Tag Archives: Stanley Cup

SPOTLIGHT: MELROSE PICKS

Bruce BerletBy Bruce Berlet

Former NHL player and coach Barry Melrose has always been an entertaining personality and a straight shooter as an ESPN hockey analyst.

Not surprisingly, Melrose picked two former Hartford Whalers as the greatest power forwards in NHL history. Melrose’s criteria was the candidate has to be a frontline player, very physical and has to fight. He’s not just a big guy who is a very good player who scores but is a big, mean, nasty, physical, tough guy to play against. Melrose’s picks have a lot of goals and penalty minutes and are the type of guy the other team didn’t like to play against.

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SPOTLIGHT: JAMES DOLAN SPEAKS

Bruce BerletBY: Bruce Berlet

New York Rangers owner James Dolan made a rare, spontaneous visit to the Madison Square Garden media room after his team’s 3-0 victory over the Nashville Panthers on Tuesday night.

Dolan, the CEO of MSG, praised Rangers president and general manager Glen Sather for building a team from within with youth and good drafting that is close to winning its first Stanley Cup since 1994. Dolan didn’t mention Connecticut Whale coach Ken Gernander and assistants J.J. Daigneault and Pat Boller, but coach John Tortorella has often praised their work as the Rangers (29-11-4) have moved to the top of the NHL’s overall standings with 62 points in 44 games.

FANFARE: AND IN NET, MARTY BIRON

220xBY: Adam Gavriel

Before the start of the off-season in 2010, New York Rangers head coach John Tortorella and the Blueshirts’ management were seeking answers to the questions regarding the mystery surrounding why the the team had failed to win Lord Stanley’s Cup since 1994. Their analysis led them to take a look around the league and discovered a trend adopted by all Stanley Cup champions for the past several years prior.

The Red Wings had won the cup in 2007-2008 using a 1A, 1B goalie system. In the net were Chris Osgood and Dominick Hasek; with neither playing more than 43 games.

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FAN-FARE: 82 Games – The Marathon

New York RBY: Adam Gavriel

As a fan of a hockey team playing in the NHL it is important to remember that the season is one of the longest out of all the professional sports. The 82 games span six months from October to April, and if you’re lucky your team will be playing through June which would make it an eight month season. Baseball’s 162 games and playoffs span from April to November, seven months. Football’s sixteen games and playoffs span from September to February, 5 months. Only the NHL and the NBA (when they’re playing) can boast an eight month regular season to playoffs marathon. With this, as a fan it’s important to remember that all teams will experience their ups and downs as the season goes on, and it’s a long one.

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SPOTLIGHT: THE WELLAND CONNECTION

Bruce Berlet 7BY: Bruce Berlet

It’s almost something out of Ripley’s Believe It or Not.

Then again, even Ripley’s might not believe this tale.

Two decades ago, Dan Girardi and Andre Deveaux lived five minutes apart in Welland, Ontario, Canada, and spent many a day shooting at targets in a net that Girardi’s father had set up at the end of the driveway.

“We played games for candy or chocolate bars,” a smiling Girardi said after the New York Rangers’ 3-0 victory over the Winnipeg Jets on Sunday night. “When my parents sold their house, the shed about 50 yards behind it was covered in holes, absolutely mangled, from us missing the net after keeping the fence open where we placed the net. They didn’t fix the shed, just sold it as is. There were a lot of good memories there for sure.”

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BRUCE BERLET REPORTS – MOVING FORWARD… AND DEFENSE

BY: Bruce Berlet

The parent New York Rangers recalled defenseman Brendan Bell from the Connecticut Whale Sunday.

Bell’s call-up came only hours after center Kris Newbury was summoned after getting a goal and two assists and being named the No. 2 star in a 5-4 shootout loss to the Bridgeport Sound Tigers on Saturday night. Newbury was leading the Whale (1-1-0-2) in goals (four), assists (four) and points (eight) while excelling on a line with newcomer Andre Deveaux and speedy rookie left wing Carl Hagelin, who had two third-period goals, including a brilliant shorthanded effort, and an assist against the Sound Tigers. In fact, the Hagelin-Newbury-Deveaux line combined for the Whale’s four goals plus four assists.

