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2010-2011 Season Preview

Busy offseason for Dudley resulted in new look

Monday, 09.27.2010 / 11:23 AM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

John Manasso - Correspondent

"Everyone's so excited. We have a new coaching staff. We have a pretty good buzz right now."
-- Thrashers President Don Waddell

ATLANTA -- The Atlanta Thrashers had not hosted a draft party at Philips Arena in years. Usually the site was a hockey-friendly sports bar where fans in the non-traditional market would gather in numbers that would not overwhelm the venue.

This year, however, represented a change. Within days of the 2010 Entry Draft, new General Manager Rick Dudley had engineered a blockbuster trade, bringing three members of the newly crowned Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks to Atlanta, and had hired a respected coach in Craig Ramsay.

Tavares just wants to get better

Monday, 09.27.2010 / 3:00 AM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor

John Tavares unquestionably is one of the game's brightest young stars, but he really could care less about the spotlight.

The first pick of the 2009 Entry Draft, Tavares is primed to begin his second NHL season with the hope of helping the New York Islanders qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs for the first time since 2007. While he'll certainly be asked to accept more responsibility, don't expect Tavares to be shouting or flipping tables during intermissions or after games.

"I think I've always been a pretty quiet guy. I try to lead by actions," Tavares told "I'll probably be the same way (this season), just a little more comfortable with everybody. Having a year under my belt, I think I'll definitely enjoy a leadership role. I really enjoyed it in junior. I really like that responsibility. At times, I think everyone has something to say, and at times I will, too. But my main focus is to lead with the way I play."

Young Oilers expect improvement under Renney

Monday, 09.27.2010 / 3:00 AM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

Brian Compton - Deputy Managing Editor

The Edmonton Oilers' youth movement took a giant step forward this summer -- and it went beyond their roster.

Not only did the Oilers add arguably their biggest piece when they selected Taylor Hall with the first pick of the 2010 Entry Draft, but they also promoted 55-year-old Tom Renney to coach. Renney is replacing Pat Quinn, 67, who was reassigned to the role of senior hockey adviser after Edmonton won only 27 games in 2009-10.

Renney is excited about the opportunity to lead the Oilers, but also knows things won't change overnight. However, that doesn't mean Edmonton can't be competitive and vie for a playoff spot.

Button breaks down the Eastern Conference

Monday, 09.27.2010 / 3:00 AM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

NHL Network analyst Craig Button, the former general manager of the Calgary Flames, takes a look at how Eastern Conference teams will fare during the 2010-11 season.

Check back each day as more analysis from Button is added.

Atlanta Thrashers -- There has been much change in Atlanta since the conclusion of last season. The change with the potential to have the most positive effect on the team is the hiring of Craig Ramsay as coach. He helps players perform to their capabilities and understands how to weave those abilities into a cohesive and well-performing team.

There is Stanley Cup-winning experience in the group with the additions of Dustin Byfuglien, Fredrik Modin, Andrew Ladd, Ben Eager and Brent Sopel. The young, talented players, led by Zach Bogosian, Evander Kane, Niclas Bergfors and Bryan Little should be beneficiaries of that experience as they look to contribute to winning times in Atlanta.

Button breaks down the Western Conference

Monday, 09.27.2010 / 3:00 AM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

NHL Network analyst Craig Button, the former general manager of the Calgary Flames, takes a look at how Western Conference teams will fare during the 2010-11 season.

Check back each day as more analysis from Button is added.

Anaheim Ducks -- GM Bob Murray knows the importance of having good defensemen. Without the luxury of watching Scott Niedermayer anchor the defense, one that was instrumental in the Ducks' past success, the level of comfort and confidence in the defense will be diminished. It is a competent group of varying degrees on the blue line, but the undeniable fact is that players of Scott's ilk control the game and make everybody around them that much better. His absence will be profound.

