Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Greg Wyshynski of PuckDaddy,
The Wings said yesterday that Franzen’s target date for a return is next Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues, putting his rehab time at the minimum of four months and potentially giving him three games before the Olympic break. Then he can put his feet up on the coffee table and do whatever it is a guy nicknamed the Mule does to relax for a few weeks, having been left off the Team Sweden Olympic roster.
That snub didn’t exactly sit well with Franzen. In speaking with Swedish newspaper Expressen (article hilariously translated here, including the phrase “it feels a little sandbox on the whole”), Franzen said Team Sweden officials “made a mistake and they want to hide it” after keeping him off the roster.
According to the admittedly rough translation, the paper previously reported that Swedish head coach Bengt-Ake Gustafsson hadn’t spoken to Franzen since November and that the team didn’t consult Detroit doctors about his injury rehab.
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
We get it. John Tortorella is the chess master playing with one king, one rook, a knight, a bishop and about a dozen pawns. But at some point the head coach of the Rangers must declare and implement a strategy against more heavily fortified opponents that does not change every five minutes.
By going public with the Ilya Kovalchuk will be traded line yesterday, Atlanta GM Don Waddell is trying to create more interest in his star player.
With that in mind, what is your best offer for Ilya, and let’s assume it is as a ‘rental player’ only, meaning he will be going to the UFA market come July 1st.
For some real trade talk, Lyle Richardson of Spector’s Hockey takes a look at all the teams mentioned as a possible destination for Kovalchuk.
“It’s certainly been a different year right from the get-go to be quite honest but it’s not a bad thing. I’ve learned lots through this. The first two years (in New Jersey) I didn’t go through this so it’s experience in going through it but with the coaching staff, with (GM and brother) Darryl and Ken (club president King) and with Murray (part owner Edwards) and the ownership group, I’ve had a lot of support through it so we’re staying the course.
“They’ve been tough days but you have to stay positive too, continue to believe so it’s been, to be quite honest, something you don’t want to go through but it’s something we’ve gone through and we all have to take something good out of it and I certainly have as a coach.
“Hopefully it’ll make me better at what I do. It is what it is and you deal with it the best way you can.”
-Flames Coach Brent Sutter. More on the Flames win last night from John Down of Flames Insider.
via the Ice Man at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution,
OK kids…while we sit around waiting for the news to break about who Ilya Kovalchuk will be traded to and which player(s) may be heading our way, here is a couple of question to ponder. First, given the news yesterday that Don Waddell informed Kovalchuk that he’d be working out a trade in the coming days, what happens if such a deal is not finalized by Friday night when the Thrashers play in D.C.? Certainly you can’t suit him up to play knowing his future is not with this team…right? Does John Anderson sits him and dresses Kozlov?
I’ll be curious to see if he’s at practice Thursday morning…or even make the flight to Washington.
I think there can be a logical argument made to sit him now that he’s been informed of the pending trade.
from Tom Reed of the Columbus Dispatch,
“I’m pretty much in shock,” Umberger said. “It’s a really tough thing to swallow. Hitch has done so much for my career. As a player, you feel like you let him down.”
Several players agreed and said they also are to blame for the team’s poor showing a season after reaching the playoffs for the first time.
Hitchcock’s demanding style and penchant for overloading players, especially young ones, with information likely contributed to his ouster. Some players appeared overwhelmed by the endless meetings and mixed messages.
Prized prospect Nikita Filatov returned to Russia in November, citing differences with Hitchcock. Youngsters such as Brassard and Voracek, goalless in the past 24 games, looked to be regressing. But Brassard was one of several players interviewed last night who had praise for Hitchcock.
“I respect that he tried to help me and all the young guys,” Brassard said. “He was really patient with us. Some guys will say he was not right for the young players, and he was hard on us. He knew what we were about to face, and he was getting us to be NHL players.”
from Mark Zwolinski of the Toronto Star,
“It’s not over yet,” Phaneuf said after practice. “There’s a lot of games left. We are where we are, but we have to do our best to get points and make a push for the playoffs. ... If teams lose and you win a few, you’re right there.”
The Leafs have 47 points, 10 behind eighth-place Tampa Bay in the Eastern Conference, and somehow need to total somewhere in the 93-point range, the norm for an eighth-place team in the East the past few seasons.
It’s a tall order, to be sure, but the recent eye-popping trades have instilled new hope and confidence, bolstered by the team’s 3-0 win over New Jersey on Tuesday in its first post-blockbuster outing.
It was called a goal on the ice and Toronto agreeed, saying the hand-slapping motion from Chipchura came after the puck hit his glove.
from Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News,
Joe Nieuwendyk sounds pretty cautious to me.
As the first-year Stars general manager prepares for his first NHL trade deadline, he has done a lot of work. He has visited with scouts, he has talked about needs and he has assessed the situation around the league.
And yet he might do very little at the trade deadline.
The reason? The Stars are still very much in the playoff race, and Nieuwendyk believes the team has every chance to make it. And that will be a big part of the team’s thought process as it gets ready for the March 3 trade deadline.
“You definitely want to give your team every chance to compete, and that is a huge part of how we will look at things,” Nieuwendyk said. “I do believe these five games leading up to the Olympic break will be very big for us. We play four of them on the road, we’ve struggled on the road, and we have the opportunity to make a statement that we’ve addressed those issues and improved our team. If we do that, I definitely think that sends a message.”
from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution,
The Thrashers’ next game is Friday night in Washington. It seems unlikely the team would want Kovalchuk in uniform, while negotiations for his departure are ongoing. His destination, most likely a playoff contender, and a timetable for a deal have not been determined….
Kovalchuk has been seeking the maximum salary allowed under the collective bargaining agreement, which is 20 percent of the salary cap, or roughly $11.3 million per season. Grossman confirmed that he has not come off that number during negotiations and was asking for a “lifetime” contract in the 10-to-12-year range.
The Thrashers have offered multiple deals, none close those terms. Waddell has approached the cap allowance with an offer of $10 million a year, but sought shorter terms (at three, five or seven years). According to Grossman, the Thrashers’ last offer on the table was for $101 million but the deal would span 12 seasons for an annual average of $8.42 million.
added 7:50pm, from Bob McKenzie of TSN,
So, all things being equal, the Thrashers would like to put this all to bed in the next few days and perhaps have Kovalchuk traded before the team’s next game on Friday night.
If that happens, no one should be surprised.
But while there are reports that five or six teams are “seriously” interested in Kovalchuk, the dynamic for each of the teams is different, unique if you will, and those expressions of “interest” would appear to run the gamut from tire kicking to legitimate but somewhat cautious interest.
Compounding the muddiness of the picture is what Waddell and the Thrashers expect to get in return for Kovalchuk.
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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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