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NHL Insider

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.

NHL once had tradition of playing on Christmas

Tuesday, 12.25.2012 / 3:00 PM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - Columnist

Stan Gilbertson has a hat trick all his own.

Gilbertson scored 85 goals in an NHL career that lasted just six seasons and 428 games. But on Dec. 25, 1971, Gilbertson, then a 27-year-old rookie, slid the puck into an empty net with 18 seconds remaining, wrapping up a 3-1 victory for the California Golden Seals against their in-state rival, the Los Angeles Kings -- and becoming the last NHL player to score a goal on Christmas.

It was his only goal of the night, but he earned the "Stan Gilbertson Hat Trick" by also taking the last penalty ever assessed in a Christmas game and being in the box for the last power-play goal.

The Seals-Kings game was one of six on Dec. 25, 1971, and it represented the end of an era. Hockey on Christmas was a staple of the NHL from the 1920s through '71, when the practice of playing on the holiday ended. In fact, from 1960 through 1967, every team in the League played on Dec. 25.

The NHL's holiday hockey history also includes playing on Christmas Eve -- a practice that ended in 1972.

The New York Rangers must have thought the Grinch made up their 1966-67 schedule. Not only were the Rangers one of three teams to play on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day, but both games were on the road (Toronto swept a home-and-home series with Boston). But the Rangers didn't whine about having to play at Montreal on Christmas Eve and then fly into Chicago for a game on Christmas Night -- in fact, they won both games, beating the Canadiens 4-3 and shutting out Chicago 1-0.

Oilers' first-year pro Justin Schultz a quick study

Thursday, 12.20.2012 / 12:23 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

Contrary to the statistics and a growing reputation as a future NHL star, Oklahoma City defenseman Justin Schultz is not perfect and his transition from college to professional hockey has come with the natural bumps one would typically expect.

At least, that's what Schultz is saying these days. Whether you believe him is a topic for a different debate.

"It still is difficult. I'm learning every day," Schultz, Edmonton's top defensive prospect, humbly told earlier this week in a phone interview from Oklahoma City, where he is playing for the Barons in the American Hockey League. "It's tougher at this level. It's still a challenge, but obviously I've had a good start."

Former hockey pro Russell returns to family business

Wednesday, 12.19.2012 / 12:06 PM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer

In less than two years since retiring from hockey following an injury-plagued season with Groningen of the Dutch league, Wyatt Russell has found a new and very interesting line of work.

In one of his first major acting roles, Russell appears in the new film by director Judd Apatow, "This is 40," as a hockey player who flirts with one of the film's stars, Leslie Mann, who also happens to be Apatow's wife. For 26-year-old Russell, whose parents are actors Kurt Russell and Goldie Hawn, the day spent shooting the scene was a unique convergence of his lifelong passion and his Hollywood upbringing.

"I went on an audition," said Russell, who retired from hockey in 2010 due to persistent hip issues. "I walked in the room and it was Leslie Mann with Judd Apatow. It was intimidating. He said just talk about hockey. Do you know anything about hockey? He didn't know that's what I did. You could see there was a shift between their work and home life. That's the way I was raised. My parents are actors and never brought work home. I didn't even know what they did until I was about 10 years old. We never talked about it."

Haydar appreciates his career, wherever he's played

Wednesday, 12.12.2012 / 9:45 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

For a few seconds there only is laughter on the other end of the phone as a conversation about the what-ifs and what-could-have-beens in a professional hockey career momentarily are forgotten.

If you're Chicago Wolves forward Darren Haydar, a 33-year-old minor-league lifer stuck in a world that constantly changes around him, what else can you do but laugh when yet another interviewer asks you about Crash Davis, the infamous forever dreaming farmhand played by Kevin Costner in the movie "Bull Durham."

Haydar has been referred to as the Crash Davis of the American Hockey League. He knows it and finally can laugh about it.

Hextall recalls goal as proud moment for him, Flyers

Saturday, 12.08.2012 / 10:00 AM / NHL Insider

Davis Harper - Staff Writer

Ron Hextall won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL's top goaltender in 1986-87, his rookie season. He led his Philadelphia Flyers to the '87 Stanley Cup Final, where they lost in seven games to the Edmonton Oilers -- but was so good he became one of five members of the losing team to take home the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP of the playoffs. During the series, Wayne Gretzky called Hextall "probably the best goaltender I've ever played against." He played 13 seasons in the NHL and was enshrined in the Flyers Hall of Fame in 2008.

For all his shot-stopping abilities, Hextall also was the most aggressive goaltender the NHL had seen, legendary for his fiery and physical nature on the ice. His prodigious puck-handling and passing abilities made him almost a third defenseman on the ice for the Flyers. Thus, it scarcely came as a surprise when, on Dec. 8, 1987, Hextall became the first NHL goaltender to score a goal by shooting the puck into the net. The goal, scored at 18:48 of the third period, put Philadelphia up 5-2 on the Boston Bruins in front of a capacity Spectrum crowd.

On the 25th anniversary of Hextall's achievement, talked with Hextall and the teammates, commentators and opponents who were on hand to witness history.

Wounded Canadian veteran conquers sledge hockey

Saturday, 12.08.2012 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor

When Dominic Larocque was growing up in the Montreal suburb of St-Timothee, he was about as active as a young man could be.

He played high-level hockey up to the Junior A level, played top-tier football for his school, and played competitive soccer for his city.

So when Larocque turned 18 in 2005, he decided he would use that energy to benefit his country and enrolled in the Canadian Armed Forces. Within two years, he would be deployed to Afghanistan, where he served near Kandahar.

About four months into his tour, on Nov. 27, 2007, Larocque's life took a drastic turn when the light armored vehicle he and two other soldiers were riding in drove over an improvised explosive device (IED). The three were taken by helicopter to a hospital to have their wounds tended to.

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