Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
The parallels in their personal histories are startling, remarkable even.
They are both products of an interracial marriage. Their fathers, black, hailed from Africa, one from Kenya, the other from Nigeria. Their mothers, white, hailed from the hinterland, one from Kansas in the American Midwest, the other from Edmonton in Canada’s frozen north.
The respective marriages faltered early, when they were babies, and so both were raised in households where the grandparents played prominent roles. They were accomplished athletes - one played high-school basketball in the U.S. the other major junior hockey in Canada. They were known, even in the early, more anonymous stages of their lives, for their leadership abilities.
Neither ever backed away from a fight, and while Barack Obama didn’t drop the gloves with Willie Mitchell or Cody McCormick or David Hale - as Calgary Flames forward Jarome Iginla did earlier this NHL season - the campaign to be president of the United States eventually evolved into something of a street fight in its latter days, too.
added 7:19am, A similar type story from Terry Frei of the Denver Post....
via Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun,
With all due respect to Ken Holland (Detroit Red Wings), Peter Chiarelli (Boston Bruins), Bob Gainey (Montreal Canadiens) and even Darryl Sutter, there can be no argument on the mid-season nod as the NHL’s GM of the year. It’s San Jose Sharks’ Doug Wilson. Acquisitions like Dan Boyle and Rob Blake have a had a massive impact on the league’s most dominant club, and Wilson’s savvy drafting over the years is paying off as late-round pick Joe Pavelski and first-rounder Devin Setoguchi have emerged as game-breakers. The decision to not give up on Patrick Marleau is also paying huge dividends. However, his best move of the year involved not only opting to fire Ron Wilson but to entrust his club to the young Todd McLellan, who is clearly the midseason choice as coach of the year.
Of all the aforementioned GMs who’ve done well to piece together contenders, Sutter is the one who will get the least attention, but he deserves plenty of credit for adding relatively cheap depth players Rene Bourque, Curtis Glencross, Todd Bertuzzi and Michael Cammalleri, all of whom have taken turns playing hero for the Flames this season.
from Vicki Hall of the Calgary Herald,
From complaints about his goal output (four in 43 games) to concerns about his defensive play (minus-eight), Phaneuf no longer enjoys untouchable status when it comes to criticism from fans and media types. The all-star snub undoubtedly came as a shock to the Edmonton native. After all, Phaneuf already has two trips to the winter extravaganza on his resume.
He leads the league in ice time with an average of 27:41. He has 24 assists to bring his point total to 28.
“I think on the positive side—minutes played, points and penalty killing—those are all things he’s right at the top of the league at or at least close in, ” Sutter said. “I think most of the talk from people is very selective. Meaning, they only look at goals.
“I didn’t know that’s how you evaluate defenceman—by goals. But apparently some people do.”
from Kelly Hrudey of Blogs and Columns at CBC,
We’re all very aware just how close many of the top teams in the NHL are to each other and just how fine the line is between winning and losing.
Currently three teams have put together excellent first halves to this season, losing fewer than 10 games, which is a remarkable feat. They are Boston, Detroit and San Jose.
Impressive to be sure, but none of these three teams may be the best in the league right now.
What may surprise some people is the Calgary Flames are as good as or even better than anyone right now.
People around the league are really starting to take notice of the Flames because right now they have zero weaknesses.
from Flames Insider,
“They’re a top team in the league and they’re so good at home,” said Kiprusoff, who made 33 stops, “so I think it’s a good confidence-booster for us. We’ve been able to beat them twice now (Calgary was a 5-2 winner on Jan. 6 at the Saddledome) and we know we can battle against those top teams.”
Now that Calgary is 18-4-3 in its last 25 games and has fashioned a nine-point lead over Vancouver—with three games in hand—atop the Northwest Division, have the Flames done enough to move in the same neighbourhood as the Sharks and Red Wings without making it necessary for the blue-bloods to call the cops and shoo away the riffraff?
“Well, I think we’re getting there,” said centre Daymond Langkow, who collected two points in the victory. “We’re taking the right steps. But the last thing you want to do is start thinking you’re better than you are….”
from Flames Insider,
In the aftermath of Tuesday’s oddball match against the St. Louis Blues — plenty of bad blood, but, curiously, little pep to the game — Calgary Flames coach Mike Keenan had plenty to say following the 3-1 win.
* About St. Louis RW Cam Janssen’s hits on LW Andre Roy and D Robyn Regehr: “He definitely left his feet (on Roy), and he definitely left his feet on Regehr. The two hits he made . . . he jumped and leaped. He definitely left his feet with the intent of hitting a player who didn’t have the puck. A deliberate intent to injure. There’s no question in my mind. I watched it over and over just to make sure that I was looking at it clearly. It’s up to the officials and the league to address it. He broke Prustie’s jaw (Dec. 5 at St. Louis). But this one was so blatant and so obvious . . . there’s no need for that tactic in the game. You can body guys all you can and drive them with your shoulder, but you start leaping at guys and leaving your feet? Then . . . you losing respect for the game. The league should take some action and suspend them.”
more on the Flames and watch the hit on Regehr below…
From George Johnson of the Calgary Herald (via the Vancouver Sun):
For the first time in a meteoric rise to the front lines of NHL defenceman, though, Dion Phaneuf’s timing has betrayed him.
His minutes may be up. But his plus-minus is lagging, badly, and his goal and hits total are way down. After being feted a Norris Trophy finalist nod and first all-star team selection last year, he wasn’t even an addition for the Jan. 25th All-Star Game at the Bell Centre in Montreal.
That couldn’t help but sting. During a half-season of astounding maturation for the Calgary Flames as a group, Phaneuf’s individual struggles have become a staple of Calgary Flames’ chat rooms. He’s on pace for six goals this season. He notched 20 a year ago. A minus-8 is second-worst on the team.
Inquiring minds want to know why.
from Jim Kelley of Sportsnet,
A December-January burst of success is not uncommon for the Flames who seem to come together at a time when many other teams, even elite teams, have a holiday and post-holiday season sag.
Part of that might be because the Flames often have had to dig out from under a slow start. They tend to come together when there is criticism and adversity and that rush to success usually comes at a time when many other teams are in a lull….
The Flames are a good team that has turned around a poor start, but as for getting onboard Calgary’s Stanley Cup express, I think I’ll wait just awhile longer.
I’ve seen this version of the Flames before and only time will tell if this edition really is a different team.
from Steve MacFarlane of the Calgary Sun,
Appearing in all but two of the Flames’ first 41 contests, Kiprusoff has already racked up 25 victories. No goaltender has ever won 50 in a single season.
Kicking off that quest tonight with the St. Louis Blues visiting the Saddledome Kiprusoff is well-rested after four days between games.
“It was a good break,” said the 32-year-old Finn. “To have some time with your family, it’s always good.
“But when you’re used to going every day so hard, it’s tough to come back. Even after a couple of days off, it feels weird. You have to really concentrate to get your mind back into the game.”
According to the Calgary Herald, Swedish club Vasteras was under the assumption that Backlund would rejoin them after the World Junior Hockey Championship.
‘‘Mikael Backlund has not been given permission to play for another club,’’ Vasteras official Anders Eklund told the Swedish media. ‘‘There is nothing in his agreement with us that allows him to play for a club in North America and we don’t think it’s right that he did this without communicating with us.
‘‘We are very disappointed in Backlund’s conduct in this case and do not think he acted honestly.’
Backlund suited up for the Calgary Flames last week. Read on.
Update 3:05pm ET: Here’s the original report in the Calgary Herald.
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.
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