Kukla's Korner Hockey
Boston, MA - Boston Bruins President Cam Neely announced today, May 20, that the Boston Bruins have named Don Sweeney the General Manager of the Boston Bruins.
Chief Executive Officer of Delaware North's Boston Holdings Charlie Jacobs, Neely and Sweeney will hold a press conference at TD Garden on Wednesday, May 20 at 1:30 p.m.
"Don Sweeney stood out amongst an incredibly talented group of candidates that we considered for this hire," said Jacobs. "He carries a unique and impressive mix of playing experience, front office experience and business acumen. Don has complete understanding of what it means to be a Bruin and we have full confidence in him to steward the organization back to being Stanley Cup contenders year in and year out."
”Don has excelled in every role he has been in with the Bruins organization and has a comprehensive understanding of every aspect of our hockey operations department," said Neely. "His commitment and drive to bring a championship caliber team to the Boston fans was evident every step of the way through this search process, and I am confident that his leadership of our hockey operations department will lead to success."
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
So after all of that -- the head-butted goal that wasn’t, the 118 shots on goal, the 244 shot attempts, the cross bars and posts and glorious chances that literally numbered in the dozens through the course of 116 minutes, 12 seconds of delirious playoff hockey -- the question is: What comes after epic?
Because that’s what Game 2 of the Western Conference finals was right from the get-go when the Chicago Blackhawks jumped out to a 2-0 lead in the first period on two power-play goals on through to the moment that Marcus Kruger somehow managed to knock down a Brent Seabrook point shot and then sweep it past Anaheim Ducks netminder Frederik Andersen at 16:12 of the third overtime.
A titanic tilt.
At its most basic, the Kruger goal -- one that came on just his second shot on goal -- gave the Blackhawks a 3-2 victory and tied this conference finals series at one game apiece.
There are still miles to go in this series before a winner is crowned. But it is impossible to dismiss this game as simply one in a series of possibly seven, with a berth the Stanley Cup finals on the line.
from Tom Jones of the Tampa Bay Times,
The time has arrived. He has arrived.
Lightning defenseman Victor Hedman is no longer the kid with potential. He's no longer a future star.
When it comes to Hedman, it isn't about "someday'' or "eventually'' or "down the road.''
Hedman is a star. Right now.
It's happening right before our very eyes.
If you've watched the Lightning this season — if you've watched the Lightning in these playoffs — you've seen the maturation and evolution of a hockey player. From boy to man. From prospect to standout.
Victor Hedman has arrived.
"He's an unbelievable defenseman,'' teammate and forward Alex Killorn said. "Not just on our team, but throughout the league, he's one of the best defensemen in the league.''
He can play offense. He has a goal and seven assists in the playoffs.
from Flip Bondy of the New York Daily News,
“Their big boys put on the big-boy pants,” Vigneault said, after the Pittsburgh Penguins had badly beaten the Rangers. “I need mine to do that.”
If ever Vigneault needs his big boys to put on their extra-extra-large pants, it is now heading into Game 3 in Tampa Bay, after a rare, systemic collapse during Game 2 at the Garden, a 6-2 disaster. The Rangers hadn’t been beaten by four goals in the playoffs since 2009, and the team’s biggest stars are simply not producing at an adequate level — while Ben Bishop, Tyler Johnson, Steven Stamkos and Victor Hedman have been at the top of their games for Tampa Bay.
Not everyone is guilty here. Ryan McDonagh has had a great run and has done the right thing, calling out his teammates for “stupid, selfish penalties,” for “shooting ourselves in the foot.” Henrik Lundqvist had a lousy game on Monday, but he is excused because of his other recent performances. The others don’t get a pass. They get an ultimatum: Finish your chances, and stop taking dumb penalties, or this series will end with a very disappointing handshake line.
Rick Nash and Marty St. Louis have combined for two goals in the playoffs, despite plenty of power-play time.
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
... But the No. 1 candidate remains Sweeney. He played 1,052 games as a Bruin. He is Neely’s former teammate. He was one of Chiarelli’s first hires in June of 2006, a year before Neely joined the front office. He is familiar with every niche of the organization, from the draft, prospects, personnel, and contract negotiations.
