Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Tony Massarotti of the Boston Globe,
If I am Peter Chiarelli, this is what I do: I walk into the locker room and I tell the players, in no uncertain terms, that this season is entirely up to them. I tell them Claude Julien will be the coach here for years to come. I tell them that the management of the Bruins will continue to treat this team like a Stanley Cup contender, that help should be coming at some point in the next month.
And then I watch the next three weeks to see if my team has any pride at all.
from Michael Russo of Russo’s Rants,
The Wild is close to cutting all ties with Petr Sykora.
Sykora, 33, who’s been away from the team since being placed on waivers Jan. 19, was officially assigned to the Houston Aeros today.
However, Sykora has officially declined to report. The two sides have mutually agreed to terminate his contract, and once approved by the NHL in the next day or two, Sykora will immediately become an unrestricted free agent .
In essence, Sykora will be free to sign with any team before the March 3 trade deadline and the Wild will be free of the remaining $600,000 or so of Sykora’s contract and salary-cap hit.
from Bruce Dowbiggin of the Globe and Mail,
What started as a debate about Vancouver’s Alex Burrows’ integrity has now become a question of how to protect the integrity of broadcaster Ron MacLean, the CBC bingo caller who launched a one-sided takeout of the Canucks forward on the January 16 version of Hockey Night In Canada . Sources tell Usual Suspects that parties at both the Canucks and CBC now privately concede that MacLean was over the journalistic line for not allowing Burrows to defend himself on charges of diving and lying on his filibuster.
The question now is how does CBC placate the Canucks without publicly reprimanding its veteran host (something they are not offering to do at this moment)? Can it offer other concessions to satisfy the outrage in Vancouver?
I’d like to read your opinion on this topic. I would be a little biased if I commented on this, since I’ve let it be known by questioning if Burrows would have gone public if the Canucks would have won the game that seems so long ago…
I also have met Ron on a few occasions and think he is the best in the business.
from Martin Fennelly of the Tampa Tribune,
The day I sat with him, Konopka had two black eyes, one from a stick and one from a fist. His nose has flattened out, having been broken 14 times - sticks, glass, pucks, punches.
“My face leads me wherever I go,” Konopka said. His lovable mug has had 400 stitches. Who needs to go over the Falls?
Somehow this fourth-line center who has just two goals and two assists, who’s lucky if he gets nine minutes of ice time a night, who until this season had played just 39 NHL games, has, yes, somehow become an important part of this team, and it’s more than fighting, having everyone’s back. Konopka is good at face-offs, he’s smart, funny, keeps everybody loose, card games, pranks, jokes, never any let up, not Zenon.
“I don’t want to call him a loose cannon, but he just does things, on the ice, obviously, but off the ice, too,” Lightning coach Rick Tocchet said. “Team building stuff. He’s always got something going on to create an atmosphere in the room that bonds people together.”
from Anthony J. SanFilippo of the Daily Times,
Considering the Flyers are frequently in the trade discussion mix, whether at the deadline, draft, or free agency, it’s no surprise that they have been linked to several proposed megadeals.
Some suggest they might go after Atlanta superstar Ilya Kovalchuk. Others have them in deep talks with Calgary for hard-hitting defenseman Dion Phaneuf. There are still others that suggest they might try and pry Vincent Lecavalier away from the Tampa Bay Lightning while the nostalgic have them bringing back Rod Brind’Amour as another veteran voice to a locker room that can never have too many of those.
It’s fun to play fantasy hockey and figure out how each of these high-priced and big name players can impact the Flyers, but the reality of the situation is none of them will be coming to town unless they are wearing a visiting uniform.
from Adrian Dater of the Denver Post,
In other sports with sanctioned fighting, the goal is to win, to have your arm raised in triumph and watch your opponent hang his head in disappointment. Whether one “wins” a fight in the NHL is beside the point.
Sticking up for a teammate after he takes a big hit and showing you won’t be pushed around is often just as important for hockey teams. Not only are the star players “protected,” but an esprit de corps can develop. No matter how one fares in a hockey fight, teammates almost always tap their sticks on the ice as a show of respect.
That said, fighters always are trying to get better at their craft.
from Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch,
Since a salary cap was implemented coming out of the 2004-05 lockout, young players have become more proliferate in the NHL. Entry-level contracts come with their own salary restrictions, giving cap-conscious GMs a ready source of cheap labor. As a result, young players are being pushed to the big stage as soon as possible.
The heat gets turned up when these young players come up on their second contracts. Those who are deemed talented enough are signed long-term—to define a young core, save money, or both. The Pittsburgh Penguins are a classic example of this. They locked up Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jordan Staal as soon as they could. They provided themselves some cost certainty in defining where the bulk of their money was going to be spent. They structured their roster so as to avert the most expensive forays into future free-agent markets.
If teams are going to pay long money on second contracts, it follows that the players who sign these contracts are expected to fill important roles sooner rather than later. Crosby & Co. are a textbook example of talented young players stepping nicely into such roles. The Penguins fired a tough coach, Michel Therrien, and elevated a softer, younger Dan Bylsma to achieve this result. And they won the Stanley Cup.
This sort of thinking now prevails. If a coach fails to extract the maximum from his young charges, said coach is in trouble.
from Paul Hunter of the Toronto Star,
For the rest of the season, and especially leading up to the March 3 trade deadline, it will be hard to view Leaf players as anything but commodities.
For a non-playoff team on which futures are on the line, the big game won’t be so much hockey as it will be guessing who stays and who goes.
Against the visiting L.A. Kings on Tuesday, for example, the final score was 5-3 for the impressive young team from California.
But the important result was that a player like Niklas Hagman improved his stock on the trade market while goaltender Jonas Gustavsson, a restricted free agent this summer, only created more questions about where he might fit with the Leafs.
via Darren Dreger of TSN,
Rugged Maple Leafs forward Jamal Mayers believes he has at least a few good years left him in, but doesn’t see Toronto in his future.
Leafs general manager Brian Burke granted Mayers agent, Pat Brisson, permission to speak to teams in an effort to generate trade interest.
from Dan Steinberg of D.C. Sports Bog,
The Islanders defenseman did what hockey defensemen do, throwing his face in front of an Alex Ovechkin slapshot at close range. The results were about what you’d expect; a pool of blood, a lot of quiet fans and scared players, and a trip to the hospital.
“It’s the game of hockey, but you never want to see a player go down like that,” Jason Chimera said, via FanHouse. “He took the full force of the shot. Difficult to watch.”
added 12:06pm, Hillen suffered a broken jaw and out for around 2 months. Video of the play is below…
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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