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2010-2011 Season Preview

Halak's arrival should help 2009-10 carry over

Sunday, 10.03.2010 / 3:00 AM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

The St. Louis Blues hope their backward step last season will help them take several steps forward this season. That's shedding a positive light on what was a difficult 2009-10 season, but it's how you have to think and operate when you are trying to build a winner for the long haul.

St. Louis enters the 2010-11 season with very few question marks on its roster, a good sign for a team that spent the first half of last season digging itself an early hole with its inability to win at home and to win close games.

The Blues were 17-17-6, including just 6-13-3 at Scottrade Center, when coach Andy Murray was replaced on an interim basis by Davis Payne on Jan. 2. Payne, who was signed on a full-time basis after the season, led the Blues a 12-5-2 home record and at least got the team in the playoff hunt as late as March.

Strong finish, promising youth have Leafs hopeful

Sunday, 10.03.2010 / 3:00 AM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

Dave Lozo - NHL.com Staff Writer

The Toronto Maple Leafs finished last in the Eastern Conference and 29th in the League last season with just 74 points, but they closed the season with enough positive vibes to enter this season with hope for a turnaround.

The Leafs went 10-5-2 in their last 17 games and 13-10-3 after acquiring defenseman Dion Phaneuf and goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere in trades with the Calgary Flames and Anaheim Ducks, respectively, Jan 31. Phaneuf was named the Leafs' captain this summer and believes the team can contend for a playoff spot this season.

"I think every team in the League, their goal is to make the playoffs and we're no different," Phaneuf said. "We're a very good, young team. We've got a lot of really good, young players and it's an exciting team to be apart of because we get to grow together and get to learn together and I'm looking forward to starting that off.

Stamkos, Tavares and Hall poised to rise to stardom

Saturday, 10.02.2010 / 6:00 AM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

When the Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals open their 2010-11 schedules, their respective captains, Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin, will be starting their sixth NHL seasons.

Their climbs to superstar status didn't take very long, but they were the start of what has become a remarkable youth movement in the NHL.

Now another class of players is about to enter some rarified air. Taking the lead are the three most-recent No. 1 draft picks.

The top choice of the 2008 Entry Draft, Steven Stamkos, already has one foot into the realm of the rising superstar -- if he isn't there already -- thanks to his 51-goal outburst last season, his second in the League. It tied the Tampa Bay Lightning center with Crosby for the League lead, and his 24 power-play goals gave him that title alone.


Lecavalier rejuvenated by changes in Tampa Bay

Saturday, 10.02.2010 / 3:00 AM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

"After losing for three years, automatically you have that motivation that you don't want to lose again, that you want to make it to the playoffs and go from there, but to have the whole new organization, I'm just really excited to start camp and get going, to learn new things from Guy"
-- Vincent Lecavalier

If the excitement and energy that's blaring out of Vinny Lecavalier's voice comes pouring out in his play this season, then the Tampa Bay center will again find himself lumped in with the NHL's elite.

Lecavalier can't remember when he was this excited for training camp to start.

"It's obvious they want to make this a first-class organization," he told NHL.com.

It's a new era for the Bolts, with Jeff Vinik watching from the owner's box as GM Steve Yzerman runs the show from the front office and Guy Boucher guides the team from the bench.

The captain is pumped.

Yzerman spent summer building Bolts

Saturday, 10.02.2010 / 3:00 AM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

"There is a level of expectation for all of our players and they have a responsibility. We're going to challenge them and push them. I'm happy there is a positive energy around the club, but we still have to go out and do it. We haven't played a game yet. This isn't going to be an overnight thing. We're trying to become a Stanley Cup contender and that's going to take time."
-- Steve Yzerman

For years Steve Yzerman spent his summers relaxing away from the rink before gradually working his way back into playing shape. His first four post-retirement summers weren't all that stressful, either, as he merely dipped his toes into the deep waters that surround and sometimes drown NHL front-office men.

His world is so, so different now.

Yzerman dove off the high dive and head first into the deep end this summer as the new general manager and vice president of the Tampa Bay Lightning, and the few times he came up for air he revealed another shrewd move aimed at bringing the franchise back to the championship level it reached in 2004.

Was it a whirlwind for the Hall of Fame player?

"In June and July, yeah, my head was spinning so what I did was just try to focus on a few things," Yzerman told NHL.com. "I was trying to chip away at things over the course of time. It was important to get a coach hired, to get ready for the draft and for free agency. Then, as July wore on a little bit, things slowed down and I could focus on some other things."

