Kukla's Korner

The Difference Between The Sabres & The Blackhawks

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Larry Felser at the Buffalo News,

What Sabres fan didn’t watch the Chicago Blackhawks battle and often batter the Philadelphia Flyers in the final series of the Stanley Cup playoffs and ask himself, “Why couldn’t this be our team, our style, our Cup?”

What made it all the more frustrating for Sabre fans was that one of the men who built the Blackhawks, Stanley Bowman, is a Canisius High School graduate. The goal that won the Cup was launched by Patrick Kane, the most captivating athlete to come out of South Buffalo since baseball Hall of Famer Warren Spahn. Quietly contributing important advice was Scott Bowman, Stan’s father, the Amherst resident who won 10 Stanley Cups in his coaching days.

The difference between the Sabres and the teams that advanced beyond the first round of the playoffs is simple.

The Sabres were an interesting team that survived some peaks and valleys to finish among the elite teams for the regular season. But, as anyone connected with the NHL will tell you, the real season begins when the first puck is dropped for the Stanley Cup playoffs.


Filed in: NHL Teams, Buffalo Sabres, Chicago Blackhawks, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Thin UFA Market

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,

The NHL’s free-agent market hasn’t been this thin in years.

“I haven’t seen it this bad in a long time,” says a league executive.

While the arrival of July 1 will trigger a bidding war for the top unrestricted free agents, there’s not much in the way of forwards. Teams will have a tough time finding a quick fix.

GMs have traditionally used the market to fill empty spots and even change the face of a franchise. But this UFA market lacks big names and impact players. There won’t be the same drama.

continued plus Garrioch selects his top 10 UFAs….

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Teams Still Working

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Craig Custance of The Sporting News,

The Stanley Cup has been raised. The parade is over. The only thing left regarding the Cup will be the leaked photos from parties all over the world as the Blackhawks spend the summer celebrating their championship.

But there’s plenty going on in hockey. It will be at least a month before coaches and general managers retreat to their cottages and lake houses for golf, fishing and relaxation.

Before making a splash on July 1, teams will use the next couple weeks to complete negotiations with their own possible free agents. Even without hometown discounts, it’s usually cheaper to agree to terms with your own players rather than hit the open market.

Just look at the deals Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland completed. Tomas Holmstrom got a two-year pact worth $1.875 annually, which is a great deal for a guy who scored 25 goals last season. Nicklas Lidstrom took a pay cut to return, signing a one-year deal worth a reasonable $6.2 million.

San Jose has the biggest decisions. It has two high-profile free agents in goalie Evgeni Nabokov and forward Patrick Marleau. GM Doug Wilson keeps plans close to the vest, but it’s hard to imagine him paying a premium to keep both players.


Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Enough Coverage?

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Phil Rosenthal of the Chicago Tribune,

As with any big news story, a local team’s sports championship merits extended coverage because there is an audience for it, but there often isn’t a lot in the way of actual developments.

The players involved can only fill so much airtime. So there’s the hoary routine of sending a reporter and crew to watch fans watch TV and then ask them how they feel. They are giddy and often flammable.

Frankly, the overhead shots showing a sea of red flooding into the street near Wrigley Field perfectly conveyed the excitement after Patrick Kane’s overtime goal ended the Hawks’ National Hockey League title series with Philadelphia.

It certainly told me all I needed to know, which is that I had become old enough to be perfectly happy taking it all in from my home, muttering things at my TV and hoping the honking horns in my neighborhood wouldn’t wake up the kids.


Filed in: NHL Teams, Chicago Blackhawks, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Hossa Played With Bad Knee In SCF

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

via Jesse Rogers of ESPN Chicago,

Chicago Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa said Saturday that he played the Stanley Cup finals with a sprained MCL in his right knee, suffered in Game 1 against the Philadelphia Flyers.

Hossa dealt with the lingering effects of shoulder surgery all season and also had a banged-up back in the finals.

