Devils’ 2011 first-rounder Larsson knows pressure is on this year


Adam Larsson’s time in the NHL since being taken fourth overall by the New Jersey Devils in 2011 has seen more downs than ups and he’s hoping to change that this season.

The 20-year-old Swedish blue liner tells Tom Gulitti of Fire & Ice he knows he has a lot to prove this year.

“I knew it would take a couple of years to really adjust and get used to the game,” Larsson said. “This is an important year for me, so I have to step up and show the coaches and show the organization that I earned a spot in 82 games this year.”

Larsson’s battle for a spot is a healthy mix of veterans and fellow youngsters hungry to prove themselves.

Established guys like Anton Volchenkov, Bryce Salvador, Andy Greene, Mark Fayne, Marek Zidlicky, and Peter Harrold will all vie for playing time while young guys like Jon Merrill, Eric Gelinas, and Alex Urbom will be there to push as well.

If Larsson isn’t sharp, he could wind up back in the press box or the minors. Put up or shut up time? Sure seems like it.

Senators name Jason Spezza team captain

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Naming a new team captain is a big deal in the NHL, and the direction the Ottawa Senators went in didn’t surprise many.

The team announced center Jason Spezza as their new captain, the eighth in team history, taking over the job from new Detroit Red Wings forward Daniel Alfredsson. Chris Phillips and Chris Neil will serve as the team’s alternate captains.

There was some debate in Ottawa as to who would get the call be it Spezza, Phillips, or youngster Erik Karlsson but it was be the forward who won out.

In case you’ve forgotten in all the Alfredsson hoopla this summer, he was the Senators captain for 14 years. Now it’s up to Spezza to help fans move on and forget about the guy they’ll see be a divisional rival in Detroit this season.

As for Spezza’s credentials, he’s been with Ottawa his entire career since being their first-round pick, second overall in 2001. Through 10 seasons with the Sens, he has 228 goals and 621 points in 611 career games.

Lightning owner says GM Yzerman ‘is doing a great job’


Tampa Bay Lightning GM Steve Yzerman has seen his fair share of ups and downs during his three years on the job, but team owner Jeff Vinik likes what he sees.

Damian Cristodero of the Tampa Bay Times reports the team owner fully supports what Yzerman is doing and where the team is headed.

“I think Steve is doing a great job, yes,” Vinik said. “I couldn’t be more pleased with the job Steve Yzerman is doing. I think he’s put together the best, or one of the best, staffs in all of hockey. I think they’ve done a great job in drafting and developing young players. I think he’s made a lot of good moves over the years. My general manager has my support 100 percent.”

Vinik goes on to say he feels the team is on the right track to becoming a consistent winner in Tampa. For Yzerman, it has to be encouraging to hear all this.

After seeing the Lightning make the Eastern Conference finals his first year on the job in 2010-2011, they’ve missed the playoffs the last two seasons and had the third-worst record in the league last year finishing with 40 points.

This year’s Lightning team will be very young and still have questions on defense and in goal. If Vinik likes the way things are shaping up, Yzerman’s seat in Tampa should stay cool.

Looks like Cleary won’t get his No. 11 back from Alfredsson


If Dan Cleary thought he’d be able to get his No. 11 back from Daniel Alfredsson without any problem, he could be in for some disappointment.

Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press reports Alfredsson will be keeping the jersey number but not because he’s fixated on it.

Instead, the new guy in Detroit will hang on to it for more… Business-like reasons.

Presumably, Winter Classic reasons mean banners, programs, as well as jerseys getting pumped out to the eager buying public. As for Alfredsson’s take on the number, he was more than prepared to give up 11 to Cleary, as James Gordon of the Ottawa Citizen shared, in favor of his Swedish Elite League No. 24.

So far in Red Wings camp Cleary has donned 71, a number made famous in Detroit by 2002 Stanley Cup Champion Jiri Slegr as well as Wendel Clark back in 1999.

Gagne on Flyers’ Cleary pursuit: ‘It was like a slap in the face’


The Philadelphia Flyers missed out on signing Dan Cleary and now they’ve upset Simon Gagne because of it.

Gagne tells Mathias Brunet of La Presse out of Quebec, translated at Gagne’s website, he’s disappointed the Flyers led him along all summer only to pursue Cleary instead.

“When I heard [Tuesday] that they had given a contract to Dan Cleary, it was like a slap in the face. I’m disappointed. I knew that hockey was a business, but with all the positive discussions we had with the GM Paul Holmgren, I can’t believe I’m not back with them.”

Of course, Cleary won’t be in Philly as he signed a one-year deal with the Detroit Red Wings this week. For what it’s worth, Holmgren says he’s fine with Cleary going to Detroit, but that won’t do much to ease Gagne’s sore feelings.

Gagne finished last season with the Flyers scoring five goals with six assists in Philly to go along with the five assists he had with Los Angeles. The final month of the season saw Gagne hit his stride scoring three goals and five assists during the team’s final 13 games.

While the Flyers don’t have the cap space to spare to make a signing, that didn’t stop their pursuit of Cleary. Now if they wanted to go to Gagne as a Plan B, they may have missed that opportunity.