Cup win ratchets up Hawks' rivalry with Wings

Sunday, 09.26.2010 / 6:36 PM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

In the long history of rivalries, one axiom has always been at the heart of each one: it's not truly a rivalry if both sides don't win their fair share of battles.
So for the better part of the last 15 years, the Chicago Blackhawks vs. Detroit Red Wings hasn't really been much of a two-way hate conglomeration. While the Red Wings built their own little hockey version of the Ming Dynasty starting in the mid-to-late 1990s, the Hawks stumbled, bumbled and typically dwelt in or near the Central Division's cellar.
The bitterness, as a result, developed mostly in one direction. 

Leddy, Morin forcing Hawks to make tough decision

Sunday, 09.26.2010 / 6:10 PM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

Brian Hedger - Correspondent

CHICAGO -- There's only one thing 19-year old Chicago Blackhawks prospects Nick Leddy and Jeremy Morin like better than being on the ice in training camp.
"Shopping," Leddy said, laughing. "It's definitely been a lot of fun hanging out here in Chicago."
Turns out, they're not the only ones doing a little window-gazing. The more this camp goes on, the more Leddy and Morin catch the eye of Hawks coaches and front-office people.
It started at this summer's Hawks four-day prospect development camp, where both made their presence felt. It has continued through the start of training camp, where Morin and Leddy are still making waves in practices and games with their skill.

Wings confident they'll rejuvenate Mo's career

Sunday, 09.26.2010 / 3:00 AM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

Dan Rosen - Senior Writer

Mike Babcock and Ken Holland have both said they wouldn't be surprised if Mike Modano has more than just one season left in his illustrious career.

"If he's playing outstanding and he's happy, I don't see why he'd want to leave," Holland told

The Red Wings, Babcock added, have a way of rejuvenating a player and basically forcing him to keep his skates sharpened even when it would seem the time is right to hang 'em up.

"We're a good fit for him and he knows it," Babcock told "I know the veteran players we have dealt with over the years, so I'm a big believer … he won't be here for one year -- he'll play for two."

Parise shines without the spotlight

Sunday, 09.26.2010 / 3:00 AM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

Dave Lozo - Staff Writer

The summer of 2010 will be remembered in hockey circles for a high-scoring New Jersey Devils left wing suddenly receiving endless amounts of well-deserved media and fan attention.

And Zach Parise spent plenty of time reading all about him.

"I'd check everyday to find out what’s going on and all of a sudden it goes silent for about three weeks," Parise said. "'Did we lose him?' You don't know what's going on here. It was almost to the point of, 'Let me know when you got him, let me know when it's done, then I'll tune back in.'"

Of course, Parise was talking about the endless cycle of stories about the free agency and contract status of left wing Ilya Kovalchuk, who re-signed with the Devils in what was the biggest story of the offseason. It's not that the 26-year-old Parise feels he deserves more attention -- as a matter of fact, it takes prodding and some slight begging just to get Parise to discuss his on-ice talents and status in the League -- but as the four-time 30-goal scorer enters his sixth season in the NHL, his name isn't a household one.

Kovy ready to meet increased expectations

Sunday, 09.26.2010 / 3:00 AM / 2010-2011 Season Preview

Phil Coffey - Sr. Editorial Director

Despite a tumultuous and controversial summer, Ilya Kovalchuk cannot be dissuaded from having vision of silver -- namely a Stanley Cup -- dancing in his head now that he is a New Jersey Devil for the next 15 years.

"The expectation is different, that's for sure," Kovalchuk said upon joining the Devils last season. "I don't want to just be in the playoffs. That's not my goal. You want to win and I think everyone in this locker room is on the same page so that's very important."

Kovalchuk, the most prized free agent available during the summer, returned to New Jersey, where he had been traded during the 2009-10 season. Not that the process was easy. Once contract terms were agreed to by player and team, the contract did not meet League requirements, so it was back to the drawing board. With that obstacle cleared, Kovalchuk now can concentrate on helping New Jersey become a four-time Stanley Cup champion.

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