Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Adrian Dater of the Denver Post,
Like a lot of things this summer involving the Avalanche, it doesn’t make much sense. Ian Laperriere, heart-and-soul forward, fan favorite and locker-room leader, will no longer be on the team after July 1.
That in itself is not the part that is mystifying. It’s not unreasonable a team would want to jettison a 35-year-old player, with 40 goals in the 307 games he played with the Avs. The Avs want to get younger, and maybe a little cheaper. We get that.
But why in the world are the Avs letting Lappy go for nothing — contract talks have essentially ended between him and the team — when the Avs probably could have gotten a pretty nice draft pick from another NHL team at the trade deadline? Why did a team that was out of the playoff picture not deal one of its more marketable assets, especially when the team knew Laperriere could become an unrestricted free agent and wanted a raise?
from Michael Rosenberg of the Detroit Free Press,
I want you to choose between two players.
Player 1 will turn 31 this summer. He has played 98 playoff games.
Player 2 will turn 31 next winter. He has also played 98 playoff games, and let me take a moment to thank him for that, because it makes this comparison almost perfect.
Player 1’s career postseason numbers: 22 goals, 41 assists, plus-19.
Player 2’s career postseason numbers: 31 goals, 45 assists, plus-4.
Which player would you rather have?
Player 1 is Pavel Datsyuk.
Player 2 is Hossa.
from Kevin Allen at Mucking and Grinding at USA TODAY,
Having witnessed a splendidly played Stanley Cup Finals between two exceptional hockey teams, it bothers me that the fallout from the series is akin to what we get from 13-year-old girls soccer. It has come down to how fans behaved during and after the game, who didn’t shake hands with whom and how childishly fans can react to what has transpired
Can we just put a moratorium on hate dispensing for 24 hours just to acknowledge that this was a whale of a series, maybe the best I’ve seen in a quarter-century of writing about the NHL. The Penguins scaled Mt. Everest in beating this high-caliber Detroit team.
As someone who knows all of the parties involved, let me see if I can bring some reason and civility to this messiness.
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
• One reason to wonder about Red Wings coach Mike Babcock as the choice for Canadian Olympic hockey coach: The Olympics are one-game playoffs. And the one thing Babcock didn’t do well in Game 6 or 7 against the Penguins was adjust. His team needed to get pucks in deep and to the net, especially in the second half of Game 7, and stubbornly his players kept trying to carry it through crowds, turned it over and generated little offence.
• The only way the Anaheim Ducks steal defenceman Jack Johnson and an early first-round pick from L.A. for diminishing asset Chris Pronger is if Kings general manager Dean Lombardi happens to lose his mind.
more hockey notes…
from Pat Caputo of the Oakland Press,
There are two very good unrestricted free agent defensemen — Florida’s Jay Bouwmeester and Montreal’s Mike Komisarek. Both are in their 20s. Bouwmeester, the third overall pick in the 2002 draft, is at the high end because he has offensive skill to go along with his size (6-foot-4, 215 pounds) and defensive ability. Komisarek, who starred at the University of Michigan, is a bull with pretty good skill. He is 6-4, 245 pounds and a physical presence. The situation in Montreal deteriorated for a number of reasons this season, and he had a lot of injuries. But he was the seventh overall pick in the 2001 draft and played excellent hockey for the Canadiens leading up to last season.
A change of scenery, especially coming home in a sense to the Red Wings, would really benefit Komisarek.
It’s often overlooked, too, how good defense leads to offense. It was apparent the Red Wings weren’t making quite as many defensive plays in the Finals. It hindered their transition game, which has long been one of the best in the NHL.
They’ve got plenty of scorers and young forwards.
Get some “D” men.
Note to Caputo, it will not happen and doesn’t need to happen.
from Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe,
• According to one veteran agent with a list of high-profile NHLers, the Krejci deal, worth $11.25 million over three years, created a salary “barrier” on the Bruins.
“Guys like Kessel, [Milan] Lucic, and [Blake] Wheeler, they all know what their limit is now,” he said.
