Kukla's Korner Hockey
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 Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Just eight games into the NHL season, it appears that Alexei Kovalev, version 2.0, has surfaced here in La Belle Province. The passionate Montreal fans have embraced the latest version of the misunderstood, enigmatic Russian winger with oodles of talent.
Kovalev found new life in his NHL career when he came here years ago. The fans absolutely loved him. This might be happening all over again with Radulov, who is winning over the folks in these parts not just with his offensive flair but just as much for his dogged determination away from the puck.
"You learn from things you go through," said Radulov. "It's not all about just scoring goals or getting assists. Hockey is about playing both ways. To be a good player, defense, neutral zone, you have to block shots, take a check, whatever helps at that time in a game. The goals and assists will be there if you work hard and do the right job."
And the fans have noticed. "People here see if you're working hard, they will respect that," said Radulov.
One person who would have easily predicted Radulov's early-season success in his return to the NHL after four years back in Russia is his former junior coach in Quebec City.
"I love Alexander Radulov as a person," said Hall of Famer Patrick Roy in French via email Thursday. "He's a dominant player and dedicated and I'm not surprised at all to see his success so far this season.''
from Brendan Kelly of the Montreal Gazette,
On to the serious stuff. Montreal Canadiens fans need to calm the heck down. I mean, you guys are behaving like Leafs fans.
Check the date. It’s late October. In late October/early November, there are important games being played … by major-league baseball players. Hockey games at this time of year are fun to watch, but they don’t mean squat.
How often have Toronto hockey fans, including all those Leafs fans who work for the Toronto hockey-broadcast clique, started planning the parade route down Yonge St. after the first week of the season? Thankfully, even the delusional Leafs boosters can’t engage in that kind of behaviour this year given Toronto’s woeful start and, as an aside, I have greatly enjoyed coaching legend Mike Babcock’s grumpy comments this week.
But the point is that’s how fans do it in T.O. and it’s not how we’re supposed to do things here in the city’s that home to the most winning hockey team in the history of the sport. We don’t celebrate until we have something to celebrate and, Earth to the Habs Nation, there is absolutely nothing to celebrate after seven games.
from Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette,
There were some raised eyebrows on Canada Day when Canadiens general manager Marc Bergevin announced he was bringing Alexander Radulov back to the NHL after a four-year absence.
But the gamble appears to be paying off, with Radulov earning the respect of his teammates and the adoration of the fans.
Radulov had a hand in all three Montreal goals Monday night as the Canadiens squeaked past the Philadelphia Flyers 3-1 at the Bell Centre.
Radulov’s last full season in the NHL was in 2007-08; a comeback in 2012, with Nashville in the playoffs that year, was aborted after he and Andrei Kostitsyn missed a curfew.
“When I was younger, I made mistakes and I don’t want to step in that again,” Radulov said. “Time flies and you learn. That’s why I give 100 per cent. It wasn’t easy for me to come to this league and I appreciate the GM gave me a chance and I can’t play bad.”
Below, watch Radulov post-game and also game highlights...
from Don Macpherson of the Montreal Gazette,
If winning the Cup or even reaching the finals is a measure of success in the National Hockey League, the Canadiens’ hands have been failing for the past 23 years.
In terms of even making the post-season playoffs, they have been only slightly above the middle of the pack. Half the teams in their 16-club conference qualify, but the Canadiens have fallen below even that low cut-off in eight of the 23 completed seasons since their last Cup (the 2004-05 season was cancelled because the players were locked out).
Nor are the Canadiens still a standard-bearer for French Canada. Currently, their most prominent French-speaking player is David Desharnais, a third-line centre. In a game in Colorado last Feb. 17, for what is believed to be the first time in its 107 years, the team formerly nicknamed “the Flying Frenchmen” did not have a single French-Canadian in its lineup.
There is no question that, in spite of all that, the Canadiens remain popular and financially successful, at least as long as they appear to have a chance of making the playoffs.
via Frank Seravalli of TSN,
It was an emotional night - like every opener seems to be in Montreal. The faithful 21,288 roared when Weber was introduced for the first time to his new hometown after last June’s seismic trade with P.K. Subban. You could tell the normally stoic Weber was touched with the ovation that was louder than all others except the sidelined Price.
“That was special,” Weber said.
Scroll to the 7:20 mark of the video to see the introduction of Shea Weber...
Very nice moment and so good to see Demers with a huge smile.
If you missed Andrew Shaw perhaps crossing the line. last night.. No further discipline...
Let's see, Montreal up 4-1 over Buffalo and the final horn is about to blow, but Andrew Shaw had to get a slew foot in before it did.
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