Blackhawks close to locking up stars: Take 5
HNIC's senior online reporter Tim Wharnsby dishes out the latest news, buzz and inside information from the hockey world.
1. Locking up the future
The Chicago Blackhawks are not only expected to announce contract extension for forwards Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane this week, but also for their dependable blue-liner Duncan Keith, according to the Chicago Tribune.
The 26-year-old Keith has moved into neighbourhood of the game's elite two-way defencemen, joining the likes of Chris Pronger and Shea Weber.
While both Weber and Pronger were highly regarded junior prospects, Keith of Winnipeg was not selected at the 2002 NHL entry draft until the second round (54th overall) in 2002.
After leaving Michigan State to join the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL midway through the 2002-03 season, Keith spent two seasons in the AHL — the second because of the NHL lockout — before he became a member of the Blackhawks for good.
2. The original Broad Street Bully
In an interesting pre-game ceremony in Philadelphia on Monday, the Flyers inducted tough guy Dave Schultz as the 20th member of the club's Hall of Fame.
After Schultz told the Flyers fans they are the greatest, the public address announcer bellowed that Schultz had been penalized two minutes for roughing, five minutes for fighting and a game misconduct.
Schultz then was sent to the penalty box to watch his banner raising. The Flyers went out and snapped New Jersey's nine-game win streak on the road.
The Devils, who fell behind 2-0 for the third time in five games, were one shy from tying the NHL record of 10 consecutive road wins to start a season, set by Buffalo three years ago.
3. Ducks in a row?
After the Anaheim Ducks dropped their fourth in a row and ninth in 12 games with a 5-2 loss in Pittsburgh, Ducks coach Randy Carlyle held a closed-door meeting with his struggling team.
Thirty months removed from their Stanley Cup championship, Anaheim occupies the bottom of the Western Conference standings.
"We're regressing right now instead of progressing," Carlyle told the Orange County Register. "And we have to stop that. That's what I told them.
"I told them as a group we didn't execute to an NHL level, and that we have to take the necessary steps to put in some more time and effort to improving our skills and improving our structure with our team. And we're going to do that."
4. Long time coming
After 338 games with Regina, Edmonton and Kootenay in junior and another 441 games in the AHL and ECHL, 29-year-old defenceman Dean Arsene of Murrayville, B.C., made his NHL debut on Monday.
He played six minutes and 24 seconds in the Oilers' 3-2 shootout loss in Columbus. Arsene handled the disappointment of not playing on Sunday with class, even though he suited up for the pre-game warm-up.
After the warm-up on Sunday, Oilers assistant coach Tom Renney informed Arsene that he wouldn't play because veteran Sheldon Souray felt good enough to return from his concussion.
Against Columbus, the Oilers dressed seven defencemen. But despite the limited role and ice time, Arsene described the experience of playing his first NHL game as "awesome."
5. Taking the high road
Wayne Gretzky made a corporate appearance in Calgary on Monday.
In his remarks, he continued to take the high road and stated that he's not bitter about what transpired with the Coyotes situation and his subsequent resignation as coach in training camp.
He also revealed that he has spoken to Canadian Olympic men's team executive director Steve Yzerman about the Olympics, but Gretzky won't interfere on Yzerman's player selections.
Gretzky also explained that the reason he limped into the Hockey Hall of Fame induction ceremony a week ago was that he had his knee scoped after suffering an injury playing tennis. Gretzky also said that he will attend the Vancouver Olympics as a fan.