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2014 NHL Draft
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Sunday Long Read: '94 deadline completed Rangers

Sunday, 03.02.2014 / 3:00 AM / Sunday Long Read

John Kreiser - NHL.com Columnist

Neil Smith was sure of two things when he began his day on March 21, 1994: His New York Rangers were atop the NHL standings, and they weren't good enough to win the Stanley Cup.

There was a third thing: With the NHL Trade Deadline hours away, he had work to do.

The fifth-year general manager arrived in the summer of 1989, a couple of months after New York was swept out of the first round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs by the Pittsburgh Penguins, extending the Rangers' drought to 49 years.

Smith cut his hockey teeth about 30 miles away from Madison Square Garden with the New York Islanders during their run of four consecutive Stanley Cup championships from 1980-83. The last three of those, as well as the trip to the 1984 Stanley Cup Final, included playoff victories against the Rangers, with the fans on Long Island chanting "19-40!," reminding their big-city rivals of the last time they had won the Cup.


Riley coaching legacy still strong at West Point

Sunday, 03.02.2014 / 3:00 AM / Hockey Weekend Across America

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

The history of college hockey is replete with lengthy tenures by some of the game's great coaches. But for more than 60 years, one family has led the hockey program at the United States Military Academy at West Point. It's a lineage that has outlasted almost every other in the world of sports.

"We feel we have a great deal to offer a young man both on and off the ice. It's more about the opportunities than the challenges. That's what we try to focus on, the opportunities," Army coach Brian Riley said. "They're set up for success once they make that decision to come to West Point."

After serving 14 years in two stints as an associate and assistant coach, Brian Riley took over the Army program in 2004 from his older brother Rob, who led the Black Knights to 257 victories in 19 seasons at West Point. That's an impressive total for any coach at one program, but for Rob Riley, it's not even the most wins by a member of his own family.

That's because when the eldest Riley sibling took over the Army program in 1986, he succeeded his legendary father, Jack, whose 542 victories at West Point still rank 15th in college hockey history. Jack and Rob Riley are the winningest father/son pair in college hockey.

"Now that I can sit back and reflect, you do kind of say wow," Rob Riley said. "When you're in the middle of it, you don't even have time to realize it. There aren't that many guys who are at one place for 20 years. Then Brian comes in and adds more to that. It's something we're all very proud of."


Sled hockey rejuvenates U.S. coach Sauer

Sunday, 03.02.2014 / 3:00 AM / Hockey Weekend Across America

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

Jeff Sauer served as a college coach for over three decades, won two national championships and ended his career near the top of college hockey's all-time wins list.

He thought he'd seen it all as a mentor behind the bench until he received a call from USA Hockey three years ago asking him to consider coming out of retirement to coach the U.S. National Sled Hockey Team.

"I kind of hesitated a little bit because I didn't know the players, didn't know what it was all about," Sauer told NHL.com. "But I'll tell you what. I was on the ice for 10 minutes and was hooked. The skill level is incredible and I'm in awe of what some of these guys can do.

"It just rejuvenated me as a coach."


Blackhawks overcome snow to beat Penguins

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO -- The snow never relented, swirling at times and blowing sideways at others.

It accumulated on the rink inside Soldier Field during the Chicago Blackhawks' 5-1 victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins in the final game of the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series, creating quite a challenge for both teams -- as well for as the hard-working snow-removal crews.

The conditions begged for a simpler style of hockey and the Blackhawks played that way to near perfection. They even credited their back-to-basics strategy for some of the prettiest goals you'll ever see.


Blackhawks' Hossa sidelined with upper-body injury

Brian Hedger - NHL.com Correspondent

CHICAGO -- First-line right wing Marian Hossa sustained an upper-body injury in the first period of the Chicago Blackhawks' 5-1 victory against the Pittsburgh Penguins on Saturday night at Soldier Field in the final game of the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series.

Hossa, 35, was hit hard by Penguins forward Craig Adams while playing the puck behind the Pittsburgh net with 6:48 remaining in the first period. He skated slowly to the bench and remained there for the rest of the period before leaving the ice for the final time at the first intermission.

"Hossa might miss some time," Blackhawks coach Joel Quenneville said. "We'll get a better idea, probably more, on Monday, [a] pretty good idea, but we'll know more in a couple of days. But not long-term."


