Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Paul Hunter of the Toronto Star,
Those calling, or hoping, for new general manager Brian Burke to ratchet up the Maple Leafs’ rebuilding process by dumping veterans for draft picks, might be wise to tone down their enthusiasm.
During his years in Vancouver, Burke and his staff were not exactly draft day geniuses.
We all know that the entry draft is a guessing game at the best of times; an educated guessing game but a crap shoot nonetheless. And twice during his time heading up the Canucks, Burke completely crapped out on draft day.
Toronto will officially introduce Burke today at 2pm ET and you can watch at the Leafs site.
from Matthew Sekeres of the Globe and Mail,
But if the Canucks are truly into outside-the-box thinking, as the new regime purports, than Roberto Luongo’s groin injury should be viewed as an opportunity for Vancouver’s head coach to break with convention and make an organizational statement.
That statement: “Cory Schneider is our No. 1 goaltender.”
While Luongo’s injury realized Vancouver’s worst fear, and while backup Curtis Sanford has played well in relief, this window provides a rare chance for the Canucks to either build up Schneider as a valuable trade asset or groom him as Luongo’s eventual replacement.
That means playing Schneider, a 22-year-old rookie and former first-round draft pick who has yet to log a single minute in an NHL crease, while Luongo mends his wounds. It means giving the kid a string of games to show he belongs in the NHL right now.
from Craig Custance of the Sporting News,
Brassard is winning 51.3 percent of his faceoffs, compared to 42.5 in 17 games last season. Hitchcock attributes Brassard’s success as one of this season’s top rookies to the fact he took the correct path to the NHL.
Brassard, 21, played four seasons of junior hockey. He spent most of last season in the AHL. This season, the coaching staff is putting him in position to succeed in the NHL.
When you look at which rookies are struggling this season and which are playing well, there’s a common theme. Rookies like Brassard, the Chicago Blackhawks’ Kris Versteeg and the Toronto Maple Leafs’ Mikhail Grabovski (the top rookie scorers) all spent considerable time in the AHL honing their skills.
It’s not only on the ice, it’s stuff like managing money, managing free time and playing professional hockey without the pressure that comes from being a highly hyped young NHL player.
from Five for Fighting,
We went down to the locker room and this was the scene: Guys like Krys Barch, Toby Petersen, Matt Niskanen, James Neal, Loui Eriksson… those were the ones remaining (wait, sorry, Sergei Zubov was in there, too). Now Marty Turco did come out, as did Darryl Sydor, but otherwise, most were cleared out by then.
Just don’t know what you can say at this point. There’s no building on positives with this group. They get behind and they fall apart. Coach Dave Tippett said this team needs its goaltender first and foremost: “Everybody has to do their part. Certain players we expect a lot more from, and it starts in goal with marty. Right now with our lineup, we just have to have good goaltending to give ourselves a chance.”
from Tarik El-Bashir of Capitals Insider,
Theodore was lights out, stopping all 28 shots he faced to beat Montreal and settle an old score against his former team. The 32-year-old goalie was the No. 1 star of the game for the first time as Cap, earned his first shutout as a Cap, and got his first standing ovation as a Cap….
Carbonneau on Theodore: “He was good. He was lucky at sometimes but sometimes you make your luck. He made the save when he had to, but we didn’t really test him.”
more on the Caps 30 victory over the Canadiens last night…
from Adrian Dater of All Things Avs,
He took one shift - 28 seconds - before shutting it down for the day because his back was bad.
This is obviously a red-siren, MAJOR setback for Cap and the Avs. He has, in essense, missed eight of the last nine games now. He has yet to play a full game in any of the three he’s allegedly been healthy enough to play in those last nine.
This is serious. A bad back can very often mean the end of a player’s career. Knowing the Avalanche and their medical staff, I would bet the ranch that they will now shut Sakic down for at least another few games and try to get this thing cured.
more on the Avs loss to Phoenix today…
from Doug Harrison of CBC Sports,
Through the first seven weeks of this season, injuries beset no fewer than 17 NHL goalies, including 12 starters.
The most serious injury was to Brodeur, followed by Vancouver’s Roberto Luongo, who is sidelined week to week after straining his left groin on a routine save at Pittsburgh on Nov. 22.
Luongo had played in at least 72 of his team’s 82 games in each of the past four campaigns….
Healy, who retired in 2001 after 437 NHL games, suggested an argument could be made that there is no down time for today’s players.
The former Los Angeles King, Toronto Maple Leaf, New York Ranger and New York Islander recalled playing organized hockey for only seven months as a youngster.
“It’s a 12-month job now and there are lots of kids that would like your job and they’re creeping up on you pretty quick,” said Healy, now the director of player affairs for the NHL Players’ Association. “At some point, does that affect your ability to have that durability?
from Jim Kelley at Sports Illustrated,
You can bet that fans will be talking coast to coast about Burke’s rumored six-year, $18 million salary. They will surely go deep into the speculation as regards exactly how much control he received from the historically meddlesome management there….
Me, I’ll be wondering how all of Canada will deal with the fact that Canada’s team—and love or hate the Leafs, that’s what they are—is now being managed and coached by a pair of Americans.
I know we’re dancing around a touchy issue here, but my intent is not to deal in cultural stereotyping and bigotry. I’ve spent more than half my working life in Canada. I love the country and its people. The only point I’m making here is that hockey—at least from a Canadian perspective—is Canada’s game.
from Mike Brophy of Sportsnet,
As it stands, the Rangers, Bruins, Capitals, Penguins, Devils and Flyers appear to be a lock to participate in the post-season. The Hurricanes currently sit in the eighth and final playoff spot, with a mere 59 games remaining in the regular season, but they are the most likely candidate to fall from grace with one of either the Sabres or Senators overtaking them.
Of course the reality of the situation is any of the bottom feeders could miraculously turn things around and salvage their season.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
Just how Burke goes about getting the Leafs on the winning track will be the most compelling part of watching the new regime operate — who stays and who goes among players and front-office staff.
However, it will be interesting to see how Burke handles the communication demands in a market that’s unlike any he’s ever worked in before; and in an era with more information sources than ever before.
Burke’s never been afraid to try new things. The year his Ducks won the Stanley Cup, he wrote a trading-deadline diary for USA Today that was astonishingly good reading. Even if only referenced players who were actually traded (so as not to compromise the relationship between teams and players who were talked about, but not moved), his candor wasn’t especially well-received by every member of the general manager’s fraternity.
more plus many other NHL topics…
Update 3:19pm ET: (Alanah) Just a note… if you scroll to the bottom of Duhatschek’s article, you’ll see a note about HHOF broadcaster Jiggs McDonald being trapped in Bangkok along with many other Canadians. For more info on that and how their family and many others need help, you can check out this post I put up earlier as well.
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