Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Rebecca Davis O'Brien of the Wall Street Journal,
Forty years after the Paul Newman film “Slap Shot” immortalized the rough-and-tumble world of minor-league ice hockey, the sport has changed directions: It is more polished, less pugnacious. The game is faster and more artful, which helps attract corporate sponsors and makes the minors a better pipeline to the big leagues.
The decline in violence also reflects the heightened concerns about concussions, which are especially acute in hockey after the deaths of several enforcers were linked to head trauma.
Yet attendance is down across most leagues and most of the teams aren’t profitable, leading some to wonder if the minor-league game has lost its way. At least 16 teams in the ECHL alone have folded in the past 10 years due in part to financial difficulties stemming from dwindling attendance and corporate sponsorship.
The latest casualties are the Elmira Jackals, in western New York, who announced in March that they would fold after this season ends on April 8. After years of ownership turnover and mounting debt, county officials assumed ownership of the Jackals last year, but couldn’t support the costs of the team.
from Linday Czarnecki of LA Kings Insider,
The story was the rain, much more so than the Reign and Condors.
The AHL teams played through a downpour on Saturday night at Bakersfield College’s Memorial Stadium, a game that ended with the host Condors coming from behind to win 3-2 in overtime.
After a halt in the first period caused by an issue with the glass near the Reign bench, the two teams returned to play the final 4:53 of the opening period on practically a pond as the rain wouldn’t let up and the game simply went on.
from Bob McKenzie of TSN,
It's been dubbed the "Christmas Miracle."
Heather Cunningham, though, has another word to describe it.
"Absolute miracle," she said, "that's what it is. It's an absolute miracle. A month ago, we never thought we'd be where we are today."
On Wednesday, in Tucson, Ariz., Heather Cunningham and her son Craig, along with the doctors who saved his life, will meet with the media for the first time since the 26-year-old Tucson Roadrunner captain collapsed on the ice with acute cardiac arrest on Nov. 19 and almost died.
In the ensuing days, Cunningham literally fought for his life while on a state-of-the-art, life-support system with a team of medical experts working around the clock to keep the Trail, B.C., native alive.
His storybook career as a professional hockey player is now over -- his left foot and leg have been severely damaged and it remains to be seen how much, if any, functionality he regains -- but he and his family are so very thankful he beat the odds to survive.
Craig Cunningham, captain of the Tucson Roadrunners of the American Hockey League will likely be discharged from Banner University Medical Center Tucson before Christmas.
Cunningham, his mother Heather, Roadrunners general manager Doug Soetaert and several doctors will speak during a news conference at noon ET on Wednesday.
Cunningham, 26, has been hospitalized since collapsing on the ice before a game against Manitoba on Nov. 19. Medical personnel performed chest compressions before transporting him to Carondelet St. Mary's Hospital, where CPR was continued. Two days later, Arizona Coyotes coach Dave Tippett said Cunningham was in critical but stable condition. Tucson is the Coyotes' AHL affiliate.
Cunningham was soon transferred to Banner, where he received advanced life-saving therapy using ECMO (Extracorporeal Membrane Oxygenation), a highly specialized procedure for patients so critically ill that no other support for the heart and lungs is adequate.
from Dave Stubbs of NHL.com,
Guy Lafleur was awake in his west suburban Montreal home at 3:30 a.m. on Friday, 15 minutes before the alarm he had set.
"My wife likes when I get up before the alarm," the Montreal Canadiens legend joked three hours later, sitting at a very quiet Gate 50 at Montreal's Trudeau Airport.
Lafleur is impeccably dressed in his crested Hockey Hall of Fame blazer, red patterned tie and a tan trench coat, two copies of a luxury-lifestyle magazine under his arm for in-flight reading that he wouldn't do should he doze off on the plane, which he said was likely.
We are headed to St. John's, Newfoundland, where the five-time 1970s Stanley Cup champion is scheduled to participate in the ceremonial faceoff at the home opener of the St. John's IceCaps, the Canadiens' American Hockey League affiliate.
It's the final season of the IceCaps in a hockey-mad city in Canada's easternmost province. In 2017-18, the IceCaps will relocate to Laval, north of Montreal, where they will be rebranded the Laval Rocket.
