Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Rich Hammond of LA Kings Insider,
After a strong start, and some balanced scoring, things started to break down for the Kings’ forwards when the second line stopped its torrid production pace. In the first few weeks of the season, Jarret Stoll, Ryan Smyth and Justin Williams arguably made up the Kings’ “top line,” even though Anze Kopitar and Dustin Brown — and the spinning wheel o’left wingers — was also producing. The Kings, with scoring lines that were essentially 1A and 1B, were hard to match up against, and both lines had players capable of being on the ice for 20-plus minutes per game.
The problem came when the second line dipped a bit, and was broken up by Terry Murray. For the most part, Brown and Kopitar kept scoring, and Smyth has exceeded expectations, but Williams has been uneven after a white-hot start and Stoll’s numbers have essentially fallen off the table after an outstanding first six weeks.
General Manager Dean Lombardi, on an Eastern scouting trip, missed this game. If he can’t bring back a productive forward he’d best bring home another idea for salvaging a season that started so well but is headed steadily downhill.
-Helene Elliott of the LA Times after the Kings lost to the Leafs last night.
It’s never a cinch to select the rosters for an All-Star game in any sport and, with a bizarre “fantasy draft” format for this year’s NHL midseason showcase and the game’s first six participants already selected via fan balloting, filling out this season’s All-Star pool of 42 has some added challenge to it, to say the least.
For starters, dividing things by conference is no longer a provision, as the remaining 36 All-Stars named today will go into said pool along with the elected top-six for a field of 42. With that in mind, and factoring in at least one representative for every member club, there will be notable omissions, no matter how this list is put together, or by whom.
Nevertheless, always one to face a challenge head-on, in keeping with my annual tradition (whether an All-Star game has been played or not), I’ve put together my own list of mid-season honorees, complete with a set of 12 rookies to be featured in the skills competition at All-Star Weekend, as the NHL Hockey Operations department will do later today.
(For clarity’s sake, I’ve already accounted for the fan selections.)
Deep breaths, everyone. Here goes nothing, with a few explanations afterwards…
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“My first training camp, just coming out of junior hockey, training camp ended after about six weeks. The general manager came to me and gave me a little, tiny piece of paper, just off the corner of a notepad. He said, `Take this, walk around the rink one time. The number is on there, that I’m going to pay you. The bus is going to be ready to leave in one hour. You have to make a decision.’ That was that.”
-LA Kings coach Terry Murray talking about how contracts have changed. More from Rich Hammond of LA Kings Insider.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
Game day differs here from practically anywhere else in the NHL. The visiting Toronto Maple Leafs conduct theirs at the Staples Centre, where they’ll drop the puck at 7:30 p.m. local time tonight, 10:30 in the east. It’ll be a late one kids. In my day, that would mean transistor radio on, listening to the game under the covers, at night, on low volume so mom and dad couldn’t hear, and wondering about these exotic Los Angeles Kings and California Golden Seals, two of what local broadcaster Bob Miller calls The Second Six.
Meanwhile, the hometown Kings are skating here at the Toyota Sports Centre, a vast complex that includes - among other things - two sheets of indoor ice, along with the Los Angeles Lakers’ training centre, home to Kobe and the rest.
It is just down from LAX and on Sunday afternoon, it was humming with activity - the Leafs centre stage on one sheet of ice, youth hockey being played on the other. The coaches on the bench looked familiar and a closer look confirmed - yup, that was Rob Blake, Nelson Emerson and Sidney Crosby’s agent Pat Brisson, handling one team, with Mathieu Schneider coaching the other.
LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Kings have signed defenseman Jack Johnson to a seven-year contract extension that will carry into the 2017-18 season, Kings President/General Manager Dean Lombardi announced tonight.
