Kukla's Korner Hockey
•How do you explain the Western Conference Finals featuring two teams east of the Mississippi?
• I am starting to get my ‘day clock’ adjusted. Those late games played on the west coast sure threw my body clock into a funk the last two weeks.
• Any one moment from the first two rounds that you will go into your long-term memory bank?
• Those of us in the USA will be watching most of the games on Versus during the Conference Finals. The one thing I want to see go away is that darn commercial bar that appears on the bottom right of the screen during play (see an example in the video).
Any suggestions you have, please leave a comment. This is not a post about knocking Versus but to make suggestions to improve their broadcast.
from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
Ducks General Manager Bob Murray probably cost himself some negotiating leverage and big bucks Friday when he called Scott Niedermayer “irreplaceable” and all but begged the smooth-skating defenseman to sign for another season.
It might be worth the elevated price.
With Niedermayer, the Ducks can retain a strong corps of veterans while easing younger legs into the lineup, a process Murray began with late-season trades that transformed them from a bottom-feeder to a playoff upstart that dismissed the top-seeded Sharks in the first round and took the defending Stanley Cup champion Red Wings to seven gritty games.
If Niedermayer retires, right wing Teemu Selanne could follow, despite having a year left on his contract. To a team already thin on its second line—Murray’s other priority—losing Selanne might trigger a step backward.
Murray said he needs to know Niedermayer’s plans before the June 26 draft so he can formulate a strategy.
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
A new twist in the ongoing Duel in the Desert emerged yesterday, one that might see the Phoenix Coyotes wind up in Las Vegas in a couple of years — with the NHL’s approval.
In a scenario brought to light by a source in Phoenix familiar with the letter of intent — or potential offer, or whatever the NHL is calling the document it has with Jerry Reinsdorf’s signature on it — Reinsdorf’s autograph is the only thing the owner of the Chicago White Sox and Chicago Bulls will put toward the Coyotes, since any cash will actually be provided by a couple of other would-be owners.
Those fellows, the source said, are movie and television producer Jerry Bruckheimer and Harry Sloan, the chairman and chief executive officer of Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer Inc.
added 12:11pm, from Paul Waldie of the Globe and Mail,
Could the Phoenix Coyotes be heading back to their old stomping grounds of Manitoba after a 13-year absence of NHL hockey in the province?
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman told officials with Phoenix Coyotes that the NHL would consider moving the team to Winnipeg but not Hamilton, court filings show.
from Damien Cox at ESPN,
To anyone who believes this league was better 10 years ago, or 30 years ago, well, go watch one of the games from those days, then compare it to what we saw between the Chicago Blackhawks and Vancouver Canucks, or the between Anaheim and Detroit in what, at least short-term, has replaced the Detroit-Colorado matchup as the best rivalry in the Western Conference….
The 27 second-round games, in general, showcased an excellent brand of the sport, albeit with some controversy and some borderline physicality, such as Walker’s unnecessary fist to Ward’s face and an ugly hit by Anaheim’s Mike Brown early in that series that left Detroit’s Jiri Hudler lying on the ice in a pool of blood.
But in a high-speed sport that sometimes seems akin to watching a science project featuring electrons colliding in a high-speed chamber, you can only get so much artistry in a sport moving that fast. Moreover, the heavy physical toll of the playoffs seems to be mounting, with every team that’s eliminated reporting significant players who were competing with injuries that would have kept them out of regular-season play.
While the players were on the ice exchanging handshakes, high above in an executive suite Ducks General Manager Bob Murray was seething over the controversial goal that ended his team’s quest for the Stanley Cup.
A Detroit Police report lead to an assault investigation involving Murray. An upset and angry Murray, the report notes, picked up a high bar stool and hit 55-year-old Rachel Paris on the left chest, arm and shoulder area. She was treated by first aid personnel and interviewed by police.
Paris said in a phone interview she was in the press box working as a stage manager for a media outlet that she would not identify. A passionate Red Wings fan, Paris said Murray was apparently upset over her enthusiasm and used a stool on her to express his displeasure.
“I was taken to the boards by Bob Murray and survived the hit. I felt like I was cross-checked and I didn’t even have the puck,” said Paris.
