Kukla's Korner Hockey
Q. How do you try to keep the focus going when you’re up three games in this series without looking at the next one?
COACH BYLSMA: I think the task at hand is clear. You know the series is 3?0. We know this team’s not going to quit. We know that’s their trademark, they’re going to keep coming at us. They’ve proven that even though the games have ended up with lots of goals on the board. They’ve been fighting right to the end.
The building was loud last night. I just watched the first period. The 7:00 minute mark of the first period their fans were really into it. The building was loud. We were under some pressure, and we know that’s what’s going to happen again come Tuesday.
While we have a lead, we know we need to get one more win to get this thing done with. Right now is better than waiting. So we’ll be ready on Tuesday for what we need to do.
Q. Everybody knows the odds and things like that. But also you get a game at home. What is the message to your team tomorrow?
COACH MAURICE: Just that most importantly, don’t view the whole picture. Just get a small glimpse. We need to have to get some relief to reclaim. And then there’s more of a chance to play after that game.
The question you asked me after Game 1 of the Boston series, we thought we were 0?6 against them at that point. That’s the most important thing. The reason we’ve gotten here is the belief to stay in the fight as long as we possibly can. Now we’re at a point there’s no tomorrow.
So I don’t know how many cliches that is, but insert your favorite cliche at this point.
from Michael Russo of the Star-Tribune,
Leipold wants aggressiveness, creative thinking and risk-taking—on and off the ice. And he believes Fletcher is the perfect guy to take the Wild to the next level.
One thing’s for sure. Fletcher will at least try to swing for the fences.
First of all, he knows that’s what Leipold wants, and he has been schooled by GMs who love taking chances—Bryan Murray, Brian Burke, Ray Shero, and his father, Cliff Fletcher.
You can bet Cliff’s son will jump feet-first into what is sure to be an active trade market this summer. Remember, many teams must dump salary in hopes of creating salary-cap flexibility, so Leipold had to find somebody not scared of maybe trading a Josh Harding or even a James Sheppard.
Leipold also needed somebody who doesn’t have a hatred of the agent who represents the best scorer the Wild has ever known. That doesn’t mean Fletcher definitely will be able to re-sign Marian Gaborik; it’s still an incredible longshot this close to free agency.
from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal,
Here’s the dilemma facing Edmonton Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini.
Does he hire an older, experienced NHL head coach like Pat Quinn, Marc Crawford or Tom Renney? And if he does go for an older coach, he likely has to get a young gun as an assistant to take over behind the bench a few years down the road.
Or should he go with a fresh new face such as Kevin Dineen or Scott Arniel—both on the Oilers’ short list—but have an older right-hand man to help him learn the NHL coaching ropes?
Tambellini has interviewed Quinn, Crawford, and Renney, along with Todd Richards, the San Jose Sharks assistant coach, who might be at the top of the list with the Minnesota Wild now that Chuck Fletcher has taken over as GM.
But Tambellini is methodical and probably a little anxious. A general manager’s most important hire is his first head coach.
from Bob Verdi of the Chicago Tribune,
“What’s going on in Chicago is fantastic,” said Dick Ebersol, sports chairman of a network that had a profitable fling during Jordan’s reign. “The Winter Classic at Wrigley Field was the highest-rated regular season game in 34 years. Game 1 of this series was the highest-rated game on U.S. TV, not counting finals or the winter classics, in five years. There is an uptick in hockey, especially in Chicago.”
NBC’s contract is up at year’s end, but in a feeble economy, Ebersol hopes the network and league can continue to partner by sharing risk and reward. Ever the contrarian, he touts Versus as the solution, not the problem. From America’s most powerful TV executive, this is not the stuff of fluff.
“Versus treats hockey the right way, not second fiddle as it was on ESPN,” said Ebersol. “Versus is in 20 million fewer homes, but the holes are tightening. And don’t forget, Versus is owned by Comcast. I like that strength. I also liked Bill Wirtz. The new people in Chicago have done a great job, but Bill was a character, and he cared about the sport.”
more on the Blackhawks…
via Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
• Gary Bettman is so stubborn and small in his unwillingness to do business with BlackBerry boss Jim Balsillie that some league people actually are talking about the NHL buying the Phoenix Coyotes rather than allowing Balsillie to get his hands anywhere near the franchise. And to hell with the millions they’ll blow along the way.
• If Niklas Kronwall’s hit on Martin Havlat was illegal, then they should remove Scott Stevens from the Hall of Fame immediately and deem his entire career illegal. And since when does NHL stand for No Hitting League?
• Don’t know why, but there are all kinds of voices in the hockey wilderness—the entertaining Jeremy Roenick being the latest—who seem to rejoice in taking shots at Wings coach Mike Babcock. And all he does is win.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
In the moments after Evgeni Malkin deftly dropped the puck back between his skates to Ruslan Fedotenko, who ripped a shot past Cam Ward to give Pittsburgh a 4-2 lead, the television cameras panned briefly to Carolina defenseman Dennis Seidenberg.
In that moment, Seidenberg gave a look—half grimace, half resignation with a dash of, what, maybe admiration—that sums up what the Carolina Hurricanes are now feeling.
Over the course of three straight wins, the Pens have outscored the previously high-flying Hurricanes 16-8, including Saturday’s 6-2 victory, as Pittsburgh now owns a death-grip 3-0 series lead.
That they will advance at some point is now a foregone conclusion, the only question to be answered is when. When they do advance, they will be carried by the most devastating one-two punch the NHL has seen in a generation, maybe since Jaromir Jagr and Mario Lemieux were winning back-to-back Stanley Cups in 1991 and 1992.
from Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe,
Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said he expects free agent contracts to be shorter in term this offseason, in large part because of the struggling worldwide economy.
But as he noted later, that still points to three- or four-year deals, rather than five, six, or more.
Even with the bleaker fiscal picture, a few teams likely will bid aggressively on a small number of players. A sampling of GMs, speaking off the record, pointed to:
Jay Bouwmeester (D) - The star backliner, whom Florida refused to deal at the March deadline, will turn 26 in September. With great wheels and size (6-4/212), he might squeeze out six years and upward of $40 million.
Henrik and Daniel Sedin (F) - The twins, who make up the core of Vancouver’s attack, probably can land five-year deals and each average between $5 million and $6 million.
more plus numerous NHL topics…
Eight minutes of Don and Ron with numerous topics discussed, including the Kronwall hit.
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
It’s time for the general manager to get on with the business of finding a coach who wants to be in New Jersey for the long-term rather than continuing with one who would operate as a lame duck only out of a sense of responsibility.
There’s no need for Sutter to continue to agonize over his decision. Lamoriello should make it for him and make it for him now, even if that would allow Sutter to immediately slide into the head coach’s position in Calgary that became vacant on Friday when GM Darryl Sutter fired Mike Keenan.
There is no point in holding him hostage to a contract. There is no point in holding the Devils hostage to a lame duck whose authority over the team would invariably be compromised. There is no point to having a short-timer in control of the operation.
read on plus more NHL topics discussed, like NBC and referees in the conference finals…
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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