Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Earl McRae of the Ottawa Sun,
If Kovalev was being paid to be a dipsy-doodle dandy putting on a show worthy of the Ice Escapades, he’d be worth all the gold in Fort Knox. Except he’s mostly being paid on a belief he can still score and score proficiently, but you can’t score if you don’t shoot at the net and that’s the real riddle wrapped in a mystery inside an enigma of Alex Kovalev that’s causing Inspector Clouseau to scream in his sleep: “Alex. The NET. Shoot the (censored) puck. At the NET. Just SHOOT.”...
Alex Kovalev. Sometimes he shows up, most times he doesn’t. His heart needs to match his talent.
When he went back to Russia for a few days for the funeral of an in-law, the team didn’t miss him. One could be forgiven for suspecting he enjoyed the break. One could be forgiven for suspecting that if one of the questions on his site was, “Any more trips to Russia planned?” his answer would be, “Yes. Just found out an uncle has a head cold. I’m heading over for a month to be with him.”
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
Which is why, in a roundabout way, the key to success in Atlanta may be the Max Factor, or more specifically, the Max Afinogenov Factor.
Think of it this way: Whatever Atlanta may accomplish this year can be quickly unraveled if Ilya Kovalchuk says bye-bye at year’s end. Kovalchuk is one of the NHL’s most dynamic players, a performer almost at Ovechkin’s level in terms of pure, raw scoring ability. But Kovalchuk has been with the Thrashers for eight not-so-great years and is starting to get itchy for success. A potential unrestricted free agent following the season, Kovalchuk is amendable to staying in Atlanta (where he has developed roots and a strong command of the English language), but only if he believes the Thrashers can mimic the Capitals’ success and evolve – sooner rather than later – into Stanley Cup contenders.
Understanding that the future of his team is now, general manager signed both Afinogenov and Nikolai Antropov as unrestricted free agents last summer, in much the same way that the Capitals once brought in Sergei Fedorov and Viktor Kozlov to make Ovechkin more comfortable.
more plus numerous NHL topics discussed…
from Steve MacFarlane of the Calgary Sun,
Getting into the heads of 20,000 people is impossible.
So is the idea of people actually booing Flames defenceman Dion Phaneuf on home ice.
He hears cat calls in opposition rinks, and should expect as much as one of the team’s highest-paid, high-profile and high-energy players.
But to think Flames fans would stoop so low as to target him at the Saddledome borders on ridiculous.
Jim Kelley at Sports Illustrated took some ‘heat’ from Caps fans last week about a story he wrote on Ovechkin. He addresses that today and I will leave you with the last part of his column today…
Letting players, even great ones like Ovechkin, cross over to the “reckless” side of the game simply enables the truly hopeless thugs like Carcillo to be even bolder while putting the greats at risk.
Hopefully, Alex Ovechkin, Ted Leonsis, the Capitals organization and their many fans will come to realize that’s a reasonable opinion.
from Kevin Allen of USA TODAY,
...Fletcher has sent a message to players and fans that he embraces the repairman function of his job.
Sure, every GM is trying to draft and plan for future success, but this is the salary cap era and there is no patience for five-year rebuilding plans. And there shouldn’t be, not when two-thirds of NHL teams are spending roughly the same amount of money for their rosters. You have to change up your roster on the fly. The mandate in the salary cap era is to rebuild and repair at the same time.
That’s why I like that Fletcher is showing aggressiveness in Minnesota. He succeeded Doug Risebrough, a true gentleman, highly respected around the league, but conservative in his approach to managing a team.
When Risebrough was in charge, it seemed as if the franchise never was able to escape the expansion team mentality. The Wild always seemed to be looking to be competitive up the road, instead of today.
from Red Fisher of the Montreal Gazette via Faceoff.com,
Once, he was the darling of Canadiens fans because he wore the CH on his heart. Doors in Montreal and elsewhere were open to him. Life was good, but that was then, this is now - and it’s not a pretty picture.
Nilan: addicted to pain-killing drugs.
He is 51, a grandfather, and he remembers the first time he plummeted into the ugly, mind-bending culture of pills and booze. He can recall how in their own clawing, gnawing way they crept into his mind, convincing him they were the only way out of a life of pain. Instead, in the light of day it was a life gone wrong, including a divorce after 25 years of marriage. (Karen and Chris have two daughters - Pauline, 26, Tara, 19, and a son, Christopher, 23.) Where does it start? When? Why? “Probably the first time I saw the pills was after I finished playin’,” Nilan said.
“I was coachin’ the Chesapeake Icebreakers in the East Coast Hockey League. Two years. First year, I got coach of the year. Second year, I’d had surgery in the offseason and I took some Percocet. It’s an opiate. I got addicted to ‘em.
I needed them. If I didn’t have them, I was real sick.
from Jim Kelley of Sportsnet,
Still, there is a history in Philadelphia that seems to exempt players from expectations, (real or imposed,) via media perception and one can’t help but wonder if it doesn’t come from ownership. Principal owner Ed Snider is the only boss anyone in the organization has ever had and he’s not without a passion for his team. He denied having any say in the dismissal of Stevens, but then he denied having a role in the then inexplicable firing of Hitchcock, a panic firing if there ever was one.
What’s undeniable is that a firing in Philadelphia is not uncommon, but almost expected whenever there are high expectations and somewhat lower results.
Odd when you considered this edition of the Flyers team was vastly overrated by media but not necessarily management types.
via the Twitter of Bruce MacLeod,
Dan Cleary has a separated shoulder and will be out four weeks. Ville Leino returns to the Red Wings lineup.
from Brian Duff of the NHL Network at NHL.com,
Don’t look now but a dirty word—for some—has sprung back into the game.
And we’re not just talking Martin Brodeur’s milestone Monday night.
We’ve had eight of them in the 23 games played the past three nights. Plus, we’ve also had some very low-scoring games this week.
The scoring average for this week—4.43 goals per game. For the season it’s between 5.7 and 5.8 goals a game.
from Bob McKenzie of TSN,
It’s a good bet the Montreal Canadiens will receive a significant (six figure) fine for playing an ineligible player on Tuesday night.
Ryan White was pulled from the game in the first period when the NHL noticed he was playing, but that the Canadiens had neglected to notify the league of his recall before the daily 5 p.m. deadline.
The Canadiens finished the game minus one forward. And now there is every reason to believe the Canadiens will be slapped with a hefty fine.
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.
Email Paul anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org