Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times,
With 23 men on the roster (that includes Joakim Nordstrom or Teuvo Teravainen), the Hawks are about $2.2 million above the salary cap of $69 million. Even if they broke camp with 22 players, they still would be above the cap. So between the time the puck drops for the first practice Friday in South Bend and the time the puck drops for the regular-season opener Oct. 9 in Dallas, general manager Stan Bowman has to make a move. There are plenty of possibilities.
Defenseman Johnny Oduya has one year and $3.375 million left on his contract, so he makes the most sense from a strictly financial standpoint. But he and Niklas Hjalmarsson make up the Hawks’ top defensive tandem, charged with stopping the opponents’ best players. That allows Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook to be more offensive-minded. And any deal might hinge on how healthy Oduya looks in the preseason after suffering a broken foot in Game 7 of the Western Conference final.
Defenseman Nick Leddy, who makes $2.7 million and will be a restricted free agent next summer, is a 24-year-old puck-mover and power-play quarterback and might fetch a nice prospect or two. He has lost coach Joel Quenneville’s trust in two consecutive postseasons, but Bowman and the organization remain high on thim. If Bowman can find a taker for 36-year-old Michal Rozsival instead, he likely would jump at it.
I don't expect many moves early in training camp. There is always the possibility a player gets injured, maybe placed on LTIR which would give a team some cap relief for a period of time.
ARLINGTON, Va. – The Washington Capitals will host the Chicago Blackhawks in the 2015 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic on Jan. 1, 2015, at Nationals Park, the National Hockey League, the Washington Capitals and the Washington Nationals announced today. In addition, the Capitals NHL Winter Classic uniforms will be unveiled during a special event at Nationals Park on Sept. 23 at 12 p.m.
from Dan Rosen of NHL.com,
You're still a young guy but not a young player anymore, so do you still get that nervous feeling as camp approaches?
"Yeah, absolutely. It's always exciting to start the season. You always want to show up in good shape and prove that you're ready for the season. I think that's important. It's pretty crazy to think I'm going into my eighth year of playing in the NHL. That's unbelievable how fast it has gone by, but every year is a new challenge and you're always trying to prove yourself. It's always exciting when you can start the season off good and kind of get into the zone where you're going strong. That's what I hope to do this year."
You mention the eighth season. Does it feel like eight seasons on your body?
"No, it feels like it's my third or fourth. It's crazy. But they always say it goes by fast and I'm realizing that now. I still feel really good. I feel like I'm in the best shape I have been. I probably worked the hardest I have this summer as far as working out. It's probably the most I've skated any summer, for sure. I think it's beneficial for me to skate a lot, be on the ice, improve on certain things. I have always felt I'm a better player when I skate more. I just got into it this summer, kept skating. I have always enjoyed the game, love to play, so it's fun for me to go out there and skate and play, like you saw in these certain leagues. It's fun to get out there and work on your craft."
Earlier in the season, Gordie Howe was the recipient of a high stick from Stan Mikita...
from Tom DeLisle at DetroitAthletic.com,
... Howe and Mikita finally pulled apart as they slowly made their way to the Wings blue line, badly trailing the play — which was now zooming around the Chicago net. All eyes were on the puck flying around at the other end … including Howe’s, and Mikita’s, the fans’, and — Gordie noted –the referee’s. Number Nine, who had waited patiently for months, seized his opportunity. Slowly putting one glove under his opposite arm, and carefully withdrawing his hand … he cocked his bulging fist, pulling it back about six inches … then proceeded to land a lightning bolt –a quick but exceedingly powerful punch to the prominent and scrawny Adam’s Apple of Mr. Mikita, who was skating at his side.
Down went Stanley.
When play was finally whistled dead in the Chicago end, all eyes returned back up ice to behold the Blackhawk’s young #21 trying — of all strange things — to crawl on his hands and knees towards the Chicago bench. He was having a bad time getting there. In fact, he was barely progressing at all. Crawling? There’s no crawling in hockey. Further in the distance, the nonchalant #9 of the Red Wings was casually heading to the Red Wings bench when he too looked back, and saw poor Stanley in his predicament. Howe joined officials and Mikita’s teammates, skating over to investigate his collapse.
Mikita seemed in shock. Trying to rise, and falling again … he was unable to tell his teammates what had happened to him. He had been skating easily along, and the lights just went out. His legs were wobbly, and his voice didn’t work. The players slowly slid him, bent over, towards the Chicago bench. Ever the good Samaritan, old Gord offered what little consolation he could muster.
“Hey Stan,” Howe said to the bedazzled Blackhawk, who peered back at him with mismatched eyes … “did you get the number of that truck that hit you?”
from Ryan Dixon of Sportsnet,
Kessel will turn 27 in October, while Kane hits 26 in November. Which player would you consider a bigger gift to your team?
The case for Kane: In addition to his sublime skills, Kane loves the spotlight. The guy is a star, pure and simple, a fact exemplified by his Cup-winning goal in 2010 and his Conn Smythe performance in 2013. On the ice, his playmaking and vision are what really set Kane apart. Just seven NHLers have registered more total assists than Kane since he entered the league in 2007–08 and only three of those players—Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Marty St. Louis—also have more goals. The Buffalo native may possess the softest hands on earth and when you combine that with the audacity to attempt ridiculous plays, you get things like his shootout winner against poor Niklas Backstrom of the Minnesota Wild. A born showman with talent to match; sometimes Kane makes it seem like things just aren’t fair.
