Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Bruce MacLeod of Red Wings Corner,
I’m not sure that I like the arguments why Steve Stamkos isn’t playing at the prospects tournament for Tampa Bay. I’ve heard things ranging from it’s the Lightning trying to protect Stamkos from a tournament where prospects try to prove themselves, including fighting. I’ve also heard that the Lightning didn’t want Stamkos to miss any of their main camp which begins a day after this tournament ends.
First off, don’t worry about Stamkos protecting himself.
from Ross McKeon of Yahoo,
Everyone knew what was coming when general manager Dean Lombardi jumped aboard with marching orders to get the ship righted, much like he did in San Jose. That meant rebuilding, and rebuilding means stripping away what’s not working by selling off assets for picks, drafting well, development, patience with your blue-chip prospects, trying to keep key young players together as they climb the ladder and hope they’re ready when they get their crack.
But two seasons have passed and the Kings are still facing an uphill battle not only to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs for the first time in six seasons but also toward respectability. Two years is probably not nearly enough time to accurately assess whether rebuilding is a success, but this is business and the L.A. market – surprisingly loyal throughout so many frustrating years – is losing interest and crowds are waning.
from Adam Kimelman of NHL.com,
Now the picture is getting a bit grayer. How do you quantify toughness? Is there one particular stat to look at? And where does talent fit into the equation?
NHL.com wasn’t quite sure, so we found someone with a little more knowledge – Jay Feaster, the former general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning who assembled the 2004 Stanley Cup championship club. Here are Feaster’s opinions on who are the most talented tough guys in the Western Conference:
Jarome Iginla, Calgary Flames – There’s nothing that Iginla doesn’t do well. He’s an elite scorer, a good passer, a strong skater, and he never backs away from a physical challenge.
from John Vogl of the Buffalo News,
As with most Ruff-coached teams, the concentration will be on solid defensive play. But Ruff doesn’t want the phrase “defense first” to scare anyone. The Sabres were fourth in the league in scoring last year and led the NHL the year before, so he knows he has to let his firepower flame.
“I didn’t like our play away from the puck, and that’s going to be an area of focus through camp,” Ruff said. “We want that area stronger, and at the same time still play the style that’s made us successful. I don’t think we want to get away from that.
“I think that can be done, but that’s going to take a little more commitment from different individuals on this team.”
from Bob Rossi of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
Q: What did you learn last year about your core players?
A: They’ve very resilient, and I didn’t just learn that. We’ve shown that the past two seasons, especially last season with all the injuries and adversity, including the slow start. These players know how to handle tough spots. I look at our game in Ottawa last season on Thanksgiving: We were three games under .500 and down, 0-2, on the road to a team that had the best record in hockey at the time. We won that game, and it was the start of getting it going on the right track
from Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune,
Melrose arrived in Tampa last week to get things lined up for the start of camp, but he took a few minutes to share some thoughts with the Tribune.
It’s obviously been a while since you’ve run a training camp. What are some of the things you have done to get ready for this?
Well, this isn’t brain surgery, as much as people want to make it brain surgery. It’s getting your group together, it’s organization, it’s running practice. A lot of the behind-the-scenes stuff has been done by Brian Lawton, and that’s by far the most difficult part of a camp. My job is taking care of them when they are here.
from Greg Logan of Newsday,
His birth certificate may say he’s 45 years old, but Gordon has a youthful appearance and a store of energy that suggest he can go as hard as he expects his team to skate. The three computers arrayed on his desk at the team’s practice facility hint at the highly organized approach of a dedicated workaholic.
It’s a marked contrast to the style of predecessor Ted Nolan, who was far less structured and tended to place his faith in veteran leadership and motivation.
Gordon promises a “dramatically different” defensive style with more support leading to a quicker transition and what he describes as an aggressive forecheck designed to keep the puck in the offensive end as much as possible.
from Steve Conroy of the Boston Herald,
Of the more tangible goals, Julien wants his team to score more than it did last year without sacrificing the stringent team defense that became its hallmark. The B’s finished fourth in the Eastern Conference in goals-against with 215, 12th in goals scored with 206.
A healthy Bergeron should go a long way toward helping in that department. But perhaps even more titillating for Bruins fans was the performance of Phil Kessel [stats] in last year’s playoffs. After being benched for Games 2, 3 and 4 vs. Montreal, he was reinserted into the lineup and became a force.
Julien said he took no satisfaction in apparently pushing the right button with Kessel and gave the youngster credit for not sulking. But he wasn’t surprised by the authority with which he returned to the ice.
from Tracey Myers of the Star-Telegram,
...as Modano enters his 19th NHL season, he’s feeling that hunger, that desire for his sport. Sure, training camp, which begins Friday, doesn’t bring out the giddiness of many players; but that regular-season schedule isn’t far away, and those games are what have Modano ready to roll again.
“There’s some excitement, knowing we’re very close and our team’s better adding the guys that we did,” he said. “We’re looking forward to that again. I think we feel the components are there, the players are there, that people are coming into their age.”
from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal,
They keep saying Mathieu Schneider’s leaving the Ducks for the rival Los Angeles Kings, so Anaheim can divest itself of his $5.75-million contract to sign winger Teemu Selanne, but another scenario to watch for: Adrian Aucoin and his $4 million a year heading from the Calgary Flames to L.A. instead. Calgary general manager Darryl Sutter and his Kings counterpart Dean Lombardi are buddies from their San Jose days.
The Vancouver Canucks are looking at free-agent winger Mark Parrish, probably thinking he’d be a nice fit with the brothers Sedin. If Anson Carter could kick in 30 with Henrik and Daniel, no reason why Parrish couldn’t do the same…
more NHL talk plus KHL talk too…
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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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