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Pens hope long summer equals fast start

(AP Photo/Keith Srakocic, File)

PITTSBURGH (AP) Sidney Crosby can admit it now: The Pittsburgh Penguins were tired last season, a natural byproduct of becoming the first franchise in two decades to win consecutive Stanley Cups.

And though the Penguins came as close as any team in the last 35 years to capture three straight titles - they recovered from a blah start to reach the Eastern Conference semifinals before falling to Washington - that special gear they relied on so heavily during their run of dominance never materialized.

"Just for whatever reason, shorter summer, mentally not having that desperation level, as a group we were lacking that," Crosby said.


Preds see no reason to mess with success

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) The Nashville Predators see no reason to make any major changes to a roster that won the franchise's first Presidents' Trophy, not with a group that has been so very close to that elusive Stanley Cup the past two seasons.

"It didn't work out in the playoffs the way we wanted," Nashville captain Roman Josi said. "But we truly believe this team can win a Stanley Cup, and that's why we want to keep this team together."


Panthers try to make - and add - a point

SUNRISE, Fla. (AP) The Florida Panthers have a point to make this season.

A point to make up, too.


'Hawks eye rebound from missing playoffs

CHICAGO (AP) For all the talk about Corey Crawford and the aging core of the Chicago Blackhawks, coach Joel Quenneville delivered a simple message as the team got back together for the start of a season that could have a dramatic impact on the direction of the franchise.

Bring it, all the time.


New-look 'Canes eye return to playoffs

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) The Carolina Hurricanes have a new owner, general manager, coach and captain.

They hope it all adds up to one more important change: The Hurricanes want to become a playoff team again.


Vegas, D Theodore agree to 7-year deal

LAS VEGAS (AP) Defenseman Shea Theodore ended his holdout Monday night, agreeing to a seven-year contract with the Vegas Golden Knights.

Theodore's deal runs through the 2024-25 season and has an average annual value of $5.2 million.


Gionta retires after 16 seasons

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) At a mere 5-foot-7, Brian Gionta knew the odds would be long at getting an opportunity to play in the NHL some 20 years ago after being drafted by the New Jersey Devils.

"I never thought it would have lasted as long as it did," Gionta said. "I went into it hoping I could play one NHL game."


Caps ink D Alexeyev for 3 years, $2.775M

ARLINGTON, Va. (AP) First-round draft pick Alexander Alexeyev has signed a $2.775 million, three-year entry-level contract with the Washington Capitals.

The team announced the deal with the defenseman on Monday.


Seattle's KeyArena renovation plan OK'd

SEATTLE (AP) The Seattle City Council unanimously approved plans for a privately funded $700 million renovation of KeyArena on Monday, clearing one of the last major hurdles in the city's bid to land an expansion NHL franchise.

The 8-0 vote was the last step needed to strengthen Seattle's expansion application and it means a team could be playing in the new building during the 2020-21 season.


Flyers get buzz with odd-looking mascot

PHILADELPHIA (AP) The Philadelphia Flyers have introduced an odd-looking new team mascot - a 7-foot fuzzy creature named Gritty with a wild, orange beard.

The character's debut triggered an outpouring of comments online, including "Good luck sleeping tonight, Flyers fans" and comparisons to ZZ Top and the Muppets. Twitter users created memes with Gritty taking the place of horror-movie villains and splicing his head onto other disturbing images.

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