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Can't get much better than Brunnstrom's debut

by Phil Coffey
Well it seems like there was plenty of substance surrounding the hype about Fabian Brunnstrom, eh?

Of course we will have to wait and see how the remainder of the season plays out, but netting a hat trick in your first NHL game is pretty high on the list of making a positive first impression.

Brunnstrom dressed for his first NHL game Wednesday night for the Dallas Stars against the Nashville Predators and scored three times in a 6-4 win. He is just the third player in NHL history to score a hat trick in his NHL debut, joining Alex Smart (1943, Montreal) and Real Cloutier (1979, Quebec).

"It made it that much better to win the game," said Brunnstrom, who skated on a line with Brad Richards and Sean Avery. "I had some really nice passes and I just tried to be in front of the net. This has been my goal since I was little, to play in the NHL, and this is just a dream come true."

"The process is going well. He played a solid game," Stars coach Dave Tippett said. "The goals are easy to see, but I was very impressed with the way that he played a pretty simple, error-free game, did what he was supposed to do and he capitalized on some chances. It's a great start for him. Again, it's not just the goals; it's the other things that he's doing out there that make you feel good about where he's come from. He's a good player and he's going to continue to improve."

Of course after such a startling first impression, Brunnstrom realizes he is going to be hard pressed for an encore.

"It's going to be tough to live up to this every night," he said. "I have to keep going to the net and working hard and doing everything I can to help this team win."

For an in-depth look at Brunnstrom, check out Larry Wigge's story in the October issue of IMPACT!

Condolences -- In the coming days and weeks, there will no doubt be a number of stories hitting the Web passing out blame for the death of Alexei Cherepanov.

Was there an ambulance available? What about other medical aid? Already we have read stories out of Russia with politicians and government types pointing fingers.

In all the hub-bub, let's keep in mind that a 19-year-old kid has died at all too young an age and his family and friends are grieving. Our sincerest condolences go out to them at this awful time.

Bill Meltzer has a complete look at a life that ended too quickly. You can read it here.

Well Said I -- "What 400 victories mean to me is that I've been able to be around a lot of good players and a lot of good teams. We've been blessed to be able to put winning teams together almost every year and, really, I don't put a big significance on it. It's a milestone in one sense but, really, it's just great to win another hockey game which, to me, is the most important factor." -- Sabres coach to's Mike Morreale on winning 400 games as an NHL coach.

You can read the full story here.

Statuesque -- Chances are, no one will ever build a statue of yours truly, so I will live vicariously through Hockey Hall of Famers Alex Delvecchio and Ted Lindsay, who now have a statuesque presence inside Joe Louis Arena. They follow Gordie Howe in receiving this special honor from the Wings.

"I haven't slept in the last week, just thinking about this," Delvecchio told's John McGourty on the eve of the statue unveiling. "It's a great honor, especially with Gordie having his statue and Ted going up in a couple of nights. The Ilitches are great people for doing this, great for the NHL."

When McGourty got off the phone with Lindsay the other day, he was laughing about the conversation. What was so funny?

"Ted just gets it," McGourty laughed. "Listen to his quote on having a statue of him at 'The Joe."

"I often think of the times that I've visited different cities and walked down major boulevards or through the public parks and see the statues of famous people who discovered this or that, or the pioneers in the founding of the country and ... the birds crap all over them. I'm glad my statue will be indoors. Hopefully, there're no birds in Joe Louis Arena."

Heck, I'd give him a statue just for that line, but that's just me. I think another quote from the story pretty much sums up the real reason why Lindsay, Delvecchio and Howe are immortalized at the arena.
"It's a great honor, especially with Gordie having his statue and Ted going up in a couple of nights. The Ilitches are great people for doing this, great for the NHL." -- Alex Delvecchio

"We had great teams and we had great chemistry," Lindsay said. "Everybody was for everybody. If a goal was scored against us, it wasn't the right winger's fault, it wasn't the defense's fault, it wasn't the goalie's fault. It was OUR fault, all six guys on the ice."

In Montreal, the Canadiens also are heavily involved in honoring past greats in this, their 100th season.

Wednesday night they unveiled a ring of honor at the Bell Centre, saluting their great players, 44 in all. That's no easy feat when you're talking about the Canadiens, whose list of tremendous players would resemble a phone book.

