Kukla's Korner Hockey
Scott Burnside of ESPN takes a look at and possible destinations of the UFA forwards…
Although the big money will chase the big three (Gomez, Briere and Drury) as teams try to build down the middle, there is surprising depth in the free-agent market at the center position. Handzus, an underappreciated player in Philadelphia who was hurt early on in Chicago last season, is an intriguing possibility. Although he’s not regarded as a true first-line center, the defensively sound Handzus is a fine faceoff man. Sounds like a pretty good fit for a team looking for help on both sides of the puck. One team that might be interested is Columbus, where coach Ken Hitchcock is well aware of Handzus’ value from their days in Philadelphia.
from The Maven at Game On (yes, another website for Stan),
Although the NHL Players’ Association fired its boss, Ted Saskin, the union still has to do business with the league. Gary Bettman tells us that one of the triumvirate – at least temporarily – running the Association is none other than onetime enforcer, Stu Grimson. Grimson‘s partner is Ian Penny.
a few more NHL bits from Stan…
from Adam Proteau of the Hockey News,
Fans in the arena were as enthusiastic as any I’ve seen assembled for the draft. And I can’t believe I’m about to type this, but the crowd’s ovation for Blue Jackets owner John H. McConnell before his pre-draft welcome speech bordered on touching.
At that point, anyone in the stands who hailed from Boston or Chicago could have been forgiven for believing they were hallucinating.
more on the Columbus experience…
The view of Columbus from the End of the Bench,
The long anticipated draft weekend has come and gone. I’ve taken a moment to relax and reflect. In the aftermath, I felt exhausted but I’m not really sure why. I didn’t work all that hard, stay up too late, or party too hard. Still, it was a whirlwind twenty-four hours for me….
New Jackets GM Scott Howson stepped to the stage to announce the seventh pick, and was met with thunderous applause, cheering, and chants of “Let’s Go Jackets!” I’m sure he couldn’t have asked for a better introduction to the hockey fans in Columbus.
from Allan Muir at Sports Illustrated,
Based on the post-draft thoughts of scouts who were asked to assess the proceedings based on which teams made the most of the day, five clearly impressed their peers with their choices.
5. San Jose Sharks
The Sharks entered the day with no first-round pick (having traded theirs to St. Louis in the Bill Guerin deal in February), but left with a pair: Logan Couture (#9) and Nick Petrecki (#28). GM Doug Wilson—again proving himself to be a master of asset management…
from Bill Simmons at ESPN Page 2,
4:21: As we wait for Chicago’s pick, one TSN announcer confidently decides, “This is a crucial time for the Blackhawks,” and another adds, “This is a big pick, this is a big pick.” They both have kickin’ Canadian accents. How have I been missing the NHL draft all these years? I feel like someone introduced me to Patron tequila all over again.
4:22: Here’s a cool wrinkle for the first round: Before every pick, each GM walks up to the stage flanked by four cronies, then stands in front of the podium and announces his pick. Imagine if the NBA did this and we could see the likes of Elgin Baylor and Kevin McHale announcing their own picks? Can we make this happen?
Anyway, Chicago GM Dale Tallon is “proud” to introduce tiny Patrick Kane as his No. 1 pick. This kid looks like an altar boy. I’m not kidding—he actually looks like an altar boy. I hope his tremendous upside potential involves puberty.
from the Record,
Stevens and his longtime Rangers’ rival, Mark Messier, are expected to headline one of the best induction classes in the Hall’s hallowed history.
They’ll likely be joined by former Calgary and St. Louis defenseman Al MacInnis and ex-Hartford, Pittsburgh, Carolina and Toronto center Ron Francis.
“It’s a big thing,” Stevens admitted. “I don’t really think of a lot of things, but you think about the Stanley Cup and after that I maybe thought of the Hall of Fame, thinking that would be really neat. That would be some accomplishment to be recognized with other great players.”
added 10:15am, Legends of Hockey has a different spin on the class for this year…
Too many deserving members and only 4 positions. My money is on Messier, Stevens, Larionov, and Bure. Francis probably should get the nod over Bure, but somehow I see the Hall making a bit of a political move here.
from Pierre Lebrun of the CP via the Hockey News,
Big decisions lie ahead this week as the start of the July 1 free agency looms. The flood gates open at noon ET next Sunday.
“I expect the first two or three days in July to be pretty wild,” said Detroit Red Wings GM Ken Holland.
No one will feel the heat more than Sabres GM Darcy Regier. He’s got two of the most sought-after players who are pending unrestricted free agents in Drury and Briere.
“It’s different, I can tell you that,” Regier said of having two of the top free agents in the NHL. “I haven’t experienced this before in 10 years. We’ll see where it goes.”
from Tony Gallagher of the Vancouver Province,
Why would anyone who actually follows the sport continue to pay for season tickets in a building that isn’t sold out when the owner is so ruthlessly savaging the entertainment value for that customer? Some teams do it by mistake, but this is being done simply to cut payroll.
This almost certainly means the Predators will lose revenue this season. If they do, they will have done so intentionally, and every single player in the NHL will suffer when it comes time to calculate both the final escrow payment on this coming season’s paycheque and in the calculation of next season’s cap.
What kind of partnership do you have when your partner takes unilateral action that will further his own financial aims, whatever they might be, by taking money out of your pocket without the least consultation or input from you?
from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,
San Jose GM Doug Wilson said he’s not trying to trade C Patrick Marleau, but admits he’s had conversations. “If teams are going to call, it’s my job to listen,” said Wilson. “I would think that’s a compliment to us that people would want our players. But I’m not trying to trade Marleau.” ... The Wild and Thrashers have shown mild interest in C Alexei Yashin, who was bought out of his contract a couple of weeks ago by the Islanders.
more player movement talk…
from Lord Stanley’s Blog at the News & Observer,
The NHL Draft typically serves as a cauldron of rumor and speculation, and word swept the draft floor Saturday that the Canes were part of a three-way deal that would send Erik Cole to Edmonton and bring Joni Pitkanen to Carolina from Philadelphia.
Except that Edmonton general manager Kevin Lowe said he’d never been offered Cole — but joked that he’d pick up the phone if Cole was available — and Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford said Cole wasn’t being shopped: “Wasn’t, hasn’t been, no.”
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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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