Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
The Red Wings remain an elite, powerful and wonderfully skilled unit, and a 20-point gap is formidable, but the Blues have been drawing closer. The chase has been fascinating to watch. Not too long ago, the Blues were the worst team in hockey. Now they’re one of the league’s fastest-rising franchises. The Note returned to the playoffs this past season, and their future holds considerable promise.
And age is creeping onto the Detroit roster. The list of key Red Wings players in the mid-30s or older includes Nicklas Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski, Tomas Holmstrom, Kris Draper, Mikael Samuelsson and Chris Osgood.
Moreover, the Red Wings are experiencing a salary-cap squeeze. Barring trades, they’ll have less than $5 million to dispense in dealings with unrestricted free agents Marian Hossa, Tomas Kopecky and Mikael Samuelsson. And the Wings have two restricted free agents in Jiri Hudler and Ville Leino.
via Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
• The same people who think hockey can survive in Phoenix were the ones who thought an NHL awards show in Las Vegas was a good idea.
• Only in Gary Bettman’s NHL can a team without an owner, Phoenix, make a trade with a team that doesn’t have a general manager, Florida.
• Expect Mike Babcock to be named Canada’s Olympic coach on Thursday, and don’t be surprised if Lindy Ruff, Ken Hitchcock and Claude Julien are part of the coaching package.
• I see where Mike Gillis, who often fudged the truth about his professional relationship with disgraced agent David Frost, wants to build the Vancouver Canucks on the values of character and integrity. If that’s the case, maybe he should start by resigning.
Bucky Gleason and John Vogl both of the Buffalo News play GM (Gleason) & coach (Vogl) for a day.
In addition to Afinogenov and Hecht, Numminen, Peters, Henrik Tallinder and Toni Lydman are gone. All are either dead weight or will become unrestricted free agents in the next 13 months. They’re expendable for a team that’s two or three years away.
Plus, I need to make room for Jay Bouwmeester, the premier defenseman in the free-agent market. He’s a difference-maker the Sabres have needed and an upgrade over since-departed Brian Campbell. He would immediately stabilize the blue line, help tutor promising rookie Tyler Myers.
Of all the sentences from the Buffalo Sabres during the past two playoff-free seasons, three stick out.
“We came out flat. The effort wasn’t there. We just weren’t ready to play.”
That’s going to stop. The first-period sleepwalk (which occasionally carries into the third) is going to end. The best part is, this Coach for a Day doesn’t need new personnel to do it. The answer is already sitting in the dressing room. So, I present to you the Sabres’ starting lineup each and every night, three guys about whom those quotes never apply:
Paul Gaustad at center, Patrick Kaleta at right wing and Adam Mair at left wing.
from Michael Russo of the Star-Tribune,
(Bryan) Murray, who is extremely close with Fletcher after mentoring him with Florida and Anaheim, said Heatley has given him a list of teams. But if he works out a better deal with another team, Heatley will be pressured to make it work or he will remain in Ottawa.
Asked if he could add an expensive player such as Heatley or Vincent Lecavalier, Fletcher said: “I won’t talk specific names, but I think we could. But we’d have a lot of $500,000 players in key spots unless you could move another salary and create room that way. So there’s ways to do anything. But the higher the number gets, the less flexibility you have to fill other holes.”
And Fletcher said he believes the Wild must add a center, winger and as many as three defensemen via trade or free agency.
You can bet if Fletcher had the choice between re-signing Gaborik and trading for Heatley, he would choose Gaborik simply because it means not giving up assets.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
The event, tentatively slated for McMahon Stadium in Calgary for Jan. 1 after the Winter Classic game set for Boston’s Fenway Park, must be approved by the seven of 10 voting members of the competition committee.
Asked if he would instruct the five players who sit on the committee to vote against a second outdoor game, Kelly said he didn’t think that would be necessary.
