Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Gare Joyce at Sportsnet,
I dialed up the scouts in my Rolodex this last few days. The grumpiest were still in Saskatoon. The slightly less grumpy were ones who were home from the tournament and thawing out. Happiest - or at least as happy as a scout gets - somehow avoided the tournament assignment.
One of the great disconnects between fact and public perception is that the world under-20s is a priority assignment for NHL scouts leading up to the draft in June. Such is rarely the case and maybe in no year has it been so far down the list as this year.
Those NHL scouts who made the trip out to Saskatoon were mostly doing check-ins on prospects that their teams had already drafted. There weren’t really any great discoveries to be made in Saskatoon.
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
It’s become fashionable for Canadians to suggest hockey has failed as a sport in the southern United States.
The pathetic plight of the Phoenix Coyotes, on top of the troubles experienced by teams in Florida, Atlanta and Nashville, have made it easy to make that argument.
Problem is, it’s only partially correct. The sport itself, you see, has deeper roots in those regions than ever.
When Canada takes on the U.S. in Tuesday night’s much anticipated gold medal game at the 2010 world junior hockey championship, there will be evidence on both teams that areas once regarded as non-hockey territories are now producing world-class players.
You’ll be witnessing, to some degree, the Gretzky Effect.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
If NHL players continue to participate in the Olympics at the 2014 Sochi Games, here’s a suggestion. Scrap the deadline for announcing rosters given the inability of the International Ice Hockey Federation to govern even the simplest element of this process.
The idea of naming rosters early in the process allows member hockey federations, along with the NHL and the NHL Players’ Association, to market players and generate revenue and buzz for the tournament. But to do so, there needs to be some guidelines about what happens to those rosters once they’re announced and, more importantly, someone to enforce those guidelines.
more and other hockey topics too…
“This American team is coming in on a real high. They’ve got speed, they’ve got a lot of confidence. They’ve got a little bit of a thick skin that they built up,. They want redemption, they want a chance to be able to get a lead on Canada this time and shut it down.
“This is going to be very interesting,” says McKenzie. “Because Canada is kind of wobbling into the gold medal game, and the Americans are flying.”
-Bob McKenzie of TSN on the WJC Gold Medal game tomorrow. More on the game at TSN.
from Mike G. Morreale of NHL.com,
Brian Burke and his managerial staff for Team USA don’t believe their club is short on leaders despite the fact this happens to be the youngest group of Americans headed to the Winter Olympics since NHL players were introduced to the Games.
In fact, Burke, who in the fall of 2008 began evaluating the Americans he would ultimately choose to represent his squad in Vancouver, felt leadership was something he and his staff spent plenty of time debating.
“When you assemble a team, especially for a short-term tournament, leadership is critical,” Burke told the media during a conference call Monday. “We spent a lot of time on this. We discussed the type of player; what role he might have, is he a Type A or Type B personality. Is he wearing a letter now? Has he worn a letter on the US Team before? These are all things we talked about in great, great detail and at great length.
“Honestly I’m just going day to day right now. I had a great talk with (Moose coach) Scotty Arniel and every day I’m on the ice is just another day to get my legs going and feel good and have fun.
“As long as I’m here, there are young guys I think I can help and make better and it’s just all about being a good leader and being a good guy in the dressing room. That’s all I’ve ever tried to do my whole career.”
-Mathieu Schneider of the Manitoba Moose. More on Schneider from Tim Campbell of the Winnipeg Free Press.
from Chris Zelkovich of the Toronto Star,
Critiquing TSN’s coverage of the world junior hockey championship seems almost like nit-picking, unless you’re one of those disgruntled hockey fans who’ve set up a Facebook page devoted to getting Pierre McGuire fired.
Admittedly, there are times when hoots of “roof daddy” and “stampeding elephants” might create the urge to sign on but McGuire and TSN have once again done a solid job of turning this tournament into a national must-watch event.
That said, and here comes the “but,” TSN might want to look at a few upgrades before Tuesday’s final.
For one, TSN might want to make sure it remembers there are two teams on the ice and tell viewers a bit more about those not wearing the maple leaf on their chests.
We also have the semi-finals of the WJC.
Canada vs. Switzerland at 5:00pm ET and Sweden vs. United States at 9:00pm ET. Both games are on the NHL Network in the USA and TSN/TSN2 will cover the games in Canada.
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
• My biggest concern on Steve Yzerman’s Team Canada: The apparent dependence on veterans Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger on defence. This is Pronger’s fourth Olympics. This should be Niedermayer’s fourth. Neither play at all-star levels anymore. Maybe they have one great tournament left in them. Maybe not.
• Another area of concern: Yzerman has added the entire San Jose line of Joe Thornton, Patrick Marleau and Dany Heatley. Thornton has 10 NHL seasons with more than a point a game in the regular season, not one in the playoffs. Big games have never been his thing
more hockey talk…
from Dave Stubbs of the Montreal Gazette,
• Gionta is being excluded for having missed 21 games with a broken foot from Nov. 14 through Boxing Day, no matter his ice generalship, two-way excellence and dressing-room leadership. And no matter Burke’s Friday claim that, “We tried to pick a team based on the body of work rather than how a (player) is playing now. We tried not to penalize players off to a slow start.”
• Gomez remains at home because Team USA assistant coach John Tortorella, head coach of the Rangers, had little time for the Anchorage native who played 21 games under him in New York last season.
• Burke would choose a Canadien over his dead body simply for his having been nearly booed out of the Bell Centre last June at the NHL entry draft. A Size XL ego who is loved or loathed with no grey area beyond his snowy scalp, Burke immediately claimed that he didn’t take the podium abuse personally. But ...
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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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