The IceCaps, seeking star quality for their final home opener, called their NHL parent about a month ago, which is when Canadiens alumni president Rejean Houle called Lafleur.
from Scott Fowler of the Charlotte Observer,
A 1993 Sports Illustrated headline called Samuelsson “Mr. Dirty.” The New York Times Magazine proclaimed him “a thinking-man’s thug.” A Pittsburgh sportswriter named Dave Molinari wrote in the 1990s that Samuelsson was “the kind of guy who would elbow Mother Teresa if she strayed near his net. Then cross-check her when she tried to stand up. Maybe spear her behind the knee as she hobbled away.”
You know the “Mayhem” guy in the Allstate commercials? That was Samuelsson when he played. He caused accidents. Fans in Boston were once so incensed after Samuelsson, a defenseman, injured one of their star players that they hung banners that read “Kill Ulf.”
I asked Samuelsson recently if he thought that long-ago Sports Illustrated headline and story were accurate.
“Yeah, I would say there’s probably a little truth to that article,” Samuelsson said. “I noticed in my career that if I would play 3-4 games in a more relaxed way, letting them off the hook – when I could hit a player hard I wouldn’t do it – the other team’s forwards would all of a sudden be a little more confident and make me look bad. So I found the way I could do my job was stay hard and stay aggressive – as far as the rules would let me. And sometimes a little bit over.”
Below, watch Samuelsson's most talked about hit on Cam Neely plus other YouTube videos here.
from Steve Carp of the Las Vegas Review-Journal,
Foley has had preliminary discussions with AHL president Dave Andrews and team senior vice president Murray Craven is overseeing the process by which the farm team will be established. It is expected to cost Foley around $5 million to join the AHL if he opts for his own team, far less if he partners with another NHL team early on. Foley paid a record $500 million to join the NHL after the league awarded him his franchise on June 22.
“It’s like building another team from scratch, only cheaper,” Craven said of a start-up AHL team.
Foley said he is contemplating sharing an affiliation at the start, then eventually going his own way once Las Vegas has enough players to stock its own roster and that of whatever ECHL team it eventually ties into. Foley has had extensive talks with an NHL team — he wouldn’t say which — about sharing the AHL affiliate for 2017-18. He did say the NHL team he’s considering doing business with owns its AHL team.
In that case, it’s likely the Ontario Reign, which is owned by AEG, the company that owns the Los Angeles Kings. Or it could be the San Diego Gulls, a team owned and operated by the Anaheim Ducks. Foley has forged friendships with the ownership of both the Kings and the Ducks. However, the other six AHL teams that play in the Western Conference’s Pacific Division are also owned by their NHL affiliates.
“We’re still trying to figure out what we want to do,” Craven said. “The choices (for expansion) aren’t that numerous.”
from the AHL,
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … The American Hockey League today released the complete schedule of regular-season games for the 2016-17 season, the league’s 81st year of operation. The season, comprising 1,116 games, begins on Fri., Oct. 14 and concludes on Sat., Apr. 15.
Teams will play 76 games each (38 at home, 38 on the road) with the exception of Pacific Division members Bakersfield, Ontario, San Diego, San Jose, Stockton and Tucson; those six teams will play 68 games each (34 home, 34 road).
continue for the full schedule...
After 52 years, the Calder Cup once again resides in Cleveland, and it took a monumental performance by Oliver Bjorkstrand to make it happen.
Bjorkstrand’s goal with 1.9 seconds remaining in overtime led the Lake Erie Monsters to a 1-0 win over the Hershey Bears and a four-game sweep in the American Hockey League’s championship.
“Amazing feeling, obviously,” Bjorkstrand said. “A little bit of a lucky situation, but sometimes you win that way. I knew I couldn’t take much time to (shoot) the puck.”
Goaltender Anton Forsberg, who took over late in Round 2 of the playoffs, had a 23-save shutout to win his ninth straight game.
Lake Erie is the top minor-league affiliate of the Blue Jackets, and Bjorkstrand is one of the Blue Jackets’ top prospects. That was further cemented in these playoffs, especially the final series.
Watch the goal below...
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.
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