Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Luke DeCock of the News & Observer,
It’s time. There’s no other way to say it.
In this, the third season under Ron Francis and Bill Peters, the Carolina Hurricanes’ time has come.
It is not unfair, in fact it is entirely proper, to expect the Hurricanes to make the playoffs this season, or at the very least be in the race down to the final few days.
After seven years in the postseason wilderness, a streak exceeded only by the Edmonton Oilers, it’s time for the drought to come to an end. This is the season. This is the time.
Francis has been given considerable leeway from fans aware of the need for a retooling, even if Francis spent the previous three years as part of the front-office team that put the franchise in this position. He has carefully and deliberately followed that slow and winding path, waiting until the last moment to trade Eric Staal, letting contracts expire, amassing young talent, sticking with Cam Ward.
“The new baby at home doesn’t seem all that crazy excited about watching all the hockey. I’m sure if I see it on TV I’ll find a way to watch it for sure. That’s kind of the feeling I’ve gotten throughout. Part of it’s because I’m not sure how it will turn out. It could be really great. It could flop.”
Jordan Staal of the Carolina Hurricanes on watching the World Cup. Luke DeCock of the News & Observer has more from some other Carolina players.
from Ben Pope of the News & Observer,
Andrej Nestrasil was among a number of Carolina Hurricanes players attending an informal skate for the first time this season on Tuesday, participating in 2-on-1 drills on goaltender Cam Ward and a 3-on-3 half-rink game at Raleigh Center Ice.
Without a doubt, no one enjoyed the light workout more than he did.
“It felt great,” he said, unable to hold back a beaming smile and laugh. “Being back here and being out on the ice today was awesome.”
Six months ago, shortly after suffering a season-ending fractured vertebra that initially seemed career-threatening, it was a lengthy task for Nestrasil to simply sit up.
His progression from that feeble stage to full health in time for Hurricanes training camp became an endeavor that completely transformed his perspective on his hockey career – and on life.
“Obviously I’m very grateful to get this opportunity. I realize it’s probably my last shot, with where I am in my career. I’m grateful, I’m thankful and I’m excited.
“People are going to say what they’re going to say. I have not helped myself. You sleep in the bed you make. I accept that, I believe I had paid my dues and I have dealt with what I had to deal with. I think I can change the way I play.”
-Raffi Torres, who is on a PTO with the Carolina Hurricanes. Chip Alexander of the News & Observer has more.
from Ben Pope of the News & Observer,
Oft-suspended enforcer Raffi Torres will join the Carolina Hurricanes during training camp on a professional tryout agreement, the team confirmed Tuesday.
The 6-foot, 215-pound winger turns 35 in early October and brings an experienced resume to Raleigh, having played in 635 career games for seven different teams. But he’s appeared in only 44 over the last four seasons combined due to injuries and a number of suspensions.
After being suspended four times between 2011 and 2013 — including a 21-game ban for a late hit that knocked Chicago’s Marian Hossa out of the 2013 playoffs — Torres was suspended for the entire first half of the 2015-16 season for a hit to the head of Anaheim’s Jakob Silfverberg during a preseason game. The incident prompted many to call for a lifetime ban of the then-San Jose Sharks forward and the Sharks sent Torres to the AHL after his 41-game suspension ended.
News of the PTO agreement, which broke Monday before being confirmed Tuesday, sent shockwaves through the fanbase as fans expressed dismay and concern on social media.
RALEIGH, NC – Peter Karmanos Jr., Chief Executive Officer, Owner and Governor for the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has signed Executive Vice President and General Manager Ron Francis to a contract extension through the 2018-19 season. Francis will be available to discuss the extension today at 3 p.m. in the fourth-floor conference room at PNC Arena.
“Ron has rebuilt our organization the right way, stocking our team and system with young players who will help this franchise compete for the Stanley Cup year in and year out,” said Karmanos. “I’m thrilled that he will continue to see the job through. The future is very bright for the Hurricanes in Carolina.”
Francis, 53, is in his 11th season in management with the Hurricanes and his third as general manager. Under his leadership, the Hurricanes improved 15 points in the NHL standings in 2015-16, despite utilizing the youngest group of forwards and the youngest corps of defensemen in the NHL. Francis has added young talent to the organization including Noah Hanifin, Teuvo Teravainen, Sebastian Aho, Haydn Fleury, Jake Bean and Julien Gauthier. The Sault Ste. Marie, Ont., native previously worked for the team as director of player development, assistant general manager, associate head coach and director of hockey operations.
A member of the Hockey Hall of Fame, Francis scored 549 goals and earned 1,249 assists (1,798 points) as a player, ranking fifth all-time on the league’s scoring list behind Wayne Gretzky, Mark Messier, Jaromir Jagr and Gordie Howe. His 1,249 assists rank second only to Gretzky (1,963), and he ranks third on the games-played list behind Howe (1,767) and Messier (1,756).
RALEIGH, NC – Ron Francis, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has signed head coach Bill Peters to a contract extension through the 2018-19 season.
“Bill is a talented, young coach in the National Hockey League,” said Francis. “We are happy that he has made a commitment to the Hurricanes, and that he will be a major part of the team continuing to grow.”
from Ben Pope of the News & Observer,
A crowd of about 4,000 – up 40 percent from last year – enjoyed family activities and watched a prospects scrimmage at the Carolina Hurricanes’ Summerfest event earlier this month.
“I wish I could have a Summerfest every other week,” said team president Don Waddell.
The Hurricanes have since entered a period of one or two months where their name won’t be spoken much, but that hasn’t diluted ticket sales, which have been surging throughout the offseason in spite of the team’s league-worst attendance last season.
Compared to this time last year, new season-ticket package sales are up about 40 percent and overall ticket sales revenue is up about 60 percent, Waddell estimated on Monday.
Waddell also said the team’s existing season-ticket member (STM) renewal rate stands at 90.15 percent. Last summer, the team achieved an 87 percent renewal rate but didn’t do so until September, and only about 72 percent renewed the previous summer.
RALEIGH, NC – Ron Francis, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has agreed to terms with center Victor Rask on a six-year contract. The deal will pay Rask $4 million per year through the 2021-22 NHL season.
“Victor has gotten better every season that he’s been a part of our organization,” said Francis. “He is a big part of this team’s present and future, and we are thrilled to sign him to a longer-term deal.”
Rask, 23, established a career high and ranked second among Hurricanes skaters with 48 points (21g, 27a) in 80 games played during the 2015-16 season. The Leksand, Sweden, native ranked second on the team in assists (27) and third in goals (21). Rask (6’2”, 200 lbs.) led the Hurricanes in power-play points (18) and was second in power-play assists (13). He was fourth among Carolina forwards in ice time per game (16:58).
RALEIGH, NC – Ron Francis, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has agreed to terms with forward Lee Stempniak (STEHMP-nee-ak) on a two-year contract. The deal will pay Stempniak $2.5 million per season.
“Lee is a veteran, skilled forward who will provide offense for our team, as well as leadership on and off the ice,” said Francis.
Stempniak, 33, netted 19 goals and added 33 assists (51 points) and was plus-3 in 82 games with the New Jersey Devils and Boston Bruins in 2015-16. A fifth-round selection by St. Louis in the 2003 NHL Entry Draft, the West Seneca, NY, native has scored 184 goals and earned 236 assists (420 points) in 790 career NHL games with St. Louis, Toronto, Phoenix, Calgary, Pittsburgh, the NY Rangers, Winnipeg, New Jersey and Boston. Stempniak has appeared in 28 career Stanley Cup playoff games, totaling 14 points (6g, 8a).
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