Kukla's Korner Hockey
from E.J. Hradek at ESPN,
Halloween is a time for masks, right?
That being the case, I guess I should talk about the two masked men who’ll likely face one another Wednesday night in Hollywood.
Those two goaltenders are the Kings’ Jason LaBarbera and the Blue Jackets’ Pascal Leclaire. The Kings bring a four-game winning streak into their meeting with the Jackets, who are on their own three-game roll.
I’ll start with the 24-year-old Leclaire, who might be living up to the billing that led the Jackets to select him with the eighth overall pick in the 2001 draft.
from the News & Observer,
A long offseason of recovery and rehabilitation have paid off, however. Diving in front to block two 5-on-3 slap shots in Toronto, notching a goal and two assists last week en route to posting a gaudy plus-5 against Buffalo, Hedican has convinced himself and his coach that “the old Bret” is back.
And clearly, that’s not another way of saying “too old,” not for a defenseman who ranks second on his team in ice time (19:06) while ranking among the league leaders at a healthy plus-9 for the season.
from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
“We’re three games above .500,” Weight said in reference to the team’s 6-3 mark before the 2-1 loss. “If I didn’t produce much in the first nine games, which is my job, then I’ve got to do something about it. But I’m going to try to be upbeat. All you can do is work as hard as you can and get the coach to get you back out there.”
Weight is referring to his challenging relationship with Blues coach Andy Murray, who has limited the center’s playing time and kept him off the No. 1 power-play unit as a result of his slow start.
from The Columbus Dispatch,
There seems to be a consensus, however, that faceoffs include ample strategy, gamesmanship and as much cheating as any other facet of the sport.
“I don’t think the average fan understands them,” said Hockey Hall of Famer Ron Francis, a center who played 23 NHL seasons. “They aren’t glamorous, but people inside the game know how important they are.”
The Blue Jackets, enjoying their best start in franchise history, never have finished higher than 12th in faceoff percentage. Three times in six seasons they ranked in the bottom third of the league.
from the Vancouver Province,
What the Vancouver Canucks tried to do this offseason was stand still.
Because he had virtually no other choice, GM Dave Nonis essentially did nothing in the offseason—at least nothing that could possibly have had any significant impact on the existing roster.
With $38 million of last year’s payroll already committed to this season and needing to sign 10 players to fill out the roster, he was left shopping the bargain basement for free agents like Byron Ritchie and Brad Isbister and making trades that involved such luminaries as Jason King and Ryan Shannon.
from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal,
It’s hard to decide who is better in front of the goal crease—Detroit’s Tomas Holmstrom or Colorado’s Ryan Smyth.
Both grinders make their livings in the high-traffic areas where collisions abound and tempers flare, with goalies and defencemen trying in vain to move them.
“They’re the best in the world at it,” said Detroit general manager Ken Holland.
from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,
While Neil was chirping at winger Dany Heatley for a hook during a 1-on-1 drill and then winger Brian McGrattan near the end of the workout, Emery was screaming expletives at winger Patrick Eaves for getting a shot up high early in practice.
Once Emery took that shot to the mask and chewed out Eaves for it, nobody dared shoot high the rest of practice because there’s no question that Emery is one of the club’s toughest customers.
From Jim Souhan at the Star-Tribune,
With a French-Canadian lilt that transforms Marian Gaborik into “Mary-Ann,” and the ability to invert sentences like Yoda, Lemaire offers insights and hockey philosophy in a soft-spoken tone that makes listeners lean forward in anticipation.
Tuesday morning, Lemaire raved about Penguins phenom and Shattuck-St. Mary’s product Sidney Crosby. Tuesday night, Lemaire watched Crosby become the third opponent ever to score four points at Xcel Energy Center, in Pittsburgh’s 4-2 victory.
Lemaire praised Wes Walz’s checking line for its defense on Crosby—even though Crosby’s line produced nine points.
The performance left Lemaire feeling covetous. “I’d love to have one on our club,” he said of Crosby, “if they make any more.”
From Allan Maki at the Globe & Mail (Wednesday edition),
Today could see the ownership plight of the Nashville Predators settled — for now, at least — with a Canadian listed as one of the new investors. And no, his name is not Jim Balsillie.
It’s Doug Bergeron, the Windsor-born chairman and CEO of VeriFone, a San Jose-based company that specializes in electronic payment products.
Bergeron’s name has surfaced as a possible partner in the group of mostly local investors that is down to the final hours of its exclusive negotiating agreement with Craig Leipold, the Predators’ owner.
From the NHLPA,
The National Hockey League Players’ Association (NHLPA) today announced that the members of the NHLPA have ratified a new constitution by way of secret ballot. The announcement marks the end of a thorough review process that began in March of 2006….
Among the significant changes,the new constitution eliminates the Executive Committee, which was comprised of the President and Vice-President positions, leaving the 30 Club Player Representatives to serve as equal voting members of the Executive Board. Also, the positions of Executive Director and General Counsel, which have traditionally been held by the same person, will now be divided between two individuals.
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.
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