Players on the ring include Howie Morenz, Georges Vezina, Aurel Joliat, Newsy Lalonde, Joe Malone, Sprague Cleghorn, Herb Gardiner, Sylvio Mantha, Maurice Richard, Joe Hall, George Hainsworth, Jack Laviolette, Didier Pitre, Albert Siebert, Bill Durnan, Ken Reardon, Toe Blake, Tom Johnson, Bernard Geoffrion, Doug Harvey, Jacques Plante, Lorne Worsley, Frank Mahovlich, Ken Dryden, Jacques Lemaire, Bert Olmstead, Serge Savard, Jacques Laperriere, Buddy O'Connor and Patrick Roy, who will have his No. 33 retired by the team Nov. 22.

"You can tell it's going to be special this year and I feel really fortunate. This is something no other team could ever say. There's so much history. That's the type of thing that, when you retire, you'll think about and say 'I was part of that.' That's unreal." -- Georges Laraque

Dick Duff, Larry Robinson, Steve Shutt, Guy Lapointe, Jean Beliveau, Dickie Moore, Henri Richard, Yvan Cournoyer, Guy Lafleur and General Manager Bob Gainey were on hand for the pre-game festivities prior to the home opener. Emile Bouchard, 88, and 90-year-old Elmer Lach -- the two oldest surviving Canadiens -- dropped the puck for the ceremonial faceoff as the team began the home portion of its centennial season.

Georges Laraque, a Montreal native, is in his first season with the Canadiens and was in the lineup for Wednesday's game.

"It was unbelievable," he said. "You can tell it's going to be special this year and I feel really fortunate. This is something no other team could ever say. There's so much history. That's the type of thing that, when you retire, you'll think about and say 'I was part of that.' That's unreal."

Well Said II --"It's almost an unreal feeling.  It's tough to put into words." -- St. Louis Blues rookie Alex Pietrangelo on his NHL debut.

You can check out Dan Rosen's profile of Pietrangelo here.

Working for a living: The cover story in the October issue of IMPACT!,'s online magazine talks about Sidney Crosby and all the work he does off the ice to better market and promote the sport.

There is no disputing the points made in Adam Kimelman's story, but truth be told, Crosby is far from alone in getting the word on the game out. In early September, a score of NHL players came to New York City to achieve a number of promotional and marketing initiatives for the NHL. was included in the process and you have read or will read plenty from Crosby, Rick Nash, Dion Phaneuf, Henrik Lundqvist, Patrick Kane, Ryan Miller, Jonathan Toews, Rick DiPietro, Vinny Lecavalier, Marty Brodeur, Anze Kopitar, Eric, Jordan and Marc Staal.

That's a really good group of guys, and we're not factoring in hockey talent here. They really care about the future of the sport.

Not the diplomatic type: Smart, honest and blunt are three attributes that make up Bobby Holik, the veteran center of the New Jersey Devils.

And in his mind, the honest and blunt part didn't make him a very good captain last season in Atlanta.

"I guess I'm just too blunt about some things or too honest," Holik told Tom Gulitti of The Bergen Record. "You would think it would be a strength or a good thing about a captain, but not the way I am, I guess, at times. At least, I don't think it worked out that well there. But forget that, it was a great honor to be named captain of an NHL team and I valued it pretty highly.

"It was a tremendous honor because my personality doesn't necessarily fit to that position," Holik said. "It didn't change me. It definitely was an honor to be named captain. It's an NHL team and it was a tremendous honor and something that I valued very highly as far as my career goes. But, as the season went on, I realized I'm not captain material, because sometimes you have to be more politically correct than not or get along with people or not be too honest because the captain has to kind of keep the peace.

"I am who I am," he said. "I am what I am and sometimes when you have the 'C' to be who you are or what you are is not always the (best way). That's my experience. I always felt being honest to yourself and to your teammates is the right thing. Plus, it's a different NHL and a different time than when I learned from the captains I had like, Scotty (Stevens)."

End Quote: "I felt I had the team going on the right track. (Wednesday) night was a big win. I know that every game we played we got better. We could have won in New York and we could have won against Nashville, but that's the nature of the business, I suppose. It's not about Denis Savard. When you work with a team and played for it … I want them to do well." -- Denis Savard to the Chicago Tribune after being fired Thursday as head coach of the Hawks

Read Dan Rosen's complete story here.

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