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Thinking Of Zach

from the Ottawa Sun,

Zach Laroche is used to battling for pucks. These days, the outstanding 15-year-old Ottawa hockey player is waging a much more serious battle -- but he is not doing it alone. Laroche, a standout centre with the minor midget AA Cumberland Barons, is scheduled to undergo at least seven hours of surgery today as doctors at CHEO try to remove a large brain tumour which caused him to become disoriented and then collapse during a game last week. When he is wheeled into the operating room, he will have the thoughts and prayers of many members of the Ottawa hockey community on his side. "The hockey world has rallied around him, it's unbelievable," said Jack Laroche, from his son's bedside yesterday. "I've never seen anything like it."
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Rangers, Preds In The Same Boat

from the Nashville City Paper,

Tonight at the GEC, the teams will meet as two of the NHL’s best teams of the first quarter of the season. Thanks largely to the new salary cap system, both teams have found their respective missing element. The system forced the Rangers to figure it out. No longer could they simply throw money at problems. Ironically, they have found that the main problem was just that — throwing money at problems. Meanwhile for Nashville, the salary cap allowed them to sign Paul Kariya and keep Steve Sullivan. Though chemistry has remained their greatest asset, the presence of these two dynamic players has added a dimension the Predators have always lacked.
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Goalie Wars

from the Rocky Mountain News,

Forgive David Aebischer if he did not unfurl the welcome mat for new goalie Vitaly Kolesnik when he arrived at the Pepsi Center on Wednesday. As far as Aebischer is concerned, Kolesnik is akin to the mailroom intern working his way up the corporate ladder. Aebischer is not quite ready to surrender the top rung. Aebischer, in his second season as the Colorado Avalanche's No. 1 goalie, said he was surprised by management's decision to promote Kolesnik from the minor leagues Tuesday. Unbuckling his pads after the morning skate Wednesday, he pursed his lips and fought to mask his displeasure.
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Pavel Bure Building Olympic Team

from Kommersant,

Of all forwards, only Alexey Yashin, who is the captain and absolute leader of New York Islanders, and Pavel Datsyuk of Red Wings are stable so far. The good news is that both of them are central forwards, i.e. hockey players of key role, where Krikunov has a narrow choice. Two more central forwards, Alexey Zhamnov of Boston Bruins and Sergey Fedorov of Columbus Blue Jackets, who have recently recovered from serious injuries, don’t show staring performance, to put it mildly.
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Uhhh- No!

via the San Antonio Express,

Edmonton Oilers forward Ryan Smyth granted the birthday wish of a 101-year-old woman who wanted to run her hands through Smyth's hair. This provides hockey with the perfect chance to jump on the athlete-celebrity bandwagon. Since the NBA already has Eva Longoria and the NFL has Nicollette Sheridan, the NHL needs to take the obvious next step — set a player up with Bea Arthur.
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Clashing Styles

from the Denver Post,

Doug McLeod is not a bad person. The Colorado Avalanche play-by-play man for Altitude Sports vanished abruptly 20 games into the season, but it was his style, not his personality, that led to his demise. "People are going to read into this that we had some kind of falling out with Doug. That's not the case," said Jim Martin, CEO of Altitude Sports and Entertainment, who made the decision to change. "I was looking for a little different style." McLeod was replaced by Mike Haynes, the Avs' radio play-by-play guy, who will stay in the TV seat through this season.
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Koivu & Kovalev Nearing Return

from the Montreal Gazette,

The Canadiens are learning to take the bad news with the good. The good news yesterday was that first-line forwards Alex Kovalev and Saku Koivu took strides toward returning to the lineup. The bad news is that Radek Bonk is out indefinitely with a torn groin muscle. He has had a series of problems in that area. Koivu and Kovalev provided some good news when they skated with a small group after the regular practice. Koivu, who has been bothered by a groin injury, might be in the lineup Saturday night when the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim visit the Bell Centre. Kovalev's return is a ways off, but he skated for the first time since he underwent knee surgery on Nov. 15 and is on schedule for a Christmas return to the lineup.
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Strong Likelihood Penguins Moving

from the Toronto Star,

Crosby's days in Pittsburgh might be numbered and it has nothing to do with the Penguins languishing in last place in the Eastern Conference with only seven wins in 27 games. For months, Crosby's teammate and Penguins owner Mario Lemieux has been in a battle with one Las Vegas heavyweight and several Pittsburgh big shots for the right to acquire a licence from the state of Pennsylvania to operate slot machines. Without the licence, Lemieux argues, the Penguins won't be able to afford to build a new home to replace Mellon Arena, at present the NHL's oldest venue. And without a new, luxury-box-laden arena, the Penguins will be on the move. The only question is where. A glance at Lemieux's adversaries suggests he faces long odds.
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The Yzerman Plan

from Bob Wolnowski of the Detroit News,

"I have no plans to retire in the near future," Yzerman said, before forcing a smile. "But the plan could change. I don't want to say much more, other than (retirement) is something to ponder." The fans still appreciate him, and so does the team. That's why it's hard to picture Yzerman stepping away midseason. I don't believe that's his intention, but even he acknowledges it can't be ruled out. "I don't think it's preposterous to say that," he said. "I think that just comes with the territory for anybody at a certain stage of their career. You start thinking about things. You can't help it, particularly on a day when you're not thrilled with how it's going. It creeps more into you then. But for the most part, I'm enjoying it. I don't want to make it an issue because we're trying to win games."
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Shanahan For Team Canada

Yesterday I got on my soap box and mentioned Shanny should be considered for the Olympics, now Danny Knobler of Mlive is picking up where I left off... from Mlive,

"Of course, any Canadian would go (to the Olympics) if asked,'' said Shanahan, who had just 25 goals in 82 games the last time the NHL had a season, in 2003-04. "I wouldn't say I'm banking on it. I think I'd be surprised. My wife would be surprised. She thinks we're going somewhere warm in February.'' Good line, but Shanahan was just warming up. "The next Olympics in Whistler (British Columbia, in 2010) are my focus,'' he deadpanned. "I was thinking bobsled, like (teammate Chris Chelios). He bankrolled the Greece team. I would bankroll a team for Ireland. Buy my way in.'' Or play his way in, as the case may be.
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About Kukla's Korner Hockey

Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com

 

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