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NHL Insider

Green working way back; hasn't spoken to Boudreau

Wednesday, 11.30.2011 / 12:18 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Mike Green is back to skating regularly before practice, but his return to the Washington Capitals from a groin injury remains a mystery.

Green was on the ice before the Capitals' practice Wednesday morning, just as he was Monday morning before coach Dale Hunter's first workout with the club.

Green hasn't played since getting hit in the corner during a game Nov. 11 at New Jersey.
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Iginla wants to win with Flames

Wednesday, 11.30.2011 / 9:40 AM / NHL Insider

Aaron Vickers - NHL.com Correspondent

Jarome Iginla is aware of the rumors. He's hoping a turnaround by his Calgary Flames will be enough to silence them.

With the Flames off to a slow start through the first quarter of the season, the face of the franchise is aware of the whispers circling around the possibility that he will soon find himself playing somewhere else.

Through 23 games, the Flames have a 10-12-1 record for 21 points -- tied for 12th in the Western Conference and 25th in the NHL. Calgary's slow start has fueled gossip that Iginla, struggling himself with just seven goals and 12 points in 23 games, is being shopped as the team around him has taken on a more youthful demeanor.
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Three years in, Burke has Leafs beginning to deliver

Tuesday, 11.29.2011 / 2:59 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

When Brian Burke was hired by to be the general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, Richard Peddie, the CEO of Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, let it be known exactly what he expected from his new employee.

"He will be charged with the task of leading the Leafs to their 14th Stanley Cup," Peddie said.

No pressure there, eh?

That was Nov. 29, 2008. As Burke celebrates the third anniversary of his being hired, the Leafs currently look closer to that goal than ever before.
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Hunter could have coaching style similar to Hitchcock

Tuesday, 11.29.2011 / 2:54 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

"He's a very demanding coach, but if you respond in the right way you're going to win a lot of hockey games. A lot of the guys seem to be responding the right way right now. They've got a lot of leaders, guys like [Jason Arnott] and [Jamie] Langenbrunner that know about [Hitchcock] and know about his style. I think that will help with the young guys. He's a winning guy and proven to win so that's the biggest thing." -- Jason Chimera on Ken Hitchcock

ARLINGTON, Va. -- There will be a coach known for demanding a great deal from NHL players behind the bench Tuesday night at Verizon Center, and he has quickly turned around a wayward club after recently joining the franchise.

There will also be a coach making his NHL debut, and he's expected to guide his ship with a similar style -- as well as have a similar impact on his team's position in the standings.

Dale Hunter's first game as Washington Capitals coach will be against Ken Hitchcock and the surging St. Louis Blues. Hitchcock replaced Davis Payne as the Blues' coach, and St. Louis is 7-1-2 since his arrival.

"I've watched a few of their games and I know the way he wants them to play," said Capitals forward Jason Chimera, who played for Hitchcock in Columbus. "He's a very demanding coach, but if you respond in the right way you're going to win a lot of hockey games. A lot of the guys seem to be responding the right way right now. They've got a lot of leaders, guys like [Jason Arnott] and [Jamie] Langenbrunner that know about [Hitchcock] and know about his style. I think that will help with the young guys. He's a winning guy and proven to win so that's the biggest thing."
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Button: A good GM knows right time for bold change

Tuesday, 11.29.2011 / 9:32 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

NHL Network analyst Craig Button can relate to what Washington's George McPhee and Carolina's Jim Rutherford were going through during the past few weeks while watching their foundering teams fall further and further from the pack.
 
Button fired two coaches, Don Hay and Craig Gilbert, during his three-season tenure as the general manager in Calgary from 2000-03. Neither decision came easy. Both were made after he and his management associates took long and in-depth looks at what wasn't working and why.
 
"It just comes down to a case of, 'OK, we've reached the point of no return,' " Button told NHL.com Monday night. "That is exactly what happens."
 
McPhee and Rutherford each reached that point of no return after watching their teams lose another game Saturday. After taking Sunday to be sure, they both made decisions that rocked the hockey world Monday, with McPhee bringing in ex-Capitals captain Dale Hunter to replace Bruce Boudreau and Rutherford firing Paul Maurice in favor of Kirk Muller.
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Carlson and Wideman excited about Caps' future

Monday, 11.28.2011 / 8:31 PM / NHL Insider

Ben Raby - NHL.com Correspondent

ARLINGTON, Va -- One thing made clear by Dale Hunter on his first day as head coach of the Washington Capitals is that players will be held accountable regardless of name.

"I'm a players     coach,” Hunter said Monday, "but also the players will know when I'm mad at them. I'm stern on them because that's the way you have to be to win games. Everybody makes mistakes out there, but if they keep making the same mistakes there will be repercussions.”