“I don’t think I have to do that. I will tell you that last year when the competition committee met this issue came up and all five players and, in fact, all voting members of both sides of the fence did not support a second Winter Classic game,” Kelly said.
more on why a second game is being discussed…
Rich Hammond of Inside the Kings was at a breakfast today which I believe fans attended and some asked the Kings management team questons…
Next question was from a young man asking about Dany Heatley. (Ron) Hextall addressed it and spoke in general terms about Heatley, not particularly about whether the Kings wanted him.
Hextall pointed about that Heatley asked to be traded from Atlanta (under circumstances that Hextall acknowledged were not ideal) then signed a big contract in Ottawa and asked to be traded shortly thereafter, with a list of teams that he would accept a deal to. Hextall said that such behavior ``raises red flags.’‘
read on for more questions…
from RDS (translated),
The sale of the Canadian is now concluded. According to the RDS has learned that the family would be the next Molson Canadian owner.
The cost of the transaction would be approximately $ 550 million.
added 2:40pm, via Scott Burnside and Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
The deal still needs approval from the NHL’s Board of Governors. The league needs to do due diligence on the sale and have a board vote, and a source said Saturday sale approval “will be sometime mid-summer at the earliest.”
French sports network RDS reported Saturday that the sale was worth $550 million, but a source told ESPN.com that the price was in excess of that.
MONTREAL – George N. Gillett Jr and Geoff Molson announced today that they have reached an agreement in principle for the sale of the Gillett family’s interests in the Montreal Canadiens Hockey Club, the Bell Centre and Gillett Entertainment Group. They will hold a news conference as soon as the agreement is finalized.
from Brian Costello of The Hockey News,
When the Hall of Fame’s selection committee gets together Tuesday to select its 2009 inductees, it will have three easy decisions and at least one difficult one.
The easy decisions are for three of the four openings in the players category. Steve Yzerman, Brett Hull and Brian Leetch are clearly shoo-ins and make this year’s class one of the most memorable in decades. All three are first-time eligible this year and the debate among the 18 selection committee members won’t be long or spirited.
The fourth opening is the one that will spark plenty of dialogue. The other first-time candidates (retired three years from hockey) are Luc Robitaille, Alexander Mogilny and Dave Andreychuk.
via Greg Logan of On the Islanders Beat,
“Boy, that’s a tough one,” said Weir, who counts former playmaking center Adam Oates among his friends and who has skated with the Washington Capitals in the past. “All I can go by is I watched quite a bit of the World Junior this year, and Tavares looked unbelievable. So, I’d have a tough time picking against him. I think any of those three…it depends on what the team’s needs are. I don’t know what the Islanders really need.”
Told they are the lowest-scoring team in the NHL, Weir said, “Well, I think Tavares would probably be a good pick.”
from George Johnson of the Calgary Herald,
Although it seems a year, only a month has passed since Keenan paid for the sins of the many. Since the three-day-late media conference to address his dismissal, in which Sutter only half-joked he was, at that moment, the best replacement candidate, not a peep of comment from down Olympic Way.
Sutter’s Bonded Plumbing Service has ensured no leaks.
Which, naturally enough, has precipitated a flood of rumours. Most wild, a few wilder. One making the rounds had Sutter waiting until reaching Montreal to name the new coach, far from the prying eyes of the local camera-toters and scribblers and in keeping with his sense of humour.
Another insisted the GM had, as hinted at, taken over himself and just didn’t feel like putting out a release. Rumours then surfaced that someone had spotted Montreal Canadiens ex-coach Guy Carbonneau furtively entering and exiting the Pengrowth Saddledome wearing a skull cap and moustache, disguised as Bearcat Murray.
Well, there’s been no shortage of scuttlebutt.
The man still considered odds-on-favourite for the job, Brent Sutter, would rather talk about the appalling lack of precipitation up northwest a spell than the lack of news being surreptitiously filtered out of the Saddledome.
added 1:03pm, from TSN,
Sources tell TSN that Brent Sutter is in the final stages on the details of an agreement to become the next head coach of the Calgary Flames.
He is expected to be named in the near future.
Should Sutter be named the new bench boss in Calgary, it would be due to New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello giving the club permission to speak with him, as Sutter owes the Devils a year on his contract.
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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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