Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Bob Hunter of the Columbus Dispatch,
The Jackets’ season was effectively over during Christmas shopping season. If you attended a party on New Year’s Eve, you might catch somebody discussing the talent at the top of the next summer’s draft.
This season wasn’t the same. It might seem like it because of increasing expectations, but it wasn’t even close. Coach Ken Hitchcock achieved his goal of making the Blue Jackets difficult for others to play against. His system allowed a team that didn’t have a depth of veteran talent to consistently beat teams that do, and he might have been one goal scorer from getting the Jackets into the playoffs. And they even had that scorer—Fredrik Modin—but injuries limited him to 23 games.
from David Climer of the Tennessean,
What’s taking so long? More than a month ago, word leaked out that a new contract was forthcoming. Majority owner David Freeman was on board, saying that Trotz “has done an outstanding job in a very challenging situation.”
Then nothing happened. It made you wonder if somebody had inserted a Playoffs Or Bust clause into the deal.
Well, the Preds are in the playoffs for the fourth consecutive season. And of those four, this is the most unlikely team to make the postseason.
These Predators are relying on a goalie, Dan Ellis, who looks skinny before the game and downright emaciated afterward.
from Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe,
Time for bigger nets? Not yet. Not before one last look at the brotherhood of Stay Puft Marshmallow goalies and their arsenal.
In about eight weeks, a nine-member committee, dubbed the Goalie Equipment Working Group, will wrestle with this age-old question: Does size really matter? Comprising four general managers and five players, the group intends to convene for one day (June 11 in Toronto) and settle once and for all what, if anything, can be done about modifying goaltender equipment, in hopes of leading to more goals and more entertaining hockey.
“Maybe some of the equipment can be squeezed smaller, or maybe there’s a way of scaling it specifically to body size,” said Paul Kelly, executive director of the NHL Players Association. “What we know for sure is that everyone wants to resolve this, once and for all.
more and other NHL topics too…
from Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun,
Blow it up, clean it up, pimp it up.
Some or all of the above will be applied to the Maple Leafs in the next six to 12 months as the hierarchy finally responds to three straight years of playoff stagnation, part of the Loserpalooza that began in the late 1960s. Interim general manager Cliff Fletcher will lead the assault, with marching orders to rid the hockey team of dead wood, supposedly handing off to a president/GM free of meddling from the suits at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment Ltd.
It could mean a couple more nuclear winters for a franchise too used to watching Stanley Cup parades in other cities, though some would argue its necessity.
from Lew Serviss of Slap Shot a the NY Times,
The Caps have done it. With a 3-1 victory Saturday over Florida, Washington won the Southeast crown and the third seed in the East.
It’s an amazing comeback. Back in November, the Caps were dead last in the league, a team with amazing young talent — Mike Green, Nicklas Backstrom, Alexander Semin, Alex Ovechkin! — but a proclivity for vise-gripping the stick. In came rumpled, straight-shooter Bruce Boudreau from three decades of minor-league obscurity. Bruce turned ‘em loose.
from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,
Columbus D Ron Hainsey has played his last game with the Jackets. He will be a UFA this summer and won’t be back because he’ll be one of the most sought-after players on the market.
Don’t expect Minnesota W Pavol Demitra to return to the Wild. The talk is he’d like to play where there’s warm weather. The Lightning might be a good fit.
Speaking of the Bolts, once the sale of the team is complete, GM Jay Feaster and coach John Tortorella could be on their way out the door.
added 8:53am, NHL talk from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal,
Joel Quenneville has been a lame-duck coach in Colorado this season, on the final year of his contract, but considering he got the Avalanche into the playoffs with a bad run of injuries, he deserves a new three-year deal.
Dallas centre Brad Richards has missed the last two games with what’s being called “overall soreness,” which is pretty vague. He says he hasn’t had a relapse of the mononucleosis that hit him when he was in Tampa Bay, but it’s troubling.
from Matthew Sekeres of the Globe and Mail,
The main actor on Saturday was Linden, and the fans came to glory him regardless of what the scoreboard read. An emotional farewell began before the start of the third period, and continued throughout the frame and into a post-game ceremony.
Rather than surrounded their goaltender after the final buzzer, the Canucks encircled Linden, each player getting a personal moment and some whispers into his ear. Then, in a classy move, Flames captain Jarome Iginla pulled his teammates from the locker room and had them line up and shake hands with Linden.
Several times, Linden gestured towards his heart and then to the crowd during a parade lap around GM Place.
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
The NHL’s force-feed focus on all Sidney Crosby all the time and Pierre McGuire’s relentless pandering and cheerleading over the air are going to create a backlash against the remarkable 20-year-old center, mark our words.
Finally, just wondering, but how has management leaking Wade Redden’s refusal to waive his no-trade clause worked out for Ottawa and GM Bryan Murray, anyway?
from the Palm Beach Post
, If the views of several NHL observers are on target, then the season-ending critique of the Panthers is as brutal as a blindside check:
Florida is a dysfunctional franchise in need of a major overhaul.
Gary Green of the NHL Network and longtime analyst Bill Clement believe the Panthers, who missed the playoffs for the seventh straight season, need changes everywhere from the coaching staff to management to the roster.
Alex Ovechkin’s dream National Hockey League season that will include a goal-scoring title and likely league scoring championship will continue with a chance to hoist the Stanley Cup.
Ovechkin was held off the scoresheet Saturday night but it mattered little as his Capitals teammates stepped up in a 3-1 win over visiting Florida to give Washington its first division title since 2001 and fourth in franchise history.
Watch the video highlights of the game tonight…
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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