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NHL Insider

'The Great One' reflects, discusses turning 50

Tuesday, 01.25.2011 / 4:35 PM / NHL Insider


"To me, no disrespect because it is a great day and it is another birthday -- I feel good at the age of 50 and life goes on." -- Wayne Gretzky

Wayne Gretzky turns 50 on Wednesday and NHL.com is ready to party in celebration. Throughout the rest of Tuesday, we will be showcasing some of the Great One's greatest highlights on NHL.com as a primer for tomorrow's celebration, which will feature numerous stories and videos, as well as a career retrospective in photos. To whet the appetite for the day-long celebration, here is some of what Gretzky discussed Tuesday afternoon on NHL Live! Join us again tomorrow for all things Gretzky!

If anyone was thinking that crashing a regal celebration of Wayne Gretzky's 50th birthday would be a great idea, the "Great One" has some disappointing news on that front. 

Toews, Hossa miss morning skate for Blackhawks

Tuesday, 01.25.2011 / 1:14 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO -- Jonathan Toews and Marian Hossa both missed the Chicago Blackhawks' morning skate, but only Hossa is questionable for Tuesday's game against the Minnesota Wild at the United Center.
Toews will suit up despite battling an undisclosed lower-body injury that happened this past Saturday during a 4-1 road win against the Detroit Red Wings. Hossa, however, might miss the game with an illness.
"We'll say [he's] questionable going into tonight's game," Quenneville said. "He wasn't feeling well this morning. We'll see how he is tonight."


More defensive-minded Kovy producing offensively

Tuesday, 01.25.2011 / 12:08 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Ilya Kovalchuk has so much respect for Jacques Lemaire and thinks he's one of the greatest hockey minds that the following question had to be asked of the 65-year-old coach:

Can he coach the Devils for another 14 seasons?

Lemaire, cracking up, quickly picked up on the concept that 14 seasons is what Kovalchuk will have left on his deal with the Devils after this season.

"My contract is shorter than that," he said with a laugh.

Jokes aside, Kovalchuk knows he better learn all he can now from Lemaire because there's no guarantee the Cup-winning coach will be around beyond April. According to Lemaire, the Devils' $100 million star begs for knowledge on a daily basis.


Sacco hoping practice makes perfect for Avs

Monday, 01.24.2011 / 4:40 PM / NHL Insider

Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent

"Basically my job is to make sure that preparation-wise we are where we need to be, that our focus is where it needs to be. For me, it started with practice (Sunday). I just thought that we needed a good, hard, crisp practice. There was a lot of battle drills involved. I thought that hopefully that would carry over to the game tonight." -- Joe Sacco

DENVER -- Joe Sacco will learn Monday night if his grueling practice Sunday has the positive carry-over effect he is hoping for.

The Colorado Avalanche coach, whose team has been outscored 11-3 during a two-game losing streak, put his players through a nearly 90-minute session that included battling for pucks in the corners, along with sprints between the blue lines.

The Avalanche has fallen into ninth place in the Western Conference and has two games remaining before the NHL All-Star break, starting with Monday's contest against the St. Louis Blues at the Pepsi Center.

"Basically my job is to make sure that preparation-wise we are where we need to be, that our focus is where it needs to be," Sacco said following Monday's morning practice. "For me, it started with practice (Sunday). I just thought that we needed a good, hard, crisp practice. There was a lot of battle drills involved. I thought that hopefully that would carry over to the game tonight."


Forsberg skates with Avs

Sunday, 01.23.2011 / 6:23 PM / NHL Insider

Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent

CENTENNIAL, Colo. – The South Suburban Family Sports Center, practice rink for the Colorado Avalanche, was packed with fans Sunday, many of whom wore Swedish jerseys and waved small blue and yellow Swedish flags.

They came to watch Peter Forsberg's first official practice with the team, and he didn't disappoint while taking part in every drill during the hour and 15-minute workout. It was a longer and more difficult session than usual, probably because the Avalanche has been outscored 11-3 during a two-game losing streak and has skidded into ninth place in the Western Conference.

