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NHL Insider

Zetterberg, Kronwall, Datsyuk top candidates for 'C'

Thursday, 05.31.2012 / 6:37 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

DETROIT -- The question has been kicked around a few times before, but now that Nicklas Lidstrom has made his retirement official it's time for the Detroit Red Wings to think about the answer for real.

Who will be wearing the captain's "C" on his sweater when the 2012-13 season begins?

Lidstrom wore it for six seasons, starting in 2007 after he inherited it from fellow Red Wings legend Steve Yzerman -- who retired after the 2006 season. Yzerman wore it for 22 seasons, so between the two the "C" has only been worn by two Wings in almost the past 30 years.

It's become a pretty big deal in Motown, and by the sounds of it there are three candidates -- all of whom are currently alternate captains. Henrik Zetterberg is the favorite for many speculators, while Niklas Kronwall is thought to be another strong candidate with dazzling center Pavel Datsyuk in the mix, as well.

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Lidstrom tributes pour in on Twitter

Thursday, 05.31.2012 / 12:44 PM / NHL Insider

NHL.com

There aren't many NHL players more universally respected than Detroit Red Wings captain Nicklas Lidstrom.

So when the 20-year veteran announced his retirement Thursday morning, the NHL fraternity immediately began flooding the Twitterverse with their personal tributes to a player who walked away less than a year after winning his seventh Norris Trophy as the League's best defenseman, second all-time behind Bobby Orr's eight. It's part of an incredible mantle that includes four Stanley Cup wins, an Olympic Gold medal, a world championship, and 1,142 NHL points.

But when it came time for Lidstrom's NHL peers to send off the future Hall of Famer, the discussion wasn't about stats but about the class, respect, and dignity exhibited by one of hockey's all-time great.

Here are some of the player tributes that appeared on Twitter immediately after Lidstrom announced his retirement:

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Larionov: Lidstrom 'set the example' for rest of NHL

Thursday, 05.31.2012 / 12:11 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

TORONTO -- Hockey Hall of Famer Igor Larionov was overcome with emotion on Thursday morning when asked here at the Westin Bristol Place hotel about the playing career of former Detroit Red Wings teammate Nicklas Lidstrom.

But a bloodshot Larionov, who teamed with Lidstrom for eight seasons in Detroit, certainly found the right words when discussing his good friend and his decision to retire from the game following two glorious decades.

"He set the example for the young guys and everyone in the League on how to behave on and off the ice and how to play the game," Larionov told NHL.com. "It's not just muscle and toughness, but smarts, and that's what he brought each and every night."

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Rival GMs appreciate brilliance of Lidstrom

Wednesday, 05.30.2012 / 6:57 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- Minutes before the end of a meeting of the NHL's general managers, the Detroit Red Wings announced a press conference for Thursday afternoon about the future of captain Nicklas Lidstrom.

"He's going to announce his decision for next ... I'll let Nick -- he's played 20 years, he can make his own announcement," Detroit GM Ken Holland said as he left the meeting at the Westin Times Square

As the GMs filed out of the ballroom at the midtown Manhattan hotel, several were asked about the impact of Lidstrom, who according to NHL Network will announce his retirement after 20 years in the NHL.

"I think he's going to go down as one of the all-time best defensemen ever to play," said Tampa Bay GM Steve Yzerman, who was the captain in Detroit before Lidstrom. "Having played with him and watched him closely from his first game, people know about it now but we've said it all along -- you have to watch him closely to appreciate how good he is, what a great athlete he is because he makes the position look so easy. He is a special athlete."

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Gainey: Return to Dallas comes at right time

Wednesday, 05.16.2012 / 3:25 PM / NHL Insider

Steve Hunt - NHL.com Correspondent

"Bob Gainey's a Dallas Star and I believe that without that influence in this franchise we wouldn't have captured the Stanley Cup in '99. He was the right guy in the right place." -- Stars president Jim Lites

DALLAS -- The Dallas Stars officially welcomed former general manager and coach Bob Gainey back to the organization Wednesday. Gainey, a 1992 inductee into the Hockey Hall of Fame, will serve as a senior advisor to the hockey department.

"I'm really pleased and excited to be joining, or re-joining, the Dallas Stars organization," Gainey said. "It comes at a particular good time in my career where I've had many experiences over a long period of time in pro hockey, in the NHL. I guess I'm going to be a consultant without boundaries."

The 58-year-old Gainey most recently worked in the Montreal Canadiens organization, serving as general manager from 2003-10; he also was interim coach on two occasions. He had served as the Stars' coach from 1990-96 and was the club's general manager from 1992-2002.

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Cowher's love for hockey grows over time

Tuesday, 05.15.2012 / 8:45 PM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

Bill Cowher reached the pinnacle of his sport by leading the Pittsburgh Steelers to a Super Bowl victory. But through all his years on NFL sidelines, he never forgot about another sport he loved.

Cowher grew up in Pittsburgh as a fan of the AHL's Pittsburgh Hornets, the city's predecessor to the Penguins. His appreciation for hockey only grew when he was hired as the Steelers' coach in 1992 -- the same time another iconic Pittsburgher was cementing his own status within the city's sporting hierarchy.

"I knew Mario [Lemieux] and all those guys. I knew them very well," Cowher told NHL.com before his appearance on Cisco NHL Live to discuss MelanomaExposed.com, a website aimed at raising awareness about skin cancer. "Howard Baldwin was the owner back then and [Jaromir] Jagr came on the scene and they were a very talented team."

