Pat Burns has Cancer Again

Prior to dropping the puck for last weekend’s All – Star game in Montreal, a moment was taken by the hockey community to say a silent prayer for former coach Pat Burns who recently made public the stunning news of having lung cancer.

 This 56 year-old former Montreal policeman who strung together an impressive coaching resume which included over 500 wins (501), and a Stanley Cup in 2003 with the New Jersey Devils, is currently a Devils scout and doesn’t plan to slow down his active lifestyle.

“Right now, I’m just enjoying the time I have left,” said Burns who over his 14 years behind an NHL bench with the Canadiens, Toronto Maple Leafs, Boston Bruins and New Jersey was known as a no-nonsense coach. “The crying and everything, that’s all finished.” “I told my family, that’s it.” “We’ve done all that.” “Let’s just enjoy what we have here.” 

Burns who in the past has undergone aggressive chemotherapy treatments for colon and liver cancer has decided not to undergo anymore chemo this time around and to let nature take its course.

“It becomes a situation where, how much do you want to treat things,” said Burns who is still golfing and riding his motorcycle along with his scouting duties. “It’s the treatment that’s tough.” “I did 2.5 years of chemo and I’ve had two major surgeries.”

Every two weeks Burns who has been to the top cancer institutions and still sees his doctors every two weeks was full of praise towards the Devils organization especially their long time general manager Lou Lamoriello.

“ I love working for New Jersey,” Burns said. “They’ve been great to me.” “They’ve supported me.” “Lou is a Godsend for me because he’s looked after me, and I know I can stay close to hockey.”

Even though he isn’t taking chemotherapy, Burns is determined to fight tooth and nail to the very end. “I’m not going to stop,” Burns said. “You’ve got to get up with a purpose in life.”

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Another Fight Scare

Even after Garrett Klotz survived a scary on ice incident, that easily could have turned tragic, this Philadelphia Phantoms’, American Hockey League, forward still strongly believes that fighting should remain in hockey.

Approximately a week ago, Klotz was involved in a fight with Manchester’s Kevin Westgarth, that at the end saw his body go into violent convulsions, after being repeatedly hit in the head with some violent blows.

“I know the risks that I’m taking when I go out there and I’m willing to take the risk,” Klotz said on Thursday. “It’s not too often that this happens.”

Since that fight, along with the death of a senior hockey player in Whitby, Dunlops’ defenceman, Don Sanderson, there has been plenty of debate about whether or not fights should be abolished in hockey.

Klotz, who is known for his aggressive play, has made it clear that he doesn’t want this isolated incident to determine whether rules are changed or not.

Once at the hospital, doctors couldn’t determine what caused the seizures. After a few days of rest, he was given the green light to resume training with his team.

“I had CT scans, and MRI’s done and everything came back normal,” the 20 year-old said. “It’s looking clear, and hopefully it never happens again.” 

“I’m just going to take it slowly and see how I feel, until I’m fully prepared to get back on the ice, and do what I do.”

Going forward, Klotz commented that the sooner he is cleared to play the better. He admitted to being scared, but knows that he can’t allow it to be a barrier from playing his aggressive style of play. 

 

Montreal All-Star Weekend a Big Hit

On Saturday night history was made at the NHL Skills Competition in Montreal, when hulking Boston Bruins’ defenceman, Zdeno Chara, thrilled the Molson Centre crowd, by winning the hardest shot contest, at 105.4 miles per hour.

Chara, who came into the competition as the two time defending champion, broke former NHL defenceman, Al Iafrateʼs, 16-year record of hardest shot of all time. Ironically enough, Iafrate, who had the record at 105.2, set it in Montreal at The Forum.

In other Skills Competition results, Edmonton Oilers’ super sophomore, Andrew Cogliano, won the speed skating event. Cogliano, who was a favorite before the event, raced a lap around the ice in a time of 14.31 seconds; to better Philadelphia Flyers’ forward, Jeff Carter, who finished runner up – at 14.43. Also participating was Florida Panthersʼ, Jay Bouwmeester — Vancouver Canucksʼ, Mason Raymond — New Jersey Devilsʼ, Zach Parise and Chicago Blackhawksʼ Brian Campbell.

