Kukla's Korner Hockey
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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from Rich Hammond of LA Kings Insider,
The words are practically tied together. When coach Terry Murray says the name Jonathan Quick, it’s almost always followed, in the next breath, by the words “No. 1 goalie.” Murray wants to establish, early and often, that Quick is the Kings’ clear-cut goalie, and eliminate any suggestion of a competition between Quick, Jonathan Bernier and Erik Ersberg.
How long will that last? It’s hard to say. Quick set franchise records for wins and games last season, but Bernier was the top goalie in the AHL last season, and there’s a lot of eagerness to see what he can do at the NHL level. Quick has put himself in a good position, showing up to camp in what one team executive called the best shape of Quick’s career. And a reduced workload should also help. Quick never complained when his game total soared to 72, even when he clearly appeared to wear down late in the season.
Today, Murray talked about his plans for the goalies this season, and Quick talked about his preparation and the upcoming season.
via Helene Elliott of the Fabulous Forum at the LA Times,
Defenseman Willie Mitchell, who signed a two-year, $7-million contract with the Kings as a free agent, said the prospect of playing for an up-and-coming team factored heavily into his decision to choose the Kings over three other suitors—reportedly San Jose, Washington and Vancouver.
He also said the notion of playing alongside Norris trophy runnerup Drew Doughty was “intriguing,” and his high regard for Doughty was reinforced when they met recently in Los Angeles.
“I wore No. 8 in Vancouver. The first day he came in he was like, ‘Willie you can take my number,’ and I think that just speaks volumes of him as a kid,” Mitchell said.
He declined Doughty’s generous offer. “I said, ‘No, you had too good of a year last year. You’ve got to keep rocking that thing,’ ” Mitchell said, laughing.
from Tony Gallagher of the Vancouver Province,
...it seems he’s had another blow to the head, what with the quote he gave our Jim Jamieson on Thursday upon the news of the ultimatum the league gave the Players Association on the Ilya Kovalchuk and Roberto Luongo contracts now thankfully settled.
Quoth Mitchell: “We have a big gap in our union where you have the star player and the blue-collar player. All those top-end guys are getting paid more and more and the bottom-end guys are getting less and less. Maybe if we come to something more level, it might help the rest of our union.”
Now we know what he was driving at but the question is, when did Mitchell become a socialist and when did he start quaffing the Bettman Kool-Aid? No wonder the owners are in such great shape if this is the quality of understanding of the CBA at the player-rep level.
LAKings.com: As you look forward to the upcoming season, what are your thoughts?
Kopitar: After Terry Murray’s first season [going into last season] we said we were going to make the playoffs. Now that’s the goal and we’re expected to be there. There’s going to be a little more pressure, it’s going to be a little more harder, but I think last year’s experience is going to make a difference. We know what we have to do to get there now and know what to do when we get there. It will be a little eaasier with from the experience standpoint, but a little harder from the pressure standpoinit. We have to take that pressure in a positive way and build on that.
a few more questions and answers…
from Rich Hammond of Kings.com,
Whether he ends up being paired with Drew Doughty or Jack Johnson—the two most likely options, heading into training camp—Mitchell will play a significant role in the Kings’ stated goal of improving their 5-on-5 scoring margin.
Mitchell chuckled at the discovery that he, at 33, is the Kings’ oldest defenseman—now that Sean O’Donnell has moved on to Philadelphia—and the Kings will particularly rely on Mitchell during the first month, while Matt Greene recovers from shoulder surgery.
For the past two seasons in Vancouver, though, Mitchell served as an alternate captain, so he figures to become part of the Kings’ leadership group, if only informally.
“I’ve been fortunate to be around some great, great minds in the game,” Mitchell said. “I was coached by Jacques Lemaire, by Larry Robinson, and I thank God that I was lucky enough to listen to those guys. They’re great, great minds. I played with Scotty Stevens and (Scott) Niedermayer, and I think I learned a lot of things from those great players and great minds. I hope to maybe help out in that capacity a little bit with some of the young players on this team.”
via Nick Kypreos tweet,
I’m told clubs have been notified they are out of Mitchell race. Look for LA Kings to announce Willie Mitchell soon on a multi year deal.
added 3:00pm, via Rich Hammond of LA Kings Insider,
The Kings have reached an agreement with defenseman Willie Mitchell for a two-year contract worth $3.5 million per year.
I agree with no touch icing, others make no sense, hockey has been around for a long time and its fun as hell to play exactly the way it is
-Dustin Brown of the LA Kings on some of the rules at the R & D camp, via Twitter.
Make sure to check out the LA Kings Fight Club website were you can watch classic fights like this one between Marty McSorley and Ken Baumgartner.
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 email@example.com