Yzerman preaches patience in Lightning rebuild

Saturday, 10.02.2010 / 3:00 AM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

Brian Hunter - NHL.com Staff Writer

At first glance, the Tampa Bay Lightning would seem to have little in common as a franchise with the Detroit Red Wings.
While the Red Wings are an Original Six team with a storied history, including four Stanley Cup victories in the past 13 seasons, the Lightning have only been around since 1992 and have enjoyed modest success, winning a pair of Southeast Division titles and a Cup of their own in 2004.
But during an off-season overhaul that started with the front office and extended behind the bench and to the personnel on the ice, the Lightning made what could turn out to be a defining move in their history by bringing in a face synonymous with hockey in the Motor City over the past several decades.
Steve Yzerman, one of the great players in NHL history and captain of three Red Wings championship teams (1997, 1998, 2002), was named Tampa Bay's new general manager on May 25. Yzerman's post-playing career as an executive gained steam after he was named GM of Team Canada and his troops went on to capture gold at the Olympics in Vancouver.

Pavelski small in stature but full of heart

Saturday, 10.02.2010 / 12:00 AM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

Roger Phillips - NHL.com Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- Sharks coach Todd McLellan has a goal for his players this season, one he hopes will lead to them sipping from the Stanley Cup next June.

He wants his players to grow.

In the case of many of his players, McLellan is looking for growth in their skill levels, their willingness to venture into tough areas on the ice, their desire to apply themselves at both ends of the rink.

"I really believe," McLellan said, "that once you stop growing, you start decaying."

But there is one player who literally is trying to grow.

Here's a hint: His nickname is Little Joe.

Boyle would fit in well as Sharks' captain

Saturday, 10.02.2010 / 12:00 AM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

Roger Phillips - NHL.com Correspondent

SAN JOSE -- At age 34, there's little Dan Boyle has yet to accomplish.

The Sharks' top defenseman, Boyle won a Stanley Cup with Tampa Bay in 2004, captured Olympic gold earlier this year with Team Canada and helped the Sharks advance to the Western Conference Finals last season for only the second time in the history of the franchise.

But there's one thing Boyle has yet to enjoy in the NHL -- recognition as a team captain.

That may change in the coming weeks, and Boyle readily acknowledges it would mean a great deal to him.

"It would be pretty special," said Boyle, who is beginning his third season in Northern California. "I fought long and hard to get to this point. It would certainly be an honor."

Niittymaki aims to push Niemi for playing time

Saturday, 10.02.2010 / 12:00 AM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

Brian Compton - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

When Antero Niittymaki signed a two-year deal with the San Jose Sharks on July 1, his hope was that he'd be the club's new No. 1 goaltender.

But competition arrived in the form of Antti Niemi, who helped the Chicago Blackhawks win their first championship in 49 years, only to be let go after the team declined to accept his $2.75 million arbitration award. Two months after Niittymaki signed on the dotted line, Niemi agreed to a one-year, $2 million deal with San Jose.

"Obviously when it first happened, you weren't jumping up and down," Niittymaki told NHL.com. "I'm not going to cry about it. It's part of the business. If they feel like it can help the team, they should do it. We all want to win here. If they feel like it can help us get where want to go, it's a good thing."

Keith has ample competition in quest for Norris repeat

Friday, 10.01.2010 / 2:43 PM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

It may seem like the Norris Trophy is awarded yearly to the top-scoring defenseman, but that wouldn't be true -- especially not with last year's finalists.

Winner Duncan Keith and finalists Mike Green and Drew Doughty combined for 204 points and a plus-80 rating, proving that good defense and good offense can go hand-in-hand.

Will those three be in the running for this season's Norris? NHL.com takes a look at some of the top candidates -- in alphabetical order only.

Dan Boyle, Sharks -- Boyle never jumps off the tongue when discussion turns to the League's top blueliners, but that's more the fault of the people doing the discussing.

He's had at least 10 goals and 50 points in five of the last seven seasons -- including a combined 31 goals and 115 points the last two season with the Sharks. He's a respected presence on a veteran team, and with the retirement of Rob Blake, looks to take a more prominent role on the San Jose blue line -- including possibly following Blake as team captain.

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Quote of the Day

I think I'm lucky to be here and you definitely don't take very many things for granted, if you take anything for granted. I definitely put my family and my wife and my close family in perspective, that they're the most important thing in the world. I want to do whatever I can to play hockey, but like I said, under the right circumstances.

— Stars forward Rich Peverley to "The Musers" radio show on The Ticket 1310 AM in Dallas