Kukla's Korner Hockey
From Darren Eliot at Sports Illustrated, asks “Is it too late to applaud Ron Francis as a Hall-of-Famer?” Certainly not…
His career may be just under the radar where the general public is concerned, but his peers have long revered him. They appreciated his night-in-night-out contributions and understood the competitiveness below the surface of his stoic demeanor. As an 18-year-old rookie, Atlanta Thrashers center Bobby Holik played with Francis in Hartford. Holik says he learned a lot from Francis that year, and even more about him as the two competed countless times as Eastern Conference rivals.
“He was extremely competitive, despite being so calm,” Holik says. “You could never take him off the ice, in any situation. He was the ultimate complete hockey player—the last great two-way player.”
From Lyle Richardson at The Hockey News,
The lack of any real trade action thus far in the NHL season also has some folks clutching at straws to dream up trade scenarios.
Take the presence of Edmonton Oilers GM Kevin Lowe in the Boston Bruins press box during the Bruins-Canadiens match-up Nov. 8.
An Edmonton sportswriter wondered if Lowe was there to scout Bruins right winger Glen Murray as, apparently, Lowe nearly had a deal in place for Murray last summer until the Bruins backed out.
Once this story passed through the filter of Internet rumormongers, it quickly went from speculation to confirmation that Lowe was planning to acquire Murray.
The truth, sadly, was far less sexy, as Lowe was in Massachusetts to watch the Springfield Falcons – the Oilers’ AHL farm team – play the following night and merely decided to take in the game while in Boston.
from Pierre LeBrun if the CP via MetroNews,
A Russian agent did indeed recently contact Hartley, who was fired as head coach of the Thrashers on Oct. 17.
“They asked me if I would be interested,” said Hartley. “When you love hockey, you’re interested in coaching and everything ... But we’ll just wait and see how everything plays out.”
He obviously wants back into coaching but wants to make the right move the next time the phone rings.
“I’ve been coaching for the last 20 years,” said Hartley, who coached in Canadian major junior and the AHL before getting his first NHL job in 1998 with Colorado. “But it would be very selfish of me right now to say, ‘I want to coach in the NHL tomorrow.’
from Red Fisher of the Montreal Gazette,
Remember Don Awrey, who played 128 of his 979 NHL games with the Canadiens?...
I mention Awrey now because he was on the telephone several days ago inquiring how to go about what he termed to “right a wrong.” What was wrong was that even though he appeared in most of the regular-season games during the Canadiens’ first of four consecutive Stanley Cups in 1975-76, he wasn’t dressed in the playoffs because of a knee injury. Result: the next time you read the names on the Cup for that year, you won’t find Awrey’s name on it because league rules at the time called for a player to appear in at least one playoff game in order to have his name on it.
from Jason Kay of the Hockey News,
We’ve heard the all the arguments – the record book would be rendered moot; that it would be too drastic a change. We don’t buy it. The record book has been impacted by a plethora of amendments over the years, both organic and legislated, and increasing the size of the net would be no different.
As for it being too drastic, we aren’t talking soccer-sized goals, just a few inches wider or taller, or both. Will coaches try to become even more defense-oriented to protect a larger cage? Perhaps, but we’re surmising that goals would beget goals. Fall behind 2-0 early on shots that maybe wouldn’t have gone in on a smaller net and, as a coach, you’re forced to alter your strategy and take more risks.
from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,
Gary Bettman might finally have a winner on his hands. When the league’s board of governors meet Nov. 28-29 in Pebble Beach, Calif., it’s expected they’ll approve a change to the schedule which will allow every team to face each other at least once per season. After failing twice to get the schedule changed, it’s believed Bettman has finally come up with a format the governors will support. Here’s what the new format could look like: Teams will play six games against divisional foes, down from eight; it’s expected clubs will face the other teams in their conference four times (status quo); the remaining 18 games on the schedule would be played against the opposing conference.
read on for more NHL talk plus some trade rumors…
From Sam McCaig at THN,
Numbers don’t lie.
1. Montreal, at 10-4-3, is tied with Colorado for the third-best winning percentage in the league (.676). Not bad for a team The Hockey News predicted would finish 13th in the Eastern Conference this season. The New Jersey Devils, at 7-9-2, were holding down 13th in the East through Nov. 15.
2. Buffalo, at 6-10-1, is 29th in the league in winning percentage (.382), ahead of only Washington (6-11-1, .361). And have you heard this one about Buffalo? They haven’t scored the first goal in 14 consecutive games;
From The Tennessean,
David Freeman, head of the group buying the Nashville Predators hockey team, put out this statement this afternoon:
“We are excited to reach an agreement with the Mayor’s Office on lease changes to keep the Predators in Nashville under local ownership. We are very appreciative of Mayor Dean for getting this done amid the many priorities he has as the new mayor of our city. He obviously has a strong desire for this hockey team to remain in Nashville.”
continued… with the rest of the statement
Updated 5:52pm ET: From the AP via USA Today,
Mayor Karl Dean said the agreement guarantees the team will stay in Nashville for the next five years or the city’s financial investment will be paid back.
The changes for the Sommet Center must be approved by the Metro Sports Authority and city council. The NHL Board of Governors must approve the $193 million sale.
From Pierre Lebrun, CP via MetroNews,
“It’s just part of the business. I’m viewing this as a great time to teach them how to respond to adversity. I have to be strong at home and go out and get another job and let them know that when you have a setback and you have to stand up and get back on your feet. That’s what society demands and that’s what we demand of ourselves.”
Armstrong’s deal with the Stars pays him through the 2010-11 season but he doesn’t plan on sitting on the couch. He wants to work.
He’s already been contacted from numerous friends around the league and given his excellent reputation he needn’t worry.
“Someone said when you get let go, because it’s never if but when, just make a list of names of people that called you and that’ll give you a pretty good feeling of what you’ve done,” said Armstrong. “So I’ve got that list and I’m on the third or fourth page now. It means a lot when people around the league reach out to you and show their support.”
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
Maybe it’s time to frame the discussion about what’s going on by asking the question: Is the game of hockey, played at the NHL level, too fast for its own good?
There’s little doubt that the league, in the post-lockout era, is collectively faster than ever. The players are bigger, stronger and fitter. The equipment has never been more evolved. Attempts to get obstruction out of the game have largely succeeded, meaning there is flow and speed again through the neutral zone, which wasn’t always the case in the dark days prior to the lockout when the clutch-and-grab style trumped all others.
The unhappy byproduct of all this speed, however, is that the game changed again — and it became all about reaction and instinct….
read on plus more NHL bits…
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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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