The case for Kessel: It really starts during the 2011–12 campaign, when Kessel became the point-per-game player he’s been for the past three seasons. He also hasn’t missed a game since the beginning of the 2009–10 season, his first year with Toronto. That ability to avoid injury contributes to Kessel’s standing as one of the surest things in the league. With the Leafs the past few years, you’ve really never known what might happen from one moment to the next. But the one thing you could count on was Kessel showing up to the rink, skating really fast down the right side of the ice and firing deadly wrist shots to all parts of the net. In the past three seasons, the list of guys who’ve scored more total goals than “Phil the Thrill” is limited to Alex Ovechkin, Steven Stamkos and Corey Perry....
from Rory Boylen of The Hockey News,
When THN’s seven-person panel sat down to come up with our rankings of the 30 NHL logos, we were basically in full agreement which team would be No. 1.
We didn’t want history to influence our decisions. The Toronto Maple Leafs and Montreal Canadiens sit outside the top 10 for that reason. Ranking all the Original Six 1-6 is boring, predictable and doesn’t accomplish what we wanted to do here: reward the best logos, not the longest history.
Even still, the Chicago Blackhawks stood up to that measurement. The vibrant color combination and the respectful way it honors a WWI battalion and a Native American chief sets this logo apart from the rest. If we handed out the Three Stars of these logo rankings, the Blackhawks logo would be one, two and three.
Check out the rest of the rankings...
"I think they’re one of the strongest built teams in the league. With them, they have amazing star power surrounded with good quality core players. The addition of Brad Richards coming over there as a role player who can help on the power play and be a good leader, brings another experienced guy into a locker room of winners."
"I think team has done a very good job of putting together the pieces and with Kane and Toews signing these mega-deals they’ll be playing with so much confidence. There’s no competition between the two. They are both top five players getting paid like it and it shows the loyalty that the Blackhawks have become known for and [for] building championships."
-Jeremy Roenick on the Chicago Blackhawks. More from Katie Strang of ESPN.
from Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times,
Blackhawks president John McDonough told the Sun-Times on Wednesday that the longstanding — and to so many, infuriating — practice of organist Frank Pellico playing “The Stripper” while a woman participated in the second-intermission “Shoot the Puck” promotion will stop in the 2014-15 season.
“I think you’ve heard the last of Frank Pellico playing ‘The Stripper,’” McDonough said.
A recent online movement to ban the song, including a #BanTheStripper hashtag and an online petition, called the Hawks out for the rather blatant sexism that was inherent in the contest. The typical format included a child, a man, a celebrity, and an attractive woman — the latter rarely in, let’s say, casual hockey-fan attire. In fact, sources say a team employee has been tasked each night with finding just the right the female participant. It had become as much a part of a Hawks game as playing “Here Come the Hawks” before warmups, and “Chelsea Dagger” after goals.
McDonough wouldn’t say for certain if the Shoot the Puck selection process would be overhauled completely — he said he rarely, if ever, watches Shoot the Puck, and therefore “can’t give you an opinion” — but said the Hawks heard their fans’ message loud and clear.
from Brian Hedger at NHL.com,
"Whenever you see someone [else] lift the Stanley Cup, once you've done it once yourself, it kind of fuels the fire a little bit," left wing Patrick Sharp said. "It's definitely difficult to win it back-to-back, I think that's been proven over the years. Not only myself but the group of players we have, we're all excited to get back to training camp and go get that thing again."
Here are five questions they'll need to answer in order to do it:
1. Who won't be part of the equation once the offseason dust settles? -- Richards' contract is salary-cap friendly with a charge of $2 million for one season, but it puts the Blackhawks in a cap conundrum. According to CapGeek.com, they're about $2.2 million over the $69 million hard cap with a full roster under contract.
That means somebody's probably going to be traded before the Oct. 9 season opener at the Dallas Stars, barring an injury that would allow general manager Stan Bowman cap relief via injured reserve.
The most discussed names as potential trade candidates have been Sharp and defenseman Johnny Oduya. Sharp, whose agent says Bowman told him he won't be traded, has an annual cap charge of $5.9 million for the next three seasons. Oduya, who will be an unrestricted free agent July 1, 2015, has a cap charge of $3.3 million.
from Tracey Myers of CSNChicago,
Andrew Shaw hasn’t forgotten the lessons he learned in his Belleville, Ont., upbringing, be it from the town’s working mentality — or his father’s putting him to work in the summers.
“I did all the brutal jobs, the jobs you pay a guy five dollars an hour to do,” Shaw told Pat Boyle. “As a kid I’d be carrying lumber, holding stuff in a pail. But I think it was good. It made me grow (into) who I am today.”
Shaw talked of his blue-collar upbringing and how it shaped him with Boyle for an Inside Look, which will air at 5 p.m. Thursday on CSNChicago. For Shaw, life in Belleville (pop. 49,500) had its fun and its hockey. It also had its work. His father, Doug, a contractor, made sure Andrew always had that put-the-work-in mentality, and it resonated through the years.
“I always saw my dad work extremely hard for me and my brothers to play hockey,” Shaw said. “Just (to) have the average job, punch in at 7 in the morning, they worked hard and I think it wore off on me. I saw what it takes to get by in this world and I've always push myself to work as hard as I could.”
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