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NHL Insider

Realignment discussions to continue next month

Tuesday, 11.15.2011 / 6:42 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

TORONTO -- While realignment is a major topic in the NHL, the general managers heard only a report on the subject Tuesday from NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly. There was no further discussion on realignment because it a Board of Governors matter.
The Board of Governors is expected to see scenarios and vote on realignment at their meeting Dec. 5-6 in Pebble Beach, Calif.
Realignment is necessary because Winnipeg has been promised that it will not play in the Eastern Conference beyond this season. As a result, other teams, most notably the Columbus Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings, have expressed an interest in moving to the Eastern Conference.
"It's very much up in the air still. I don't think there is a clear solution yet," Columbus GM Scott Howson said. "There are a lot of ideas, and there is no perfect solution to this. You've got too many teams that aren't pleased with where they are and what their lot in the League is and they'd like to see some movement. We're just one of those teams and we'll continue to really put our heads together to try to come up with an idea that continues to work with everybody."

GMs: 1-3-1 'stalemate' bears monitoring; no action yet

Tuesday, 11.15.2011 / 5:52 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

TORONTO -- Several general managers said Tuesday that what happened when the Tampa Bay Lightning and Philadelphia Flyers incurred "a stalemate" during a game last week needs to be monitored moving forward, but no changes need to be made for now.

Tampa Bay's strict adherence to its 1-3-1 defensive system, and Philadelphia's decision to hold the puck in its own zone and try to force the Lightning out of that alignment, sparked a discussion among the NHL's general managers during their annual fall meeting.

"We went around the room and got every manager's opinion on where we're at with that," NHL Senior Executive Vice President of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell said. "I led the discussion saying we've played over 8,000 games since we took the red line out and this is the first time we've had a particular incident like this. We saw it in the World Junior [championship] one time, but the managers for the most part felt it is something we have to watch, work on and talk about it more in March. It's not the type of hockey you want to throw at your fans very often."

Added Tampa Bay GM Steve Yzerman: "It was good. We got everybody's opinions on things, and it was good. I think the general consensus is just monitor the game and the way it is played, and potentially if there are problems going forward that need to be adjusted, at the appropriate time there will be."

NHL's Thanksgiving Day float paints inspiring picture

Tuesday, 11.15.2011 / 5:50 PM / NHL Insider

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

MOONACHIE, N.J. -- As the NHL's float for the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is going through its final bit of preparation -- a touch of paint here, some leaves there -- assorted Care Bears, Sonic the Hedgehog and Mr. Peanut casually stroll past in a workshop that is something out of a dream.

About 20 feet from the float, a group of children on a tour they'll never forget run screaming toward Julius the Monkey, who welcomes the delirious kids with open arms. Before getting their gift bags, they all try to reach up to touch the spot on the NHL float where kids their age will be skating on synthetic ice as millions watch.

It's business as usual at Macy's Parade Studio, where the new floats are constructed for the parade that will traverse Manhattan next week. The NHL's float is in celebration of the 2011 Discover NHL Thanksgiving Showdown game the following afternoon between the Boston Bruins and Detroit Red Wings at 1 p.m. ET on NBC and TSN.

NHL's Shanahan talks concussions, goalie protection

Tuesday, 11.15.2011 / 4:51 PM / NHL Insider

TORONTO -- Brendan Shanahan, the League's Senior vice President, Player Safety and Hockey Operations, met the media following the NHL General Managers meeting Tuesday. Here is a transcript of what he had to say:
We heard concussions are down in the NHL. Can you give us an update?
"It's still the early stages, but they seem to be down. But again, it's still the very early stage in the season.
Can you give us a ballpark figure of how much they are down?
"Less than half at the same time last year. It's a significant improvement and I give the credit for that certainly to the players. We'd love to get rid of all (concussions), but we know that we're not going to be able to get rid of all concussions. I take each and every one of them personally now, but the numbers and strides that the players have made and the efforts they have made so far have been really commendable."

Miller on the mend, defends Sabres teammates

Tuesday, 11.15.2011 / 3:25 PM / NHL Insider

Adam Kimelman - Deputy Managing Editor

Sabres goalie Ryan Miller said his neck is feeling better than it did Saturday night after he was hit by Boston's Milan Lucic.

However, what really seems to be paining the Buffalo netminder is some of the pointed comments directed at his teammates, who some observers felt didn't do enough to defend their goalie when he was knocked down in the first period of the game by Lucic. Miller stayed in the game through the end of the second period, but was removed before the start of the third due to a neck injury.

"I don't think you need an all-out donnybrook," Miller said Tuesday. "I think they tried to handle it with the power play and over the course of the night. If they want to get in and scrap I appreciate it. … It's something that a lot has been said about it. These guys in there have my back. I was disappointed in the direction that started to take, where people were talking about how these guys don't have my back.

