Kukla's Korner

Kukla's Korner Hockey

Beginning To Blossom

from Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated,

Selected second in the 2002 Entry Draft, Lehtonen has been described for years as Blueland's goalie of the future. Based on his play to this point -- and yes, the date on the calendar is duly noted -- it's almost safe to say the future is now. Four starts. Two shutouts. A .071 goals-against average. A .971 save percentage. Three wins. It's easy to get caught up in numbers, especially when they paint such a pretty picture. But proof of the steps that Lehtonen is taking toward his potential as the game's next elite goalie can't be divined from the stats page. You only can find it by watching him work his magic.
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All Tucker

from David Amber of ESPN,

What he lacks in size, Darcy Tucker makes up for in moxie. In this edition of Facing Off, the Maple Leafs forward tells David Amber why he'll drop the gloves with anyone, how he and Michael Peca have buried the hatchet and why he would love to go one-on-one with President Bush. Amber: I've read your father was a real disciplinarian. Describe that infamous story when, at age 10, you faked an injury on the ice, and the long ride home afterward. Tucker: He wasn't happy. He told me he never wanted to me to do that again on the ice. I figured because I scored a few goals in that game, I was pretty good, so I brushed him off. He didn't appreciate that too much, so he told me to get out of the car and walk home in the middle of winter in icy cold Alberta. (laughs)
read on

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Ray Scapinello Gets Noticed

image Respect... Hockey Hall of Famer Clark Gilles was yapping about a penalty that was just called on him. The ref told him, "If you don't think it was a penalty, don't go into the box." Gilles went to the box. The ref at the time was Ray Scapinello, the retired NHL linseman, who actually wore the red armband for parts of six games in his distinguished NHL career. Like he was on the ice, not often noticed but always there, Ray was more than happy to speak with me recently to discuss his new book, Between the Lines (affiliate link). Ray told me he didn't even realize he wrote a book until he read it, but now whenever he visits a book store and sees "Between the Lines", he casually grabs a few copies and tosses them on "Oprah's Choice" table! I had a few questions for "Scampy" from a fans prospective. I wanted to know who he considered the most hard-nosed player. Ray was quick to point out Darren McCarty, saying Mac always gave an honest effort and although not the most talented player, he brought it every game and played hard every shift. I asked Ray if he ever heard the fans yelling at the refs and linsemen during the game and Ray said not really. He was always focused on the game but did hear a constant buzz from the fans, but individual voices never stood out. One subject that often made me wonder was if the on-ice officials tried to avoid any interaction with players during the season. Ray mentioned on occasion, paths would cross, especially in restaurants. One time he was having dinner in Colorado and saw a few players including Ray Bourque. The great defenseman came over and they exchanged a bit of conversation and when it was time to pay the bill, the waitress informed him Bourque had picked up the check and the gratuity too. Ray pointed out the NHL players are the best of the bunch, they know the refs and linseman have a difficult job, and both sides have a mutual respect for each other. I was surprised when Ray informed me he only spent 40 games in the minors before moving up to the NHL for 33 years (and never missed a game). Some of his counterparts spent 4-6 years in the minors before making the NHL which tells me the head of officials at that time had an excellent eye for talent. Some players can say they have made it to the Stanley Cup Finals four or five times- quite and accomplishment in our eyes. But Ray Scapinello officiated in 20 of those finals, a number that will be hard to match in any team sport. In closing, Ray asked me where I was from. When I mentioned Detroit and he found out I attended many a game at the old Olympia, well, let's say we exchanged some old memories of the "Red Barn". By the way, if someone from the Wings organization is reading this, Mr. Scapinello is still waiting for a brick from the "Barn"!

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Come One, Come All

from Jeff Gordon of St. Louis Today,

The Blues very much request your attendance at their gala tonight. This is the first home opener for the New Regime. The new ownership group, led by Dave Checketts, and the revamped management team, led by John Davidson, has worked very hard to make hockey fans excited again. Their campaign is starting to work. Friends, casual acquaintances and total strangers stop your cyber-correspondent daily and ask about the Blues.
continued

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NHL Did The Right Thing

from Media Post Publications,

Last year NHL did get a lot of coverage on OLN--much more than it probably would have gotten on ESPN--but not much in the way of ratings. Versus is in 20 million fewer homes than ESPN. Still, this approach makes sense. Go small. Rebuild from a niche fan base with interesting behind-the-scenes features in its attempt to regain its spot as the fourth major sport--behind the NFL, NBA, and Major League Baseball.
read on...also involves CBS talk...

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Future Watch

from the South Bend Tribune,

While most of his sophomore classmates at Farmington (Mich.) High School still wonder what they'll do or where they'll head after graduation, 14-year-old Cam Fowler has no such worries. The phenom defenseman has already given a verbal commitment to play hockey for Notre Dame coach Jeff Jackson starting in the fall of 2009.... "He's been put in an elite group for his age, and deservedly so. He's just a step or two ahead of everyone else he's playing with," said Honeybaked assistant Pat Peak. "He reminds me a bit of Chris Pronger." Honeybaked head coach Rob Krohl had a different comparison. "He reminds me of a Paul Coffey," said Krohl. "He's got such a pro skating style, he's almost beautiful to watch."
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Hard Season On Goalies

from Adam Proteau of the Hockey News,

But each one of those situations can change quicker than Patrik Elias on a sugar high. Lehtonen was a major disappointment for much of last season; Biron requested a trade long ago; there’s no guarantee either of the California teams will be able to please each of their platoon’s parties for the entire season; and nobody knows if or when Leclaire goes from glass slipper to pumpkin. To paraphrase the philosophers from Three 6 Mafia, “It’s hard out there for a goalie.”
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No Relation

Jes at Hockey Rants pointed this out to me this morning. Petr is playing in the 1st division hockey league in Czechia. image

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Show Up In Full Gear

from the Everett Herald,

The Silvertips are holding a promotion during Tuesday's home game against Tri-City where any fans who show up in full hockey gear will be let in free. The promotion takes a direct shot at the infamous busgate incident, when after a poor effort during a preseason game at Tri-City, Everett coach Kevin Constantine had the team ride the bus home in its equipment. Constantine was suspended for four games and fined $5,000 for the incident.
more...Ah, that hockey lockerroom smell...

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Flyers Need A Turn Around

from thePhiladelphia News,

Most recently, defenseman Mike Rathje was in so much back pain that the Flyers were talking about dusting the mothballs off former New York Rangers star Brian Leetch. Last night, the team announced that - lo and behold! - Rathje could be back next week. So expect the lame and the afflicted to converge on South Jersey, looking to be healed instantly. Next, perhaps, the Flyers can turn this remarkable curative power on their hockey team. Because right now, the prognosis is not very encouraging.
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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