Kukla's Korner Hockey
from the Edmonton Journal,
How did the 33-year-old Swede, who finished second to Peter Forsberg for the NHL’s MVP award just four years ago, suddenly lose his offensive magic?
Naslund has averaged 38 goals a year the past three seasons, but nearing the season’s midway point, he has 12 and hasn’t scored in a month. How come?
As with most slumps, there are a lot more questions than answers and different shades of grey.
- Is he hiding an injury? Maybe.
- Does he miss buddy Todd Bertuzzi’s hulking presence around the net? Definitely.
from the Star-Telegram,
Stars defenseman Philippe Boucher has played in pain all season despite having never been on any injury report. Neither a broken heart nor a brain burdened by worry is considered an NHL malady.
Boucher has been plagued by both this season, with his dad being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer, his mom requiring emergency heart surgery, and his wife having brain scans to determine the seriousness of bouts of dizziness—all in a span of a few weeks in November.
And while news on his wife and mom has been all good, his father, Jean-Claude, does not have long now. Possibly a matter of days.
from the Calgary Sun,
Over the last eight games, 30 pucks have bulged the twine behind Calgary’s netminders—24 of those in the last half-dozen outings alone.
Score one for Miikka Kiprusoff, who’s been between the pipes for all but one of those outings, for his willingness to take the blame.
“It starts with goaltending,” he said after yesterday’s optional practice in advance of tonight’s New Year’s Eve tilt against the Edmonton Oilers at the ‘Dome. “That’s my problem there. I’m able to play better than I’ve been playing the last few games.”
Q & A with Glenn Healy
from the Toronto Star,
Have any players told you they weren’t happy with what you’ve said about them?
One player that the Leafs were interested in trading for, I took one of his shifts, showed it and kind of threw it out to the fans and said: Is this the kind of player you want on your team? He had a horrific shift. It looked like he had running shoes on. His roommate came up to me and said, “I can’t believe you’re picking on my buddy.” Then he said, “Yeah, you’re right. The guy stinks.”
more with Healy
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
“I want to preface my remarks by saying that, first, I was not one of those guys who after three weeks last season thought we’d arrived at the promised land, because I’ve always known that it was going to take years for the players and the refs to figure everything out and be on the same page,” Shanahan, measuring his words carefully, told Slap Shots on Thursday. “And second, that players have been yelling at refs and [have been] ticked off at officiating for as long as there’s been a league.
“That being said, I do believe there’s a disconnect between the league office and some of the referees who just don’t get it. The critical point that’s being missed by some refs is that an infraction still needs to occur in order for a penalty to be called. There still has to be a foul on a play for there to be a penalty.
“There is nothing in the rule book that says if one player touches another player with his stick, it’s two minutes for hooking. There’s nothing in the rule book that says if one player touches another player with his hand, it’s two minutes for holding.”
As mentioned last week, the New York Times continues to write about hockey. The stories have been enjoyable and unique…
from Jeff Z. Klein and Karl-Eric Reif of the New York Times,
This is the time of year for international tournaments, none bigger than the world junior championship under way in Sweden. The annual event is a showcase for the world’s best players age 20 and under.
Although the tournament generates moderate interest in Europe and little in the United States, it is hugely popular in Canada, where it receives some of the highest television ratings of the year. That may be due in part to Canada’s having won 12 titles since the tournament became an official International Ice Hockey Federation event in 1977, a total matched by Russia and its predecessor, the Soviet Union.
from Tim Panaccio of the Philadelphia Inquirer via the Mercury News:
In the old NHL, everyone traveled everywhere. With expansion, everyone traveled everywhere every other year. Now it’s every three years, and no one likes that. What’s so hard about going back to the way it was 10 years ago without complete realignment?
“It goes up and down from one thing to another,” [Blackhawks assistant GM Rick] Dudley said. “You take into consideration (travel) expenses. Then we say that is not good enough - we want rivalries. Then we say we want Ovechkin and Crosby coming into our buildings. Everyone has a different agenda. At some point, you have to think, `What is best for the game?’ “
At some point, Bettman should be thinking about what’s best for the fans who pay outrageous money to see the game. And what is best for the fans and for hockey is for teams in the East and the West to play each other every year, as they do in the NBA.
from Mike Brophy at the Hockey News,
When you think about Norris Trophy candidates, the usual candidates pop to mind.
In all likelihood, it’ll come down to Anaheim’s duo of Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer and Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom.
But could another defenseman possibly unseat one of the Big Three come awards night? Perhaps Tomas Kaberle of the Toronto Maple Leafs? Or what about sophomore Dion Phaneuf of the Calgary Flames?
Clarke remains confident that the players he’s recently drafted - Jeff Carter, Mike Richards, Joni Pitkanen, Antero Niittymaki to name a few — have the right stuff to compete in the new NHL.
And because the Flyers have a projected salary cap relief number in excess of $20 million next year, a rapid turnaround is not out of the question.
“You can turn it around real quickly,” Clarke said the other night at the St. Pete Times Forum. “The teams that you’re looking at now that are so good, like Buffalo, two years ago they were bankrupt, there was nobody in their building, they were a lousy team, they missed the playoffs five or six years out of seven or eight….
from the San Francisco Chronicle,
For all the 6 a.m. hockey practices, all the time spent erecting a backyard rink along with all the moral and financial support provided to chase an NHL dream, dads of Sharks players are getting something in return this weekend.
As San Jose embarks on a two-game trip against Phoenix tonight and Dallas on Sunday, a special group of 14 passengers are along for the ride, an improbable journey that actually started many years ago for members of this group.
“They’ll get a little taste of what we go through,” team captain Patrick Marleau said. “It’s a great thing that they’re doing it. It’s going to be great having them there on the road.”
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