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BRUCE BERLET REPORTS – A BOURQUE BY ANY OTHER NAME…

BY: Bruce Berlet

Connecticut Whale veteran defenseman Wade Redden offered a straight-on, right-on reason why rookie left wing Ryan Bourque appears to have a long, strong future in professional hockey.

“He’s got good DNA,” Redden said.

Good, indeed. How about great? Like in some of the best all-time from father Ray Bourque, the Hockey Hall of Famer and all-time leading scorer against the Hartford Whalers, the previous hockey inhabitants in the former Hartford Civic Center.

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BRUCE BERLET – AS THE PLAYER DOOR TURNS

BY: Bruce Berlet

Dale Weise’s gain was the Connecticut Whale’s loss on Tuesday.

After three eventful years in the New York Rangers organization, Weise was claimed off waivers by the Stanley Cup runner-up Vancouver Canucks, minutes after skating alongside Kris Newbury and Carl Hagelin in what turned out to be his final practice with the Whale.

The departure of the physical right wing wasn’t all of the Rangers’ moves three days before they open the season against the Los Angeles Kings in Stockholm, Sweden. The Rangers also waived left wing Sean Avery, who lost out to Erik Christensen for the 13th and final forward spot, and defensemen Brendan Bell and Stu Bickel.

Former Hartford Wolf Pack blueliner Michael Sauer was declared fit for the opener after sustaining a sprained shoulder in a game against Philadelphia on Sept. 26 but All-Star Marc Staal is out of the first two games because of headaches associated with post-concussion syndrome.

The loss of Bell and Bickel is unlikely, plus they could be retained by the Rangers if they aren’t claimed.

“I really wasn’t expecting to be claimed, but when the coach (Ken Gernander) came in and told me it was Vancouver, I was ecstatic,” Weise told The Province in Vancouver. “Vancouver was a Cup finalist and it’s playing for a Canadian team. I feel I can play any role, but if they want a fourth line guy who finishes his checks, sticks up for his teammates and scraps when necessary, that’s no problem. I’m more than willing to be an energy guy if that’s what they need.”

Weise, 23, a native of Winnipeg, Manitoba was drafted by the Rangers in the fourth round in 2008, had 18 goals and 20 assists in 47 games with the Wolf Pack and Whale last season despite a series of injuries. He also was scoreless with 19 penalty minutes in his first 10 NHL games, gaining kudos from Rangers coach John Tortorella for his grit. The 6-foot-2, 210-pounder made a memorable first impression when he got the better of the Chicago Blackhawks’ Dan Carcillo in his first NHL fight on Dec. 18, 2010, when Carcillo was with the Philadelphia Flyers.

Weise will be an upgrade on the Canucks’ fourth line, replacing Victor Oreskovich, who was placed on waivers Tuesday.

“He (Weise) is a big right-handed shot who can play a physical game and has the ability to play in both ends,” Canucks assistant general manager Laurence Gilman told The Province. “Our pro scouts have watched this player a lot and we’ve tried to acquire him since last season.”

Weise is entering the final year of a contract that pays him $605,000 in the NHL and $85,000 in the minors. Weise had a good preseason, but there really was no real place for him on the Rangers roster. With Mats Zuccarello claiming the last spot on right wing, Weise was bound to be sent back to the Whale and was among seven players assigned Saturday.

“We’re going to miss Dale, but we’re happy for him and wish him good luck,” Gernander said. “He’s a guy who showed a lot of promise and potential, and right now Vancouver feels there is has a spot for him. Dale is a valuable commodity that we hoped would be a New York Ranger. He wasn’t sent down because the Rangers had no plans for him. He was sent down because the Rangers felt he needed a little more seasoning.

“It’s good for him and tough for us, but it’s all part of helping players advance. It’s going to leave a pretty good size hole for us, but as we always say, it gives an opportunity for somebody else.”

Newcomers Andreas Thuresson and Andre Deveaux and tryout Scott Tanski likely will be helped most by Weise’s departure. Tanski was the Whale’s leading scorer in preseason with three goals in four games and earned lots of positive comments from Gernander.

“He has made a strong case for himself,” Gernander said after Tanski scored the game’s first goal in the Whale’s 3-2 victory over the Worcester Sharks on Sunday. “He is one who if you give him directions he does the types of things that you want to see as far as showing yourself. These are kind of absolutes that you need to do regardless of how talented or highly touted you might be. He’s done all those little things that as a coach you request them to do.”

