Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Jordan Heath-Rawlings of Sportsnet,
A newspaper headline in early May summed the situation up: “Mike Smith makes case for Canada’s 2014 Olympic team.” And somewhere, Patrick Roy, Ed Belfour or Brodeur did a spit-take with their morning cornflakes. Mike Smith? The 31-year-old laid out a biography that would, to put it politely, make him unique among NHLers who have worn the red-and-white in an Olympic crease in recent years: “I played a year in the East Coast League, four years in the minors and found my way to the NHL,” Smith reflected. “It was an endurance race for me. Not a sprint.” That a goalie with Smith’s modest pedigree can so easily join the discussion is a clear indication that the blue ice that once belonged to blue-chippers may now be an open competition, claimed by whoever enters February 2014 with the hottest glove hand.
So where does that leave Steve Yzerman’s Team Canada? Grasping at Crawfords. And Devan Dubnyks. And James Reimers. Good players all, and they might not be bad Olympic goalies. But there’s no evidence they’ll be great ones. It’s an uncomfortable feeling for Canadian hockey fans—but we should have seen it coming. Of the past 15 Vezina Trophy nominees, just three were Canadian—Steve Mason in 2009, Brodeur in 2010 and Luongo in 2011. The 2013 award marks the second straight year without a Canadian nomination, and the fifth without a win.
As a whole, the 36 Canadian netminders who made an NHL appearance this season combined for a 2.58 GAA and a .911 SP. The American, Russian, Finnish and Swedish goalie contingents all had better numbers. And Canadians were increasingly playing smaller roles. Though they made up 43.9 percent of NHL netminders, Canadians played just 38.5 percent of the games. (Finns, in contrast, represented 9.8 percent of goalies and played 14.4 percent of the games.) A decade ago, that wasn’t the case—the Czechs, thanks largely to the work of the sublime Dominik Hasek, were the only nation with comparable on-ice goaltending stats, and Canadians represented 57.1 percent of the goalies while playing 58 percent of the games. Two decades ago, there weren’t even enough non-Canadian goaltenders to make a fair comparison. It’s not just that Canada’s no longer the only fish in the pond, it’s that the other fish are growing rapidly.
from John Shannon of Sportsnet,
Firstly, major issues of insurance and travel appear to be resolved, or close to it. After all, that’s just the hard costs of doing business. The NHL’s request for increased access for it’s own media platforms appears also to be resolved. I’m told, the credit in gaining that access beyond the IOC should go to NBC. The NHL’s long-term partner, is also a major associate of the Olympic Committee. What’s good for the games, and good for the NHL is also good for NBC. Creating, and allowing, for opportunities for NHL.com and NHL Network in the United States only will enhance the game, and hopefully pay dividends in Sochi and beyond for NBC. This is a classic win-win-win situation.
It was suggested to me last week that two other issues are part of a chain of events tied to getting the Olympic deal done. One of them, the transfer agreements between all the European Hockey Federations, except Russia, and the NHL (fees for access to players) is also being down played as a parallel negotiation and not directly in conflict with Olympic negotiations. The other, may be a little more significant.
“But, the deal will get done.”
The National Hockey League has always been trying to advance its brand in Europe. Premiere games and GameCenter Live have begun to make inroads into hockey hot beds of Scandinavia, however the league has yet to capitalize in Russia, the home of the KHL and a massive television population. A domestic television deal in Russia could be worth millions of dollars, maybe over $100-million, in rights fees. A league source has acknowledged that a Russian television deal is very important to the NHL, and has been broached as part of the Olympic discussion.
from Andrew Podneiks of IIHF.com,
Switzerland scored first, but hosts Sweden dominated the last 55 minutes to become the first home team to win gold since 1986. It is the nation's ninth World Championship gold medal.
For the Swiss, it was their first loss of the tournament after nine straight wins and only their second silver medal ever after finishing runner-up in 1935, their highest finish at any IIHF international hockey event.
"We were able to match their intensity at the start," said Swiss defenceman Philippe Furrer. "We had a lot of chances but couldn't score, and they did."
continued and watch post-game comments from both teams below...
added 6:29pm, Gold game highlights added below too.
from John Sanful of IIHF.com,
They did it. In a semi-final game featuring two teams challenging history, Switzerland defeated Team USA 3-0 to advance forward to their first opportunity for gold since 1935.
Whatever the outcome in the final game against Sweden will be, it will be the first World Championship medal for the Swiss in exactly 60 years.
Nino Niederreiter’s second period goal and Reto Berra’s 29 saves led the Swiss side to its ninth consecutive win in this tournament. Switzerland remains unbeaten at the 2013 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship.
