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Empty Netter Assists - 07-15-13

Written by Seth Rorabaugh on .

Penguins

-Happy 62nd birthday to former Penguins all-star forward, coach and scout Rick Kehoe (right). Acquired prior to 1974-75 season in a deal which sent Blaine Stoughton and a draft pick to the Maple Leafs, Kehoe spent 11 seasons with the Penguins as a player. He immediately showed what he could do with the Penguins in 1974-75 by playing in 76 games and netting 32 goal and 63 points. He appeared in nine postseason games that spring and recorded two assists. His numbers improved in 1975-76 as he recorded 76 points in 71 games. He failed to record a point in three playoff games that season. The 1976-77 season saw him appear in all 80 of the team's games and recorded his second 30-goal season with the Penguins while netting 57 points. He appeared in three postseason games that spring and recorded two assists. Kehoe's production took a slide over the next two seasons as he had 50 points in 70 games during 1977-78 and 45 points in 57 games during 1978-79. During the 1979 playoffs, he contributed two assists. He rebounded in 1979-80 with a team-leading 30 goals and 60 points in 79 games and netted seven points in five playoff games. Kehoe's finest season was in 1980-81 when he appeared in 80 games while scoring a career-best 55 goals and 88 points and recorded three assists in five games. His 55 goals were a franchise record at the time. He followed that up in 1981-82 by recording 85 points in 71 games. That spring, he scored five points in a near-upset of the defending Stanley Cup champion Islanders in a five-game preliminary round series. Kehoe scored both of the Penguins' game-winning goals that series. The decline for Kehoe and the Penguins began in 1982-83 as he was limited to 65 points in 75 games. Injuries began to take their toll in 1983-84 as he could only appear in 57 games and score 45 points. Finally, in 1984-85, Kehoe could only squeeze six games and two assists out of his battered body before retiring at the age of 33. At the time of his retirement, Kehoe was the team's all-time leading scorer with 636 points. The team brought Kehoe back as an assistant coach in 1987-88 and he held that position on and off until early in 2001-02. During that time, Kehoe was a member of the team's first two Stanley Cup championships in 1991 and 1992. Early in 2001-02, Kehoe took over as head coach for Ivan Hlinka. Under Kehoe, the team went 28-37-8-5 and missed the playoffs. Kehoe returned in 2002-03 but once again failed to reach the postseason with a 27-44-6-5 record. He was replaced in the 2003 offseason by Eddie Olczyk. One of the team's most accomplished players, Kehoe was inducted into the franchise's hall of fame in 1992. He is the franchise's fourth all-time leading scorer with 636 points trailing only Mario Lemieux (1,723), Jaromir Jagr (1,079) and Sidney Crosby (665). Appearing in two all-star games (1981 and 1983) and winning Lady Byng Award in 1981, Kehoe is fourth all-time with the franchise in games played (722), fourth in goals (312), eighth in assists (324) and fourth in power-play goals (95) and fourth in hat tricks (eight). In 37 postseason games he scored 21 points. He currently works as a professional scout with the Rangers.

-Happy 62nd birthday to former Penguins forward Chuck Arnason. Acquired midway through the 1973-74 season along with Bob Paradise in a deal which sent Al McDonough to the Atlanta Flames, "The Rifleman" spent parts of three seasons with the Penguins. Following the trade, Arnason appeared in 41 games and scored 18 points for the Penguins in 1973-74. His only full season in Pittsburgh was 1974-75. Primarily playing on a line Pierre Larouche and Bob "Battleship" Kelly, Arnason played in 78 games and recorded 58 points. He also contributed six points in nine playoff games that spring. In 1975-76, after 30 games and 10 points, Arnason was traded to the Kansas City Scouts along with Steve Durbano and a draft pick in exchange for Simon Nolet, Ed Gilbert and a draft pick. In 169 games with the Penguins, Arnason scored 86 points, the 97th-best total in franchise history.

-Happy 27th birthday to former Penguins forward Tyler Kennedy (right). A fourth-round pick in 2004, Kennedy spent parts of fives seasons with the Penguins. As a rookie in 2007-08, "TK" was called up from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL and appeared in 55 games while recording 19 points. He also appeared in all 20 of the team's playoff games that spring and contributed four assists. In 2008-09, Kennedy played in 67 games and netted 35 points. In the playoffs, he once again played in all 24 of the club's playoff games while recording a team-leading three game-winning goals and nine points and helped the franchise win its third Stanley Cup title. Kennedy's numbers took a tumble in 2009-10 as he only appeared in 64 games and scored 25 points. In 10 postseason games that season, he failed to score a point. He rebounded in 2010-11 by reaching career highs in games (80), goals (21), assists (24) and points (45). That spring, he appeared in seven postseason games and contributed three points. In 2011-12, injuries limited Kennedy to 60 games and 33 points. During the 2012 postseason, he saw action in six games and recorded six points. The 2012-13 season saw Kennedy play in 46 games and score 11 points. Kennedy appeared in nine postseason games and scored five points. Earlier this offseason, Kennedy was traded to the Sharks in exchange for a draft pick. In 372 games with the Penguins, Kennedy scored 168 points, 48th-most in franchise history. In 76 postseason games, he had 27 points.

-Happy 60th birthday to former Penguins forward John Flesch. A free agent signing midway through the 1977-78 season, Flesch's Penguins career amounted to 29 games and 12 points that campaign. He was released in the 1978 offseason.

Pacific Division

-The Kings re-signed restricted free agent defenseman Alec Martinez to a two-year contract worth $2.2 million. Coming off an entry-level contract with a salary cap hit of $875,000, Martinez's new deal will have a cap hit of $1.1. million. Martinez, 25, appeared in 27 games last season and scored five points (one goal, four assists).

-EN Says: For a third pairing defenseman, this is a fair contract. Martinez can move the puck a bit and is positionally sound.

-The Coyotes signed forward Max Domi, a first-round pick in this year's draft, to a three-year entry-level contract.

Smythe Division

-Former Thrashers/Devils forward Ilya Kovalchuk has signed a four-year contract with SKA St. Petersburg of Russia's KHL. Kovalchuk "retired" from the NHL last week.

-“It didn’t surprise me. The KHL and NHL are competing against each other and the KHL is definitely going to become a better league this way. Hockey in Russia has become much better. There are a lot of European players who go and play there, and the KHL wants to bring good hockey back. They’ll do whatever it takes. They’ll try to bring a lot of NHL players to the KHL. There are a lot of factors that can attract them: money, the game, a lot of new arenas, everything’s going in the right direction. And for Russian players, they can make more money at home and not pay the high taxes they do in North America.” - Former Penguins forward Alex Kovalev (right, with Kovalchuk) on Kovalchuk's decision to join the KHL.

-Former Red Wings/Jets defenseman Derek Meech has joined Dinamo Minsk of Russia's KHL.

(Photos: Kehoe first-Penguins Hockey Cards; Kehoe second-Mitchell Layton/Getty Images; Kennedy-Jim McIsaac/Getty Images; Kovalchuk/Kovalev-Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

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