Kukla's Korner

Kukla's Korner Hockey

Talent Pool Diluted

New year, same old story... from the Tufts Observer,

Once a staple of the American winter, the NHL has now tumbled to the edge of obscurity. People just don’t care anymore. There are too many teams in too many states that just weren’t meant for hockey. Yet as it stands, Florida has not one, but two teams playing in the NHL. There are also franchises in Nashville, San Jose, Los Angeles, Anaheim, Phoenix, Dallas, and Atlanta. If you’re a fan of any of these teams, please don’t take this personally, but they just don’t make much sense. Not only are these regions not at all conducive to the sport, but they, along with pitiful expansion teams like the Columbus Blue Jackets, make for a system that is just too large for the amount of talent available. There simply aren’t enough quality players to fill 30 professional rosters. As a result, the talent pool is diluted and the end-product is decisively mediocre.
read on

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Hockey In Memphis

The Nashville Predators played an exhibition game in Memphis yesterday. The fans seemed to enjoy themselves... from Commercial Appeal,

Although when the Predators first came to Nashville in 1998, they knew what language to speak. "We sold it as NASCAR on ice," said Predators owner Craig Leipold, who was born in Memphis, raised in Wisconsin, and watched Thursday's 8-1 victory over the Blue Jackets. "A lot of hard-hitting, a lot of collisions." "Not a bad start," Leipold said. "Maybe we ought to do a couple of regular-season games here -- first period, anyway." But Leipold was hoping that this one game would have the same impact that Taranski's first game in Detroit had on him 36 years ago. "We want to get people in Memphis interested in hockey," Leipold said. "We've got 20 games on the weekend."
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Get Quicker

from the Sun-Sentinel,

O'Brien's commitment to fitness has translated into a leaner, quicker and more agile Panthers roster. Instead of lifting weights, players are actually losing it to increase their speed and agility under O'Brien's program in his second year with the Panthers, and Panthers General Manager and coach Jacques Martin said he believes in his players' physique makes them better equipped for the new NHL, which values such traits. "I think Andy has done a great job with our people when I look at the results this year compared to last year," Martin said. "His program is really more focused on speed and quickness vs. the old strategy of bulking [up] and lifting heavy weights."
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What’s Your Number

from the Detroit Free Press (sidebar),

During a quick scan of the crowd in front of the press box, it was tough to find someone wearing a Wings jersey of someone who is still on the team. The majority of the jerseys were Steve Yzerman's No. 19, Brendan Shanahan's No. 14, Brett Hull's No. 16, Gordie Howe's No. 9 and Sergei Fedorov's No. 91. We finally caught a guy wearing a white Kirk Maltby No. 18 jersey. Sparse crowd: Maybe people were too bummed after watching the Tigers' 4-3 loss to the Orioles to make the trip downtown. Or maybe people just wanted to stay home to watch the season premiere of Grey's Anatomy. Whatever the reason, there were a large number of empty seats at Joe Louis Arena.
Recap of the game plus Hudler makes a statement...

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Young Dman Impressing Hitchcock

from Philly News,

When Lars Jonsson's name popped up on the Flyers' free-agent list this summer, there were only a few people who could say anything about him. At 24, the Swedish defenseman had never played a game in the NHL, despite being Boston's 2000 first-round pick. Jonsson is supposed to be a highly skilled, puck-moving, skating defenseman, but he is an unknown outside of Europe. "He brings an element that's necessary in the league, an element our team needs," Hitchcock said. "He's great on the power play, he does things not a lot of players can do, the way he keeps his head up and finds open people offensively. He does a lot of good things. "With so many special teams these days you're looking for someone that has potential. We've got so many left shots. You need a really good player on [the right] side of the ice to bring the puck off the boards to the middle of the ice."
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No Diving Allowed

from the Vancouver Province,

Even though Fitzpatrick was solid with a plus-1 rating in 22:24 of playing time, he wants to set the record straight on the phantom dive. "I haven't dove yet and I don't plan on diving at all," he said Thursday of his 12-year career. "I don't think anybody on a scoring chance is going to dive -- I'm in front of the net with the puck on my stick -- and a guy may have turned his stick in my skates. I guess the refs are trying to get a presence out there and get the calls going. So, I don't know if that would have been a call in the regular season or not -- I didn't think it was."
In the limitied amount of games I have seen this pre-season, the refs are attempting to call more diving calls. At times, the dive is evident, but it is also a judgement call. A Colorado player was called for a dive during the Wings game last night and I was shocked by the call. Diving is hard to decide at times and let's hope all the players get the message- stop the diving and get on with the game. We don't need any WWE actors in the NHL.

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The Other Side Of Laraque

from the East Valley Tribune,

As a team that sorely lacked a dominant physical presence and was often pushed around last season, the Coyotes are ecstatic to have Laraque on their side this season because “he puts the fear of God into the other team,” said forward Mike Comrie, also a teammate in Edmonton. “He’s a mountain that moves,” added right wing Shane Doan, who at 6-2, 216 pounds isn’t exactly a molehill. Laraque’s on-ice persona certainly precedes him, but he won’t let it define him. While the Montreal native has more than 100 NHL brawls on his resume, once he steps on the other side of the glass, one quickly discovers Laraque is more lover than fighter.
read on

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Preparing To Play In Puerto Rico

from Newsday,

A traveling squad of Rangers landed in Puerto Rico last night to prepare for tomorrow's game against the Florida Panthers - the first NHL-sanctioned event in the Caribbean. The steamy climate - high 80s and rainy at this time of year - is decidedly unfamiliar territory for a sport with roots in frosty ponds. Tom Renney, who was the coach of the Vancouver Canucks when the team opened the regular season in Japan 10 years ago, was looking forward to the trip as a way to engage new fans and build team unity with 22 players, about half of whom weren't with the Rangers last season. "It's an interesting venue for us, to say the least," Renney said, "given the cultural diversity in the dressing room," which is a blend of Europeans and North Americans.
continued

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Luongo Makes A Difference

from Al Strachan of the Toronto Sun,

Usually, when a team undergoes a two-thirds overhaul, the benefits take a while to appear — if they ever do. In the case of the Vancouver Canucks, the mandatory waiting period is likely to be waived, if only because one of the many changes involves the starting goaltender. Roberto Luongo came over from the Florida Panthers in a package deal in which he and Todd Bertuzzi were the headliners.
continued

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Avs In The Middle Of The Pack

from Fox Sports,

The Avalanche no longer are mortal locks for the playoffs as in years past. The Western Conference just has too many good teams and the Avs have some question marks now that elite players from their past have moved on. That being said, Colorado still has enough weapons to make some noise this season, especially if Theodore gets his act together. With a couple breaks injury-wise, the Avalanche have the makings of two good lines, a decent checking unit and a deep defense that will be a strongpoint for the season. A postseason berth is likely for the Avalanche, but it's not the sure thing it was in the past. Where they'll finish Division: Third Conference: Eighth
read on

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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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