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Empty Netter Assists - 11-24-10

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-Has Evgeni Malkin (above) been "terrible" this season (PG+)?

-Sidney Crosby is kind of popular. He leads all vote getters on the all-star ballot.

-Forget Crosby-Ovechkin. How about Crosby-Stamkos?

-The Civic Arena has been saved from demolition for the moment.

-U.S. Bankruptcy Court Chief Judge M. Bruce McCullough, who helped mediate the purchase of the Penguins by Mario Lemieux, passed away. He was 66.

-Happy 75th birthday to former Penguins coach/executive Eddie Johnston (right, with a somewhat successful draft pick). Hired as the team's head coach July 15, 1980, "EJ" coached the team for parts of six seasons and served as general manager for parts of four seasons. In 1980-81, Johnston led the team to a 30-37-13 record and an appearance in the postseason where it fell, 3-2, in a preliminary round series to the Blues. Johnston followed it up in 1981-82 with a dreadful 31-36-13 record. The team returned to the postseason but once again fell, 3-2, in a preliminary round series to the eventual Stanley Cup champion Islanders. Johnston ended his first stint as the Penguins coach in 1982-83 by leading the team towards a dreadful 18-53-9 mark. In the 1983 offseason, he was promoted to general manager. Johnston - who drafted Mario Lemieux and traded for defenseman Paul Coffey - served in that capacity until he was replaced in the 1988 offseason. Johnson would also play a role in perhaps the biggest transaction in franchise history despite being the general manager of another team. On March 4, 1991, while serving as the general manager of the Hartford Whalers, Johnston agreed to a trade which sent Ron Francis, Grant Jennings and Ulf Samuelsson to the Penguins in exchange for John Cullen, Jeff Parker and Zarley Zalapski. The Penguins would win the Stanley Cup two months later while the Whalers eventually moved to Carolina five years later. After leaving the Whalers in 1992, Johnston returned as the Penguins head coach June 22, 1993. He directed the team to a 44-27-13 record and a division title in the newly-formed Northeast Division in 1993-94. In the postseason, the team fell, 4-2, to the Capitals in an Eastern Conference quarterfinal round series. During the lockout-shortened 1994-95 campaign, the Penguins went 29-16-3 record. In the 1995 playoffs, the Penguins defeated the Capitals, 4-3, in an Eastern Conference quarterfinal round and fell to the Devils, 4-1 in the semifinal round. Johnston's finest season as coach came in 1995-96. The team went 49-29-4  for 102 points - a mark which remains the third-best total in franchise history - and another Northeast Division title. In the postseason, the Penguins beat the Capitals, once again, 4-2, in the Eastern Conference quarterfinal round and the Rangers, 4-1, in the semifinal round. The team advanced to the Eastern Conference final where it fell to the "Rat Trap" Panthers, 4-3. After 62 games, a 31-26-5 record in 1996-97, Johnston was removed as head coach and replaced by Craig Patrick. Johnston assumed a front office position until retiring in 2009 following the team's third Stanley Cup title. As head coach, Johnston is the franchise's career leader in games (516), wins (232), losses (224), ties (60) and points (524). In 46 playoff games, Johnston's record was 22-24. Only Scotty Bowman (23) and Dan Bylsma (23) have more wins. In 400 games as general manager, Johnston's record was 140-220-40. He currently serves as a community relations/alumni liaison for the Penguins.

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-Happy 60th birthday to former Penguins forward Hank Nowak. Acquired from the Hershey Bears of the AHL in exchange for cash in the 1973 offseason, Nowak's Penguins career amounted to 13 games and zero points in 1973-74. In the 1974 offseason, Nowak was traded to the Red Wings in exchange for a draft pick.

Atlantic Division

-Demolition of the old pig pen Flyers fans used to hang out in The Spectrum began yesterday.

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-Flyers legends Bobby Clarke and Bernie Parent spoke at a pre-demolition ceremony as well:

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-Greatest. Photo. Ever:

-"Yes son. Dave Schultz started it all in there with a puppy and a bucket of water in 1973."

