Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Joe Haggerty of CSNNE,
“Tomorrow is a huge game for Philadelphia, and it should be a huge game for us,” said Julien. “Those are teams that are obviously gunning for us, and if we want some separation then we obviously need to win those kinds of games. I know we’ve got Detroit the next day, and then Ottawa at the beginning of next week. The month of March is going to be a tough one.”
The B’s coach is, of course, referencing the stretch of 11 games in 18 days, that the team capped off with the shootout loss to the Flames, and 15 total games in 31 days with 13 of those games against Eastern Conference opponents.
The month also has the Bruins in four sets of back-to-back games over the course of March, and that’s an area where the team has withered this season in the second night of those situations.
from Ryan Kesler at The Players' Tribune,
I wanted a trade out of Vancouver this offseason for several reasons. That’s no disrespect to the fans, my teammates, or Canucks ownership, but I think both sides needed a change. I’ve got three kids at home; I just wanted a more normal life for them away from the rink. Playing in Canada can be a fishbowl not just for players but for families, too. That said, this was really hard. I know you read that all the time, but Vancouver was my home since I was 19. I grew up with Kevin Bieksa, Alex Burrows, and the Sedins. These guys will always be my close friends. One day you wake up and you realize, Wow, I’m really leaving my buddies. It’s weird because I spent all summer preparing for a move, but when I actually got the call from my agent that I was headed to Anaheim, a little bit of anxiety rushed in.
My first thought was: Sunshine. Shorts and flip flops. Nice.
My second thought was: Getzlaf and Perry. Interesting.
Then came a rush of really complicated thoughts: How am I going to tell my 6-year-old daughter that she has to say goodbye to her best friends? What happens with my Canadian bank account? How do those taxes work? Where do I live? How do you even move furniture and stuff?
from Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated,
Some quick thoughts ahead of a busy hockey weekend:
• Here's an almost unbelievable stat: It has been one year since the Stars got a win in a game that was started by their backup goaltender. That, however, should change soon. Kari Lehtonen's play has hit rock bottom. He allowed three goals on 14 shots before being pulled on Thursday night in Florida and has posted a save percentage of .826 or lower in four of his past five starts. His confidence is blown, his mechanics are off (his glove and his side-to-side motion, in particular), and his teammates play like they expect the worst to happen at any moment. Even coach Lindy Ruff, a man who will take a bullet for his players, has had enough, calling out Lehtonen for not matching the efforts of the other Stars.
It wasn't that long ago that the Stars believed Lehtonen was a player who could help them get to the next level. Now? They have to be wondering whether they can get his head on straight by next season, or if they should look in another direction. Moving him won't be easy, though, not with three years remaining on a deal that carries a cap hit of $5.9 million.
continue plus more topics including a look at the Simon Despres trade...
from Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet,
- Does anyone else think the Las Vegas expansion team gets announced at the NHL Awards?
- The Sabres are expected to look at some youthful options, but if they chase a veteran, it’s believed they have interest in unrestricted free agent Antti Niemi. If that doesn’t work, would Kari Lehtonen be a fit? Lindy Ruff is going to have a stroke if this continues and Jim Nill talked in this space about how difficult Lehtonen finds the adjustment on a better defensive team as opposed to a porous one. He could could help the Sabres, because while Buffalo hopes to improve, it’s unlikely they would be airtight.
- One Eastern Conference executive: “P.K. Subban is so much better a defenceman now than when he won the Norris Trophy. It’s not even close.”
In fact, he (and others) believe Subban isn’t getting enough consideration for this year’s award.
The KHL team Donbass Donetsk had to fold for war-related reasons--the first time I've ever heard that statement used regarding hockey--last season, and Ukrainian native Ruslan Fedotenko tells ESPN's Tal Pinchevsky that his hockey career and personal life have taken an entwined path since conflict embroiled Eastern Ukraine and Donetsk in particular:
It seemed like such a perfect fit when Ukrainian-born Ruslan Fedotenko signed a three-year deal with HC Donbass of the Kontinental Hockey League on July 2, 2013.
With a résumé that includes stints with five NHL teams over 12 seasons, and Stanley Cup victories with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004 and Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009, he was already his country's top hockey export. A decade after representing Ukraine at the 2002 Salt Lake Olympics, Fedotenko returned home during the 2012-13 NHL lockout to play with Donbass, a club located in the southeastern city of Donetsk. Offered a generous salary and an opportunity to help build hockey in Ukraine, he was hailed as a hero when he returned for a second go-around.
Just 20 months after being named captain and becoming the face of Ukrainian hockey, Fedotenko, 36, is now skating with the Iowa Wild of the American Hockey League. It's his first minor league stint since he broke into the NHL with the Philadelphia Flyers, in 2000. But any career struggles Fedotenko has encountered are nothing compared to the violence that has engulfed his home country.
"A lot of people are dying [in Ukraine] every day, innocent people," Fedotenko said. "It puts perspective. I didn't find a [NHL] team yet, but at least I'm alive and I have peace over my head versus people who I still talk to back in Donetsk who go shelter to shelter and are just trying to survive bombings."
Pinchevsky continues, and this is a hard story to read--especially given that Donbass Donetsk's arena is now a firebombed hulk, and that the city where players from all over the world called home until war came to their doorstep--but sometimes we "need to be reminded" that, in more than a few places around the world, people still have to leave their homes to play hockey because the threat of war, ethnic or religious-based violence remain present dangers.
from Darren Dreger of the Dreger Report,
Strong hockey markets such as Toronto and Boston require experienced, confident and resilient managers and coaches to both survive and thrive.
With Peter Chiarelli and Claude Julien, the Bruins have thrived and until recently, the notion either man was in jeopardy of losing his job would and should have been viewed as absurd.
In Toronto, no one will be surprised if or when Brendan Shanahan lowers the boom on Maple Leafs general manager Dave Nonis. Some see Nonis as 'dead man walking,' convinced Shanahan will bring in one of his own in the offseason to spearhead the departure of Phaneuf, Kessel and others before beginning the laborious task of a multi-year rebuild.
Nonis has three years remaining on his contract after this season and has been around the league long enough to know the job is tough enough without worrying whether or not your days are numbered. And he'll continue to manage the Leafs in consultation with Shanahan and Toronto's management team until told otherwise. Such decisions will be made at the end of the season following a a full and standard organizational review. ...
While change in Toronto remains fodder for daily media speculation, the Bruins' injury-riddled fight for a playoff spot in the East has Boston fans feeling uneasy and putting the likes of Chiarelli and Julien in the crosshairs - especially if they fail to qualify or are knocked out early in the postseason.
Now the Boston market is as passionate as any in the NHL and expectations under Chiarelli's guidance are high given the product he's consistently delivered over the past seven years. But as difficult as it is to win a Stanley Cup, it's incredibly hard to maintain contending status year after year.
from Chris Johnston of Sportsnet,
Player-tracking technology could be implemented across the NHL next season in place of the real-time statistics it has employed for more than a decade.
Officials from the league and NHL Players’ Association met earlier this week to discuss the Sportvision system that was tested at the all-star game in January, and are believed to be working towards a deal to have it fully operational for 2015-16.
That has been the NHL’s hope since a successful initial run-through in October, but it needs approval from the union to move forward.
Don Fehr, the NHLPA’s executive director, says a proposal is currently being reviewed internally and must still be looked at by the players. Asked for his views on the test at the all-star game in Columbus, he replied: “I think there are some very interesting things there.
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.
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