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NHL Insider

Hockey immortals not only ones to win NHL awards

Wednesday, 09.19.2012 / 1:20 PM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - Columnist

NHL postseason awards are a sign that no matter what else a player may have done during his career, there was a season in which his performance was good enough to be recognized.

But not every NHL award-winner is a hockey immortal. For every Bobby Orr or Wayne Gretzky, who could stock a trophy shop with all the hardware they've won, there are players who were in the right place at the right time to get their names on some of hockey's most famous hardware.

Here's a look at some of the one-time winners of the NHL's major trophies:

For Daneyko, week in Russia brings back memories

Tuesday, 09.18.2012 / 7:19 PM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer

In a 20-year NHL career, Ken Daneyko won three Stanley Cups to go along with silver and bronze medals earned representing Canada at the World Championship. With that kind of resume, he figured he had experienced everything hockey could offer prior to his 2003 retirement.

That changed in early September, when the former New Jersey Devils defenseman made a special hockey pilgrimage to Russia.

"Everybody asked me when I retired if it was difficult. For me, it really wasn't. I was very content," said Daneyko, who traveled to participate in two exhibition games featuring former NHL players. "When I got in the locker room with these guys, all of a sudden you're in a room sitting next to (Wayne) Gretzky and (Mark) Messier. Brett Hull was there. To see the competitiveness from them, it was the first time I felt like an NHLer again. I thought, maybe this is what I miss. Even though it was some old [guys], the atmosphere was unbelievable."

Giving great playmakers in NHL history their due

Tuesday, 09.18.2012 / 9:00 AM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - Columnist

Let's face it -- the guy who puts the puck in the net is the one who gets the lion's share of the attention. His teammate who helped make the play happen is often overlooked.

But players who have the combination of skill, hands and vision, who see the play before it happens and can get the puck to teammates in prime scoring position, are at least as dangerous as the guys with the big goal-scoring numbers. Their ability to draw opponents to them and find the open man makes everyone better. They're the guys that make the highlight-reel goals happen -- and they're invaluable.

Here's a look at some of the great playmakers in NHL history:

10. Henrik Sedin

The passing half of the Sedin twins (Daniel is more of a shooter) has never scored more than 29 goals in a season, but has been one of the NHL's best setup men for the past six seasons. Henrik has at least 60 assists in each season since 2006-07, and his 83 in 2009-10 helped him lead the NHL in scoring and win the Hart Trophy as MVP.

Some of the NHL's best debuts by 18-year-olds

Monday, 09.17.2012 / 2:29 PM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - Columnist

The Edmonton Oilers are hoping that Nail Yakupov's success in junior hockey will lead to a fast start to his NHL career.

The Oilers took Yakupov with the No. 1 pick in the NHL Draft in June, and they hope he'll be ready to step right into a regular role at age 18 -- the same way Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Taylor Hall did for Edmonton in the past two seasons after being the first players selected in their draft years. Both played well and appear to be on their way to fine careers.

The two No. 1 picks before that, Steven Stamkos (2008) and John Tavares (2009), also entered the NHL right away, and both look like they'll go on to long and successful careers. But both had good, not great, seasons as 18-year-olds: Stamkos had 21 goals in his first season, but his 156 goals in the past three seasons are the most in the NHL. Tavares scored 24 goals and had 54 points as an 18-year-old, but is coming off an 81-point season with the New York Islanders in 2011-12 and shows signs that he's capable of a lot more.

Seven team records likely to stand test of time

Friday, 09.14.2012 / 11:51 AM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - Columnist

Just as there are individual records that figure to last for decades (e.g. Wayne Gretzky's 92 goals in a season), there are team standards also likely to stand the test of time. Some are locked in (Philadelphia's record of 24 ties in 1969-70 is one, given that games now end in shootouts); others are achievements that will be nearly impossible to top no matter what the circumstances.

Here are a few marks that don't figure to be broken any time soon.

Luongo ready to return if Canucks can't trade him

Wednesday, 09.12.2012 / 5:57 PM / NHL Insider

Kevin Woodley - Correspondent

VANCOUVER, B.C. -- Roberto Luongo was back in Vancouver on Wednesday for a good time -- and a good cause -- but as the old Trooper song goes, no one expects him to be around for a long time.

