Kukla's Korner Hockey
From Mike Harrington at Sabres Edge,
Lots of news from the Sabres camp Wednesday around Teppo Numminen and Jocelyn Thibault—two guys who haven’t seen the ice much this season outside of practice.
The latest on Numminen is that he’s been told he has to wait six months after his heart surgery—or the middle of March—before Sabres doctors clear him for full contact. And while it still smells like the Sabres are trying to shirk their way out of paying any of his $2.6 million salary, I reached Numminen at his home today and he said, “doctors talk to doctors” when asked what has changed in the last week since he gave a glowing post-practice report after a return from the Cleveland Clinic. The heart is fine but no one, he says, is confident the scar in his chest cavity is sufficiently healed for him to play.
continued… with updates on Thibault as well
from the Buffalo News,
Vanek, Afinogenov and Stafford were supposed to be the team’s go-to guys. They’ve fallen badly. Vanek is on pace for 24 goals and 26 assists after getting 43 and 41 last year. Afinogenov had 61 points last season; he’s on pace for 36. Stafford provided 13 goals and 14 assists in just 41 games last year, and Ruff continually said in the preseason Stafford could replace the missing offense. But Stafford’s first full year projects to only 16 goals and 16 assists.
“We’re underachieving in both categories,” Vanek said, referring to himself and the team.
from Bucky Gleason of the Buffalo News,
Sources across the gabby NHL contend that Regier isn’t the primary reason the Sabres have lost so many players in recent years. Add up all the talk behind the scenes, and you see a pattern that suggests his own bosses are his biggest obstruction. Basically, he’s made the right call on players, only to have his decisions vetoed.
Understandably, Regier wouldn’t touch the subject with surgical gloves when reached last week. There was a sense he had become so accustomed to accepting blame that he didn’t know how to react when it was directed toward owner Tom Golisano, managing partner Larry Quinn and, to a much lesser degree, chief bean counter Dan DiPofi.
“I’m the general manager,” Regier said. “It’s my job. You can put it all on me. It’s OK.”
from the Buffalo News,
Twenty minutes after the loss, Brian Campbell was storming from side to side in front of his locker, grabbing equipment and shoving it angrily into a bag. I’d never seen Campbell quite this emotional. He spoke in a quavering voice, as if he might break out in tears at any moment.
“It’s desperate times right now,” Campbell said after the Sabres lost to Ottawa, 5-3, giving up two late goals after coming from three goals down to tie the game. “The whole rest of the season is going to be desperate for us, trying to get points. You don’t gain points in this league in the second half very much, unless you’re on a complete tear.”
*To watch the advertisement, video posted earlier here on Kukla’s Korner.
from the AP via the Globe and Mail,
Teppo Numminen’s surgically repaired heart is pumping fine after the Buffalo Sabres defenceman’s latest medical checkup.
It’s his stamina that still isn’t there yet, leaving Numminen unable to predict Thursday when he might be ready to play.
“I don’t know. Still on the same schedule, day by day, week by week,” said Numminen, catching his breath after a 90-minute practice. “But things are getting closer. We’re moving in the right direction. ... They checked things out and things are like they should be.”
Images, if they resonate with you enough, can stick in your brain for quite some time. They stop being just vivid clips running through your brainwaves and become an indelible imprint on your memory. Folks, that image of the 20-year old “Hockey Savior” beating the Michigan State-trained goaltender in a skills competition, sarcasm aside, will be in my brain for many days and months, perhaps years, to come.
Often, when my mind is so aware something is coming, it becomes my mere focus, and I can do little but ponder it. It makes it very difficult to sleep. Perhaps you know the feeling, hockey fans. It’s the first or last day of school. For puckheads, opening night of the playoffs, or perhaps game one or two or three or six or seven of the Stanley Cup Finals.
from Bob DiCesare of the Buffalo News,
The NHL has constantly grappled, and without much success, over how best to sell hockey in the United States. It emerged from the lockout of three seasons ago with a new set of rules and promises of strict enforcement. But enforcement waned and scoring diminished and the sport returned to the stranglehold of coaches with defensive bents, spoiling the game’s natural beauty and attraction.
The league needs to find ways to extract and emphasize the talents of its gifted players and capture the imaginations of its fans. The winning shootout goal scored by Crosby fit the script. But the 65 minutes of rag-tag hockey it took to reach that point did little to enhance the league’s allure.
added 8:10am, from The Good, The Bad and The Duthie,
Heck, NHL iceman Dan Craig got more face-time than Crosby.
At one point, he was out there so long, fixing that nasty hole, I thought he was just going to build a shack and drop a fishing line down.
They really should have mic’d him:
“Who’s M@*&!! F*$*#%!? idea was this?!?!?”
But while it must have been a nightmare for Craig and the ice crew (who, all things considered, did an amazing job), the spectacle was something to behold.
You can watch highlights of the game again or for the first time if you were busy watching football.
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
The delirious 71,217 fans at Ralph Wilson Stadium, almost all of whom stayed in their seats until the NHL’s brightest star, Sidney Crosby, scored the last goal of the shootout to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a 2-1 win, made it official - the league’s second outdoor game, dubbed the Winter Classic, was a roaring success.
There was snow, which ranged from light to heavy, but it was never heavy enough to present a serious problem. There were winds, but not as strong as the weather forecasters predicted. And the temperatures stayed around freezing, making conditions for the game between the Buffalo Sabres and the Penguins as close to perfect as possible for an outdoor game.
Update 8:16pm ET: From Scott Burnside at ESPN, grading the Winter Classic on the crowd, the weather, the warm ups, and so on.
Update 8:32pm ET: Adam Proteau at The Hockey News, pronounces the Winter Classic a success.
Update 10:33pm ET: The “Perfect Snowstorm” says the NY Times.
note: photo credit belongs to Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images
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 firstname.lastname@example.org