Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Spector at Fox Sports,
As much as fans and media in more “traditional” hockey markets love to disparage the fans of Sun Belt franchises such as Tampa Bay, Lightning fans aren’t fools.
They’ve seen a Stanley Cup champion built only to be torn apart by salary cap constraints and questionable moves. They gave the new ownership a chance but have been sorely disappointed by the results so far. They’re openly questioning the business savvy of Koules and Barrie and the management ability of rookie GM Lawton.
Thanks to the off-ice bungling and the on-ice mediocrity, the Lightning have a serious PR problem in Tampa Bay. Dealing away Lecavalier — be it for financial reasons, by his request or a serious attempt to rebuild — would be like tossing gasoline on the fire, especially if the return fails to significantly address the club’s needs.
Scott Burnside & Pierre LeBrun of ESPN discuss firing a coach during the season…
Burnside: I just think it’s such a knee-jerk reaction to fire a coach who has done so much for a franchise. I’m talking specifically about the Penguins in this case, but I think it’s often just ownership or management’s way of appeasing fans and the media. “Look,” they say, “we’re doing something. We fired the coach.” But I think you have to think long and hard about whether it’s really the coach or other factors that have gone into a team’s decline….
LeBrun: It means the players are no longer listening to the coach. Like the old Charlie Brown skit, all they hear is “Blah, blah, blah” when the mouth opens. I’m not sure that’s happening with Therrien or not, but it’s just a guess. Listen, I will give Therrien his due. It’s because of him the Penguins became a much better defensive team when he took over. He taught them defensive discipline, and that was a key in their ride to the Cup finals last spring. But this season? There’s been a lot of uninspired hockey from that team….
more and not just Pittsburgh exclusive…
from Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
For the record, Checketts is staying the course. He stands behind John Davidson’s plan to build a contender through player development.
“I know everybody from John on down is working very hard and is upset that our record isn’t better,” Checketts said.
He remains supportive of coach Andy Murray, whose job security has become the subject of Internet speculation.
“The guy is coaching his tail off,” Checketts said. “He’s effective. The guys are playing hard.”
He would like to re-sign Andy McDonald to a new contract rather than trade him away to a contender seeking rental help for the stretch run.
In other words, Checketts said all the right things for a man in his position. And thus far in his regime, Checketts has been a man of his word.
more on the Blues…
from Jason Botchford of the Vancouver Province,
Now what? Head coach Alain Vigneault has tried benching players, demoted players, put his top forwards on the bottom line.
He has coddled and he has carved his team.
We are all still waiting for some sort of response.
Heck, a heartbeat or two would do right now.
Luongo showed his rust right away when he was beat on the first shot he faced.
He crossed himself up going post-to-post and looked as awkward as you will ever see him when the little-known Joakim Lindstrom tucked the puck between his legs.
from Red Fisher at NHL.com,
My 50 years on the Canadiens beat have included dynasties that delivered Stanley Cups five years in a row from 1955-56 through 1959-60 and in four consecutive years starting in 1975-76. I’ve seen them win 17 of their 24 Cups, so imagine for a moment the glittering quality of those players as individuals and as teams.
It’s all in the numbers: 21 of the skaters and four goaltenders (Jacques Plante, Gump Worsley, Ken Dryden and Patrick Roy) who wore the CH on their hearts during the last half-century have been voted into the Hockey Hall of Fame (current Montreal coach and former player Guy Carbonneau has been nominated, but hasn’t received the required number of votes ... yet.)
from Bob Cohn of the Washington Times,
“I saw the two sides of playing in Montreal,” he said. “For most of my career, I think it was great. I had some great years there, obviously. The fans were really supportive. But when things are not going well, it’s the other way around. It’s tougher to kind of focus. There’s a lot of distractions around the game, and the last year I was there I had a really tough time because it seemed like everything was falling on my head.”
There is less pressure here, the critics more a source of motivation than a hindrance.
Peter Lockley / The Washington Times In July, Jose Theodore signed a two-year, $9 million contract with the Capitals.
“People who didn’t believe in me, I like to show them wrong,” he said. “And after a while, they might change their opinion.”
I had the opportunity to speak with Mike Milbury this morning to discuss the NHL on NBC game this Sunday at 12:30pm ET.
We talked about the upcoming game and a few other hockey topics. Also note, I got my Pierre’s messed up, referring to McGuire as LeBrun in the interview. Hey, it is Friday morning and -16 right now. That is my excuse!
If you wish, you can download the interview in mp3 format here.
from Dan Martin of the NY Post,
Brendan Shanahan Brendan Shanahan skated with his new Devils New Jersey Devils teammates for the first time yesterday in Columbus and came away impressed.
“I like what I saw,” Shanahan said after officially signing with the team he came up with over two decades ago. He agreed in principle with the Devils on Saturday after being unable to rejoin the Rangers earlier in the year. “It’s definitely a Lou Lamoriello-built team.”
Now, Shanahan and the Devils just have to figure out when he can make his season debut after sitting out nearly half of the season waiting for the right opportunity to come along.
“It’s day-to-day,” Shanahan said. “I want to get right out there, but they didn’t sign me just to play a few games in mid-January and then get hurt.”
from Lightning Strikes,
Perhaps rallying is a little too strong, but there certainly is a sense in the locker room that the players, who have listened to the trade rumors involving Vinny Lecavalier, would rather the core group not be disrupted, especially now that they believe they are starting to come together with a 7-4-1 streak.
Said forward Ryan Craig: “We’re all teammates. We don’t want to see anyone from our group go, especially our leader and captain.”
Said goaltender Mike Smith: “These are our brothers in here. This is our family. We don;t want to see anything happen to our core group. ... To even think about trading a guy like that I don’t know. He’s the face of this franchise. He’s been here since he’s 18 years old.”
from Flames Insider,
“They’re a top team in the league and they’re so good at home,” said Kiprusoff, who made 33 stops, “so I think it’s a good confidence-booster for us. We’ve been able to beat them twice now (Calgary was a 5-2 winner on Jan. 6 at the Saddledome) and we know we can battle against those top teams.”
Now that Calgary is 18-4-3 in its last 25 games and has fashioned a nine-point lead over Vancouver—with three games in hand—atop the Northwest Division, have the Flames done enough to move in the same neighbourhood as the Sharks and Red Wings without making it necessary for the blue-bloods to call the cops and shoo away the riffraff?
“Well, I think we’re getting there,” said centre Daymond Langkow, who collected two points in the victory. “We’re taking the right steps. But the last thing you want to do is start thinking you’re better than you are….”
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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