Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun,
While the spotlight entering the final two weeks of the NHL regular season is focused squarely on the enticing playoff races in both conferences, there are a handful of general managers and coaches who are primed for a blindfold and last cigarette.
And the reading of the last rites, of course.
Indeed, there is no shortage of men who are playing out the string over the next 14 days, all the while knowing that their tenure with their respective teams is coming to an inevitable end.
Whether it be the Leafs, Sharks, Flyers, Bruins, Devils, Sabres, Blues, etc., there are axes being sharpened throughout the league, poised to come down as part of various housecleanings going on from coast to coast.
And, according to one Eastern Conference executive, the catalyst for many of the ensuing moves could be Mike Babcock.
continued with a look at teams who could use Mike Babcock's services...
Watch the goal below...
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
Until Mike Babcock commits to the Detroit Red Wings going forward, the Maple Leafs are of the belief there remains a considerable chance he will be their coach next season.
They are of the mind — and you can doubt this all you want, and I have — that in Babcock’s world of decision making it’s Detroit first, Toronto second, everywhere else after that.
The notion that Babcock wants no part of a rebuild is dismissed by MLSE upper sources. They believe Babcock has the mentality of a mountain climber. He loves the great challenge. And this is comparable to being at the base of the impossible mountain.
“This is a man who loves challenges,” said an MLSE source. “What challenge in hockey is bigger than this?”
continued plus more topics...
from Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News,
Stars Head Coach Lindy Ruff
On tonight’s game:
“Tough one to lose. We played our hearts out.”
On twice losing a two-goal lead:
“Goligoski had a stick between his legs and was dumped and your goaltender gets cross-checked into the net.”
On Kari Lehtonen being hit in the crease on Detroit’s sixth goal:
“It’s inexcusable. There’s no explanation, it’s inexcusable and it ruined a hell of a hockey game. Bottom line.”
Here is the game tying sixth goal by Pavel Datsyuk.
Below, watch the highlights from this entertaining game...
from Darren Dreger of The Dreger Report,
The Detroit Red Wings success this season is a surprise to many. Detroit is in transition and supposedly in the midst of renovation to once again build this team into a Stanley Cup contender. However, the Eastern Conference standings tell a different story. The Red Wings are a top-five club in the East and comfortably in a playoff spot with two-thirds of the NHL regular season already in the bank.
It wasn't supposed to be like this. Detroit fans braced for darker days ahead at the start of the season. The organization was honest with its faithful followers talking openly about opportunity for young players to take on a bigger role. Gustav Nyquist, Tomas Tatar, Riley Sheahan and Danny DeKeyser: all developing talents believed to be ready for more, are also protected by their inexperience and a managed level of expectation this club has definitely surpassed.
There is promise in this young group. Emerging stars like Tatar and Nyquist have dazzled on many a night. However, the architects of this transition won't be fooled. Yes, there's a chance Red Wings general manager Ken Holland trades for the defenceman we have speculated on for a year or more, but there's also an equally strong chance Holland does nothing, or very little, to give his club better footing beyond the Mar. 2 trade deadline.
continued plus more topics...
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
He walked on his own from the shadows and into the spotlight to his place at the table of honor.
Though the steps might have been slow, maybe little more than a shuffle, they were nonetheless the steps of a giant.
And in the end, as the crowd in his hometown rose as one to celebrate one of the greatest athletes of all time, we should have expected nothing less from Mr. Hockey, Gordie Howe.
"He knew what was going on. I could see it in his eyes," Hall of Famer Bobby Hull told a trio of reporters shortly after Howe was honored by the Saskatoon Kinsmen at their annual sports celebrity dinner.
As the event came to a close, Wayne Gretzky stood with Howe on the stage in the middle of a jam-packed ballroom and delivered a check for $25,000 for Alzheimer's research. The two hockey legends stood shoulder to shoulder with the crowd of 1,500 again on its feet, and Gretzky talked of his affection for the entire Howe family.
And then, as if to punctuate the evening, Gretzky said of Howe: "He was, is and will always be the greatest hockey player of all time."
“Athletes are no different than anything else. Sometimes you have bad days and kids walk away saying, ‘It wasn’t as great as I thought it was going to be.
“For me, every time I look at the picture I always have the same thoughts. He couldn’t have been nicer, better or bigger when I met him than I thought he was going to be. Every time I look at the picture or sign the picture, it’s nothing but great memories.”
-Wayne Gretzky on meeting and taking the now famous picture with Gordie Howe. More from Gretzky on Gordie Howe by Daniel Nugent-Bowman of the StarPhoenix.
The 55th Annual Kinsmen Sports Celebrity Dinner will hold a live news conference in Saskatoon where the club is honouring hockey legend Gordie Howe on Friday. Catch it live on Sportsnet, sportsnet.ca and Sportsnet 590 The Fan.
Wayne Gretzky is expected to be in attendance at the news conference, as well as Mark and Howe, Bobby Hull, Brett Hull and Kelly Chase.
The Kinsmen Sports Celebrity Dinner will be Mr. Hockey’s last public appearance.
Watch below... Conference scheduled to begin at 11:30am ET.
from Mark Kiszla of the Denver Post,
On his home ice, surrounded by thousands of Detroit fans that covered the Pepsi Center in a sea of red, young Avalanche star Nathan MacKinnon dropped his gloves and fought for the franchise's lost glory.
Less than a minute after the opening faceoff, there was MacKinnon taking punches in the face from Red Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson. Ericsson had run MacKinnon roughshod into the boards, and the 19-year-old Colorado forward was not about to be bullied.
"It was in the heat of the moment, for sure," MacKinnon told me Thursday, admitting that he decided on fisticuffs to settle the dispute. "Right now, I don't feel like fighting anybody. But, it was a big game, and I asked him to fight. He said yes. It was fun."
MacKinnon did what hockey players do: He traded fists to prove his manhood. MacKinnon battled in the grand tradition of the blood feud between the Avalanche and Red Wings....
As the arena shook with an approving roar from a crowd with a lust for blood, here's what struck me: Is a teenager really the toughest man that Roy has got to stand up for team pride? And is MacKinnon really the best shot the Avalanche has of overcoming a wretched start to kick in the back door to the playoffs?
Watch the fight below...
"I thought their shot clock was screwed up. When we hit the net it's supposed to count (as a shot), when they miss the net it's not supposed to count. We (won't) worry about that. The NHL can figure that out."
-Mike Babcock, head coach of the Detroit Red Wings on the Florida Panther's shot clock. More on the Wings and their pnealty kill problems from Ansar Khan of Mlive.
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