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2010 Compuware NHL Premiere

Finnish talent shines as NHL returns to Helsinki

Thursday, 10.07.2010 / 5:11 PM / 2010 Compuware NHL Premiere

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

"It was a special feeling, that win, especially playing in Finland. Getting that first win is always a big thing, especially because of the way we started last season (2-13-3)." -- Jussi Jokinen

HELSINKI -- Jussi Jokinen was as nervous as he's been in a year and a half.

It was the third period Thursday night and Carolina was clinging to a one-goal lead with time ticking off the big scoreboard above center ice inside Hartwall Arena.

Jokinen, who had several family members and close friends come all the way from his hometown of Kalajoki, a four-hour drive to Helsinki, just to watch him play, didn't want their evening to get spoiled by another Wild goal. After all, he had already given them so much to talk about on the ride home.

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Daly addresses future KHL exhibitions, Premiere

Thursday, 10.07.2010 / 1:36 PM / 2010 Compuware NHL Premiere

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

"We certainly don't want to create an environment where there is a higher risk of injury for our players. If we make a determination that there is a higher risk of injury for our players in the game we probably won't play them again."
-- NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly on NHL clubs playing against KHL teams

HELSINKI -- NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly has read the stories and heard the concerns from Paul Maurice, Eric Staal and others associated with the Carolina Hurricanes about how SKA St. Petersburg approached the exhibition game Monday night in Russia.

Staal and Maurice said they felt the SKA players were making pointed attempts to take out Staal's knees in the first period and early in the second. As a result, Maurice pulled his captain from the game with 13:26 to play in the second period. At the same time he also pulled No. 1 goalie Cam Ward.

Daly said in a press conference prior to the 2010 NHL Compuware Premiere game between Minnesota and Carolina on Thursday that the League still has to evaluate the potential for future games against Kontinental Hockey League teams before agreeing to send teams to Russia again.
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Ward, Backstrom have put struggles behind them

Thursday, 10.07.2010 / 9:00 AM / 2010 Compuware NHL Premiere

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

"I'm just excited to get a fresh start and not worry about what happened last year. Being in the position I am, I have a chance to be a big contributor to this team and it's my job to give our team a chance in games on a consistent basis. That's what I want to do."
-- Cam Ward

HELSINKI -- Despite reasons that are polar opposites, the two goalies that will be the first to play a 2010-11 NHL regular-season game each have plenty to prove starting Thursday.

Minnesota's Niklas Backstrom watched his goals-against average inflate and his save percentage and win total deflate last season as the Wild tried to adapt to a new, more aggressive system under coach Todd Richards. Carolina's Cam Ward watched too many games from the press box as he battled a freakish leg injury and back problems that wouldn't go away.

Both optimistically believe their woes are behind them as they head into the 2010 Compuware NHL Premiere series, but time will tell if they reclaim their status as elite NHL goalies.
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Quite a climb through coaching ranks for Arniel

Wednesday, 10.06.2010 / 12:20 PM / 2010 Compuware NHL Premiere

Risto Pakarinen - NHL.com Correspondent

STOCKHOLM -- Scott Arniel has taken the long way to the NHL. He played over 700 games in the League with the Winnipeg Jets, Buffalo Sabres and Boston Bruins, and then spent the 1990s mostly in the International Hockey League.

He ended as a player where he started -- the 1981 second-round pick of the Jets played his final games with Manitoba Moose, and then became an assistant coach for the team when it moved to the American Hockey League.

Then he went back to his other home, in Buffalo, as an assistant coach before again returning to Winnipeg, this time as head coach of the Moose.

And Friday, 10 years after his first season as coach, he will stand behind the bench as an NHL head coach, when his Columbus Blue Jackets take on the San Jose Sharks (3 p.m. ET, VERSUS, TSN) as part of the 2010 Compuware NHL Premiere Series, and it's just fitting that his debut takes place far away from home.

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Ruutu enjoyed showing 'Canes sauna experience

Wednesday, 10.06.2010 / 12:12 PM / 2010 Compuware NHL Premiere

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

HELSINKI -- Carolina coach Paul Maurice didn't go to Sauna Island with his players Tuesday, nor does he want to know any of the details from the players-only event organized by Helsinki resident Tuomo Ruutu.

Asked what he has heard about the players' full-tilt sauna experience, one of Finland's cultural phenomenons, Maurice said, "That they had a great time and it was a really, really good team event. I don't want too many details on the event."

"You know, if you don't go mining you don't get a lot of stuff," he added with a laugh. "It was, 'Did you guys have a good time yesterday?' Yup, good. And then you just keep moving. Don't get stuck in one spot. You'll hear too many things."