Toews outdoes Crosby in first regular-season game

Mike G. Morreale - NHL.com Staff Writer

CHICAGO -- It wasn't the performance Sidney Crosby envisioned against good friend Jonathan Toews in the 2014 Coors Light NHL Stadium Series between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Chicago Blackhawks.

The first head-to-head matchup between two of hockey's top centers in a regular-season NHL game took place Saturday night in snow-globe conditions before 62,921 at Soldier Field, but it never materialized into the one-on-one battle many had anticipated.

Toews proved to be the dominant force with his first multiple-point game in almost a month to lead the Blackhawks to a 5-1 victory. He had two goals and an assist, tying outdoor records for goals and points in a game.

Crosby, who was 47 percent on faceoffs, finished with a minus-2 rating and three shots on goal in 22:02 of ice time.


Heritage Notebook: Turris returns to BC Place


VANCOUVER -- The last time Ottawa Senators center Kyle Turris was on the field at BC Place, he was wearing cleats instead of skates and trying to pass a football instead of shoot a puck.

Turris was a quarterback at St. Thomas More Collegiate, a Catholic high school in suburban Vancouver, and played in the annual British Columbia high school football provincial championships, which are held at BC Place.

He'll be trying to score goals instead of touchdowns there Sunday when he takes the ice for the Senators against the Vancouver Canucks in the 2014 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic (4 p.m. ET; NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

"I played in one in Grade 8 and watched my buddies play in Grades 9, 10, 11, 12," Turris said Saturday. "Football was fun but in Grade 8 I was 4-foot-11 and couldn't see over my [offensive] line, so I was just throwing it up in the air and praying that somebody would catch it."


Fans reminded to arrive early for Heritage Classic


VANCOUVER - With snowfall expected overnight in Metro Vancouver, the National Hockey League would like to remind fans attending Sunday's 2014 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic™ game at BC Place about possible traffic delays and weather precautions on game day.

Start time is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. PT on Sunday. Fans are encouraged to arrive early to account for any inclement weather, avoid anticipated last minute crowds at the gates and to enjoy pregame festivities inside and outside the stadium. Parking lots around BC Place will open at 9:30 a.m. PT and gates to BC Place will open at 11:00 a.m. PT.

The 2014 Canadian Tire NHL Spectator Plaza, a free outdoor hockey and entertainment festival for fans of all ages, opens to the public at 9:00 a.m. on game day. It is located across the street from BC Place at the Plaza of Nations.


Outdoor game a new experience for Phillips

Tal Pinchevsky - NHL.com Staff Writer

VANCOUVER -- In his 16th season with the Ottawa Senators, defenseman Chris Phillips thought he had seen it all.

With two silver medals at the IIHF World Hockey Championship and two gold medals at the IIHF World Junior Hockey Championship (not to mention an appearance in the 2007 Stanley Cup Final), the stay-at-home defenseman has been a picture of consistency for the Senators, who drafted him first at the 1996 NHL Draft.

But with his appearance Sunday in the 2014 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic against the Vancouver Canucks at BC Place (4 p.m. ET, CBC, RDS, NBCSN), Phillips is learning that even a franchise fixture can sometimes enjoy new experiences.

"It's very cool. I've been with this team for a long time now, but never in an outdoor game or something of this magnitude," Phillips said after Ottawa practiced at the stadium. "It's fun to have the opportunity to do that. I'm looking forward to it."


Canucks, Senators need a win at Heritage Classic

Adam Kimelman - NHL.com Deputy Managing Editor

VANCOUVER -- Players and coaches from the Vancouver Canucks and Ottawa Senators were unanimous in their enjoyment of their day on the ice at BC Place.

The day featured about an hour-long practice for each team followed by an hour or so of time on the ice with family and friends. But they also were unanimous in knowing that the fun they had Saturday will turn into an important game Sunday when they hit the ice for the 2014 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic (4 p.m. ET, NBCSN, CBC, RDS).

"It's a crucial stage for us in the season," Canucks goalie Eddie Lack said. "As much as it's fun out there we really need to focus on getting the two points. That's going to be the most important thing."

The Canucks enter Sunday with 66 points, the same as the Winnipeg Jets and Dallas Stars; Dallas owns the second and final wild-card spot in the Western Conference because it has played two fewer games than the other teams.

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Quote of the Day

With this being the last year [at the Coliseum], we'd love to try to get back to the dance like we did against Pittsburgh and prove ourselves and go even further. It's an important year.

— New York Islanders coach Jack Capuano