Sweeney is similar to Chiarelli, his ex-Harvard teammate: smart, patient, objective, and thorough in his actions.
John Ferguson, the Bruins’ executive director of player personnel, would take Sweeney’s position. Scott Bradley, the other assistant GM, would keep his title.
If Sweeney lands the promotion, he will have to make a decision on Claude Julien. The coach’s extension activates in 2015-16, and the Bruins would be responsible for Julien’s contract if they let him go.
Bruce Cassidy, Providence’s head coach the last four seasons, would be a candidate to replace Julien. Sweeney holds Cassidy in high regard.
Chances are that Sweeney, with Neely’s input, has already been thinking about Julien’s future, just as he has been studying the roster. This is the luxury of promoting a GM from within. Sweeney is familiar with everything. Daily activities will not change abruptly once he lands the job. The Bruins do not need disruption.
from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal,
Edmonton Oilers general manager Peter Chiarelli viewed former San Jose coach Todd McLellan as a prize free-agent catch when he and the Sharks said goodbye a month ago.
Chiarelli wasn’t going to take it slow and easy in his pursuit, so he jumped in, swimming furiously, even knowing Mike Babcock might come free.
“I thought the fit was right with Todd with our personnel and the fit was right with how I manage and, in this business, if you want to get a top coach, you have to act quickly,” said Chiarelli, who didn’t know McLellan well personally, but found some instant chemistry after talking with him for about four hours in Prague, Czech Republic, at the world hockey championship.
“It’s almost like free agency for players. If you’re not in there first, you probably won’t get the guy. I knew we had to get in there first and go in hard,” he added.
Chiarelli had some history with Babcock on the 2014 Canadian Olympic team — the Detroit Red Wings coach was behind the bench and Chiarelli was part of the management group when he was the Boston Bruins GM — so he fully knows what Babcock brings to the table. He just didn’t ask for permission to talk to him.
“I got to know Mike a little bit at the Olympics and before that at the world championship and he’s a really impressive coach and an impressive person, but Todd was at the top of my list for a number of reasons. That doesn’t mean Mike’s not a great coach,” Chiarelli said.
I think any team that relies on free agents to fix their problems, that’s a bad place to be. I think they can definitely help if you find the right one, but you have to build from within, that’s where the strength is going to come from.
I think in a perfect world, you’d go golfing on July 1 (the first day of NHL free agency). I’m not sure if we’re in that spot yet, but I can tell you I like our team and where we’re going.
As a rule of thumb, you’re going to pay too much or give too much term to get a free agent. I think it’s more likely that we would be more involved in trade talk to tinker with the makeup of our team. But I’m not uncomfortable starting next season with pretty much what we ended this season with.
from Eric Stephens of the OC Register,
An epic playoff series needs a memorable contest to start earning that definition, and Game 2 of the Western Conference finals took care of that. The unheralded Marcus Kruger applied the dramatic ending.
A fourth-line grinder and penalty-killer by trade, Kruger put in a loose puck at 16:12 of the third overtime to cap the longest game in the 21-year-old history of Honda Center and lift the Chicago Blackhawks to a 3-2 victory over the Ducks and even the best-of-7 series.
An overflow crowd of 17,234 mostly decked in the Ducks' orange, black and white colors was left stunned when Kruger sent Chicago home with a series split, batting the puck past Ducks goalie Frederik Andersen after Andersen didn't make a clean stick save on a point shot by defenseman Brent Seabrook.
Kruger had just seven goals during the regular season and his other score in these playoffs came in Game 1 of the Blackhawks' second-round sweep of Minnesota. The checking center put himself in position for the winner, pulling his team even heading into Game 3 on Thursday in Chicago.
Watch the game highlights below...
How Babcock would do in Buffalo with a team that just tanked a season only to miss out on its reason for tanking is a topic for another day, but let’s just say he wouldn’t be leaving Detroit to improve on the weather. The Sabres’ problems may not be half as intractable as Toronto’s, but the coach could forget about winning championships for a while, even with Boston University’s Jack Eichel on the way.
-Cam Cole at the National Post. Read on for Cole's views on the Oilers hiring Todd McLellan.
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