Kukla's Korner

Red Wings early overnight report: ‘HockeyFest,’ out-of-town observations & prospect touranment stuff

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

Updated with a take on prospect tournament talk at 11:03 PM: This week, things "get real," and they'll "get real' in a hurry.

In Traverse City, the Red Wings' prospects received Sunday off, but they'll take part in an 11:30 AM practice on Monday and will play the Minnesota Wild's prospects at 7 PM, hoping to put Saturday's disappointing loss to Columbus behind them and at least qualify for Tuesday's 3rd place game.

In Detroit, the Red Wings' NHL players and alums took part in "HockeyFest at the Joe," and Monday and Tuesday will mark the final "Captain's Practices"; on Tuesday and Wednesday, while taking part in the Wings' "Community Tour," the Wings' players will slowly but surely make their way to Traverse City for Thursday's physicals, charity golf outing and dinner, and on Friday, training camp begins

Sunday's "HockeyFest" marks the start of the Wings' pre-camp promotional appearances, and the Free Press's Mike Brudenell reports that the Wings' goaltenders discussed the upcoming season in optimistic tones:

Continue Reading »

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink

Will Joe Thornton Adjust To The Changing Times In San Jose?

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Kevin Kurz of CSNBayArea,

There have been few players in the offseason NHL headlines more than Joe Thornton, who was first the subject of rampant trade rumors and later stripped of the club’s captaincy after four seasons when management made it clear there was an issue in the dressing room that reared its head in the playoff debacle against Los Angeles. Don’t expect the attention surrounding Thornton to die down any time soon, either, as the Sharks will attempt to fix the self-identified problem with essentially the same group.

Whether than can be done is debatable, and it’s not a reach to suggest that the fate of the Sharks’ 2014-15 season hinges on how Thornton adjusts to a role change both on and off the ice. Sharks associate coach Larry Robinson suggested in an interview earlier this summer that not everyone in the dressing room was receptive to the affable Thornton’s brand of humor, so maybe easing off a bit in that department is a good place for him to start.

It’s wholly unfair to blame Thornton alone the Sharks’ dressing room problems, though.

Why didn’t the younger players that had an issue with his approach go either to him, or the head coach, or the general manager to relay that there was a problem? The Sharks want to turn the team over to the younger core of Joe Pavelski, Logan Couture and Marc-Edouard Vlasic, but the fact that none of those players (or others) were able to repair the rift doesn’t exactly reflect positively upon them, either.


Filed in: NHL Teams, San Jose Sharks, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Dean Lombardi Not About To Give Away His Secrets On Analytics

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Jon Rosen of LA Kings Insider,

Los Angeles Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi isn’t one to surrender his own analytics blueprint, however.

“You can get my book when I’m done,” he joked.

He acknowledged that he has spoken on the phone “a number of times” with former Boston Red Sox General Manager and current Chicago Cubs Director of Baseball Operations Theo Epstein about the use of analytics, but won’t divulge how his own club’s decisions are based on the statistical resources that they’ve compiled.

“Like if you have a secret formula, why would you tell the world about it if you’re trying to win? You know what? Here we come.”

“It’s unbelievable, that question now,” Lombardi said about the analytics discussion. “Every guy from Toronto’s calling me now because they did it. So all their writers call. There’s a perception out here that we have the Holy Grail – some magic formula – that that’s why we’re winning, and Lombardi’s got this blah blah blah. And so, just like you’re talking there, it’s not only the way you play, right, that they copy you, but now they want to know what you’re doing. So, yeah, maybe we have been [using analytics]. But don’t forget, too, like I’ve always said. There’s a big difference between data and knowledge, and how you use it. Be careful. And the other thing, too, is that you’ll never convince me that emotion isn’t a huge part of this game, more than any other game.”


Filed in: NHL Teams, Los Angeles Kings, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: dean+lombardi

NHL Players Pick The Top Cities For Expansion

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Kevin Allen of USA TODAY,

USA TODAY Sports surveyed 28 higher-profile players during last week's NHL media tour in New York, and 20 listed Seattle as one of their top two expansion choices and 19 mentioned Quebec.

Seven players had Las Vegas listed among their top choices, and three liked the idea of placing a second team in the Toronto area. Oklahoma City and Madison, Wis., also received votes.

Expansion talk was in the news this summer with reports that Las Vegas, Seattle, Toronto and Quebec were in the mix for a new franchise, but the league denied that and said it merely is in a listening mode if cities want to talk.

read on for a few more surveys...

Filed in: NHL Teams, NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Afternoon Line

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

I sympathize with the NHL, but my thumb is down for the NHL's continuing inability to write an understandable rule that covers a goal scored when a puck goes into the net off an attacking player's skate. I sympathize because what the NHL wants to do can't be done. It wants a rule that says some goals off skates should count, and others shouldn't. So the latest attempt requires “more demonstrable video evidence of a distinct kicking motion” to wipe out a goal or to uphold the call of “no goal.” This would be okay if we ever knew what the level of “demonstrable evidence” was previously. Then we could identify more of it when we see it in the coming season. There is a concern that a rule that allows all goals off skates would create wild attempts to kick at pucks in the crease. In fact, that is possible anywhere else on the ice, and isn't regarded as any sort of problem. The “kicked goal” rule is and always will be until it no longer exists.

-Dave Hodge of TSN.

Filed in: NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: dave+hodge

The Question Now Is Will The Refs Actually Call Diving Penalties?

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Tony Gallagher of the Vancouver Province,

We speak here of the small but numerous rule changes made late Thursday. You can look at these changes — which are probably still happening a little too often for the good of any game — in a positive light, which is probably the way they were intended, or you can view them with a more cynical disposition.

