definitely love to play with him. He's a skilled player and over the years he definitely has shown that he can score a lot of goals. I think it would work out well.

— Montreal Canadiens forward Alex Galchenyuk on Alexander Semin