Kukla's Korner Hockey
from John MacKinnon of the Edmonton Journal,
Chicago ran the streak to 6-1-3 with a 5-2 victory and left Alberta 2-0 for the trip. Again.
When a team can blow out the opposition like that, the temptation is to pigeonhole the Hawks as a squadron of gunners, what with Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews, Patrick Sharp, Kris Versteeg, Dustin Byfuglien and others able to light it up.
It gets worse for NHL opponents, presumably, considering the fact that free-agent sniper Marian Hossa is set to make his Blackhawks debut next week after recovering from off-season surgery.
But the young Hawks aren’t one-way offensive divas; far from it. They’re defensively responsible, ranked third in the NHL in goals against and second overall on the penalty kill.
So says Mike Milbury speaking about Patrick O’Sullivan of the Edmonton Oilers. Scroll to about the 2:20 mark on the video and David Staples of The Cult of Hockey chimes in…
I thought hockey fans could be tough and nasty in their player critiques on the Oilogosphere, but CBC announcers Mike Milbury and Kelly Hrudey just got as harsh as any anonymous Internet hater. The two CBC announcers thrashed and trashed Oilers forward Patrick O’Sullivan after the first period of the Oilers-Hawks game on Saturday night, bashing him for not going hard after a puck along the boards, evidently so he could avoid body contact with Hawks defender Duncan Keith.
At least that’s how it looked to me, and that’s certainly how it looked to both Hrudey and Milbury. Hrudey started off the hammering, then tagged off and Milbury utterly put the boots to the young Oilers forward.
from Chris Kuc of the Chicago Tribune,
With Marian Hossa’s debut with the Blackhawks looming, coach Joel Quenneville is formulating plans on how to utilize the high-scoring winger.
Hossa participated in the Hawks’ morning skate before Thursday night’s game against the Flames and is on track to play during the Hawks’ six-game trip, most likely Wednesday against the Sharks in San Jose.
“There are going to be a lot of options for a coach to have,” Quenneville said. “He’s going to get a lot of ice time. We’re looking forward to him being useful in a lot of ways.”
Hossa has begun doing line drills in practice and Wednesday skated with Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane.
via the Twitter of Bob McKenzie,
Chicago cannot finalize Kane, Toews, Keith contracts just yet because there is, for now, a “tagging” room issue. A move will need to be made
from Bob McKenzie of TSN,
Sources tell TSN the Hawks are in the process of finalizing long-term contract extensions for Patrick Kane, Jonathan Toews and Duncan Keith.
Kane and Toews are believed to be getting five-year extensions, with each of them worth in excess of $6 million per year. An announcement on those two deals appears to be imminent.
Keith’s deal is said to be more complicated, perhaps as long as 13 years, and worth less than what the Hawks will pay their two star forwards, which is to suggest it will likely average less than $6 million per year. Because the NHL is so closely scrutinizing the ultra long-term contracts, it may take longer to dot all the i’s and cross all the t’s on the Keith extension.
from Len Ziehm of the Chicago Sun-Times,
It’s no secret the Blackhawks want to keep Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane and Duncan Keith around for a long time, but—despite recent published reports—none are signed for next year yet.
“I guess there’s a little bit of a rumor out there,” Kane said after practice on Tuesday, “but it’s between my agent and Stan (Hawks’ general manager Stan Bowman) and the Blackhawks’ organization.”
Because the NHL’s salary cap might drop for next season Bowman could be facing a big challenge in keeping the nucleus of his promising, young team together. Signing all three stars might be difficult, and the reports of an imminent signing of any of them could be premature.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
• To clear matters, Niedermayer sent ESPN.com this comment on Saturday prior to his game in Detroit: “I don’t want to be traded. I love it in Anaheim, and the only thing I’m focused on right now is helping our team get back on track and make the playoffs. That’s it.”
Via text message to ESPN.com, Murray also reiterated that he has no intention of trading Niedermayer, UFA July 1, and wants to see the future Hall of Fame retire a Duck….
• I don’t think it was ever in doubt, but I’m hearing that talks between the Chicago Blackhawks and star forwards Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane are going very well and that both sides are close to a deal. Both players are slated for restricted free agency July 1, and other GMs were salivating at the chance at plunking down offer sheets for them, but that’s not going to happen. I would expect an announcement sometime in the next two weeks.
more chatter and talk…
Inconclusive was the final ruling on the no-goal in last night’s Leafs/Blackhawks game.
from Jeff Blair of the Globe and Mail,
“There are unwritten rules among the players,” Toews said, after the Blackhawks morning skate…
”It’s not a perfect world. Some guys do respect each other, and some guys don’t. You want to play hard within the rules of the game – and a lot of guys have that attitude,” Toews continued.
“But then you look at … some of these hits … and they (players) are going in at an unnecessary speed.”
And what if a player does that and then sits in the dressing room and says he didn’t mean to injure an opponent?
“If you’re going to sit there and answer questions after you hit somebody like that and say you didn’t want to hurt them - you’re lying through your teeth,” Toews said.
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
The Blackhawks are a Western Conference contender. The Leafs, after a blip of promise last weekend against Carolina and Detroit, descended once more into maddening mediocrity Tuesday in a loss to lowly Minnesota.
Whereas not so long ago Chicago could be mocked as a historic franchise that had lost its way, today it’s the Leafs that can only report excellence in the Forbes standings, not the NHL’s. The Windy City has already been lauded for hosting a superb Winter Classic, while Brian Burke’s promises of doing something similar at BMO Field – no Wrigley, to be sure – ring somewhat hollow.
Nobody would have thought five years ago the Leafs would be sucking the exhaust fumes of the Hawks, but that’s where we are.
One franchise stood still, the other caught the gusts of a new NHL.
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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