Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
The power play is snappy and the lineup is filled with kids in prominent roles, but the most striking difference between this Rangers squad and the scores of teams preceding it is that drama only comes in the games.
There is no doubt the Blueshirts have deficiencies. There is no down payment with the jewelers. They go back to work today in order to correct the fatal flaws that were on display in Monday’s 7-3 lashing by the Sharks, which put an emphatic end to their seven-game winning streak. They go back to work.
An era is over at the Garden. The Rangers no longer operate as a cult that revolves around a particular star’s personality. The Blueshirt play up-tempo hockey that by nature is entertaining, but John Tortorella isn’t on Broadway to direct a show.
from the CP at the Sporting News,
Don Maloney has plenty of on-the-job experience when it comes to evaluating whether a teenager belongs in the NHL. Over the past two seasons, Peter Mueller, Kyle Turris, Viktor Tikhonov and Mikkel Boedker have all spent significant time with his Phoenix Coyotes before celebrating their 20th birthday.
There’s been a slight change in philosophy this season for the Coyotes, who are off to a solid 5-2-0 start. Mueller, now 21, is the team’s youngest player because Turris, Tikhonov and Boedker are skating for the team’s top affiliate, AHL San Antonio.
Maloney acknowledges now that he probably shouldn’t have relied on so many teenagers in the past.
“If a 19-year-old player is on your NHL roster and not producing 30 goals or playing 25 minutes, you really should have him somewhere else,” Maloney told The Canadian Press on Tuesday. “And yet, that’s the fantasy world. The real world we live in now is we’re all scrambling to put the best players we can find into our roster to help us win.”
from Kevin Allen of Mucking and Grinding,
Now three weeks into the season, the Toronto Maple Leafs look like a team in need of a goaltending switch. History says there will be others. Goalie go into slumps. Goalies become injured, and no team wins with inferior goaltending. That’s just the way it is.
Can Chicago win with Cristobal Huet? Is Ray Emery the right guy in Philadelphia? Is Chris Osgood play sharp enough to help Detroit overcome the reality that they don’t have the same level offensive firepower it had last season?
You know those questions have been asked around the NHL. If a team needs a goaltender, here are scenarios to ponder:
+ Ondrej Pavelec has looked sharp for the Atlanta Thrashers, and maybe when Kari Lehtonen returns to health general manager Don Waddell might consider moving Lehtonen who makes $3 million. That could be an affordable option for some teams.
+ With Jonas Hiller playing well, the Ducks would love to move Jean-Sebastien Giguere and his $6 million cap hit and $7 million salary next season.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Matt Duchene? Hardly surprising. Ryan O’Reilly? Now that one we didn’t see coming three weeks ago.
The Colorado Avalanche announced this week they’re keeping both 18-year-old centers and not returning them to junior hockey, a huge accomplishment for both kids. Once they play in their 10th NHL game Friday night, their NHL entry-level contracts kick in regardless of whether they are later sent back down to junior. They’re in for the long haul.
“Certainly their play dictated the majority of that decision, along with the fact our head coach and coaching staff were very comfortable with these two players, both Matt and Ryan, not only with their minutes but also in crucial parts of the game,” Avs GM Greg Sherman told ESPN.com.
But it’s not an easy decision in the world of this collective-bargaining agreement.
from Tim Sassone of the Chicago Daily-Herald,
Byfuglien has picked up where he left off in the playoffs with 4 goals in the Hawks’ first eight games. Standing in front of the net is not Byfuglien’s favorite role, but it is helping make him a star.
“It’s my job now, and I guess I don’t really have a choice to do it or I don’t know where I’d be,” Byfuglien said. “It’s all right. It’s growing on me. It’s fun and you get to play with the good players and get better opportunities to be out there more.”
Having a strong presence in front of the net is a key in Quenneville’s system, and Byfuglien has quickly become one of the better players in the NHL at bothering goaltenders.
