Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
Nobody would fire a coach at Christmas, right? Not even the Columbus Blue Jackets, whose bench boss, Ken Hitchcock , was feeling the heat thanks to a dismal December in which the NHL team went 1-7-3 to slip to the bottom of the Western Conference? What ailed the Blue Jackets from the start was goalie Steve Mason ‘s sophomore slump, in which he was consistently giving up goals early and often, putting his team behind the 8-ball.
More recently, the Jackets look like a fragile team, their confidence in shreds, skating as though on eggshells. Coaching changes don’t fix that – just ask the Philadelphia Flyers, who are struggling as badly under Peter Laviolette as they were under John Stevens.
continue for more hockey notes…
Everybody and his brother is producing a Top 10 list of the decade, but I have not run into one story (and I may be wrong) that included Jiri Fischer and the night many hockey fans will never forget.
Thank God Fischer is able to lead a somewhat normal life today, but just imagine the consequences if Fischer had not pulled through.
If he had passed away, I am sure it would have been a much bigger story, but as a fan of the game, I am so glad the results were of the positive kind.
Fans of the Carolina Hurricanes may know all about the players and coaches, but they probably haven’t heard about the woman who is an integral part of the all-male team.
from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
In his minor-league days, Jonathan Quick slept so deeply that his teammates would stumble off their bus after a trip and the equipment managers would unload the gear and think all was done only to find the goalie under a seat, slumbering.
That made for good jokes but bad mornings—especially when the Kings sent goaltending development guru Kim Dillabaugh to Manchester, N.H., to work with Quick. Only Quick was late, having overslept.
A good scare—a demotion to the ECHL during the 2007-08 season—and a good, loud alarm clock changed his habits.
“It was a teaching moment, so to speak,” Kings General Manager Dean Lombardi said.
from Craig Custance of the Sporting News,
If Lawton wants to rebuild the team the right way, and some day join the Blackhawks, Penguins and Capitals at the top, captain Vinny Lecavalier has to go.
Right now, his contract is threatening to suffocate any legitimate chance at success for Lawton’s plan. It’s not necessarily the $7.7 million annual salary cap hit, although that’s a pretty hefty number. It’s the cash that he’s owed. Every year until 2016, Lecavalier gets $10 million. It’s way too much money for a franchise that’s already struggling financially.
Factor in his lack of offensive production, and he’s a luxury the Lightning can’t afford.
Well, the family gathering is over so I may as well get a head start…
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
Thanks to the recession and “the usual suspects,” as a banker of our acquaintance put it, Bettman can expect 2010 to be another year in which he makes like the fellow who keeps a dozen or so plates spinning on sticks. The only difference from 2009 is that the Phoenix Coyotes may not be the plate on centre stage.
Oh, the Coyotes will still be a Class A migraine, since they are losing a good $5-million (all currency U.S.) a month that will be billed to the NHL until it completes the sale of the team to the group of businessmen known as Ice Edge Holdings LLC. But once Bettman convinced the governors at their annual meetings last week that those losses will come out of future NHL revenue and spare them from writing cheques, he kept that plate spinning.
But a couple of dark clouds – the New York Islanders and the Nashville Predators – are moving front and centre.
from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,
“I don’t know exactly how long (he’ll be out), but it will be a few weeks anyway,” said Alfredsson, who was wearing a brace on his left shoulder. “We will probably see the doctor (today), do an X-ray and see what the damage is. I expect at least a few weeks.”
Senators coach Cory Clouston tried to hide his displeasure.
“I just don’t want to comment. I want to look at it again. I don’t really want to say anything more ... to say if it was a penalty or not. We did that and we were called whiners.”
from Joe Warmington of the Toronto Sun,
He may have lost his NHL shutout record this week but now the family of the late Terry Sawchuk would like to find his two stolen Stanley Cup rings.
The guy who beat this long-held record earned it. But whoever stole the rings not only didn’t earn it, but also fleeced a nice family of some very special memories.
It would be a great Christmas present to see them returned.
“It has been a mystery for almost 40 years,” said Sawchuk’s 55-year-old son, Jerry, one of seven children. “We feel the rings are still out there somewhere.”
from Ansar Khan of Mlive,
The Detroit Red Wings head into their two-day Christmas break on a downer, losing three games in a row, including consecutive shutouts against rival Chicago.
But rather than get frustrated, they hope to get re-energized after spending some quality time at home.
“They’re probably looking forward to a couple of days (off) in a row, spend time with your family, it’s a great thing,” coach Mike Babcock said after Wednesday’s 3-0 loss to the Blackhawks at Joe Louis Arena.
“We got to keep hanging in there. A couple of days off won’t hurt this club at all, get re-energized and get back at ’er. We got to find a way to score some goals and keep battling.”
from Aaron Portzline of Puck-rakers,
Kristian Huselius spent most of the day in the team hotel, fighting through a bout with the flu from his bed. He should have stayed there.
Huselius made two brutal plays that led directly to two Stars goals and a 3-1 loss before 16,532 in American Airlines Center.
It was a night that demanded dialed-up play from everybody in the lineup, but the Blue Jackets didn’t quite get it. Huselius was the poster child. He was on the ice for all three Dallas goals and finished with a well-deserved minus-2….
The Blue Jackets now get two days off for Christmas Eve and Christmas. Before you sharpen your talons, this is not a Ken Hitchcock decision. It’s an NHL rule that teams can’t practice or play on Dec. 24-25.
Maybe the Blue Jackets will get better luck for Christmas. Or some heart. Or character. This is a brutal stretch, indeed. This is the worst 18-game stretch in club history. When you know this club’s history, that’s really saying something.
more on the loss to the Stars…
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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