Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Lewis Lazare of the Chicago Sun-Times,
It’s a good thing Wrigley Field is sold out for the so-called “Winter Classic” hockey match on New Year’s Day because the new television commercial from Young & Rubicam/New York intended to spark interest in the game between the Blackhawks and the Detroit Red Wings doesn’t spark much of anything except a big ho-hum. Hockey fans already have snapped up about 41,000 tickets to the game—which in truth is a publicity stunt more than anything else.
In case you have not seen the television commercial, you can view it here.
Yes, I have received your emails, telling me about the Toews goal last night against the Wings. Yes, great goal, and yes, Dan Cleary, playing the roll of a defenceman on the play, looked silly.
from David Amber of ESPN,
Q: Last season, the NHL wanted to promote Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin at the Winter Classic. This season, it’s the defending champion Red Wings along with you and Toews under the media spotlight. What does that mean to you to be given that international platform to showcase your skills?
A: It’s cool. Right now, the league is being taken over by the young players. I don’t think people realize how tough it is to make it to the NHL at that age, so to be one of the young guys playing in a game like this makes you feel good. Things were tough last year when we were getting 7,000 or 8,000 fans to some home games; no one knew who you were. So this game really represents a total 180 from where we were.
Q: You mention how young players are dominating the league. If you were starting up an NHL franchise right now and could have any player, who do you take?
A: I don’t think you could go wrong with Alexander Ovechkin. He has so much passion for the game, and he loves to score. It would be fun to play with a guy like that, and he’s so fun to watch, so I’d go with him.
from Jeff Hale of Slap Shot at the NYT,
Hands up out there if you had Kris Versteeg of the Chicago Blackhawks as your candidate for the Calder Trophy this season.
Versteeg, 22, leads N.H.L. rookies in points (22), assists (15) and plus-minus (+13). Versteeg’s route to prominence was a long one. He has escaped major notice because he was drafted four years ago in the fifth round by Boston, who dealt him to Chicago for Brandon Bochenski in February 2007. The Bruins would probably love to redo that deal.
It’s possible that Versteeg’s main challenger could be just as unexpected. Steve Mason, 20, the goalie for the Columbus Blue Jackets, is 6-3-1 with a .917 save percentage and a 2.18 goals-against average. He also has two shutouts.
continued with some WHC and Phaneuf talk included.
Brian Campbell participated in a tele-conference today… Q. As David mentioned, Chicago is greatly improved on the power play this year. I think you are seventh in the league; whereas, they have not been in the top 20 in several years. Could you talk about the effectiveness of the first unit, and talk about how the coaches worked in other partners with you on the point and what’s been working the best.
BRIAN CAMPBELL: Well, we struggled out of the gate the first couple of games on the power play. And I think even until we found the right mix, it took a while. So over the last, probably 15 games maybe, we started to click pretty good.
Obviously it helps when Patty Kane is a year older and Jonathan Toews, and Patrick Sharp has his confidence going. And obviously on the point, I’ve worked with—we found to get on the right sides and everything with Cam Barker and myself on the one unit that we are using right now.
So, you know, I think for us, we have been finding knowing our areas where to go and finding holes and we know all of our options out there, I think that’s the biggest thing about a power play is to know where your options are at all times. For us, I don’t even have to look in a lot of instances and I know where guys are going to be in what areas.
You know, it’s good. You need that to be a playoff team. You need to be up there in special teams in those areas.
via Tim Sassone of Between the Circles,
It’s interesting that Marty Havlat skated on the third line at practice Tuesday with Dave Bolland and Andrew Ladd.
Are the Hawks preparing for life after Havlat? Maybe. There are rumors out there that Havlat might be the guy GM Dale Tallon tries to move to create cap space. Havlat makes $6 million and is an unrestricted free agent after the season.
Do the Hawks need Havlat to make the playoffs? Not if they think of him as a third-liner. Besides, if they are able to trade him Tallon could turn around and use that cash on a top-six forward or a defenseman, or both.
More and more, this is looking like the way to solve the cap problem - as long as Tallon can find a team that wants Havlat and as long as Havlat stays healthy.
from Fran Spielman of the Chicago Sun-Times,
Frigid fans jamming Wrigley Field won’t be the only ones cheering when the Blackhawks host the Detroit Red Wings on New Year’s Day for the NHL’s second Winter Classic.
They’ll be shouting from the rooftops, as well….
“It’s a fierce rivalry. Interest is very high and ticket prices are very high. There’s an opportunity for the rooftops to do some business,” said Tunney, who has introduced an ordinance authorizing rooftop clubs currently limited to Cubs home games to be open Jan. 1.
For more on the TV commercial, visit this post from earlier today.
from Tim Sassone of Between the Circles,
Paging Marty Havlet. Paging Marty Havlat. Please report to the front of the net.
OK, maybe that’s a bit harsh. And I like Marty, but where the heck was he on the six-game road trip that ended with a thud Saturday afternoon at Staples Center?...
Havlat is frustrating the Hawks and don’t be surprised if GM Dale Tallon starts shopping the winger, who is making $6 million to not be a difference maker. Havlat is going to be an unrestricted free agent after the season and there’s no way he will be asked back. No chance. None.
Up until now I thought the Hawks needed Havlat to make the playoffs, but now I don’t think they do. Maybe there’s a team out there that wants to take a chance on him and would offer a player in return. You just can’t give Havlat away at this point.
from Curtis Zupke of Ducks Blog at the OC Register,
The Register checked in with longtime Blackhawks beat writer Tim Sassone of the Daily Herald before Chicago came to Honda Center on Friday….
Q: Speaking of goaltending, Nikolai Khabibulin (above) has recently taken over the No.1 spot after he split time with Cristobal Huet, who was brought in during the offseason for $5.62 million. Is the goalie controversy settled or is this going to be a season-long issue?
A: It’s messy. That might be the best way to put it. When they signed Huet on July 1, it shocked everyone. Nobody saw that coming. As long as they couldn’t get rid of (Khabibulin), he’s been playing great … now they’re backed into a corner. You can’t trade him and you’ve got a $5 million goalie sitting on the bench
They’re just going to ride it out and see how long they can go this way.
more on the Blackhawks…
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 email@example.com