Avery was waived after being a healthy scratch in the Rangers’ last two preseason games.

(Editor’s note… Various sites were reporting Tortorella’s feelings on Avery and they’ve been added here in italics)

“I don’t want to jam up Sean here – I think we have better players than Sean Avery, plain and simple,” The Rangers head coach told the beat reporters from the second floor of the Rangers hotel in Stockholm. “I can dodge it 10 different ways, without trying to run Sean over. I thought he had a good camp. But I think with the makeup of our team, and some of the people we’ve added, and some of the youth we’ve added as far as depth put Sean in this spot.

“I wish him good luck in everything, but we’ve gone by that. I think we’re a better club. The players that are here are better than Sean Avery. They’re more versatile in a lot of different areas.”

Avery’s agent, Pat Morris, confirmed the news in an interview with a Toronto radio station, adding he doubted Avery would be claimed because of his salary. If Avery clears waivers, he would be re-assigned to the Whale and his $1,937,500 salary cap hit would come off the Rangers’ books. Given the Rangers have only $239,666 of cap space, including Avery, and could be in need of a veteran defenseman given the uncertainty of All-Star defenseman Marc Staal, subtracting Avery’s salary makes a lot more sense than Christensen’s $925,000.

The Rangers are still splitting Avery’s salary with the Stars, who signed Avery to a four-year, $15.5 million contract before suspending and waiving him after 23 games and the NHL ordering him to enroll in anger management classes after making public comments deemed offensive. The Rangers claimed Avery at half his salary after the Stars put him on re-entry waivers. The Rangers could do that this season, recalling Avery from the Whale through re-entry waivers, hoping another team would be willing to split the pro-rated $1.9 million cap hit, with the Rangers being charged for dead space against the cap.

Tortorella had said Saturday that he wanted only one extra forward on the roster, and that it was a battle between Avery and Christensen. Christensen won because Tortorella said he feels he can use Christensen in more situations, and his ability to score in the shootout can be vital to the Rangers’ success. The Rangers got into the playoffs last season largely because it went 9-3 in the shootout, and Christensen scored on five of his eight attempts.

Avery had two goals and one assist in eight games with the Wolf Pack before joining the Rangers. He had three goals and 21 assists in 76 games last season and had 42 goals and 78 assists in 249 games in two stints as a Ranger, including 86 games before going to Dallas and 163 after coming back.

The Rangers are down to the 23-player limit, but are allowed an extra goalie, Scott Stajcer, because they’re starting the season in Europe. After the Rangers complete their European stay with a game against the Anaheim Ducks on Saturday, Stajcer is expected to be returned to a CHL team for an over-aged season.

The Rangers’ roster now includes goalies Stajcer, Martin Biron and Henrik Lundqvist, defensemen Staal, Sauer, Michael Del Zotto, Steve Eminger, Dan Girardi and Ryan McDonagh and forwards Christensen, Rupp, captain Ryan Callahan, Artem Anisimov, Brian Boyle, Brandon Dubinsky, Ruslan Fedotenko, Marian Gaborik, Brandon Prust, Brad Richards, Derek Stepan, Wojtek Wolski and Mats Zuccarello.

The Whale has goalies Cam Talbot and Chad Johnson, defensemen Wade Redden, Tim Erixon, Blake Parlett, Pavel Valentenko, Jared Nightingale, Tomas Kundratek, Jyri Niemi, T.J. Fast and Collin Bowman and forwards Newbury, Hagelin, Thuresson, Deveaux, Bourque, Chad Kolarik, John Mitchell, Kelsey Tessier, Chris McKelvie, rookies Tommy Grant and Jonathan Audy-Marchessault and tryouts Tanski and Jordan Owens, who is back with the Whale after being traded to the Detroit Red Wings for Newbury on March 3, 2010.

