What it will take to break these NHL records

The Hockey News
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Bruce Bennett)

By Jason Wryghte

Although Wayne Gretzky has repeatedly said he believes his career scoring records will be broken, he’s got to be the only one. To consistently score at the rate Gretzky did is almost incomprehensible when juxtaposing his totals with today’s NHL. In order for The Great One’s goal total of 894 to be surpassed, it would have taken the league leaders in goals from the past 18 seasons combined. This year’s top sniper, Alex Ovechkin, scored the “record breaking” tally Nov. 5 against the Islanders when the Caps forward blew a shot past goaltender Evgeni Nabokov. How many seasons of league leaders in other categories would it take for some of the NHL’s other all-time marks to fall? Read more

Q&A with Mike Keenan: The KHL, the NHL and a lot of karaoke

Matt Larkin
Keenan

‘Iron’ Mike Keenan has enjoyed a poetic spring. Almost 20 years to the day after winning the Stanley Cup as coach of the New York Rangers, the legend added to his resume by winning the Kontinental League’s Gagarin Cup with Metallurg Magnitogorsk. His first season coaching in the world’s No. 2 pro league culminated in a thrilling, seven-game victory over Lev Prague in the final. Keenan caught up with THN to describe his fascinating journey, including the KHL’s high standard of play, Russia’s crazy drivers, karaoke and the possibility of an NHL return.

THE HOCKEY NEWS: What was your No. 1 reason for accepting a KHL coaching job in the first place?

MIKE KEENAN: I took the job because I wanted to get back into coaching and the NHL showed no interest. It was not only an opportunity to experience a different hockey setting, but also a cultural opportunity to study other people from a different country.

THN: Paul Maurice had a similar experience before you, leaving the NHL to coach Metallurg Magnitogorsk. Did you seek him out for any advice before you embarked?

KEENAN: I talked to Paul quite a bit prior to my departure or even accepting the job, just to get a feel for the environment I was going to face. Just as importantly, I wanted some detailed information about the organization itself.

THN: Did he warn you about anything?

KEENAN: Not really. He had his own opinion, and I respected it, but I probably went with a completely different approach than what Paul did. In fairness, I’m a little bit older. I think he was a bit more anxious about coaching in the NHL, and I was more interested in the experience.

THN: What were your first impressions of KHL players? How did they respond to you in the early going?

KEENAN: They were really great. We pretty much outlined the expectations we should have of each other from day one. Then we had a brief training camp in Magnitogorsk for a few days, then we went to an Olympic training site in Garmisch, Germany. So we got into more details about our program and what we expected on and off the ice. But the group was really receptive and easy to work with.

THN: Were you recognized as easily around town, or did a KHL coaching gig afford you more anonymity than an NHL one?

KEENAN: Magnitogorsk isn’t a very big city. It’s about 400,000 people. The hockey team’s a focal point for the community, and immediately I was recognized by the public everywhere I went.

THN: Any early culture shock? What stood out to you as different from home?

KEENAN: We had a driver, and I don’t know if there were any rules on the road, but it was completely different than what you’d experience in North America. They’re a lot more aggressive. They drive fast. The other aspect is that I was anticipating a little bit different food menu (laughs). As it turned out, it wasn’t a great deal different. I was surprised. There were a lot of fresh vegetables, fresh fruit, fresh fish, meat, poultry. The food was great. The thing that surprised me immediately was the driving. But other than that, I was at the arena most of the time. If not, I was back at the baza where I lived, which is like a university dormitory. They’ve got a KHL station which is 24/7, 365 hockey. I watched quite a bit of that, and I also had access to English news like BBC and CNN, and some other English channels. So between that and the hockey, that’s pretty much of the existence of our home life.

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Red Kelly’s high road to redemption

Red Kelly (Dave Sandford/Getty Images)

If ever an NHL player defied the odds – and succeeded in every way – it was Leonard Patrick ‘Red’ Kelly.

A Maple Leafs scout studied him as a kid graduating from the St. Michael’s College team in Toronto in 1947 and said Kelly wouldn’t last 20 games in the NHL. ‘Red’ wound up playing 1,316 games in the bigs, starting with Detroit and finishing (guess where?) in Toronto.

