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(Ronald Martinez/2009 Getty Images)
(Ronald Martinez/2009 Getty Images)

NHL Notebook

Brad Richards on his past, present and future Add to ...

Turco, meanwhile, says the move to the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks has been relatively seamless.

Like Richards, Turco reiterated a point that few ever focus on. When you're settled in a city, with family comfortable in their surroundings, sometimes it is hard to pull up stakes and move on.

"The thought of change is a little daunting," said Turco. "You've been somewhere so long and you have a big truckload as I do - with three kids, two in school - you develop some big roots. That alone created some anxieties and anxious moments, but I can honestly say that this organization, from the get-go, made me feel a part of the family and what they want to do.

"After what they've done in the past three years, there's no place else you'd rather be."

PHOENIX RISING: The Stars' Pacific Division rivals, the Phoenix Coyotes, are involved in their own ongoing ownership drama, but after an iffy start, are starting to win games again - four in a row heading into tonight's date with the slumping Oilers. Under coach Dave Tippett, Phoenix's recipe for success doesn't vary much. They put defence ahead of offence and rely on goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, who picked up another shutout this past week. In the early going, the Coyotes were mostly trying to sort out their defence corps, after losing the underrated Zbynek Michalek to Pittsburgh as a free agent in the off-season.

No stat tells you more about a player's relative importance to a team than time on ice and Michalek led the team in ice time during its 107-point 2009-10 as part of a shutdown pair alongside Ed Jovanovski. Michalek's steadiness was missed - and as much as the Coyotes like the potential of rookie Oliver Ekman-Larsson, they figured he would be better off playing some games in the minors to adjust to the North American style.

According to Tippett, the expectation internally is that the sale of the Coyotes will go through to Chicago financier Matthew Hulsizer relatively soon, and at that juncture, maybe the crowds will come back. Apart from an opening-night crowd of 17,125 for the Detroit Red Wings and a decent 14,642 to see Crosby and the Penguins, the Coyotes have been playing to half-filled buildings again. Two crowds were in the 6,000 range; two others in the low 8,000s. But according to Tippett, there does appear to be an end coming to their ownership drama.

"Everybody recognizes the reality of what's going on," said Tippett. "There's a new owner that is close to being in place, and so we can't control that right now. We don't talk about it, but in the back of everybody's mind, we hope things stabilize and move forward - so that your fans are saying, 'they're staying, this is good,' and the corporate people start jumping on board and you start to build. Right now, we're hopefully in the latter stages of that.

"But you're right, it tests the mental capacity of our team. As coaches, we try to distract them with how we're playing."

Tippett laughed as he delivered that last sentence because it's true - how the Coyotes play is one thing they can control.

In the meantime, they find hope where they can.

Phoenix's third biggest crowd of the season came last week when 11,117 watched them defeat Calgary, with a lot of visiting Flames' fans in the building, taking in the game.

"My wife said to me, 'I kinda like it when Pittsburgh or Calgary comes in because they've got lots of fans because it stirs up our fans,'" said Tippett. "It makes the atmosphere in the building very good. So we've had some nights when it's been very exciting in there. Hopefully, as this pushes on, very much like last year, in the second half of the season, we'll start to get more and more of those crowds.

"The other part of the bottom line is, we have to do our job on the ice. We have to make sure we're a competitive team. Every night when your fans come to the rink, they want to know you have a chance to win."

And that is the one thing they can control.

"Exactly - and there can be no excuses for that, because we've done it before and we can do it again."

AND FINALLY: Jonathan Bernier was the goalie of record when the Sharks beat the Los Angeles Kings Monday night, and gave up six goals. Lots of people figured Bernier would eventually take the job from Quick by season's end, but that hasn't happened yet. Bernier is just 2-3, with a 3.01 GAA, while Quick has been sensational - 10-2, with a 1.52 GAA and he's giving fellow American Tim Thomas of Boston a run for early Vezina Trophy consideration. People forget Quick won 39 games in the NHL last season and that doesn't happen by accident. If Quick were to somehow win the Vezina, that'd be three in a row for three different American netminders - Thomas and Buffalo's Ryan Miller won the last two. U.S. goalie production is starting to rival and even outstrip Finland and Quebec, but quietly and with not all that much notice.

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