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NHL Insider

Trying summer sends players in search for solace

Thursday, 09.08.2011 / 6:11 PM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

There's no blueprint for dealing with tragedy, and there's certainly no proper way to react when tragedy is relentlessly showing up on your doorstep.

During the past four months, the hockey world has been overwhelmed by a near-constant wave of horrific news that began with the shocking death of Derek Boogaard in May and ended -- hopefully -- with the deaths of 43 people when the team plane of Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL crashed in Russia on Wednesday.

In between, 27-year-old Rick Rypien was found dead at his Crowsnest Pass, Alberta, home on Aug. 15 and the recently retired Wade Belak, a father of two, died in a Toronto hotel 16 days later.

When one mourning period was ending, it seemed another was beginning.

"The whole summer," Tampa Bay Lightning star Martin St. Louis said, "we really haven't had a chance to catch our breath with one thing after another."

Datsyuk's mind far from hockey matters

Thursday, 09.08.2011 / 5:12 PM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - Staff Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Despite the fact Pavel Datsyuk was among friends and prepping for what is sure to be another exhilarating NHL season during the Player Media Tour stop here at Prudential Center on Thursday, the devastating plane crash in Russia that claimed the lives of 43 people just 24 hours earlier was very much on his mind.
When asked what needs to be done in order to move forward from Wednesday's tragedy, in which a majority of victims were members of the Kontinental Hockey League club Lokomotiv, Datsyuk looked at his inquisitor with a blank stare and said, "pray."
Datsyuk was in no mood to talk hockey following his on-ice session and media appearances. But to his credit, he answered every question and skated for the video cameras. Deep down, however, he was hurting.

Crosby eager to get back in the game

Thursday, 09.08.2011 / 3:30 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

NEWARK, N.J. -- Sidney Crosby chatted with Steven Stamkos about training. He eagerly talked to someone else about Tim Thomas and his performance for the Boston Bruins in the Stanley Cup Final. Crosby found himself interested in a quick discussion about his coach, Dan Bylsma, perhaps being the next coach for the U.S. Olympic team.

He smiled. He laughed. He essentially kicked up his heels and enjoyed his one day at the 2011 NHL Player Media Tour -- and then he was gone, back to Pittsburgh to resume his workouts and rehabilitation from the concussion that has kept him out of action and away from contact since Jan. 5.

But before he left, Crosby sat down with and the NHL Network to further discuss his emotions and his progress one day after holding a news conference in Pittsburgh.

Rep. Quigley talks Hawks at youth hockey clinic

Tuesday, 09.06.2011 / 7:27 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- If the NHL wants friends in high places, it would be hard-pressed to find a more dedicated one that U.S. Rep. Mike Quigley.

Quigley (D-Ill.) is an unapologetic Chicago Blackhawks fan, one so dedicated that he traveled to Philadelphia for Game 6 of the 2010 Stanley Cup Final with fellow congressman and friend, U.S. Rep. Brian Higgins (D-NY). Together they watched Quigley's beloved Hawks win the organization's first Cup in 49 years.

While Quigley grew up a Blackhawks fan and is still an avid follower. He also plays hockey twice a week and is a passionate supporter of the sport. He's a co-chair of the Congressional Hockey Caucus along with Higgins and U.S. Rep. Lee Terry (R-Neb.) -- with the caucus aimed at fostering expansion of youth hockey programs throughout the country.

On Tuesday, Quigley was in full hockey mode at the youth hockey clinic to kick off a new "sock" hockey program at Center on Halsted -- a comprehensive Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender community center. Wearing that bright red Mikita jersey, Quigley helped kids learn the shoes-and-socks version of the sport -- something he hopes to see more often at recreational centers and gyms around Chicago.

Coyotes hope Langkow can fill hole in the middle

Wednesday, 08.31.2011 / 9:41 AM / NHL Insider

Jerry Brown - Correspondent

GLENDALE, Ariz. – With the countdown to training camp closing in and the Coyotes roster looking a lot like a Tim Hortons' doughnut – lots of tasty ingredients but that big, unmistakable hole in the middle – Phoenix general manager Don Maloney decided to get creative and reach into the franchise's past for a possible solution.

Just how far a reach it will be remains to be seen.

With Eric Belanger and Vernon Fiddler departed from a center corps that already struggled from production standpoint -- and with young Kyle Turris still unsigned after a summer of negotiations -- Maloney took a deep breath and took on more than $2 million in salary to bring center Daymond Langkow back to Phoenix  from Calgary in exchange for winger Lee Stempniak.

