Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Bill Clement at MSNBC,
In the matchup between Carolina and Edmonton in the Stanley Cup finals, the Hurricanes have a lot going for them, most notably great depth, home ice, and the fact they aren't coming off a long layoff like the Oilers are. That leads me to believe that Carolina will emerge as the NHL's champion in the first season post lockout, but I think Edmonton will push the Hurricanes to seven games before finally falling short of a title. ...Laviolette and his Hurricanes are in the driver's seat in the Stanley Cup finals. Not only do they have many strengths, they don't have an exploitable weakness that Edmonton can go after. That all adds up to a Stanley Cup for Carolina.read on
Rod Brind'Amour, Cam Ward & Doug Weight held a tele-conference.
Q. It seems to be a much different mindset going into this series than 2002. ROD BRIND'AMOUR: Well, it's still cool, but it is different because we have a lot -- we're just such a different team. We're a lot more confident going into this one than the last one. Last time we were a team playing a Red Wing team that's got 8 million Hall of Fame players, they were all All-Stars, it just didn't match up. Didn't look like an evenly matched series whereas this one looks a lot more evenly matched and I think we are a much better team going into it now than we were even then. So it makes us feel a little better about it. Q. Cam and Doug, you both have allegiances to Edmonton for various reasons, growing up there or playing there, and I just wonder if both of you could reflect on what it's going to feel like to go to that arena and play for the Stanley Cup on this team. CAM WARD: Well, I think it's definitely exciting to have the opportunity to play for the Stanley Cup in your hometown. I think it's something that you definitely dream about as a young kid. You know, it doesn't seem like long ago that I was there watching as a fan and cheering on the Oilers. This will be a first for myself to have the opportunity to play on the ice. It's something I'm definitely looking forward to. DOUG WEIGHT: Yeah, me as well. Cam told me how old he was when he was watching the Dallas series. (Laughter) Took me aback for a couple days. (Laughter).read the rest in the comments section of this post... added 4:53pm, Laviolette & Rutherford tele-conference can be viewed in the 2nd comment of this post...
from the News-Record,
For all the talk of this state shedding its image as a college basketball state or a stock-car racing state or a golf state in lieu of something new and global, we know deep down it's just not going to happen anytime soon. Still, you have to wonder just what effect a Stanley Cup championship will have on North Carolinians. To get a hint, you have to wander into the RBC Center on game day, walk from the parking lot heat with the music blaring in your head and into an icy environment with Ric Flair staring at you like Big Brother. If this seems odd, you'll need some more time to process the event that's about to take place. If this seems natural, then maybe we're not in North Carolina anymore. The really strange thing is, the Hurricanes are catching on with our kids. They tell us hockey's cool. That suggests this thing's bigger than we realize. That suggests this thing will be with us long after we're gone.more
from the Columbus Post-Dispatch,
The Stanley Cup Finals pit the Edmonton Oilers, who play in the smallest NHL city in Canada, against the Carolina Hurricanes, whose Raleigh-Durham area is the 29 th-largest television market in the United States. Much will be made of this before Game 1, to be played in the RBC Center in Raleigh on Monday night. It’s Lilliput against the Lollipop Guild.... There is one other theme that will color the Finals. Much like the Calgary-Tampa Bay series of 2004, there will be a Canada vs. Sun Belt mentality. The nation to the north will rally behind the Oilers and disparage Carolina as a backwater place that has no understanding for the game. "It’s electric here," said John Forslund, the television voice of the Hurricanes. "We’re not going to overwhelm people compared with what’s going on in Edmonton, but it’s pretty wild here. And we still have some semblance of order. We didn’t have to take the team to New York or anything." Forslund laughed. He was poking a little fun at the Oilers, who fled their maddened hometown and made final preparations at a rink in Westchester County outside New York. "It’s a lot different down here than in ’02, when the bandwagon to the Finals was 6 miles long," Forslund said of the Hurricanes’ five-game loss to Detroit.read on
from the Republican-American,
They are still bitter. It's been 10 years since the team left. These fans just can't let go. On the Internet you can still find remnants of a love that won't die. The Carolina Hurricanes begin play in the Stanley Cup final Monday, but that fact brings no joy in the land where the Hartford Whalers once lived, played, lost and left. "Could you guys watch a team that left here win a cup in Carolina? Would you root for it to happen?"continued
from Al Strachan of the Toronto Sun,
These are not the best of days for hockey agents. Many of them led the insurgence that resulted in the players' capitulation during the lockout so they could get back to work, but now, they're finding that the subsequent collective bargaining agreement doesn't help their situation.... Why bother to pay an agent? You know you're not going to get all the fancy bonuses that agents used to pry out of a team. So you keep the 3% for yourself and blow off the agent. And to make matters worse, a lot of players are balking at that 3% figure. There is so little flexibility allowed under the CBA, they say, there is no need to give such a large cut to the agent. All you really need is a lawyer who works for a flat hourly rate and you'll end up far ahead.more
from the Edmonton Sun,
Ken Ward, the father of 22-year-old rookie Cam Ward, who will be the youngest goaltender to start a Stanley Cup final game since Montreal's 20-year-old Patrick Roy in the 1986 series, has an interesting take on it. "If you could combine the atmosphere from inside the rink in Edmonton and outside the rink here, you'd have the most amazing atmosphere in sports,'' he says. While they had a top team all season, there were plenty of good seats to be had until the playoffs came around. "Hockey is not a real religion,'' explains News & Observer sports columnist Ned Barnett. "Duke, North Carolina and N.C. State college basketball - that's the real religion. When March Madness is over, it's like the fans here look to the Canes and say 'How are they doing?' '' "They don't follow the league. They don't follow the teams. They don't know if somebody is having a real good season in Toronto,'' said columnist Barnett. "There are still questions how viable it is.''more
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
Contrary to reports out of Ottawa likely placed to increase Zdeno Chara's bargaining power, the Rangers have no intention whatsoever of offering the mammoth defenseman a number even close to $8 million per season when the free agent market opens July 1, Slap Shots has learned. The Rangers will check on Chara - if he'll take $5.5 million, he's in - but they now are believed poised to pursue a free-agent Plan B.read on (reg. req.)...Brooks talks salary cap and Islanders too...
If you're seeking some perspective on what the Edmonton Oilers mean to people who live in northern Alberta, think Wisconsin. Because in the grand scheme of things, Edmonton is Green Bay, and the Oilers are the Packers. Both teams have a long history of Hall of Fame coaches, legendary players and a building so stacked with history that both have become one of those sports road trips that — like Wrigley or South Bend — you simply must make in a lifetime.continued
from the NY Times (Sunday edition),
Edmonton is the smallest metropolitan market in the N.H.L., with roughly a million people. Yet all but one regular-season game was sold out at the 16,839-seat Rexall Place, long called Northlands Coliseum, where banners line the rafters and players still walk through the crowd from the locker room to the ice and back again. Edmonton is a place with an economy built on oil and an identity built on the Oilers. "The team has provided a huge symbolic value, an icon value, to keep Edmonton recognized as a so-called major league city in North America, and even the rest of the world," said Cal Nichols, the team's chairman.read on
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