Take, for instance, the changes on diving infractions. A player will now be fined $2,000 for his second infraction and $3,000 for the next one until a maximum is reached of $5,000 per dive. Getting this blight out of the game is a noble endeavour. It has become a total stain on soccer and hockey was beginning to get into that arena, at least with some players. But the cynic will clearly ask how any official can be certain a player is diving. For starters, some of these guys are great at what they do, and even in watching some of the alleged examples of diving that TSN showed to illustrate the problem, you couldn’t be dead certain something was a dive or simply a player getting his feet tangled up as he tried to turn.

And an official will have to determine this on the fly, sometimes from as far way as 50 feet or more.

The result of this will likely mean fewer whistles by officials unwilling to saddle players with fines when they’re not absolutely certain of their call.

read on plus a look at some of the other rule changes...

Filed in: NHL Talk, NHL Officiating, | KK Hockey | Permalink

All Pete DeBoer

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Rich Chere of NJ Advance Media,

Rich Chere: What are your thoughts heading into training camp?

“I’m excited about the start and the potential I think we’ve got with this group. I thought we finished the season real strongly last year. I think we only lost one of our last 10 or 11 games in regulation. We’re going to bring back a big part of that group that hopefully can hit the ground running. And I think the additions that we’ve made really address some of the key issues I felt kept us out of the playoffs last year.”

Is this team better heading into camp than it was a year ago?

“Yes. I think we’re deeper. With some of the people we’ve got in here and some of the people we brought in, I’m not concerned about scoring. We’ve dealt with some distractions here over the last 2 or 3 years with Zach (Parise) leaving, with Kovy (Ilya Kovalchuk) leaving and, not that Marty retiring is a distraction, but there has been some things that normal teams don’t deal with. I think we’ve come out the other side of that and everyone is excited to start.”


Filed in: NHL Teams, New Jersey Devils, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: pete+deboer

Questions For The Colorado Avalanche Before Training Camp Opens

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Adrian Dater of the Denver Post,

Does Jarome Iginla have much left in the tank? The numbers indisputably say yes. Iginla led a good Boston team in goals last season (30). Not since the 1999-2000 season has Iginla failed to score 30 goals in a season (excluding the NHL's 2012-13 lockout year). He scored 29 in the 1999-2000 season for the Flames.

He is 37 and not the fastest skater on the ice, but all indications are that his hands and finishing ability remain among the elite in the NHL. He also gives the Avs something they have lacked since Chris Stewart was traded: a power forward from the right side.

Will the defense still be a liability? The Avalanche allowed too many shots last season, an average of 32.7 per game. That ranked 25th in the league. The only significant addition to the top six is veteran Brad Stuart, who turns 35 in November. While Stuart adds toughness and experience, the overall defensive corps remains the Avs' most worrisome area. Players such as Erik Johnson, Tyson Barrie and Nick Holden will have to be just as good, and likely better, if the Avs are to make things easier on themselves and Varlamov.


Filed in: NHL Teams, Colorado Avalanche, | KK Hockey | Permalink

All Paul MacLean

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,

SUN: It looked like the potential never met production last year?

MACLEAN: "We look at a lot of stuff. We watch video, we look at the analytics of how our team is rated, and we have a lot of really good numbers and a lot of good really good video clips of how our team plays when they play well. Unfortunately, we also have a lot of really bad video clips of how we turned over pucks, how we took bad penalties and how we made bad decisions that really hurt us. A large part of a lot of games we played really well, but there was 5-to-7-to-10 minutes that we found a way to do things that caused us to give up goals."

SUN: What do you want this team's identity to be?

MACLEAN: "The team is going to set the identity. We really feel with the team we have right now the search for the identity is going to be way quicker. Training camp is about getting to that identity and getting to it right away so you can have success. We had a conflict of identities last year: It took a long time to get it to the point that we knew where it was. Our team play wants to play fast, we want to play 200-feet, but our biggest change is when we don't have the puck we want to work. We want to work way harder, smarter and be more tenacious. Our competition level, one-on-one, on a nightly basis wasn't good enough. If we can fix that, we can fix a lot of things."


Filed in: NHL Teams, Ottawa Senators, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: paul+maclean

Hockey Ideas

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,

I thought of things I’d like to see once training camp opens on Wednesday. Here are 10 conclusions:

- Pull the goalie. It took Patrick Roy, of all people, to decide that not playing a useless goalie late in a game is wise. According to the Denver Post, the Avalanche scored in four regular-season games after Roy pulled his goalie with more than two minutes left in regulation. The Avalanche went 2-1-1. Every statistical analysis concludes the risk of allowing an empty-net goal is worth the advantage of having an extra attacker. What’s the difference between losing by two goals instead of one? It’s not easy to clear the zone, to say nothing of gaining control of the puck, when you’re outmanned. At 19:00, when most coaches wave their goalies to the bench, it’s too late.

- Practice occasionally at night. The puck drops on the average NHL practice at 10:30 a.m. Of the 1,230 games last year, just one started before noon Eastern time: Winnipeg at Philadelphia at 11:30 a.m. on Nov. 29. Research would be required, but common sense dictates that players would perform better if they played at the same time as they practiced.

- Hire full-time chefs. After games in Buffalo, road teams usually snack on wings in the dressing room. Even us gluttons know this is not health food. It’s critical for athletes to refuel with good, nutritious meals after maximum effort. My team would have a chef and an assistant preparing healthy meals during the game to be ready for consumption in the room and on the plane.

more plus additonal hockey topics...

Filed in: NHL Teams, NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink

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