Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Every season, I try to identify an “it” team. You know, that team that improves so much, or comes out of nowhere, etc.
Last season, I predicted the Washington Capitals would finally get back into the playoffs (so did my ESPN.com colleague Scott Burnside). OK, so it took until the final week of the regular season, but they did indeed make the big dance and were a great story around the league.
This season, I think it’s a no-brainer—the Edmonton Oilers.
from Derek Van Diest of the Edmonton Sun,
In his year and a half with Saint-Hyacinthe of the Quebec-based North American Hockey League, Sean McMorrow racked up an eye-popping, knuckle-bruising 693 penalty minutes.
He had 87 fights in 48 games last season, and is now trying to earn a job with the Edmonton Oilers.
“My first year of pro, I played with the Rochester Americans and I lead the AHL that year in fights with 41,” McMorrow said. “I never thought I would get more than that.
If you want to check out some of the fights Sean has been involved in, check out this YouTube page.
from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal,
But if you think the seriousness of the injury has made the power forward shy away from the heavy going, think again.
“You learn to play the game a certain way, and if that style’s been successful and you’ve come all this way, it’s hard to change,” Cole said earlier this week as he skated with several other NHLers at Kinsmen Arena, preparing for the opening of the Oilers’ main training camp on Friday, Sept. 19.
“I’ve always played a hard-nosed style.” Cole was apprehensive in his first playoff game after breaking his neck. His Carolina teammates had unexpectedly lost Game 5 of the final in overtime on Fernando Pisani’s short-handed goal and had to fly clear across the continent after coming tantalizingly close to winning the series on home ice.
“It wasn’t an ideal situation to play my first game,” confessed Cole.
from The Cult of Hockey,
The Oilers aren’t actively looking to make a trade right now, but do have their eye on one guy as a training camp invite. (Dan) Tencer (630CHED) guessed faceoff specialist Yanic Perreault, but Lowe shot that down and wouldn’t say who the player was.
Lowe said the team was looking for the right kind of enforcer, and this summer pursued Georqes Laraque and one other unnamed player, who went to another NHL team. “It’s got to be the right fit.”
Lowe said that tough guy Zack Stortini does put the fear of God into some people, but added, “Maybe not in Derek Boogaard and some of the heavyweights.”
more Oilers talk…
from David Staples of the Cult of Hockey at the Edmonton Journal,
Shawn Horcoff is under-rated no more in in his own hometown. The majority of Oilers fans have come to see the self-made player as an outstanding first liner, an all star, good enough to compete for a spot as a fourth line energy player on Team Canada at the 2010 Winter Olympics.
There is no aspect of the game that Horcoff hasn’t mastered: shooting, passing, skating, checking, faceoffs, defensive zone coverage. And the numbers prove it, according to Oilers fans at least.
But others aren’t so sure.
“I admire Zack because he’s an agitator and he fights ... it’s not easy doing both. But he knows he’s not a true heavyweight. He’s trying to fill a role and he does a good job at it. Man, he had 25 fights last year. Even in my rookie year as an Oiler, I never did that. I fought 16, 17 times, tops. People should admire Zack for doing what he’s doing. If everybody had his heart. ...
-Georges Laraque on Edmonton’s Zack Stortini. More from Laraque from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal.
from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal,
Moreau’s foot was broken and he says his heart ached too. “I missed the everyday competition, the camaraderie, being around the guys. Sometimes it’s good to sit back and re-evaluate things. It really teaches you a lesson how much you miss the game and how much you appreciate it,” he said.
Over the summer, he’s seen Jarret Stoll, Matt Greene, Raffi Torres and Joni Pitkanen leave and Erik Cole, Lubomir Visnovsky and Gilbert Brule come in. It’s up to the captain to steer the ship with new mates.
“We lost a lot of quality people,” he said. “A big piece of our dressing room is gone, but we added some high-end talent. Visnovksy is a world-class defenceman who puts up more points than almost anybody in the league. And Erik Cole is a Stanley Cup winner…
much more from Moreau…
from Mike Brophy of the Hockey News,
And if you are anything like me, these three teams are worth keeping an eye on:
Los Angeles Kings
Maybe it’s because I believe GM Dean Lombardi is on the right track, but I just hope ownership in Los Angeles has patience and allows Lombardi to follow through on building a team I believe is very close to being a competitor.
read on and the other teams are Edmonton and Phoenix…
from David Staples at the Cult of Hockey,
Lowe’s sweet tooth is for players who are heading into the non-peak years of their careers.
In recent times, Lowe has ardently pursued such players as Laraque, Michael Nylander, Ryan Malone, Marian Hossa and Sheldon Souray.
These players have two things in common:
1. They were all, once, outstanding contributors in the NHL.
2. They are all either on the wrong side of 30, or are soon going to be, and thus are heading into the years of their NHL careers where they are much more likely to be broken down and injured, playing far below their peak level of play.
If you look closely at Hossa’s play, he is already falling off, as Jonathan Willis reported at Copper & Blue. At even strength, Ales Hemsky outscored Hossa on a per minutes basis last year. “This is a guy talked about as an elite producer, and he simply isn’t,” Willis said of Hossa.
more as related to the Oilers…
From the Vancouver Sun,
Vancouver police are investigating a hit-and-run that may have involved the captain of the Edmonton Oilers hockey team.
Media is reporting Ethan Moreau was a passenger in a vehicle involved in a collision that occurred downtown very early on Thursday, Aug. 14.
Const. Jana McGuinness, a spokeswoman for the Vancouver police, wouldn’t confirm the hockey player was in a vehicle that backed into a motorcycle shortly after midnight on the 800-block of Burrard Street.
Update 4:33pm ET: From Sportsnet, confirmation—
Alan Watt, vice-president of communications for the Oilers, confirmed to Sun Media that Moreau was in the vehicle but that he was not the driver.
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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