GMs discuss protecting goalies, avoiding collisions

Tuesday, 11.15.2011 / 2:42 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

TORONTO -- Goalie protection was not on the original agenda for Tuesday's meeting of the NHL general managers, but due to the controversial collision between the Sabres' Ryan Miller and the Bruins' Milan Lucic during Saturday night's game in Boston the NHL Hockey Operations Department brought it to the attention of the managers in the morning session.
The discussion that ensued reaffirmed for the GMs the position that goalies should never be considered fair game for contact no matter where they are on the ice, which is already spelled Out in NHL rules covering charging (Rule 42) and interference on the goalkeeper (Rule 69). The GMs, however, want to emphasize the importance of both rules and make sure the League is being stringent in its enforcement.
"I'm not talking about plays around the crease because there is going to be incidental contact," Penguins GM Ray Shero said. "But, we're talking about a regular-season game with the incident with Lucic and Ryan Miller. If you get into a playoff series and these guys are going to play pucks and you run (goalies) over and get a two-minute penalty, I think you're going to open up a set of pretty dangerous circumstances."
Lucic received a two-minute minor for charging when he and Miller collided in the left faceoff circle. Miller continued to play after the collision but was removed after the second period. He is suffering from symptoms associated with whiplash and a concussion and has already missed one game.

Hitch's offensive philosophy changed with times

Tuesday, 11.15.2011 / 10:58 AM / NHL Insider

Louie Korac - Correspondent

HAZELWOOD, Mo. -- St. Louis Blues coach Ken Hitchcock remembered the days of the high-flying Edmonton Oilers of the 1980s and wanting to emulate them.

Who wouldn't? After all, names like Gretzky, Messier, Coffey, Kurri and Anderson, who racked up points by the second and won four Stanley Cups together, signified a recipe for success.

But as the game evolved away from the open-ice, high-flying, high-scoring affairs, players got bigger and smarter, while coaches got more technical. The old-school coaches were forced to change to a certain degree.

Hitchcock, 2-0-1 since taking over the Blues three games ago after Davis Payne was fired, has seen a smooth transition in a week on the job after it was projected that his hard stance and demeanor would take time to absorb.

A PK turnaround has Phoenix on right track

Tuesday, 11.15.2011 / 10:20 AM / NHL Insider

Jerry Brown - Correspondent

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Last season, the Coyotes managed to make the Stanley Cup Playoffs despite  finishing an unsightly  No. 26  in the NHL in penalty killing -- second-worst among all postseason qualifiers. Taking far too many infractions, Phoenix watched player after player trudge to the box while allowing a goal 21.6 percent of the time.

Something had to change. Actually, a lot of things had to change.

But when the Coyotes allowed three goals on the first four San Jose power plays on Opening Night, it appeared exactly nothing had changed. The new faces were even less successful than their hit-and-miss predecessors.
But with Mike Smith and his deft stick in goal, Boyd Gordon handling opponents in the faceoff circle and players like David Schlemko, Rostislav Klesla, Derek Morris, Lauri Korpikoski and Martin Hanzal selling out to block shots and clear the zone, the Coyotes righted the ship quickly and have allowed just three power-play goals in their past 14-plus games, and have turned a decided shortcoming into a pillar of strength.

Oilers see successful blueprint in Chicago

Sunday, 11.13.2011 / 3:25 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

"(The Blackhawks) are a good team to go by. They went through that whole rebuilding stage that Edmonton’s been going through. They obviously got some great picks and made some good decisions. They’ve had a great team for a few years and they still do. Hopefully we can emulate something like that, because that’s definitely what we’re trying to do." -- Ryan Nugent-Hopkins

CHICAGO – Back when Jonathan Toews and the Chicago Blackhawks hoisted the Stanley Cup above their heads to conclude the 2010 season, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins looked on with a smile on his face.

"I was actually at my friend's house watching it on TV," said Nugent-Hopkins, now an 18-year old star rookie for the upstart Edmonton Oilers. "It was pretty cool. I was rooting for them, actually. I really liked the Hawks. I liked the way they played. They were a fun team to watch. They had some high offensive young guys who worked their bags off. It's always fun to watch that."

People are starting to say some of those same things about this Oilers team, which is full of young talent and off to a fast start. Edmonton (9-5-2) finds itself atop the Northwest Division with 20 points and is third in the Western Conference prior to Sunday night's game at United Center (7 p.m. ET) against the West-leading Blackhawks (10-4-3).

Kings' Murray quietly heading into 1,000th game

Friday, 11.11.2011 / 7:10 PM / NHL Insider

Curtis Zupke - Correspondent

EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- There's usually a moment at the end of Terry Murray's off-day media sessions where the tape recorders are turned off and the notebooks are put away.

Murray, in his fourth season as coach of the Los Angeles Kings, is rather informal and open to small talk, and often he will offer a glimpse of a lifetime spent in hockey.

"I remember playing a minor-league game in Salt Lake," Murray said. "They (the opposing team) only had 14 players, and every time they got the puck they iced it. They put five guys below the hash marks and iced it every time.
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— Senators forward Mike Hoffman when asked if his two-goal game was a good way to celebrate his 26th birthday
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