-The Islanders recalled defenseman Travis Harmonic from Bridgeport of the AHL.

-Islanders defenseman Jack Hillen (concussion) was granted medical clearance to resume practicing.

-The Rangers acquired defenseman Stu Bickel from the Ducks in exchange for defenseman Nigel Williams.

Northeast Division

-Bruins forward Marc Savard (concussion) has been given medical clearance to resume full-contract practices.

-"He gives us the chance to win every night. I like his attitude. He doesn’t get too high after a win or too low after a loss." - Canadiens coach Jacques Martin on the improved play of goaltender Carey Price (right).

-Senators goaltender Pascal Leclaire (leg) and forward Chris Neil ("upper body") are dinged up.

Southeast Division

-After Monday's 5-0 loss to the Devils, Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin was spotted yucking it up with Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk in the bowels of the Prudential Center. The exchange was so loud at some points, it caught the attention of Capitals coach Bruce Boudreau during his post-game press conference. When asked about the meeting, Boudreau said, "I’ll reserve my thoughts on that, if you don’t mind."

-After yesterday's practice, Boudreau downplayed the non-situation saying, "We make big things about nothing."

-The Hurricanes acquired forward Ryan Carter (right) from the Ducks in exchange for forwards Stefan Chaput and Matt Kennedy.

-Panthers defensemen Bryan Allen and Jason Garrison are each dinged up with "lower-body" injuries.

-Thrashers forward Bryan Little is dealing with an undisclosed injury.

Central Division

-The Blue Jackets demoted forward Mike Blunden to Springfield of the AHL.

Northwest Division

-The Wild claimed forward Patrick O'Sullivan off waivers from the Hurricanes. The Wild drafted O'Sullivan in the second round in 2003.

-Wild forward Guillaume Latendresse (right) will be sidelined for most of the remainder of the season due to hip and groin injuries.

-After getting flattened by Rangers defenseman Marc Staal Monday, Flames forward Matt Stajan is day to day due to an "upper-body" injury.

-Flames coach Brent Sutter returns to New Jersey tonight for the first time since he stepped down as the Devils' head coach in the 2009 offseason.

-The Canucks placed forward Peter Schaefer on waivers.

Pacific Division

-Ilya Brzygalov made 23 saves and led the Coyotes to a 5-0 shutout of the Oilers. Lee Stempniak had two goals and an assist for Phoenix while teammate Martin Hanzal netted two goals. The Coyotes have won seven consecutive games.

-Red times for Edmonton's Devan Dubnyk:

-This Oilers fan is about 24 pounds of cuteness:

-"That was an absolute joke, a travesty." - Oilers coach Tom Renney on his team's effort.

-With defenseman Mark Fistric (undisclosed) dinged up, the Stars recalled defenseman Severin Blindenbacher from Texas of the AHL.

-The Kings recalled defenseman Alec Martinez from Manchester of the AHL and demoted former Penguins defensive prospect Jake Muzzin to Manchester.

-Coyotes forward and former Penguin Paul Bissonnette (right) has received more All-Star Game votes than Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk. Fire Ray Shero.

Adams Division

-James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail takes a good look at shot blocking.

-Former Penguins forward Eric Meloche scored the winning goal in the 21st round of a shootout in a 5-4 win for Staubing Tigers against EHC Munich in a DEL game in Germany. Is is believed to be the longest shootout ever in a top-level game.

(Kudos to EN commenter Uli for the heads up.)

-And fire Craig Patrick.

-Happy 70th birthday to former Pittsburgh Hornets forward Murray Hall.

-Today would've been the 100th birthday of former Pittsburgh Hornets goaltender Earl Robertson.

(Photos: Malkin-Justin K. Aller/Getty Images; Johnston first-Post-Gazette archives; Johnston second-Penguins Hockey Cards; Spectrum-Matt Rourke/Associated Press; Price and Latendresse-Bruce Bennett/Getty Images; Carter-Harry How/Getty Images; Oilers/Coyotes-Christian Petersen/Getty Images; Bissonnette-Jeff Gross/Getty Images)

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