Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Michael Russo of the Star Tribune,
Zach Parise touches a white friendship bracelet on his right wrist. He turns it over and reveals the special inscription: “la vie a ses bons moments.”
“It means, ‘Life has its good moments,’ ” Parise says, staring intently at the words. “My mom made it for friends and family.”
With sad eyes, the Wild forward looks up: “Growing up, that’s what Dad always told us when things were going a little wrong.”
For the past seven months, J.P. Parise, the popular former North Stars forward and proud father of Zach and Jordan Parise, has been in the toughest battle of his life. Last winter, while Zach was captaining the United States in the Olympics, J.P. woke up with kidney stones.
“I went to the doctor, took a CT scan and the doc said, ‘There’s a black spot on your left lung that I don’t like,’ ” J.P. Parise said, recalling the words that turned his life upside down.
Days later, he would receive a diagnosis of Stage 4 lung cancer, the most advanced form of the disease.
A dozen reporters and analysts from Sportsnet’s hockey brain trust — Doug MacLean, John Shannon, Chris Johnston, Damien Cox, Mark Spector, et al. — submitted a list ranking all the teams in order of how they think the NHL season will shake out. We crunched the numbers and will be unveiling our consensus standings prediction from worst to first.
Minnesota is our 11th-ranked team.
Biggest story line to watch: Which of Minnesota’s three NHL-calibre goaltenders takes the reigns in net? Easily be the most intriguing storyline of the preseason, and one that will likely carry on into the winter months. Niklas Backstrom, Ilya Bryzgalov, Josh Harding (now injured and suspended) and Darcy Kuemper have all had stretches over their careers where they have looked like NHL starters, but they’ve all taken turns looking wholly unreliable as well. Wild head coach Mike Yeo has given no indication as to which way he’s leaning and has said he plans to disperse starts evenly between his netminders in the preseason. But a team can only go so long with such an uncertain situation between the pipes.
2014-15 prediction: If the Wild can stay healthy while placing the final piece of their roster puzzle—a steady, reliable hand in goal—they could take another step in 2014-15 and make some noise among the elite group at the top of the Western Conference.
“I just got kind of, not brainwashed, but my last couple years in New Jersey we were so adamant about dumping the puck in. But you lose a lot of your creativity and you lose a lot of good touches. I mean, if a ‘D’s in your face, you’ve got no other options and you have to.
“But dump it just to dump it, I’m not a believer anymore in getting rid of the puck when it’s so hard to get. That’s the way we played in New Jersey. We always had a plan: Forwards dumped it in, we knew where it was going and that’s how we got it back. But the more I thought about it, possession is just so much better than dumping it in. Dumping it should be, I don’t want to say your last option, but your second or third option.”
-Zach Parise of the Minnesota Wild. More on this topic from Michael Russo of the Star Tribune.
from Michael Russo of the Star Tribune,
His eyes welled, his voice shook.
We don’t normally see Ryan Suter emotional, but the Wild’s rock of a defenseman fought back tears Friday as he talked about the loss of his father and best friend, Bob Suter, 10 days earlier.
“My dad, we were pretty close, so …” Suter said, needing a few moments to gather himself. “Just a really good guy, a hard-working guy. I’m going to miss him.”
Suter always goes about his business effortlessly on the ice. It doesn’t matter if he logs 30 or 35 minutes, his pulse never seems to rise above 30, his breathing never seems to get heavy.
It was the same thing Friday. It was obvious how much he’s hurting, yet Suter somehow located the ability to battle through and stand in front of reporters following the first day of training camp.
from Michael Russo of the Star Tribune,
Josh Harding, arguably the Wild’s No. 1 goaltender heading into Thursday’s training camp, broke his right foot while kicking a wall after an off-ice altercation with a teammate and is expected to miss at least two or three months. And unsigned goalie Darcy Kuem- per was embroiled in a contract dispute that if not rectified Thursday means he will at a minimum be a late arriver to camp and thus put him behind the 8-ball....
Harding’s injury won’t require surgery, but he is out indefinitely. Yeo and an equally frustrated General Manager Chuck Fletcher were to meet with Harding on Wednesday to try to ascertain how he got hurt. Details are murky, but it’s clear he got into some kind of altercation with a teammate Sunday.
“We just have to figure out what happened,” Fletcher said Wednesday morning. “But I’m not sure I want to get into a whole public exposé of what happened.”
Harding is in the final year of a contract that pays him $2.1 million. In 2010, Fletcher suspended forward James Sheppard for an off-ice ATV accident days before camp that resulted in season-ruining knee surgery.
Asked if the Wild conceivably could do the same thing with Harding, Fletcher said: “I don’t want to get into hypotheticals. I just want to hear what happened and figure it out.
more on the Wild...
from Michael Russo of Russo's Rants,
“All I can tell you is my full attention is on that guy right there,” Yeo said, pointing to veteran Niklas Backstrom on the ice during Wednesday’s informal practice. “He’s the one who is here, he’s the one who put in the work.
“You make plans over the summer. I mean, my staff, we’ve been making plans on who’s practicing, what practices we’re going to have, who’s playing in the exhibition games and this was under the assumption we would have Kuemps and Hards and obviously things have changed dramatically.
“We’ve gone from talking about three goalies to sitting here talking about one (Backstrom). I put on the cool face last year pretending we weren’t frustrated about [our goaltending issues], but we’re not even Day One into camp and we’re already talking about it.”
Added veteran Jason Pominville: "Knock on wood. Hopefully nothing else happens. Hopefully we don't get that 'here we go' feeling again."
from Josh Kosman of the New York Post,
Minnesota Wild co-owner Phil Falcone might quit his hockey-crazed home state to make a play for the New York Islanders, The Post has learned.
The beleaguered hedge fund mogul and former Harvard hockey player has been mulling selling his minority ownership in the Wild with the goal of becoming an eventual owner of the Islanders, sources said.
If that happens, Falcone would invest in the Islanders alongside friend and fellow Harvard alum Jon Ledecky, who last month led an investor group that purchased a “substantial” minority stake in the NHL franchise, sources said.
“[Falcone] is thinking about it,” said a source familiar with the situation.
SAINT PAUL, Minn. – Minnesota Wild General Manager Chuck Fletcher today announced the National Hockey League club has agreed to terms with RW Nino Niederreiter on a three-year contract.
Niederreiter, 22 (9/8/92), recorded 36 points (14-22=36), a plus-12 rating and 44 penalty minutes (PIM) in 81 regular season games during his first season with Minnesota in 2013-14. He established career highs in every statistical category and ranked second on the team in hits (175), tied for third in goals, fourth in plus-minus rating and fifth in shots. The 6-foot-2, 209-pound native of Chur, Switzerland, added six points (3-3=6) and led the team with 40 hits in 13 playoff games. Niederreiter tallied the game-winning goal in overtime of Game 7 at Colorado on April 30 to become the third player in NHL history to register his first two playoff goals in a Game 7 and the second youngest player in Stanley Cup Playoff history to record an overtime goal in Game 7. He also netted the game-winning goal in Game 4 vs. Chicago on May 9. Niederreiter skated in four games with Switzerland at the 2014 Winter Olympics.
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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