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    Ovechkin sees his effect on Washington
    September 7, 2017



    SPRINGFIELD, Va. (AP) Even though Alex Ovechkin doesn't want to talk about the upcoming season just yet, he got a chance Thursday to survey evidence of his 12 seasons with the Washington Capitals.


    Another pair of NHL-sized rinks is set to go up in the suburbs next year, a testament to the so-called Ovechkin effect on the growth of hockey in the area.


    ''I don't think it's an `Ovechkin effect,''' Ovechkin said. ''But it is nice to be part of it. It's nice to be involved. And it's nice to see how fast it grows. It's just an unbelievable feeling when you see the place gets crazy. It's amazing.''


    Ovechkin talked in front of a construction site for The St. James, a planned sports complex that will focus on hockey and other athletic opportunities for children. Hockey has taken hold significantly in the D.C. area since Ovechkin arrived as a precocious teenager in 2005 who barely spoke English.


    ''It was very interesting for me when I just came here from Russia to find a new world, a new place,'' Ovechkin said. ''It was kind of hard decision for me and my family to come to D.C. because I was 19 years old. It was a different world for me. Different culture, different people, different atmosphere. But as soon as I get in here I start to feel like everybody love me, everybody can't wait to see me on the ice.''


    The Capitals have yet to make it past the second round of the Stanley Cup playoffs during Ovechkin's tenure, but that love affair hasn't wavered. The popularity of the sport continues to rise locally even as Washington enters an uncertain period of Ovechkin's career.


    Ovechkin turns 32 on Sept. 17 and has four years left on his 13-year contract. With training camp starting next week, there aren't many chances left at that elusive Cup.


    These days Ovechkin talks about the past as much as he does the future.


    ''As soon as I step on the ice, I always knew we we're going to have a good team, we're going to have a great organization and the fans are going to come and we're going to have a hockey town,'' Ovechkin said. ''It was a huge honor for me to be a part of it and you can see where the organization's grown up. I hope this building is gonna be growing up the same like when I came here. It's going to be famous and it's going to be huge.''


    ---------------------------------


    Canucks sign forward Bo Horvat to 6-year extension
    September 8, 2017



    VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) The Vancouver Canucks signed restricted free-agent center Bo Horvat to a $33 million, six-year contract extension Friday.


    The 22-year-old Horvat had 20 goals and 32 assists in 81 games last season for the Canucks.


    ''Bo has quickly become a foundational player on our team and we're thrilled for him to be a part of what we're building here long term,'' Canucks general manager Jim Benning said in a team release. ''His commitment and work ethic have helped his game improve each season. He's already a leader on our team and a young player fans can be excited to watch for years to come.''


    Horvat has 49 goals and 68 assists in 231 career games in three seasons with Vancouver.


    The Canucks open training camp Tuesday at Rogers Arena.


    ---------------------------------


    Flyers G Stolarz (knee) out indefinitely
    September 8, 2017



    Philadelphia Flyers goaltender Anthony Stolarz underwent surgery on his left knee to repair a meniscus tear on Thursday and will be out indefinitely.


    Stolarz spent the summer rehabbing at the Flyers' practice facility after being injured at the end of the American Hockey League season with Lehigh Valley.


    Selected by the Flyers in the second round in 2012, Stolarz recently completed his third pro season with the organization.


    Stolarz made his NHL debut last season, stopping 29 of 32 shots in a 5-3 victory over the Calgary in November. He appeared in seven total games for the Flyers in 2016-17, going 2-1-1 with a 2.07 goals-against average and .928 save percentage.


    In the AHL last season, Stolarz went 18-9-0 record with a 2.92 GAA and .911 save percentage.


    -------------------------------------


    Devils sign defenseman Severson to 6-year, $25M contract
    September 11, 2017



    NEWARK, N.J. (AP) Being an unrestricted free agent without arbitration rights, defenseman Damon Severson was hoping to get contract from the New Jersey Devils that would carry him over for a couple of years.


    The Devils instead gave the 23-year-old Severson a vote of confidence, signing him to a six-year, $25 million contract that will keep him with the team through the 2022-23 season.


    ''Damon brings an important dimension to our hockey club and he is a young defenseman that we are excited to work with,'' general manager Ray Shero said Monday in announcing the deal that gets Severson signed in time for the opening of training camp this week. ''This deal shows our ownership's commitment in what we continue to build here.''


    Severson will earn $2.5 million this season and his salary will escalate to $5.1 million in the final year of the contract. He set career highs with 28 assists and 31 points in 80 regular-season games last season, leading all New Jersey defensemen in assists and points.


    It is expected that Severson will get a chance to pair with Andy Greene on the Devils' top defensive unit.


    Severson had hoped that the contract would be settled before the start of training camp, but this was pushing it.


    ''I just didn't want to be the type of guy that missed training camp or took some time skating away from the team,'' he said in a conference call. ''I wanted to be here with the guys in camp preparing the same way as everybody else.''


    Severson said he was open to signing a contract to bridge a couple of years or getting a long-term one.


    ''With the long-term deal I am happy to be here,'' Severson said. ''I am comfortable now and I guess just forward to what is to come here with all the moves we made in the offseason. I am very happy to get it done. Long term in New Jersey was what the main goal was.''


    The Devils have not made the playoffs since going to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2012. They drafted Nico Hischier with the first pick overall in the NHL draft in June, signed veteran free-agent center Brian Boyle and defenseman and Hobey Baker Award winner Will Butcher, and acquired left wing Marcus Johansson from the Capitals.


    ''You can tell we want to turn the page here and get this going in the right direction,'' Severson said.


    ------------------------------------


    NHL Note - St. Louis Blues Lindbohm, Petteri
    September 13, 2017





    D Petteri Lindbohm signed a one-year, two-way contract, the St. Louis Blues announced Tuesday. Lindbohm did not record a point in seven games with the Blues last season. The 23-year-old Finland native collected eight goals and as many assists to go along with 54 penalty minutes in 52 games in 2016-17 with Chicago of the American Hockey League. Lindbohm has posted two goals, an assist and 37 penalty minutes in 40 career NHL contests since being selected by St. Louis in the sixth round of the 2012 draft.


