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Kane proves to be quite able for NHL

by Phil Coffey

Blackhawks' rookie forward Patrick Kane
has lit up the scoreboard this season to the tune of thirteen points in ten games.

When is a scoop not really a scoop? When it’s Chicago Blackhawks General Manage Dale Tallon telling you Patrick Kane isn’t going back to the junior ranks prior to his 10th game of the season.

Tallon did just that to Tim Sassone of the Arlington Heights Daily Herald this week. But is it really surprising? Not in the least. Kane, the top selection in June’s Entry Draft, has looked right at home in the NHL, combining with fellow rookie Jonathan Toews to generate plenty of buzz around the Blackhawks.

Through nine games, Kane leads the Hawks offensively with three goals and 10 assists. Not too shabby.

“He’s been our best player,” Hawks coach Denis Savard said, noting the rookie’s four-point performance (two goals, two assists) in a loss to the Blue Jackets on Tuesday.

Tallon takes the praise a step further.

“He’s just been brilliant,” Tallon said. “He plays like he’s been in the league 10 years. Wait until he grows up and is 185 pounds.”

As far as a self-assessment, Kane already is a typical hockey player - never satisfied.

“I guess I’m still looking for that complete game,” Kane said, apparently not content with his four-point effort against the Blue Jackets.

“These kids (Kane and Toews), they always feel there’s more to give,” Savard told Sassone. “Guys got to look up to them. From the drop of the puck they’re right in it. They’re just relentless.”

Gagner gets the word in Edmonton -- Like Pat Kane in Chicago, it wasn’t much of a surprise to hear Sam Gagner was going to be with the Edmonton Oilers past the 10-game deadline.

With a goal and six assists in his first eight games, Gagner hasn’t been as proficient offensively as Kane, but he has been equally impressive.

“That was one of the greatest feelings I ever had,” Gagner said of getting the word from coach Craig MacTavish that he would be hanging around. “This is where I want to be.”

And, as reported by Joanne Ireland in the Edmonton Journal, Gagner will be staying put at the former home of Oilers captain Ethan Moreau.

Gagner, Andrew Cogliano and Tom Gilbert moved into the house Moreau had on the market. The Oilers captain, now settled in a new home, had the trio over for dinner and then handed over the keys.

“That’s one of the reasons he’s captain,” Gagner told Ireland. “It’s unbelievable that he would do that for us.”

“He’s gaining confidence in all of this,” MacTavish said. “He wants more and more responsibility. There haven’t been too many 18-year-olds who have had offensive success at this level. Sidney Crosby wasn’t all that prolific as an 18-year-old. Joe Thornton struggled for a few years ... it’s pretty impressive what he’s been able to do. He’s been very consistent.”

“It’s a hard league to play in as a young guy and he hasn’t shown any signs of fatigue or wear,” teammate Marty Reasoner said. “He may not be quite as strong as some of the guys, but he’s smart. He’s got great hockey sense.”

You say goodbye and I say hello -- Mixed emotions here at today as we bid a fond farewell to Evan Grossman, who is moving up a floor here at the NHL’s Manhattan offices. Evan will be joining NHL Productions and working as the writer on their many film and video projects.’s loss is NHL Productions’ gain, to be sure. In his time at, Evan was a terrific asset to the Web site as all its loyal readers know. No project was too big or too small and he greatly enhanced what we’re doing here at

Thanks for the great work, Evan. You will be missed, but we promise to torment you at every opportunity.

We’re also very happy to welcome two more voices to the family. Both Adam Kimelman and Dan Rosen have had their stories posted on since they came aboard as full-time members of the editorial staff. Trust me, you will see much, much more from them in the days ahead. Welcome aboard guys!

Hurricanes are back --So far, so good for the Carolina Hurricanes, who appear to have shaken off the doldrums of last season to re-emerge as a force in the Eastern Conference.

Luke DeCock, the Hurricanes’ beat writer for the Raleigh News and Observer, had an interesting note the other day. During their Stanley Cup season of 2005-06, the ‘Canes got off to a 12-2-1 start and was 7-2-1 after 10 games. Through 10 games this season, Carolina is 6-1-3. That’s 15 out of a possible 20 points, officially a good start for the Hurricanes.

“I think what you’re seeing is the same kind of play that we had (in 2005-06),” Hurricanes captain Rod Brind’Amour said. “We’re pretty confident in what we’re doing and the guys we have out there. That’s starting to show. We expect to win. It’s a real good feeling that every time out there we’re supposed to win. It’s not surprising that we’re winning. It’s what we expect.”

“It’s just been a neat feeling in this dressing room again,” defenseman Bret Hedican said. “It starts in the summer. Every guy was committed and you could see it in the preseason. You could feel that energy in the locker room and you could feel that chemistry here — getting Matt Cullen back, with that friendly face of his. ... We’ve got that feeling back.”

