Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Rick Sadowski at NHL.com,
Did the Avalanche do enough to improve their weakest link? -- Colorado's defense allowed 40-plus shots on goal in 10 games and between 35 and 39 shots in 18 others. The Avalanche added a much-needed physical presence in Brad Stuart, who was acquired from the San Jose Sharks in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2016 NHL Draft and a sixth-round selection in 2017. He'll be paired with Erik Johnson, whose 39 points matched a career high.
Colorado signed Zach Redmond to a two-year, $1.5 million contract, believing he has the potential to develop the way Nick Holden did last season. Holden, who played in seven NHL games in five previous professional seasons, blossomed into a top-four role. He played a physical style and had 10 goals and a plus-12 rating in 54 games. Redmond, 25, played in 18 games with the Winnipeg Jets in four years with the organization. The Avalanche have yet to re-sign restricted free agent Tyson Barrie, who is expected to be fully recovered from the knee injury he sustained in the Stanley Cup Playoffs.
Can Vezina Trophy finalist Semyon Varlamov build off last season, and will Reto Berra be a capable backup? -- Varlamov's work with goalie coach Francois Allaire worked wonders for his game and his confidence, and he should be entering the prime of his career at age 26. The Avalanche think so, having signed him to a five-year, $29.5 million contract extension that begins this season.
Berra, who replaces Jean-Sebastien Giguere as the No. 2 goalie, remains a question mark. He had an 0-1-1 record in two starts with a 5.83 goals-against average and .781 save percentage after the Avalanche acquired him March 5 from the Calgary Flames in exchange for a second-round pick in the 2014 draft. Colorado signed Berra to a three-year, $4.35 million contract and is hopeful Allaire's magic will pay off the way it did with Varlamov.
from Michael Russo of Russo's Rants,
Fletcher has also spent the month dialing up some veterans to check in. Two include the goalies, Niklas Backstrom and Josh Harding.
Backstrom had season-ending abdominal surgery and hip surgery last season and Harding didn’t play in 2014 due to complications with multiple sclerosis. Fletcher has talked with both the past two weeks to ensure that they’re still both well and that he doesn’t need to go out and sign a free agent, like Ilya Bryzgalov, who remains unsigned despite going 7-1-3 down the regular season’s stretch to guide Minnesota into the playoffs.
“Everything’s a go with both goalies,” Fletcher said of Backstrom and Harding. “Everybody seems to be feeling pretty good, and at this stage, knock on wood, all of our players who were banged up at the end of the season is feeling better. Josh has felt good. Right now we’re not expecting any issues for anybody with respect to passing training camp medicals.
“Now’s the time of the year, with about a month to go, you want to reach out and make sure there’s no issues you don’t know about so if there is something you have time to help the process. With Josh and Nik, you’re just trying to reach out and see how they’re doing. They’re both doing really well.
“There’s still some quality goaltenders out there. Ilya’s out there and a few others, so there’s that type of option out there. But we’re happy with the quality of our goaltending.
Many of you know Mario Lemieux had a great hockey career (hockey-reference.com) and was one of the greatest players to ever play in the NHL.
So on this slow summer night enjoy the 24 minute presentation on Mario Lemieux.
“You had a lot of complexity around Kovalchuk and some other things. It was a disappointing season. I see it. I was unhappy. I didn’t like being home watching the playoffs on TV. I wanted to be in the playoffs. That’s not lost on me. At the same time, good people and good systems can have disappointing years. We’re long term. We’re focused on making this a great franchise over the long term.”
-Josh Harris, owner of the New Jersey Devils. More on the Devils from Rich Chere of the Star-Ledger.
from Paul Lukas of ESPN,
Until 1951, some NHL teams had only one uniform, so the question of what to wear at home was often moot. In 1955, the league mandated that teams wear colors at home and white on the road. That arrangement was reversed in 1970, when teams began wearing white at home. And then it was reversed again in 2003, when teams went back to wearing colors at home, the format that's still in place today.
That brings up one of those classic questions that fans can debate for hours: Which uniform is better at home: white or colors?
And then there's a related but distinct question: Does a hockey team look better wearing a white uniform or a colored uniform?
