Kukla's Korner Hockey
from J.P. Hoornstra of the LA Daily News,
Ducks general manager Bob Murray will decide sometime over the next month whether to tear his team down for the future, or build it up for one more Stanley Cup run.
With time to reflect at the All-Star break, and just 31days remaining before the March 4 trade deadline, he’s not sure which direction to go. In a telephone interview Sunday from Chicago, Murray said he’s just as confused as anybody about why the team has made the decision so tough.
“Something’s not right in the dressing room,” he said. “Within that group of players, it doesn’t for some reason lend itself to the team coming and playing with enthusiasm. There’s no energy. That could be a chemistry issue.”
from Roy MacGregor of the Globe and Mail,
...But that party’s over.
There will still be glorious hockey celebrations – imagine Canada winning two gold medals at next year’s Vancouver Winter Games – but no more spectacular bashes that suggest the revenue streams are as endless as the water that flows here from the Great Lakes.
“We are having a good season,” NHL commissioner Gary Bettman told a news conference here on Saturday.
“It’s a wonder no one threw a shoe at him,” a francophone reporter muttered.
from Stan Fischler of Game On,
Despite the uncontestable—it’s all there in the arithmetic—the fact that this 2008-09 Blueshirts edition is NOTICEABLY better in points and stands twelve wins over .500, scores of Doubting Thomases—coach Tom Renney excluded—abound.
The Thomases and Nervous Nellies worry about scoring; they fret over the power play and the absence of a MONSTER (Chris Pronger) defenseman. They suffer migraines over Nik Zherdev, wondering if he’ll ever do a reasonable facsimile of Allie Ovechkin.
No problem. Concern is the norm in a playoff race featuring the challenging likes of Washington, Boston, Pittsburgh and New Jersey, to name a few that fail the Pushover Test.
from Daryl Reaugh of Razor With An Edge,
Let me get this straight, the league office endorses NHL teams hiding injuries from the media and fans or disclosing them as very vague “upper body” or “lower body” – but its not OK for a player to have one of these slight or near-phantom injuries keep him from attending the corporate elbow-rubbing autograph session known as All-Star Weekend.
Hmmmm. That’s curious.
Does the “H” in NHL stand for hypocrisy?
from Tim Wharnsby of the Globe and Mail,
“When I talk about having a hard-nosed team, I want to make it clear that I love skill, first and foremost,” he said. “If you look at the teams I had in Vancouver, we had a ton of skill and a lot of hard-hat guys.
“I draw a line right through the top six [forwards] and bottom six. The bottom six guys have to bring a pick and a shovel to work. They have to do the penalty killing, block the shots, they have to win the fights and deliver the bodychecks. The top six have to put the points up on the scoreboard.
“We have a lot of work to do. There are a bunch of holes on this team. The one motto I have with my players is: no complaints, no excuses. I’m not going to complain.
“I don’t have this and I don’t have that. We’ll get things fixed here, but it will take some time.”
more on the Leafs…
In case you missed it last night, Elliotte Friedman of CBC did a great job with an ‘Inside Hockey’ segment on Alexander Ovechkin.
from Michael Russo of the Star-Tribune,
Last March 19, Kurtis Foster’s left femur snapped in half. Three people told Foster it was “the worst break they’ve ever seen in a person’s leg.”
Many people privately were skeptical he would ever play again. He still walks with a limp.
Yet here we are, a little more than nine months later, and the Wild defenseman is close to reporting to Houston for a conditioning stint….
Despite coming so far, Foster believes he is being rushed back by the NHL.
According to Section 13.8 of the collective bargaining agreement, teams are not permitted to send players to the minors on “conditioning loans” for longer than “14 consecutive days.”
Upon Foster’s request, the Wild begged the league to make an exception. The team offered up Foster’s medical records. The team offered to fly Foster to New York to be examined by NHL doctors.
Yet, the league refused to make an exception. If Foster is in Houston one second longer than two weeks, he will have to clear waivers.
from Jim Jamieson of the Vancouver Province,
We know the game-day skate was already well established in the NHL by the mid-1970s.
What is less clear is how the ritual became so entrenched in the fabric of the league.
After contacting a number of former NHL players and managers, it appears the skate grew out of a number of factors, including: a natural progression from morning meetings at the rink on game day; growing rosters that meant “extra” players needed to skate when not playing that night; and even some influence from the Soviet national team—who were known for their hard practices the morning of a game.
from Bob Hunter of the Columbus Dispatch,
The numbers (ratings) seem to say a couple of things: Local fans have noticed that this year’s team is better than last year’s squad, which competed hard but lacked the depth of talent to be in the race, and they’re increasingly interested in the good story lines (Benedict Foote), strong opponents (Calgary) and players worth watching (Washington’s Alex Ovechkin, whose Capitals drew a 2.35 rating).
If form holds true, the best ratings are going to come after the All-Star break. And if this team continues to trend upward, we might soon discover what a lot of people said nine years ago:
If the Blue Jackets ever have a good team, this is going to be one heck of a hockey market.
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