Kukla's Korner

Committed Captain

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

via the LA Times (reg. req.),

Defenseman Mattias Norstrom said he told Swedish hockey officials that he won't play for his homeland in the world championships because he wants to remain in the Los Angeles area while the path of the Kings' coaching and management future is decided. "I decided that I need to stick around, with this season ending up with all the rumors and talk about changes," Norstrom said. "As the captain, as long as I am captain of this team, I need to stick around and be available. Whether it's [reporters], or the team or teammates. I can't just pack up and say, 'I've got to play hockey.'

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Nieuwendyk Mentor For Horton

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Sun-Sentinel,

Panthers coach Jacques Martin has kept second-year winger Nathan Horton on a line with center Joe Nieuwendyk because, among other reasons, the 19-year veteran has been good for Horton. Nieuwendyk talks to him often. He's supportive. He's encouraging. He's an example Martin hopes Horton continues to follow so his development goes on next season.
continued

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We Deserve This

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Winnepeg Sun,

Thornton has as many assists (94) as 2003-04 scoring champion Martin St. Louis had points. In fact, Thornton has caught Jagr for the scoring lead and should he win, he'll be the first person to take the Art Ross Trophy after being traded in mid-season. He should be the first to win the Hart Trophy after getting traded in mid-season. Minus his terrible Olympics, Thornton has had one of the most memorable seasons since that Gretzky guy hung up the skates. It has all combined to make it easy to be a fan again. After years of holding our noses and watching crap hockey, we deserve this.
more on the NHL (2nd half of the column)...

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Cujo Considering Staying With Yotes

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Arizona Republic,

Curtis Joseph, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent after the season, is seriously considering re-signing with the Coyotes. Joseph said negotiations between his agent Don Meehan and General Manager Mike Barnett are ongoing. Asked if he expected a deal to get done after posting his 31st victory and third shutout of the season Thursday night against Los Angeles, Joseph passed. "I can't speculate," Joseph said. "It may change day to day. I'm sure where there's a will there's a way."
continued

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Does Colorado Want The Wings

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Bill at Abel to Yzerman (back to blogging after spending a week in the hockey hotbead city of Pensacola) gets into the groove again, a welcomed relief for Wings fans.

If the ‘dique lose tonite against Vancouver, Monday’s game with Edmonton determines who the Wings get when the playoffs begin late next week. You think they don’t realize that in Denver? Think again.

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The Pros & Cons

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Edmonton Sun,

If anything, it was going to be a shortened season, the first half wiped out by the work stoppage and the second half playing to near-empty arenas. Instead, it's been everything the owners, players and fans could have ever asked for. Wild playoff races through the final week of the season. The most amazing crop of rookies in decades. League-wide parity on a level playing field. Goals. Shootouts. Attendance records. As Edmonton ramps up for the playoffs - it's been so long, even Detroit looks good - it's hard not to shake your head at how remarkably the NHL has recovered from what could have easily been a fatal labour dispute. Here's a look back at the pros and cons of what might go down as the most important season in the league's history: PRO: After numerous bold attempts and embarrassing retreats, the NHL finally stuck to its obstruction crackdown all year. Well, most of it, anyway. Inconsistent officiating is still a problem, but games are infinitely better than the garbage we had to sit through before.
read on

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Cheechoo Chased A Dream

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from th Globe and Mail,

Jonathan Cheechoo can still remember those first days away from home, away from his family, a 14-year-old kid crying himself to sleep most nights in a stranger's home. His dad also remembers those nights. Mervin Cheechoo often cried himself to sleep too. As did Jonathan's mom, Carol Anne. There would be more tears spilled whenever their son used one of the calling cards his dad gave him and he dialled home to tell his parents that's where he really wanted to be.
read on

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Reason For Concern

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,

There's reason for concern. Not only because the Rangers have lost three straight, the last two of which to the Islanders and Penguins were worse and worser. And not only because the Rangers have been able to win just nine of 22 (9-9-4) since the Olympics, after having won 10 of 12 (10-1-1) preceding the break. There's reason for concern because the Rangers have appeared so lackadaisical about capturing the division title. From the moment they clinched a playoff spot with an April 4 shootout victory at the Garden over the Flyers, the team refused to establish finishing first as its objective. Even if a few have said the goal was to finish first - notably Tom Renney and Jaromir Jagr - words haven't carried over into action. The Rangers haven't appeared prepared to play 60 minutes of winning hockey.
more (reg. req.)

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Quick Hits

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

via the Calgary Sun,

-Stanley is going to London, England, next Tuesday through Thursday, accompanied by Hockey Hall of Fame curator Phil Pritchard. The Cup will visit several landmarks and be present on Regent St. Thursday when a historical plaque will be unveiled at the site of a silversmith's shop where the Cup was first purchased for 10 guineas ($51.10 Cdn. ) in 1892. -Martin Biron had to miss the Sabres' team photo because of the birth of his second daughter. Media relations' man Chris Bandura stepped into his uniform and will have the goalie's head superimposed at a later date. -26 Playoff penalty minutes assessed to Detroit defenceman Nicklas Lidstrom in the past eight (years) . He has averaged more than 30 minutes of ice time in 168 post-season games.
via Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,
Senators G Dominik Hasek was back on the ice yesterday, but won't be in the lineup tonight against the Leafs. He didn't speak with reporters, but it wasn't hard to notice that Hasek was very careful about not going down with any authority to make saves. That doesn't bode well for the Senators having Hasek in the lineup for the playoffs. "The good thing is, he was out there for the whole 45-minute practice and that's a step in the right direction," said Murray.
via the Edmonton Sun,
"In reading the clips,'' said Preds coach Barry Trotz. "It seems like all of a sudden we're the team that everyone wants to face. That's a little slap in the face because we're a pretty good hockey team. When people don't think you can do things, that can be a great motivating factor.''

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Leafs Want To Be Players In New NHL

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Toronto Star,

There is no going back for the NHL. Having gone through the growing pains of developing an altered style of play based on a new philosophy of enforcing the rules of the game to promote skill ahead of brawn — and it was painful at times — the league can't just slam it into reverse now. That reality has become crystal clear over the past week as referees have continued to call the game under its successful new standards as heated rivals met in impassioned, playoff-like matchups.... Ideally, it will be the same as has been the case in Detroit for years. The Red Wings have long sought to play the game with creativity and pace, and the types of players they have added over that time have to a large degree fit that overall philosophy. The Wings did that on their own, really, almost going against the grain at a time when the neutral zone trap and promoting size over finesse became fashionable across the league.
more

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