QUINNIPIAC HIRES VALIQUETTE

Quinnipiac University has hired former Rangers, Wolf Pack and Bridgeport Sound Tigers goalie Steve Valiquette as its goaltending coach. The man known as Valley spent five seasons in the Rangers organization before playing for CSKA Moscow in the Kontinental Hockey League in Russia last season. Fortunately, he turned down an offer this season from Yaroslavl Lokomotiv, as most of the team died in a plane crash on the way to their season opener Sept. 7. … Goalie Jared DeMichiel of Farmington and Avon Old Farms was among three players released from their tryout agreements by the Providence Bruins on Tuesday. The others were forwards Everett Sheen of Holy Cross and Richard Purslow of the University of Nebraska-Omaha. DeMichiel earned the win in a 3-2 victory over the Springfield Falcons on Friday night, stopping 12 of 14 shots in 31:39. He is headed to Kalamazoo of the ECHL, where he split last season between South Carolina and Elmira and also was 2-1-0 in five games with the AHL’s Hershey Bears.

FROM THE CREASE with BRUCE BERLET

BY: Bruce Berlet

While on a terrific reunion of my wife’s family in suburban Baltimore/Washington over the weekend, I got word of the retirement of one of the greatest winners in sports history.

Trumbull native Chris Drury couldn’t find another job after being bought out by the New York Rangers after three years as team captain. It likely had a lot to do with injuries that ruined his final season, forcing him to miss 63 of 87 games, more than in his previous 11 NHL seasons combined.

“Throughout his career, Chris Drury was always a great competitor, a tremendous leader and teammate, and the heart-and-soul type of player that every team would love to have,” Rangers president and general manager Glen Sather said in a statement Friday. “His commitment, determination and will to win were apparent each and every day. Those characteristics will have a lasting impact on all those who were fortunate enough to learn from Chris over his 12 years in the National Hockey League.”

In vintage Drury style, his retirement was announced in a press release from the NHL Players Association that said he would be unavailable to discuss his decision. No lavish, emotion-filled press conference. No television appearances. Not even a quote from Drury. The man who grew up a Rangers fan just slid out of a spotlight that he never wanted or enjoyed but could never shake, even as his numbers on Broadway declined.

Drury, who turned 35 on Saturday, was as low key as he was known as Captain Clutch for his grit, dedication, leadership and uncanny ability to rise to the occasion while becoming one of the most decorated athletes in Connecticut history, starting as an undefeated pitcher and key hitter for the Little League World Series champions in 1989. Two months later, Drury threw out the ceremonial first pitch in Game 2 of the 1989 World Series and then met President George H.W. Bush and appeared on “Good Morning America” in New York.

Before the Little League World Series win, Drury played many sports simultaneously, winning a national pee wee championship with his hockey team from Bridgeport the same year. Along with older brother Ted, he attended Fairfield Prep, was co-captain of the varsity hockey team his senior year, receiving Connecticut all-state honors for his efforts. Chris and Ted are the only players in Fairfield Prep hockey history to have their numbers retired. The No. 18, which they both wore, hangs above the school’s home rink at the Wonderland of Ice in Bridgeport in the old rink (currently known as the Stadium Rink after renovations that added another rink), as well as in the lobby outside the locker room complex at Fairfield Prep. Chris’ name and number are also painted above the entrance doors to the Classic arena at the same ice rink.

As a freshman at Fairfield Prep, he and his brother helped lead the team to the state Division I hockey title. Then at Boston University, Chris won the NCAA Division I hockey title as a freshman in 1995 and the Hobey Baker Award as the nation’s top player as a senior in 1995. His 113 career goals are still a Terriers record, but he also was 10 feet from Travis Roy when Roy was paralyzed after crashing into the boards 11 seconds into his first collegiate shift. Drury was the first to Roy’s side, was thrust into a role beyond his years dealing publicly with a calamity that literally struck close to him, and the two have been friends ever since. Drury helps host a golf tournament every summer to benefit the Travis Roy Foundation, which has distributed more than $2.5 million in individual grants and to research projects and rehabilitation institutions across North America to help spinal cord injury survivors and to fund research into a cure. Drury once said not a day goes by without his thinking of Roy, who is now a terrific motivational speaker, author and activist.

While at BU, Drury also was the third round pick of the former Quebec Nordiques in the 1994 NHL draft, which fittingly was held in Hartford. He promptly won the Calder Trophy as the NHL rookie of the year in 1999, and two years later, he had 11 goals and 16 assists as he won his only Stanley Cup with the Colorado Avalanche, which had relocated from Quebec.

