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Tocchet returns to Philly in new role

by Mike G. Morreale
Rick Tocchet spent 11 memorable seasons playing for the Flyers. On Tuesday, he'll return to Philadelphia in a new role, interim head coach of the Tampa Bay Lightning.

Tocchet is 1-3-3 since taking over for Barry Melrose on Nov. 14. The club, 0-3-1 in its last four, is 29th in the League with 19 points. Tocchet, originally drafted by Philadelphia in the sixth round (No. 125) in 1983, began his career with the Flyers in 1984-85 before retiring midway through the 2001-02 season, while also with Philadelphia. In his first season with the Flyers, he posted 14 goals, 39 points and 181 penalty minutes.

Tocchet's best season in Philadelphia was in 1989-90 when he scored 37 goals, 96 points and 196 penalty minutes in 75 games.

In addition to Tocchet's return to Philadelphia, there are other reasons to get excited about the upcoming week. Here's a closer look.

An historic first
- Monday marks the anniversary of the first NHL regular-season game played in the United States at the Boston Arena in Massachusetts in 1924.

The game, which featured two expansion clubs at the time - the Bruins and the Montreal Maroons - was won by the Bruins. The Bruins then proceeded to lose their next 11 games en route to a 6-24-0 record behind manager Art Ross.

Despite winning just six games, the Bruins certainly won over the hearts of not only Bostonians, but America. It wasn't soon after applications began pouring in from other U.S.-based cities seeking entry into the League.

The Boston Arena is now called Matthews Arena at Northeastern University. It wasn't until Nov. 20, 1928, that the Bruins played their first game in the famed Boston Garden.

Back in San Jose - Head coach Ron Wilson returns to San Jose Tuesday as the coach of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Wilson coached the Sharks for parts of five seasons before being named the 27th head coach in Toronto's history on June 10.

Under Wilson's guidance, the Sharks were the only NHL team to have won at least one playoff round in each of the past four years. In his four full seasons behind the San Jose bench, the team advanced to the Western Conference Finals for the first time in 2004 and the conference semifinals in '06, '07 and '08.

Through 23 games behind the bench in Toronto this season, Wilson's club is 10th in the Eastern Conference with 22 points (8-9-6). The Leafs have won one of their last six games and finished with just three victories (3-6-3) in the month of November.

Larmer to be honored - The Blackhawks will honor former player Steve Larmer with a Heritage Night Wednesday when they host the Anaheim Ducks.

Larmer played for the Blackhawks and New York Rangers. He won the 1983 Calder Trophy after scoring 43 goals and 90 points in 80 games with Chicago. From 1982–1993, Larmer played in 884 straight games for the Blackhawks, an NHL record for most consecutive games played with the same team. His best season was 1990-91 when he posted 44 goals and 101 points in 80 games.

Return to L.A. - Defenseman Lubomir Visnovsky, who was a fourth-round choice of the Los Angeles Kings in the 2000 Entry Draft and was traded to the Edmonton Oilers on June 30, returns to Staples Center Friday.

Visnovsky spent seven seasons in Los Angeles spanning 499 games and finished fourth on the club's all-time list in goals (70), assists (209) and points (279) by a Kings defenseman.

Visnovsky is the only defenseman to ever lead the Kings in scoring after recording a career-high 67 points (17 goals, 50 assists) in 2005-06. His 67 points represented the fourth-highest single-season total ever produced by a Kings defenseman and his 50 assists led the team and established a new career-high. That same season, Visnovsky was the only defenseman in the NHL to lead his team in scoring.

He's currently fourth on the team with 12 points, including four goals, in 22 games for Edmonton. He is also tied with fellow defenseman Steve Staios with a team-leading 44 blocked shots and is second only to Sheldon Souray in total ice time (23:54) each game while working on the power-play and penalty-killing units.

Saturday showdown - Of the 12 games scheduled Saturday, one sticks out like a sore thumb - Blackhawks and Red Wings at The Joe. It's the only divisional matchup on the docket.

In the only other meeting between the teams on Oct. 25, Marian Hossa scored the decisive goal in a shootout to lead Detroit to a 6-5 victory at the United Center. Hossa's goal came off a no-nonsense slap shot from between the circles past Chicago goalie Nikolai Khabibulin. The Red Wings are 353-254-84-7 all-time against Chicago, including 212-100-33-2 at Joe Louis Arena in Detroit.

The defending Stanley Cup champion Wings sit first atop the Central Division standings with 34 points (15-4-4) and the Blackhawks are second with 26 (10-6-6).

Air time - Don't forget, the NHL Hour With Commissioner Gary Bettman and co-host Bill Clement airs every Thursday from 4-5 p.m. ET throughout the season on NHL Home Ice (XM Channel 204 and Sirius Channel 208).

The show encourages fans to submit questions via phone and email. To submit questions to NHL Hour call 1-877-645-6696 or email

Contact Mike Morreale at

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