The value of friendship -- Michael Peca always seems to find an important role with a team, namely that of a leader. Tom Reed of the Columbus Dispatch shed some light on what makes Peca a special teammate in a terrific story this week.

Peca and Jason Blake were teammates with the New York Islanders and remain close friends. So when Blake announced he was battling cancer a couple weeks back, it was no surprise that Peca was there for him.

Maple Leafs' forward Michael Peca has given
teammate Jason Blake his full support while his battle against cancer continues.

Blake said Peca was one of the first people he told about the diagnosis, on Oct. 5. His current teammates did not learn of it for three days. Blake said Peca taught him how to positively channel his energies during their time with the Islanders.

“I hope the people in Columbus know what they have with him,” Blake said. “Ninety-five percent of the people in the world don’t have the leadership skills of a Michael Peca. Those young guys in Columbus should know they can talk to Michael about anything.”

“Jason is someone who has endured through so much stuff, even non-medical things,” Peca said. “Like battling to play in a big man’s game when you are 5-foot-9. I’ve told him not to use (the disease) as a crutch and to think of the pill as a multi-vitamin. He’s good at focusing on what’s in front of him.”

For his part, Peca was a man without a team for most of the off-season, a free agent after an injury-plagued season in Toronto. Signed by the Blue Jackets, Peca missed most of the preseason with injuries, but lately has been the team’s No. 1 center.

“(Peca) had to work so hard just to get back to where he is,” Blake said. “But that’s who he is, a leader by example. He’s a team captain regardless of whether he’s wearing the ‘C.’ OK, I’m going to stop talking about this other guy now.”

Milestones for Jokinen -- A tip of the cap is due to the Florida Panthers’ highly underrated Olli Jokinen for becoming the team’s all-time leader in goals and points. Jokinen scored two goals in a 4-3 win against the Philadelphia Flyers on Wednesday.

Jokinen’s first goal moved him into sole possession of the franchise record for points (355). The second goal moved him atop the franchise goal-scoring mark at 158. He passed Scott Mellanby on both marks.

“It’s nice,” said Jokinen, of the records. “I’ve been lucky enough to play with good linemates. But the main thing is to keep getting wins. The points, the goals … they don’t matter if we don’t make the playoffs.”

Accentuate the positive -- At some point, GM David Poile knows he will have to make some moves if the Nashville Predators continue to struggle. But for the time being, Poile is showing confidence in the team he has assembled.

“If I look at it from quick analysis I see that every one of our players can and should be playing better than they are,” Poile said. “If I am looking at it negatively, we need to make changes.

“Right now I choose to look at it from a positive standpoint and say we have growing pains. We don’t have our total game together. Players need to bear down harder and focus harder and take advantage of opportunities given to them.”

Redden, Meszaros impress -- At 8-1-0, Ottawa Senators coach John Paddock doesn’t have too many problems on the radar screen. And even some potential problem areas are working out just fine thus far.

Paddock told reporters this week that defensemen Wade Redden and Andrej Meszaros are showing well after struggling at times last season.

“We would have needed two horseshoes to have two guys who eat up a third of your (ice time) who weren’t going to play to their level (to have success),” said Paddock. “That shows a big part of the reason of the success we had is because those two have played pretty well.”

Sharks do a little curling -- I will admit to not knowing the nuances of curling to the extent of my Canadian friends, but the sport fascinates me. At the two Winter Olympics I have covered, I admit to sneaking looks at the curling competition every chance I got. Why do I bring this up? Well, because the San Jose Sharks did some curling this week during a team-building trip to Banff, the beautiful resort city in Alberta.

“Maybe this will start a bit of a trend,” Bryan Armstrong, club manager at the Banff Recreation Centre, where the Sharks held their curling tournament Tuesday, told David Pollak of the San Jose Mercury News. “They’re athletes so they’ll do well. But I think some find it confusing.”

For those of you unfamiliar with curling, here is Pollak’s summary: Players release a rounded, granite stone that weighs about 40 pounds and their teammates use brooms to sweep the ice and guide the stone to its destination on a target.

“My dad was a curler and I used to watch,” Sharks assistant coach Tim Hunter said. “They had the old brooms, where the end came off. They were hollow and some of the guys would drink a shot out of it.”

Defenseman Kyle McLaren described curling as “team bonding to the finest. You can take this as serious as you want or as light as you want.”

“The guys are pretty competitive all the time, whether they’re playing poker on the plane or soccer before the game to warm up,” Hunter said. “You want competitive athletes and that’s what we’re trying to get into our group, being more competitive, especially in the trenches during games.”

“This is my first time ever,” Jeremy Roenick confessed. “Americans aren’t very good curlers.”

Material from personal interviews, wire services, newspaper, and league and team sources was used in this report.


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