The seven-year contract matches the second longest in club history. Kings center Anze Kopitar also signed a seven-year contract extension on Oct. 11, 2008, and former Kings Great/Hall of Famer Wayne Gretzky signed an eight-year contract in 1988 (after the first year that contract was extended from seven years to nine years). Additionally, Kings forward Dustin Brown agreed to a six-year contract extension on Oct. 26, 2007; Kings defenseman/Assistant Captain Matt Greene agreed to a five-year contract extension on Oct. 17, 2008; Kings center Jarret Stoll agreed to a four-year contract extension on Sept. 4, 2008; Kings defenseman Rob Scuderi signed a four-year free agent contract with the Kings on July 2, 2009; Kings goaltender Jonathan Quick signed a three-year contract extension on Oct. 23, 2009; and Kings goaltender Jonathan Bernier signed a two-year contract extension on Oct. 4, 2010.
added 8:59am, Rich Hammond of LA Kings Insider with a few questions fro Dean Lombardi regarding the Johnson contract…
Question: It’s a bit unusual, but definitely not unheard of, to get a long-term extension like this done during a season. What led you to the point of getting this done now?
LOMBARDI: “It is unusual, but we’re still very much in a new system. Don’t forget, the object here is to watch these kids develop, and then put all of them within a (salary-cap) number that works. This is something we had been looking at for a while. I think it’s just the nature of the process, if you’re going to get ahead of this and take a realistic shot at keeping your young players together for the long haul. Quite honestly, this has been going on for over a month now. There’s two things that allowed us to pursue this.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Circle Dec. 4 as the night the Los Angeles Kings turned their season around.
Maybe it’s just me, but when I watched Anze Kopitar score in overtime that night against Detroit and saw the Kings’ reaction at a rocking Staples Center, I remember thinking, “This might be what the floundering team needs.”
“I think you’re right on with that Detroit game,” Kings coach Terry Murray told ESPN.com on Wednesday. “That was pretty big. You’re playing against one of the premier teams in the league, and to pull that out in the end with that overtime, it was what we needed to jumpstart us. It reinforced our understanding that if we play the right way as a team and as a group, we can get some good wins here.”
The Kings have gone 6-2-1 in December and now look like the team many of us had predicted to do great things this season.
from Helene Elliott of the Fabulous Forum,
Defensemen Matt Greene and Willie Mitchell missed practice and won’t play Saturday.
Greene, still feeling the effects of a hit to the head Monday at Detroit, stayed overnight in St. Louis before returning Friday morning to Los Angeles. He’s scheduled to undergo tests to determine why he has been feeling wobbly and will be reevaluated next week.
Mitchell, who suffered an unspecified lower-body injury during the Kings’ 6-4 loss at St. Louis on Thursday, saw a doctor in Nashville on Friday afternoon and a club spokesman said the veteran defenseman is week-to-week. He will stay with the team and get treatment while the team finishes this five-game trip.
And lest we forget … forward Brad Richardson, back in L.A. with what’s believed to be a concussion, has been riding the bike and skated in El Segundo on Friday. His status is day-to-day.
more on the Kings…
from Helene Elliott of the Fabulous Forum,
Coach Terry Murray said he’s targeting a Dec. 23 debut for Sturm, who has yet to play this season after undergoing surgery on his right ACL and MCL in May. Sturm joined the fourth-line pool and wore a red jersey in practice along with Kyle Clifford, Trevor Lewis, John Zeiler and Kevin Westgarth. Murray later said Clifford, Lewis and Westgarth will play Thursday against St. Louis.
Sturm participated in every drill and didn’t have to hold back. He said he has no knee pain but must work on his conditioning. He had been skating with the Bruins for the past few weeks.
“It was not easy. It was always up and down, but I knew eventually it’s going to get done,” Sturm said of his wait for the trade to go through. “I’m glad now everything is over and I can focus on hockey again.”
The German-born winger said knowing Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi, who drafted him in 1996 when Lombardi was general manager of the San Jose Sharks, was a minor factor in waiving his no-trade clause and agreeing to join the Kings.
Jonathan Quick stops Tomas Holmstrom on one of the 51 shots he faced tonight in a 5-0 win,
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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