Kukla's Korner

Kukla's Korner Hockey

Category: Florida-Panthers

Turnaround in Tampa Starts at the Top

Before a single tweak to the roster, the Tampa Bay Lightning were already poised for improvement in 2010-11. With the tumultuous era of previous ownership already behind them when the sale of the team to Jeff Vinik was completed late last season, gone in an instant were any and all off-ice concerns and the circus went back to being an annual visitor to the St. Pete Times Forum rather than a permanent resident. With the appointment of Steve Yzerman as general manager, credibility returned to the franchise and new head coach Guy Boucher was widely regarded as the hottest commodity on the off-season coaching market.

Without a solitary player move, hockey life in Tampa was good again.

But far be it from Yzerman to rest on the comfort that fans surely feel by him simply not being one of those other guys. The addition of former Flyers forward Simon Gagne headlines a list of shrewd off-season maneuvers for the rookie GM and the revamped roster could very well translate to the sort of on-ice success that will make Lightning followers quickly forgot about three non-playoff seasons gone by.

 

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Filed in: NHL Teams, Anaheim Ducks, Atlanta Thrashers, Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders, Ottawa Senators, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: alex+tanguay, andrej+meszaros, antero+niittymaki, antti+niemi, blair+jones, brad+richards, brett+clark, brett+connolly, carter+ashton, cedrick+desjardins, chris+durno, dan+ellis, dana+tyrell, dominic+moore, dustin+tokarski, eric+perrin, guy+boucher, james+wright, jaroslav+janus, jeff+vinik, johan+harju, kevin+quick, khl, kurtis+foster, lady+byng+trophy, marc+pouliot, mark+barberio, mark+parrish, martin+st.+louis, matt+lashoff, matt+walker, mattias+ohlund, mike+smith, mitch+fadden, nate+thompson, nhl+awards, nhl+previews, niklas+persson, paul+szczechura, pavel+kubina, radko+gudas, randy+jones, richard+panik, riku+helenius, rocket+richard+trophy, ryan+craig, ryan+malone, sean+bergenheim, sidney+crosby, simon+gagne, simon+gagne, stephane+veilleux, steve+downie, steve+yzerman, teddy+purcell, training+camp, traverse+city+prospects+tournament, ty+wishart, victor+hedman, vincent+lecavalier, vladimir+mihalik, zenon+konopka

Facing a Decade Without the Playoffs, Florida’s Rebuild Goes On and On

Futility in Sunrise has persisted for far too long, with the Florida Panthers on the brink of a dubious record after nine consecutive non-playoff seasons. Incoming general manager Dale Tallon has moved quickly in putting his stamp on the team with several transactions since taking over, but nothing to this point appears bold enough to turn his club from last season’s Southeast Division cellar dwellers into a postseason participant.

Sadly, more patience may be in order for long-suffering Panthers fans.

Even so, all is not lost for the NHL’s southernmost franchise, with several key pieces already in place for the future (and others right around the corner) and it isn’t as though the current roster is without talent as is. Still, a couple of major stumbling points remain for the Panthers. The 24 games they will play versus fellow Southeast clubs, three of whom look to be vastly improved and the fourth being the stalwart Washington Capitals, certainly won’t help and the expiring contracts for defenseman Bryan McCabe and goaltender Tomas Vokoun will have to be dealt with (and quite possibly dealt altogether), without either situation becoming a distraction.

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Filed in: NHL Teams, Atlanta Thrashers, Boston Bruins, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Florida Panthers, San Jose Sharks, Tampa Bay Lightning, Vancouver Canucks, Washington Capitals, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: andrew+peters, bryan+allen, bryan+mccabe, chris+higgins, dale+tallon, david+booth, dennis+wideman, dmitry+kulikov, erik+gudbranson, gregory+campbell, jacob+markstrom, jason+garrison, kamil+kreps, keith+ballard, marty+reasoner, michael+grabner, michael+repik, nathan+horton, nathan+paetsch, scott+clemmensen, shawn+matthias, stephen+weiss, steve+bernier, tomas+vokoun

Carolina’s Push Toward Youth is Both Promising and Perilous

The future is now in Carolina, where the old guard is out, an influx of youth is taking over and everyone is looking to put the injury-plagued woes that ruined things a season ago far, far behind them.