"I think I was one of the better players on my team,” Carlson said, "and I certainly didn't get a free pass, so I don't see much changing there.”

Hunter spent parts of 11 years coaching the OHL's Knights, winning three Matt Leyden Trophies as Coach of the Year and the 2005 Memorial Cup as national champions.
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Carolina opportunity has Muller raring to go

Monday, 11.28.2011 / 8:30 PM / NHL Insider

Kurt Dusterberg - NHL.com Correspondent

As he fielded questions during his first press conference as coach of the Carolina Hurricanes, Kirk Muller displayed all the excitement of a man who had just won a lottery jackpot.

His new job promised to be "exciting" and "fun" — words he leaned on over and over again. Each answer gave him a new reason to smile.

It wasn't just a new job for Muller, it was his first as an NHL head coach. Carolina named the 45-year-old to succeed Paul Maurice, who was fired Monday morning. After more than 1,100 regular-season games as a player, Muller had put in his apprenticeship years in the coaching ranks, first with Queens University in Canada, followed by five seasons as an assistant with the Montreal Canadiens. This season, Muller opted for a head coaching job with the American Hockey League's Milwaukee Admirals, the Nashville Predators affiliate.
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High-caliber players don't always find coaching success

Monday, 11.28.2011 / 6:36 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

Claude Julien, Joel Quenneville, Dan Bylsma and Mike Babcock combined to score 73 NHL goals -- or as many as Wayne Gretzky scored by himself in the 1984-85 season.

While Gretzky holds 60 NHL records, won four Stanley Cups as a player and is one of the greatest players to ever lace on skates, Julien, Quenneville, Bylsma and Babcock were far superior when it came to working behind the bench.

Gretzky had a 143-161-24 record and missed the playoffs in each of his four seasons as coach of the Phoenix Coyotes, while Julien, Quenneville, Bylsma and Babcock all have been perennial playoff performers and have won the last four Stanley Cups.

What it goes to show you is that performance as a player doesn't translate to performance behind the bench. Rare is the Hall of Fame-caliber player who is able to have anything approaching that level of success as a coach.
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Canucks goalies taking controversy in stride

Monday, 11.28.2011 / 6:29 PM / NHL Insider

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

Asked early during his tenure in Vancouver why he wears No. 1 on his jersey, Roberto Luongo looked seriously at his inquisitor and said: "Because No. 1 says it all."

Roberto Luongo
Goalie - VAN
RECORD: 7-5-1
GAA: 2.97 | SVP: 0.896
Luongo held a perfect deadpan delivery before breaking into a laugh. But with that status in the Canucks' crease now being questioned, things were more serious on Monday.

After setting franchise shutout records two of the last three Novembers, Luongo watched Cory Schneider go on one of his own last week, reduced to the role of spectator behind the second-year stopper, sparking talk of a crease controversy in a city that used to chew up and spit out goalies on an annual basis before he arrived six seasons ago.

Luongo said all the right things -- and with the right tone -- shortly after Schneider revealed he would make a sixth-straight start against the Columbus Blue Jackets on Tuesday night. So did head coach Alain Vigneault, reiterating Luongo was "still our No. 1 goaltender." But no one was pretending the incumbent was happy about his spot on the bench.
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New coach tasked with getting Ovi rolling again

Monday, 11.28.2011 / 5:41 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Dale Hunter wore the captain's "C" in Washington for five seasons, which is longer than any player in the Capitals' history.

His fate as the franchise's coach now rests in the performance of the top players on the roster, and particularly the guy who will eventually break his team record for captaincy longevity.

Brooks Laich said "it (stinks)" that Bruce Boudreau took the fall Monday morning when the Capitals players were truly at fault for the team's recent slide. While he is probably correct, the same burden now passes to Hunter, who was introduced as the team's new coach at Kettler Capitals Iceplex.

Hunter's immediate mandate will be to get this struggling team to play better, but his long-term success will hinge on Alex Ovechkin.

"Everybody in their career goes through slumps in every sport," Hunter said of Ovechkin. "Not a slump -- he's been good, he's been scoring, but we have such a high level [of expectation] of Alex that we always expect more. There's always pressure on him, but again, it's a team game and Alex is one part of it -- a big part of it -- but definitely we have to play better as a team. It starts with the goaltending to the D. The best players have to get the puck on their sticks."
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Quote of the Day

He's a winner. We want winners here, and he's a proven winner. He's won two Stanley Cups. He's 22 years old and been a big part of it. He's got all the right tools. He's got size (6-foot-1, 204 pounds) and strength. He's exactly what we were looking for. He's going to be a big piece of our team for many, many years to come.

— Blue Jackets GM Jarmo Kekalainen on Brandon Saad, who he acquired in a trade with the Blackhawks on Tuesday
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