Kessel becomes a restricted free agent July 1, while Lucic and Wheeler, the latter of whom just completed his rookie season, don’t reach that threshold until July 1, 2010.
Asked what he felt would happen with Kessel, the agent said, “I think he’ll be gone. Chiarelli will dump him with a West Coast team where he can score his 40 goals every year, and he’ll be out of sight, out of mind.”
• Word around the Cup finals was that the Sharks, off another postseason collapse, are trying to move Patrick Marleau and Milan Michalek. Their combined cap hit is $10.6 million. GM Doug Wilson needs to get back a couple of large dollops of grit and nastiness to avoid another second-round KO.
more hockey talk…
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
General manager Ken Holland doesn’t anticipate making any moves for a couple of weeks, when he has a better idea of next season’s cap figure. Much will depend on whether Hossa is re-signed.
Whatever happens, the Red Wings still have a strong nucleus of players in their prime and some good, young talent in their system, ensuring they will remain among the NHL’s elite.
One day after losing to Pittsburgh in Game 7 of the finals, Holland lamented his team’s inability to close out the series after leading 3-2. But he commended his players, some of whom played through significant injuries, for their effort, feeling they just ran out of energy at the end.
And he praised the Penguins, whom he said were focused and hungry and gained tremendous experience—particularly young players Evgeni Malkin, Sidney Crosby, Jordan Staal and Marc-Andre Fleury—from losing in last year’s finals.
from Robert Tychkowski of the Edmonton Sun,
Which brings us to Dany Heatley. He shoots Edmonton a sideways glance and fans are reaching for their wallets -or, Katz’s wallet - faster than a drunken sailor on the first day of shore leave.
Let’s hope Oilers management shows a little more restraint.
Edmonton, of all places, should be wary of mercenaries like Heatley. Have we learned nothing from Mike Comrie and Chris Pronger?
With a salary cap that’s dropping fast, do the Oilers really want to invest a big chunk of their allowance for the next five years on a guy who only seems to care about one thing: Himself?
We’re not talking about Henrik Zetterberg here. We’re talking about one of the lead dogs on one of the biggest, softest underachievers of the last 20 years. The Ottawa Senators were supposed to be Stanley Cup champions two times over by now, but they gagged and folded and got outworked year after year until their window of opportunity had finally closed for good.
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
So Sidney Crosby didn’t get to score the winning goal in Game 7 of the Stanley Cup final on Friday night at The Joe, or make a big pass or a significant defensive play. Instead, he sat nailed to the bench for the final half of the game, his left knee throbbing and useless after an illegal second-period bodycheck from Johan Franzen.
There were also three separate outbursts of boos after the Pittsburgh Penguins had won the game, with Detroit fans recognizing that Crosby was a tad slow getting over to shake the hands of the dethroned champion Red Wings.
Finally, all in all, Crosby didn’t have a major offensive impact in the series, managing one goal and an assist in seven games.
But it would be a terrible mistake to suggest Crosby did not lead the Penguins to this championship. He did, as his reverential teammates would attest.
from Jeff Z. Klein and Stu Hackel of the New York Times,
Because most N.H.L. teams try to copy the formula of the Stanley Cup champions, the Penguins’ victory could signal a continued movement from the defense-oriented tactics that dominated the N.H.L. after the Devils won the Cup in 1995.And yet a curious shift in the officiating during the finals loosened the zero-tolerance posture on obstruction penalties that referees had used for the last four seasons. Infractions like hooking, holding, tripping and interference were staples of the dead-puck era, among the tactics used to restrain skill and shift the game’s delicate balance in favor of defenses.
In the six games of last season’s finals, 30 obstruction penalties were called. Through six games this year, only 16 had been called. Four more were called in Game 7, for a total of 20.
The players and coaches had no problem with the officiating. It will be interesting to see if this slackening of rigorous enforcement signals a new standard for next season.
more on the Penguins, Wings and the NHL overall…
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.
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