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Coaching candidates that could merit consideration

Monday, 05.14.2012 / 2:33 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Dale Hunter's departure from Washington was as surprising as his arrival.

Citing a desire to spend more time with his family and run the family business -- the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League -- Hunter announced Monday that he would not return to the Capitals for a second season.

The task for GM George McPhee now becomes finding a third coach in six months for a team that shifted its focus on an up-and-down, attacking system under Bruce Boudreau to a more defensive-oriented style under Hunter.

So who could be next? NHL.com takes a look at a few early possibilities:

Marc Crawford -- Crawford is a veteran coach who has proven he knows how to win as well as get along with top-level players. He coached Joe Sakic and Peter Forsberg to a Stanley Cup with the 1996 Colorado Avalanche, and has been to the playoffs eight times in 15 seasons. He's hungry for one more shot after missing the playoffs in each of his last two stops -- two seasons with the Kings and two seasons with the Stars.

Marc French -- In his three seasons as coach of the Hershey Bears, the Capitals' American Hockey League affiliate, the team has finished with at least 88 points. In 2009-10, his first season, the team set franchise records with 123 points and 60 wins. Since arriving in Hershey, he's helped develop current Caps Braden Holtby, Dmitri Orlov, John Carlson and Karl Alzner.

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Young talent leaves Flyers optimistic despite ouster

Thursday, 05.10.2012 / 6:59 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

VOORHEES, N.J. -- A year ago, the Philadelphia Flyers lost in the second round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs, a victim of a sweep by the Boston Bruins.

They lasted one more game in the second round this year, but following their five-game loss to the New Jersey Devils in the Eastern Conference Semifinals, there remained a feeling of optimism thanks to the stunning development of a number of young players.

"We knew we had a good group of young guys. I think the coaches did a good job of putting them in situations and giving them roles that keep them excelling. To their credit they did."
-- Flyers GM Paul Holmgren

The Flyers had six rookies in their final-game lineup, and no team got more production from its first-year players than Philadelphia.

"We knew we had a good group of young guys," GM Paul Holmgren said Thursday. "I think the coaches did a good job of putting them in situations and giving them roles that keep them excelling. To their credit they did. For [Sean] Couturier to play the role he did in the playoffs as a shut-down centerman and make plays gives you a glimpse of what he is going to do in the future. It is pretty neat."

Couturier, the eighth player picked in the 2011 NHL Draft, was credited with shutting down Art Ross Trophy winner Evgeni Malkin in the first round, and did a good job limiting Ilya Kovalchuk's chances in the second round. He also was the youngest player since 1945 to have a hat trick in a playoff game when he scored three goals and added an assist in Game 2 of the first round.

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Cervenka ready to live NHL dream in Calgary

Thursday, 05.03.2012 / 1:00 PM / NHL Insider

Michael Langr - NHL.com Correspondent

In a game physically dominated by much bigger men, Roman Cervenka has trouble standing out.

At 5-foot-11 and 187 pounds, the 26-year-old Cervenka will never be known for smashing opposing players against the boards or becoming involved in any of the other physical parts of the game that are synonymous with the North American style. But, while he may often be lost among the bigger players prowling the ice in the NHL, there is always one thing that assures Cervenka will be noticed in any game: his skill.

Simply, Cervenka is creative, he reads the game extremely well, provides teammates with gorgeous passes and, most importantly, he can score.

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Coach, Draft among Bergevin's challenges

Wednesday, 05.02.2012 / 12:15 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

MONTREAL -- New general manager Marc Bergevin will be taking over a Montreal Canadiens team that finished No. 15 in the Eastern Conference and No. 28 in the League standings, so obviously he will be facing a number of challenges to right the ship.

While that list will be an exhaustive one, here are five of the primary challenges the 17th GM in Canadiens history will need to tackle.

1. Choose a coach -- Bergevin already confirmed that interim head coach Randy Cunneyworth has been downgraded to the rank of assistant coach, and that it will be up to the new man in charge whether or not he stays. In an ideal world, Bergevin would be able to hire a bilingual coach with experience and a winning history. Potential candidates like current TSN analyst Marc Crawford or Bob Hartley, who led the Zurich Lions to the Swiss league championship this season, have already been mentioned in the media. There will be massive public pressure to hire former Canadiens great Patrick Roy, currently the coach, general manager and owner of the Quebec Remparts of the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League, but his NHL experience is limited to his playing days.

2. Lock up his foundation -- Goaltender Carey Price and defenseman P.K. Subban are two of the young cornerstones of the Canadiens moving forward, and both need new contracts for next season. Price will be a restricted free agent who is eligible for salary arbitration and is two years removed from being eligible for unrestricted free agency under the rules currently in place in the Collective Bargaining Agreement. Price has made it clear that he wants to stay in Montreal, but locking him up long-term will cost a lot of money and Bergevin will need to determine his value to the organization. Subban will be a restricted free agent but is not eligible for arbitration and is further away from earning UFA status, but it is likely a long-term deal for him would be costly, as well. However, Bergevin could opt to offer a shorter-term contract for Subban and see how things play out.

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Quote of the Day

Now we have an 'X' next to our name, which is nice. Now we have to keep trying to climb and catch these guys.

— Lightning goalie Ben Bishop on clinching a Stanley Cup Playoff berth and trailing the Canadiens by one point for the division lead
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