Should Murray be charged with a criminal misconduct? Paris said “no” and declined to file a formal police complaint.
added 9:22pm, On the hockey side of things, Bob Murray spoke to media members today, read the transcript at AnaheimDucks.com.
from Tarik El-Bashir of Capitals Insider at the Washington Post,
“I cannot imagine myself retired; I don’t know why,” the 39-year-old veteran said. “I still have got some legs left and I’m still enjoying the game and I’m certainly enjoying this group of young and very talented players. I didn’t think about retiring. By saying that, I would like to continue to play. With the young legs around me, it’s really helpful.”
Fedorov said his agent, Pat Brisson, spoke briefly to GM George McPhee about an extension back in February. But that discussion was put on hold—at the team’s request—until after the season
Red Wings will win if... They can stay out of the penalty box. Killing penalties has been a rare Achilles’ heel all season—Detroit was 25th during the regular season at 78.3 percent and has only seen that number get worse as the calendar inches toward June. The quickest way for the Wings to fall behind in this series will be to give the potent Hawks’ offense a bushel of power-play chances on which to unleash their young talent.
Blackhawks will win if... They continue to play fast and work the transition to their advantage. While that may be a tough chore against Detroit, there is something special about this group, particularly on home ice where they are 5-1 in the postseason. The Hawks forced both the Flames and Canucks to play their style of game and it would certainly work to their advantage to force the Red Wings to do the same.
Penguins will win if... Pittsburgh will win if: Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin create matchup problems for the Hurricanes. Let’s face it, these two make it a tough road to hoe for any team. If they get into a game of “Can you top this?” the Penguins will be tough to stop.
Hurricanes will win if... Cam Ward is the best player in this series. The Hurricanes love to play low-scoring, tight games in the playoffs. Paul Maurice calls it being comfortable in the grind, but basically, the Hurricanes want to keep games close so they can stay in their system and exert mental pressure on an opponent, waiting to exploit whatever cracks appear. To do that against the explosive Penguins, Ward will have to be at the very top of his game.
from Curtis Eichelberger of Bloomberg,
Research in Motion Ltd. Co-Chief Executive Officer Jim Balsillie’s effort to buy the Phoenix Coyotes and move them to Ontario may endanger the stability of all U.S. sports leagues, National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman said….
“You can not have a stable league if franchises can be uprooted at the blink of an eye on a personal whim,” Bettman said in an interview at league offices in New York. “It is up to the partners to decide who would be a good partner.”...
Bettman said he would only consider moving the team to another city if he can’t find a buyer, which is unlikely.
He said he understands how much Canadians love hockey, although more research has to be done before deciding whether Hamilton, a city of about 500,000 some 40 miles from Toronto.
“It’s not anything we’ve looked at, and before you make a decision that will involve hundreds of millions of dollars, that is something that is going to have to be studied,” he said. “It’s the reason we have relocation procedures.”
Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews participated in a NHL tele-conference today…
Q. Could both of you touch on how Coach Quenneville has helped in your development?
PATRICK KANE: For me, I think obviously with Savard, you can make mistakes, and he’ll draw you right back there on the ice. With Joel, if you take a dumb penalty or make a couple mistakes, he’s not afraid to sit you down and things like that. He makes every shift worth it out there for you. He’s been great. I think he’s come in and done a great job for a lot of us, helped a lot of us enjoy it.
JONATHAN TOEWS: I feel the same way. He definitely expects reliability and smart team play from every player on the ice, doesn’t matter who you are. You know, I think that’s why we’ve been such a good team this year, you know, the ice team is spread out and everyone does their part. Everyone plays the same way and everyone has their role.
You know, he definitely has a lot of discipline over the players. Guys have a lot of respect for him in the locker room. You learn to play the team game with him, for sure.
Eric and Jordan Staal are about to go where only the Espositos, the Plagers and the McCrearys have gone before.
When the puck drops Monday night on TSN for the opening game of the Carolina Hurricanes/Pittsburgh Penguins series, it will mark only the fifth time in NHL history that siblings have skated against each other in the Conference finals. The last time a brother act such as this occurred was in 1974 when Phil Esposito’s Bruins faced Tony’s Blackhawks. The rarity of the occurrence was not lost on the Staals.
“This is the best time of the year to play hockey,” said Eric in a conference call held by the NHL on Friday. “When brothers are playing against each other in the Conference finals it’s exciting not only four yourselves but for the rest of your family for sure.”
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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