Kukla's Korner

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Hockey Notes On The Last Sunday Of September

from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,

- An NHL coach on exhibition hockey: “If COVID taught us anything, it’s that players don’t need pre-season games.” If you remember, there were none last season.

- GM Pierre Dorion in Ottawa has declared that the rebuild is over. That’s a dangerous thing to do. It’s easy to surprise teams the first time around as youngsters. The hard part now, in a division with Tampa Bay, Florida, Toronto, Boston, Montreal, is becoming significant.

- You could build your own sports network and a pretty good one just by hiring all the people who have left Sportsnet or been shown the door: You can have Bob Cole, Jim Hughson and Dave Randorf doing play by play. You can have Rautins, Glenn Healy, Don Cherry, Doug MacLean, Bob McCown, John Shannon, Nick Kypreos, Mike Johnson, George Stroumboulopoulos as commentators. I could do something with that group.

- If there is a concern that non-vaccinated NHL players, Tyler Bertuzzi for example, won’t be able to cross the border and play in Canada, how is it that non-vaccinated Major League Baseball players have been crossing the border and playing in Toronto since the Blue Jays moved home?

a few more notes, mostly on the Leafs...

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Jared Bednar Needs To Get The Colorado Avalanche To The Next Step

from Mike Chambers of the Denver Post,

Avalanche coach Jared Bednar wants to do like Jon Cooper.

Bednar wants to go from the proverbial pressure cooker to a multiple Stanley Cup champion.

In 2018-19, the Tampa Bay Lightning won the President’s Trophy as the NHL’s regular-season champion before getting swept in the first round of the playoffs. Cooper, a sixth-year head coach at the time, was retained while many wanted him fired.

Cooper then led Tampa Bay to back-to-back championships.

“I’ve talked to Jon Cooper at length,” said Bednar, who is beginning his sixth season with the Avs.

In other words, Bednar has picked Cooper’s brain about how to get a championship-caliber team over the hump. He’s tried to understand what he could have done better to beat San Jose in Game 7 in 2019, beat Dallas in Game 7 in 2020 and avoid an 0-4 meltdown in June to lose to Vegas in six games.

Colorado, the 2021 President’s Trophy winner, has failed to get out of the second round of the playoffs for three consecutive years. And if it happens again — or the team falls apart in the regular season — Bednar realizes he will likely lose his job.

“No one’s going to put more pressure on me than I do, because I see how committed our guys are, how bad they want it,” he said from training camp.

continued

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Media Access Depends On The Teams

from Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News,

Players, coaches and media around the NHL are again getting used to in-person interactions, after the 2020 playoffs and the entire 2021 season were spent solely on video calls.

But there was plenty of consternation in various precincts last week when the return to full media access reporters had hoped for was suddenly dashed a couple days before camp opened.

Leadership of the Professional Hockey Writers Association had previously informed members access was expected to return to pre-pandemic policies, which would have made the NHL the first of the four major North American sports leagues to reopen its locker rooms to the media.

The caveat, of course, was that things were subject to change. And they changed quite a bit after a video meeting of team public relations directors and league officials sparked by discussions at the Player Media Tour earlier this month in Chicago.

While still in pandemic times, the NHL is now opting against a blanket policy and allowing teams to set their own policies based on local rules. As you can imagine, things are all over the map.

Teams such as the New York Rangers and Boston Bruins are welcoming reporters back to the locker room, with the Bruins even creating a tongue-in-cheek video of veteran Boston players issuing welcomes to veteran Beantown reporters. Others are opening the locker room at specific times or on certain days.

But the New York Islanders, under the firm thumb of ultra-tight general manager Lou Lamoriello, immediately announced that all interviews of players and coaches for the entire season will be on video calls. They even started training camp with no uniform numbers on sweaters and no rosters for the media, before finally producing some information for those gathered to cover a team that has legitimate Stanley Cup aspirations and will be playing in a new arena.

read on

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

The First Preseason Game For The Seattle Kraken Is In Spokane Tonight

from Angela Schneider of The Spokesman-Review,\

A new era of hockey is about to begin in Washington state.

Professional hockey returns to the Pacific Northwest at 6 p.m. Sunday when the puck drops on the NHL exhibition game between the Seattle Kraken and the Vancouver Canucks at the Spokane Arena.

The history of hockey in Washington is long and storied. Most hockey fans know the Seattle Metropolitans were the first American team to win the Stanley Cup, the championship trophy of the National Hockey League.

Yet hockey doesn’t outrank football, basketball, baseball or even soccer for U.S. sports fans.

“We’re putting a tremendous amount of work – from leadership at the top on down, everyone in the organization – into helping the entire hockey community thrive throughout the state and the region,” said Kyle Boyd, the Kraken’s director of youth and community development. “It says a lot about the values of the organization.”

One local hockey fan already sees a groundswell of fandom for the Kraken.

“I cannot believe how much Kraken stuff I see around,” said Luke Damskow, community development director for Spokane Youth Hockey. “It’s all over the place. My kids are all about the team already. They’re going to be huge.”

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: seattle+kraken

A New Deal For Doug Armstrong In St. Louis

from Chris Pinkert of StLouisBlues.com,

Doug Armstrong will serve as the St. Louis Blues' President of Hockey Operations and General Manager for the foreseeable future after signing a five-year deal on Saturday.

The contract makes Armstrong - who was originally named general manager of the Blues in July 2010 - the longest-tenured general manager in franchise history.

