Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Mark Spector of the National Post,
While the rebuilding pain still lies ahead in Toronto, the medicine has been swallowed and the needle suffered in Edmonton. The biggest ache - a two-year, injury-plagued hiatus from the playoffs - will soon be behind them. It is unlikely the drought will stretch to a third year next season.
“You feel it in the room,” Oilers head coach Craig MacTavish said. “I feel it and sense it, and normally if the coach feels it ... you’re the last guy to feel the optimism of improvement.
“We’re pretty positive about the outlook, with the group that we have here.”
from the Arizona Republic,
A lot of sports fans, especially youngsters who dream of a professional career, tend to identify with the star players or kids with the “can’t-miss” label.
True inspiration, however, can came from a journeyman player or one who has beaten the odds by battling for years at lower levels before making it to the big time.
One player who fits that niche is Craig Weller, the Coyotes’ 27-year-old rookie right wing. He spent seven years in the minors, signing as a free agent before training camp after four seasons in the AHL in the New York Rangers organization.
Adam Foote was able to join the Avalanche again tonight, after missing two games with a hip injury. But he left the game against Atlanta, with an injury to the same hip.
via the AP,
The Detroit Red Wings signed right wing Dan Cleary to a five-year contract on Tuesday, keeping a player who scored 20 goals for a second straight season for them.
update from FSN Detoit, 5 years, $14 million.
added 7:45pm, more from Ansar Khan at Mlive...
added 9:17pm, much more at Red Wings Corner on the signing and it looks like Lilja will have to wait until after the playoffs to talk contract again…
from Ted Montgomery of USA TODAY,
Love affairs. They can be thrilling, and they can be heartbreaking. In the NHL, they are often confusing. For example:...
What is behind this love affair between the Detroit media, brass and fans and Kris Draper and Kirk Maltby? I can’t think of another two players in the league whose skills have eroded so precipitously. Both players made key contributions to the cup-winning teams of 1997, ‘98 and 2002, but both are now just shadows of their former selves. Draper still has significant faceoff talents, but the things that distinguished both players in their primes — blazing speed and the ability to score timely goals — have long since abandoned them.
more and other love affairs too…
from the CP via NHL.com,
It wasn’t so long ago that battling for first place was routine for the Montreal Canadiens.
But sitting near the top of the NHL’s Eastern Conference, as they are heading into the home stretch of the regular season, is an unfamiliar view for the current edition of the 24-time Stanley Cup championship club, which has had to fight tooth and nail just to try to secure a playoff spot every season since its last Cup victory in ‘93.
“Yeah, it’s different, but we’re still battling upwards,” winger Christopher Higgins said Tuesday as the Canadiens prepared to face the New Jersey Devils. “We’re in a race for first with three other teams and we still have that goal in mind if getting first place.
From the CP via TSN,
Jaroslav Spacek could miss the rest of the regular season and Dmitri Kalinin will be out for weeks, leaving the Buffalo Sabres without two veteran defencemen for their final playoff push.
Spacek has a chest injury and will require more tests to determine when he could return, but coach Lindy Ruff said Tuesday, “It’s going to be a good period of time.”
As for Kalinin, Ruff said the player will miss up to two weeks with a shoulder injury.
From Pat Hickey at The Gazette,
“It’s not a glamorous thing,” Komisarek said of his style. “It’s blocking shots, hitting guys, but it’s something I enjoy doing. Like I said, it’s not glamorous, but it’s effective and it’s something my team needs me to do.
“It’s using this body for trying to get in the way, breaking up plays, blocking shots. Making guys on the other team pay the price and taking away the will (from opponents) to play and compete.”
There’s a price for all this. While Komisarek has proved durable and hasn’t missed a game this season, he has collected more than his share of bumps, bruises and stitches. But “they sure hurt less when you win,” he said.
more… on Komisarek’s season and his family background
Baseball fans have their own concerns when it comes to the rumors of a hockey game closing out Yankee Stadium next season. From Ian O’Connor via NorthJersey.com,
A slapshot cannot be the last athletic act performed inside Yankee Stadium, not when the stadium’s only power plays unfolded inside George Steinbrenner’s suite.
Hockey absolutely, positively cannot be the game that closes down the greatest baseball temple on earth. Nothing personal, just business. The business of giving a proper burial to a building that shouldn’t die on a marketing gimmick hatched by a sport with no place in stadium lore.
The Rangers have a monument they can send to the grave in the near future. It’s called Madison Square Garden, and it won’t be around for much longer, not with every other team in the market moving into new and improved digs.
From Craig Custance at the AJC,
“We have a very, very busy few months coming up,” Levenson told the AJC. “I believe we’re closer than a lot of people may think or give us credit for. Less than a month ago we were in the playoffs, it’s easy to see our team and see where we need to improve. We have the assets and cap room to make those improvements.”
And Waddell is the right man to make those improvements?
“Don has built an organization of 17 top-notch hockey people, those people will be involved in this. [Keeping Waddell] might not be the popular thing to do in some circles but I think it would be foolish and short-sighted to tear down this organization at this juncture.”
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