Kukla's Korner Hockey
Of all the headlines that the NHL prefers to avoid seeing on a Monday morning, this one has to rank pretty high: “Team ‘Operation Slapshot’ at 2007 World Series of Poker.”
In a little more than a month former NHLer Rick Tocchet will find out his sentence for pleading guilty to charges of third-degree conspiracy and third-degree promoting gambling for his part in the operation of a gambling ring in New Jersey. To kill time Tocchet has decided to play in the 2007 World Series of Poker for his shot at the nearly $7.5 Million first place prize.
As TIB points out, this isn’t at all the same thing as gambling in sports - and there’s nothing wrong with NHL people playing poker. But it still strikes me as sort of obvious-stupid for this particular hockey person to be anywhere near this event. (And according to the the article at PokerBiz, Janet Gretzky participated as well, believe it or not.)
Do these people not have public relations reps telling them “bad idea! don’t do it!”?
Wow, the slowest day regarding hockey talk in a long time.
Nothing out there today folks, nada, zip…
Signings and trade talk may filter in here and there, but I have a feeling the next three weeks or so may be slow.
We will be around and will report anything hockey related.
In the meantime, stay cool! 92 degrees here in the Detroit area at 8:30pm!
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
• Poile, the Nashville Predators veteran general manager, was all prepared to talk to the Leafs about a senior position that may have included becoming general manager, when his owner, Craig Leipold, revoked the permission.
• So Scotty Bowman has finally admitted he turned down the Maple Leafs after first lying about it. What he hasn’t admitted is he had a general manager (or assistant) ready to take over. He had Igor Larionov ready to become coach, Craig Ramsay ready to assist him, and he had spoken to other well-known NHL names about taking front office positions with the team.
more hockey talk scattered about…
from Larry Wigge at NHL.com,
“We think he’s a perfect addition to our team,” Holland said. “He’s been a premier defenseman in the League for a number of years. He can play in every situation—power play, penalty kill, against the other teams’ best players.
“With his mobility and puckhandling skills, he is a perfect fit for our style of play. We wanted three puck-moving defensemen—and now with Nicklas Lidstrom, Brian and Niklas Kronvall we have that.”
A couple years ago, another player told me; “Forget the size. Rafalski can control a game with his skating, shooting and his smarts.”
The player was Mario Lemieux. Can’t get better than that kind of compliment, can you?
more on Rafalski and the Central Division…
From Wes Goldstein at CBS Sports,
Five goals. Just five more goals over the course of an 18-year career and Jeremy Roenick would have had the credentials that automatically warrant Hall of Fame consideration.
A couple of passes off a defenseman’s skate here, a few less goalposts there, maybe a little better aim on an ice-long shot at an empty net somewhere down the line and boom, Roenick would have left the game with 500 goals.
Of course reaching that lofty plateau is no more a guarantee of Hall entry than falling short is of exclusion, and Roenick will certainly get votes by the time he is eligible three years from now. Yet, that milestone number on his résumé would’ve served as a fair reminder about a career that was among the most notable ever put together by an American-born player.
from Scott Burnside at ESPN,
And so the dust has all but settled on the free agency battlefield.
There are a few stragglers hiding in the woods, Alexei Yashin, Daniel Markov, Curtis Joseph and, surprisingly, Sheldon Souray. But for the most part teams have staked their claim to improving their lot by throwing boatloads of dough and years of security at this year’s crop of unrestricted free agents. In the final reckoning only a handful will enjoy true success and of course only one will see the ultimate reward with a Stanley Cup next spring. Until then here’s our look at the winners and losers of the free agency conflict.
The New York Rangers…
Dave Stubbs at The Gazette and Habs Inside/Out decided to feature some light entertainment on this hot Friday off-season day. (Not that the Edmonton-Buffalo debacle hasn’t been plenty entertaining, but it’s nice to have a change of pace…)
Here’s one of his entries—you can click here to see the rest.
Caption: “But where the NHL taketh from goalies with a wider net,
it giveth back, with somewhat larger pucks.”
via the Salmon Arm Observer,
And while I’m on the subject of Mr. Niedermayer, who hails from Cranbrook and is likely to retire, I’ll go out on a limb right now and declare him the best B.C.-born hockey player ever.
I know that list includes the likes of Steve Yzerman, Joe Sakic, Cam Neely and many, many others, but I believe his resumé matches up against any of those other players and his skills make him a unique and special player.
I also include the fact he excelled in that stifling, albeit successful, system in New Jersey for so many years. It was not the ideal place for an offensive defenceman but he made it work. Imagine if he was with Detroit during those same years. His numbers would be scary.
From AM570 News,
It was a very frank discussion in an exclusive interview with Jim Balsillie’s lawyer Richard Rodier on 570’s Prime Time Sports last night.
Rodier says Commissioner Gary Bettman is against having more teams in Canada, and believes his client Jim Balisille is being treated differently because of his desire to move the Nashville Predators to Hamilton.
During the interview Rodier says he believes a gag order has been put into place, covering the NHL’s Board of Governors regarding the deal.
from Allan Muir at Sports Illustrated,
Sorry, Sabres fans. Tough luck, ye followers of the benighted Fishsticks. I probably can’t stop you from draping yourselves in sackcloth and a thick coating of ashes while you curse the cruel fate of your underprivileged franchises. But I’m here to tell you that hockey fans should be rejoicing, no matter what their team affiliation.
Say what you want about the merits of competitive balance. It’s the presence of teams that are as rich in tradition as they are in talent that makes a sport compelling. And if these spending sprees allow another dynasty to rise up in a well-established market—New York or Philadelphia or Detroit or Toronto, for instance—then so much the better for the NHL.
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