    --------------------------------------


    Fiddler announces retirement after 14 NHL seasons
    September 13, 2017

    Forward Vernon Fiddler announced his retirement from the NHL following a 14-season career with four different teams.


    The 37-year-old Fiddler's announcement was made in The Players' Tribune on Wednesday, approximately three months after his Nashville Predators fell to the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Finals.


    "The Cup run that that followed was the perfect way to finish my career," Fiddler wrote Wednesday. "Even though we didn't quite get the job done, it was an amazing few months. And to be honest, it was just icing on the cake -- my whole career was."


    Fiddler was acquired by Nashville from the New Jersey Devils in February last season for a fourth-round pick in the 2017 draft. He scored just one goal in 20 games with Predators.


    Fiddler, who made his NHL debut with Nashville in 2002, collected 104 goals 157 assists and 558 penalty minutes in 877 career contests with the then-Phoenix Coyotes, Dallas Stars, Devils and Predators.


    ------------------------------------------


    Duchene situation hovers over Avalanche
    September 13, 2017



    Even with two years left on his contract with the Colorado Avalanche, Matt Duchene's situation is anything but simple.


    With his name in trade talks at the deadline and then again at the draft, Duchene went about his business playing for by far the NHL's worst team. But after another offseason of general manager Joe Sakic not making a move, Duchene is unhappy in limbo and now training camp has arrived.


    Unlike the NFL, where holdouts are commonplace, it's unprecedented in the NHL's salary-cap era for a player under contract not to report to camp, and Sakic has said he expects Duchene to be there. But it's probably the strongest leverage the $6 million center has to effect change as interest swirls from teams like the Carolina Hurricanes, Nashville Predators, Columbus Blue Jackets and two-time Stanley Cup champion Pittsburgh Penguins.


    ''I'm not the GM, so whoever Joe and the staff decide to put on the team, I know it's going to be for the best and it's going to make us better,'' Avalanche forward Nathan MacKinnon said last week. ''With Duchy, I'm not sure what the situation is exactly. I know there's trade rumors and things like that, but he's not traded as of today and he's my teammate, so getting ready for him to be on the team this season.''


    Duchene being in Colorado's opening night lineup Oct. 5 at the New York Rangers is far from any kind of certainty. The Avalanche are in rebuilding mode after their 48 points were 21 fewer than the next-lowest team, and at age 26 Duchene is their best trade chip in the hopes of landing a young defenseman.


    Here are some more things to watch as training camps open around the NHL:


    TAVARES WATCH



    If the New York Islanders don't sign captain John Tavares by July 1, he can be an unrestricted free agent. That's a terrifying thought for the Islanders. His situation will be a never-ending story line made complicated by the Islanders' unsettled arrangement at Barclays Center in Brooklyn. The smart money is on Tavares trying to shove contract distractions aside in camp but wait to sign a big-money, eight-year contract later.


    NICO AND NOLAN

    New Jersey Devils No. 1 pick Nico Hischier and Philadelphia Flyers No. 2 pick Nolan Patrick will each get a good opportunity to make the NHL. Hischier's chances improved with Travis Zajac out four to six months following pectoral surgery, and the Swiss center is part of New Jersey's excitement that this may be a better year. Taylor Hall, the top pick in 2010 who could be Hischier's left winger this season, said it's up to teammates to make him as comfortable off the ice as possible so he can perform.


    ''I think if he's comfortable there he's going to play well on the ice,'' Hall said. ''And we need him to play well.''

    UNSIGNED, UNSEALED, UNDELIVERED



    Six restricted free agents remain unsigned: Boston's David Pastrnak, Columbus' Josh Anderson, Colorado's Nikita Zadorov, Detroit's Andreas Athanasiou, Minnesota's Marcus Foligno and St. Louis' Petteri Lindbohm. Athanasiou's agent said Russia's Kontinental Hockey League is an option, though Pastrnak is vital to his team's success, so all eyes are on the Bruins. Jaromir Jagr and Jarome Iginla are unsigned greybeards still waiting for a call.

    TRY AGAIN



    Among the 60-plus players attending camp on a professional tryout agreement, Brandon Pirri in Florida, Jimmy Hayes in New Jersey, Alex Chiasson in Washington, Cody Franson in Chicago and Daniel Winnik in Minnesota have some of the best chances to earn a contract.

    KARLSSON ON HOLD



    Ottawa Senators defenseman Erik Karlsson said last week he has no timetable to skate, let alone play, and he'll miss at least the start of camp after offseason foot surgery. As soon as Karlsson gets on the ice in Ottawa it's a significant accomplishment for a team that was the closest to knocking off the Penguins in the playoffs last spring.


    OVECHKIN'S ADJUSTMENT


    A salary-cap crunch brought changes for the Washington Capitals after another playoff disappointment, and star winger Alex Ovechkin isn't getting any younger. General manager Brian MacLellan challenged Ovechkin to train differently to prioritize speed over power as the captain is about to turn 32, and now it's time to see if it worked.


    ''It's a great message that he's sending to Mac, to the coaches, most importantly I think it's a great message he's sending to the rest of us as teammates, saying that we have to change, we have to get better and it starts with him,'' said teammate T.J. Oshie, who signed a $46 million, eight-year deal to stay. ''Hats off to him, and I think the rest of us will have no trouble following.''


    -----------------------------------


    Wild, Koivu agree to 2-year, $11M extension
    September 18, 2017

    ST. PAUL, Minn. (AP) The Minnesota Wild and captain Mikko Koivu have agreed to a two-year, $11 million contract extension.


    The Wild announced the deal on Monday night. The 34-year-old Koivu was entering the final season of his contract. He is coming off of one of his best years with 18 goals and 40 assists in 80 games and was a finalist for the Selke Trophy, given annually to the best defensive forward.


    Koivu will make $6 million in the first season of the extension in 2018-19 and $5 million the following season. He is first on the Wild's career list for points, assists and multipoint games.


