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NHL Insider

Blackhawks' Timonen relishing last chance at Cup

Saturday, 03.07.2015 / 11:25 AM / NHL Insider

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO -- If Kimmo Timonen's career had ended last summer because of blood clots discovered in his legs and lung, he would have accepted it.

The 39-year old Finnish defenseman could have found solace in his impressive career even without having his name on the Stanley Cup or with an Olympic gold medal stashed in a safe somewhere. He wouldn't have had a choice.

Doctors in Finland, however, kept the door slightly ajar. That's all he needed.

"There was always a small chance," said Timonen, who was traded Feb. 27 by the Philadelphia Flyers to the Chicago Blackhawks to pursue a dream ending to his career. "[The doctors] said, 'Well, you have to eat this medicine for six months and then you have a small chance to get back on the ice.'"

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Senators' Hammond stealing spotlight, victories

Friday, 03.06.2015 / 4:46 PM / NHL Insider

Chris Stevenson - NHL.com Correspondent

OTTAWA -- When Ottawa Senators goaltender Andrew Hammond was preparing for his first NHL start Feb. 18 against the Montreal Canadiens, a couple of reporters waited by his dressing-room stall after the morning skate.

"Do you talk on game days?" asked one.

"I guess so. I've never really had anybody want to talk me on a game day," said the 27-year-old undrafted free agent who was thrust into the starting job after injuries to top Senators goaltenders Craig Anderson and Robin Lehner.

Things were a little different Friday.

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Senators goalie Hammond making hometown proud

Friday, 03.06.2015 / 10:40 AM / NHL Insider

Kevin Woodley - NHL.com Correspondent

VANCOUVER -- Goaltender Andrew Hammond has fans cheering as he leads the Ottawa Senators into an unlikely Stanley Cup Playoff race, but back in his hometown that same 6-0-1 run to start his NHL career has been especially emotional for his former goalie coach.

"It's brought me to tears just because I know how close he was to quitting," said Sean Murray, who has worked with Hammond for 17 years as an owner and coach of Pro-Formance Goalie School and Development Center in Vancouver and its suburbs. "Now seeing him have this success and just knowing how good of a kid he is, it's gotten me twice."

Maybe that's because Hammond came close to quitting on two separate occasions.

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Panthers' Ekblad turning heads with rookie season

Friday, 03.06.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Florida Panthers defenseman Brian Campbell can remember the day he concluded that rookie Aaron Ekblad was going to be something very special.

It occurred last October during the Panthers' trip to the U.S. Military Academy at West Point, N.Y., for three days of training and team bonding prior to the season.

"He wouldn't remember it, but I remember it," Campbell said. "We were at practice and I gave him a pass where it didn't give him a lot of time and he just made a pass through one of our guys' skates to one of our forwards. I just kind of nodded my head thinking, 'All right, that's a play I feel like I like to make out there.'

"I've played in the League a while now and I feel like I can make those plays, but to see an 18-year-old have confidence and do that, I'm like, 'OK, yeah, this guy is the real deal.'"

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Coyotes' Smith to honor Alice Cooper with new mask

Thursday, 03.05.2015 / 8:42 PM / NHL Insider

NHL.com

The Arizona Coyotes will go retro on Thursday against the Vancouver Canucks, donning throwback jerseys on a night they will honor former forward Jeremy Roenick.

Another figure from the Coyotes hockey scene will also be honored, just a bit more subtly. Goalie Mike Smith will wear a special mask for the game with rock icon Alice Cooper painted on its back plate.

"The coolest thing about the helmet is the back plate," Smith said in a video on the Coyotes website. "It's a tribute to Alice Cooper, who's been a lifer as a Coyote fan and a big supporter of the team."

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Leopold's daughter on letter requesting trade to Wild

Thursday, 03.05.2015 / 2:00 PM / NHL Insider

NHL.com

Jordyn Leopold figured why not?

She missed her father, NHL defenseman Jordan Leopold, and wanted him to come home, so back in January she wrote a letter to the Minnesota Wild with the hope of getting Jordan back to the State of Hockey because her father was lonely in Ohio without Jordyn, her mother and her three siblings.

"I thought it might work to get him home," Jordyn, 11, told the Wild website. "I didn't think the letter [had a huge impact] but it could've."