Luongo admitted he never expected to be back in Vancouver representing the Canucks either, not after last season ended with him on the bench watching Cory Schneider start the final three games of a first-round Stanley Cup Playoff loss to the eventual champion Los Angeles Kings.

Luongo said a few days later he'd waive his no-trade clause, and after Schneider signed a three-year, $12 million contract extension in late June, the former No. 1 suggested in a radio interview it was "time to move on." But with training camp just around the corner, Luongo now sounds open to at least starting the season with the Canucks.

"Two months ago, after what had just happened and [Schneider] had just signed, I didn't really see myself being here," Luongo said before teeing off at the team's annual charity golf tournament -- his first comments locally since the end-of-season address. "But I realized once we got into August that was a possibility and I was OK with that."

A look at some of the biggest deals in NHL history

Wednesday, 09.12.2012 / 12:13 PM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - Columnist

There's not a hockey fan alive who doesn't think he can be a general manager -- after all, that's part of the fun of fantasy hockey. We all think we could make "the" deal, the one that turns our team into a Stanley Cup champion.

But as any real NHL GM can tell you, it's not as easy as it looks. Aside from dealing with salary cap considerations, pulling off an impact trade is a matter of making sure you're not trying to put square pegs in round holes (or vice versa).

Big trades are big gambles. Make the right one (like L.A.'s deal for Jeff Carter in late February) and you might win the Stanley Cup. Make the wrong one ... you get the picture.

Gretzky gets to play in Russia with Messier, Dryden

Tuesday, 09.11.2012 / 3:18 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

Wayne Gretzky holds the 1987 Canada Cup. (Photo: Getty Images)

NEW YORK -- Wayne Gretzky, 51 years old and not even a part-time rink rat anymore, felt like he was reliving his youth last week when he had to chase around Igor Larionov, Alexander Mogilny, Alexei Yashin and others during a two-game exhibition series in Russia.

The only difference is Gretzky never before had played a game on Russian ice. It's yet another experience the Great One never will forget.

"We went there on the basis that this was a fun trip. We're older players and we don't play a lot of hockey now, we really don't," Gretzky told Monday night prior to being honored at the annual Canadian Association of New York Hockey Achievement Award Dinner. "But once the puck was dropped, the emotion and the energy from the fans, the crowd, took the game of hockey that we were playing to another level."

Langway trade still resonates in DC thirty years later

Monday, 09.10.2012 / 3:30 PM / NHL Insider

Ben Raby - Correspondent

WASHINGTON -- Washington Capitals owner Abe Pollin made a bold move in 1982 when he hired a 33-year-old rookie general manager. Ten days later, David Poile made a bold move of his own by completing a blockbuster trade that would shape the franchise for years to come.

This past weekend marked the 30th anniversary of the Capitals acquiring Rod Langway, Doug Jarvis, Brian Engblom and Craig Laughlin from the Montreal Canadiens for Rick Green and Ryan Walter. It is arguably the biggest trade in Capitals history and a move that would go a long way in changing the perception of, and the culture around, the organization.

"They were coming off the 'Save the Caps' campaign that summer," Poile recalled in a phone conversation. "If they didn't reach a certain number of season tickets, there was a chance the team wasn't even going to be there."

After eight years in the NHL, the Capitals still were searching for their first winning season and that elusive first playoff berth. The team was playing for its eighth head coach and fourth general manager and filling the Capital Center in Landover, Md., was an ongoing challenge.

Kopitars help build Slovenian national program

Friday, 09.07.2012 / 10:21 AM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer

Almost a decade later, Matjas Kopitar still vividly remembers the day his eldest son left Slovenia to play pro hockey in Sweden. It was the beginning of a hockey journey that would see Anze Kopitar eventually win the Stanley Cup with the Los Angeles Kings. It was also a pivotal moment for Slovenian hockey, which in April was promoted to the top division at the IIHF World Championship.

But at the time, Matjas Kopitar was devastated.

"That was the worst time in my life. He was still a kid, he was 16," said Kopitar, who played in his native Slovenia as well as Austria, and currently serves as the head coach of the Slovenian national team. "It was really tough for the whole family. Especially for his brother, they were really connected."

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We don't know how long Carey will be out, but for us, it's business as usual.

— Montreal Canadiens coach Michel Therrien on goaltender Carey Price, who is on injured reserve with a lower-body injury
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