Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
• Can Team Canada find a way to sneak Steven Stamkos on to the Olympic roster, if only to play the power play? He leads all NHL players with 13 power-play goals.
• With the Sedin brothers leading hockey’s dominant line, Henrik Lundqvist in goal, the steady influence of Niklas Lidstrom on defence and Daniel Alfredsson and Henrik Zetterberg getting healthy at the right time, why aren’t more people considering Sweden a real threat for hockey gold in Vancouver?
• Don Waddell said he wanted a top-six forward and a top-four defenceman and he came away with Niclas Bergfors and Johnny Oduya? And you wonder why the Thrashers have never won a playoff round.
a few more hockey notes…
from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
Members of Sweden’s Olympic hockey team politely insist that even though they have 13 holdovers from the squad that won gold at Turin and will supplement that group with a crop of brilliant youngsters, they’re hardly a sure shot to repeat as champions in Vancouver.
“I don’t know if we’ll be considered the favorite no matter what we do,” defenseman Niklas Kronwall said. “I think Canada and Russia are the ones that people are talking about the most.”...
Team captain Nicklas Lidstrom, the imperturbable defenseman who has been a pillar of strength for the Red Wings and Team Sweden, dismissed the notion that the Tre Kronor—so named because of the three crowns on the front of the team’s jerseys—will be overconfident when the tournament begins Feb. 16.
“I think we like our situation that we’re not one of the main favorites. I think that suits us well,” said Lidstrom, one of nine Swedes and only 22 players ever whose resume includes a title at the Olympics, the world championships and the Stanley Cup finals.
“Even though we’re going to be the defending Olympic champs, I think the pressure will still be on the top two teams, Russia and Canada.”
Canadian fans- You can now post your own video to the Nike Training FanPage and earn a chance to have your message included with those of the Nike athletes in the final kick-off video.
The end result: a video that shares the voices of Olympians, athletes and Canadians alike. The goal of this is not just to kick-off the games but unite the voice of the country and provide the ability for kids across the nation to join the movement and have a voice during this epic time.
Michael Farber spoke with Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper as part of his Olympic hockey preview for Sports Illustrated.
SI.com: How much pressure will Canada’s men’s hockey team be facing if it plays in the gold medal game?
Harper: It would be incredible pressure. I can’t offhand think of anything in any country where any team would be under such universal expectation of a gold and nothing less ... practically from four years before the event. It’s a big deal, to all of us.
SI.com: A French philosopher wrote that to understand the heart and mind of America, you had to understand baseball. Is that true of hockey and Canada?
Harper: There are parallels. You have in both cases a sport that was developed uniquely within that society, recognizing of course that these are also, in a sense, invented societies, coming into existence in recorded history….
“It’s definitely tough news when you find out you’re not going to be playing hockey for four to six months.
“In the end it’s not an easy thing missing the Olympics—an opportunity like that doesn’t come around very often—but more importantly the Leafs have made a commitment to me and the best thing at this point is to have this surgery and have it take care of by arguably one of the best shoulder guys.”
-Mike Komisarek of the Toronto Maple Leafs and Team USA. More from Jonas Siegel of am640.
from Greg Wyshynski of PuckDaddy,
The Wings said yesterday that Franzen’s target date for a return is next Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues, putting his rehab time at the minimum of four months and potentially giving him three games before the Olympic break. Then he can put his feet up on the coffee table and do whatever it is a guy nicknamed the Mule does to relax for a few weeks, having been left off the Team Sweden Olympic roster.
That snub didn’t exactly sit well with Franzen. In speaking with Swedish newspaper Expressen (article hilariously translated here, including the phrase “it feels a little sandbox on the whole”), Franzen said Team Sweden officials “made a mistake and they want to hide it” after keeping him off the roster.
According to the admittedly rough translation, the paper previously reported that Swedish head coach Bengt-Ake Gustafsson hadn’t spoken to Franzen since November and that the team didn’t consult Detroit doctors about his injury rehab.
from Bill Beacon of the CP at CTVOlympics,
When Mike Babcock landed his first full-time job as a hockey coach, what he was really looking for was a free trip to the Calgary Stampede.
It started in 1988 when then 25-year-old Babcock returned home to Saskatoon for the summer after a season as player-coach of the Whitley Warriors in England.
“I wanted to go to the Calgary Stampede and a free way (to get) there was to apply for a job coaching at Red Deer College, so that’s what I did,’’ he said during a recent interview. “I went to the Stampede and then I had my interview at Red Deer and I said to myself, ‘I’m going to get the job.’
“That’s what happened, and it went from there.’‘
from Sean Fitz-Gerald of the CP at the Globe and Mail,
Toronto Maple Leafs defenceman Mike Komisarek is facing the possibility of having his season come to a premature end, with his immediate future hinging on another meeting with medical personnel Wednesday.
The 28-year-old has been sidelined since Jan. 2 with an undisclosed upper-body injury, which has been widely reported as a shoulder. His spot on the U.S. Olympic team is also hanging in the balance.
“I’ve tried not to think too much about it,” Komisarek said Tuesday. “If you dwell too much on something like that, you sort of lose track of the focus and what you need to be doing. I’ve been working hard with the strength coach and been talking with the doctors a lot, doing exactly what I need to do to get back.”
He acknowledged the possibility of having to end his season.
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
All season long, Brian Burke has remained steadfast in his support of head coach Ron Wilson – and that’s a good thing.
Few coaches have a fair shot at success – or survival – without the explicit backing of their GM.
Still, some have suggested repeatedly, and snidely, that only Wilson’s position as head coach of the U.S Olympic team, with Burke also his boss there, has protected him from dismissal.
The implied accusation is that Burke is putting the welfare of the American team ahead of the needs of the Leafs.
It certainly has created a peculiar dynamic and Wilson’s overt praise of various U.S. Olympians in recent days has made it even more uncomfortable as the fortunes of the Leafs have plummeted.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail at CTVOlympics,
Think Canada has a monopoly on player selection controversies? Or is the only country immersed in discussion about who will play where during the men’s 2010 Winter Olympics hockey tournament?
It’s just as bad - and maybe worse - in Russia, which has the added complication of balancing players from its own domestic league (the Continental Hockey League or KHL) as well as its stars in the NHL.
Politics is the stepchild of modern international hockey, and so for the Vancouver Games, the Russians opted for nine players from the KHL, and the rest from the NHL.
If Washington Capitals goaltender Semyon Varlamov is dropped for injury reasons, the third goalie to play behind Ilya Bryzgalov of the Phoenix Coyotes and Evgeni Nabokov of the San Jose Sharks is expected to come from the KHL.
Even though Russian coach Slava Bykov is considered a progressive leader, he adopted one of the principles from the old Soviet days and will play four five-man units.
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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