Kukla's Korner

Miroslav Zalesak signs with Washington

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from a couple of readers of Kukla's Korner. Zalesak was in the top 5 of AHL scoring in 03-04. He said: "I talked with my previous team (SJ) but we couldnt agree. 6-7 teams were interested in me and in the end it was between Toronto, Washington and Vancouver. After consulting with my agent I chose Washington, which has a young team, ambitions and hasnt got a lot of signed players. I have a big chance to play and I hope it turns out well." He added:"If they send me to the farm, it will be on me If I stay or go to Europe". link is in Slovak.

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Two More Signings

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Right wing Mike Grier re-signed with the Buffalo Sabres on Monday, accepting a one-year qualifying offer to earn nearly $1.4 million this season. The Carolina Hurricanes announced that have agreed to terms with center Matt Cullen on a one-year contract. As per club policy, no further terms were announced.

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More on Nash

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Official Press Release,

The Columbus Blue Jackets have re-signed All-Star left wing Rick Nash to a five-year contract, club President and General Manager Doug MacLean announced today. As is club policy, terms of the contract were not disclosed. "In my opinion, Rick Nash is the best young player in the world and I am thrilled for Rick, our organization and our fans that he is going to remain a Blue Jacket," said MacLean. "At 21 years of age, he has established himself as a true superstar in the game. He is a supremely talented player on the ice and a tremendous person off it. I believe our team is poised to take a major step and Rick is certainly going to play a significant role as our franchise continues to grow."

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The Circle will Turn

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Calgary Sun via Slam,

So NHL fans in Denver, St. Louis, Detroit, Toronto and New York aren't too happy about the new CBA. Cry me a river. In years past, those teams spent and spent and spent like there was no tomorrow -- to the detriment of the league as a whole -- and are finally paying the piper. (In Colorado's defence, at least the Avs weren't constantly adding to their muscle by over-paying unrestricted free agents.) Colorado, and to a big extent Detroit, benefitted from strong drafting and trading over the last decade but never had to face the problems clubs like Calgary and Edmonton had: The knowledge those players brought along would eventually become too pricey to hang onto.

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Speedy Predators

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Nashville City Paper,

In the National Hockey League speed kills….the opposition. With the addition of left wing Paul Kariya, one of the premier players in the world, the Predators, known as a speedy team, became even faster. With the signing of Kariya to a two-year pact paying $4.5 million a year, Predators owner Craig Leipold has sent the league and fans a message that his team is on the offensive in more ways than one. “We have been known as a hard-working hockey club with some skills, but we haven’t had those dynamic breakaway guys,” said Predators general manager David Poile. “Now we have Kariya and Steve Sullivan. We certainly hope that there is still a bright future ahead for David Legwand to blossom a little bit more. Who knows? David is a year older. Maybe getting to play more with Sullivan or Kariya he can see what it takes and take it to the next level.”

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Coachign fro the Wrong Reason

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Edmonton Sun via the Ottawa Sun,

Is it possible The Great One, who starting today will be known to the Phoenix Coyotes as "Coach Gretzky," has lost his famed sense of timing and stage completely? I mean, today is Aug. 8. Wait a day, Wayne. Tomorrow is Aug. 9 --the date which will live on in infamy in your career. That's the day, in 1988, when No. 99 was sold by Peter Pocklington from the Oilers to the Kings. This day could live on in infamy in a whole other way. Gretzky, I believe, is becoming an NHL coach for all the wrong reasons. And that's never right. I don't see a burning desire by The Great One to become an NHL coach or a great belief that he can lead the failing franchise to the Stanley Cup. I see Gretzky becoming coach because the Coyotes have nothing else to sell but his name. And they can't sell it any longer with him sitting up in an owners' suite.

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Warning Signing

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Darren Eliot of Sports Illustrated,

While old teams showed renewed vigor by wading into the previously untested free agent market, as the week wound down, the Columbus Blue Jackets may have set the most noteworthy standard by re-signing restricted free agent Rick Nash to a reported five-year deal for $27M. The term is staggering for a player with two years in the NHL and the money is suitably outlandish. Nash is a splendid player and certainly the centerpiece for the CBJ's for years to come, as well as one of the brightest young stars the NHL has to offer. But GM Doug MacLean seems to have jumped the gun a bit here and it isn't the first time. Next summer MacLean will have to figure out some sort of rationale for his hodgepodge spending, especially when the CBJ's other fine young forward, Nikolai Zheredev, comes looking for the same kind of love. Until then, he can expect only glances askance and muted mutterings of others in the GM fraternity.

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Shifting of Power

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Darren Eliot of Sports Illustrated,

It was just a date on the calendar -- August 1. A mere 48 hours after the amateur draft came free agency under the new collective bargaining agreement. Everyone knew that would be a free agent free-for-all, but no one was quite sure how quickly the market would be set with an unprecedented array of marquee names available. What is the case universally -- now and for the balance of the CBA -- is an all-encompassing need for teams to constantly revamp their rosters with the salary cap in mind. An addition of an asset will have an immediate effect on payroll as well as long-term ramifications.

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Gretzky to Coach

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

via ESPN,

After months of speculation, Wayne Gretzky has decided to coach the Phoenix Coyotes, multiple sources told The Arizona Republic on Sunday. Gretzky, the team's managing partner, is expected to be announced as coach Monday, the NHL sources told the paper. Former Detroit Red Wings associate coach Barry Smith will be named one of The Great One's two assistants, The Republic has learned. Former Coyotes player Rick Tocchet or interim head coach Rick Bowness will be Gretzky's other assistant, according to the report. The NHL's all-time leading scorer and nine-time MVP had tentatively agreed to the post, but opted to wait until a new collective bargaining agreement was in place before officially deciding whether to take on the coaching job.
update 5:19pm, Now we have this via Sportsnet,
The Phoenix Coyotes won't confirm reports which suggest the team's managing partner, Wayne Gretzky, has officially decided to become the team's new head coach. A source with the team says no media conference has been scheduled for Monday, as has been suggested. The speculation around Gretzky's coaching debut has been widespread for months, and may get resolved this week. However, for the moment team sources say an announcement is not imminent.

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Wave Money, Not Flags

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the St. Paul Pioneer Press,

The Wild have a media event planned for Monday. They're getting Gov. Tim Pawlenty and St. Paul Mayor Randy Kelly to show up outside Xcel Energy Center for what they're calling a State of Hockey Flag Day Proclamation. Oh, boy, you don't want to miss that. While other NHL teams are stockpiling high-profile talent at a dizzying rate, the Wild are hoisting flags. It's an attempt to rouse fans into loving them again. Instead of flags, the Wild should try waving some money around to attract at least one of the premier players who became unrestricted free agents after the lockout ended. That would get the adoration of fans. The Wild could go after Peter Forsberg or Paul Kariya or Scott Niedermayer or Sergei Gonchar or Pavol Demitra or Adam Foote. Oh, wait. All those guys already have signed with new teams.

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