Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Anthony J. SanFilippo of the Delaware County Times,
It’s a good thing for the Penguins that the Steelers are in the AFC Championship game, keeping the spotlight off of them.
Making matters worse are reports that there is an internal rift between the players and coach Michel Therrien and that the Pittsburgh coach might not be around if it matters get much worse.
Speculation is that former Carolina Hurricanes coach Peter Laviolette could replace Therrien at a moment’s notice.
It’s not just the coach.
Malkin and Crosby are still scoring points — they are the league’s top two scorers — but they are getting little help from teammates and finding that play has gotten a lot more physical compared to last season.
from Barry Jackson of the Miami Herald,
...the slumping economy is taking a toll on fan turnout—and in some ways, forcing the Miami Dolphins, Miami Heat, Florida Panthers and the Florida Marlins to rethink how they do business….
The Panthers are averaging 15,156 tickets distributed per game, which is below last year’s 15,436 and 25th among 30 teams. But the number of people who actually attend Heat and Panthers games is lower, sometimes significantly so….
The Panthers also have canceled plans to add a $25 fee to tickets for marquee games this season.
Yormark hopes to boost single-game sales, which he says have been ‘‘somewhat affected’’ by the economy.
The economy has affected the Panthers in other ways, too—the team laid off several support staff employees and is no longer matching employee money in 401(k) accounts.
more Panthers talk along with other Sout Florida teams…
from Ted Montgomery at USA TODAY,
News: The Pittsburgh Penguins have struggled this season.
Views: Not surprising. It’s not unusual for a young team that has vaulted to great success (last year’s Stanley Cup Finals appearance) to experience some growing pains. The Pens also lost some players from last year’s team and have sustained some significant injuries. They will rebound in the second half. There is too much talent on this team.
News: The Detroit Red Wings will not be able to keep Henrik Zetterberg, Marian Hossa and Johan Franzen on next year’s team.
Views: Even Detroit GM Ken Holland admits that next year’s Red Wings will be different than this year’s squad. One of those three players will be gone, solely for salary cap reasons. Most observers feel it will be Hossa, but I think Franzen is the most likely to go….
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
The Rangers New York Rangers and the agent for Nikolai Zherdev are in the preliminary stages of negotiations aimed at extending the talented 24-year-old winger’s contract and thus preventing him from reaching the Group II free-agent market, The Post has learned.
“This is where I want to be,” Zherdev told The Post yesterday. “I don’t want to play in Russia next year. I want to stay here and play in the NHL, in New York, with the Rangers.
“I’m very happy here. I like the team. I like the guys. I like living here. Everything is good.”
from Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News,
Teams out west do those kind of things all the time with few chances to come home. At least the Sabres’ Sea to Shining Sea tour will get broken into three segments. Between now and Feb. 4, the Sabres will have just one home game (Saturday against Carolina) and will make eight stops on the road….
“You switch yourself to road mode, do your routines on the road, go a day at a time and stay focused,” Numminen said. “We’re confident on the road. . . . Every year there’s a crazy trip and this is the one for us. The schedule is never perfect. You go a day at a time, make sure you’re in the moment and don’t look ahead. Soon enough, everything is behind you.”
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
Burke knows what it’s like to have the wrong goalie. He lived too long with Dan Cloutier in Vancouver to know better, and enjoyed the fruits of Jean-Sebastien Giguere’s labour while in Anaheim. One goalie was at his best when it mattered most. The other was just another guy.
What Burke needs to determine sometime between now and the end of the season is: Can Toskala be a starting goaltender on a winning team in Toronto, or will he have to look elsewhere for the next Leafs goalie?
This is the end for Curtis Joseph and with Pogge there is no certainty, no indication yet if there will be a beginning. Pogge isn’t, in anyone’s opinion, lighting it up in the American Hockey League. He is in the middle of the pack among AHL goalies. That is no ringing endorsement on his future. But were Toskala in the middle of the pack, which he is not right now, the Leafs concern in net would not be so substantive.
from Billy Witz of the LA Times,
When the Kings’ prized rookie defenseman Drew Doughty crumpled to the ice after a big hit from Tampa Bay’s Evgeny Artyukhin midway through the second period, his defensive partner, Sean O’Donnell, chased Artyukhin off the ice, jabbing him with his stick until he drew a cross-checking penalty.
Doughty left the game because of a bruised thigh….
After Doughty went to the dressing room for the rest of the night because of a bruised thigh, his teammates didn’t respond to the hit with more inspired play or their fists.
“That’s why the dressing room door is closed right now,” Murray said after keeping it closed for 15 minutes.
“That’s a response that players need to take into their own hands right away, through hard play, through going at it and doing the right stuff. Physically playing hard, competing harder.
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
The Phoenix Coyotes’ losses this season are expected to hit $45-million (all currency U.S.) once their debt servicing is taken into account, according to two sources, and the club is making further cutbacks after layoffs last week.
Among the austerity measures pushed on the club by the NHL, which is monitoring the Coyotes’ financial and player-personnel moves, is a reduction in travel by the club’s scouts, according to sources. Last week, the Coyotes laid off 18 people in the front office, about 10 per cent of their staff.
Sources have said the Coyotes owe about $80-million to SOF Investments LP, an equity fund owned by computer tycoon Michael Dell and his family. The club has pledged almost all of its assets and revenue to the company as collateral.
from The Good, The Bad And The Duthie,
Tampa wants the world in return for Lecavalier, of that there is little doubt. No one is completely sure of the package begin demanded, though you’ve probably heard the names being tossed around: Higgins, Plekanec, Komaserik, a top-flight prospect (P.K. Subban?), draft picks. Perhaps they’re not asking for all of them. Perhaps they are. Heck, perhaps they’re asking for more.
If it’s either one of the last two, it sounds like too much.
Lecavalier is a wonderful player, certainly among the top handful in the world. But in an age when depth in everything, giving up four (five? Six?) quality assets for one superstar is a massive risk. Especially when that superstar has a new contract that will pay him 85 million dollars over the next decade (the 11-year deal kicks in after next season, and will pay Lecavalier huge dollars until he is 41 years old). In Capland, the country the NHL now resides in, that kind of contract could handicap you for the next decade.
from Lightning Strikes,
In the meantime, the rumor mill will churn. Canada’s TSN already has a trade mapped out having to do with the Canadiens, though it does not include shut-down defenseman Mike Komisarek, who, logic says, would have to be included in any deal of this magnitude.
If Lecavalier thinks the rumors and speculation are bad now, wait till the Montreal native goes home for the Jan. 25 All-Star Game. As he said Monday, “I’m just glad we’re in California and not Canada. I haven’t even looked at the Internet.”
from Brad Ziemer of the Vancouver Sun,
In Monday’s practice, Demitra was dropped to the fourth line where he skated with Ryan Johnson and Darcy Hordichuk. By the sound of Vigneault, it seems there’s a good chance Demitra could draw fourth-line duty tonight when the Canucks play host to the New Jersey Devils.
“He has been given quite a few minutes here and I really gave him quite a few chances,” Vigneault said. “For me, if you are not getting points but you are getting scoring chances, that’s a different thing. There’s not much going on there right now.”
Vigneault is particularly disturbed by his team’s play at home. After weathering a difficult start, which saw the Canucks play 19 of their first 30 games on the road, most expected Vancouver to make hay at home.
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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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