Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Brian Duff of the NHL Network at NHL.com,
A quick survey of my colleagues at the NHL Network, who have been immersed in the game in some way, shape, or form for years, finds that they are still amazed at how the storylines of a season evolve far beyond the imagination of anyone.
Former Calgary Flames GM Craig Button—“My biggest surprise has been the Colorado Avalanche. They were a team with a promising future, but who knew that future was so soon?...
Gary Green, a former NHL coach—“The Phoenix Coyotes, without a doubt. I thought that they would be hurt by the lack of interest and the summer fallout of the bankruptcy. Not knowing the team’s future has often hurt teams in the standings over history in the NHL.”
from Steve Rosenbloom of RosenBlog at the Chicago Tribune,
Well, they have a couple goalies, just not one you’d stake your Stanley Cup life on right now. I realize that the Blues beat the Hawks on deflected shots, so I’m not hanging that specific loss on Cristobal Huet. But that position remains the biggest question because Huet has never won a playoff series and Niemi has never played so much as a postseason minute in the NHL.
And now, Huet can’t handle a small workload. The Hawks’ game of keepaway means their goalies see fewer shots than other netminders, but the quality of the chances against them might be just as high. The last few times that Huet has faced 20 shots or so, he has not given anyone confidence that he can be trusted in the heat of spring. Anyone in the Hawks organ-I-zation, I mean.
Maybe that changes soon. Maybe one of these two guys—- nobody cares which, at this point—- gets it together before April. It appears one of them will have to because this isn’t your father’s NHL trading deadline, where 100 bodies change teams. Nope, this is a salary-cap era that is hamstringing the Hawks—thank you, Billfold Wirtz—- so Huet or Niemi will need to be Roy or Brodeur.
from Dan Steinberg of D.C. Sports Bog,
Here’s how you know the Caps are becoming a big deal: Tony Kornheiser discusses them on national television without using the phrase “choking dogs.”
“Odds the Caps win the Cup” appeared during PTI’s oddsmakers segment Wednesday afternoon. Wilbon put the odds at 49 percent. Kornheiser chose 60 percent. Those aren’t bad odds.
“They’ve got the most points in the NHL, they’ve got an 11 game winning streak and they’ve got the most exciting offensive player in the league in Alex Ovechkin,” Kornheiser began. “But this always comes down to a goalie. And if the guy Varlamov, or however you pronounce that, who was in the playoffs last year, if he’s healthy I like their chances. If Theodore is in the nets, I like them not quite as much, but I still like them. Watch this Reali, 60 percent.”
from Greg Wyshynski of PuckDaddy,
The Wings said yesterday that Franzen’s target date for a return is next Tuesday against the St. Louis Blues, putting his rehab time at the minimum of four months and potentially giving him three games before the Olympic break. Then he can put his feet up on the coffee table and do whatever it is a guy nicknamed the Mule does to relax for a few weeks, having been left off the Team Sweden Olympic roster.
That snub didn’t exactly sit well with Franzen. In speaking with Swedish newspaper Expressen (article hilariously translated here, including the phrase “it feels a little sandbox on the whole”), Franzen said Team Sweden officials “made a mistake and they want to hide it” after keeping him off the roster.
According to the admittedly rough translation, the paper previously reported that Swedish head coach Bengt-Ake Gustafsson hadn’t spoken to Franzen since November and that the team didn’t consult Detroit doctors about his injury rehab.
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
We get it. John Tortorella is the chess master playing with one king, one rook, a knight, a bishop and about a dozen pawns. But at some point the head coach of the Rangers must declare and implement a strategy against more heavily fortified opponents that does not change every five minutes.
By going public with the Ilya Kovalchuk will be traded line yesterday, Atlanta GM Don Waddell is trying to create more interest in his star player.
With that in mind, what is your best offer for Ilya, and let’s assume it is as a ‘rental player’ only, meaning he will be going to the UFA market come July 1st.
For some real trade talk, Lyle Richardson of Spector’s Hockey takes a look at all the teams mentioned as a possible destination for Kovalchuk.
“It’s certainly been a different year right from the get-go to be quite honest but it’s not a bad thing. I’ve learned lots through this. The first two years (in New Jersey) I didn’t go through this so it’s experience in going through it but with the coaching staff, with (GM and brother) Darryl and Ken (club president King) and with Murray (part owner Edwards) and the ownership group, I’ve had a lot of support through it so we’re staying the course.
“They’ve been tough days but you have to stay positive too, continue to believe so it’s been, to be quite honest, something you don’t want to go through but it’s something we’ve gone through and we all have to take something good out of it and I certainly have as a coach.
“Hopefully it’ll make me better at what I do. It is what it is and you deal with it the best way you can.”
-Flames Coach Brent Sutter. More on the Flames win last night from John Down of Flames Insider.
via the Ice Man at the Atlanta Journal-Constitution,
OK kids…while we sit around waiting for the news to break about who Ilya Kovalchuk will be traded to and which player(s) may be heading our way, here is a couple of question to ponder. First, given the news yesterday that Don Waddell informed Kovalchuk that he’d be working out a trade in the coming days, what happens if such a deal is not finalized by Friday night when the Thrashers play in D.C.? Certainly you can’t suit him up to play knowing his future is not with this team…right? Does John Anderson sits him and dresses Kozlov?
I’ll be curious to see if he’s at practice Thursday morning…or even make the flight to Washington.
I think there can be a logical argument made to sit him now that he’s been informed of the pending trade.
from Tom Reed of the Columbus Dispatch,
“I’m pretty much in shock,” Umberger said. “It’s a really tough thing to swallow. Hitch has done so much for my career. As a player, you feel like you let him down.”
Several players agreed and said they also are to blame for the team’s poor showing a season after reaching the playoffs for the first time.
Hitchcock’s demanding style and penchant for overloading players, especially young ones, with information likely contributed to his ouster. Some players appeared overwhelmed by the endless meetings and mixed messages.
Prized prospect Nikita Filatov returned to Russia in November, citing differences with Hitchcock. Youngsters such as Brassard and Voracek, goalless in the past 24 games, looked to be regressing. But Brassard was one of several players interviewed last night who had praise for Hitchcock.
“I respect that he tried to help me and all the young guys,” Brassard said. “He was really patient with us. Some guys will say he was not right for the young players, and he was hard on us. He knew what we were about to face, and he was getting us to be NHL players.”
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.
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