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Weber wins Hardest Shot competition for first time

Saturday, 01.24.2015 / 10:57 PM / 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

COLUMBUS — Zdeno Chara remains the king of the hardest shot competition, but not by much.

Nashville Predators defenseman Shea Weber won the AMP NHL Hardest Shot event at the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Skills Competition with a blast of 108.5 mph. It's the second-hardest shot in the history of the All-Star skills competition, narrowly missing the record of 108.8 mph set by Chara three years ago.

"I was surprised," Weber said. "I knew I got it. It's tough. You never know how hard it is until it registers on the gun. I got pretty much all I could into and you just hope for the best."

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Johansen plays to crowd in Breakaway Challenge

Saturday, 01.24.2015 / 10:01 PM / 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

COLUMBUS -- Hometown hero Ryan Johansen set the bar when he grabbed the son of a member of the Columbus Blue Jackets training staff to assist him in the Honda NHL Breakaway Challenge.

It was up to the other participants to try to match it. Watching them try was hilarious.

The Breakaway Challenge was one of the signature events of the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Skills Competition on Saturday at Nationwide Arena, with the players' personalities and skills converging for the fans to enjoy.

Johansen played to the home crowd by removing his Blue Jackets jersey to reveal a red football jersey of the national champion Ohio State Buckeyes on one of his attempts, and on another, he grabbed 7-year-old Cole Vogt, the son of Columbus trainer Mike Vogt, and they skated in on Corey Crawford of the Chicago Blackhawks and scored a goal past him. For his final attempt, Johansen recruited six of his Team Foligno teammates to help him re-create the "Flying V" formation from the movie "The Mighty Ducks."

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NHL, Sportvision test program to track players, puck

Saturday, 01.24.2015 / 8:52 PM / 2015 NHL All-Star Weekend

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

COLUMBUS -- Tracking exactly what is happening all over an ice rink at all times has been nearly impossible, but the NHL and Sportvision are working on cracking that code.

The NHL and Sportvision tested player- and puck-tracking devices Saturday night at the 2015 Honda NHL All-Star Skills Competition in what could be the first step to revolutionizing the way data is collected in hockey.

"At the end of the day, we need to create a digital record of what happens on the ice, that is uniform across the League, highly accurate and allows fans to go as deep as they want to go but also allows us to tell stories," NHL Chief Operating Officer John Collins said.

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NHL.com predicts Team Europe, Youngstars rosters

Saturday, 01.24.2015 / 6:11 PM / NHL Insider

Arpon Basu and Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writers

COLUMBUS -- One of the most intriguing aspects of the 2016 World Cup of Hockey that was announced Saturday is the addition of two teams that are not representing one country in particular.

In addition to the traditional power nations of Canada, the United States, Russia, Sweden, Finland and the Czech Republic, there will be a team of players from other European countries and a North American Youngstars team made up of players 23-and-under from Canada and the United States.

The exact rules to determine who will be eligible for the North American Youngstars team have not been set, but speculation on who will make that team, as well as Team Europe, will run rampant from now until the first 16 players for each of the eight teams must be named March 1, 2016.

NHL.com decided to take an initial run at predicting the rosters for the two teams. For the Youngstars team, a cutoff birth date of Sept. 18, 1992, was used because all players born after that date would still be 23 on the day the tournament starts on Sept. 17, 2016. There was also no minimum number of players that needed to be taken from Canada or the United States.

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Current players motivated by World Cup legacy

Saturday, 01.24.2015 / 5:07 PM / 2016 World Cup of Hockey

Arpon Basu - Managing Editor LNH.com

COLUMBUS -- Patrick Kane was 8 years old, but his memories remain vivid today.

The Chicago Blackhawks forward recalled watching the United States defeat Canada to win the 1996 World Cup of Hockey when the latest edition of the event, to be held in Toronto in 2016, was announced Saturday.

That victory had a huge impact on a generation of American-born players, with 22 to compete alongside Kane in Toronto in 2016.

David Backes of the St. Louis Blues and Joe Pavelski of the San Jose Sharks were 12 at the time, Ryan Suter of the Minnesota Wild was 9, and Max Pacioretty of the Montreal Canadiens was 8, to name a few of the players who might have been influenced by that landmark victory for the United States program.

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World Cup of Hockey set to return in 2016

Saturday, 01.24.2015 / 4:43 PM / 2016 World Cup of Hockey

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

COLUMBUS -- The World Cup of Hockey is returning in September 2016 after a 12-year hiatus, the NHL and National Hockey League Players' Association announced in a press conference Saturday at Nationwide Arena.

