Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Ron Cook of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
There has been plenty of talk this spring about a widespread conspiracy in the NHL. Word in Philadelphia, Washington and Raleigh, N.C., is that the league wanted the Penguins to get to the Stanley Cup final and did everything it could to make it happen, going so far as to give beneficial calls by the referees to the sport’s poster boy, Sidney Crosby. Well, I’m here this morning to dispute that vigorously. I don’t think the NHL officials are nearly that smart.
They’re just lucky, that’s all.
Lucky to have the incomparable Crosby and Evgeni Malkin under the bright spotlight on hockey’s grandest stage for what figures to be a marvelous two-week run.
And lucky to have the defending champion Detroit Red Wings as the opponents in a blockbuster sequel to last year’s entertaining Cup final.
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
You can make an argument that any one of five current NHL players can stake a claim to being the best player on the planet.
Three – Alexander Ovechkin, Evgeni Malkin and Pavel Datsyuk – are finalists for the Hart Trophy as regular-season MVP.
One, Henrik Zetterberg, was named Conn Smythe Trophy winner last spring as the best player in the Stanley Cup playoffs.
One, Sidney Crosby, is the current favourite to win the Conn Smythe this spring.
Four of these players – Malkin, Crosby, Datsyuk and Zetterberg – are participants in this year’s Stanley Cup final, the NHL’s greatest showcase, which begins tomorrow night in Detroit.
from Mark Purdy of the Mercury News via the Monterey Herald,
My conversation with (Doug) Wilson took place earlier this week before we both appeared on a Comcast SportsNet Bay Area television show, the one which features sportswriters of all ages and sizes, proving definitively that none of us are as smooth or smart as host Greg Papa.
For example, on the show in question, Papa was pressing exactly the right issue with Wilson — whether Shark scoring leader Joe Thornton needs to amp up his attitude in the playoffs — when the general manager inadvertently let it slip that Thornton isn’t going anywhere.
Some had wondered if he might be on the trade market.
“I know one thing,” Wilson said. “It bothers Joe every day right now, that we’re still not playing. That’s the kind of guy we want to be in the foxhole with going forward.”
Okay, that’s one guy who’ll definitely be back for 2009-10. What about the rest? What about captain Patrick Marleau? Or goalie Evgeni Nabokov? Any others?
from Cam Cole of the Vancouver Sun via the Windsor Star,
Terrible Ted, who’ll be 84 a month after this year’s final ends, answered his cellphone Wednesday and began firing on all cylinders at what he called “the dumbest thing I’ve ever heard of in my life” — his Red Wings, beat up and exhausted after their 2-1, Game 5 elimination of the Chicago Blackhawks on Wednesday, having to go back at it three days later.
“Is this supposed to be the premium event of the National Hockey League, or not?” said Lindsay, who played in that 1955 series, scored four goals in Game 2, a finals record at the time, and remembers the Saturday-Sunday games as not being any better an idea then than it is now.
“Except we were so stupid, we didn’t know anything different,” he said….
“These guys have just gone through three very tough series — played probably the best team in the league other than them, in Anaheim, just finished another hard series and now you’re going to have one tired team with a lot of injuries. Pittsburgh’s probably not as tired because they had a fairly easy time of it, but they’re only getting one more day’s rest.”
added 10:02pm, How about the opinion of Adam Brady of Ducks Blog at AnaheimDucks.com,
So the Red Wings are one step closer to becoming the first team to repeat as champions since ... the Red Wings (in 1997 and 98). They take on the Pittsburgh Penguins in the Stanley Cup Final for (yawn) the second straight season….
But the back-to-back games are another story, at least according to Old Man Chelios. “You don’t want my opinion on that,’’ Chelios said.
You know what, Cheli? You’re right. We really don’t.
In fact, all of you complaining about the back-to-backs, get over yourself. Frankly, the whining is more than a little tiresome.
added 10:08pm, from Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press via the Sacramento Bee (not on the freep site yet),
Dear NBC and NHL:
I’ll begin with a simple question. Do either of you actually like hockey?
I think I can answer for NBC (a.k.a. “Nothing But Conan”), because it is clear the network would rather break out in a deadly skin rash than show the Stanley Cup finals on a weeknight.
from Jeff Z. Klein of SlapShot at the NY Times,
Wednesday night’s telecast on Versus of Game 5 of the Red Wings-Blackhawks semifinal broke a record for the U.S. cable network, continuing a trend this N.H.L. post-season of high viewership not seen in America for more than a decade.
Versus’s coverage of the Wings-Hawks Game 5 earned a 2.1 household rating and averaged 2.32 million total viewers. That made it the most-watched telecast in the network’s history among households (1.55 million) and tied it with Lance Armstrong’s final ride (7/24/05) for the highest-rated program in network history.
from Rob Parker at ClckOnDetroit,
...But these aren’t last year’s Penguins. Not by a long shot.
No one thought they’d be back here late in the postseason again looking for more, not even Marian Hossa, who passed up a mega-bucks, multi-year contract from the Pens to instead take a flimsy one-year deal with the Wings.
Hossa, who starred for Pittsburgh last June, thought his best chance to win the Cup was with Motown, not in the Steel City.
Hossa will wind up being both wrong and disappointed.
The Penguins will beat the Wings. Sorry, Hockeytown.
“We’re disappointed that we haven’t had an extra day’s rest. It’s a double-whammy, the quick turnaround and back-to-back games [to open the finals]. We’re disappointed because we think when you win a series in five games or less, that you have earned an opportunity to have a few more days of rest.
“But at the same time, we understand and we’re not going to dwell on it. Because we don’t want to lose our focus with the job at hand. It is what it is. Let’s play.”
-Wings GM Ken Holland. More on the Wings injuries from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.
from Damian Cristodero of the St. Peterburg Times,
Vinny Lecavalier hit a few golf balls last week; nothing taxing, just some chips, but a good sign his right wrist is healing from April’s season-ending surgery.
The real work, though, begins the third week of July, when the Lightning captain said he expects to start training for the new season, two weeks earlier than usual.
“I hope it’s going to be the best summer of my career,” he said. “I’m determined to be in the best shape of my life.”
And after that? “I plan on having a great season.”
from Tim Sassone of the Chicago Daily-Herald,
Tallon is well aware of the work that lies ahead keeping the core of the team together.
“You never know what can happen with this group,” Kane said. “If they can keep it together somehow or someway. We have a great group here.”
Toews, Kane and Keith all will need new contracts after next season, and negotiations could start at $6 million a year for each of them.
But first things first. The Hawks must decide quickly if they want to re-sign unrestricted free agents Martin Havlat, Sammy Pahlsson and Matt Walker before they hit the open market on July 1.
Tallon has said he wants Havlat back, and the injury the veteran winger suffered in Game 3 against Detroit on the hit from Niklas Kronwall shouldn’t change anything. It’s going to come down to how much money Havlat wants, and for how many years.
from the News & Observer,
Hurricanes captain Rod Brind’Amour said today that he had no plans to retire after 20 years in the NHL and would return next season.
“I made a commitment a while ago to play and I’ve got a contract to play it out,” he said today. “So it’s definitely what the plan is.
“Personally you have to believe in yourself. I would not play the game if I did not think I could still do it. And not just as a fourth-line player. My goal is to get back and contribute with this team as I feel like I can.
from Dan Wood of Ducks Blog at the OC Register,
“I’ve had three general managers call in the last day and a half — just starting to feel each other out,” Ducks general manager Bob Murray said Thursday.
With the June 26-27 entry draft and the July 1 opening of free-agency season approaching, groundwork is beginning to be laid for personnel moves that will come in late June and early July.
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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