Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Scott Morrison of Blogs and Columns at CBC,
Okay, we’ve already turned the page on the first month of the NHL season, which is time enough for some patterns to develop.
But will they last?
Meaning, some teams you expected to be near the top of the conference standings are and some teams you expected to be at the bottom haven’t disappointed, either.
For instance, despite a coaching change in San Jose, it figured the Sharks would be strong. Same with the defending Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings.
In the East, the New York Rangers, at least until they were upended by the Maple Leafs, were on a mighty roll. It figured they would be a leading contender, but perhaps not as good as they were showing.
from Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun,
Shortly after a first-period video tribute to his career as a Flame, Theo Fleury waved from the owners’ box to acknowledge the hearty applause. And while the gesture was an honourable one the club has made a conscious effort to do more of as it approaches its 30th anniversary, it fell short of the true honour awaiting the Little Big Man.
The next time he’s highlighted at the ‘Dome the 5-foot-6 mighty mite should be looking up—way up—to his jersey being hoisted to the rafters. His No. 14 should be retired.
Update 12:25pm ET (alanah): More on Fleury today, as he speaks about his life and addictions to Christianity.ca:
A loner for much of his life, Fleury learned to escape the pressures of fame and success by turning to his two drugs of choice: alcohol and cocaine. “There’s a lot of pressure that goes along with being a professional athlete. I grew up in a small community so when you live in a city like New York that never shuts down, it’s 24 hours of fun all the time.
He continues, “The NHL isn’t all that it’s cracked up to be. It’s not all glamour and fame – people don’t see the sacrifices your family has to make, the hotels and the bus… I owe everything to hockey, everything I have is from hockey, but there’s a heavy price to be paid for choosing that profession.”
from Steve Politi of the Star-Ledger,
The Devils have a new starting goaltender for the first time in 15 years, which is major news in the NHL that no doubt barely created a ripple on the streets surrounding the team’s new arena. Even in their second season in downtown Newark, the Devils sometimes feel like they were dropped in from another planet. Would it be any different if residents found out that new goalie was black?
Would that matter?
Kevin Weekes considered that question Tuesday and decided that, well, it couldn’t hurt. He is an outspoken advocate for diversity in his sport who will take a major role on a team struggling to make inroads in a mostly black city. He is living proof that hockey, despite its reputation, excludes no one.
from Sam Carchidi of the Philadelphia Inquirer,
In the first three-plus weeks of the season, the Flyers have been mostly about glitter (see their NHL-leading 3.91 goals per game) and little about substance (see their sad-sack 3.64 goals-against average).
That has to change, coach John Stevens said after yesterday’s practice at the Skate Zone in Voorhees, Camden County.
“We’re almost thinking the game offensively first, and that’s a trap any team falls into at certain points of the season - and it’s one we have to learn from,” Stevens said.
“We’re almost cheating on the offensive side of the puck too many times, and it catches us,” he said.
from P.J. Swenson of Sharkspage,
A new component of the Todd McLellan offense in San Jose is getting traffic in front of opposing goaltenders. A quick survey of ESPN’s excellent flash shot chart feature shows that 26 of San Jose’s 42 total goals this season through 12 games have been scored on shots taken in front of the crease (in front of the net, between faceoff circles).
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
Brandon Dubinsky, whose game has been slipping for over a week, reached his nadir. Aaron Voros had another too quiet game. Nikolai Zherdev was average. Drury wasn’t good at all. Scott Gomez was erratic. Wade Redden continued to turn almost every play available to him into a soft, ineffective one.
Renney was fuming, and it wasn’t only because of the amazingly inept power play. The Rangers did not assert themselves physically. They have no intimidating physical force. Instead, they allowed Andy Sutton to menace their small forwards anywhere he pleased.
“I’m [ticked] right off,” said the head coach. “We need to get a little more dirt on our faces, need to get nicked up a little. It’s the whole game; the entire game. We’ve lost two in a row for a reason.”
more on the Rangers loss to the Islanders last night…
from Elliotte Friedman of Blogs and Columns at CBC,
It’s a Kafka-esque absurdity that 544 wins, 98 shutouts, four Vezina Trophies, three Stanley Cups and an Olympic gold medal don’t convince everyone that he’s a terrific goalie. You know the lame arguments: “The Devils play a defensive system, which makes him look better.” “He stopped pucks behind a great defence.”
The first complaint is just ridiculous. If it’s so easy to win the Stanley Cup playing defensive hockey, why doesn’t the trophy have a permanent home in Minnesota? It is important, yes. Since Pittsburgh in 1993, only one champion hasn’t been among the top 10 in goals against in the season of victory. (That was Carolina in 2006. The Hurricanes were tied for 17th.)
As for the second whine, how do you feel about Ken Dryden? Is he overrated because he played behind Larry Robinson, Serge Savard and Guy Lapointe? Like Brodeur, Jacques Plante had two Hall-of-Famers on the blue-line when the Canadiens won five consecutive Stanley Cups from 1956-60 - Doug Harvey and Tom Johnson.
from Darren Dreger of TSN,
Of 33 NHL players who responded to the question, “would you support a penalty for hits to the head,” 27 voted yes, five players voted no and one player said more research is required….
Of 26 general managers who responded to the question, 11 said yes - they would support a penalty for hits to the head; nine said no - and six said the issue is too complex for a “yes” or “no” answer.
The poll was anonymous, but Anaheim ducks general manager Brian Burke went on the record with vehement opposition to a new head checking penalty. “Our sport overreacts to any injury that occurs in clusters,” he said. “I have been a GM for over 800 games and this is a dangerous path to start down.”
From Craig Custance at his Sporting News blog:
The job of general manager and executive vice president Don Waddell is safe—although [Thrashers co-owner Bruce] Levenson wouldn’t rule out any future changes.
“There’s nothing new with Don,” Levenson told sportingnews.com. “We look at our coaches and general managers all the time. We’ve made changes in the past—coaching and general managers in our organization (the Atlanta Spirit, which also owns the Atlanta Hawks). We look at that all the time.”
Waddell was hired as the general manager of the expansion Thrashers in 1998, and the team has only made the playoffs once. Early indications are that this year’s team is a longshot for postseason play.
1. Ryan Miller
2. Tim Thomas
3. Alexander Semin
4. Shea Weber
5. Andrei Markov
more with a breakdown by position…
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