The first World Cup competition since 2004 will feature national teams from the United States, Canada, Russia, Sweden, Finland and the Czech Republic, and there will be two all-star teams, one made up of the top 23-and-under North American players and another featuring the top NHL players from the European countries that aren't already represented by their national teams, including Switzerland, Germany, Slovenia, Austria, Norway, Denmark and Latvia.

"A two-week, best-on-best international tournament that promises to be one of the best competitions in hockey history," Commissioner Gary Bettman said in describing the vision for the World Cup. "Everything we've been focused on has been to make this a great exciting tournament. A North American Youngstars team and a team of the best NHL European players from outside the ‘Big Four’ European countries enables us to include more of the very best players in the world who might otherwise have been left out of the competition."

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NHL participation in Olympics still to be decided

Saturday, 01.24.2015 / 4:38 PM / News

Dan Rosen - NHL.com Senior Writer

COLUMBUS -- The decision to bring back the World Cup of Hockey in 2016 does not factor into the NHL's potential participation in the 2018 Pyeongchang Olympics, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said Saturday.

"We have had no discussions and made no decision, and this decision has no bearing on whether we will return to the next Olympics," Commissioner Bettman said. "It's something we [the NHL and National Hockey League Players' Association] still have to discuss."

NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said there are mitigating factors that are currently preventing the NHL and NHLPA from discussing future Olympic participation, particularly the fact that there is a new president of the International Olympic Committee and the South Korea Olympic Organizing Committee has not weighed in on what it wants in a men's hockey tournament.

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Three outdoor games highlight 2015-16 schedule

Saturday, 01.24.2015 / 3:58 PM / News

Corey Masisak - NHL.com Staff Writer

COLUMBUS -- One of hockey's oldest rivalries and two Western Conference cities hosting an NHL outdoor game for the first time will be highlights of the 2015-16 season after NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman announced the League's upcoming outdoor schedule Saturday at Nationwide Arena.

The Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens will play at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass., on Jan. 1 in the Bridgestone 2016 NHL Winter Classic. There will be two Coors Light Stadium Series games in 2015-16.

The first will be Feb. 21 at TCF Bank Stadium on the campus of the University of Minnesota in Minneapolis. That game will feature the Minnesota Wild and the Chicago Blackhawks. Six days later, the Colorado Avalanche and Detroit Red Wings will play at Coors Field in Denver.

This will be the second NHL Winter Classic in Boston. The Bruins played the Philadelphia Flyers at Fenway Park in 2010.

"Those two teams (the Bruins and Canadiens) have played each other more times than they've played any other opponents in their respective history," Bettman said. "The renewal of the rivalry on New Year's Day should be memorable."

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Timeline: The NHL and the international game

Saturday, 01.24.2015 / 1:46 PM / 2016 World Cup of Hockey

NHL.com

1938 - The Montreal Canadiens and Detroit Red Wings play a series of postseason exhibition games in Europe. This is the first overseas tour by NHL players.

1959 - The Boston Bruins and New York Rangers make the second tour of Europe by NHL clubs.

1965 - Swede Ulf Sterner becomes the first European-trained player to appear in an NHL game as his New York Rangers defeat Boston 5-2 (1/27/65).

1969 - The first European-trained player is selected in the NHL Draft as the St. Louis Blues take Finland's Tommi Salmelainen 66th overall.

1970 - Canada withdraws from international competition over a dispute as to whether professional players should be permitted to compete in international events. Canada would not compete in IIHF events until the 1977 World Championships.

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World Cup of Hockey returning in 2016

Competition featuring world's best players set for Sept. 2016 in Toronto

Saturday, 01.24.2015 / 1:45 PM / 2016 World Cup of Hockey

NHL Public Relations

NEW YORK/TORONTO -- The World Cup of Hockey will return in September 2016 in Toronto, Canada when eight teams, comprised of the world's best hockey players, compete for a best-on-best international hockey championship, the National Hockey League (NHL®) and National Hockey League Players' Association (NHLPA) announced today. The World Cup of Hockey is a joint effort of the NHLPA and the NHL, in cooperation with the International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF). It is expected that more than 150 of the best players in the NHL will participate in this tournament in what should be the biggest celebration of the game.

The eight teams will be divided into two Groups of four, and each will compete in three tournament games within their assigned Group in a round-robin format. The top two finishers in each Group will advance to a single game semi-final against a team from the other Group. Winners of the semi-final games will advance to a best-of-three final round. All tournament games (round-robin, semi-final and final) will be played at the Air Canada Centre in Toronto from September 17 - October 1, 2016.

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Quote of the Day

That's the biggest goal I've ever scored. It's a great feeling any time you do that, especially at home. We're one game away from a Stanley Cup berth. It was a huge goal and it felt unbelievable.

— Anaheim forward Matt Beleskey on scoring the overtime winner Monday to give the Ducks a 3-2 series lead against the Blackhawks