Kukla's Korner Hockey
from the Pioneer Press,
At the start of the season, Backstrom’s biography merely warranted “In The System” small-print status in the media guide, not the extensive spreads established players receive.
That’s changed. Backstrom has had an 18-8-5 run as a starter for the Wild and suddenly ranks No. 2 in the NHL with a 2.16 goals-against average.
At season’s end, he can become a free agent, and the team he’s expected to start against tonight in St. Paul — Wayne Gretzky’s Phoenix Coyotes — could be big in offseason bidding. Backstrom, 29, has shut out the Coyotes, who need a goalie, twice in two starts this season.
That’s not to say Backstrom is going anywhere. He said he enjoys Minnesota and wants to re-sign with the Wild. But if he finishes the season at his current pace, he’ll have several nice offers with which the Wild will have to compete.
from the Calgary Sun,
Expect Iginla to give what he can on the ice—he’s certainly been their best player the last two games—but you can’t help but wonder if the time has come for him to raise his voice in the dressing room.
You know the idea: Provide a fire-and-brimstone speech, break sticks or scream and yell to ignite his team, which has a mere four-point edge on Colorado for eighth spot in the Western Conference chase.
Fans may think such a development isn’t in Iginla’s repertoire but he insists—even if he’s not planning to do it in the next couple of days—it could happen at some time.
“It’s not out of character,” Iginla insisted yesterday.
“The funny thing is, I’m not the quietest guy. I don’t walk around and just whisper at guys. We’re not scared to tell people things.”
from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,
Senators coach Bryan Murray yesterday accused Pittsburgh Penguins superstar centre and NHL poster boy Sidney Crosby of swearing at him during the first period of Ottawa’s 4-3 shootout loss on Sunday.
Murray said that’s conduct unbecoming of an NHL superstar.
“He’s one of those young people, and rightly so, that the league is really promoting as the example of the new NHL,” said Murray. “When he turns, and I’m sure he’s on camera quite often, using the language he does, I don’t think that’s something he should do. That’s all.”
Although he regrets injuring Kaberle and says he’s learned his lesson from the late hit, which earned a three-game suspension, Janssen has no intention of taking it easy on the Maple Leafs’ defenseman if their paths cross.
“If he’s got the puck and I need to make the hit on him to get the puck, well, yeah, I’m going to do it,” he said Monday. “I’m not looking to go head-hunting or anything like that. I just want to go out and play my game. I’m sure if I’m skating down the wing with the puck, he’s going to come hit me, too.”
The NHL Players’ Association announced Monday that Mike Gartner has stepped down from his post as Director of Hockey Affairs.
“These are difficult times for the Association and I feel at this point I can best serve the future of a changing union by stepping aside,” Gartner said in a statement issued Monday night.
“I will continue to fully support all efforts to restore the integrity of the NHLPA.”
Gartner joined the NHLPA in 1999 as its Director of Business Relations following a 19-year Hall of Fame career. In March 2006, he was named the NHLPA’s Director of Hockey Affairs, working towards improving the on-ice game and safety for the players.
from Lynn Zinser of the New York Times,
N.H.L. shootouts are played in front of crowds who stand for every shot, in arenas abuzz with expectation and, with the season waning, in situations that often have vital playoff implications. But the shootout decides not just which team gets a crucial point in the standings; it also forms a dividing line between shooters who are ready for the magnitude of that moment and those who are not.
That line has fallen in unpredictable places. The league’s best players, its best shooters and breakaway artists, do not necessarily make the best shootout performers.
from the Nashville Predators,
Monday afternoon, Nashville Predators general manager David Poile addressed members of the local media via a conference call to respond to two issues: 1) Comments about the Nashville organization made by Dallas Stars president Jim Lites in Monday’s Dallas Morning News & the five-game suspension to Predators forward Jordin Tootoo that the NHL announced Monday afternoon.
added Tuesday, 3/20 at 6:10am, from the Tennessean,
Perhaps he should take that up with the commissioner or probably he should contact the Predators directly,” Poile said. “That’s extremely unprofessional on Lites’ behalf. I can’t think for a second that we would ever do or say something like that about Dallas. It’s uncalled for and I’m sure we’ll take that up with the commissioner.’‘
The NHL took notice of the comments by Lites, according to league spokesman Frank Brown. He said Commissioner Gary Bettman had already contacted Lites.
“(Bettman) thought those comments were inappropriate and that was conveyed by the commissioner to the Stars,’’ Brown said.
Brown wouldn’t say if Lites will be subject to disciplinary action.
from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press (Tuesday edition) via the Santa Barbara News,
When Calder came to Detroit on Feb. 26, the night before the NHL trade deadline, he had just nine goals and 12 assists in 59 games with the Flyers, far and away the worst team in the NHL pretty much all season. On a team that stank, Calder retained a touch of noxious notoriety for having the worst plus-minus rating in the league at minus-31.
Since joining the Wings, he’s been a minus player in only two games. He has developed instant chemistry with linemate Robert Lang. Calder has, in short, started enjoying going to work again.
‘‘You feel rejuvenated,’’ he said Monday. ‘‘That’s what it is. It seems like so long ago now that I was in Philly, and the memories from there, there weren’t a lot of positive ones. When you play on a team that’s struggling, not a lot of things go right. To come here, with a different view and where every one is really upbeat, it’s just a good atmosphere. I just want to keep that going. This is a great team, good guys here, so that helps a lot.’‘
added 3/20, link to Detroit Free Press now available…
from the CP via TSN,
The NHL has suspended Nashville Predators winger Jordin Tootoo five games for his punch to the face of Dallas Stars defenceman Stephane Robidas.
“In reviewing this incident, Stephane Robidas appeared to be initiating a confrontation by approaching Jordin Tootoo,” said NHL Senior Executive Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell. “While a player is entitled to defend himself, Mr. Tootoo’s forceful blow to Robidas’ head was an overly aggressive and inappropriate response. The fact that Mr. Tootoo’s actions resulted in an injury to his opponent also was a factor in this decision.”
from the AP via TSN,
Chris Simon, the New York Islanders forward suspended for a league-record 25 games for a vicious on-ice hit, will not face criminal charges.
Nassau County district attorney Kathleen Rice says here office conduced a thorough review of the incident and decided not to charge Simon.
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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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