Kukla's Korner Hockey
from John Grigg of The Hockey News,
In our ongoing quest to name the top-10 current NHL players from each European hockey power – we began with the Czechs and the Swedes – this week we’re running down the best Finns still active.
10. Tuomo Ruutu, Right Wing, Carolina
The 26-year-old is having the best year of his career, mainly because he’s managed to stay healthy for the first time since his 2003-04 rookie season. Good health means Ruutu-the-younger is now more valuable than older brother Jarkko. He’s logging 18-plus minutes of ice time per night and, with 20 goals and 45 points, is on pace to smash his career bests.
from Ian MacIntyre of the Vancouver Sun,
Six months after a dinner summit meeting when each side pledged its devotion to the other, Daniel and Henrik Sedin and the Vancouver Canucks seem no closer to agreeing on contract extensions as negotiations are about to be adjourned.
The National Hockey League franchise and its top scorers — or at least their representatives — appear to be inhabiting different worlds economically, and player agent J.P. Barry said Tuesday he’ll soon shut down talks so neither the players nor their team are distracted during the stretch drive and playoffs.
If this happens,the Canucks will have only weeks after the end of the season to re-sign the Sedins or risk losing their best forwards to unrestricted free agency on July 1.
from Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News,
If you’re an Eastern Conference team and you’ve seen the Pittsburgh Penguins lately, fear may be a survival instinct. Simply put, the Pens are hot right now – seven wins in a row hot. And for opponents, it’s that clicking-on-all-cylinders mojo that makes the Penguins a dangerous post-season foe.
Momentum is everything in the NHL, but timing is a close second. Don’t forget, at different points in the season the New York Rangers were an elite squad, the Dallas Stars were a dangerous playoff team and the Los Angeles Kings were challenging for a post-season berth.
For most of the year, the Penguins were kneecapped by key injuries (Sergei Gonchar and the now-departed Ryan Whitney the most crucial early on), but things really seem to be coming together now.
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
The NHL’s general managers concluded their annual meeting here on Wednesday by passing one minor item and fretting about the economy.
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, though, maintained the sunny outlook he has held all year about the league’s prospects in the recession.
Once again, he claimed the NHL will experience “five per cent real growth” next season but what lies beyond that is unknown.
At least some of the general managers, though, were considerably less optimistic, especially about the 2010-11 season.
“If you hack a guy on the back of the leg and he lets you do it, you know what you do, you do it again and pretty soon he is your girlfriend.”
-Mike Babcock on HockeyCentral/Fan590 this afternoon. Listen to the whole interview.
from Mike Casey of In the Crease at Newsday,
The topic of banning fighting permanently is expected to be discussed during this week’s general manager meetings in Naples, Fla. And while it doesn’t appear the ban has sufficient support to come into law, you never can tell what maneuvers Gary Bettman will pull in his crusade to rid the game of one of the things fans love most about it.
And so we present to you Part I of our compilation of the Top 10 hockey fights from the 2008-09 season (with some bonus videos thrown in). We’ll tackle Nos. 6-10 today and the top five Thursday at noon. Enjoy them now while you can:
read on to watch the fights…
from Roy MacGregor of the Globe and Mail,
At the very least, the NHL general managers owed it to the game to take the issue of fighting seriously, not slough it off with some ridiculous proposed tweak to the current rules.
They could have done something about unnecessary fighting and did nothing.
They could have done something about helmets that fly off to easily — is there anything simpler than tightening a chin strap? — and did nothing.
They could have taken the NHL Players’ Association’s sensible suggestions for dealing with hits to the head … and did nothing.
Let us hope the NHLPA can still do this through the league’s competition committee, even if the GMs don’t like it.
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
It’s one thing for a player to be shadowed on the ice by a checker, the way Jaromir Jagr was for a time by Jay Pandolfo, or Bobby Hull was by a pest named Bugsy Watson.
It’s quite another thing, however, for a player to be shadowed on the ice by game officials, the way that Sean Avery has been by referees and linesmen alike throughout the first three games of his return to the Rangers.
The NHL is on trial here every much as is Avery, the man Gary Bettman suspended for saying bad words on television, but whose television partners have no trouble exploiting to attract and keep viewers.
Ron Wilson ‘addresses’ Leafs beat-man Howard Berger after last night’s victory over the Islanders.
Howard Berger of Fan590 responds…
If there is one thing, among many, that I’ve learned in my first season around Ron Wilson, it’s that the coach of the Maple Leafs doesn’t react well to criticism. That’s not to suggest the other Leaf coaches I’ve had experience with in the past 20 years enjoyed being challenged, but Wilson takes it as a particular affront — mainly because of his heightened sensitivity to all things media.
“We won finally and that’s a real good thing. We’ll take the win, but I’m disappointed in the way we carry ourselves. We’re a club that’s won a lot of hockey games for a reason. We should be playing with a lot of confidence. We’ve earned the opportunity to be confident and to play confident and make the right plays at the right time. But right now we’re fragile.
“Hopefully this gets us out of it. I’d like to see some guys step up and swing the bat. When the games on the line, they want to be up to bat, hit the single or the double that scores the winning run rathern than walking and getting to first.
“I want to see guys take the challenge on a little bit more.”
-Sharks coach Todd McLellan after defeating the Wild in OT last night. More on the Sharks from David Pollak of Working the Corners.
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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