Kukla's Korner Hockey
from John Glennon of the Tennessean,
After an injury-marred season in 2007-08 slowed his progress and raised questions about his potential, the big blueliner is delivering like never before.
(Shea) Weber’s combination of powerful slap shots and punishing hits mean he is likely to become the first Predators draft pick to earn a spot in the NHL All-Star game.
And if Weber keeps up the pace he set in the first quarter of the season, he’ll be a serious candidate for the Norris Trophy, given to the league’s best defenseman.
“Right now he’s the total package,’’ said Versus broadcaster John Forslund, who saw Weber in person the past two games.
“His whole game seems to be in place right now, and he seems to be the kind of guy you want to build around for years to come. This kid could really be a monster player — a really physical guy that can also play offensively.’‘
from Tim Sassone of Between the Circles,
We might not know until Friday how badly Nikolai Khabibulin and Aaron Johnson are hurt.
Khabibulin went down in the final minute of the second period of Wednesday’s 3-2 OT loss to the Sharks with what appeared to be a groin or hamstring problem. Joel Quenneville didn’t know if Khabibulin would be examined Thursday in San Jose, where the Hawks were to practice, or if he would need to return to Chicago. If the injury is serious, Cristobal Huet would vault into the spotlight and we’d likely see Antti Niemi recalled from Rockford to be the backup.
from Chris Foster of the LA Times,
The Ducks find themselves doing a salary-cap tap dance again.
Goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere returned to Montreal because of a personal situation unrelated to hockey and will not rejoin the team until Sunday when the Ducks play at Carolina. That left the Ducks needing a backup goaltender for Friday’s game against the Chicago Blackhawks at the Honda Center.
Team officials had to move money, and bodies, around. Defenseman Brett Festerling will be sent back to Iowa today to make space under the cap to recall goaltender David Leneveu.
The NHL would have allowed a player exemption for the Ducks, who are at the 23-man limit. But the team is currently only about $400,000 under the NHL’s $56.7-million salary cap. The NHL minimum salary is $475,000.
With a quarter of the season gone, who is the favourite to win the Stanley Cup?
Bob McKenzie: “I’ll go with the Detroit Red Wings. Stanley Cup hangover? What Stanley Cup hangover? We’re seeing that at the quarter point of the season that the Wings are just as effective as they were during the Stanley Cup playoffs, so I pick them to win the Cup. Why? Because we know they’ve done it before, as recently as last spring.”
John Tortorella: “I like the San Jose Sharks. I said it at the beginning of the year, and I like the pick more after the first quarter.
more questions and answers from the TSN experts…
From the CP via TSN:
Armand (Bep) Guidolin, who at 16 became the youngest player to skate in an NHL game and later went on to coach Hockey Hall of Famer Bobby Orr, has died. He was 82. Guidolin died Monday at a Barrie hospital, according to his family.
Guidolin, who was born in Thorold, Ont., made his NHL debut with the Boston Bruins on Nov. 12, 1942, at the age of 16 years 11 months, becoming the league’s youngest player ever. The Bruins desperately needed his help to fill holes left by players who were serving in the Second World War.
He went on to play nine seasons in the NHL, recording 107 goals and 171 assists in 519 games with Boston, Detroit and Chicago.
From Eric McErlain at The Sporting News:
But then the wheels came off the bus after the lockout. With the team crashing through the standings and dealing many of its most popular players at the trade deadline, the Blues dropped from sixth overall in league attendance (18,560) to 27th (14,213) before cratering in dead last (12,520) for the 2006-07 season.
With the arrival of new management under Team President John Davidson, the Blues rebounded last season to 13th overall (17,610) through the use of some innovative marketing—particularly free food nights and a nifty television spot where individual players made their pitch to woo back the thousands of fans who had suddenly disappeared. Toss in the signing of free agent winger Paul Kariya, and the Blues had given the locals a reason to care again.
The improvement has continued into this season, with the team now ranked eighth overall (18,961) and ahead of two Canadian franchises, Vancouver and Edmonton.
The comparison to the Canadian clubs might be inadvertently misleading, as Vancouver and Edmonton have attendance numbers at 101.1% capacity and 98.5% capacity respectively, whereas the Blues are at 90.3% capacity. (And if you look at it another way and resort the data to look at the capacity percentage, St. Louis falls to 20th in the league.)
But regardless, that doesn’t change the fact that St. Louis fans are returning to their rink in ever-increasing numbers after a few bad years, which is great news.
from Lightning Strikes,
Lightning coach Rick Tocchet was adamant this morning that he wants to see better intensity and grit from his players, especially in the form of going to the net, or playing time will be lost and benchings may occur. Tocchet originally spoke about the power play and how he might start changing personnel, but later said his edict was for the entire team.
“This is for everybody,” Tocchet said. “If the results aren’t there, there has to be a time for the coach, I don’t care who it is, you’re not going to play. I don’t know if we’re at that time yet, but it’s getting close. We’re going to have to get a little bit of urgency. We thought we had taken some baby steps, but then Jersey happened.”
from Ted Leonsis at Ted’s Take,
We are humbled as the Caps are now ranked as a Top 10 team in the NHL in paid admissions with only Minnesota, Buffalo, Detroit and Philadelphia ahead of us for US -based teams. We are up in paid admissions more than 27 percent year over year. Only Chicago is growing faster than us.
From Michael Farber at Sports Illustrated,
With a quarter of the season and Barry Melrose gone—Barry, we hardly knew ye, at least this go-around—it is time to look at the players who, point for point and dollar for dollar, have had the most profound impact since joining new teams in 2008-09.
1. Dan Boyle, Sharks defenseman, $6.67 million
The Sharks are getting their money’s worth out of a defenseman who signed a six-year deal with Tampa Bay (Melrose’s old team) last February but was traded to the Sharks on July 4. Like the estimable work of Brian Campbell in Chicago—Campbell had a trade-deadline spell with the Sharks last season—Boyle has come in to run the power play, move the puck and make the glut of high-end San Jose forwards better.
from Bob McKenzie of TSN,
While there are some eastern conference teams that are seriously interested in Shanahan, they would have to make deals or clear cap space or get permission from ownership to increase the budget and the truth of the matter is those things are not easily done in today’s game.
So while Shanahan realizes he may have no other choice at some point but to play in the West if he wants to play, he has not yet exhausted all his Eastern Conference possibilities and if it means waiting an extra day or week or whatever to get the right fit closer to home, that apparently is the route he is going to take.
read on and some Sundin talk too…
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 email@example.com