Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Marty Klinkenberg of the Globe and Mail,
A buff 36-year-old in a T-shirt and shorts stands at the front. A hockey star in a hockey town, defenceman Andrew Ference has been the captain of the Edmonton Oilers since joining them as a free agent in 2013. Unusual for a professional athlete, he works to bring attention to the matters he is passionate about: the environment, human rights and physical fitness.
Upon arriving in Edmonton, he began staging free workout sessions and invited everyone to come. They happen three mornings a week, with Wednesday reserved for running stairs at the home stadium of the Canadian Football League’s Eskimos.
This week, Mr. Ference begins by instructing everyone to find someone they don’t know and give them a hug. Someone’s sweet-tempered pit bull runs among them, wagging and barking in a studded collar and an Oilers kerchief.
A few minutes later, as the sky brightens, the group files into the empty stadium and bounds up the stairs.
Those waiting at the back of the line exercise their legs by bouncing up and down.
“It’s a great morning,” says Mr. Ference’s sister Jen, who helps organize the free gatherings with her hockey-playing younger brother. It is not quite 6 a.m. and she is cheerful.
“There is great energy here,” she says. “So many people want to get up early.”
“When I have a chance now, I have to shoot, for sure. You can’t just play the game just for shots. You can make smart plays with a pass.
“But I look at a guy like Ovi (Alex Ovechkin), the best scorer in the world. Everyone knows they have to give it to Ovi.”
-Nail Yakupov of the Edmonton Oilers. More on Yakupov from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal.
“Before our first scrimmage the other day, before the puck was even dropped, I heard the other team say: ‘Keep your head up, McDavid’. I think it was one of the Stewart brothers (Chris or Anthony). For sure, he’ll get a lot of that. And with good reason. When you have the skill set he has, and you can do the damage he thinks he should be able to do, he’ll earn that attention.”
-Mike Cammalleri of the New Jersey Devils on Connor McDavid at the BioSteel Camp. More by Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun on McDavid and other topics including player talking about the ads on sweaters.
from Derek Van Diest at NHL.com,
There are a number of factors that will determine the Oilers' fortunes. Here are the three biggest questions for Edmonton heading into the season:
Will Connor McDavid live up to expectations? Not since Sidney Crosby has a player garnered as much attention entering the NHL. McDavid is considered a generational talent, and the focus heading into his rookie season will be on his offensive production. Crosby had 39 goals and 102 points as a rookie with the Pittsburgh Penguins, which might be lofty goals for McDavid.
"My expectations on myself exceed any of those put on me," McDavid said at the draft. "It's something I can't really worry about. Just have to worry about making sure I'm playing my game and doing all that. If I'm meeting my expectations, chances are I'll meet yours as well."
McDavid will have a strong supporting cast, including No. 1 picks Taylor Hall, Ryan Nugent-Hopkins and Nail Yakupov, which should take some pressure off him.
“We just found ourselves in a place we don’t want to be. It’s going to be a workout time. We had a change when we brought Cam in and Charlie, and they wanted a change. They thought we needed a change. They thought it was the right move for the franchise. I think Peter is a great human being and a great hockey mind. And I think he’s going to prosper out west (in Edmonton). He’s got a great young team there. We were not in the same position. It’s a cap environment we find ourselves in here and you’ve got to look to the future. If you watch the success of the Chicago team, and I do admire them quite a bit, they dealt with their high-priced players early on and the kept creating room. Every year, there was a change, not too unlike the change we see here (this year). We see some great players going elsewhere. Even to this year, you see very successful teams have met that problem. We didn’t deal with it in a timely enough manner and we found ourselves in a cap position that wasn’t attractive for us.”
-Jeremy Jacobs, owner of the Boston Bruins on ex-GM Peter Chiarell. More on the Bruins from Steve Conroy of the Boston Herald.
from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal,
Ryan Smyth, who bled Edmonton Oilers orange and blue for close to 1,000 games before retiring as a player, is keen to get back to hockey.
After taking a season to decompress and spend time with his family following his final game in the spring of 2014, Smyth said Monday he’s interested in reconnecting with the Oilers.
“I would like to sit down with (Oilers Entertainment Group chief executive officer) Bob Nicholson and see what they’re thinking,” Smyth said. I want to be involved in hockey but I don’t know in what capacity.”
The Oilers aren’t commenting, but there are options they could consider in the short term.
Having the heart-and-soul Smyth at Oilers’ training camp as, say, a guest instructor could help the young forwards learn about getting position in front of the net and along the boards — an area that’s been lacking.
The Oilers also have to increase their team battle level, which was always Smyth’s best trait through 970 games as an Oiler, as well as his stops on Long Island, Colorado and with the Los Angeles Kings.
from Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun,
Two things unlocked the key to Sather’s banner box to finally allow him the chance to go up there with the rest of the Edmonton Oilers glory gang Hockey Hall of Fame members in the arena where it all happened.
Kicking himself upstairs from GM to president of the New York Rangers combined with 2015-16 being the Oiler final season in Rexall Place made it perfect.
When the schedule came out this year it was a pretty good bet that Dec. 11 would be the day when the Glen Sather banner would finally get raised at Rexall when the Rangers visit Edmonton.
Monday, with new organization boss Bob Nicholson standing in the background, Kevin Lowe, the first player Sather drafted, was accorded the honour of standing in front of the Wayne Gretzky statue at Rexall Place to make the announcement.
“It’s been a long time coming. Now that Glen is not the general manager anymore we can honour him for all the great things he did,” said Lowe, now Oilers Entertainment Group Vice Chair.
“It was never in doubt. It was a question of timing.
(EDMONTON) – The Edmonton Oilers announced today they will be raising a banner in Rexall Place to salute the achievements of legendary coach, general manager and executive Glen Sather.
Fans attending the Edmonton Oilers December 11, 2015 game versus the New York Rangers will be part of a special night, as the Oilers welcome back Sather and honour his leadership that resulted in five Stanley Cup Championships for the organization.
from Jonathan Willis of the Edmonton Journal,
The Oilers’ agreement on a one-year contract with Justin Schultz yesterday has had an interesting side effect, opening up a second buyout window for the team if it desires to dump a contract. There are arguments both for and against such a course, with the most common argument against being fiscal: Why prolong the years that Edmonton needs to pay Nikita Nikitin and/or Andrew Ference when those players’ deals will end shortly anyway?
In most summers, that would be a strong argument. In the summer of 2015, however, some unique circumstances have arisen that render it moot.
This might be the best free agent buyers’ market since the arrival of the salary cap. Players have signed almost uniformly for reasonable dollars, and more than two weeks into free agency there are still plenty of quality players unsigned.
Cody Franson is still on the market. A 28-year-old, 6’5”, right-shooting rearguard who contributes on both special teams and plays tough minutes at even-strength, Franson would be a superb addition for the Oilers and would check off a bunch of boxes. Before free agency began, we had noted him as a priority target; remarkably he’s still unsigned.
Christian Ehrhoff is also unsigned, and reportedly even willing to agree to a one-year deal.
added 3:01pm, Edmonton release is below....
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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