Kukla's Korner Hockey
from the Columbus Dispatch,
The Blue Jackets underwent a slow, painful transition in 2005-06. They gained an inkling of what it takes to win. It was the most important development of the season. It took six years, but at least their fans saw some growth. The trick now is to maintain the momentum, or build on it, and the next phase is critical. Like the vast majority of their NHL brethren, the Blue Jackets have a pile of unrestricted free agents, some of them key players. The summer signing season will be merely crazy if half the unrestricted free agents test the market. It might go beyond crazy. Next year, the salary-cap ceiling is expected to rise, from $39 million to perhaps as much as $46 million. The Jackets will have a few bucks — say, $10 million — to fool around with, right? "The cap is a nonissue to me because we cannot afford to go to the cap," MacLean said. "There’s a group (of teams) that can, but there’s a lot of us that can’t, based on sound business principles. It’s the team and the internal budget that has to make sense."read on
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
The NHL's Shipwreck Franchise appears on course to collide with an iceberg (yes, another one), and if that isn't threatening enough news, it's even more ominous knowing that Charles Wang is piloting the ship straight ahead into darkness and danger. Several sources with knowledge of the Islanders' search for a GM have told Slap Shots, a) the owner has commandeered the ship and is essentially conducting the search on his own; and, b) that Wang seems determined to give the job to Long Island native John Weisbrod, a former short-time NBA GM who played hockey at Harvard and who seems to have few qualifications beyond his ability to pull off such a good sell job on the team owner.read on (reg. reg.)
CBC announced last night (or early this morning) some opening round start dates. Both Ottawa and Calgary series will open up Friday and Detroit's first game will be a Saturday afternoon game against now known opponent Edmonton. Game time on NBC & CBC should be 2pm. Thanks to a KK reader for passing this along. I fell asleep after the 2nd period of the Vancouver/Colorado game and missed the announcement.
from the Toronto Star,
Dominik Hasek didn’t look like the world beating, future hall-of-fame goalie who was supposed to start against the Leafs tonight. In fact, during the pre-game skate this morning, Hasek looked very doubtful to even start the playoffs for the Senators when they open late next week.... Hasek, though, cast serious doubts the past two days despite taking to the ice for full workouts. During those sessions, he clearly either refused to drop to the ice to make a save, or simply couldn’t.more Let's go back a couple of years and think what Dom said while with Detroir and nursing a groin injury. If my memory is correct, it was February-March that Dom said he needed some regular season games, something like five games, to get under his belt before the playoffs. We all know Hasek marches to a different beat and went home about that time, knowing full well his health would not allow him to compete at the level he thought he needed to be at. A few of the Wings were surprised by his sudden retirement announcement and thought it was a very strange move to make by their #1 goalie. Dom I am sure learned a few lessons from that, but what is still in my head, is Hasek saying he needed regular season game action in order to play in the playoffs. That has to be on his mind right now, the last thing he wants to do is go on the ice in the round #1 and embarrass himself. Time will tell, but the longer he goes without playing, the chances of course become greater that we may not see him on the ice this year.
from Terry Frei of ESPN,
The New NHL is far from perfect, and another strength of the game is that both its fans and media corps aren't sycophantic and argue about it all. Bettman will remain the lightning rod for those who ridiculously want to blame him for everything that is perceived to be wrong about the sport. But he not only was dynamic enough for his regime to get what it set out to get, he had overseen the implementation and -- most important of all -- the acceptance of the new system. This, at times, seems to have become the wingers fighting, then buying each other beers in the Pullman cars on the way to the second game in the barn-and-barn series. And so, a year after the darkness, the NHL can get on with the best postseason in professional sports.more Frei opens his column with this,
A year ago, there was darkness. It seems amazing at times how little talk there is about that.I believe many of us just want to look ahead. Looking back just brings up so many bad memories and at this time of year, I don't even want to go there.
Mike Emrick was on Detroit radio yesterday and mentioned OLN and NBC realize what USA cities will draw the most fan interest. He mentioned NYC, Philadelphia, Detroit, Dallas and Denver so this may be a sign which NHL playoff series may get the most coverage from OLN and NBC. Just something to watch for as the playoffs approach.
from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
Before new ownership has a chance to settle in, the Blues have to make a decision on veteran Keith Tkachuk's future with the club. They have seven days after Tuesday's season finale in Chicago to accept a $3.8 million team option on the left winger, who turned 34 in March. "It's a decision that we have to make and we'll deal with it at the proper time," Blues general manager Larry Pleau said Friday.Also from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
The season mercifully ends for the Blues next week, as they will finish with the worst record in franchise history - and their worst television ratings, too. On FSN, the best rating was 2.7 - for its second telecast of the season, a game in October against Detroit. Since then, FSN hasn't had a game go above 1.7, and its average rating in March dipped to a measly 0.6. That means, according to Nielsen, that only about 7,300 homes in the entire market were tuning in. On KPLR, the high point came on opening night, when 3.3 percent of the homes in the market saw the Blues play San Jose on Oct. 8. But Channel 11 hasn't had a 3-or-better rating since early December, and its best rating is worse that the season average for their last year of play - 2003-04.
via the LA Times (reg. req.),
Defenseman Mattias Norstrom said he told Swedish hockey officials that he won't play for his homeland in the world championships because he wants to remain in the Los Angeles area while the path of the Kings' coaching and management future is decided. "I decided that I need to stick around, with this season ending up with all the rumors and talk about changes," Norstrom said. "As the captain, as long as I am captain of this team, I need to stick around and be available. Whether it's [reporters], or the team or teammates. I can't just pack up and say, 'I've got to play hockey.'
from the Sun-Sentinel,
Panthers coach Jacques Martin has kept second-year winger Nathan Horton on a line with center Joe Nieuwendyk because, among other reasons, the 19-year veteran has been good for Horton. Nieuwendyk talks to him often. He's supportive. He's encouraging. He's an example Martin hopes Horton continues to follow so his development goes on next season.continued
from the Winnepeg Sun,
Thornton has as many assists (94) as 2003-04 scoring champion Martin St. Louis had points. In fact, Thornton has caught Jagr for the scoring lead and should he win, he'll be the first person to take the Art Ross Trophy after being traded in mid-season. He should be the first to win the Hart Trophy after getting traded in mid-season. Minus his terrible Olympics, Thornton has had one of the most memorable seasons since that Gretzky guy hung up the skates. It has all combined to make it easy to be a fan again. After years of holding our noses and watching crap hockey, we deserve this.more on the NHL (2nd half of the column)...
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 firstname.lastname@example.org