Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Anthony J SanFilippo of the Daily Times,
...the biggest change came in the person of Chris Pronger, one of the most outspoken leaders in the league. He was brought in to be a Norris Trophy-caliber defenseman first, but also to shape up a nonplussed locker room.
If you’re looking for a reason John Stevens was fired in December, it had nothing to do with lacking savvy as a game coach. It was because he ran his team like Club Med. Stevens allowed the players to rule the roost.
When Pronger arrived, he brought a different mentality to the locker room than existed with Mike Richards running the show. He had no qualms about calling a teammate on the carpet in front of the whole room. His approach was more brash and in-your-face. It was like bringing Metallica to the Academy of Music.
The younger players didn’t like the new approach and leaned on Stevens for support. Finally, management had enough, and replaced Stevens with no-nonsense coach Peter Laviolette, who is more of the Pronger style. Yet it still hasn’t sunk in, despite the pangs of late-season success being shown.
from Tarik El-Bashir of the Washington Post,
Alex Ovechkin vaulted back into the running for both the Maurice “Rocket” Richard and Art Ross trophies with a two-goal performance in Tuesday’s 6-3 victory. Now, he has home games against Atlanta and Boston to put a storybook ending to his most challenging season, a campaign marked by his first significant injury, Russia’s stunning disappointment at the Olympics and two suspensions for hits that have dinged his reputation.
Coach Bruce Boudreau said he has contemplated resting some of his star players ahead of the playoffs, which begin next week. But he said Wednesday that Ovechkin will choose whether to play or rest because of what’s at stake.
“It would be pretty difficult for the coach to sit a guy out and say, ‘It’s for the good of the team,’ ” Boudreau said. “It’s up to Alex, but the races are so close, so I would venture to guess that Alex is going to want to play.”
from Jay Greenberg of the NY Post,
...That race is three horses for two places, but the Rangers don’t have to worry about Boston getting only one point in their three remaining games if they win both games this weekend against a Philadelphia team that, playing with a third-string goalie and without leading goal scorer Jeff Carter, also believes it has gotten its act together in the nick of time.
“We know we have to win both, but it’s one at a time,” said Lundqvist.
And if it gets down to just one, who would you want in your net in that one: Brian Boucher or Henrik Lundqvist?
Of all the questions asked about the Rangers’ ability to pull this off, that one is ridiculous.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
Collectively, the quartet of forwards brought in to save the day (or at least provide secondary scoring) failed miserably. Ales Kotalik, Niklas Hagman, Matt Stajan and Chris Higgins managed 11 goals collectively in a total of 86 games, not nearly enough considering the premium ice time they received.
It wasn’t enough that the Flames have these guys now; they’ll have them for a while yet. Stajan was awarded a new four-year contract worth a generous $14-million. Kotalik has two years left at $3-million per. No one under any circumstances will accept those deals from Calgary, so, for better or worse, they are Flames for the duration of their contracts.
Realistically, that will be an issue, even if Sutter is made to walk the plank. It is all well and good to turn the keys over to someone new in the GM’s office. Who, in his right mind, would take the job without the security of a five-year contract and the unflinching support of an ownership group who must know intuitively that things will have to get worse in Calgary before they can get better?
from Matthew Sekeres of the Globe and Mail,
As bulge-battling defenceman Shane O’Brien attempts to hit his prescribed playing weight, consider that one size does not fit all in the Vancouver Canucks dressing room.
Perennial weight-watcher Kyle Wellwood is up in pounds and production since the 2010 Olympic break. Steve Bernier, 12 pounds trimmer this season, is having his worst NHL campaign. And general manager Mike Gillis’s focus on fitness is still working out the kinks in its second season.
“It’s trial and error for a long time,” said Wellwood, who is up eight pounds since last October, something that would normally indicate trouble if not for an up-tick in his game.
via the CP at TSN,
Chicago forward Marian Hossa left the Blackhawks’ game against the St. Louis Blues early in the second period Wednesday night because of an unknown injury.
Hossa appeared to have sustained the injury after being hit and knocked to the ice by St. Louis left wing Brad Winchester at 8:07 of the first. Hossa continued to play, but left after one shift in the second period.
This time of year, it is doubtful we will hear much on the injury.. Get ready for the day-to-day updates.
added 11:40pm, via a Chicago Blackhawks tweet,
Coach Q postgame on Hossa: “Nothing serious, should be fine.”
from Michael Russo of Russo’s Rants,
Every who’s who in the NHL will descend on St. Paul in June of 2011. According to league sources, the Wild has been awarded the 2011 NHL entry draft. An announcement is expected in the very near future.
The draft is one of my favorite events to cover, although I’ll miss my hotel and frequent flier points, and hanging out with my colleagues considering now I have to cover it from a league perspective as opposed to just a Wild. I didn’t see anybody when the Panthers hosted the 2001 Draft. I was sequestered in my home constantly writing.
ST. LOUIS – St. Louis Blues forward Keith Tkachuk has announced this evening that he will retire after 19 seasons from the National Hockey League (NHL) at the end of the 2009-10 season. He will play in front of Blues fans for the final time this Friday night against Anaheim and the club will pay tribute to Tkachuk’s career following the game.
“I have been privileged to have a long career in this terrific league and play for first class organizations,” said Tkachuk. “My thanks go out to my current and former teammates, the St. Louis Blues, Phoenix Coyotes/Winnipeg Jets and Atlanta Thrashers organizations and most of all to my parents, my wife Chantal, my kids Matthew, Braeden and Taryn along with all of my other family members for all of the support they have given me throughout my career.”
“Walt has been an amazing ambassador for the St. Louis Blues,” said Dave Checketts, Chairman, St. Louis Blues. “I had a very nice talk with him today and conveyed what an honor it has been to have him in the organization. I thanked him for the effort he put in on and off the ice each and every day he has been a Blue. He will always be a cherished member of the St. Louis Blues Family and I look forward to celebrating his career in the appropriate fashion, bestowing upon him the honors he most certainly deserves.”
“Keith is a true warrior who had an excellent career and I was hoping this day would never come,” said Blues President of Hockey Operations John Davidson. “The NHL is losing an individual who gave a lot of time and dedication to the game and I wish him and his family a happy retirement and the best of luck.”
from Kevin Kurtt of Let’s Play Hockey,
In the world of NCAA hockey, the vast majority of players on the 58 Division I and 78 Division II/III men’s teams will not make the jump to the NHL, AHL, ECHL or any other of the various professional hockey leagues around the world. But for a growing number of players, college hockey is a steppingstone to the bright lights of the National Hockey League.
In fact, according to next week’s issue of Let’s Play Hockey, 267 players who saw at least one regular season NHL game in 2009-10 honed their skills in college before making the leap to the professional ranks. That number represents nearly a third of all NHL players from the current season. In 2009-10, 39 former collegiate hockey players made their NHL debut.
Leading the list of former college players now in the NHL are standouts such as Tampa Bay’s Martin St. Louis (Vermont), Ottawa’s Dany Heatley (Wisconsin), New Jersey’s Zach Parise (North Dakota), Colorado’s Paul Stastny (Denver), Vancouver’s Ryan Kesler (Ohio State), Chicago’s Patrick Sharp (Vermont) and Jonathan Toews (North Dakota), Edmonton’s Dustin Penner (Maine), San Jose’s Dan Boyle (Miami), Calgary’s Rene Bourque (Wisconsin) and Buffalo’s Ryan Miller (Michigan State).
The documentary premieres on HBO May 4th.
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.
Email Paul anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org