Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch,
As training camp draws near, the heat is getting turned up under unsigned Blue Jackets center Ryan Johansen.
General manager Jarmo Kekalainen, in his strongest words yet, warned against Johansen not being signed by the start of camp on Thursday, and he questioned the motivation of Johansen’s agent, Kurt Overhardt.
“Our success is going to come from being a team, not a bunch of individuals or stars, or whatever,” Kekalainen said during the NHL prospects tournament last night. “To me, it’s huge that you go through training camp together and get ready.
“When training camp starts, that’s it. After that, the focus is on the guys who are there on tryouts or guys who are under contract. That’s it. That will be the only focus.”
Asked whether that meant he would no longer negotiate with Overhardt, Kekalainen paused.
“Draw your own conclusions,” he said.
from Cam Cole of the Vancouver Sun,
The Canadiens’ decision Monday to bestow the A on four players, and no C, has ignited a wee tempest in our nation’s most excitable NHL market, as loyalists of one player or the other ask why their favourite wasn’t the obvious choice.
But what if it makes perfect sense?
What if it’s just the formal acknowledgment of an observation every NHL coach makes: that no good team can have just one leader — that if you aspire to be a contender for the Stanley Cup, you’d better have a half-dozen of them?
Anyway, the mystique of the C may not be entirely based on imagination, but its importance is grossly overestimated.
Case in point: Dustin Brown of the L.A. Kings. Brown is, without doubt, exactly the kind of pain in the ass to play against that coach Darryl Sutter loves, but he is also an accomplished diver and, logic tells us, the person no referee has any interest in hearing a protest from, when a call needs to be argued.
from Jeff Blair of Sportsnet,
The world has changed since Igor Larionov wore the uniform of the Central Red Army’s hockey team. The Cold War has been replaced by something much more nuanced; the questions and answers infinitely more complicated in a time of increased economic interdependency and borderless reality.
Russian hockey players? There’s not much mystery about them, beyond the usual stereotypes still given credibility in some of the darker corners of the game. There were 34 Russian-born NHLers in the league in 2013-2014, and in the June draft, 13 Russian-born players were selected, the most in eight years. They’ve been team captains, colossal over-achievers, spectacular under-achievers, coach-killers … pretty much the same as any other nationality.
Yet another ‘political statement’ made by a Russian-born player – in this case, Semyon Varlamov, who over the weekend posted an Instagram photograph of himself wearing a shirt with a photo of Russian president Vladimir Putin and ‘Crimea Is Ours’ written in Cyrillic before taking it down – reminds us that, for the first time in years, Russian players will be competing against a backdrop of Western animosity directed at their government, this time over the crisis in Ukraine.
Should the NHL be concerned? Should its Russian players? You’d have to look back to the political fallout from the invasion of Afghanistan to find political tension like this – to find a time when European powers and the U.S. were jockeying for strategic positioning with an aggressive then-Soviet Union. Russian teams had been playing exhibition series since the 1972 Summit Series, and after awhile the tenor of the games changed from one of mystery to on-ice bitterness. Through it all, however, nobody worried about Twitter or Instagram. The 140-character universe didn’t exist. Neither did the Kontinental Hockey League, for that matter.
from Kevin McGran of the Breakaway Blog at the Toronto Star,
... But all of the storylines connect at Carlyle.
He wasn't fired at season's end when the team collapsed.
Some believe it was the way they played -- with fire most of the time -- that cost them a playoff spot. Continually outshot. Continually out-possessed, in the new parlance of analytics. Carlyle's teams -- even in Anaheim are horrible at possession games.
Some believe it was simply a matter of goaltending, that if Jonathan Bernier didn't get hurt against the Los Angeles Kings, the Leafs would have sailed into the playoffs, and nobody would have lost their jobs.
Now is Carlyle's chance to prove himself, and do so under less than ideal conditions.
For one thing, it seems evident there'll be more -- oh, what's the word? advice? instruction? meddling? -- from above.
The front office looks like it's going to active, with assistant GM Kyle Dubas communicating the ideas from the team's analytics department. That means Carlyle is going to hear from Dubas about line changes, line combinations and who'd play best with Phil Kessel.
from Luke DeCock of the News & Observer,
Buried in the avalanche of information that came out of the Carolina Hurricanes’ media day a few weeks ago was one interesting little nugget from new coach Bill Peters.
Peters said he’d like one of his goalies to play 60 games, which is pretty standard stuff from coaches who generally prefer to have a No. 1 goalie and a backup. Except in these specific circumstances, it’s reasonably explosive proposition.
Not because the Hurricanes don’t have a goalie capable of playing 60 games. They do. They have two, if (and that’s a big if) Cam Ward and Anton Khudobin are each on their game. And that’s the issue. If one goalie is playing 60 games, that means the other is playing 22. There isn’t enough playing time to go around for two goalies who both consider themselves to be the starter.