    The agreement was first reported by The Athletic.


    ------------------------------------


    Wild sign G Baribeau to entry-level deal
    September 18, 2017



    The Minnesota Wild signed goaltender Dereck Baribeau to a three-year, entry-level contract on Monday.


    Baribeau, 18, appeared in two games for Minnesota at the Traverse City Prospect Tournament, stopping 49 of 56 shots for a 3.65 goals-against average and an .875 save percentage.


    The 6-foot-6, 199-pound native of Quebec City, Quebec, was ranked 10th amongst North American goalies by NHL Central Scouting for the 2017 draft.


    Baribeau was 12-15-2 with a 3.93 goals-against average, an .881 save percentage and one shutout in 35 games with Val-D'Or and Quebec last season in the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League. He went 0-2 with a 3.68 GAA and a .917 save percentage in two playoff starts.
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    Sharks begin 1st camp without Marleau
    September 15, 2017

    SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) There was something familiar missing in San Jose when the Sharks opened training camp.


    For the first time since 1996, the Sharks took the ice for their first training camp practice without Patrick Marleau on the team as the franchise's career leader in games and scoring left as a free agent for Toronto this summer.


    ''I've spent a lot of years with him. It is kind of strange,'' said Joe Thornton, who came to San Jose in 2005. ''It's his birthday today too. It's a little weird, but he's going to do great up in Toronto.''


    Marleau had been with San Jose since being picked second overall in 1997 but left the Sharks to sign an $18.75 million, three-year deal with the Maple Leafs in July.


    Marleau has 508 goals and 574 assists for 1,082 points. He had 46 points in playing all 82 games last season as he rebounded from a disappointing 2015-16 season by scoring 27 goals, including the 500th of his career. He ranks first in San Jose in career goals, games and points.


    Only six players in NHL history have played more games with one team than Marleau's 1,493 in San Jose. The Sharks haven't played a game without him on the ice since April 7, 2009.


    ''Obviously Patty has meant so much to this organization and this group,'' captain Joe Pavelski said. ''Everyone in this room has pretty much played with him and Patty has done something to help them out. He'll be missed. ... Just by committee somebody will step in and fill that kind of hole. That's what we'll need.''


    The Sharks made no major additions this offseason so will need to replace Marleau's 27 goals by getting development from younger players like Tomas Hertl, Timo Meier, Kevin Labanc and Danny O'Regan, as well as bounce-back seasons from veterans like Thornton, Mikkel Boedker and Joonas Donskoi.


    Only Pavelski, Logan Couture and Brent Burns are back after scoring more than 12 goals last season.


    ''When I look back at last year we had key people either have down years or miss significant time with injuries or coming off injuries,'' coach Peter DeBoer said. ''I think if we can stay healthy I think we've got a large group of guys that can really take a step this year and I expect a step out of them.''


    While the Sharks lost Marleau in free agency, they did manage to keep Thornton by giving him a one-year, $8 million contract despite dwindling production last season and offseason knee surgery.


    He scored just seven goals - his fewest in an 82-game season since his rookie year in 1997-98 - and was a key part of a power-play unit that uncharacteristically struggled last season. But he still managed 43 assists, teaming with captain Joe Pavelski on San Jose's top line.


    Thornton missed the final week of the regular season and the first two playoff games with a left knee injury before returning for the final four games of a first-round loss to Edmonton. Thornton then underwent surgery to repair his MCL and ACL after the season but was back skating in August and started ramping it up for training camp two weeks ago. Thornton believes the lower-body work he did in rehab this offseason will pay dividends on the ice.


    ''They feel real strong,'' he said of his legs. ''I feel a lot of pop out there. They're probably as strong as they've ever been just because I had to rehab that knee so much.''


    -------------------------------------


    Rangers set to begin camp practices
    September 15, 2017

    GREENBURGH, N.Y. (AP) The New York Rangers are set to start training camp practices this weekend having undergone some changes since a second-round playoff exit just over four months ago.


    After another disappointment for a team perennially expected to compete for a Stanley Cup - which it has won once in the last 77 years - the defense was shored up with the signing of top free agent Kevin Shattenkirk and the infusion of some younger players. However, there are questions in the middle and behind Henrik Lundqvist in goal.


    The Rangers knew they had to make some changes to their core group that reached three conference finals in four years, including a run to the Stanley Cup Final in 2014, before a first-round exit to eventual champion Pittsburgh in 2016 and then Ottawa last season.


    Veteran Dan Girardi, 33, was bought out and 32-year-old Kevin Klein retired. Shattenkirk, 28, was signed to a four-year, $26.6 million deal, and Tony DeAngelo, 21, was acquired as part of the trade that sent Derek Stepan and Antti Raanta to Arizona.


    ''We wanted to go out and change our defense and give it a different look and get a little more puck movement,'' Rangers General Manager Jeff Gorton said Friday at the team's practice facility.


    The offensive-minded Shattenkirk has had at least 30 assists and 40 points in six of his first seven seasons - with the lockout-shortened 2012-13 campaign the exception - and should help a power play that ranked 10th in the NHL last season at 20.2 percent.


    ''He has been one of the best power-play guys in the league for quite some time,'' Rangers coach Alain Vigneault said when he addressed media the previous day. ''(He) is going to help our whole group. It's a new season, we need to figure out who fits where and who does what.''


    Brendon Smith, acquired at the trade deadline, was re-signed and Vigneault said he expected Brady Skjei to build on his stellar rookie season in which he had five goals and 34 assists.


    Shattenkirk won't be paired with captain Ryan McDonagh on the team's top defensive pairing at the start of training camp so Vigneault can get a look at other guys and combinations, but the coach said that could change as the start of the season gets closer.


    Players had their physicals on Thursday and on-ice tests Friday. The first day of practice is Saturday.


    Other things to know as the Rangers open camp:


    MILLER TO THE MIDDLE
    : Stepan's departure will likely result in Kevin Hayes and Mika Zibanejad moving up to center the top two lines, and J.T. Miller will also play in the middle to start camp. Miller was drafted as a center and played there in the minors, but has been mostly on the wing in the NHL. After playing center in stretches the last two seasons, he expected the possibility of the move.


