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NHL Insider

Isles give fans at NHL Store optimism for future

Monday, 03.14.2011 / 6:42 PM / NHL Insider

Brian Hunter - Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- During the question-and-answer session between several New York Islanders and fans Monday afternoon at the NHL Powered By Reebok Store, a question was posed to Kyle Okposo as to what special ingredient the team possesses that has been making it successful. The fan admitted he had only moved to the area and started following the team in January.

"You picked a good time to start watching us," Okposo said, drawing laughter from the crowd. "Nothing happened before then."

While that's not exactly true, the way the Islanders have been playing since mid-December has allowed their fan base to at least put a poor start to the 2010-11 season behind them, if not forget about it entirely.

And when Okposo, linemates Frans Nielsen and Michael Grabner and defenseman Andrew MacDonald appeared at the store as part of a panel hosted by commentator Billy Jaffe, they were greeted by a loud and enthusiastic throng that came out clad in Islanders apparel and eager to support their team.

Bettman discusses concussions, player safety

Monday, 03.14.2011 / 5:46 PM / NHL Insider

Shawn P. Roarke - Senior Managing Editor

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman insisted Monday the League is taking the appropriate steps to insure the safety of its players and that concussions do not represent an epidemic, despite highly publicized incidents in the past three months.

Bettman made his remarks at the end of the first of three days of meetings among NHL general managers, who have gathered at the Boca Beach Resort to discuss the state of the game in general, and more specifically the issues of head hits and concussions.

That work, according to Bettman, began in earnest during Monday's session. After a comprehensive report from NHL Hockey Operations, the general managers broke into three smaller groups to brainstorm ideas to make the game safer.

GMs appetite to improve player safety is strong

Monday, 03.14.2011 / 4:40 PM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- The general managers spent the first day of their annual meetings digesting a comprehensive presentation by the NHL's Hockey Operations Department that examined how and why concussions are caused.
The tone at the end of Monday's meeting here was positive. Many GMs said the appetite to create a safer workplace for the players is strong, but it's essential for them to take a wait-and-see approach for now. That's because there is plenty of debate about player safety, specifically as it relates to head hits, over the next two days.
Nobody can say for certain whether the GMs will recommend any type of rule change or new language for a current rule before parting ways on Wednesday afternoon, but the general feeling on Day 1 is there is a movement to improve the current standards regarding player safety in the NHL.

Study: Concussions from illegal hits down

Monday, 03.14.2011 / 1:22 PM / NHL Insider

Shawn P. Roarke - Senior Managing Editor

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- Rule 48, born at last season's General Managers' meetings, was critiqued at the opening session of this year's GM meetings.

According to data compiled and studied by the NHL's Hockey Operations and delivered to the general managers Monday morning, there have been significant changes in the incidence of concussions during the League's 2010-11 season.

The meetings here began Monday and will run through Wednesday.

NHL GMs meetings to focus on head hits, Rule 48

Monday, 03.14.2011 / 6:30 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

BOCA RATON, Fla. -- The National Hockey League general managers will meet here beginning Monday to discuss the state of the game with an emphasis on player safety, specifically head hits and the impact of Rule 48, which was introduced this past spring.
The meetings will continue through Wednesday.
The NHL has been leading the four major professional sports leagues in concussion protocol since forming the Concussion Working Group in 1997. The League took a proactive step toward curbing concussions last year with Rule 48, which renders illegal any lateral or blindside hit where the head is targeted and/or becomes the principal point of contact.

Hawks savor visit to White House

Friday, 03.11.2011 / 9:55 PM / NHL Insider

Bob Condor - Editor-in-Chief

WASHINGTON­ -- President Barack Obama took a seven-minute shift with the Chicago Blackhawks on Friday, delivering a speech with the sort of hop and skip that team's coach, Joel Quenneville, seeks from his skaters.

"I thought the President had a great attitude," said Quenneville, who didn't seem to stop grinning the entire time he was on the South Lawn at the White House to recognize Chicago's first Stanley Cup since 1961 -- when, Obama quipped, a movie cost 69 cents, he was still in diapers and the "legendary" Glenn Hall played with a wooden stick and no mask.