During his reign in Motown, Kelly skated for no less than four Stanley Cup winners. Nonetheless, after winning three Lady Byngs and a Norris Trophy, Kelly was unceremoniously traded in 1960 to the New York Rangers, along with forward Billy McNeill, for defenseman Bill Gadsby and forward Eddie Shack, because Red Wings boss Jack Adams was angry with Kelly over a contract dispute. Kelly, however, refused to report to the Blueshirts and eventually was dealt to Toronto. His adamant stance proved to be the predecessor of NHL free agency. “When I heard about the trade,” Kelly recalled, “it didn’t take me long to make up my mind about what I was going to do. I decided to retire rather than go to New York. So did McNeill.” Read more

How The Hockey News ‘helped’ Jon Cooper get to the NHL

Ronnie Shuker
(Photo by Scott Audette/NHL)

Right above the urinal in the washroom of the Norfolk Admirals dressing room. That’s where coach Jon Cooper placed The Hockey News’ American League predictions from our Oct. 17, 2011, issue before the start of 2011-12. We had Norfolk finishing 13th in the Eastern Conference. They ended up finishing first overall and cruising to the Calder Cup championship in a record-shattering season thanks to a remarkable run of 28 conescutive victories.

“Everybody had to stand and stare at it every day, so you can thank yourselves for being part of the motivation for our streak,” Cooper joked. “As soon as I saw it, I brought it in and said, ‘Look at where the biggest hockey magazine has put you guys.’ ”

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Bentley brothers had a reunion to remember in 1953-54

Stan Fischler
(Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images Sport)

Center Max Bentley and his older brother by four years, left winger Doug, comprised two-thirds of one of the best small trios in NHL history. The Chicago Black Hawks’ ‘Pony Line’ also featured Bill ‘Wee Willie’ Mosienko on the right side. Together the threesome became the toast of Windy City fans in the years immediately after the Second World War despite their club’s affinity for the NHL cellar.

Natives of Delisle, Sask., the Bentleys were inseparable, or so it seemed, until November 1947 when Black Hawks boss Bill Tobin made what was then the biggest deal in NHL annals, dispatching Max and Cy Thomas to Toronto for five young players. The separation proved beneficial to Max who helped the Maple Leafs win Stanley Cups in ’48, ’49 and ’51. Now on his own, Doug played well enough to eventually gain entry, along with Max, into the Hall of Fame, as did Mosienko.

But by 1951, Doug left the NHL to be player-coach of the Western League’s Saskatoon Quakers. By 1953, Max was ready to quit when Rangers GM Frank Boucher persuaded him to sign with his Blueshirts. Instantly he was a hit.

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AHL Man of the Year Eric Neilson a soft-hearted enforcer

The Hockey News
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By Jared Clinton

The first thing you notice when talking to Eric Neilson is his presence – his voice booms. It makes sense that a man who makes his living playing as an enforcer would convey his 6-foot-2, 200-plus-pound frame just with his tenor. But even with his voice filtering through a phone, you can hear his cheeks pulled up in a smile.

All of this is to say that Neilson, contrary to his tough guy persona, is a gentle giant off the ice. So it’s no surprise that he received the 2013-14 Yanick Dupre Memorial Award, which is given to the American League player who best exemplifies the spirit of community service. Neilson has been nominated six consecutive years – one for each of his full seasons in the AHL – but what makes his accomplishment more incredible is that he’s played those campaigns in five different AHL cities.

“I like to go where I get an opportunity,” said Neilson, who has played the past two seasons with the Syracuse Crunch. “That’s always my goal. I’ve been a journeyman throughout my career. I always try to go where my greatest opportunity is. I’m 29, but my goal is to one day play in the NHL.”

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The powder power of protein supplements

Ronnie Shuker
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The options can be overwhelming and the information endless when trying to pick a protein powder. What look like giant vitamin bottles populate the supplement shelves, each putting a claim on the consumer to deliver peak results.

When it comes to pure performance, however, there is a sure-fire No. 1.

“Whey protein is the gold standard in terms of the most bang for your buck, getting the most essential amino acids per serving per gram – there’s no question about that,” said Matt Nichol, a strength and conditioning coach and creator of BioSteel Sport Supplements. “It’s not just how many grams of protein you take, but how many grams of amino acids your body is able to extract from the protein you take.”

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