    ''I kind of had an idea this summer with what happened with some of our players,'' Miller said. ''It's a responsibility I'm willing to take on. I think they know that. I've proved I can play there before so they're just going to feel it out and see how it goes, see where it fits.''


    Asked if the team was still exploring trade options at center, Gorton said: ''It's fair to say we're always looking, but were comfortable with J.T. ... He hasn't played a lot of center at the NHL level, (but) we know in the past in his career he's been able to do it so preseason we'll take a look at him there.''


    NO LIMIT ON HENRIK: Lundqvist is coming off a 31-20-4 season in which he had career worsts with a 2.74 goals-against average and a .910 save percentage. Raanta was a solid backup the last two seasons but he's now in Arizona, Ondrej Pavelec was signed to fill the role. Pavelec has struggled the last few seasons and had a 3.55 goals-against average last season with a .888 save percentage in eight NHL games


    Vigneault said he doesn't have a specific number of games in mind for the 35-year-old Lundqvist, who helped Sweden win the world championships in May.


    ''I always like that mindset, not to focus on one number,'' Lundqvist said. ''That's the approach I like. Feel it out, it's a long season. You got to go with the flow a little bit. ... It's hard to know in November what's best for you come April.''

    FIGHTING FOR JOBS:
    One day after Vigneault said Marc Staal was one of the players who would be ''fighting for ice time, fighting for a spot on the team,'' the veteran defenseman wasn't bothered by the coach's assessment.


    ''This is my 11th season, I'm not naive,'' Staal said. ''I don't take anything for granted. I come to camp with that mindset every year - you have to earn your minutes. ... I've been a Ranger a long time and I plan on being here for a lot more years.''


    ------------------------------------


    Sabres C Eichel has plenty to prove
    September 18, 2017



    Sabres center Jack Eichel isn't mincing words when assessing his first two NHL seasons.


    ''Actually, I think I've proven nothing,'' the 20-year-old face of the franchise said before bluntly outlining his lack of accomplishments.


    ''If you look at what I've done, it hasn't been a whole lot,'' Eichel said. ''Two mediocre seasons on a losing team.''


    The player selected No. 2 in the 2015 draft behind Connor McDavid might be overstating his case given he produced at nearly a point-a-game pace last year despite missing 21 games with a sprained left ankle. And yet, the comments reflect Eichel's level of motivation to establish himself as one of the league's top young players.


    The competitor in Eichel was miffed watching rookie Auston Matthews help the cross-border rival Toronto Maple Leafs vault ahead of Buffalo in the standings and clinch a playoff berth.


    Then there's Eichel's contract status , entering the final year of his rookie deal. While he and the Sabres are still negotiating an extension, McDavid's was completed in July, when he signed an eight-year, $100 contract.


    An eight-year contract is on the table for Eichel, though the two sides are divided on a dollar amount. That makes Eichel an intriguing player to follow, given his production will help determine his value.


    ''I look at myself to be one of the leaders on this team,'' Eichel said. ''I think if I do that, guys will follow and we'll be successful.''

    A number of other players to watch in 2017-18:



    ---


    Goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, Vegas Golden Knights.

    The three-time Stanley Cup-winner has departed the Penguins to become the face of Golden Knights after being selected in the NHL expansion draft in June.


    The 32-year-old Fleury became expendable in Pittsburgh following the emergence of Matt Murray. Fleury will be the last line of defense on a patchwork Golden Knights team that includes forwards James Neal and Vadim Shipachyov, who made the jump from playing in Russia, and defenseman Shea Theodore.


    Selected with the No. 1 pick in the 2003 draft, Fleury has a 375-216-68 record, putting him 25 wins short of becoming just the 13th player to reach 400.


    ---


    Forward Patrick Marleau, Toronto Maple Leafs.


    The 38-year-old Marleau left behind Joe Thornton and 19 seasons in San Jose to join the youth-laden, Mike Babcock-coached Leafs, who reached the playoffs for just the second time in 12 seasons last year.


    Marleau's experience and leadership are valuable to a team that had seven rookies play at least 50 games last season, including Matthews, the NHL's rookie of the year. Marleau can still score after finishing with 27 goals and 19 assists last season - the 14th time he's topped 20 goals.


    ---


    Forward Jonathan Drouin, Montreal Canadiens.


    The Habs need offense, and they're counting on the 22-year-old French-Canadian for help after acquiring Drouin in a trade with Tampa Bay. The third player selected in the 2013 draft, Drouin has 29 goals and 66 assists for 95 points in 164 career games with the Lightning.


    Drouin's career-best 21 goals and 53 points last season both would have ranked third on the Canadiens.


    ---


    Center Nico Hischier, New Jersey Devils.

    The No. 1 draft pick will be given every opportunity to make the young and rebuilding Devils, who also acquired forward Marcus Johansson in a trade with Washington. The Swiss-born Hischier is a play-making center who was the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League's rookie of the year last season.


    The Devils took somewhat of a gamble in selecting Hischier ahead of NHL Central Scouting's top-ranked prospect Nolan Patrick, who was drafted second by Philadelphia.


    ---


    Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, New York Rangers.


    The top prize in free agency went to the Blueshirts in adding an established seven-year veteran to a revamped blue-line already featuring 28-year-old captain Sean McDonagh and 30-year-old Marc Staal. Goalie Henrik Lundqvist is 35.


    Shattenkirk had a career-best 56 points (13 goals, 43 assists) split between St. Louis and Washington last year. He struggled in both ends during the playoffs, in which Washington was eliminated by Pittsburgh in the second round.


    ---

    Goalie Scott Darling, Carolina Hurricanes.



    If the Hurricanes are going to deliver on being pegged the preseason chic pick surprise playoff contenders, the 6-foot-6 Darling might have to play a key role. Carolina acquired the former Blackhawks backup in a trade in April, putting him in a position to usurp long-time starter Cam Ward for the No. 1 job.


