Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
So this week the MLSE board must do one of two things: Give Ferguson a contract extension and thus a meaningful vote of confidence and the freedom to do what he believes needs to be done, or fire Ferguson, and give a new person – Bowman, Smith, Healy, Campbell, whoever – enough time to evaluate the roster and organization and then canvass the entire league for transactions that might improve the club’s standing next season.
The silly chatter about the Leafs still being in the fight for a playoff berth has finally been exploded, although smart hockey people understood that reality two weeks to a month ago.
So we’re talking about next season now. Period. No more there’s-a-lot-of-hockey-still-to-be-played nonsense, okay?
And therefore we’re talking about something being done. This week.
“It’s tough to lose Witt,” Nolan said after the win in Calgary. Comparing the rugged defender to goaltender Rick DiPietro, Nolan added, “He’s similar to Ricky in how valuable he is to us. But the stars were lined up and we had seven defensemen dressed, which was luck on our part. Freddy Meyer did a great job.
“But it was a tough loss for Witt, and we’ll cross our fingers and hope the MRI comes back not as serious as it seems to be. It’s an ankle sprain right now, and we’ll check and see what the severity of it is.”
from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution,
Despite the ups and downs, from one period to the next, the Thrashers are in the thick of the playoff hunt.
Those inconsistencies that plague the Thrashers? Associate coach Brad McCrimmon calls it a league-wide epidemic.
Unless you live in New Jersey, Ottawa or Detroit, chances are your favorite NHL team is driving you crazy this season.
It’s parity. It’s the salary cap. It’s a league filled with young, inexperienced players handed key roles on their teams.
“I don’t see powerhouses anymore,” said a scout for a Western Conference contender. “You can’t keep a team together, everyone wants to get paid.”
from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal,
Nine wins, no Tys. Man, if there was a comeback player of the year or month award, Ty Conklin would be right up there.
It’s like he’s had an out-of-body experience, going from can’t play to, until last night, can’t lose.
It’s not a leap of faith to suggest that the former Edmonton Oilers goalie may have saved the season for the Pittsburgh Penguins, who were spinning their wheels with goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, before he needed ankle surgery, which put him on the shelf for two months.
continued, plus NHL talk from both conferences…
from George Richards at On Frozen Pond,
I think Martin can afford to gamble and make a few moves to shake things up right now if only because the Southeast Division isn’t getting any better.
The five teams within the division stink. The winner gets the third seed in the playoffs, and a fate very much like the Thrashers last year. Only the Panthers need the playoff money, so two home losses—and the gates they’ll bring—is better than none….
This ship is sinking and there aren’t enough guys bailing water. The ones that are doing the heavy lifting are getting ticked watching others not do anything. It’s time to make some changes before Washington and Tampa overtakes this bunch. I know the fans understand, but do the players here understand the opportunity these Panthers are squandering?
from the NY Daily News,
The NHL is working with the Yankees’ high command and representatives of the city to try to play a game at Yankee Stadium next winter. While there are plenty of logistical hurdles to clear, the principals are interested.
“We’d love to do it,” said Rangers GM Glen Sather, who is always up for a new hockey adventure.
Obviously, the NHL feels the same way. The Yankees might figure to be a bit hesitant about having the final pro sporting event at the old Stadium be a hockey game. But sources familiar with the discussions insist that the Bombers’ brass is into it, with COO Lonn Trost serving as the Yankees’ point man in discussions with the NHL.
from Bucky Gleason of the Buffalo News,
...And that brings us to Campbell, who is one of several players who personified the Sabres’ direction in the post-lockout NHL. His price tag increased again Friday when he was named an All-Star for the second straight season. A few days ago, Campbell said that he’s finished talking about money.
Presumably, that meant with the Sabres, too.
It’s why General Manager Darcy Regier needs to find out what he can get, while he can get it, and minimize the damage. Chicago and Phoenix are two teams loaded with prospects and looking to make the playoffs. Dallas is anxious to make a bold move. Vancouver needs a player or two who can push them toward the top.
Once the Sabres’ brain trust gets past the idea that Campbell is gone, once they embrace another couple years of retooling, moving Afinogenov becomes easier. He’s a pretty player during the regular season, pretty darned ugly in the playoffs with 10 goals and 23 points in 49 career games.
from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
The NHL routinely uses the American Hockey League as a test site for potential rules changes, and there is an interesting one getting a look-see this season.
It calls for all power plays to start with a faceoff in the defensive zone of the team that is killing the penalty. Previously, the location of the faceoff was determined by where play was blown dead and could have been anywhere on the ice.
The obvious intention of the change is to give the power play a head start on applying pressure that could lead to a goal.
“It’s to create offense, certainly,” Penguins general manager Ray Shero said. “That’s what it’s for. Everything is about creating offense.”
Assistant GM Chuck Fletcher, who serves as GM of the Baby Penguins, has given the rule an unqualified endorsement and clearly would like to see it adopted by the NHL.
more on the Pens…
from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
The Blues and the Chicago Blackhawks are the only teams in the NHL operating this season without a captain. Minnesota and Buffalo alternate their captains month by month.
The consensus among the Blues is in favor of the rotating alternates, although some voiced the need for a traditional captain.
“I think it’s working,” Jackman said. “We have a lot of guys in the room that could be identified as captains. Not having one, I think, has made us rely on everyone coming together and leading as a group.”
via Terry Frei of the Denver Post,
Wondering what Avalanche veterans Joe Sakic and Ryan Smyth are thinking as they wait out their injuries and won’t be playing again until at least March?
Could it have Sakic pondering retirement — or have him more determined not to go out this way?
Problem is, the Avalanche’s policy is that injured players are not available to the media, and it’s a prohibition the players are told to honor, too.
It’s not a savvy move for a franchise attempting to remain in the forefront of the Denver sports market.
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.
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