The standing room-only crowd of 200-plus fans didn't go unnoticed by Forsberg, who is auditioning for a place on the roster nearly three years after he last played in an NHL game with the Avalanche.

'Puck Gate' continues to befuddle Pronger, Hawks

Sunday, 01.23.2011 / 5:09 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO -- For a moment, it seemed like "Puckgate," from last season's Stanley Cup Final had finally been solved.

Following a 4-1 win against the Chicago Blackhawks at the United Center on Sunday, Philadelphia Flyers veteran defenseman Chris Pronger seemed to claim that he swiped the puck after Patrick Kane scored the series-clinching  in the Hawks' Game 6 overtime win in Philadelphia.

"Yeah, it'll wind up on eBay at some point," Pronger said, smiling. "All proceeds will go to charity. I have it. It's tucked away somewhere. It's going to go to charity."

Forsberg hopes oft-injured foot allows for a return

Saturday, 01.22.2011 / 3:25 PM / NHL Insider

Rick Sadowski  -  NHL.com Correspondent

DENVER -- His heart still remains in the game, but will Peter Forsberg's oft-injured foot hold up for him to resume his NHL career?

He's 37 years old and hasn't played in an NHL game since the first round of the 2008 playoffs with the Colorado Avalanche, but Forsberg is getting what likely will be one final chance to determine if he's able to perform at a satisfactory level with his former team.

It seemed like old times Saturday morning at the Pepsi Center, where Forsberg skated, stickhandled and shot pucks into an empty net for about 45 minutes with Avalanche center Ryan O'Reilly, who is sidelined with a shoulder injury, and assistant coach Steve Konowalchuk.

Free-falling Kings have work cut out in Phoenix

Saturday, 01.22.2011 / 2:16 PM / NHL Insider

Jerry Brown - NHL.com Correspondent

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Welcome to a ride on the Los Angeles Kings roller coaster.

The Kings started the season on a major high, winning 12 of their first 15 games and zooming to the top of the NHL standings. Just as quickly, they plummeted back to earth by losing seven of eight games to end November.

December saw another surge upward, when the Kings won nine of 12 and pushed back into the top four of the Western Conference by Christmas. But since then, the roller coaster has headed down again and seemingly has yet to reach bottom.

Ducks' Koivu preparing for emotional return to Montreal

Friday, 01.21.2011 / 6:43 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

MONTREAL -- Saku Koivu has had more than his share of emotional moments at the Bell Centre, his triumphant return from cancer to play for the Montreal Canadiens in 2002 probably tops among them.

But Friday afternoon, the Anaheim Ducks center touched down in the city and walked into the building again for the first time since he left for the beaches of California as a free agent after the 2008-09 season, and Koivu came as close as he's come to breaking down emotionally in public.

"It's a really unique and special bond between me and the city of Montreal and the people here," Koivu said to close an opening statement to a room packed with reporters. "That doesn't happen very often. The way they made us feel and what they gave us here, we'll never forget that. I want to thank the people here for that. That was really amazing."

Hawks hope to retain momentum as break nears

Friday, 01.21.2011 / 12:48 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Chicago captain Jonathan Toews is bucking the trend this week and for once he's refusing to abide by the same "one game at a time" cliché heard too often from professional athletes.

The Blackhawks start a stretch of six straight road games coming out of the All-Star break, so Toews is looking at their games coming up -- Saturday at Detroit, Sunday vs. Philadelphia and Tuesday vs. Minnesota -- as a mini three-game series.

Chicago has won four of its last five games and Toews said the team is now starting to realize its potential, that the Hawks have been playing their best hockey of the season. Blowing that momentum now would eliminate the championship vibe that has returned to the Hawks dressing room.

"We're playing well right now and we know there is another break coming up, so it's time to empty your tank, put everything you can into these games," Toews told NHL.com Thursday. "Everyone says you take it one game at a time, but it's kind of like a little series and we want to set a high standard for ourselves, not let these games get away from us."

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Quote of the Day

I'm hoping Bob [Murray] didn't go out and get Dany Heatley just to get someone. I'm sure he's excited and motivated.

— Anaheim Ducks coach Bruce Boudreau on general manager Bob Murray's decision to sign Dany Heatley