    ---

    LOOSE PUCKS

    Lightning captain Steven Stamkos returns after tearing a ligament in his right knee in November. ... The John Tavares contract watch is on, with the New York Islanders captain entering the final year of his six-year deal. ... Forward Artemi Panarin, the NHL's 2015 rookie of the year, is now in Columbus after being traded by the Blackhawks. ... Brandon Saad, acquired in the Panarin trade, and free-agent addition Patrick Sharp are both back in Chicago after a first-round playoff sweep against Nashville led to the Blackhawks shuffling their roster. ... The Dallas Stars hope to have rectified their goaltending issues with the addition of Ben Bishop in a trade with Los Angeles. ... Will someone finally call 45-year-old free agent forward Jaromir Jagr ?


    -----------------------------------


    Vegas routs Canucks in 1st preseason game
    September 17, 2017



    VANCOUVER, British Columbia (AP) By the time the Elvis Presley impersonator singing tunes between whistles had left the building, the NHL's newest franchise was already well on its way to victory in its first exhibition game.


    Tyler Wong scored three times and added an assist to help the expansion Vegas Golden Knights rout the Vancouver Canucks 9-4 on Sunday. Wong scored the first exhibition goal in club history.


    ''It's a huge honor,'' Wong said. ''The city's very excited to get a team. To be a part of excitement like that is something special. It's a pretty cool moment for all of us.''


    The Golden Knights dressed a roster of mostly prospects and fringe NHLers, leaving behind the likes of forwards James Neal, Jonathan Marchessault, David Perron and Cody Eakin, defensemen Brayden McNabb and Deryk Engelland, and goalie Marc-Andre Fleury.


    In the spirit of Vegas' debut, the Elvis impersonator sang classics like ''Viva Las Vegas'' and ''Burning Love'' during some of the TV timeouts at Rogers Arena for some added Sin City flair to what was, for the most part, a sloppy game.


    ''It's a once in a lifetime opportunity being able to be part of an expansion team,'' said Golden Knights forward Cody Glass, the sixth pick in the draft this summer. ''I'm just trying to take it all in.''


    Vegas coach Gerard Gallant was happy with the way his youngsters performed, but like his players, also took the opportunity to soak in the moment.


    ''We had two rookie games last week, but this is the first real NHL game,'' Gallant said. ''The first time stepping on the ice was real good and you do feel good about it.''


    Tomas Hyka scored twice, Tomas Nosek had a goal and two assists, and Nick Suzuki added a goal and an assist. Paul Thompson and Alex Tuch also scored, Brad Hunt chipped in with three assists, and Glass had two assists.


    Wearing their road white uniforms with grey, gold and red trim, along with black pants and white and gold gloves, the Golden Knights survived a 5-on-3 power play for 1:44 early in the first period before Wong opened the scoring. The winger collected a chipped feed from Glass on a power play, cut down the right and beat goalie Richard Bachman with a short-side backhander at 4:58.


    ''The puck was finding me in good spots,'' said Wong, who had 43 goals and 46 assists in 72 games last season in junior with the Lethbridge Hurricanes last season and signed as an undrafted free agent. ''I was able to bury them.''


    Brock Boeser scored twice and had an assist for Vancouver. Philip Holm and Jordan Subban also scored.


    Almost all of the Canucks' veterans were on a charter plane on their way to China for games against the Los Angeles Kings in Beijing and Shanghai. Trent Cull, the head coach of the Canucks' AHL affiliate in Utica, New York, was behind the bench, with Travis Green and his assistants on their way to China.


    The Golden Knights will play three more times on the road before their first preseason home game Sept. 26 against Los Angeles.


    ''I hope (Vegas fans) don't expect that every night,'' Gallant said. ''It's a lot of fun in our market and I am sure they are going to enjoy that, but it's an exhibition game.''
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    NHL notebook: Devils' Boyle has leukemia
    September 19, 2017



    New Jersey Devils forward Brian Boyle has been diagnosed with chronic myeloid leukemia, the team announced Tuesday.


    The type of leukemia Boyle was diagnosed with forms in bone marrow. Team doctor Michael Farber said it was discovered early and is treatable.


    The 32-year-old Boyle doesn't plan on being sidelined long, though the team doesn't yet have a formal timetable for his return.


    Boyle signed a two-year, $5.1 million deal in the offseason with the Devils. He knows the season opens on Oct. 7 and is keeping that date in mind in case his treatments go well.


    Boyle recorded 25 points (13 goals, 12 assists) last season while splitting time with Tampa Bay and Toronto.

    --The St. Louis Blues
    already are dealing with two significant injuries in training camp.


    Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester will be re-evaluated in three weeks after sustaining a fractured left ankle. The team also announced that forward Zach Sanford is expected to be sidelined five-to-six months after undergoing surgery for a dislocated left shoulder.


    Bouwmeester, 33, recorded one goal and 14 assists in 81 games last season. Sanford, 22, collected two goals and three assists in 13 games after being acquired in a Feb. 27 trade with the Washington Capitals for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk.


    --Ottawa Senators forward Colin White sustained a broken left wrist and will be sidelined six to eight weeks, the team announced.


    White was injured while blocking a shot in the third period of Ottawa's preseason victory against the provincial-rival Toronto Maple Leafs on Monday. The 20-year-old Boston native already underwent surgery.


    White, who was selected by Ottawa with the 21st overall pick of the 2015 draft, joined the Senators in April after finishing his season at Boston College. He did not record a point in two regular-season games and one playoff contest with Ottawa last season.


    --Nashville Predators defenseman Roman Josi was named as the eighth captain in franchise history, the team announced.


    Josi, who was an alternate captain last season, will wear the "C" on his jersey after Mike Fisher announced his retirement on Aug. 3. Fisher was named Nashville's captain after defenseman Shea Weber was traded to the Montreal Canadiens in June 2016.


    Josi recorded 49 points (12 goals, 37 assists) and netted a career-high seven power-play goals last season.
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    NHL notebook: Kings-Canucks play first exhibition game in China
    September 21, 2017



    Tanner Pearson scored two goals in an exhibition game, which would typically be no gigantic feat. But it felt like more of an accomplishment to the Los Angeles left wing with Thursday's contest being the first NHL game played in China.