Drury had 255 goals, including 47 winners, and 360 assists in 892 NHL regular-season games with the Avalanche, Calgary Flames, Buffalo Sabres and Rangers. He was even more clutch in the playoffs, where 17 of his 47 goals in 135 games were winners. Drury also played for the United States in the 2002, ’06 and ’10 Winter Olympics, winning two silver medals and one bronze.

Many questioned U.S. general manager Brian Burke’s decision to choose Drury for the 2010, but the former Hartford Whalers GM said he selected the Rangers captain for his experience and success with the national team.

“We picked Chris Drury because he’s Chris Drury,” Burke said at the time.

But Drury’s career ended on a downer thanks to a twice-broken finger and arthroscopic knee surgery last season. Still, in typical Drury fashion, Drury returned for the regular-season finale and scored his lone goal in a 5-2 victory over the New Jersey Devils that helped the Rangers clinch a playoff spot. But that was about the only highlight for Drury, who had only five points and then added an assist in Rangers’ first-round playoff loss to the Washington Capitals.

Drury was let go by the Rangers on June 29 when he was given $3.333 million for the buyout that ended the five-year, $35.25 million deal he signed with New York on July 1, 2007 after leaving the Sabres as a free agent.

“It was a great honor and privilege to be a New York Ranger for the past four years, and I will always be grateful for the opportunity to fulfill that childhood dream,” Drury told Rangers beat writer Larry Brooks of the New York Post at the time. “The Rangers are a first-class organization with great people in the hockey, public relations, team services and community relations departments.

“I would also like to thank Ranger fans. They always inspired me to do the best I could in whatever role I was asked to play. Playing before them in the Garden was a thrill of a lifetime. I wish all the fans and the entire Ranger organization the best of luck in the future.”

Locally, the summer of 1989 was unforgettable for Drury as he hit .527 and won all eight games that he pitched in the Little League tournament, including complete-game five-hitter in a 5-2 victory over seemingly invincible Taiwan in the final in which he also had two-run single.

In the Hartford Courant’s 1999 series recognizing the top 25 Connecticut athletes in the century, Drury was ranked 24th. But he likely would be higher now because he was only 23 at the time and has barely started his NHL career.

“It’s hard to absorb,” said Drury, who was a right wing with the Avalanche. “It’s a huge, huge honor. A century is a long time.”

So, too, is winning the Little Series World Series.

“At the time, it was a big thing to win a couple of games in the state tournament,” Drury said. “For us, it was a big deal to win the East Regional in Bristol. When we saw the guys from Cherry Hills (N.J.), they were 5-foot-10; they were huge. We beat them 18-6.

“We get to Williamsport (Pa.), and there’s no way we should hang in there against a team of (suspected) 14- and 15-year-olds. (Hall of Fame pitcher) Jim Palmer, who was working for ABC, came into our dugout before the game. He says, ‘Guys, don’t worry if you start to lose bad, it’s OK. And the guys are saying, ‘Who are you? Thanks, Jim, see you later.”

See you in the winner’s circle, as Trumbull beat out 6,990 other teams worldwide. It seemed only fitting that Drury announced the end of his career while this year’s Little League World Series is being played in Williamsport.

Drury and Scott Gomez never nearly meshed with the Rangers, who were led by Jaromir Jagr when they arrived together. Gomez lasted only two seasons before he and former Hartford Wolf Pack players Tom Pyatt and Michael Busto were traded to the Montreal Canadiens for former Yale center Chris Higgins, former Springfield Pics defenseman Doug Janik, defenseman Ryan McDonagh, who started last season with the Connecticut Whale before being promoted on Jan. 3, and Whale defenseman Pavel Valentenko.

The Rangers used the cap space created by the buyout of Drury to sign prized free-agent center Brad Richards to a nine-year, $60 million deal. Drury could have earned his full $5 million for next season if he chose to apply for a medical exception because of his injured left knee and it was determined he wasn’t able to play.

It isn’t known if Drury is healthy enough to continue his career if he chose to, but it is known that he was one of the biggest winners everywhere at anytime. He was named the Rangers’ 25th captain on Oct. 3, 2008, and in 2009-10, he led all NHL forwards in blocked shots (97) and was nominated for the Bill Masterton Memorial Trophy by the New York chapter of the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association (PHWA), awarded annually to “the NHL player who best exemplifies the qualities of perseverance, sportsmanship and dedication to hockey.”