Peters did qualify that statement, noting the usual hectic early season travel schedule that sees the Hurricanes play two of their first eight games on the road in an attempt to avoid the hassles of playing at home during the North Carolina State Fair will require extensive use of both goalies. But the desire to have a No. 1 guy seems to conflict directly with the players at his disposal.
Peters, who has been nothing less than impressive in his limited interactions so far with the media and public, clearly gets the benefit of the doubt here. Almost every coach would prefer to have a No. 1 goalie who claims the job and runs with it. Making that statement before training camp begins is practically a reflex.
Every team wants to start its season on the right foot, but general manager Bryan Murray says training camp this season is vitally important for the Ottawa Senators.
"Maybe, we were too comfortable," he told TSN Hockey Insider Bob McKenzie. "It looked to me that - the year before we had a lot of injuries and a number of the key guys didn't play very much - we came to camp with a full group, maybe we thought we were going to be better than we were going to be and, certainly, we didn't compete at the same level. There's no question. Maybe there was a comfort that the stars were back, so the other guys didn't have to work so hard."
Murray, heading into his eighth year at the helm of the club, insists that things will be different this season.
"At the end of last year, we had a long, intense meeting with all of management and coaching staff," he explained. "This year, a week ago, we had a sit-down again to review what we had talked about, but also have some objectives going forward starting with training camp and the first visit we have with our players. There's no question that we have a plan that we think it's going to allow our players to be more productive."
Watch the one-on-one interview Bob McKenzie had with Murray. At the beginning of the video, Bryan Murray discusses his health and says he is feeling OK now.
from Scott Cullen of TSN,
Rob Vollman, author of Hockey Abstract, was the driving force behind the event. And it fits, as Vollman's Hockey Abstract is all about using objective analysis to evaluate players and teams.
With a variety of speakers bringing different experiences, there was something for everyone who might be interested in hockey analytics - from those just wading into the pool and wanting to learn more, to hard-core programmers considering new and different ways of manipulating data.
That all said, I got to attend and take a few notes:
Bruce McCurdy, Cult of Hockey Blog, Edmonton Journal
What's it about? With the Summer of Analytics taking away some of the most valued resources in the analytics community, including the Extra Skater web site and the work of Tyler Dellow (@mc79hockey), the discussion was about what comes next? Who is ready to step into the void?
- During McCurdy's discussion, Rob Vollman insisted that there is still plenty of great content, but it may require going to more than five or six core sites.
- The big question: Who is going to have the site that welcomes in a broader audience?
Pierre LeBrun of ESPN participated in a Q & A today,
If you could make at least one semi-big change to the game, what would it be?
Pierre LeBrun I would start the regular season Sept. 20 and end the playoffs by May 31
Mr LeBrun do you think the Chicago Blackhawks will be better than last season?
Pierre LeBrun yes, by sole virtue of not being defending champs, Hawks had more time to recover this summer. I think they're primed for a great season
How about Larry Robinson's comments over the summer that Joe's sense of humor and jibes were a problem with him as captain?
Pierre LeBrun Where to start with your Sharks ?? Yikes. So much talent still on this team but the off-season turmoil ... wow.... going to be awfully interesting to watch how it all unfolds. It can go two ways, they rally from all the crazyness and feed off it; it the whole thing self-implodes
What are your thoughts on the Vancouver Canucks? Much has been made of the reload and significant changes both on and off the ice. Are they playoff contenders? What will Willie Desjardins bring to Vancouver?
Pierre LeBrun Kevin, it's interesting I was talking to an NHL GM a few weeks ago and unprovoked he brought up Vancouver as a team he feels will surprise people this year.... It wouldn't surprise me if they contended for a playoff spot. They've improved their depth although losing Kesler is tough to replace as No. 2 center.Still overall, I like the feel of that team at least as far as having a chance to make the playoffs. I don't think they're championship contender material anymore
from Joe Haggerty of CSNNE,
“I feel like I’ve turned the corner in the last week or week-and-a-half, so that’s a positive. But I’m still working to get it up to 100 percent,” said Lucic, who had a hard cast on his left arm from elbow to hand for the majority of the summer. "I’m just exciting to be back with everyone, and to get things going. You don’t want to do anything to have any setbacks, so you have to be smart about it. It’s turned the corner for the better as far as rehab has gone.
“I’m just working to get the strength back in it. It’s been a good last two weeks, and hopefully it still gets strong as the month goes along. Every time you have surgery it never really goes all the way back to 100 percent, but you hope you get back to a point where you’re feeling as good as you did before the surgery.”
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 firstname.lastname@example.org