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The Hockey Hall of Fame, the Capitals and Adam Oates’ huge day

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In new Hall of Famer Adam Oates (right), the Caps hired a superb teacher. (Shelly Castellano/Icon SMI)

By Stu Hackel

You won’t see a guy have a better day than Adam Oates had on Tuesday, being officially announced as the head coach of the Washington Capitals and an honored member of the Hockey Hall of Fame (video) within the space of a few hours. “Obviously an absolutely fantastic day,” Oates said. “I don’t know if that’s ever happened before. I have to go out and play Lotto, I think.  Two huge honors.”

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  • Published On Jun 27, 2012
  • Winter Classic foes continue their historic rivalry

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    The Flyers and Rangers have been at each other’s throats since the days of Dave Schultz and Philly’s infamous Broad Street Bullies. (Rusty Kennedy/AP)

    By Stu Hackel

    After months of buildup and promotion, the Winter Classic is finally upon us. It is, of course, nothing more than Game 569 of the regular season schedule, worth the same two points in the standings as any other game — or (sigh) two for the winner and one for the loser if it ends in a regulation tie.

    But the exposure and popularity this unique game has brought to hockey during the past four years can’t — and shouldn’t — be denied. For that we must credit the NHL’s partnership with NBC. Their deal may be far less lucrative for the league’s teams than the ones enjoyed by other major pro sports, but it’s the best the league has ever had, especially because
    NBC and its offshoots respect the product and help create new ways to expose it.

    The same can be said for the NHL’s deal with HBO which, through its”24/7″ series, provides an unprecedented look at the run-up to the game. Nothing has ever come close to bringing viewers inside the NHL as it really is, looks and sounds.

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  • Published On Dec 30, 2011
  • New film tells of an enforcer’s rise and fall

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    Fighter Chris Nilan devoted his body and soul to protecting his teammates for 15 seasons in the NHL. (Denis Brodeur/Getty Images)

    By Stu Hackel

    If fans embrace Slap Shot as the Casablanca of hockey films, The Last Gladiators is Apocalypse Now, a descent into the game’s heart of darkness. Here, the hockey fighters’ story doesn’t trace cartoon lives of triumphant heroes who engage in laugh-a-minute punchouts that end in a championship parade. This documentary shows the aftermath, the tough guys’ dénouement, as their lives — and the role they played — dissolve in a unique mixture of regret, shame, pride, self-destruction, and nostalgia.

    Slap Shot was a film of its time that provided — and still provides — the hockey community with the laughs. The Last Gladiators is the sobering counterpoint, more in the tradition of some of Hollywood’s great ring tragedies from Requiem For A Heavyweight to The Wrestler.

    Directed by Alex Gibney, an Oscar, Emmy, Peabody, and Grammy award-winning documentarian, this film could not be more timely as it peers into the troubled lives of former NHL fighters. Centered around Chris Nilan, who for 13 seasons was one of the NHL’s most feared heavyweights, the film explores the job he and his pugilist peers did, why they did it, the role is serves in the sport, and the toll it took on their lives.
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  • Published On Sep 21, 2011
  • Habs-Bruins rumble deserves closer scrutiny

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    By Stu Hackel

    Fans who watched the Canadiens-Bruins game last night (highlights above) in person or on TSN or Versus certainly got their money’s worth of old time hockey entertainment. The two Original Six rivals combined for 14 goals, 67 shots on net, 182 penalty minutes, 12 fighting majors, including a line brawl and the NHL’s second goalie fight in a week (video) — this one far less eventful than the one in which the Penguins’ Brent Johnson broke Islander Rick DiPietro’s face. Tim Thomas and Carey Price were no better at fighting than they were at stopping the puck.

    It was a fun game in many ways, which is what you want when the Habs and B’s hook up, although it got pretty stupid at the end, especially when Boston’s Adam McQuaid jumped Montreal’s Max Pacioretty with 25 seconds left in a contest that had already been decided. McQuaid got a double minor, Pacioretty got nothing and stayed on the ice to score an essentially meaningless goal with 14 seconds to go that made the final score 8-6.
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  • Published On Feb 10, 2011


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