Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
Of all the questions to consider as the 2008-09 NHL season heads into the home stretch, the one on everyone’s mind in Western Canada is: Is this the year the region’s three Canadian-based teams qualify for the playoffs together?
At the all-star game break, the Calgary Flames were third on the Western Conference list, with the Edmonton Oilers holding down sixth place and the Vancouver Canucks, despite a six-game losing string, hanging on to seventh.
If the playoffs began today, the Flames and Oilers would meet in the opening round, setting up the first playoff Battle of Alberta since their memorable 1991 meeting, won by the Oilers in seven games.
continued with a look at the Wings, Ducks and some trade options…
from Don Brennan of the Ottawa Sun,
With a leg dangling over each side of the fence, Bryan Murray claimed yesterday he is prepared to do both some buying and some selling.
But he also adamantly insisted he’s not about to put a stick of dynamite to the Senators roster.
“I read and hear the comments being made ‘blow up the team’ or ‘start over’ or ‘lose all the games so you can get the first pick’. I don’t think that does any of us any good at this point,” the Senators GM told an Ottawa media scrum yesterday. “Maybe four years down the road it may make a difference, but this year and next, I don’t think you people would be very happy writing and talking on a daily basis that we’ve gone into the tank or whatever….”
“If we play well, and do the things we’re capable of doing, and play like we can and get the goaltending we need to have, I think we’re as legit as anyone else in the league. But you have to have everything fall in place for that to happen. I’m very confident in this team and I have a lot of trust in this team.”
-Devils coach Brent Sutter. More on the Devils from Mark Everson of the NY Post.
from Flames Insider,
Coach Mike Keenan was present . . . explaining to assembled media why percolating gossip about the Flames chasing down veteran G Martin Gerber is poppycock: “I think it’s out of the question. I think his contract is a little heavy. So if you look at contracts and players available in that position, I think that Curtis is the best solution for us.”
more on the Flames…
from Razor With An Edge,
Tuesday night the race in the Western Conference resumes.
And right now just about everybody has a nag in the race. Eleven teams (from 5th to 15th) are separated by eleven points.
Only eight make it to the post season, the other seven will exhaustedly saunter over to retire in the paddock, and a couple of their coaches will join John Paddock in unemployment. (To my knowledge none will see a glue factory – which is good.)
So here, with apologies to Norm Hitzges, is my handicapping sheet:
#9 Minnesota- Only Boston owns a better GAA…but the Bruins have scored 51 more goals. Gaborik would help this pop-gun offense.
from David Staples of The Cult of Hockey,
It was a six-year extension that would pay Legwand, 27, an average salary of $4.5 million a year until the end of the 2013/14 season, a salary fit for a medium-to-high-end NHL star.
The contract loudly announced a few things: that the Predators were locking up their franchise center, their American-born ace; and that the NHL was booming, the cap was rising, and Nashville was in the game….
Some teams, such as Nashville, Phoenix, Florida, Tampa and Atlanta, will likely have trouble just making the payments on these massive contracts, if you go by the poor revenue streams of these teams. For the wealthy teams, the Philadelphias and Edmontons of the world, it will be the cap implications that really hurt when it comes to massive pre-recession contracts like the one Daniel Briere signed, or Shawn Horcoff for that matter.
from Adrian Dater of the Denver Post,
The return of Lemieux to the NHL, at age 43, certainly has had the hockey world abuzz. Tonight at the Pepsi Center against the Avalanche, he will play his second game for the San Jose Sharks since being called up from the team’s minor-league affiliate in Worcester, Mass., last Monday.
There will be no need to check his water bottle for an elixir from the Fountain of Youth, Lemieux says. Hard work and dedication are responsible for a comeback nearly everybody scoffed at.
“I proved to myself that you never say never,” said Lemieux, who retired from the Dallas Stars in 2003. “For the last few years, I’d wake up every morning saying to myself, ‘I know I could do this. I quit too soon. But I can make it back if I put my mind to it.’ And once I finally decided to really put my mind to it, I had no doubts I’d make it.”...
His weight swelled to 250 pounds. His once-chiseled cheekbones disappeared under the soft flesh that comes from one-too-many slices of pizza.
“I definitely got fat,” Lemieux said with the characteristic bluntness that made him one of the NHL’s most colorful and controversial players.
from Tom Reed of the Columbus Dispatch,
“Mike Babcock was without a doubt an obstacle in my career,” said Commodore of the coach who traded him from Anaheim to Calgary in 2003.
“I wanted to prove him wrong, I’m not going to lie. I used him as big-time motivation. I thought he put his best foot forward to bury me.”
Commodore’s perceived injustice—the kind that can be found in almost every NHL locker room—adds intrigue to the Blue Jackets-Red Wings rivalry. The outspoken defenseman now gets to face his former coach six times a season.
In one breath, Commodore says “it’s water under the bridge,” and in the next concedes, “I still get fired up talking about it.”...
“The only thing I ever questioned about Mike was his conditioning,” Babcock said. “In my mind, Mike always has been a quality guy. When he came up, I didn’t think he was in condition. That’s it.”
from Spector at Fox Sports,
Last fall in my Foxsports.com column I wrote about the NHL teams which could face potential salary cap problems if next season’s cap were to drop below the current level of $56.7 million.
As the recession deepens and concerns grow over its impact upon all professional sports leagues, I think it’s worth a quick revisit to determine which teams could find themselves strapped for cap space next season….
Boston Bruins: 14 players signed, $42,645,833.
Buffalo Sabres: 14 players signed, $41,188,690
Calgary Flames: 15 players signed, $42,649,167
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
Last season, Marian Hossa was the crème de la crème of a group of players on the market leading up to the 2008 trade deadline. His acquisition by Pittsburgh helped propel the Penguins to their first Stanley Cup finals since 1992.
This season, the forward is ensconced in Detroit, where he signed as a free agent, something well-remembered by his friends in Pittsburgh. But for teams looking to add such a bauble before the March 4 deadline, well, the cupboard is looking pretty bare.
Here’s a list of the top players who could be in play between now and the trade deadline.
Jay Bouwmeester, Florida Panthers
Last season, Atlanta GM Don Waddell did his best to sign Hossa to a long-term deal, but could not. Because the Thrashers were a draft-lottery team, the decision to trade Hossa was an easy one. Not so for Florida GM Jacques Martin when it comes to the talented Bouwmeester.
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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