The boisterous fans then got to see six gifted scorers — Washington Capitalsʼ, Alex Ovechkin, Chicago Blackhawksʼ, Patrick Kane, Tampa Bay Lightning stars, Steven Stamkos, Marty St. Louis, Ryan Getzlaf — and crowd favorite, Alex Kovalev, compete in who could be the most creative in the breakaway challenge. In the end — Ovechkin was voted as the winner.

There was also the Young Guns showcase, where 10 of the NHLʼs best rookies and sophomores were picked to play in a 3 on 3 shinny game. The rookies, led by Boston Bruins’, Blake Wheelerʼs three goals, won the game 9-5.

Showing their pin-point accuracy in the target shooting competition were Pittsburgh Penguins’ star, and the NHLʼs leading scorer, Evgeni Malkin and Ottawa Senators’, Dany Heatley, who both hit four targets with only four shots. With that feat, they both became the fifth and sixth players to accomplish the feat. They join such names as, Boston Bruins’ defenceman, Ray Bourque (1992-93), New York Rangers’, Mark Messier (ʼ96), Philadelphia Flyers Jeremy Roenick (2004) and Toronto Maple Leafs’ defenseman, Tomas Kaberle, who accomplished the feat last year. Malkin beat Heatley in a tiebreaker, by hitting four out of four targets.

In the hardest shot competition, Nashville Predators’ blue liner, Shea Weber, finished second, with a 103.4 miles per hour shot. The other participant, to hit triple digits, was Edmonton Oilers’ blue liner, Sheldon Souray. Other shooters included Montreal Caandiens’, Mike Komisarek, New York Islanders’, Mark Streit and Tampa Bay Lightning captain, Vincent Lecavalier.

Winning in the elimination shootout competition was Phoenix Coyotes’ veteran, Shane Doan.

 

Vincent Lecavalier

To the surprise of Tampa Bay Lightning captain Vincent Lecavalier he was given a heroes welcome when he arrived at the Trudeau/International Airport in preparation for the NHL All Star Game being played at the Molson Centre in Montreal.

“When I walked through those doors and saw the hundreds of people there for autographs and waiting for the players arrival-my hair was all over the place and I really didn’t expect to have that,” he said on Friday. “I don’t think anybody expected to have a welcome like that.”

This former 1998 first overall Lightning draft choice who in his ninth season has scored 44 first half points has been rumored for weeks to be on the move in a blockbuster deal to the Montreal Canadiens. 

Lecavalier who got a thunderous ovation from the Montreal fans during Saturday’s skills competition signed an 11 year contract extension with the Lightning last fall but a few months into the season was rumored to be on the move to Canadiens.

“Usually there’s rumors, but this one seemed that it had a lot of legs,” said the veteran who was reassured by general manager Brian Lawton that he wasn’t going anywhere.

Talking about Montreal, Lecavalier didn’t sound like he would be to disappointed if traded to the Canadiens.

“I grew up here,” said Lecavalier. “I’ve always loved the Montreal Canadiens.” “It’s a great organization, it’s a great town.” “My family’s from here, I’ve got a lot of friends here.” He went on to add, “It would be a dream place to come and play for.”

Rumors have been circulating in Tampa that the new ownership of Oren Koules and Len Barrie are losing money, and apparently Montreal who want to make a big splash in their centennial campaign have been acquiring about the big forward.

The 28 year old who often used the word religion when talking about the Canadiens will get to fulfill a dream at this weekend’s All Star Game of dressing in the Canadiens home dressing room.

“To be getting dressed in the Canadiens room is something I always wanted to see,” he said.