“He found a niche there and it has helped his game,” Quenneville said. “Over the course of (last) year he was just going through it where he was just an ordinary player, but getting to that level where all of a sudden he was a factor in games and dominating games and being annoying for other teams and being a major distraction in front of the net, he filled that role extremely well.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
It would just be another below-the-radar minor-league transaction, if it hadn’t involved Stefan Legein, the Columbus Blue Jackets’ prospect and former star of Canada’s world junior team. Legein, remember, took a half-year sabbatical from hockey at the start of last year, citing burnout and a lack of the necessary passion needed to play at a high level.
Legein eventually rejoined the Blue Jackets’ organization for the second half of last season and played out the year for their AHL affiliate in Syracuse. On Tuesday, the Blue Jackets traded him to the Philadelphia Flyers in exchange for defenceman Michael Ratchuk.
Getting a fresh start in the Flyers organization may be just what Legein needs to get his career on the rails.
from Michael Russo of Russo’s Rants,
I had today off but ran into Marty Havlat and his girlfriend at a restaurant in Minneapolis. He hopes to play Wednesday against the Avalanche. He practiced today (Tuesday) but said he does want to test his groin at Wednesday’s morning skate before a final decision is made.
I talked to Rachel Blount, who covered practice today. She said Petr Sykora (groin) skated again on his own and coach Todd Richards said they’re hoping he can rejoin practice any day. He’s still day-to-day and won’t play against Colorado.
Kyle Brodziak missed practice today with what Richards called an “upper-body thing.” But Richards expects Brodziak to play against the Avs, which is why there’s such an understandably vague injury update.
Also, Jaime Sifers was reassigned to AHL Houston.
Lastly, the Wild made the obvious selection of captain with Mikko Koivu in my opinion, and not just because he deserves it, but because the Wild had the bigger picture to worry about.
more and I like the look of the new Russo’s Rants blog…
via George Malik of Snapshots at Mlive,
For the record: the weird dude who asks fans to pay $20 to read “exclusive” rumors on his fire-some-darts-at-a-“chart”-and-see-what-sticks board claims that the Red Wings want to move Jimmy Howard to the Toronto Maple Leafs for “prospects and picks,” which is unbelievably ridiculous—the Wings’ coaches, management, and Jim Bedard have put in thousands of hours attempting to shape a once-overweight and flop-to-stop-prone goaltender into a solid NHL stopper, and the Wings will see what Howard can do at the NHL level before addressing whether they need to acquire a veteran back-up to do Howard’s job. There’s no way in hell that the Wings would jettison an affordable back-up for a few potential tomorrows.
“...He made a difference for me in the way that he played and approached the game. He found a way to get himself into an NHL lineup with what I would say not above average skills. He asked a lot of great questions. And those guys like that are on the bubble, they ask a lot of questions because they want the coach to notice them all the time and he was good at that.”
-Bliues Coach Andy Murray speaking about player Dan Bylsma who he coached when Dan was with the Kings. More from Andy Murray by Seth Rorabaugh of Empty Netters.
from Michael Farber of Sports Illustrated,
Mark Messier’s title with the New York Rangers is Special Assistant to the President, one of those felicitous-sounding designations that could mean almost anything. The widespread guess it best translates to “GM general in waiting.” The assumption is Blueshirts president Glen Sather will muddle on for the next few years, show Messier the ropes and eventually turn the daily operations of the team over to the dauphin.
There are pitfalls to a neat succession, of course, but this seems to be a career path already working splendidly for players of stature like Messier. Joe Nieuwendyk, who has Hall-worthy credentials, already has taken a GM seat in Dallas after understudying in Florida and Toronto. Al MacInnis has been getting rave reviews for his work in player development with the St. Louis Blues. Steve Yzerman might not be ahead of the estimable Jim Nill on the Detroit Red Wings front office pyramid—Nill, GM Ken Holland’s top assistant, is the league executive most deserving of running his own team—but he’s already shown enough to be Team Canada’s GM for the 2010 Olympics, among the most stressful jobs in hockey.
From Ron Francis in Carolina (player development) in Carolina to Luc Robitaille in Los Angeles (president of business operations), Messier’s generation of stars is generally proving itself capable in executive capacity.
The only question is whether Messier will be willing to put in the work.
more plus additional NHL talk…
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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