Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Bruce Cheadle of the CP at the Toronto Star,
The tousle-headed kid who turned the hockey world on its ear is hitting 50.
Wayne Gretzky, Canada’s male athlete of the 20th century, trips the half-century odometer on Jan. 26, a memory milestone that may pack as much impact for an aging generation of Canadian baby-boomers as for the retired hockey god himself.
If 50 is the age of introspection and taking stock, Gretzky could serve as a case study of what we’d like to think it means to be Canadian:
Fiercely competitive but humble; self-assured without swagger; instantly recognizable yet somehow chameleon-like; bland but not boring; fabulously wealthy without ostentation; a non-aggressor who punches well above his weight.
LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Kings have recalled forward Andrei Loktionov from the Ontario Reign (ECHL) and have placed forward Marco Sturm on the injured reserve list (lower body injury – retroactive to January 18), Kings President/General Manager Dean Lombardi announced today.
Loktionov, 20, started this season with the Kings and played in seven games, recording two points (1-1=2) and two penalty minutes. He was assigned to the Manchester Monarchs of the American Hockey League on November 2 and in 31 games with the Monarchs he has 31 points (8-23=31). His 31 points are tied for second on the club and his 23 assists are tied for first. He also leads the Monarchs with a plus-15 rating, he is tied for second with 100 shots and he is tied for first in short-handed goals with one.
from Rich Hammond at Kings.com,
The mental side of NHL fighting? To the uninitiated, that might sound like an oxymoron.
Stereotypes don’t always fit, though. Hockey enforcers, too often, tend to be dismissed as brutes, players with no other discernible skills, who remain employed in professional hockey only because of their willingness to get punched in the face on a regular basis.
That’s a part of it, yes, but there is a certain science behind on-ice pugilism. For evidence, consider that within the past decade, the Kings have had two Princeton-educated enforcers. The guys throwing punches are also the ones thriving at crossword puzzles.
To be certain, fighting itself is an act of raw strength or courage, even if some—perhaps rightfully so—believe it has no place in the NHL game. But the decisions, the cat-and-mouse games, that lead up to fights require a lot of mental strength as well.
“Fighting is not just fighting,” Kings winger Kyle Clifford said. “It’s actually a big part of the game. It’s a momentum-changer when you step up for your teammates, when someone is taking advantage of them, when someone is running around out there.”
Answering the headline question, the Detroit Red Wings don’t think so.
from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
Anze Kopitar should be a 100-point scorer.
He has shown he’s capable of dominating games and carrying the Kings on his shoulders. At a solid 6 feet 3 and 225 pounds he can create room for himself and his linemates while making world-class plays at top speed.
He’s also capable of plunging into bottomless ruts.
He had 32 points in the Kings’ first 22 games last season, but after linemate Ryan Smyth suffered a rib injury Kopitar disappeared, scoring two goals and eight points in his next 20 games. He led the Kings in scoring for the third straight season — the first player to do that since Wayne Gretzky — but with 81 points in 82 games.
The 23-year-old Slovenian is repeating that pattern this season. Playing with an ever-changing cast of wingers he had a decent start and raised his game in early December, when he collected six goals and 10 points in his first six games. But he faded again, going nine games without a goal before scoring Saturday. He was blanked in his next two games, both losses.
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.”
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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