this week: will they ever find bigfoot?

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Sidney Crosby said the headaches are behind him.

Having gone from working in a windshield factory to winning the Stanley Cup in just 11 years, the new coach in Calgary, Bob Hartley, said he has no fear. “For me, I never lose. I just don’t always win.”

Asked how his team would start the new season, Philadelphia coach Peter Laviolette endorsed going out and ripping the door off its hinges over just feeling around.

In Calgary, Flames’ captain Jarome Iginla discussed his groin. “I didn’t feel it,” he said after practice mid-week, “and it felt way better than last week. Last week, it didn’t feel very good at all.”

A Maclean’s columnist called Edmonton defenceman Ryan Whitney’s feet “God-botched.” Whitney said he was proud to still be in the NHL, even if he didn’t have what he once had. He said his dad recently told him that even on one foot he could move the puck, because he’d always been able to do that, like Larry Murphy.

Among Toronto winger Joffrey Lupul’s insights from playing for Avtomobilist in the KHL during the lockout: Russian women are absolutely gorgeous; Russian players shake hands every morning in the dressing room; people speaking Russian always sound like they’re mad, even when they’re happy.

In New Jersey, Ilya Kovalchuk laughed when asked whether Vladimir Putin had offered him lots of money to remain in Russia. “That’s not true,” he said.

Claude Giroux, the Flyers’ new captain, gave Scotts Hartnell and Laughton a beating at Scrabble, #gotbeatbyafrenchie.

Chris Kelly of the Boston Bruins reported that when you’re walking around the French part of Switzerland and you don’t know the language, it gets kind of lonely.

Bad luck injured Montreal centre Tomas Plekanec: in the Czech Republic he was trying to pass the puck and, quote, instantly felt there was something wrong with his body.

Prospect Louis Leblanc, who wasn’t invited to the Canadiens’ shortened training camp, didn’t hide his disappointment.

Sorry, Joe Sakic, but Colorado centre Matt Duchene said Hejdie has the best shot in Avalanche history. Milan Hejdie. Hejduk.

Anaheim’s 42-year-old winger Teemu Selanne said he usually likes to drive his four kids to hockey practice — “but this year it’s going to be different. I’ve got to rest.”

In Detroit, winger Tomas Holmstrom was called a goalie menace and a folk hero as, about to turn 40, he announced his retirement. Coach Mike Babcock called him a star, the best at what he did: stand in front of the other team’s net on the powerplay. Jonathan Franzen would be taking that job, now. “Mule, net-front, is as good as anybody,” Babcock said. A week earlier, he’d phoned Niklas Lidstrom, 42, in Sweden to wonder whether he wanted to unretire and play the season for the Wings. No. All in all, though, it was a heck of a week, Babcock thought. He’d expected more injuries.

In Lidstrom’s absence, Henrik Zetterberg was named the team’s new captain. He said his dad was proud. Pavel Datsyuk said, “He deserve it. He leader in locker room, out of locker room. It’s hit to target.”

Of Todd Bertuzzi’s groin, Babcock said, “Bert felt some tightness.”

Nashville centreman Mike Fisher wondered whether they’ll ever find Bigfoot, #headscratcher.

I could say a lot more

Normal, human relationships between people: Vladimir Putin entertains some of the heroes of 1972 last Friday, outside Moscow. (Photo: Government of the Russian Federation)

Paul Henderson said he’d never go back. Having skated through the Summit Series of 1972, he was asked would he suit up again, give the Russians a re-match? “No way,” he said. “I don’t ever want to go through this again. It’s too damn much. The pressure and mental strain was tremendous. Besides, I have absolutely no desire ever to return to Russia. I didn’t enjoy myself there.”

For Phil Esposito, the wounds of winning were just as raw: “I have no desire to go to Russia. None. Not unless I get paid $100,000. That’s how bad I want to go. Why would you want me to go Russia? Why, because the stinkin’ Russians want me to go? Get somebody else to go. Nobody will. Trust me. Maybe Paul Henderson will go. He might be the only one.” Continue reading

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Topps / O-Pee-Chee1965-66 O-Pee-Chee #59 Bobby Hull

FIRST. Available soon from the world’s worst distillery? Bobby Hull’s voice is, quote, testosterone aged in oak kegs, according to Gare Joyce in The Devil and Bobby Hull (Wiley).

SECOND. Russian president Vladimir Putin has not given up on hockey. As recently as February, the former and future prime minister couldn’t skate. He vowed to learn, though, and by April he was ready to take a tottery turn at practice with a youth team at Moscow’s Luzhniki Sports Palace. Then, last month, a sign that his focus was maybe straying: when future former p.m. Dmitry Medvedev took up racquet and bird to promote badminton to the people — “Those who play badminton well, make decisions quickly,” he advised — his opponent over the net was the future former president. Not to worry. ESPN magazine reports that Putin is taking regular skating lessons under the tutelage of fellow politician and erstwhile defenceman Viacheslav Fetisov. He has sights set, apparently, on skating at the Sochi Olympics in 2014. Writer Brett Forrest put it to KHL president Alexander Medvedev: what kind of player will Putin be? “My personal feeling,” he said, “is that he will be a very disciplined player on the ice.”

THIRD. “It can be argued that the premium theorizing on most sports has fallen to the journeymen players — the Sheros and Nesterenkos of hockey, baseball’s Jim Bouton — and that the magnificently gifted — Rocket Richard in hockey, Pete Rose and Mickey Mantle in baseball — often appear to be in lifelong thinking slumps.”
• Roy MacGregor in a 1978 profile of Guy Lafleur, collected in his new compendium of hockey writings, Wayne Gretzky’s Ghost (Random House Canada).