Kukla's Korner Hockey
From the AP via SI,
Of all things, the Blue Jackets - the only NHL team to never reach the postseason - find themselves in the midst of the race for the playoffs.
“We know we have a lot of work ahead of ourselves but it’s pretty exciting for our players to know that we’re in the middle of this mess with everybody else,’’ coach Ken Hitchcock said Monday. “We’re right in the battle here to go up the ladder if we can continue to play well, but one bad week and you’re really behind the eight ball. I think it’s going to be like this the rest of the year. It’s going to be close.’‘
Heading into this week’s games, the 7-year-old franchise is off to its best season at 21-18-6. The best previous mark at this stage was 17-22-6 in 2002-2003. Considering the club has never come close to having a winning record, that in itself is an accomplishment.
From Bob McKenzie at TSN,
The beleaguered Toronto Maple Leafs are taking steps to try to replace general manager John Ferguson Jr.
Sources tell TSN that the Leafs have contacted a number of hockey management types to gauge their interest in the job, which is currently held by Ferguson, and, in fact, have asked former Leaf GM Cliff Fletcher if he is interested in taking over as interim GM of the NHL club.
Cliff Fletcher could not be reached for comment. Fletcher remains under contract to the Phoenix Coyotes even though he is no longer working for the organization.
*hat tip to Puckhound61 for linking to this in the forums
via Adam Proteau of the Hockey News,
Finally, a note to fans of the Lightning, Leafs, and Kings: It. Is. Over.
Miracles are never completely out of the question, but thanks to the NHL’s unbalanced schedule, there is virtually no possibility whatsoever Tampa Bay, Toronto or Los Angeles can leapfrog the five or six teams in front of them to secure a playoff berth. Let the firings and/or fire sales begin.
From Scott Erskine in the National Post,
A few of the best additions are surprising, while a couple of the least impressive pickups should have been expected.
In no particular order, here are the top five best offseason acquisitions.
1. Ty Conklin, Pittsburgh Penguins
No player added to a team has been more astonishing in a positive way than Conklin, who has been nothing short of a godsend for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
more... plus the 5 worst off-season pick-ups, as well
From the AP via Santa Barbara News-Press,
Carolina’s roster has been crippled partly because of a nasty flu virus that seemingly claims a new player each day and has contributed to an irksome slide of losses in six of eight games that has decimated its Southeast Division lead.
No wonder that as the Hurricanes head into this critical stretch, they’re trying to stay germ-free.
‘‘This is not your typical sniffles,’’ coach Peter Laviolette said Monday. ‘‘These guys are tough guys who can play through just about anything, and they are down and out.’‘
Defenseman Niclas Wallin, the latest illness victim, is staying home from Tuesday night’s game at Toronto, Laviolette said. Four players who missed Saturday’s 5-4 loss to Colorado - forwards Ray Whitney and Trevor Letowski, defenseman Wade Brookbank and Wesley - skated Monday and could play against the Maple Leafs, though it’s unclear how close to 100 percent they’ll be.
from CanWest via the National Post,
A healthy Gaborik has been somewhat of a treat for the Wild this season. He also took home the same honour earlier this season after he became the first player in more than a decade to score five goals in a game, Dec. 20 versus the New York Rangers.
In 2006-07, the 25-year-old native of Trencin, Slovakia, was limited to just 48 games, in large part due to a groin injury. When Gaborik was in the lineup, the Wild went 33-9-6; when he scored a goal, the team was 19-2-2.
Needless to say, as long as Gaborik, and fellow Slovak Pavol Demitra, stay healthy, the Wild will continue to compete for the Northwest title.
“I feel pretty good right now,” said Gaborik, who has 25 goals and 22 assists in 40 games this season.
from the Grand Forks Herald,
Jason Herter brought his hockey team to his old college campus over the weekend to compete in the Little Caesars North American Showcase.
One of his players, 15-year-old defenseman Garrett Clarke, says he will be back.
Clarke became the youngest player ever to give a verbal commitment to UND this weekend when he told Sioux coaches that he will play for them beginning in 2010.
The Moncton, N.B., native had been a projected top-three pick in June’s Quebec Major Junior Hockey League draft, but after visiting campus, he and his family decided college was the best route.
Boston Bruins centre Marc Savard has been chosen to the NHL’s Eastern Conference All-Star team in place of injured Ottawa forward Dany Heatley.
Heatley suffered a separated shoulder in Saturday’s 3-2 victory over Detroit and will be out of action for 4-6 weeks.
from Chuck Gormley at the Sporting News,
Forsberg said he plans on testing his foot on skates in a few days and is “very hopeful” of a successful comeback. As for the Flyers’ chances of getting him, Forsberg was non-committal.
“It’s nice to hear that they want me back and I enjoyed my time in the Flyers organization,” Forsberg said. “It’s one of many options. I haven’t decided even if I will play yet. And I read somewhere that I am only interested in playing for one of the three clubs I’ve played for (Colorado, Philadelphia and Nashville). But I have never said that. I have a lot of options and Flyers are one of them.”
Forsberg said he will make a decision on his return to the NHL as soon as he believes his foot can withstand the rigors of the NHL. He said he understands the NHL imposes a roster freeze following the Feb. 26 trade deadline, “but I hope it will be sooner than that.”
via the Buffalo News,
The chance to re-sign Sabres defenseman Brian Campbell has passed for now. Campbell said today he is done negotiating with the team until the end of the season. Campbell, the Sabres’ lone All-Star, becomes an unrestricted free agent July 1.
“There’s more important things right now than just me,” Campobell said. “I think it’s for the best.”
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.
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