Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Pierre LeBrun and Scott Burnside of ESPN,
LeBrun The Rangers are an intriguing tale. Under the excellent tutelage of coach John Tortorella, they’ve scratched and clawed their way to maintaining a playoff spot all season. Imagine if Gaborik was along for the ride? To be fair, he doesn’t have a bona-fide No. 1 center to play with. But let’s be honest, where has the speed and explosion gone? Remember Gaborik in Minnesota? He was the fastest player in the league. I spoke with someone this week who figured Gaborik has never been the same player since his hip surgery; or maybe it’s just going to take longer to get it all back? The Rangers better hope he does; there’s three more years left on his deal at $7.5 million per year.
Burnside: The offseason darlings of most prognosticators, the Kings have won just twice in their past 11 games. They dropped a 2-1 decision to St. Louis on Tuesday night, their second straight 2-1 loss. They woke up Wednesday morning in 12th place in the Western Conference, five points out of eighth. All is not lost, of course, but how long is coach Terry Murray’s leash? I think ownership will not be pleased if this promising young team falls short of the playoffs this season.
more on each team…
from Rich Hammond of LA Kings Insider,
First, here’s the official update on Wayne Simmonds, from Terry Murray. As earlier noted, Simmonds did not practice this morning.
MURRAY: “He’s not coming with us on the trip. He had some swelling overnight, so with that, we’re going to leave him behind to get therapy, and he will get an MRI done on Monday, tomorrow. We’ll get a better idea, then, of what the extent of it all is, but there’s just too much swelling here, right now, to bring him on the trip, hoping that maybe he would be a part of the second game. It’s not going to happen.”
Now, for the hit. I’ll post the video a bit later, but for those who didn’t see the play, Simmonds’ injury took place after Drew Doughty leveled Edmonton’s Taylor Hall early in the second period. A full-team scrum quickly developed, and Simmonds got injured when Edmonton’s Ales Hemsky grabbed him from behind and pulled him down, with Simmonds’ leg seemingly getting caught underneath him as he got tangled in a mass of bodies.
continue to read what Murray thinks about these scrums after a clean hit…
Also, I posted the video earlier today of the Doughty hit, so go back to it and see how Simmonds hurt his knee too…
Only penalty was Dustin Penner received 2 minutes for roughing.
from Rich Hammond of Kings.com,
The first “face’’ of the Los Angeles Kings didn’t even get to show his face on the ice.
Rogie Vachon joined the Kings in 1971, after being traded from the Montreal Canadiens, and he joined an organization starting its fifth NHL season, an organization that had enjoyed some early success but that lacked a draw, an established star.
The Kings, no doubt, hoped Vachon would be that star. The masked goalie was that, and more.
Vachon remains revered, by a generation of fans, as one of the best and most popular Kings of all-time. He spent seven seasons with the Kings and holds the franchise goalie records for all-time games (389), wins (171) and shutouts (32).
Fittingly, Vachon will be the first player honored as part of the Kings’ “Legends Night” series. Vachon will be recognized in a ceremony before Saturday’s game against Edmonton, and the Kings will wear their Vachon-era purple-and-gold jerseys for the game.
continued and watch an entertaining video of Vachon (and some Marcel Dionne too) below…
The Los Angeles Kings and Kings Vision unveiled the first video in a new series called “Undisputed”.
“Undisputed” is a special video series that focuses on eight Kings players, and it gives viewers authentic insight and perspective into the lives and careers of some of the Kings’ most compelling players while getting up close and personal with them.
Featured today is Jack Johnson.
from Dan Arritt of ESPN Los Angeles,
Now that Kings defenseman Jack Johnson will be around a while, signing a seven-year $30.5 million contract extension last weekend, time to start looking for that mansion on the beach that’ll be perfect for the summers, right?
Maybe if it’s on the banks of Lake Michigan.
Johnson, who turns 24 on Thursday, said his new riches won’t change his offseason ritual of returning to Ann Arbor and splitting time between his parents’ home and a bachelor pad with his former defense partner at Michigan, Matt Hunwick of the Colorado Avalanche.
“The reason I like going home in the summer is I like the change of pace,” Johnson said. “It’s not that I don’t like being in L.A. during the summer, it’s just that when I’m in L.A. I associate it with work and 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.
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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