Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Dan McNeil of the Chicago Tribune,
Hockey is the ultimate team game. Debate that with those closest to it and you’ll wind up in a fight.
I’m too old to drop the gloves with anybody, but consider me among those not needing style points as the Blackhawks inch their way closer to just their fourth title in franchise history and first since 1961. I don’t need a blowout win and I don’t covet more individual accolades for the young stars.
Smart money says they don’t either. Nobody in the dressing room will be pulling a Walter Payton act if stay-at-home defenseman Brent Sopel and improbable Game 2 hero Ben Eager record the only lamp lighters in 1-0 wins in Games 3 and 4.
You remember Payton’s petulance after the most celebrated triumph by any local team ever, the Bears’ 46-10 Super Bowl XX evisceration of the Patriots? Instead of joining in the dancing, Payton slumped at his locker and pouted because he didn’t score a touchdown.
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
There is something about Joel Quenneville, this close to his first Stanley Cup as a head coach, that exudes calm, control, and a sharp sense of confidence.
But two wins away from the largest prize of his hockey life, it also represents for him, for anyone who has ever suffered any kind of mental setback, one of the great unspoken comebacks in hockey history.
To understand Quenneville today, you have to go back to yesterday. Six years ago at the world hockey championships, Quenneville was supposed to coach Team Canada. But just one day before the tournament was to begin, there were already concerns about his erratic behaviour. And in a brief interview scrum with Canadian reporters, it was clear that Quenneville was not himself. He spoke, in what those who were there refer to as “gibberish.” Hockey Canada called it exhaustion then and now. Some said he had a mental breakdown of sorts. Looking back, he calls it stress and insomnia.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Now we find out if the Flyers can do what the Sharks could not: Turn it up one more notch and not be satisfied with saying they’re in every game despite not winning them. That’s not good enough.
“These guys don’t know the meaning of the word quit,” Flyers owner Ed Snider told ESPN.com on Tuesday. “Even in [Monday] night’s game in the third period, the goalie for Chicago did a great job, but it just showed that we were prepared to come back in that game. We did fall short, but in their building, we outshot them 15-4 in the third period. I think that says a lot.”
On Wednesday night at what should be an electric Wachovia Center, we’ll find out if these never-say-die Flyers can find one more gear to what has already been a decent effort so far in these Cup finals. We wouldn’t be the slightest bit surprised if they do. Talk to observers who have been around this Flyers team, including our own ESPN.com columnist Scott Burnside, and they will tell you how amazed they are by Philadelphia’s competitive spirit.
from Craig Custance of The Sporting News,
So, in an era in which teams have to skimp somewhere because of the salary cap, have the Red Wings, Blackhawks and Flyers found the solution is to go cheap in goal?
“No, I think you’re going to see flip-flop either way,” said Boston G.M. Peter Chiarelli. “I know Detroit has had success with that model, but Pittsburgh won and New Jersey won. It depends on the team that is going to win that year. I don’t think there’s a trend.”
Steve Yzerman is about to embark on rebuilding the Lightning and how he approaches the goalie situation in Tampa Bay could provide a good indication of where the trend is headed. He almost has a clean slate in goal, with Antero Niittymaki becoming an unrestricted free agent on July 1 and Mike Smith set to play out the final season of a deal that pays $2.4 million.
A Holland protégé, you’d expect Yzerman to follow the Red Wings model, especially since it’s possible he’ll face an internal budget south of the salary cap. But he said there are other factors to consider.
from Mark Spector of Sportsnet,
It was 1991, maybe ’92 and I was still young in the business. A kid from the prairies, making his first hockey trip down the Eastern seaboard.
It was my first time inside the old Philadelphia Spectrum and as I gawked at the history, to the veteran New York scribe seated beside me, I must have had “ROOKIE” written all over my face.
And as we sat there, that scribe — Frank Brown was his name — looked around that classic old hockey barn and mused with a mixture of fondness and regret, “This used to be a very … angry … place.”
He was referring to the days of the Broad Street Bullies. The early 70’s, a time that was at once the Flyers ‘ glory years with Stanley Cups in 1974 and ’75 and an era many would call the nadir of hockey on this continent.
from David Pollak of Working the Corners,
I wanted to reach (Don) Meehan to try and get a sense if he or Nabokov had heard anything from the Sharks that would indicate one way or the other where things might stand….
“We don’t really have any information from Doug (Wilson) at this time,” Meehan said just before the holiday weekend. “Doug is the kind of individual, I know he’ll get back to us when they have a better idea what they have in mind.”
Wilson does not discuss contract negotiations until deals are in place, but he said last week that the process hadn’t reached the point where any decisions had been made going forward on any free agents, that he still needed to talk with the coaching staff among others.
And Meehan suggested that it still might be another couple weeks before he hears anything from the Sharks.
“I had expected that I would hear from Doug sometime in the middle of June to let me know what his intentions were,” the agent said. “There’s no concern in our end that we haven’t heard.”
more Sharks talk…
from Brian Cronin at the Fabulous Forum,
Spencer was drafted by the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 5th Round of the 1969 Draft. He would be called up at the end of the 1969-70 season for 9 games, but 1970-71 was his first full season in the league (and his official “rookie” season).
Here’s where Spencer’s story takes a bit of a dramatic turn from the typical into the bizarre (and tragic).
Spencer’s father, Roy Spencer, was a stern man. A skilled mechanic, he was the one who instilled in Brian the attitude and drive that would serve Brian in the NHL. On the other hand, he also most likely taught him anger and a weakness for alcohol. By his mid-teens, Brian was already a heavy drinker and had spent time in reform school. However, he was still a talented hockey player, so he had a way out of Fort St. James. One of the proudest days of his father’s life was when Brian was drafted. As it turned out, Roy was perhaps a bit too proud.
from Michael Traikos of the National Post,
Brian Burke appeared on Sportsnet’s Hockey Central at Noon on Tuesday. And the bombastic Toronto Maple Leafs general manager did not disappoint.
On roster needs this summer
“We’ll have to try to acquire that piece through trade — the conventional old-fashioned way and give up assets to get it — or we’re going to try to sign that player as a free agent. Our biggest need is we need a forward who can score, preferably a good-sized one.”
Translation: Chicago’s 6-foot-1 Patrick Sharp or Anaheim’s 6-foot-2 Bobby Ryan would make great additions.
from David Boclair of the Nashville City Paper,
The time has come for Shea Weber to replace Jason Arnott as team captain. Arnott has had the job for three seasons, and given the current state of things, that’s long enough.
There are plenty of reasons Weber should assume that role. For example, he’s one of the best players in the NHL.
Throughout the years, the organization has been loath to put too much responsibility on young players. It’s true that Weber is only 24 (he’ll be 25 by the start of next season), but he’s already played in an NHL All-Star game and was one of the top players for Canada’s gold-medal team at the Olympics in February.
His age is a virtue — there’s no reason to think his performance will start to decline anytime soon.
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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