Despite missing 57 games because of injury last season, Drury – as usual – worked overtime to get back in the lineup for the season finale and the playoffs. He has 47 goals and 42 assists in 135 career playoff games with the Rangers, Avalanche and Sabres. He’s tied for fourth in the NHL all-time with four playoff overtime goals and ranks sixth among active NHL players in playoff goals. He has participated in the postseason nine times and advanced to at least the conference finals five times, winning it all a decade ago.

Besides his three Olympic appearances, Drury participated in the World Junior Championships in 1996, the World Championships in 1997, 1998 and 2004 and the World Cup of Hockey in 2004. To say Chris Drury has had a star-studded and wildly winning career would be one of the great understatements in sports history. Drury never took off a shift, was fearless blocking shots and a good influence on young and old players alike. He captained two teams, the Sabres and Rangers, and his lasting legacy in New York will be the mentoring of youngsters such as former Wolf Pack players Ryan Callahan, Brandon Dubinsky and All-Star Marc Staal.

So who should be his successor as Rangers’ captain? Some think Richards, but the choice here is homegrown right wing Callahan, a seeming Drury clone. Callahan, the Rangers’ fourth-round pick in 2004, has a better scoring touch than Drury and an equally strong work ethic and ability to lead by example. Callahan would be the first homegrown Rangers captain since Cheshire native and Hockey Hall of Famer Brian Leetch and earned a hearty endorsement from Brooks.

“Brad Richards will skate into camp (on Sept. 15) as coach John Tortorella’s favorite son, everyone gets that,” Brooks wrote. “But there’s no need to memorialize the relationship by giving the Rangers’ captaincy to the 31-year-old center who played the first 10 years of his career off Broadway.

“The captaincy of this team of Bluebloods should go to a Blueblood. The captaincy should go to Ryan Callahan, who has been an alternate captain the last two seasons, who served as de-facto captain much of last season in Chris Drury’s absence and who is the personification of the Black-and Blueshirt mentality that identified the 2010-11 Rangers.

“A homegrown captain for a homegrown team.

“Richards will lead by example. Richards will be leaned on by Tortorella. But Broadway Brad not only doesn’t need the captaincy, he hasn’t earned it here the way Callahan has. Beyond that, there’s no need to stamp the scarlet letter on Richards, whose relationship with the coach already is on a different plane than everyone else’s on the team.”

Well said, and we’ll all find out if Tortorella agrees at training camp as he said he won’t name Drury’s successor until then.

PRO, COLLEGE STARS AT CAMP AT CHAMPIONS SKATING CENTER

Whale/Rangers center Kris Newbury and former Wolf Pack goalie Matt Zaba are among more than 30 players participating in the sixth annual Pete Asadourian Pro Hockey Camp on Monday through Friday at the Champions Skating Center in Cromwell.

Asadourian is the owner and founder of Future Fitness Sport Specific Training in the Champions Skating Center and is hosting the high-level players from around the country and Canada who are participating in four days of intense strength training and on-ice work before a scrimmage open to the public Friday from 6 to 8 p.m. at Champions’ lower rink. A $2 donation will be collected at the door, and players will be available for autographs before and after the game, with some of their memorabilia and other items part of a raffle.

The goal of the camp is to focus on the development of their strength, speed, endurance, flexibility, mental toughness and overall conditioning to prepare for the coming season. Yale coach Keith Allain and South Windsor High School coach Neil Rodman are the on-ice instructors. Allain, who played at Yale in 1976-80, has also been goalie coach with the Capitals, St. Louis Blues, the AHL’s Worcester IceCats and the 1992 and 2006 U.S. Olympic teams.

