Kukla's Korner Hockey
via RIA Novosti,
“We are pleased to be predicted for the final, but there are many other candidates,” Vladislav Tretyak said at a news conference in Russia House adding that many other teams have equal chances of reaching the final, including the United States, Finland and Sweden.
Russia’s legendary hockey goalie Tretyak, a three-time Olympic champion and 10-time world champion, said the Russian players are currently seriously focusing on the first game against Latvia, as there are no weak opponents at the Olympics.
“The first game is always exciting no matter who you play against. The boys are set for a difficult game. There are no weak opponents and there will be a lot of surprises,” he said.
The Russian 2010 national Olympic team, which includes 14 players from the National Hockey League (NHL) and nine from the Continental Hockey League (KHL), will play its first game of the tournament against Latvia on February 16.
The Russian squad is led again by Coach Vyacheslav Bykov, who is already being talked of as a coaching great.
from Greg Wyshynski of PuckDaddy,
Slava Malamud of Sport-Express asked a provocative question about how Russia has supplanted Canada as the top team in international play over the last few world championships, and how this may be the last chance for Canada’s NHL stars to win gold. How enormous is that pressure right now?
Yzerman, getting closer to the microphone, offered a terse response:
“Honestly, do you think they’ll have a parade in Moscow if the Russians go in with the silver medal? They won’t.”
Yzerman continued: “The expectation in Russia is gold. The expectation in Sweden is gold. Whether they admit it or not, the USA is in this to win a gold medal. All of us are playing to win the tournament, and every team that doesn’t will be disappointed. That’s how it is for all our players that play in the NHL every year. If you don’t win, it hasn’t been successful.
“We just don’t treat it [the way the question was stated]. You point out Russians have won the last two championships. They’re bringing some of the top forwards in the world [here]. They’re the No. 1 ranked team in the world. They’re the favorite coming into this tournament.”
from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
To march with Team USA on Friday in the opening ceremony, Kings defenseman Jack Johnson awoke at 5 a.m. on a day between games, jumped on a charter flight from LAX to Bellingham, Wash., and hired a car and driver for the 50-mile trip to Vancouver.
Johnson wouldn’t say what he paid to charter the six-seat plane for himself, his parents and his little brother. To him, the experience is priceless.
“I had to take extreme measures to get here, but it was worth every bit of it,” said Johnson, the lone NHL player in the procession.
from Shawn P. Roarke of NHL.com,
Contrary to the hype, Jaromir Jagr says he is no longer a superstar.
“No, I don’t feel like that,” Jagr said Friday afternoon when asked if he was still the go-to guy on the Czech Republic team. “The media back home might think that, but I don’t feel like that. It’s important how I feel.”
Jagr has been away from the National Hockey League for two years, departing the New York Rangers and taking his electrifying skill and megawatt personality to Omsk in the Kontinental Hockey League. For the past 21 months, he has been plying his trade in Omsk, Russia, far from the prying eyes of North American hockey fans and media members.
Much has clearly changed during that period. Jagr turns 38 early next week and is now passed over when talk now rages about the best hockey players in the world. It is more than just out of sight, out of mind: Jagr himself doesn’t feel like he should be in that discussion.
“I’m pretty thrilled to be here and be able to be part of this team. It’s been a little rocky journey the last couple of years. I’m not 100 per cent sure if I’m going to be great in this tournament or not, but I’m just going to go out and do my best. If I get placed on the third or fourth line it doesn’t matter.
“As long as I’m here, I’m going to do the best for my team and the country.’‘
-Team Sweden’s Peter Forsberg. More on Forsberg and Team Sweden from Chris Johnston of the CP at CTVOlympics.
via Curtis Zupke of Ducks Blog,
Ducks center Ryan Getzlaf skated at Ducks practice Friday but came off the ice after about 25 minutes at Pengrowth Saddledome, Register beat writer Eric Stephens reports.
Getzlaf went through the line rushes but left to get treatment before the team began doing drills.
Olympic trade freeze now in place, but NHL games continue through Sunday night.
KK will be around, no vacation plans until late July or August and we will be providing all your hockey talk from both the NHL and the Olympic games in Vancouver.
Many storylines coming out of Vancouver and it should be great entertainment for all of us who follow the game.
Now, time to clean up my computer desk and provide you with all the hockey news.
from John Shannon of Sportsnet,
• In addition to the Maple Leafs, Oilers and Hurricanes, some teams will look at the Olympic break to decide if they are buyers or sellers at the deadline on the first Wednesday in March. One manager told me the magic number is 10. That’s 10 points out of 8th spot. And when you consider that means that a team that is 10 down would probably have to go 15-5 in its last 20 games to have a chance. Do the math, by Valentines Day the list of teams down by double digits might be prove to make the trade deadline day a wild day indeed.
• Interesting to note that replacement players for Olympic teams can only happened based on a list that was given last year to WADA (World Anti-Doping Agency). The list has to be very extensive, in order to cover any issue. It is so large, I’m told, the Canadian list includes Guy Lafleur. You also have to wonder, with all the public funding that the three levels of government are putting into the Games, why the list isn’t made public… ever!
more hockey notes…
from Mike Kiley of Blackhawks Confidential,
Are you ready, Chicago? Are you ready, world? Kane appeals to all ages, gossipy old nags that like sniffing the scandal sheets and bright-eyed girls and boys who can relate to a fella that’s part Huckleberry Finn, part Eminem, part Joe Namath, part Denis Savard, and pretty much three-quarters Bobby Hull, except for the hair. All live wire.
Kid Galahad could be the belle of this ball, because he so enjoys scrambling those letters to read KID HAD-A-GAL or simply KID GALA, a rollicking roustabout coming straight to your stage and the wide, wide world of sports (I know, I’m mixing networks) from Al Capone’s rootin’-tootin’ hometown, which is still how much of the world identifies Chicago….
Team USA’s Olympic opener is a 12 p. m. puck drop in Vancouver, so Kane still has time to gather the girl scout troop for a Monday night reprise in the party limo, get John Madden and Kris Versteeg on the laptop webcam, try reverse-role playing and have the gals be the ones that take off their shirts this time round for the paparazzi shoot, roast them a few marshmallows, drown them with Jagermeister shooters for the international spirit, park at Lover’s Leap in Stanley Park for belated Valentine canoodling under the moonlight and hit the hay without the need of a police escort to help him say his evening prayers.
from Charlie Gillis of Macleans,
Q: There’s no denying the stakes, though. If Canada wins gold, you’re a genius. If the team falls anywhere short of gold, it’s considered some sort of failure.
A: That’s certainly the reality of it, and the way it goes in a short tournament. I don’t think that’s necessarily right. Whether somebody is really competent—whether he has a good hockey mind, whether he’s a good person to lead a hockey club—is something determined over a long period of time, not one tournament. If we do well, it’s certainly not because I’m any smarter than anybody else. It’ll be because we have good players and good coaches.
Q: Is that the explanation for your decision to exclude Mike Green of the Washington Capitals, who is currently the NHL’s top-scoring defenceman?
A: Mike Green’s a hell of a hockey player, a tremendous talent. I just think the defence we put together can generate offence almost to the same level as Mike, and yet be stronger in other areas. We just thought the seven that we chose are a better fit for us. I don’t want to go on at length criticizing Mike Green, but there are parts of his game that we’d need to see improved upon before he’s ready to play in the Olympics….
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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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