Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Larry Wigge of NHL.com,
There are no more growing pains for Zdeno Chara.
The 6-foot-9, 255-pound defenseman from Trencin, Slovakia, hasn’t had a major growth spurt since he was 17—shortly after he grew six inches in a two-year span. He no longer has to hear coaches tell him maybe he should try basketball or some other sport. He’s no longer a big joke to some teammates, who watched him clumsily skate around the rink and laughed behind his back.
No, when Chara turned 22, the rest of his body caught up with his height, a development for which the Boston Bruins are eternally grateful. Now, equipment comes custom made for Chara. He no longer plays with skates held together by tape, glue and screws. Nor does he have trainers sew extra material from old sweaters onto the bottom of his jersey to cover his hockey pants.
“I wasn’t supposed to make it. I was too tall, too awkward, too everything,” Chara said. “I couldn’t make anyone in Slovakia believe I could play ... so I had to leave home.”
from Bob Cole of Blogs and Columns at CBC,
I will never forget the first time I met the great Bobby Orr - another number four, another classy gentleman.
It was back in the 1968 Stanley Cup final in Montreal. That spring the Canadiens were playing the St. Louis Blues and ultimately swept the series.
Anyway, CBC Radio had brought me to Montreal to do the fourth game, which was, of course, the last game in the series. Ted Darling was doing the play-by-play, Fred Sgambati was the host and I was brought in to do a few odds and ends. Basically, they wanted to see what I could do.
Bobby, who was rookie of the year the previous season, won his first of eight Norris Trophies in 1968. He was brought in to Montreal along with his Boston Bruins teammate Derek Sanderson, who was the rookie of the year.
I had never met either young man, but I managed to get a CBC camera and set up an interview with them at the old Mount Royal Hotel.
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
The unknown intangible with Cole, or any other player, is how a trade will affect the team’s chemistry.
“It’s a big factor,” said vice president Cam Neely. “You really take that into account, for sure. We’ve got a good group of guys, character guys.”...
“It’s a really open group,” said Andrew Ference. “Guys get along. Everybody feels comfortable, from the young guys all the way up. I think everybody feels really comfortable in this room.”
The concern is whether a deadline deal could alter the mood, especially if a roster player gets shipped out.
from Matt Kalman of The Bruins Blog,
If you think Boston Bruins center Stephane Yelle is smart on the ice, you should see and hear how wise he is when insults and innuendos start flying across the Bruins’ dressing room.
The 34-year-old Yelle knows just how to toss in a phrase or two and then get out of the conversation unscathed.
“He’s dry. He’s really dry. He’s always throwing his little bombs from the corner,” Bruins defenseman Andrew Ference explained to TheBruinsBlog.net about his longtime teammate this week. “We call him a giant, wooden spoon. He just likes to stir the pot and then kind of get out of there once the water’s moving around.”
via Adrian Dater of All Things Avs,
There were four Bruins scouts at the Avs-Wild game the other night, and I know the B’s very thinking seriously about getting a defenseman - most likely Clark, Salei or Leopold. And, I think Svatos has been discussed as well.
Who would the Avs get back? Probably a draft pick or two. When you’re a seller, that’s what you get back. Then you build your team back up to being good enough to be a buyer again, and take your next shot at the Cup.
Steve of Puck the Media gets this news today…
The Sharks’ 5-2 victory against the Bruins on Tuesday was the highest-rated and most-watched regular-season game in Versus’ four years with the NHL. It drew a 0.54 household rating nationally (550,000 viewers) and was 69 percent above the network’s average for the season.
from Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe,
However, given the punishing and defensive nature of the postseason, Chiarelli’s wiser upgrade could be along the blue line. That may sound odd, especially with captain Zdeno Chara looking capable of winning the Norris Trophy this season.
But come playoff time, opposing offenses aren’t going to be shooting the puck into Big Z’s corner for the 28, 30, or more minutes he’ll play each night. They’re going to overload to his partner’s corner, which likely points to Aaron Ward getting hammered. The next pairing with big minutes, Andrew Ference and Dennis Wideman, will take a beating, too. While both have outperformed expectations this season, Ference is small and Wideman, though much steadier this season, most likely will be heavily pressured on dump-ins and forechecking.
If, as rumored, the Ducks make towering blue liner Chris Pronger available at the deadline, he will become the Hossa of this year’s swap meet. Of the Eastern Conference contenders - Boston, Washington, New Jersey, maybe the Canadiens and Flyers - any one of them would become an immediate favorite to reach the Cup finals if they landed the 6-foot-6-inch Pronger. He is among the strongest, fiercest hitters in the game, a big part of why the Ducks body-slammed their way over the Senators to win the 2007 Cup.
With Pronger on the books for $6.25 million this season and next, the Bruins would have cap room for him, provided the league relaxes on the cap issue.
from David Pollak of Working the Corners,
Milan Lucic and Coach Claude Julien said San Jose was the best team that Boston has faced all year.
“I think they’re heavy on their sticks, as you’ve probably noticed,” Julien said in explaining why he thinks the Sharks are the best opponent the Bruins have faced. “They’ve got a pretty good-sized hockey club. And when it was time to really battle . . . they certainly had the advantage on us. They were strong on their sticks and stronger than we were.”
more on the Sharks victory over the Bruins last night…
from Dan Rosen of NHL.com,
Based on scouting, the slight edge has to go to the San Jose Sharks for Tuesday night’s game against the Boston Bruins.
It comes down to time zones.
When the Sharks arrive for games at HP Pavilion, the televisions in their locker room are already blaring out the games going on back East. If the Bruins are playing that night, the Sharks will gravitate toward that television.
“Obviously we like to keep an eye on the Western teams,” Sharks defenseman Dan Boyle told NHL.com, “but we watch the Bruins over most Eastern teams.”
from Bill Khan of the Flint Journal,
A journeyman of the minors and European pro leagues wasn’t supposed to get his big NHL break at the age of 31, much less keep a starting job for four seasons.
Now, throw in two trips to the All-Star Game, plus the fact he’s among the league’s statistical leaders and the backbone of the team with the best record in the NHL.
Who’s going to believe this stuff anyway? Hollywood would dismiss the script as too unrealistic.
So, to suggest that Thomas’ days as an elite NHL goalie might but short-and-sweet because he’ll be 35 years old come playoff time ... well, don’t suggest it.
“How much longer I’ll keep playing and how long can I keep playing at such a high level, that answer remains to be seen,” Thomas said Monday during a conference call with NHL media members.
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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