Kukla's Korner Hockey
Ted Montgomery of USA TODAY tells us which teams will make the playoffs and which ones will not…
• The Edmonton Oilers will surprise the hockey world by not making the playoffs just one season removed from their amazing playoff run in 2006. In the process, the bloom will come off the rose that is Dwayne Roloson.
• The San Jose Sharks will post the best season in franchise history and will just miss going to the Cup finals. The Sharks will finally emerge as one of the elite teams in the league for many years to come.
from the Toronto Star: Mark Moore (yes, Steve Moore’s brother) has some radical suggestions for improving player safety and fan friendliness in the NHL:
While producing a reduced number of collisions and injuries, 4-on-4 also happens to make for some of the most wide open and thrilling NHL action in overtime and during coincidental penalties. Recent talk of increasing the net size would be a poor way of trying to add goals and excitement compared to the end-to-end action and creativity of 4-on-4. Going forward, the NHL needs to look hard at reinstating the red line and switching to full-time 4-on-4 action.
MARKING VIOLENT FOULS
Most infractions in hockey fall naturally into a category of obstructive acts (hooking, holding, interference, etc.) or violent acts (slashing, cross-checking, charging, hit from behind, etc.). It’s time the NHL sent a message of zero tolerance on the violent behaviours by marking them out as a specific category, and punishing them more severely. Similar to soccer’s yellow card warning and the NBA’s “flagrant foul,” any violent hockey act could be accompanied by an automatic 10-minute misconduct in addition to the two-minute penalty. And much like the team foul in basketball, a limit of one per team, per period before the offending team incurs an extra two-minute bench penalty for each subsequent violent penalty.
from John Ondrasik (Five For Fighting) at Sports Illustrated,
As the NHL floats the idea of cutting its six divisions down to four to save on team travel costs and juice TV ratings by keeping broadcasts in the same time zone as often as possible, here are my wishes for making the game more fan-friendly in new years to come.
1. Show me the games
It’s nice that the league wants to boost its ratings, but have you tried to find a hockey game on the tube lately? Don’t bother if you pitch your tent on the road like I often do.
The NHL has to go back to ESPN.
from the AP via Mlive,
Yzerman will be the sixth jersey retired by the Red Wings. His No. 19 will be hung from the Joe Louis Arena rafters alongside Howe’s No. 9, Terry Sawchuk’s No. 1, Ted Lindsay’s No. 7, Delvecchio’s No. 10 and Sid Abel’s No. 12. The ceremony begins at 6:30 p.m.
“It’s going to be a good time with all the old friends and former players coming back for it,” said Nicklas Lidstrom, who replaced Yzerman as Detroit’s captain. “Just a great accomplishment for the organization. He’s one of the greatest players ever in the league….”
Another former Yzerman teammate, Red Wings’ defenseman Chris Chelios, had a two-and-a-half story banner saluting Yzerman placed on the side of his “Cheli’s Chili” restaurant and bar in downtown Detroit, adjacent to Comerica Park.
Transcript of a video with Jim Hughson at Sporstnet,
So I’m watching the World Junior Championship, and I’m thinking, for general managers and scouts in NHL, these players have never been as important as they are now. Oh, drafting and development has always been a big deal, but in the cap system that the NHL has now, you have to have good, young, inexpensive players in your lineup, or you just can’t compete.
But one troubling aspect of this new system is that there is no long-term reward for teams that are really good at drafting and stocking their own players.
For example, I think we’ll all agree that Pittsburgh has the most promising young players in the NHL. But, if they don’t win in the next few years, between the years of 2010 and 2012, they could use their top five guys—Sidney Crosby, Evegeni Malkin, Jordan Staal, Marc-Andre Fleury, and Ryan Whitney—could all leave as free agents at the ripe old age of 25 or 26, before, or just about the time they’re ready to win, and I don’t think any team could sign all five of those players, even if they tried to buy up some of the free agency with preemptive contracts.
from James Mirtle of the Globe and Mail:
A little more than 10 months after a horrific eye injury ended his professional hockey career, Jordan Smith had just a few jitters before making a remarkable return to the ice.
The 21-year-old defenceman from Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., made headlines around the hockey world last February when, while skating in an American Hockey League game for the Portland Pirates, he was struck in the left eye by a deflected puck.
...Despite the devastating injury, Smith said he always knew he would one day return to hockey—something that finally came to fruition this week when he joined the Lakehead Thunderwolves’ blueline for the team’s Varsity Cup tournament. It was the first time Smith had seen game action since the night of his injury.
from Brian Schiazza of NBC Sports,
So in regard to all the awards handed out already, all the clues that the early season gave us and all that is yet to come until the Cup is hoisted in June, here’s a few thoughts and predictions—with a nod to the Amazing Criswell, Jeane Dixon and Mr. T (hope you got that Rocky III reference)—for calendar year 2007 in the NHL:
• Owner Charles Wang is so delighted by Ted Nolan’s performance in getting the Islanders into the playoffs that he offers the man who will win the Jack Adams Award as Coach of the Year a 25-year contract. Nolan settles for an extension of one or two years on his three-year deal.
• Goaltenders form a new association of their own when the league draws a close vote on enlarging the height and width of the nets, especially with more out-of-work sumo wrestlers being seen at NHL games.
from Ken Campbell of the Hockey News,
That Metropolit has managed to work his way back to the NHL in his 30s is a pretty heady accomplishment. Working his way out of a youth of poverty and crime was even bigger.
Metropolit was born and raised in one of the most drug-riddled, poverty-stricken areas of inner-city Toronto. He has never met his biological father and his younger brother, Troy, is currently serving a 16-year prison sentence for kidnapping, beating and robbing a prominent Toronto lawyer and his wife in 1999.
Metropolit hasn’t seen his brother in years, largely because he keeps being shifted around penal institutions across Canada.
from the LA Times,
Though no official timetable was given for Pronger’s return, as further X-rays are needed, he probably will be out until February. The injury further thins a defense that is missing Francois Beauchemin, who has a lacerated spleen, for at least a month.
Add center Todd Marchant and goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere, who were injured last week, as well as shelved backup goalie Ilya Bryzgalov, and the Ducks are wondering if the hockey gods are paying them back for tearing up the NHL in the season’s first three months.
more (reg. req.)
from the East Valley Tribune,
Injuries, undisciplined play, a lack of cohesiveness and underachieving performance by the team’s best players resulted in a dreadful start for the Coyotes. But with recent improvement in all areas, Phoenix is on the verge of turning its season around.
“We feel like we’ve made strides,” coach Wayne Gretzky said.
“(The players) see how much fun it is winning right now and how hard they are working and the rewards they’re getting for winning. We’re right back in the race now.”
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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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