Uni Watch has always been in favor of NHL teams wearing white at home. Part of this is no doubt because your friendly uniform columnist grew up in the white-at-home era, but there's more to it than that. The feeling here at Uni Watch HQ is that most NHL teams just look better in white.
read on and you can vote on which sweater you like better...
via the Florida Panthers,
FOX Sports Florida, the regional television home of the Florida Panthers, today announced Denis Potvin has joined its roster of Panthers on-air talent as it expands their broadcast team for the 2014-15 season. In his new role, Potvin will return to the broadcast booth as color analyst, a position he previously held with the Florida Panthers for the club’s first 16 seasons in the National Hockey League.
Alongside play-by-play announcer Steve “Goldie” Goldstein, Potvin will provide a seasoned, exciting voice to Panthers’ television broadcasters after spending the past four seasons as color analyst for the Ottawa Senators. Bill Lindsay will remain an integral part of FOX Sports Florida’s Panthers broadcast team as he transitions to a new role this season as color analyst for Panthers LIVE! pregames, intermissions and postgame shows, along with providing a second analyst on-ice perspective for select games. Bill will join Drew Goldfarb, who returns for his second season as host of Panthers LIVE!
"We are pleased to welcome Denis back to the broadcast booth for the Florida Panthers," said Florida Panthers CEO & President Rory Babich. "With an exciting season on the ice right around the corner, the addition of Denis, a hockey legend with long-term ties to the organization, to the existing broadcast team of Steve, Billy and Drew promises to provide an enhanced experience for our TV viewers with one of the premier broadcast teams in the NHL."
“This was a great opportunity to expand and bolster our Panthers broadcast team by bringing in Denis, an NHL Hall of Famer and a veteran broadcaster with intimate knowledge of Florida Panthers Hockey and the team’s history in South Florida,” said Brett Opdyke, executive producer of FOX Sports Florida. “It also allows us to showcase Bill’s analyst skills on our Panthers LIVE! shows, and gives our broadcasts the added bonus of a second analyst “between the benches” on marquee games.”
from Louie Korac at NHL.com,
Can the Blues compete for the Cup with their revamped goaltending? -- The Blues allowed Ryan Miller to leave via free agency and will confidently turn to veteran Brian Elliott and rookie Jake Allen, who has 15 games of NHL experience under his belt.
The Blues feel like Elliott, who signed a three-year, $7.5 million contract, earned the right to go into the season as the No. 1.
"[Ellliott's] watched two other guys [Miller and Jaroslav Halak] get the ball," coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Now he feels like it's his turn. There's still going to be competition, but I think Brian's going to start as the incumbent based on experience and all the work he's put in."
Will the additional depth at center pay off? -- Adding Stastny, Jori Lehtera, Peter Mueller and Joakim Lindstrom to a group that includes David Backes, Patrik Berglund, Steve Ott and Maxim Lapierre gives the Blues strong reinforcement despite losing Vladimir Sobotka to the Kontinental Hockey League.
"We wanted to add depth, we wanted to add competitive depth, we wanted to strengthen the middle of the ice and that's what we've done," Hitchcock said. "We've added scoring depth and we added real definitive depth at the center ice position."
from Mark Lazerus of the Chicago Sun-Times,
Blackhawks president John McDonough told the Sun-Times on Wednesday that the longstanding — and to so many, infuriating — practice of organist Frank Pellico playing “The Stripper” while a woman participated in the second-intermission “Shoot the Puck” promotion will stop in the 2014-15 season.
“I think you’ve heard the last of Frank Pellico playing ‘The Stripper,’” McDonough said.
A recent online movement to ban the song, including a #BanTheStripper hashtag and an online petition, called the Hawks out for the rather blatant sexism that was inherent in the contest. The typical format included a child, a man, a celebrity, and an attractive woman — the latter rarely in, let’s say, casual hockey-fan attire. In fact, sources say a team employee has been tasked each night with finding just the right the female participant. It had become as much a part of a Hawks game as playing “Here Come the Hawks” before warmups, and “Chelsea Dagger” after goals.
McDonough wouldn’t say for certain if the Shoot the Puck selection process would be overhauled completely — he said he rarely, if ever, watches Shoot the Puck, and therefore “can’t give you an opinion” — but said the Hawks heard their fans’ message loud and clear.
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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