    Standout goalie Jonathan Quick made 31 saves and the Kings posted a 5-2 victory over the Vancouver Canucks before 10,088 fans in Shanghai.


    The atmosphere certainly wasn't a problem as Chinese fans were enthralled by the action. One of the biggest cheers inside Mercedes-Benz Arena came when NBA icon Kobe Bryant appeared on video to pass on a message to the Kings.


    The Kings and Canucks play again on Saturday in Beijing, host of the 2022 Winter Olympics.

    --Montreal Canadiens
    prospect Noah Juulsen will be sidelined at least six weeks with a fractured foot.


    Juulsen, a defenseman, sustained the injury during Monday's preseason game against the Boston Bruins in Quebec City. The 20-year-old did not practice on Tuesday due to what the team called a bruised foot.

    --Boston Bruins
    defenseman Torey Krug will miss the remainder of training camp with a broken jaw.


    Krug sustained the non-displaced fracture after he was hit in the face with a puck during Tuesday's preseason victory against the Detroit Red Wings. The Bruins said Krug will be re-evaluated in three weeks.


    --The St. Louis Blues named Hall of Famer and nine-time Stanley Cup champion Larry Robinson as their senior consultant to hockey operations.


    Robinson is a former NHL defenseman, coach and executive. The 66-year-old most recently served as an associate coach with the San Jose Sharks from 2012-15.


    --Forward Joffrey Lupul apologized over social media for writing in an Instagram comment that the Toronto Maple Leafs "cheat" after he failed a physical for the team on the first day of training camp.


    "I responded earlier this week to some negative comments on Instagram. It was an inappropriate response, and I deleted it, but I take full responsibility," Lupul posted.


    Lupul posted a photo on Instagram Sunday of himself snowboarding with the comments, "Haha failed physical? They cheat, everyone lets them," and "I'm ready. Just awaiting the call."


    Lupul is under contract through the end of this season but hasn't played since the 2015-16 season because of numerous injuries.
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    Penguins accept White House invitation
    September 24, 2017



    CRANBERRY TOWNSHIP, Pa. (AP) Sidney Crosby is backing the Pittsburgh Penguins' decision to accept a White House invitation from President Donald Trump.


    The reigning two-time Stanley Cup champions announced their decision Sunday morning.


    ''I support it,'' Crosby said after the Penguins' 4-1 loss against the St. Louis Blues during the annual Hockeyville USA exhibition game Sunday night. ''It's a great honor for us to be invited there.''


    The Penguins' decision came on a day that President Trump's criticisms of players who kneel during the national anthem sparked a mass increase in such protests around the National Football League. President Trump also rebuked NBA star Steph Curry this weekend for saying he wouldn't attend a White House visit with the league champion Golden State Warriors before rescinding the team's invitation.


    The Penguins said they respect the office of the president and ''the long tradition of championship teams visiting the White House.'' The team also attended White House ceremonies following Stanley Cup championships in 2009 and '16, touring the building a visiting briefly with Presidents George H.W. Bush and Barack Obama.


    ''I think we all really enjoyed it last year, being able to see something that not everyone gets to see, and to be able to experience the White House,'' forward Bryan Rust said. ''I think for us, as an organization, we relish the opportunity, and it's something we get to do because we are champions, and we're going to make the most of it.''


    About 200 NFL players sat, knelt or raised fists in defiance on Sunday. A week earlier, just six players protested. Most NFL players locked arms with their teammates - some standing and others kneeling - in show of solidarity. A handful of teams, including the Pittsburgh Steelers, stayed off the field until after ''The Star Spangled Banner'' to avoid the issue all together.


    There were no such protests during the exhibition hockey game between the Penguins and Blues.


    The Penguins said the organization respects the rights of other individuals and groups to express themselves as they see fit, but added that any agreement or disagreement with a president's politics, policies or agenda can be expressed in other ways.


    ''Everyone's got the right to go or not to go,'' Crosby said. ''But we've been invited and we accepted the invitation. I don't think you have to read into it any more than that.''
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    Eastern Conference looks wide open
    September 25, 2017



    A handful of Pittsburgh Penguins players whose names are on the Stanley Cup, some of them twice or even three times, are gone.


    The same goes for core players from the back-to-back Presidents' Trophy winning Washington Capitals.


    The goliaths of the East haven't fallen apart, but maybe they've lost just enough to make the conference winnable for just about anyone. Pittsburgh no longer has forwards Nick Bonino, Chris Kunitz and Matt Cullen, defensemen Trevor Daley or goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury. Washington couldn't afford to keep Justin Williams, Karl Alzner and Kevin Shattenkirk.


    The Penguins and Capitals are still favored to finish 1-2 in the brutal Metropolitan Division, but improvements made by the New York Rangers, Carolina Hurricanes and a return to health for members of the Tampa Bay Lightning have cracked the Eastern Conference wide open.


    ''The competition level is as high as ever,'' Boston Bruins goaltender Tuukka Rask said. ''There's a lot of teams that have a chance to win the Cup. Making the playoffs, it's very tough nowadays. I think we're not the only team when we always say, `We want to make the playoffs and then we'll see what happens' because you just want to make the playoffs and then anything can happen. There's no real favorites.''


    Pittsburgh is still the betting favorite, and if Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Co. make it happen they'd become the first NHL team with three consecutive titles since the early 1980s New York Islanders dynasty. Then again, Lightning captain Steven Stamkos is healthy after a knee injury ended his 2016-17 season, the Hurricanes got a top goaltender in Scott Darling and the Toronto Maple Leafs are only expected to get better now that Auston Matthews and the kids have some playoff experience.


    ''Toronto obviously made a big step forward, Columbus is a team that has tremendous upside, made a big move this summer, and then you look at a team like Carolina who's going to be knocking on the door in the next few years,'' said Shattenkirk, who signed with the revamped Rangers.