Quenneville and his team had a 20-minute private meeting with the President before the ceremony outside.

Hejduk one goal shy of tying Sakic record

Friday, 03.11.2011 / 4:47 PM / NHL Insider

Rick Sadowski  - Correspondent

"It's still fun. Obviously it hasn't been as much (fun) as it used to be in the last couple months. But I try to still enjoy it. I still like the game and being around the guys. It'd be nice if we put some wins together. It would be more enjoyable."
-- Milan Hejduk

DENVER -- In what has become a depressing season for the Colorado Avalanche, veteran Milan Hejduk has been one of the few bright spots and is closing in on a record held by icon Joe Sakic.

The 35-year-old right wing needs 1 goal to match Sakic's franchise record of 11 consecutive seasons with 20 or more goals, a mark he could reach Friday when the Avalanche meet the Anaheim Ducks at the Pepsi Center.

"It would be nice," Hejduk said following Friday's pre-game skate. "It definitely would be a nice accomplishment."

Hedberg not concerned with sitting vs. Thrashers

Friday, 03.11.2011 / 3:11 PM / NHL Insider

John Manasso - Correspondent

ATLANTA -- In almost any other season, it would not be news when the New Jersey Devils' back-up goalie did not earn a start.

But this is not any other season for the Devils, and Johan Hedberg is not any other goalie.

As the Devils surged from the bottom of the League standings in the first half to unbeatable juggernaut in the second -- they're just 10 points out of eighth place in the Eastern Conference entering Friday's game here against the Thrashers -- Hedberg helped lead that renaissance. His record is 13-11-2 with a .913 save percentage and 2.34 goals-against average while Martin Brodeur, one of the all-time greats, is 17-20-2 with a .902 save percentage and 2.55 GAA.

Capitals' Fehr finally feeling healthy

Friday, 03.11.2011 / 12:57 PM / NHL Insider

Corey Masisak - Staff Writer

"It was just a bad situation. I've taken big hits all season long and nothing has happened, but I got put in a bad spot and my shoulder went out. It makes it more frustrating. I thought I had that all behind me with the surgeries. I was clear for about a year-and-a-half with no symptoms. I was getting excited that it wouldn't happen again, but that kind of came out of the woodwork." -- Eric Fehr

ARLINGTON, Va. -- Eric Fehr spent the summer before last season with both of his arms immobilized before of surgeries on both shoulders. His wife had to help him with even the simplest of tasks.

So when he collided with Washington Capitals teammate David Steckel on Jan. 14 and felt his shoulder pop out of place, forgive him if he was momentarily gripped by fear.

"Yeah, I knew it wasn't great. I was worried about it," Fehr said. "It took a lot longer to come back than I expected, but I am back playing and I am hoping that problem is behind me and I can just continue playing."

Fehr originally hoped to only miss 3-4 weeks, but he ended up being sidelined for nearly two months. The total damage ended up being 22 games -- more than a quarter of a season for an unfortunate accident.

Banged-up Coyotes could be without five key pieces

Thursday, 03.10.2011 / 3:58 PM / NHL Insider

Jerry Brown - Correspondent

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- When the Phoenix Coyotes had the best season in franchise history in 2009-10, team health played a big role in their success.

This season, however, more injuries have made the road a lot harder, and the stretch run is no different. The Coyotes, who have lost nearly 100 man-games to injury already, could be without as many as five key players -- three of them defensemen -- when they face the Calgary Flames in a huge battle at Arena Thursday.

Defenseman Ed Jovanovski is out indefinitely following orbital bone surgery, and fellow blueliner Derek Morris missed Tuesday's 4-3 overtime loss to Vancouver with a lower-body injury. Rostislav Klesla, acquired from Columbus in the Scottie Upshall deal to replace Jovanovski, had a Daniel Sedin shot ride up his stick and hit him in the face Tuesday. He left the game in the second period and played less than 10 seconds the rest of the way.

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Quote of the Day

There's standards that this team is going to play to and there are expectations. We're going to hold these guys accountable to high standards.

— Coach Dave Lowry on Canada's junior team, the defending IIHF World Junior champions