Filed in: NHL Teams, Chicago Blackhawks, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: marian+hossa

Kings Searching For Assistant Coach

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Helene Elliott at the Fabulous Forum,

Kings assistant coach Mark Hardy, facing a fourth-degree felony sexual abuse charge, has resigned, a club spokesman said Saturday….

In a statement, the Kings said Hardy had resigned on Friday and they would have no further comment on the matter. The statement said a search for a new assistant coach would begin immediately.


Filed in: NHL Teams, Los Angeles Kings, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: mark+hardy

Bobby Ryan For Tomas Kaberle?  No Way

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Eric Stephens of Ducks Blog at the OC Register,

So would the Ducks consider trading Ryan for Kaberle? Murray did address that part of the speculation, calling it “ridiculous.”

As much as they want to upgrade their defense, it’s hard to see Murray trading a potential 40-goal scorer with significant upside for a defenseman who can be an unrestricted free agent in 2011 and has never shown an inkling that he would sign with a team in the Western Conference.

The Ducks would have the money to pay Kaberle but any deal would have to have the veteran also signing an extension. Otherwise, Kaberle would be gone in a year and they would have nothing to show for dealing Ryan.

And while he remains unsigned, Murray and Ryan’s agent, Don Meehan, are still talking. Both did tell the Register that there’s nothing new to report, with Murray adding that no further progress has been made.

On the surface, trading Ryan for Kaberle doesn’t seem to make any sense. Now if the Leafs were to include Luke Schenn or Nazem Kadri in the conversations …


Filed in: NHL Teams, Anaheim Ducks, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Updated History Of The NHLPA

Blog: The Puck Stops Here By PuckStopsHere

I think one important part of the NHL story that is under reported is that of the NHLPA.  Therefore I have kept a short history of the NHLPA that I am updating annually.

Here is the most recent version.  A far more detailed history that ends in the early 1990’s is the book Net Worth by David Cruise.

Continue Reading »

Filed in: | The Puck Stops Here | Permalink

Can The Blackhawks Afford To Pay Niemi?

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Michael Traikos ot the National Post,

Niemi earned US$827,000 this season. But after taking over the starting job from Cristobal Huet—Niemi went 26-7-4 with a 2.25 goals-against average in the regular season—the 26-year-old is looking to be paid like a No. 1 netminder after just one year in the league.

The question is: Even if Chicago agrees he is worth the money, can the team afford him?

The NHL’s salary cap is expected to be US$58.8-million next season. And the Blackhawks, who have 14 players signed through 2010-11, have already used up about US$58-million.

That does not include performance bonuses—such as the US$1.3-million bonus that captain Jonathan Toews earned for winning the Conn Smythe Trophy.

Already there has been talk of burying Huet (US$5.625-million) in the minors. And there are rumours that any or all of Patrick Sharp (US$3.9-million), Kris Versteeg (US$3.083-million) and Brent Sopel (US$2.3-million) could be traded. But expecting Niemi to bite the bullet and accept a discount, says Zito, is not an option.

“He’s going to get his money,” Zito said. “But the term is going to have something to do with it too.”


Filed in: NHL Teams, Chicago Blackhawks, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: antti+niemi

Can The Flyers Build On Their Playoff Run?

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Sam Donnellon of the Philadelphia Daily News,

Did the Flyers put something in the bank this season that will make them more consistent for the next one? Can they build on this? Back in the day, dynasties were built on such near misses. The

Islanders ran off a string of Cups after the Flyers beat them in a Game 7. Edmonton ran off a string after the Islanders showed them just how hard it is.

More recently, Pittsburgh won the Cup in seven games a year after a loss in the Stanley Cup finals to Detroit.

Was that about lessons? Or just a few more bounces? Does “whatever” have staying power, a personality trait that will mark this as a beginning for the core of players who will likely return? Are they more insulated from adversity?


Filed in: NHL Teams, Philadelphia Flyers, | KK Hockey | Permalink

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