    In a league with considerable playoff turnover from year to year, there's no rest for the eight teams that made it last year: the Penguins, Capitals, Columbus Blue Jackets, Montreal Canadiens, Rangers, Ottawa Senators, Bruins and Maple Leafs. But Fleury, now the starter for the expansion Vegas Golden Knights, believes his old team has a chance to three-peat, and Alex Ovechkin said the Capitals will be good.


    ''Our goal is still to go out there and be the best team in the regular season and be the best team in the postseason,'' Washington winger T.J. Oshie said. ''It's not a very far-fetched goal.''


    ---


    Some things to watch in the Eastern Conference this season:


    YOUTH IS SERVED



    Matthews is only 20, but now there's a whole new crop of potential teenage stars, including the New Jersey Devils' No. 1 pick , Nico Hischier, and the Philadelphia Flyers' No. 2 pick, Nolan Patrick. The Swiss-born Hischier turned heads with some big-time plays in the preseason and in the process ratcheted up expectations.

    PRICE IS RIGHT



    The Canadiens lost defenseman Andrei Markov and winger Alexander Radulov and traded their top defensive prospect for forward Jonathan Drouin. Montreal probably should make the playoffs despite all the changes because of goaltender Carey Price, who won the Hart and Vezina Trophies in 2014-15 and missed most of the 2015-16 season with a knee injury.


    ''He is the best goalie in the NHL,'' Drouin said. ''He's proved it for a lot of years now.''


    Price has some competition in Columbus' Sergei Bobrovsky and Washington's Braden Holtby, the past two Vezina winners. The play of those three and Pittsburgh's Matt Murray will likely determine the order of finish in the East.


    C'MON, CROSBY


    After leading the league with 44 goals in the regular season and the playoffs with 27 assists, there's no doubting Crosby has another MVP season in him. Teammates and opponents always expect him to sharpen another skill, though he could just keep scoring goals better than anyone else.


    ''He was always, I think, a passer a little more - always looking for other guys,'' Fleury said. ''But he doesn't have a crazy hard shot. It's just how quick the release is. He's skating, he's looking around and the shot comes (from) any angle. His backhand is good too, probably as hard as anybody.''


    BRIGHT LIGHTS ON BIG CITY


    The Rangers added Shattenkirk, re-signed Brendan Smith and traded Derek Stepan to retool while goaltender Henrik Lundqvist is still in his prime. Across town, the Islanders are hoping to re-sign captain John Tavares before he can become a free agent next summer New York is where it's at, and there's no shortage of drama.


    SUNRISE REDUX

    Florida Panthers general manager Dale Tallon has gone to great lengths to undo some of the moves made in the summer of 2016 when he was shifted out of a position of power. Defenseman Jason Demers and forward Reilly Smith are gone, Bob Boughner is the new coach and big things are expected in South Florida.


    ''We've got to go in one direction and never look back,'' winger Jonathan Huberdeau said. ''That's what we want to do, and Dale Tallon knows that. We want to build something with Bob and we'll see what's going to happen.''
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    Lightning to retire No. 4 of Lecavalier
    September 25, 2017



    Vincent Lecavalier will become the second player in Tampa Bay Lightning history to have his number retired, the team announced on Monday.


    The Lightning will retire Lecavalier's No. 4 in a ceremony prior to the team's home game against the Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 10, 2018.


    Lecavalier is the franchise's all-time leading goal scorer (383) and spent 14 years with the team. The Quebec native was named the club's captain in his second season, with the then-19-year-old becoming the youngest to wear the "C" in NHL history at the time.


    "It is a great honor to have my number retired and I'd like to thank the Lightning organization and (chairman) Jeff Vinik for recognizing me with this achievement," the 37-year-old Lecavalier said in a team release. "The Tampa Bay community and our fans have treated me and my family so amazingly that this honor is extra special to share it with everyone. My family and I are very excited for Feb. 10 when we can share so many memories."


    Lecavalier, who joins Martin St. Louis as the lone members of the Lightning to have their numbers retired, collected 874 points over his 1,037 games with Tampa Bay.


    "We are thrilled to retire another one of our franchise's great players, and it's extra special since this year we will be celebrating our 25th anniversary," Vinik said.


    "Vinny was a tremendous player during his 14 years with the team and a true ambassador and hero for many people in Tampa Bay for his tireless work in the community."


    Lecavalier helped the Lightning to the Stanley Cup in 2004. His best season was the 2006-07 campaign, when he won the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy as the NHL's top goal scorer in a season in which he had 52 goals and 108 points for the Lightning.


    The four-time All-Star retired in June 2016 after 17 seasons in the NHL, recording 421 goals and 949 points in 1,212 career games with the Philadelphia Flyers, Kings and Lightning.


    Lecavalier was the No. 1 overall pick by Tampa Bay in the 1998 NHL draft.


    *******************


    NHL notebook: Lightning to retire Lecavalier's No. 4
    September 25, 2017



    Vincent Lecavalier will become the second player in Tampa Bay Lightning history to have his number retired, the team announced on Monday.


    The Lightning will retire Lecavalier's No. 4 in a ceremony prior to the team's home game against the Los Angeles Kings on Feb. 10, 2018.


    Lecavalier is the franchise's all-time leading goal scorer (383) and spent 14 years with the team. The Quebec native was named the club's captain in his second season, with the then-19-year-old becoming the youngest to wear the "C" in NHL history at the time.


    Lecavalier, who joins Martin St. Louis as the lone members of the Lightning to have their numbers retired, collected 874 points over his 1,037 games with Tampa Bay.


    --The Pittsburgh Penguins signed undrafted free agent forward Sam Miletic to a three-year, entry-level contract.


    Miletic, 20, played in two NHL preseason games with the Penguins this year, scoring the opening goal in Pittsburgh's win in Columbus on Friday. He played in all three Prospect Challenge contests in Buffalo in early September, tallying a goal and an assist in the opening game against Boston. Miletic also skated in Pittsburgh's prospect development camp in July.


    The 6-foot, 196-pound Miletic led the London Knights of the Ontario Hockey League last season with 37 goals in 65 games, a total that ranked 12th in the OHL. He recorded 55 points overall with 18 assists.


