Kukla's Korner Hockey
via Hometown Hockey,
After being drafted by the New York Islanders in 1996, Zdeno Chara left Slovakia and moved to the other side of the world to pursue his pro hockey career. But before playing in the NHL, the 19-year-old had his first taste of North America in Prince George, where the 6-foot-9 defenseman played a season with the Cougars.
Below, watch Ron MacLean's essay on Prince George, BC....
from Rick Gethin of FoxSports Ohio,
With players looking at Columbus as a destination and not some backwater, the caliber of skill coming into the organization is better. This makes it much easier for Todd Richards to find a role for the players, as most of them are known quantities. This was the case with Scott Hartnell being traded to the Blue Jackets from the Flyers June 23, 2014, while rene Bourque was acquired at the trade deadline in exchange for James Wisniewski March 2, 2015.
"They're veteran guys," said Richards. "Hartnell has been around the league long enough and played enough games. There's a reason why he's played over one thousand games. It's not necessarily 'Blue Jackets hockey'. I think when you acquire players, you understand because they've been around long enough, you know what they can do, what they can bring and maybe what their potential is."
Scott Hartnell has recorded 22 goals and 28 assists for 50 points in 67 games this season, while Rene Bourque has accrued 4-0-4 in 8 games since the trade.
"In Bourque's case, maybe it's a fresh start, new surroundings to maybe ignite him and get him going. With Hartnell, you know what to expect when he comes in. Those are players that you're trying to add to your team to add certain things to your team. So, it doesn't surprise me what Hartnell's done this year."
With the Blue Jackets making strides in becoming the team that fans have waited a long time to see, these "changes of scenery" have been beneficial for the players and the club. Knowing who will fit and who to pass on starts at the top with GM Jarmo Kekalainen, along with President of Hockey Operations John Davidson, and filters down throughout the play on and off the ice.
from Martin Fennelly of the Tampa Tribune,
We have no idea what it means down the road, including the playoff road. But Sunday might have been a big step for the Lightning. It might even go down in franchise lore.
The Night Stammer Brought Down The Bear.
The Lightning finally beat the big, bad Boston Bruins, 5-3. Do not try to adjust your sports column. That really happened Sunday night at Amalie Arena.
But how it happened, or began to happen, was the real story.
Bolts captain Steven Stamkos has 273 NHL goals. He has two NHL fights. But one of the fights came Sunday, when Stamkos squared off with Bruins king rat Brad Marchand in the first period.
Stamkos dropped the gloves, and his giddy, energized teammates nearly instantly scored a knockout, scoring twice inside of a minute as Stamkos was in the penalty box. No. 91 didn’t register on the score sheet, just in hearts and minds.
“I just felt at that moment, it was the right thing to do,” Stamkos said.
Watch the fight below...
from Mike Chambers of the Denver Post,
... forward Jesse Winchester — who has not played this season after suffering a preseason concussion at Calgary — is on the trip and is a candidate to make his long-awaited Avalanche debut after signing with the club as an unrestricted free agent last summer.
Winchester's post-concussion symptoms disappeared about 10 days ago, he said, ending a dark and depressing period for the Colgate University graduate. His illness became so uncomfortable he was told to stay away from the team and its facilities. He met with a specialist in Memphis, Tenn., and learned to juggle, among other eye-hand coordination skills, with a local therapist.
"I'm just happy to feel totally alive again," Winchester said. "I stuck with the program, working with a vision-training lady and made some big strides. Just one day, I felt normal and felt like playing hockey. I'm just happy to be back with the guys, especially at such an exciting time of the year."
Winchester had severe vision problems that made him ill when he would walk through a grocery store or skate in an arena with large seating and other landmarks. Avs coach Patrick Roy said Winchester might play Monday if he feels good during and after the morning skate.
from Josh Yohe of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
NHL teams are enduring a power outage this season in general, and this month in particular. March is on pace to represent the NHL's lowest-scoring month since December 2003.
The 2003-04 season infamously produced some of the most unimpressive offensive totals in NHL history.
Only 4.95 goals are being scored per game in March.
This season is being defined by goaltending, team defense and a lack of power plays. Many other stars around the NHL are noticing the elephant in the room: Scoring goals is harder than ever.
“I've noticed a change just in the few years I've been in the league,” Dallas forward Tyler Seguin said. “As long as I've been around, it's never been like this. No one's doing much in the scoring race. What can you do? It's so hard to score. Every game is a chess match right now, especially when you're playing a good team. Everyone is playing tight defensively.”
