Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Dmitry Chesnokov at PuckDaddy,
Kovalchuk flew to New Jersey from Washington late last night to join his new team. After a busy morning, I caught up with him to chat about the trade and his future, for at least a few months, with the Devils….
Don Waddell said you weren’t concerned about the future of the franchise in your decision: “I don’t think so. If we would have paid him the max amount, he would have signed the contract.”
[With a sigh] Everyone has their own opinion. I can only say that I always thought of fans. That’s why I was trying my best, I was giving my best at every practice, every game, every shift. It’s silly to talk about it.
A lot of fans talk about your interviews in the past when you stated your desire to stay with Atlanta. Maybe there is something you want to tell them?
What can I say other than to thank them? I want to thank them for treating me really well. I tried to repay by showing my best hockey in every game. I really did give that 100 percent, 110 percent. That’s why I can honestly look them in their eyes. I think they should also realize that life doesn’t stand still, that the Thrashers have a lot of good, talented guys, who, God willing, will take the team to the playoffs and will compete for the Stanley Cup.
from James O’Brien of Cycle Like The Sedins,
I think Hitchcock was the easy scapegoat as is often the case in the NHL. Horrible GMs such as Glen Sather and Don Waddell keep polluting the on-ice product while competent coaches get canned. However I feel about the decision, the plain truth is that both Hitch and I have one thing in common at the moment: unemployment.
With that in mind, these are the teams that I believe would benefit greatly (and could realistically make a move) to add Hitchcock.
The Oilers are another team that is an absolute mess. Still, there are traces of talent here and there; players like Ales Hemsky, Lubomir Visnovsky and (who would have thought?) Dustin Penner can play.
Edmonton might bring in Hitch, however, to do an about-face. Bland, defense-first hockey might not leave people engaged but it is the best way to win in small markets.
Some might say that the Oilers lack the appropriate roster to maximize Hitch’s coaching abilities, but let’s face it: bad teams tend to lack the appropriate talent for anyone. That’s why they dwell in cellars.
Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun of ESPN discuss a few players who are likely to moved before the trade deadline…
Burnside: I wonder whether teams like Los Angeles or maybe even Colorado will be looking at Torres, given his playoff experience. I spoke with Colorado GM Greg Sherman this week, and the Avs will be pretty cautious about moving their young assets. Still, Torres might be a nice fit with a gritty, young Avs team that remains in the hunt for the Northwest Division title and home-ice advantage through the first round of the playoffs….
LeBrun: I think ownership will put some level of pressure on Lombardi to do something because it will have known he was on the final short list to land Kovalchuk. Whitney, at age 37, can’t expect a three-year extension, not with the 35-and-older rule that says a player’s average salary counts against a team’s cap each year of the contract, even if he retires. The Kings would be willing to do a one-year extension; I have to think cooler heads will prevail there. But we’ll see. The Penguins, I’m sure, are hoping the Kings miss out on him. From what I was told Thursday, the Penguins haven’t called Carolina yet because they simply can’t afford him right now.
from Jim Jamieson of the Vancouver Province,
Cody Hodgson is back to playing hockey again, but he won’t be working with Vancouver Canucks director of player development Dave Gagner.
In a conference call, Hodgson — who assisted on two goals in his Brampton Battalion junior club’s 4-2 win over Erie on Thursday — said he felt great to be back after an emotional four months away from the game while he rehabbed an injured back.
But Hodgson, in his first public statements since the highly touted Canucks prospect was returned to junior on Sept. 28, said the Vancouver organization has had no input into the treatment of his ailing back since he was sent down. He added that he won’t be working further with Gagner, in whose training facility in London, Ont., Hodgson originally hurt his back last July.
While Hodgson said he didn’t want to dwell on the past, it confirms what many have suspected — that Hodgson and his camp were not happy with the Canucks and Gagner after the injury occurred.
Nashville, Tenn. (February 5, 2010) – Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today that the club has signed forward Jordin Tootoo to a two-year, $2.5 million contract. The deal will pay him $1.15 million in 2010-11 and $1.35 million in 2011-12.
“We look forward to watching Jordin’s continued development over the next two seasons,” Poile said. “Since we drafted Jordin in 2001, we have not only seen him develop into a more complete player on the ice, but also an impactful member of the community on a year-round basis.”
Now that Kovalchuck has been moved to the Devils, what do you folks think. Will we see any trades before the Olympic trade freeze goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. ET on Feb. 12 or, because of the tight playoff races, will teams wait unitil after the Games before they make a move?
Meet Jeff Vinik.
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
The Tampa Bay Lightning have been sold to Boston money manager Jeffrey Vinik.
An official announcement may come Friday afternoon after the final details were ironed out Friday morning. One source said Vinik will pay $170-million (all currency U.S.) in cash for the Lightning, the management lease to the lucrative St. Pete Times Forum and five and a half acres of land around the arena.
One thing that is certain is that neither Oren Koules nor Len Barrie will retain an interest in the team. Koules, the former co-owner with Barrie, was running the team by himself after a falling out with Barrie over the latter’s financial troubles.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
Pittsburgh will likely wait until the 11th hour to make its roster tweaks, in part so that it can get a clearer idea of how much – or how little – it will get out of two players - Chris Kunitz and Max Talbot - who made big impacts in last year’s playoffs. Kunitz was scheduled to return to the line-up this week, perhaps even Friday night against the Montreal Canadiens, after recovering from abdominal surgery.
Kunitz has 20 points in the 30 games he’s played, and will likely go back and play left wing with Sidney Crosby. Talbot, meanwhile, has been in and out of the line-up and has just five points (and one goal) to show for his 28 NHL appearances.
Talbot starred in last year’s playoffs on Evgeni Malkin’s line and appears to be struggling with a groin injury, after missing the start of the season recovering from surgery. In theory, the Penguins could keep Talbot out until after the Olympic break, just to ensure everything heals properly. Talbot had 19 points in 24 playoff games last season and was a major force in the Penguins’ championship drive. If healthy, both are top-six forwards in Pittsburgh’s scheme of things. If not, then general manager Ray Shero may have more work to do.
more hockey talk highlighted with Kovalchuk notes…
from John Vogl of the Buffalo News,
Improvement is needed for the Sabres to make a run at the Stanley Cup. The defensive breakdowns and other problems that have hurt them during their 2-5-1 slump need to depart, with the next chance coming tonight when Carolina visits HSBC Arena.
Regier said the improvements can come from within. Though several teams began trading players this week, Regier isn’t interested in that route yet.
“The focus isn’t to look right now for outside help,” he said. “It’s how do we all get better internally. I think we’re all focused on that.
“You’re always looking at ways internally within your own organization, first and foremost, how you can become better. You’re looking at your minor-league club. You’re looking at players in positions, which are the things [coach] Lindy [Ruff is] doing. We sit down and talk about how we can become better internally or on the outside.”
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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