    --The Los Angeles Kings signed forward Jaret Anderson-Dolan to a three-year, entry-level contract.


    The 18-year-old Anderson-Dolan was a second-round (41st overall) selection of the Kings in 2017 NHL draft.


    The 5-foot-11, 191-pound native of Calgary, Alberta, played in 142 career regular-season games with Spokane of the Western Hockey League, totaling 102 points (53 goals, 49 assists) and 43 penalty minutes. In seven postseason games, he had a goal and two assists.
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    NHL '17: Predators facing challenge of staying on top
    September 26, 2017

    The Nashville Predators are proof anything is possible in the NHL playoffs. History suggests they are up against quite a challenge.


    Nashville made it into the last postseason as the eighth-seeded team in the Western Conference and ended up becoming just the third team seeded last to reach the Stanley Cup Final since 1994.


    The Predators couldn't stop Pittsburgh from repeating, and they're about to find out how hard it is to defend a championship in their stacked conference. The Western Conference has not had a repeat champion since the Detroit Red Wings pulled off the feat in 2008 and 2009, hosting a Stanley Cup and then losing a Game 7 against the Penguins.


    Nashville's appearance in the playoffs, though, was not fluke. The franchise was in the postseason for the third straight year and the 10th time in 13 seasons. And, the city should be prepared to have a good time again next spring, catfish and all.


    ''This year, our expectation is to be in the playoffs, but our expectation is also to give ourselves the best opportunity to win hockey games and to play in our building as much as we can because our fans were so great, especially through the run,'' defenseman P. K. Subban said. ''It was a huge edge for us in the playoffs being at home. We went most of the playoffs without losing at home. That's what we're going to need. We're going to need our team to realize how important it is for us to win at home.''


    The Predators seem set up for more success.


    Mike Fisher retired and was effectively replaced on the ice by Penguins center Nick Bonino. General manager David Poile has goaltender Pekka Rinne under contract for two more seasons to go with top-line forwards Viktor Arvidsson, Ryan Johansen and Filip Forsberg, along with defenseman Subban for at least five years.


    ''We all know it was a lot of fun, and it was a tremendous experience going through all that,'' Johansen said. ''At the end of the day like 29 other teams, we didn't reach our goal.''


    Here's a look at some other things to watch in the West:


    LOGJAM AHEAD



    The Colorado Avalanche, easily the NHL's worst team last season, may be the only team in the Central Division without a legitimate shot to make the playoffs. The division was so tough last year that Nashville finished a relatively distant fourth behind Chicago, Minnesota and St. Louis. Each of those teams figures to be just as good this season and will have to compete with Dallas, which seemed to lead the league in major moves .


    Don't sleep on Winnipeg, either. The Jets have made the playoffs only once in the last decade, but they could break through this season. Mark Scheifele, a 24-year-old center, quietly ranked among league leaders with 82 points last season. He leads a team with rising stars Patrik Laine, a 19-year-old winger who was taken No. 2 behind Auston Matthews, and 21-year-old Nikolaj Ehlers.

    CAUTIOUS CONNOR



    The Pacific Division is so stacked even the 20-year-old, reigning NHL MVP with a $100 million contract is far from cocky about his team's chances.


    ''It's so competitive,'' said Edmonton's Connor McDavid, who was given an eight-year extension last summer. ''It is a grind. And the Pacific, especially, I think you see a lot of teams that are right around that 100-point mark, 95-point mark, that are kind of right on the cusp.''


    WELCOME BACK


    Chicago raised some eyebrows by trading Artemi Panarin one season after he was rookie of the year to Columbus for Brandon Saad. The move likely saves the Blackhawks some money as they manage the salary cap in future years. Saad's return may bring the best out of Jonathan Toews , coming off one of the worst seasons of his career.


    CALIFORNIA DREAMING


    Ryan Getzlaf, who shows no sign of slipping at the age of 32, is back to lead the five-time defending Pacific Division champion Anaheim Ducks. Coming off their second trip to the conference finals in three years, they're desperately seeking their first trip to the Cup final since winning it in 2007. The San Jose Sharks are without Patrick Marleau for the first time in two-plus decades after he left in free agency for Toronto, and the Los Angeles Kings are hoping to re-open their championship-contending window with coach John Stevens replacing Darryl Sutter.

    VETERANS IN VEGAS



    The Vegas Golden Knights are betting a few veterans making at least $5 million this season to make help them be relatively competitive in their debut season: goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury and forwards James Neal and Reilly Smith. The franchise's path to potential success won't be with castaways from other teams, but by drafting and developing talent. The Knights had three of the top 15 picks in the draft, including center Cody Glass sixth overall, but they don't plan to rush any of them to the big show on the Strip. Prospect Alex Tuch, a 21-year-old forward, was acquired from Minnesota and the 2014 first-round pick may get a chance to play a lot.
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    Sharks' Joel Ward could bring anthem protests to NHL
    September 26, 2017



    SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) Sharks forward Joel Ward told The Mercury News he might take a knee during the national anthem at an upcoming game, becoming the first NHL player to join the protests that started in the NFL and drew criticism from President Donald Trump.


    The 36-year-old Ward, one of about 30 black players in the league, is from Canada. Asked by the newspaper if he would consider kneeling during the anthem, Ward said it's something he ''wouldn't cross out.''


    ''I've experienced a lot of racism myself in hockey and on a day-to-day occurrence,'' he said. ''I haven't really sat down to think about it too much yet, but I definitely wouldn't say no to it.''


    Former San Francisco 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick began kneeling during the anthem in the preseason a year ago to make a statement about social inequality and police treatment of blacks in the United States. More than 200 players knelt or took other action during Sunday's anthems in the wake of Trump's suggestion that NFL owners fire players who protest during ''The Star-Spangled Banner.''


    Oakland Athletics catcher Bruce Maxwell became the first major league baseball player to take a knee during the national anthem Saturday.


    Sharks coach Peter DeBoer said he would back Ward if he decides to take a knee this season. Ward said general manager Doug Wilson also has been supportive.
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