Other players scheduled to attend include Bolton native Ron Hainsey, a first-round pick (13th overall) by Montreal in 2000 who has played 488 NHL games with the Canadiens, Columbus Blue Jackets and Atlanta Thrashers, who have moved to Winnipeg, Manitoba; Wethersfield native Colin McDonald, the son of former Hartford Whalers defenseman Gerry McDonald who led the AHL with 42 goals last season with the Oklahoma City Barons before signing with the Pittsburgh Penguins on July 1; South Windsor native Jon DiSalvatore, who captained the Houston Aeros to the Calder Cup finals his spring; and Anaheim Ducks center Nick Bonino. Newbury was the Whale’s leading scorer last season with 17 goals and a team-high 44 assists in 69 games and had one assist in 11 games with the Rangers. Zaba, who played with the Wolf Pack in 2008-09 and 2009-10, was 25-12-0 with a 2.09 goals-against average and .931 save percentage with HC Balzano of the Italian Elite League last season.

DEVILS’ ZAJAC OUT 4-6 WEEKS

The New Jersey Devils will start the season without No. 1 center Travis Zajac, who will miss the first six weeks after surgery to repair his left Achilles tendon. Zajac, who was third on the Devils in scoring last season with 13 goals and 31 assists, sustained the injury last Wednesday during an off-ice training workout.

“He’ll be in a cast for a week and then he’ll be in a walking boot right after that,” Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello told the Bergen (N.J.) Record. “Then, it’s the healing process, which takes around three months.”

Possible replacements on the top line include Dainius Zubrus and Patrik Elias. Zajac, the Devils’ first-round pick (20th overall) in 2004, has 89 goals and 160 assists) in 408 NHL games. The injury means his consecutive games steak will end at 401. He hasn’t missed a game since Oct. 24, 2006. … Former Wolf Pack left wing Chad Wiseman was among 12 players signed by the Devils on Monday. Wiseman, 30, rejoined the Devils’ organization last season and had 16 goals and 28 assists in 48 games with the Albany Devils. The 10-year veteran has appeared in 530 AHL games, recording 163 goals and 173 assists. He also has one goal and one assist in nine NHL games with the San Jose Sharks, who chose him in the eighth round in 2000, and the Rangers. … Veteran forward Ethan Moreau signed a one-year, $600,000 contract with the Los Angeles Kings. Moreau had one goal and five assists in 37 games with Columbus last season. He had spent parts of 11 seasons with the Edmonton Oilers before joining the Blue Jackets and was named captain of the Oilers in October 2007. He was a first-round pick of the Chicago Blackhawks in 1994 and dealt to Edmonton in a seven-player trade in March 1999. … Nearly 1,000 people attended the funeral of NHL forward Rick Rypien on Saturday in Blairmore, Alberta. Vancouver Canucks defenseman Kevin Bieksa was a pallbearer, and others attending included former Rangers and Wolf Pack forward Manny Malhotra who is now with Vancouver, Canucks general manager Mike Gillis and Rypien’s cousin, former NFL quarterback Mark Rypien. Rick Rypien, 27, who signed a contract with the Jets earlier this summer after six seasons with the Canucks, was found in his home in nearby Coleman, Alberta, last Monday night. Rypien had struggled with depression, and police said his death was not suspicious. He is the second NHL player to die in the offseason. Rangers left wing/enforcer Derek Boogaard died May 13 after an accidental overdose of alcohol and the painkiller oxycodon. … Former Whalers and New Haven Senators wing Blair Atcheynum was one of three recent inductees into the Moose Jaw Warriors and Legends Hall of Fame. Other inducted by the Western Hockey League team were Derek Kletzel and Rob Carnie. … The Norfolk Admirals announced Monday that the team’s training camp and three preseason games will be in the Canadian province of Newfoundland and Labrador, the home of the new St. John’s IceCaps. The Admirals will open camp in St. John’s on Sept. 27, and after two days of practice will play three preseason games against the IceCaps, who are affiliated with the Jets. The Admirals will travel to Norfolk on Oct. 3 to prepare for their season opener Oct. 7 against the visiting Charlotte Checkers. The IceCaps are bringing pro hockey back to St. John’s after a six-year hiatus. Prior to the IceCaps, the St. John’s Maple Leafs were members of the AHL from 1991 to 2005. The Admirals, who joined the AHL in 2000, have never played in Newfoundland.

CHRIS DRURY RETIRES

drury

Chris Drury is a Connecticut guy through and through and today a long and incredibly successful career came to an end as the former New York Rangers captain called it a career and retired.

From winning the Little League World Series, to Bean Pot and a College National Championship to the Olympics and of course the Stanley Cup, Chris Drury has always been and always will be a winner.

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