Kukla's Korner Hockey
Exhibition season, prospects, outlook for the regular season, trip to Sweden and the Detroit Lions are some of the topics Mike Babcock discussed last night.
from Robert Tychkowski of the Edmonton Sun,
If it was as simple as the best guys win, Quinn hinted that some of last year’s players might not be this year’s players.
“I’m watching how they play, do they compete?,” he said. “I know some of them have skill, I watch them in the morning, but some guys are really morning glories. They can dance and do all the pretty stuff in the morning skate, but when the other team comes in and you drop the puck, it changes.”
In this day and age, however, cutting a veteran means moving a contract, and that takes place at the management level—coaches are almost bystanders in the selection process. As much as Quinn would like to believe his eyes and not his ears, his hands might be tied.
“The selection does involve management, they have the last call all the time,” he said, admitting “there’s not a solid agreement on the 14 forwards.”
Fernando Pisani and Marc Pouliot, coming off sub-par years, are on the limp while Sam Gagner, Andrew Cogliano and Robert Nilsson haven’t stood out like everyone had hoped, but there are reputations, upsides and contracts to consider.
from Dan Rosen of NHL.com,
Heading into his fifth season in the U.S. capital, Ovechkin believes the time couldn’t be better for his Capitals to go the distance. They have enough playoff experience (and heartache) that they are no longer the happy-go-lucky team out of the Southeast Division that puts a smile on everyone’s face.
Anything short of hoisting the Cup and Ovechkin will consider the season to be a bust, a complete washout.
“It’s time to win some team trophies,” said Ovechkin, the back-to-back Hart Trophy winner.
Ovechkin feels he stands on firm ground in saying the Caps are ready to take home the hardware even though the Pittsburgh Penguins will again be standing in their way.
from Mike Heika of the Dallas Morning News,
Brunnstrom has not been dynamic during the preseason and probably sits behind rookie Jamie Benn on the depth chart right now.
So, if the Stars are healthy, there is a very good chance Brunnstrom could be a healthy scratch when the season starts. Is that the best thing for his development? He had a deal with Les Jackson when he signed with the Stars as a free agent last season that he didn’t want to go the minors. So, is that that same situation with new GM Joe Nieuwendyk?
from Vicki Hall of the Calgary Herald,
In keeping with the wisdom of the 12 steps, Brian McGrattan lives his life one day at a time.
But that doesn’t stop the Calgary Flames winger from setting long- and short-term goals for himself.
Quite the opposite, actually.
“I want to lead the league in majors this year,” McGrattan says, peeling off his blinding yellow practice jersey. “And I think this is the right division to do it.”
The tattooed enforcer looks across the room at Jarome Iginla and Olli Jokinen. “I can’t wait,” McGrattan says, “for the first guy who runs one of these guys. “That will give me the green light to go get ’em.”
from Kevin Allen of USA TODAY,
Signs of trouble: 1. Which Osgood will show up: the 2008-09 playoff star or the average regular-season version? 2. The team depth clearly isn’t as strong as a year ago. 3. Backup G Jimmy Howard is unproven.
Prediction: The news of Detroit’s demise is greatly exaggerated. The Red Wings still are in the hunt to be best in the West.
Signs of trouble: 1. Huet needs to prove he’s ready to be the guy. He couldn’t beat out Khabibulin last season. 2. Hossa (shoulder) is on the disabled list. 3. Bowman must find enough money to pay Toews, Kane and Keith after this season.
Prediction: The Blackhawks have a shot to become this season’s version of the 2008-09 Pittsburgh Penguins.
from the CP via the Globe and Mail,
Gregson, who has replaced Stephen Walkom as the NHL director of officiating, says the priorities this season will be calling the instigator penalty on fights more often and standardizing the way officials drop the puck for faceoffs.
Officials were told that the instigator has been overlooked too often.
”It’s not new,” Gregson said in a recent interview. ”We’re not changing the wording and we’re not trying to make every fight an instigator call.
”But if a player travels (to start a fight), you have to ask ’did someone clearly instigate?’ And if so, apply the rule.”
from Michael Russo of the Star Tribune,
But one player who has avoided the injury thus far is Martin Havlat.
As Havlat says, “Knock on wood.”
After problems earlier in Havlat’s career, he seems to have solved the issue. Chicago Blackhawks assistant coach John Torchetti said he thinks he knows why.
“Nobody prepares before a game or a practice more than ‘Grizzly,’” Torchetti said of Havlat. “His prepractice and pregame stretch is one of the most intense things I’ve ever seen. Forty minutes, and it’s more rigorous than most people’s workouts.”
While some players do some quick stretching and then hop on the ice, Havlat commits himself to showing up well before practices and games. In an attempt to survive practices or games injury-free, Havlat then puts himself through his sweat-filled regimen.
from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press,
In his native land, Henrik Zetterberg is a regular in the gossip pages. There are times a simple trip to a café with his famous fiancée becomes an exercise in stealth. He is that popular….
Zetterberg’s popularity in Sweden began with his dazzling play in the Swedish Elite League and for the Swedish national team—with which he won a medal in four of the five years he played in the World Championships—and grew to astronomical proportions when he began dating Swedish TV personality Emma Andersson. Since the two got engaged in summer 2008, they’ve become the “it” couple of their summertime home on the island of Alnon outside Sundsvall.
“Hank is the king there,” Jonasson said, “and Emma the queen.”
Lidstrom, on the other hand, is more of a national treasure, and an underappreciated one at that. It’s partly because he’s been gone since 1991, and partly because he hasn’t played nearly as much on the national teams as same-generation stars such as forwards Peter Forsberg and Mats Sundin due to the Wings’ regular playoff runs.
Even with six Norris trophies as the NHL’s top defenseman, along with four Stanley Cups, Lidstrom’s stature isn’t fully recognized in Sweden.
from Jack Todd of the Montreal Gazette,
Not only have the Canadiens lost four good players and quality individuals, they’ve also lost a good piece of their identity. They are left with only three francophones in the room - Georges Laraque, Guillaume Latendresse and Maxim Lapierre.
Given that the Vegan Laraque apparently intends to malinger his way through the balance of his contract, that leaves two players in the room who can communicate in the language spoken by the vast majority of fans in this province.
Does it matter? Of course it does. It goes to the identity and character of this team, but it also matters in purely practical ways. Imagine the Toronto Maple Leafs with only two players on the roster who could speak English - the demands on those two would become absurd.
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