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Riga goalie Tellqvist sees plenty of familiar faces

Wednesday, 10.06.2010 / 12:03 PM / 2010 Compuware NHL Premiere

Shawn P. Roarke - NHL.com Senior Managing Editor

Dynamo Riga goalie Mikael Tellqvist was all smiles before Wednesday's 2010 Compuware NHL Premiere Challenge exhibition game against the Phoenix Coyotes.

For him, it was a trip down memory lane. Tellqvist played for the Coyotes for three seasons from 2006-09 and saw a lot of familiar faces as the teams mingled in the area outside the dressing rooms right after Phoenix's arrival.

"It's great to see guys like Doaner," Tellqvist told NHL.com, referencing Coyote captain Shane Doan. "It's just too bad they aren't staying overnight."

If they were, Tellqvist says he would be all up for showing the boys the town. Despite playing his first season in Riga, he says the city is the jewel of the Kontinental Hockey League circuit.

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Krejci returns to Prague a changed man

Wednesday, 10.06.2010 / 9:00 AM / 2010 Compuware NHL Premiere

Shawn P. Roarke - NHL.com Senior Managing Editor

PRAGUE, Czech Republic -- Boston center David Krejci returns to his home country this week for the 2010 Compuware NHL Premiere series against the Phoenix Coyotes a far different player than the one who departed for North America six years ago to chase his hockey dreams.

"You mature much faster than if you stay here," Krejci said Monday as he sat in the cramped dressing room at Tesla Arena. "I think that helped me a lot with my hockey. I was training my body and I was playing professional hockey already when I started junior. I had no friends and no family, so I was preparing myself for every practice and every game and I believe it helped me a lot."

While success did not come as fast as Krejci hoped, it has come in incremental phases.
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'Canes coach Maurice high on his Finnish triumvirate

Tuesday, 10.05.2010 / 4:43 PM / 2010 Compuware NHL Premiere

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

HELSINKI -- Carolina's Finnish contingent obviously is front and center here as the 2010 Compuware NHL Premiere gets closer, and coach Paul Maurice had some interesting comments Tuesday to a Finnish TV station about center Jussi Jokinen, right wing Tuomo Ruutu and defenseman Joni Pitkanen.

Jokinen came first in the line of questioning, and by Maurice's responses you can tell how high he is on the Finn, who scored a career-high 30 goals and 65 points in 81 games last season.

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Hurricanes facing tough decisions on defense

Tuesday, 10.05.2010 / 12:32 PM / 2010 Compuware NHL Premiere

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

"I hope we have to deal with this problem all year, but most times you're wishing you have nine or 10 defensemen just because of the way the season goes. We'll have to make some tough decisions for the opening lineup, but chances are we're going to need all of them." -- Paul Maurice

HELSINKI -- Carrying eight defensemen when your American Hockey League affiliate is a three-hour drive or 45-minute flight away is not the best idea for a team. Carolina GM Jim Rutherford won't even consider it, telling NHL.com the Hurricanes could at times have only six blueliners on the roster due to the proximity of the Charlotte Checkers.

Deciding which two go won't be easy. Deciding which two sit Thursday may be tougher.

Contract situations may determine the six (or seven) defensemen Carolina eventually carries once it returns to North America, but Hurricanes coach Paul Maurice said Tuesday after a workout here at Hartwall Arena that he has no problem playing any of the eight defensemen the team brought to Finland for the 2010 Compuware NHL Premiere.

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Richards sees outburst as what Wild can be

Tuesday, 10.05.2010 / 12:23 PM / 2010 Compuware NHL Premiere

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

"It's not like we went in there and said we're going to do this, this and this. It came down to a mentality and a commitment by the players to play a certain way, and that's what they have to understand. Each team has their own identity. What is going to be our identity this year? We have to find out what our identity is going to be." -- Todd Richards

HELSINKI -- Before the Minnesota Wild can make a run at the postseason, second-year coach Todd Richards says they have to find their identity as a team.

The process starts for real here Thursday in the 2010 Compuware NHL Premiere when the Wild open the regular season against the Carolina Hurricanes (Noon ET, TSN, VERSUS), but Richards also believes his players already know what that identity is, or what it should be.

When they use an aggressive forecheck, move the puck well out of their own zone and manage it in the offensive zone -- nothing crazy, too fancy or artful -- the Wild usually are successful. That's how they played in the third period against Finnish club Ilves Tampere on Monday and they scored four goals en route to a 5-1 victory.

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Quote of the Day

I don't know how he does it. I don't know how he gets his body parallel with the player and pulls it through his legs like that. I know he's tried it a couple times in practice and it's never worked, so how he does it in a game, it's incredible.

— Capitals defenseman Mike Green on teammate Alex Ovechkin's highlight-reel goal against the Devils on Saturday