With the retirement of former captain Rod Brind’Amour symbolizing the changing of the guard in Raleigh, which started with Eric Staal succeeding Brind’Amour as team captain in January last season, the process of remolding the club is well underway. The 25-year-old Staal will have some veteran support in his first full year wearing the ‘C’ but Carolina’s heavy reliance on several key youngsters is a make-or-break formula for success this season. If the kids collectively respond to the challenge, the ‘Canes have enough going for them to cause trouble in the Southeast and surprise a lot of people. Some growing pains are sure to be felt, however, in such a transitional year for the franchise and immediate success probably takes a back seat to more long-term achievements.

Avoiding the injury bug has to be high on the list of priorities for a club that holds the unfortunate distinction of hitting the 300 man-games lost to injury milestone a year ago.

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Filed in: NHL Teams, Atlanta Thrashers, d, Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: anton+babchuk, bobby+sanguinetti, brandon+sutter, brett+carson, bryan+pothier, cam+ward, chad+larose, drayson+bowman, eric+staal, erik+cole, jared+staal, jay+harrison, jeff+skinner, jerome+samson, jim+rutherford, jiri+tlusty, joe+corvo, jonathan+matsumoto, jussi+jokinen, justin+peters, nhl+entry+draft, nhl+previews, oskar+osala, patrick+o'sullivan, ray+whitney, riley+nash, rod+brind'amour, southeast+division, tim+conboy, tim+gleason, tuomo+ruutu, zach+boychuk

Post-Kovalchuk Thrashers Deep on ‘D’, Look to New Faces and Young Guns for Offense

For the Atlanta Thrashers, a team with just one playoff appearance in ten National Hockey League seasons (and not a single post-season victory to their credit), the time for a fresh start was clearly at hand.

By first turning a negative into a positive in moving on from superstar sniper Ilya Kovalchuk late last season and then raiding the cabinet of the cap-crunched Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks, Atlanta begins their new era, under both a new general manager and head coach in Rick Dudley and Craig Ramsay, with a wealth of promising youth and several veterans with recent championship experience.

They may no longer boast an individual showstopper but that formula wasn’t producing a consistent winner in Blueland anyway (and that alone rarely does as much anywhere). The post-Kovalchuk Thrashers appear to be headed for greener pastures, though there will be that little issue of replacing his 45+ goals, of course.

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Filed in: NHL Teams, Atlanta Thrashers, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Florida Panthers, New Jersey Devils, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: akim+aliu, alex+burmistrov, andrew+ladd, arters+kulda, ben+eager, boris+valabik, brent+sopel, bryan+little, carl+klingberg, chris+mason, christoph+schubert, clarke+macarthur, colby+armstrong, craig+ramsay, dustin+byfuglien, evander+kane, freddy+meyer, fredrik+modin, fredrik+pettersson, ilya+kovalchuk, johan+hedberg, johnny+oduya, mark+popovic, martin+brodeur, marty+reasoner, matt+cooke, maxim+afinogenov, nhl+previews, niclas+bergfors, nigel+dawes, nikolai+antropov, ondrej+pavelec, patrice+cormier, paul+postma, pavel+kubina, rich+peverley, rick+dudley, ron+hainsey, southeast+division, spencer+machacek, tobias+enstrom, todd+white, zach+bogosian

Training Camp Just Around The Corner

from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,

Training camps open around the NHL later this week and some burning questions come to mind.

Among them has to be David Booth, the Florida Panthers star winger who was limited to 28 games last season after suffering a pair of concussions. How is he faring now?

“He’s healthy as a horse,” Panthers GM Dale Tallon told ESPN.com on Monday morning. “We’ll keep our fingers crossed. We need him to be healthy. It’s exciting, tough. He’s good to go.”

continued plus more hockey topics…

Filed in: NHL Teams, Florida Panthers, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: david+booth

Raw Charge’s Five Questions for JJ

The staff at SB Nation’s Raw Charge finishes up their Five Questions, Five Answers series today with my responses to their Southeast Division inquries.

Check out the entire piece here, as well as the previous two installments, featuring my The Bolts Beat co-host, Mike Corcoran and Pete Choquette from Bolt Prospects.

