Kukla's Korner

Give Hitchcock Another Shot

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Philadelphia Inquirer,

Ken Hitchcock looked stricken. Not angry. Not exhausted. Not embarrassed. Well, maybe a little embarrassed. Mostly, the Flyers coach looked stricken in the minutes after his team took a 7-1, season-ending thrashing last night at the hands of the Buffalo Sabres. The fire in his eyes was out, and it's no wonder why. These are the kinds of games that get coaches fired, especially when decisions are being made by the likes of Bob Clarke and Ed Snider. First-round elimination, losing the final two games by a total of 10-1, is considerably less than a Stanley Cup. It's pathetic. For a team with this much talent, it is unacceptable. Normally, that would be an indictment of the head coach. This time, it is not.
read on

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Canes Find Themselves

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the News & Observer,

"This series was really good for us, in all honesty," Laviolette said. "It was exactly what we needed and maybe being down 2-0 was exactly what we needed. It had been a long time since we found ourselves in a game or with our back against the wall, with that competitiveness that you need to be successful during the regular season and then even raised a bit in the playoffs. "It was good for us to get into some overtime games. It was good for us to be down 0-2. It was good for us to have to come back again and win a game in the third period or overtime." The Hurricanes came to Montreal a week ago looking to save themselves. They found themselves instead.
more

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PSA- Heads Up For A2Y Readers

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Bill at A2Y has been having an issue with his blog. I asked him if I could do anything for him and he wanted me to pass this along. Abel to Yzerman is having major server problems but should be back up within 24 hours. If you want to leave him a message, feel free to comment. update 9L47am, It looks like A2Y is back online.

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Everyone Cheering

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Globe and Mail,

Cal Nichols stood outside the Edmonton Oilers' dressing room the other night and savoured the moment. Oiler fans were everywhere. They were cheering and hugging and celebrating like they hadn't in years. It was spontaneous, recalled Nichols. Good for the spirit. "It was a Monday night and no one wanted to go home." And at that moment, Nichols was able to answer the 'why am I doing this?' question he had often asked himself whenever things would turn tenuous and a top player would leave and the very existence of the Oilers would teeter on the brink.
continued

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The Canadiens “Lose” Twice

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Montreal Gazette,

The Canadiens are done. The better team won. That makes sense; the impending inundation of red ink does not. The Habs sell out every game, with ticket prices that top out at $150. Bell Centre souvenir shops, where items are more expensive than they are two blocks away on Ste. Catherine St., do a booming business pushing polyester to middle-aged guys who think they look cool in Saku Koivu jerseys. The NHL's new economic order - the establishment of which caused the loss of an entire season - introduced a revenue-sharing formula that has the most financially successful teams bailing out clubs that are having a tough time making money. Like the Carolina Hurricanes, who advance to the next round. The new collective agreement stipulates that the top 10 money-making teams contribute to a pool that is distributed among the bottom 15 teams. Figures have not been made public, but Habs' revenues in 2005-'06 are reported to be the NHL's third-highest, behind Toronto and Detroit. That's the good news.
read on

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It Is Different Now

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,

It used to be that simply scoring first in a playoff game meant that team would emerge the winner almost all of the time. Well, the '06 playoffs have turned into the Spring of the Comeback. In 41 playoff games going into last night, the team that didn't score first won the game on 15 occasions, a success rate of 37 per cent. Well, teams are no longer locks to win after scoring first. Moreover, teams have fallen behind after 20 minutes and come back to win on eight occasions. Trailing after two periods, teams have fought back to triumph six times.
more

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The East Is Set

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Round 2 matchups will be Ottawa/Buffalo and Carolina/New Jersey. The schedule has not been relaese yet but it is great to see the top 4 teams in the east make it to the conference semi-finals. Oh yes, Flyer fans can't be a happy bunch. In the last hour or so I have had about 35 searches directed to KK with the terms "fire Hitchcock". added 11:21pm, from the Courier Post,

Two days ago, Ken Hitchcock was asked if the Buffalo Sabres' top 12 forwards were simply more talented than the Flyers' from top to bottom. "That's a question for July or August," he responded. "Not now." Now is upon the Flyers. After weeks of denying the obvious, the Flyers will spend the next several days trying to figure out how to transform themselves from the old NHL to the new. It won't be easy.
continued

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Yzerman Almost Retired Mid-Season

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

I hope most of the KK readers understand there may be more than the usual posts on Yzerman in the next week or so. His retirement talk is huge here in Detroit and I am sure many fans of the NHL have an interest too. from the Detroit Free Press via the Mercury News,

Steve Yzerman says he knows what he'll do. And for once, the mysterious legend is easy to figure out: The Captain plans to retire. If you think Yzerman is coming back for a 23rd season, understand this: He almost didn't finish his 22nd. Yzerman came close to retiring in the middle of this season. A lot closer than most people realize. How close? One game away. According to two people familiar with his thinking, Yzerman had serious discussions with the Red Wings about retiring in late November. He even had a final game in mind: Dec. 1 at home against Calgary.
more added 8:03am Wednesday, Free Press link now availabe...

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Sutter Does Standup

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,

After not trying very hard in front of the microphone for the first six games of the National Hockey League playoffs, Calgary Flames' coach Darryl Sutter conspicuously made himself the centre of attention Tuesday. Henny Youngman would have been proud. Sutter worked the room like a good comedian does, dishing on a bon mot here and a sly observation there. He talked about the refereeing – and the fact that his team had been put two men short seven times in the series as opposed to zero for the opposition Anaheim Mighty Ducks (actually six, but who's counting). He complained about the 8 p.m. PST start time for Game 6, noting that for his older players, that meant 9 o'clock body time – β€œor when they're used to having their jammies on.”
continued

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All American Boy

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the NY Times,

Low to the ice, skates flashing, hockey stick en garde, Chris Drury pursues a puck in the cynosure of the playoffs, and he does it with a lifetime's worth of tenacity. Drury's athletic success is extraordinary, if not unparalleled. As a youth, his Greater Bridgeport (Conn.) hockey team won the United States national amateur championship in 1989. Five months later, he hit and pitched his team from Trumbull, Conn., to the Little League World Series title with an upset of Taiwan. He won a state championship in hockey in high school but was not drafted until the third round, 72nd over all. In his first season at Boston University, the Terriers won the N.C.A.A. hockey championship. As a senior, he won the Hobey Baker Award as the best collegiate player in the nation.
read on

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