Kukla's Korner Hockey
From Pierre LeBrun at ESPN:
The NHL’s regular season wraps up exactly one month from today. The playoffs begin three days later.
“Everyone on our team will be really excited, maybe even more than last year,” Detroit Red Wings winger Daniel Cleary told ESPN.com. “Because we have something to prove. The Cup is still ours and we feel that it doesn’t belong to anybody else.”
Sixteen teams have a shot at Lord Stanley’s prize starting April 15. This week, ESPN.com spoke to the 10 teams we believe have the best shot at winning it all. In order of current standings:
1. San Jose Sharks: The Sharks roared out of the gates this season and only recently finally showed signs of vulnerability. It might be because they can see the playoffs around the corner and want to get there now.
I wrote a few days ago at NHL.com that I was thankful the trade deadline was over and now we could focus on the game, the game that is played on the ice.
I don’t know about you, but enough fighting talk, headshots talk and Bettman taking on Laraque talk.
Enough salary cap questions for next year, enough Jagr and Radulov may return talk, enough of everything not related to the games being played on the ice.
All the other stuff can wait until a team captain raises the Stanley Cup over his head.
It is time to turn our focus on the game that is played on the ice. I have had enough of coaches battling with media, GM’s with their multiple opinions and all the other stories going on behind the glass.
Focus everyone, focus on the game- on the ice!
from Mike Heika of the Dallas Stars Blog at the Dallas Morning News,
What everyone expects to happen then is that many teams will spend below the cap next season, so when they are negotiating contracts this summer, they will be negotiating deals based on internal budgets and not on the cap (which could be at $56 million.
It will be very interesting to see what happens.
I believe players should get whatever they can, and that owners shouldn’t spend money they don’t have. I also believe that NHL players will be plenty happy with reduced salaries when those salaries are still in the millions of dollars.
The key to all of this is the NHL teams have to lower ticket prices to get fans back in the building. If they do that, then I honestly believe everything will work out fine for owners, players and fans.
from Bob McKenzie of TSN,
Judging by comments made at Wednesday’s annual general managers’ meetings, there’s no question that there is a new world economic order coming to the NHL.
I don’t want to say that they’ve been in a Fool’s Paradise for the last three or four years in this new salary cap world, but in some ways that’s what it has been. The cap has gone from $39 million to almost $57 million. Whatever difficulties teams have had in terms of navigating around the cap have been negligible compared to what they’re going to face going forward….
A team like the Detroit Red Wings knows that they can’t sign Marian Hossa, Johan Franzen, Mikael Samuelsson and Jiri Hudler, so they’re going to have to make hard decisions and say goodbye to some of these players. There’s going to be some real pain and suffering for NHL teams as they try to build their clubs going forward.
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
The NHL’s general managers concluded their annual meeting here on Wednesday by passing one minor item and fretting about the economy.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, though, maintained the sunny outlook he has held all year about the league’s prospects in the recession.
Once again, he claimed the NHL will experience “five per cent real growth” next season but what lies beyond that is unknown.
At least some of the general managers, though, were considerably less optimistic, especially about the 2010-11 season.
from Roy MacGregor of the Globe and Mail,
At the very least, the NHL general managers owed it to the game to take the issue of fighting seriously, not slough it off with some ridiculous proposed tweak to the current rules.
They could have done something about unnecessary fighting and did nothing.
They could have done something about helmets that fly off to easily — is there anything simpler than tightening a chin strap? — and did nothing.
They could have taken the NHL Players’ Association’s sensible suggestions for dealing with hits to the head … and did nothing.
Let us hope the NHLPA can still do this through the league’s competition committee, even if the GMs don’t like it.
from Darren Dreger of TSN,
Montreal Canadiens forward Georges Laraque is outraged by recommendations made by general managers participating in the annual NHL GM meetings in Naples, Florida.
“All of their recommendations are a joke!” Laraque charged after reading the NHL’s plans on TSN.ca….
It’s that proposed penalty - a 10-minute misconduct - which really angers Laraque.
“Stupidest thing ever!” Laraque told TSN. “I think it’s a joke. They might as well take fighting out of the NHL…fighting won’t be safer; it will be eliminated because an added 10 minute misconduct is too much.”
From Sam McCaig at The Hockey News:
San Jose, Detroit and Calgary are the class of the West, while Boston, New Jersey and Washington are the lead pack in a wide-open East. Right here, right now, the smart money is on a Boston-San Jose final.
1. SAN JOSE SHARKS
They’ve been one of the best teams in the NHL for several years and they’re all too familiar with the pain of losing in the post-season. The blueline has been studded with experience and there’s more grit than ever before among the forwards (and still a lot of talent, too). And this is it for old guys like Claude Lemieux, Rob Blake and Jeremy Roenick. This team is motivated, skilled, experienced and deep. Is it now or never? No. But it’ll sure feel like it if the Sharks fall short once again.
from the CP via TSN,
The NHL’s general managers are hoping to cut down on staged fights.
The GMs would like to see a 10-minute misconduct penalty assessed to players who drop their gloves right after a faceoff.
Referees would also be able to hand out that penalty in other instances where they believe players have engaged in an appointment fight.
added 3:17pm, from Damian Cox of The Spin Blog at the Toronto Star,
There are those who believe all fighting in hockey is wonderful.
There are those who believe it’s all idiotic.
Then there are those that believe some fighting in hockey is necessary and meaningful while just some of the fights are idiotic.
The NHL knew it couldn’t please the first crowd or the second, so it’s going for the third.
George James Malik at his SnapShots Blog at Mlive covers the GM meetings. Go there for complete coverage.
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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