Milestones that could be reached in 2011-12

Tuesday, 08.30.2011 / 12:48 PM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - Columnist

Jarome Iginla
Right Wing - CGY
GOALS: 43 | ASST: 43 | PTS: 86
SOG: 289 | +/-: 0
Perhaps more than any other sport, hockey is a team game. Winning a Stanley Cup requires 20 players performing a variety of roles and working together for a common goal.

This doesn't mean that individual accomplishments aren't important; it's just that no player wants to be seen as placing his own stats before the achievements of his team. Milestones are still something to be celebrated -- as long as they fit into the team context.

Here's a look at some players who have a good chance to reach individual milestones during the 2011-12 season:

Sid not the only star coming back from a major injury

Friday, 08.26.2011 / 10:14 AM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - Columnist

The Pittsburgh Penguins hope Sidney Crosby will be cleared for contact as he works to return from a concussion that ended his season in early January. There's no definite date set for his return, but they're hoping he'll be able to play by opening night or soon afterward.

But Crosby is not the only key player -- or even the only key Penguin -- who's working to come back from an injury that ended his 2010-11 season early. Here are seven other players whose return is critical to their teams' success.

Stamkos leads NHL's top 21-and-under talent

Thursday, 08.25.2011 / 12:10 PM / NHL Insider

John Kreiser - Columnist

Hockey is a kids' game -- and in the NHL, those kids are making a lot of impact at a very young age.

In today's NHL, the premium put on finding young talent has resulted in players getting more opportunity and responsibility at an increasingly early age. With today's speed-oriented game, teams are more willing than ever to give their draft picks a chance at a younger age -- and that has led to a host of players 21 and under who've made an impact in their short time in the League.

Here's a look at 10 of the NHL's top players who will be 21 or younger when the puck drops on Oct. 6. We're not just rating potential here -- all of these players have played at least one full season in the NHL.

Steven Stamkos, Tampa Bay Lightning (21)
Stamkos won't turn 22 until February, but he already has an impressive resume that includes a 51-goal season and a share of the Rocket Richard Trophy in 2009-10. His 96 goals are the most of any player in the NHL in the past two seasons, and the 45 he scored last season were second in the League. Tampa Bay signed him to a five-year contract this summer, and he's the cornerstone of a team that went from three straight playoff misses to within one goal of a trip to the Stanley Cup Final.

Penguins celebrate 20th anniversary of '91 Cup

Tuesday, 08.23.2011 / 5:19 PM / NHL Insider

Alan Robinson - Correspondent

McMURRAY, Pa. -- The 1990-91 Pittsburgh Penguins were champions born out of a superstar's transformation from high scorer to big-game winner, a general manager's bold creativity and a coach's dogged determination to get it right the second time.

They were a team a character and characters, of great players beginning their careers and great ones winding them down. They were a constantly changing cast but also a constantly improving one, and by the time the playoffs began, they were certain that a franchise that had never won even a conference championship was ready to win the Stanley Cup.

The Penguins did it -- and then they did it again.


Hall looking to build off shortened rookie season

Monday, 08.22.2011 / 9:46 PM / NHL Insider

Tal Pinchevsky - Staff Writer

Like any rookie, 2010's top draft pick, Taylor Hall, encountered a typically tough NHL debut. After recording a single assist in his first seven games, Hall struck for four points in a two-game span to close out October. From there, the young center showed flashes of brilliance, but it all ended on March 3rd, when a broken ankle sustained in a fight with Columbus' Derek Dorsett ended Hall's rookie campaign with a month left in the season.

Hall addressed the ankle, among other topics, on Monday at a 3-on-3 tournament organized by Montreal Canadiens' assistant coach Perry Pearn.

"My ankle healed up really well. It almost feels stronger than the other one, just because I worked on it so much," Hall told the Oilers' web site and other media Monday. "I haven't had any problems."

The ankle was a topic of conversation in North Edmonton on Monday, but it overshadowed what was an otherwise strong rookie season for the 19-year-old. Despite the injury, Hall led the Oilers in goals with 22 and finished just one point behind team leader Jordan Eberle's 43 points. But Hall was thinking about more than just statistics in stating his goals and objectives for the 2011-12 season.
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Quote of the Day

I've been so fortunate, blessed, to play a long time with some great players and be on power plays, play in some great cities and stuff. It's been fun.

— Avalanche forward Jarome Iginla on tying Dino Ciccarelli for 46th place on the NHL's all-time list with his 1,200th career point after their win vs. the Predators on Friday