Crosby leads the NHL with 74 points. The winner of the Art Ross Trophy — Crosby leads Washington's Alex Ovechkin and the Islanders' John Tavares by one point — almost certainly won't reach 100 points. The last NHL scoring champion who failed to reach 100 points in an 82-game season was Martin St. Louis in 2004.
from Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province,
A minor Twitter war broke out Saturday when ESPN’s Bill Simmons posted the following: “The Sedin Twins are the worst. God I love sports-hating the hell out of those guys. And Burrows - you suck too.”
His tweet engendered a predictable response from Vancouver but, after Simmons was invited to perform several unnatural acts with a farm animal of his choosing, someone posed the question: Why does it bother you what he thinks about the Sedins?
Here’s why. Since they came into the league, the Sedins have been subjected to the basest, most ignorant insults and Simmons’ was simply the latest. The full laundry list includes Jamie Benn and Tyler Seguin from this year; David Bolland from a few years back; every Bruins’ fan from 2011 and even the late Derek Boogaard, and while it’s hard to know what these imbeciles were thinking, it would appear the twins incurred their wrath because (a) they’re twins and (b) they look different.
Now here’s the infuriating part. This is the same mentality you find on a playground or a classroom where anyone who’s different is ridiculed and/or bullied. Part of Simmons’ persona is being a Richard, so maybe he’s in a different category, but the NHL likes to align itself with concepts like fair play and inclusiveness — and yet it tolerates slurs directed at two players who represent the game’s best qualities because they’re different.
In so doing, they’re sending the message it’s all right to mock or ridicule anyone who’s different: a different ethnicity, a different colour or just different looking. That’s why it bothers me.
read on for more on the Canucks...
from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,
The door is open Monday night for the Senators to end up in a spot they haven't seen since late-November.
Officially back in the playoff picture.
A victory over the struggling San Jose Sharks at the Canadian Tire Centre will push the Senators one point ahead of the Boston Bruins in the standings with a game in hand after the Bruins took it on the chin Sunday night from the Tampa Bay Lightning which leaves Ottawa one point back."
Two months ago, the Senators' playoff chances looked like they were history.
Now, they stand on the verge of making history as the Senators try to move their winning streak to seven straight after a 5-3 victory over the arch-rival Toronto Maple Leafs Saturday at home.
from Bob McKenzie of TSN,
It was a week ago Sunday night, the eve of the NHL general managers’ meeting in Boca Raton, Fla., and a smattering of club executives were posted up at the resort lobby bar, watching NHL games.
The TV at one end of the bar was showing Washington and Boston. That’s where you would find Bruins’ GM Peter Chiarelli. The TV at the other end had Anaheim and Nashville, which was where Predators’ GM David Poile was sitting.
The GMs from a few other teams were sitting between, or around, them, with Minnesota Wild GM Chuck Fletcher checking his phone now and again for other hockey scores, keeping his peers updated not only on the third NHL game, Philadelphia vs. Ottawa – The Hamburglar was a big deal, even amongst the GMs – but a handful of U.S. college playoff games being played that night, too.
"What’s the Harvard-Yale score?" Poile would ask Fletcher on a number of occasions.
Everyone there, of course, knew, Poile had a vested interest in the outcome. If Yale beat Harvard in the third-and-deciding-game of their ECAC playoff series, it could mean an end to the Crimson’s season and, therefore, allow for the possibility of Harvard goal-scoring machine Jimmy Vesey, the Predators’ third-round pick, 66th overall, in the 2012 NHL draft, turning pro and joining the Preds for the stretch drive and playoffs.
Chiarelli, himself a Harvard grad, good-naturedly poked fun at Poile from the far end of the bar, suggesting no Harvard player would leave such an esteemed institution without first graduating. Vesey is in his junior year.
from Amalie Benjamin of the Boston Globe,
As Tuukka Rask skated off the ice, ceding the net to Niklas Svedberg, it felt like it could be an end: the end of his evening, the end of the Bruins’ chances to make the playoffs, the end of an era for a team that just two years ago was in the Stanley Cup Final.
If that seems too harsh for one game, especially when the Bruins technically remain within the playoff structure, then it’s helpful to hearken back to the words of CEO Charlie Jacobs in January, when he put everyone on notice, when he told the organization that the way the team was playing was unacceptable.
The results, at least, are unacceptable once again, with the Bruins having gone 0-3-2 in their last five games. They lost again on Sunday, 5-3, to the Lightning, a team that hadn’t beaten them since March 13, 2012. And with the loss, the Bruins slipped closer to packing up their lockers in April instead of playing in the postseason.
It seems like a distant memory now, but it was just a week ago that the Bruins arrived in Washington having moved past the Capitals into the first wild-card spot. They could even see Detroit, ahead of them in the Atlantic, within their grasp.
2 1/2 minutes of highlights...
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 email@example.com