As I touched on in closing out this interview, this division as a whole is on the upswing, making the timing of my expanded coverage even more exciting.

Enjoy the Q&A here… And, please, pay my friends at Raw Charge a well-deserved visit.

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Filed in: NHL Teams, Atlanta Thrashers, Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: andrej+meszaros, boris+valabik, brandon+sutter, brent+sopel, brett+clark, bryan+allen, bryan+little, cam+ward, cory+stillman, dmitry+kulikov, dominic+moore, drayson+bowman, dustin+byfuglien, evander+kane, freddy+meyer, jason+garrison, jeff+vinik, jiri+tlusty, johnny+oduya, keaton+ellerby, maxim+afinogenovbryan+mccabe, michael+frolik, nathan+paetsch, niklas+bergfors, patrice+cormier, pavel+kubina, randy+jones, rich+peverley, ron+hainsey, rostislav+olesz, sean+bergenheim, shawn+matthias, simon+gagne, simon+gagne, stephen+weiss, steve+reinprecht, steve+yzerman, tobias+enstrom, tomas+vokoun, zach+bogosian, zach+boychuk

No Longer The South-Worst

from Adam Proteau of The Hockey News,

I’ve got a feeling - no, not that tonight is going to be a good night - but rather, that the Southeast will be the most fun (and least predictable) division in the league this year.

The Washington Capitals stand out as the runaway favorites to repeat as division champs, but after that, no team is a lock to make the playoffs.

The expectations for the Florida Panthers are rightfully diminished, but after the shocking performances of Phoenix and Colorado last season, even the Cats can’t be counted out.

The Tampa Bay Lightning have been picked by many pundits (including me) to reverse their downward trajectory and make the playoffs. Yet until their reconfigured defense corps and goaltending platoon prove themselves worthy of the affection, there will be cause for skepticism.

The Carolina Hurricanes were one of the better teams during the league in the latter half of the 2009-10 campaign, but some still question their depth, overall team experience and ownership’s focus on keeping salary costs in line with its internal budget.

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Filed in: NHL Teams, Atlanta Thrashers, Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

JJ Presents: Beasts of the Southeast

And so it begins…

Sure, I’ve been popping my head in the door sporadically around here since early August but it’s high time we kicked things off in proper fashion.

9/1/2010 officially marks the dawning of the JJ at KK era and the month of September officially means a new hockey season is right around the corner. Players are skating informally, training camps are just a few short weeks away and, before we know it, the puck will drop on the 2010-11 NHL season (returning balance to The Force and bringing puckheads everywhere back down from the ledge).

With this fresh start for me comes a fresh assignment, as I’ve been tasked not only to continue bringing you Tampa Bay Lightning news and opinion but also to chime in on all things happening throughout the Southeast Division.

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Filed in: NHL Teams, Atlanta Thrashers, Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Pointing At Dale Tallon

from Barry Rozner of the Chicago Daily Herald,

Dale Tallon should get all the credit for finding and drafting the talent that brought a Cup to Chicago, and for that we should be grateful.

But the dismantling of the team also is on the shoulders of Tallon, who was incapable of looking into the future and seeing what he was doing to the payroll, when it was so painfully obvious to the rest of the league.

And only those slurping Kool-Aid by the tanker-full during the Tallon era didn’t see the incompetence, unwilling to admit there was no plan in place.

That’s right. There was no plan in place, a staggering failure to properly manage a team, and the consequence of overspending was a difficult summer of watching so many players sent away or set free.

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Filed in: NHL Teams, Chicago Blackhawks, Florida Panthers, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: dale+tallon

The Improving Southeast Division

from Katie Carrera of Capitals Insider,

Every team in the division has gotten better,” Coach Bruce Boudreau said. “The 24 games we play within the division are not going to be easy for us. For the most part, we’re a very similar team to what we were, so they will know what they’re facing whereas, with some of these teams that have changed more than the others, we’re facing the unknown.”

No team may have altered the landscape more than Tampa Bay as new owner Jeff Vinik brought in Steve Yzerman, who has simultaneously bolstered the franchise’s credibility while overhauling its on- and off-ice personnel in his first few months as general manager.

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Filed in: NHL Teams, Atlanta Thrashers, Carolina Hurricanes, Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

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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 pk@kuklaskorner.com

 

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