OHL Rule Change

 

Following the tragic death of Don Sanderson in a hockey fight, long time OHL Commissioner David Branch announced a rule change last week to prevent something like this from ever happening again.

Sanderson who played defence for the Whitby Dunlops in men senior’s AAA league had his helmet dislodged during a fight this year and seconds later struck his head violently on the ice. This 21 year-old who was known by his teammates as a real character guy went into a coma and eventually on January 2 lost his life.

Even though Sanderson didn’t play in the OHL it served as a wake up call for Branch to insert stiffer penalties for either taking off your helmet during a fight or undoing the chinstrap.

Starting last Thursday, the OHL put in a new rule where a player will get a game misconduct and be suspended for the next game if they take off their helmets. Same thing goes for undoing their chinstraps.

Taking the new rule one step further, if one fighting participant takes off his helmet to do battle and the other player doesn’t, then that first player will be receive and extra minor along with the game misconduct and game suspension.

If the helmets become lose as a result of the fight then linesmen are now being told to break it up right away.

Previously in the OHL a team would be fined $100.00 if a player took off his helmet to fight.

Concussions have been a big topic the last few years and this now opens the eyes of many on the need to take action on helmets and headshots.

He’s Back…Claude Lemieux

After tearing up the minor leagues for 23 games, Claude Lemieux got that magical phone call on Monday morning informing the pesky forward that he is indeed going to get another shot playing NHL hockey.

Proving all the doubters wrong, Lemieux who is 43 years-old used a strong work ethic and lots of determination in proving to the San Jose Sharks who signed him in December that even though he hasn’t played professional in about four years that he still can play and be an asset.

“The more I was told this was impossible, the more I wanted it,” said Lemieux after completing his first practice with the Sharks.

“I still feel that way.” “This is just the first step to life back in the NHL.” “I got into this with my eyes wide open, knowing that most folks out there would think that I’m out of my mind to attempt to do something like this.”

Lemieux who was drafted by the Montreal Canadiens way back in 1983 was known as a pesky player who played for the Canadiens, New Jersey Devils, Colorado Avalanche, Phoenix Coyotes and the Dallas Stars before retiring in 2003. Along the way he won four Stanley Cups and one Conn Smythe Trophy.

After going public about his desires to once again play in the NHL, the San Jose Sharks showed some mild interest and signed him as a free agent with no promises.

Since that time, he silenced his many critics by scoring three goals and 11 points and a +2 rating with the Worcester Sharks of the American Hockey League. 

 Among those who are surprised at the determination of Lemieux at once again being in the NHL is Montreal coach Guy Carbonneau who was a one- time teammate over 20 years ago with the Canadiens.

“You see Chris Chelios who is 46 now, but when you consider the fact that Claude stopped playing for three or four years, it shows the character he has,” Carbonneau said.

“I’m happy for him.” “I didn’t think at first that it would be possible but now we see that nothing is impossible.” 

Rick DiPietro Shelved for the Season

 

The New York Islanders brief playoff hopes took a huge hit on Tuesday when it was announced that their star goalie Rick DiPietro wouldn’t be back until next fall at training camp.

This former Islanders 2000 first round draft choice, who was tabbed as a future superstar has been plagued by serious knee and hip injuries ever since signing a much talked about 15 year 67.5 million contract with New York a couple of years ago.

“This has been one of the most frustrating situations I have ever had to deal with, but this is the right decision for me and the team,” said DiPietro who has played in only five games this season. “I am confident this will allow me to make a complete recovery, be ready in plenty of time for next season and compete to my highest ability for many years to come.”

In a span of one year, this 27 year-old has had to endure three operations including one to the hip last March and this past October in the knee to repair some torn meniscus. 

According to the team, DiPietro who has 117 wins in his career has recently been experiencing some serious swelling in the knee that has shut down the star goalie.

“After extensive consultation we feel this decision is in the best interest for Rick and the team,” said Islanders GM Garth Snow. “This will allow Rick ample time to make a full recovery for next year.”