Watch highlights of the game below...
from Tony Gallagher of the Vancouver Province,
If you thought Edler had a brain-dead season this year — coughing up the puck and playing soft for a man of his tremendous physical abilities — you will be pleased to know that he at least tried to hit somebody in this one. Unfortunately for the Carolina Hurricanes and Eric Staal, it was a ridiculously lame hit on the Canadian forward’s knee in the first period of Thursday’s 3-2 Sweden victory. Edler got a major penalty and was ejected from the game, and rightfully so. Loads of people on Twitter joined the condemnation of the hit.
Staal went down as though he’d had his leg sawed off and if he doesn’t have a serious knee injury that will keep him out a long while, it will be nothing short of a miracle. Edler threw his stick in frustration as he left the ice, and whether he was upset with himself or the call isn’t known. The bonehead play certainly gives Canucks fans pause to ponder just where this guy’s career is going — given he hasn’t made a zot of progress under this coaching staff.
There have been suggestions that general manager Mike Gillis should move Edler before his new no-trade clause kicks in — and suggestions that this won’t be happening, because the organization promised they wouldn’t do that when they convinced him to take a hometown discount to remain with the club. So in all probability, the Canucks will try to keep their reputation as an honourable organization, and keep their word by keeping the player. But they’d better figure out a way to get this kid some help if they ever want to see any benefit from their $30-million investment.
Staal had to be helped off the ice and put no weight on his right leg after a knee-on-knee hit from Alex Edler in the first period of Canada/Sweden WC game today.
Edler received a major and a game misconduct.
added 3:05pm, thanks to CBSEyeOnHockey, watch the video below...
added 3:23pm, the video has been removed, hopefully the IIHF will have it up soon.
added 3:28pm, you can watch the hit at TSN.
added 6:17pm, the IIHF released video of the game, at the 15 second mark you can view the Staal incident...
added 8:36pm, a second video has been added below, one with better replays.
from Risto Pakarinen at IIHF.com,
Craig Smith had five assists, while team captain Paul Stastny scored two and added two assists, and John Gibson made 31 saves for the Americans. The 19-year-old, who led the U.S. to World Junior gold in January, came to Helsinki with only one professional game (for the AHL’s Norfolk Admirals) under his belt.
Alexander Ovechkin, who arrived yesterday, scored one and added an assist for Russia. He was selected as best player for his team.
"The team that was more disciplined and better organized won today. We have very good players, but you have to remember that hockey is a team game," Russia's coach Zinetula Bilyaletdinov said.
"We are where we wanted to be coming into this tournament," said the USA's Stephen Gionta. "We took care of what we had to to, and we got some bounces our way, which is always nice."
read on and watch the highlights below...
It’s astonishing how what was once a strength – Canada’s overall depth in goal – will now be its biggest question mark heading into the Olympics. You wonder, if the Chicago Blackhawks win the Stanley Cup and Corey Crawford has a good run, if his name doesn’t enter the conversation as well. Crawford and his partner Ray Emery had the best cumulative goals-against average in the league this year (1.98 to win the Jennings Trophy), but neither of them made it as a finalist in the Vezina trophy balloting.
-Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail. More on Canada's Olympic goalie situation plus a few more topics.
from Szymon Szemberg of IIHF.com,
When an Olympic ice hockey event is planned, there are many stakeholders involved. So at Friday’s meeting in downtown Stockholm there were representatives from the IOC, Sochi 2014 Organizing Committee, the National Olympic Committees, IIHF, IIHF Member National Associations, the NHL, and the NHL Players’ Association.
IIHF President René Fasel opened the meeting with the following encouraging words:
“We are working hard to putting together the last pieces to ensure NHL players’ participation in Sochi. We have some issues left, but I, as always, remain optimistic.”
Fasel did not mention a date for when a final agreement with the NHL/NHLPA needs be reached, but NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly echoed the optimism:
“We are proceeding under the assumption that the NHL will participate in Sochi. We are still working on important issues with the IIHF and the IOC, and subject to our board of governors’ consideration and approval, it remains the objective that Sochi will be the fifth consecutive Olympics with NHL participation and where the NHL shuts down for the duration of the Olympic tournament.”
from Andrew Podnieks of IIHF.com,
Reto Suri's second goal of the shootout, in the eighth round, gave Switzerland a 3-2 victory over Canada. It was their second win in the tournament after defeating Sweden on the opening day.
It was also just the second win for the Swiss in 28 all-time meetings with Canada stretching back to 1934.
"The key to our win was defense and being able to skate on the big ice," said Swiss forward Nino Niederreiter, who scored for the second straight game. "In the third period we were feeling that we could achieve something here and did not accept that it was 2-1 in their favour."
Canada (1-1) now has a day off before playing Norway on Tuesday. The Swiss (2-0) play tomorrow against the Czech Republic.
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.
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