Kukla's Korner Hockey
Eight say Chicago, seven pick Philadelphia.
from CTV Toronto,
A York region hockey fan is hoping to bring some Canadian spirit to the Stanley Cup final.
Sandro Liburdi has started up a petition with hopes of convincing the National Hockey League to play both the Canadian and American national anthem at the games.
The finals will be a best-of-seven games showdown between two U.S. teams – the Chicago Blackhawks and the Philadelphia Flyers. The series starts Saturday at 9 p.m.
“Although there are two U.S. teams in the final, there are 38 Canadian players and only 24 U.S. and international-born players combined,” he said in a telephone interview with ctvtoronto.ca. He also pointed out that the captains of both teams are Canadian.
“Those Canadian players deserve to hear their anthem.”
from Rick Telander of the Chicago Sun-Times,
If they win now, could it be that Patrick Kane or Jonathan Toews or Dustin Byfuglien or some other Blackhawks player will become the iconic face and personality and star presence that defines our city?
The position, after all, is vacant.
‘‘The face of Chicago sports?’’ says McDonough, who came to the Hawks after many years with the Cubs. ‘‘I don’t think there is one.’‘
There sure was when Michael Jordan reigned with the Bulls. Go anywhere—anywhere in the world—and people would connect Chicago instantly with Jordan.
Before him there was Mike Ditka, who still rules in a kind of eternal royalty.
There was Dick Butkus, and Gale Sayers. But each of them left town for long periods, and Butkus, amazingly, settled in perhaps the softest place in America, Malibu, Calif.
To be a Chicago sports face, you better hang around town, and you’d better not go Hollywood.
from Bucky Gleason of the Buffalo News,
Let’s face it, there’s pressure that comes with being Scotty’s kid and being named after the trophy you’re chasing. Much like their young general manager, the Blackhawks have embraced expectations for greatness rather than wilt under them. Together, they have enjoyed an unforgettable ride.
See, he was there when Blackhawks games weren’t on local television, when they missed the playoffs six times in seven years, when they were nothing. He spent four years as a special assistant to the general manager, whatever that means, and two more as director of hockey operations. He took over for GM Dale Tallon last July.
Now, at age 36, having twice beaten cancer, the Canisius High grad is four wins against the Flyers away from winning it all. The series starts Saturday in hockey-crazed Chicago. The Blackhawks haven’t won the Cup since 1960-61, the longest drought for an Original Six franchise. They have been to the finals once since 1972-73.
“There are passionate sports fans here,” he said. “The Bulls had a great run for a number of years. The Cubs are always beloved. You have the Bears and the White Sox. There are a lot of things in sports that capture people’s attention. For a while, the hockey team wasn’t one of them. Over the past couple of years, you could see it building.”
from rian Louis and Tony C. Dreibus of Bloomberg,
The Chicago Blackhawks four years ago were losing fans to the Chicago Wolves, a minor-league hockey team with cheaper tickets.
This season, the Hawks are the National Hockey League’s biggest draw. Team owner Rocky Wirtz is mining the world of Facebook and Twitter to keep it that way.
“People my age aren’t the ones you go after,” Wirtz, 57, said in an interview before heading to his seat, a padded folding chair amid the fans, for the playoff victory that sent his team to the Stanley Cup Final for the first time since 1992.
“The question is how do you get the 20-year-olds?” he said. “We want to work more with social media than ever before. We want to recruit them to be fans for 30 more years.”
The Blackhawks, whose 49-year championship drought is the longest of any current hockey franchise, are schooling others on and off the ice this season as the NHL struggles to boost a fan base that remains the smallest of the four major professional sports.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
In what has been a riveting and consistently entertaining NHL postseason thus far, the oddest back story of all focuses on the respective starters in net. And how a series of here-to-fore lightly regarded goaltenders are facing each other, while the big names either missed the playoffs altogether or were quickly dispatched.
Of the 100 goaltenders listed by salary on stats website nhlnumbers.com, Niemi ranks 57th (at $827,000 U.S.) while Leighton is dead last (No. 100). Leighton’s price tag is $600,000, but because the Flyers grabbed him on waivers, they were responsible for just half.
Even in today’s inflated NHL salaries, both represent exceptional value.
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
With this year’s Stanley Cup final fairly oozing with possibility and potential, there’s a great deal of preening going on at NHL headquarters.
Ask them and they’ll tell you every indicator that matters is up, up, up and business is good, good, good.
So, in the tradition of not letting these folks get too big for their britches lest they order another lockout, we choose to ask an uncomfortable question.
Does anybody notice, or should anybody notice, that the team that will open this series on home ice skates out with the cultural equivalent of a cigar store Indian on their chests every night?
Don Cherry, Mike Milbury, Pierre McGuire, Mike “Doc” Emrick and Keith Jones took part in a tele-conference today.
Q. Just a question on the goaltending matchup. Long held belief you needed kind of a really good big-ticket goaltender, goaltending was so important. Ken Holland over the last couple of years says you don’t always need to spend a ton of money on your goaltending. I wanted to get your thoughts on this matchup, and is there a shift, maybe a shift in philosophy coming with goaltending?
DON CHERRY: Well, again, Leighton is my guy and everybody’s waiting for Niemi, whatever his name, to falter, and he hasn’t. So it’s really funny, two guys that they thought it’s their weak spot. Philadelphia has always had a weak spot. And everybody’s been saying about Chicago, they’ve got a good team; but their goaltender was suspect. Now here they are in the Finals.
I think it’s going to be which one falters. And boy it’s going to be something. Of course, you know what I think of Leighton.
PIERRE McGUIRE: I think a big part of what’s allowed these goalies to prosper in the post season is the fact that both teams have unbelievable defensemen in front of them. Just to go to Don’s theory about what Ken Holland said.
The reason why Detroit can get by with Chris Osgood or, quote/unquote, no name goaltenders is the fact they had Nicklas Lidstrom and Brian Rafalski and Brad Stuart and Niklas Kronwall, unbelievable depth on defense.
You’ve got the same thing happening with both these teams. While both goaltenders have had great post seasons, the truth of the matter is the defensive in front of them, and Don and Mike would appreciate this being former defensemen, those guys aren’t getting enough credit on both sides, the defense for both teams has really helped the goaltenders to survive.
from Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
It may not have the pizzazz of the Super Bowl’s now famous media day—we didn’t see the Cartoon Network working the room at the United Center on Thursday—but the NHL’s annual pre-Stanley Cup finals event has definitely evolved into a big day on the playoff calendar.
There is a bit of a carnival feel with the broadcasters and roving bands of journalists moving from table to table, and the players sporting their cool new hoodies. And there is never a shortage of anecdotes and stories to be told as the Chicago Blackhawks and Philadelphia Flyers gear up for Game 1 on Saturday night.
The Chicago Blackhawk team physicians began diagnosing and treating vitamin D deficiency in all Blackhawk players about 18 months ago. Apparently, most players are on 5,000 IU of vitamin D3 per day. To confirm this assertion, simply ask the Blackhawk organization.
After many losing seasons, last year the Blackhawks came out of nowhere to get to the Western conference finals. This year the Blackhawks are playing even better.
According to my sources, improved athletic performance is only one of the benefits for the Blackhawk players. The other is a reduction in the number and severity of lower respiratory tract infections and a reduction in the number and severity of repetitive use injuries.
continue for more on vitamin D…
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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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