"I got here in 2008, the first couple of years as (Vice President) of Player Personnel," Armstrong told stlouisblues.com. "As manager, you never know how long you'll last in these jobs, sometimes they're a little fickle. It's been an honor to have been the manager for the Blues for this long and I look forward to continuing that."

continued

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St. Louis Blues/Ottawa Senators Trade

ST. LOUIS - St. Louis Blues President of Hockey Operations and General Manager Doug Armstrong announced today the Blues have acquired St. Louis native Logan Brown and a conditional draft pick in 2022 from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for forward Zach Sanford.

The conditional draft pick is removed from the deal if Brown plays more than 30 NHL games this season.

Brown, the son of former Blues defenseman Jeff Brown, was originally drafted 11th overall by the Senators in the 2016 NHL Draft.

Last season, the 6-foot-6, 218-pound forward posted nine points (two goals, seven assists) in 13 games with the AHL's Belleville Senators while serving two penalty minutes in one game with Ottawa. Overall, Brown has appeared in 30 NHL games, collecting nine points (one goal, eight assists) and six penalty minutes.

Sanford, 26, has spent four of his five NHL seasons with the Blues. Last season, the 6-foot-4, 207-pound forward logged 16 points (10 goals, six assists) and 25 penalty minutes in 52 regular-season games. Overall, Sanford has dressed in 209 career regular-season games, totaling 74 points (38 goals, 36 assists) and 84 penalty minutes.

Filed in: NHL Teams, Ottawa Senators, St. Louis Blues, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

High Percentage Of NHL Players Have Been Vaccinated

from Matt Porter of the Boston Globe,

Patrice Bergeron did not have to convince his teammates to get vaccinated.

“No meetings about it,” the Bruins captain said. “Everyone was kind of on board and did it organically, if you will, for their own beliefs and themselves and their families.”

Refreshing, no?

Meanwhile, Sabres forward Kyle Okposo noted there was a bottom-line reason for players to take their shots.

“It’s funny what happens when you start to affect people’s wallets,” he said.

NHL players reported for the Back to Normalcy Tour this past week, nearly all showing up for the first days of training camp fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This is no small thing.

In the summertime, Oilers general manager Ken Holland said, talk around the league was that 80 to 90 players among the 700-plus workforce had yet to get vaccinated. Now, according to deputy commissioner Bill Daly, the NHL expects single-digit holdouts. Twenty-seven of 32 teams reported being 100 percent vaccinated or expected to be there in the coming days. Only four teams, Detroit, Edmonton, New Jersey, and San Jose, project to start the season with unvaccinated players on their rosters.

continued plus more topics...

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The New York Rangers Turn To A Retired Linesman To Help With Facoffs

from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,

The idea, we’re told, was born in 2005-06, when Chris Drury was co-captain in Buffalo, and the Sabres brought a retired referee to training camp to work with the team on the rules changes that arose out of the Shanahan Summit during Owners’ Lockout II.

Sixteen years later and now the general manager of the Rangers, Drury reached into his past and then out to retired NHL linesman Pierre Racicot to work with his team on faceoffs during the opening days of training camp.

Racicot, a 54-year-old veteran of 1,880 regular season games and 254 playoff contests, who dropped the puck tens of thousands of times, worked with the club’s faceoff men following each of Friday’s training camp sessions, imparting his wisdom regarding rules at the dots and advice on positioning and stance.

This represents an innovative approach to confront a historically serious deficiency that has undermined the Rangers for years. Last season, the Rangers won just 44.5 percent of their faceoffs, which was not only last in the league, but also ranked 273rd of the 274 NHL individual team-seasons since 2012-13. The previous season’s 45.9 percent ranked 30th in the NHL and 260th since 2012-13. The 2018-19 club’s 46.9 percent also ranked 30th in the league while placing 252nd over the last nine years.

continued

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The Improved Winnipeg Jets

from Paul Friesen of the Winnipeg Sun,

On paper, the Jets have everything you’d want to make a deep playoff run: A mix of skill and grit up front that has developed a hunger for more, a goalie who eats pucks at a high level and now a defence that’ll be far less fun to play against.

It’ll all cost a pretty penny, right up near the NHL salary cap, and you know where that leaves the expectations going into Year 11.

“It sets us up to be in a good spot and make some waves this year,” is how veteran Mark Scheifele put it. “I look at myself as being in the prime of my career and you want your team to be in that stage as well. This year, we have a team that can definitely do something and it starts now, it starts in training camp, and it has to continue to grow each and every day.

“Every single guy in that locker room is thinking that and it gets me excited every day.”

The fan who has lived through the previous 10 seasons might wonder what took so long.

But the right players coming available at the right time, with spending room to acquire them while drafting and re-signing your own, is a tricky game. When players want out, it adds another wrinkle.

more

Filed in: NHL Teams, Winnipeg Jets, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Luc Tardif Is The New IIHF President

from Martin Merk of IIHF.com,

Luc Tardif has been elected as new IIHF President succeeding René Fasel, who held the position for 27 years and didn’t stand for re-election. He won the presidential election in the fourth and last round against Franz Reindl.

Tardif becomes the 14th IIHF President and the second from France after founding President Louis Magnus.

Petr Briza was elected as Senior Vice-President, and the Regional Vice-Presidents elected are Bob Nicholson (Americas), Aivaz Omorkanov (Asia & Oceania) and Henrik Bach Nielsen (Europe & Africa).

continued

Filed in: Non-NHL Hockey, International Hockey, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

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About Kukla's Korner Hockey

Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com

 

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