"The Letter" has gone viral since it surfaced on March 2 shortly after Jordan was traded to the Minnesota Wild at the NHL Trade Deadline. The Wild acquired Leopold from the Blue Jackets for defenseman Justin Falk and a fifth-round pick in the 2015 NHL Draft.

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Coyotes to honor Roenick, don throwback jerseys

Thursday, 03.05.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Jerry Brown - NHL.com Correspondent

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Coming from the Chicago Blackhawks, an Original Six franchise with history and tradition, to the Arizona desert and a team in its inaugural season was a big change in itself for Jeremy Roenick 19 years ago.

But when he was introduced at a press conference as a new Phoenix Coyote in August 1996, Roenick had another surprise waiting: the color-splashed, kachina-inspired sweater he slipped into in front of the cameras.

But there was one more surprise: He loved the "RoboCoyote" right away.

"I know that jersey gets a lot of grief, but I liked it. I liked it from the first time I saw it," Roenick said. "Not everyone liked them and it was about 50-50 in the dressing room. There was a lot of, 'I can't believe we have to wear this thing.' I don't think (Coyotes captain) Keith Tkachuk liked them very much, but he doesn't like anything, so what's new?

"But to me, they were creative and unique and they were colorful. They stood out."

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Hitchcock changed Blues into Stanley Cup contender

Thursday, 03.05.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Louie Korac - NHL.com Correspondent

ST. LOUIS -- From the moment Ken Hitchcock was named St. Louis Blues coach in 2011, the idea was for him to help drive them back to respectability.

With the Blues set to play the Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday (7 p.m. ET; NHLN-US, SN360), it was another day of preparation Wednesday for what they have been striving for: to be among, if not the best in the League with hopes of an extended run in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.

Hitchcock, who is 697-423-95 with 88 ties in 18 seasons, hopes people don't judge the Blues and their body of work simply on playoff success.

The work has been arduous at times, and there certainly have been challenges, but the rewards of having them on the cusp of success has been rewarding.

"I don't think you can guarantee any success in the postseason; every team tries for six weeks," Hitchcock said. "I think your body of work, I'm like everybody else living in St. Louis; we want to have more success in the postseason than we've ever had, unlike everybody else. But your body of work tells you everything about the coaching staff."

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U.S. women's star Knight proud to shoot 'Like A Girl'

Wednesday, 03.04.2015 / 11:00 AM / NHL Insider

Evan Sporer - NHL.com Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- Hilary Knight was one of an estimated 114 million-plus people in America watching Super Bowl XLIX on Feb. 1. And like many of those people, Knight was tuned in when Always aired its #LikeAGirl ad, part of its campaign to help instill confidence in young girls and tear down stereotypes.

For Knight, joining in was a logical next step.

"It was sort of a no-brainer to get involved with the campaign," Knight told NHL.com. "When I was growing up, 'play like a girl' or 'you shoot like a girl,' whatever it is, sort of had a negative connotation to it.

"After seeing the Super Bowl for the first Always 'Like A Girl' campaign, it really changed my view on the 'like a girl' phrase, and the tagline that they're using now."

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Rangers' Nash among best pure goal-scorers

Wednesday, 03.04.2015 / 3:00 AM / NHL Insider

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

Game after game, New York Rangers radio broadcaster Dave Maloney talks about Rick Nash's ability to check the puck back, to play on the inside, in front or behind the net, to dart around the slot, and to find a way to make a play with the puck in tight despite his size that results in a goal.

Rarely does Maloney have to look around for people helping Nash do what he does, even though they are there. Rarely does Maloney have to give credit to someone else for creating the opportunity for Nash, even though every player needs a little bit of assistance.

"A lot of what Nash gets is the result of what he does," Maloney told NHL.com. "[Derick] Brassard and [Derek] Stepan are smart, really good puck movers, but you could have an all-time puck mover play with Nash and he'd be the same as he is right now."

That makes Nash the most unique goal-scorer in the League and his ability to connect this season has put him in the conversation with Alex Ovechkin and Steven Stamkos as the best pure goal-scorers in the League.

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Quote of the Day

I mean, any of those 14 teams (in the lottery) it would have been an absolute honor. If I am selected by Edmonton it will be amazing, a dream come true. They have a lot of amazing young players there.

— Likely No. 1 pick Connor McDavid after the Oilers won the 2015 NHL Draft Lottery on Saturday