Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Matt Larkin of The Hockey News,
Want to make an NHL player bristle? Just follow these easy steps:
(a) stand a foot away from him;
(b) remind him his team missed the playoffs last season;
(c) ask him if his team is rebuilding.
The experiment works like a charm on Philadelphia Flyers right winger Wayne Simmonds between training sessions at BioSteel’s 2015 hockey camp, where players from all over the league – and other leagues – gather to compete, hone their skills and rehabilitate. Reminded of the Flyers’ sixth-place finish in the Metropolitan division, and asked whether a new coach and large shipment of elite young defense prospects signifies a rebuild, Simmonds shakes his head so fast you can practically see the sweat fly.
“No,” he said, recoiling slightly, brow furrowed. “We’re a good team right now.”
Simmonds says the only thing that kept his Flyers out of the big dance in 2014-15 was a tendency to play to their opponents’ levels, holding their own against Cup contenders but struggling against teams equal to or below them in the standings. The stats confirm Simmonds’ theory. Philly went 14-15-8 (.486) against teams that missed the playoffs and 19-16-10 (.533) against playoff teams last season. The discrepancy was even more pronounced in the Flyers’ division, where they went 3-8-3 (.321) against the non-playoff Carolina Hurricanes, New Jersey Devils and Columbus Blue Jackets versus 9-5-2 (.625) against the New York Rangers, New York Islanders, Pittsburgh Penguins and Washington Capitals.
from Brian Compton of NHL.com,
It's a rare occurrence when the Philadelphia Flyers don't qualify for the Stanley Cup Playoffs, but that was the case last season. A slow start doomed Philadelphia, which won 33 games and finished 12th in the Eastern Conference.
"I think the whole point of hockey is making playoffs. That's the best time of the year," captain Claude Giroux told the Flyers website. "When you can't be a part of it, obviously [there's] a lot of disappointment and frustration. We're going to learn the hard way, but it's going to help us for the future."
Changes were made after the season, none bigger than at coach. Craig Berube was fired and replaced by Dave Hakstol, who will coach his first NHL game when the Flyers open the season Oct. 8 at the Tampa Bay Lightning. Hakstol, 47, spent the past 11 seasons as coach at the University of North Dakota.
"He has a tireless work ethic," Flyers general manager Ron Hextall said of Hakstol. "I think the biggest thing is his knowledge of the game is extremely high-level. I feel very comfortable with where we're at."
Hakstol, the 19th coach in Flyers history, won 289 games with North Dakota and helped develop Chicago Blackhawks captain Jonathan Toews and Washington Capitals forward T.J. Oshie, among others. Under Hakstol's guidance, North Dakota advanced to the NCAA Frozen Four seven times, including last season when it reached the semifinals. Hakstol was named National Collegiate Hockey Conference coach of the year twice and was a finalist for national coach of the year eight times.
Q: A lot of the Flyers roster is in tact from last year, but can you talk about the additions of your countrymen Michal Neuvirth and Radko Gudas…
“I know Michal very well. I played with him on the national teams growing up. He’s a great goalie and I think that was a great pick up by the organization. The last two years I’ve been the only Czech here by myself so it’s good to have two guys. I’m very excited to be able to talk every once in a while in Czech to someone. Sometimes it was hard when I called home and I tried to talk Czech with my mom. She would ask me if I was sleeping because I talked like I couldn’t speak Czech anymore.”
Q: On Gudas…
“I said this before… I think he’s going to be one of the favorite players on the team to the fans next year because he leaves everything on the ice and plays with a lot of grit. It’s very good to see that we have a player like him in our organization.”
Q: Finally, your thoughts on your new head coach, Dave Hakstol. Is it true he flew to Czech Republic to meet with you in person?
“Yes, it says a lot that he flew all the way to Czech Republic to meet with me, and he had some Czech food so that’s a good sign! I’m very excited for him coming in here and a new system. We spent a lot of time talking about everything from everyday life to what he’s expecting from us, as well as myself and I think it went very well.”
from the Phiadelphia Flyers,
The Philadelphia Flyers announced today that they have signed 6-3, 197-lb center Sean Couturier to a multi-year contract extension, according to general manager Ron Hextall.
Couturier, 22 (12/7/1992), recorded a career-high 15 goals and added 22 assists for 37 points in 82 games for the Flyers in 2014-15. Following the season, Couturier helped lead Team Canada to the gold medal at the 2015 IIHF World Championships where he recorded three goals and added four assists for seven points in 10 games.
Couturier appeared in all 82 games for the second consecutive season and has appeared in 287 out of a possible 294 NHL games. He has also appeared in 198 consecutive games, which is the third-most active streak on the Flyers (Jakub Voracek: 226 & Brayden Schenn: 208).
note 4:15pm, Changed the headline to reflect the length of the deal.
from Evan Webster of the Herald News,
Three Nova Scotia NHL players got the star treatment Monday while having supper at Acadian Fish & Chips on Hammonds Plains Road.
Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby, Colorado Avalanche centre Nathan MacKinnon and Philadelphia Flyers defenceman Andrew MacDonald dropped by the restaurant on their way back from a round of golf.
Restaurant manager Evelyn LeBlanc offered them a free meal.
“Sidney came to the counter, and I looked at him and said, ‘Are you who I think you are?’” she said.
“He just smiled and grinned at me, then said ‘Maybe.’ So I said, ‘Well, your meal is on the house.’”
LeBlanc said the players do a great job representing Nova Scotia, and that she was happy to feed them for free.
Following two tumultuous seasons under former coach Craig Berube, Lecavalier will play for new coach Dave Hakstol provided Flyers general manager Ron Hextall doesn't find a trade partner willing to take on Lecavalier's contract, which has three years and $13.5 million remaining, according to war-on-ice.com.
Lecavalier scored 20 goals and had 37 points in 69 games in 2013-14, his first in Philadelphia. He had a career-low eight goals in 57 games, which was the fewest he played in a full season in his career, and averaged 12:39 of ice time per game last season.
Lecavalier, though, believes he still can contribute in Philadelphia. His agent, Kent Hughes, told TSN on Friday the Flyers haven't contacted him about a buyout and that Lecavalier will not retire under any circumstances.
"I'm still in shape," Lecavalier said Friday, according to RDS. "I really just want to get my chance. I am confident in my abilities and I move on.
"I kept a good attitude. You do not want to be a cancer in the room. You want to stay a good teammate, and that's what I tried to do. A good bunch of guys, it makes things easier. It is the past. I want to be in shape in September and playing hockey, that's it."
from Jay Greenberg of PhiladelphiaFlyers.com,
... the Flyers have to make up the 14 points by which they missed the playoffs a year ago. Improvement is going to have to come from within, and here are the means by which it has to happen:
Heed The New Sheriff:
There would not have been a coaching change if Hextall had not felt a lot of young Flyers underachieved a year ago. These were mostly the same players who gave them seven 20-goal scorers in 2012-13, so talent unrealized in 2014-15 has to be realized again to 2015-16.
Dave Hakstol will get more out of some players than Craig Berube did. That’s inevitable in almost any coaching change and hopefully this one specifically raises the production of Brayden Schenn and Sean Couturier, players that the organization remains committed to building around. But their usage has to change in some way to unlock more. That could mean linemates, roles, or ice time.
Prioritize Find A Center For:
Wayne Simmonds - Only 14 of his 28 goals a year ago were scored at even-strength, a waste of a big body with a finishing touch. There is ample evidence that Sam Gagner, who was the sixth player taken in a draft on his playmaking ability, has been much more comfortable at center than on the wing,
Could he be this year’s Michael Del Zotto, a lost soul reclaimed with a regular role and a fresh start? Perhaps, but Gagner can’t be a round peg in a square hole, which too often has been the case with Vinny Lecavalier during his two seasons in Philadelphia. The reality is that more of the organization’s future is invested in getting Schenn’s career on the upswing again, which is apparently why Hextall says the Flyers will go to camp thinking Gagner as a winger. But everything is subject to change.
from Sam Donnellon of the Philadelphia Daily News,
At the top of that fat content is Vinny Lecavalier and a contract that pays $4.5 million for each of the next three seasons. Why Hextall did not try to buy him out before this is at the top of the intrigue. But if those trade-deadline deals and the great Pronger escape didn't buy your GM some "In Hexy We Trust" points - well, then, Sam Hinkie has a whole lot more work to do.
Here are two thoughts: There are a group of teams that might need dead contracts to reach the NHL's salary-cap basement of $52.8 million. That's how Pronger became a Paper Coyote, and maybe one reason Kings GM Dean Lombardi was even in conversations about Mike Richards with the GMs of Edmonton and Calgary before the Royal Canadian Mounted Police got in the way.
If there's any light in the dark tunnel, it's that Vinny will cost a team less to play for them next season, while counting against the cap more. Just as Pronger costs Arizona $575,00 in real money but counts as $4.5 million toward getting to the cap-mandated minimum payroll of $51.7 million, Lecavalier's real cost from here on is $2 million less than his cap hit.
Still, $13.5 million over the next three years for a 35-year-old player coming off two subpar seasons?
If Hextall pulls this one off and I'm the Phillies, I have Andy MacPhail call him immediately.
That Umberger is even here is the best evidence that, despite refining his public rebuilding message to include a win-now clause, Hextall's target date is not the upcoming season, but the ones after it. He traded a better player for a worse one in the Scott Hartnell deal for one season of cap relief. That's not a win-now strategy.
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.
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