Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
This is a team, I would humbly opine, that is at an interesting crossroads.
After reaching the Western Conference finals last season and unburdening themselves of some playoff demons in doing so, the Blues finally turned a powerhouse regular season into a spring of substance.
But of interest to me now is where this team goes from here. Are the Blues taking that next step? Or is their window beginning to close? For one, this is Ken Hitchcock's last season behind the St. Louis bench -- with the team making the unusual arrangement that newly hired associate coach Mike Yeo will take over next season.
There's also the transition of leadership with longtime captain David Backes leaving via free agency, as did clutch playoff performer Troy Brouwer. And those departures came a year after star winger T.J. Oshie was traded.
This, more than ever, is now the team of new captain Alex Pietrangelo as well as Alexander Steen, one of the team's alternate captains and respected leaders.
via the Pittsburgh Penguins,
The Pittsburgh Penguins have re-signed goalie Matt Murray to a three-year contract extension, it was announced today by executive vice president and general manager Jim Rutherford.
The deal begins with the 2017-18 season and runs through the 2019-20 campaign, and it carries an average annual value of $3.75 million.
Murray, 22, backstopped the Penguins to the franchise's fourth Stanley Cup championship in June, becoming just the fourth rookie goalie in NHL history to lead his team to a championship. Murray racked up 15 postseason wins along the way, equaling the NHL record for wins by a rookie netminder.
The 6-foot-4, 178-pound netminder broke into the NHL last December, making his NHL debut against Carolina on Dec. 19, 2015, then earning his first win two days later against Columbus.
from Neil Best of Newsday,
The director had a question for John Tavares: “How do you feel about pineapples?”
The director had an instruction for John Tavares: “Be super-evocative!”
The director had a request for John Tavares: “Do you know any good Canadian jokes?”
Tavares responded to all of it with an assortment of quizzical looks while good-naturedly going with the flow on Wednesday at Northwell Health Ice Center in East Meadow.
It was an Islanders off day, part of which their captain spent doing a photo and video shoot for his new endorsement deal with Vita Coco coconut water, doing his best to conform outside his comfort zone.
from Neil Paine of FiveThirtyEight,
In 1989, the Soviet hockey federation gave mid-level winger Sergei Priakin permission to pursue an NHL career. Other players soon followed (with or without government consent). From Fedorov to Mogilny and Bure, electrifying talent was up for grabs.
“I don’t know that this has ever happened [before] in any other sport, where the floodgates were opened to a new talent base,” hockey writer Gabriel Desjardins told me. “Teams jumped on it immediately.”
Chief among them was the Winnipeg Jets, led by a contrarian general manager who did not play professional hockey and held a doctorate in Russian studies: Mike Smith. Smith thought he could get Russian players under other teams’ radar (appealing for an American who felt excluded from what he described in an interview as the “boys club” of Canadian GMs) and believed more in Soviet-style possession hockey than the North American dump-and-chase strategy.
“You would ask a player who played for a coach that said ‘dump it in,’ [and] the player would say to his teammate, ‘We worked like hell to get the puck and then he wants to dump it in,’” Smith told me. “It just didn’t make any [sense], particularly if you had skilled players. … Why would you take a Rolls-Royce and make it into a battering ram?”
from Gary Lawless of TSN,
Some say there would be no NHL in Winnipeg if not for Bobby Hull. Wednesday night they opened the Winnipeg Jets’ Hall of Fame and did it without the Golden Jet, his reputation bruised and his ego keeping him from taking part in the festivities.
The Jets honoured Hull and his Hot Line mates, Anders Hedberg and Ulf Nilsson, culminating with the two Swedes embracing at centre ice as three banners carrying their names and numbers were unveiled. Hull was not in the building, the city or the province.
A summer announcement that the Jets would celebrate their WHA heritage and make the Hot Line the inaugural Hall of Fame honourees stirred up sentiment on a number of sides within Winnipeg. Hull, who has been the subject of domestic abuse allegations, became the focal point of opinion columns, sports radio discussions and dinner table arguments.
Hull was reviled by one side and respected by the other. He took offence that reports of past transgressions, never proven in court, would sully his name in Winnipeg of all places.
When the Jets extended an invitation for the weekend, he declined. The club waited some time and when he wouldn’t relent, released a statement saying he would be absent due to personal reasons.
Below, watch a short video of the ceremony....
LAINE’S FIRST CAREER HAT TRICK LEADS JETS TO COMEBACK WIN…
The Jets rallied from a 4-0 deficit in the second period led by Patrik Laine’s first career hat trick – including the game-tying goal with 55 seconds remaining in regulation and the game-winning goal in overtime – to earn a victory in their final game before the 2016 Tim Hortons NHL Heritage Classic.
* According to the Elias Sports Bureau, the Jets came back from a four-goal deficit to win for the first time in Jets/Thrashers franchise history. Winnipeg also rallied from a three-goal deficit in their season-opening contest to secure a 5-4 OTW vs. CAR. Elias adds the Jets are the first team in NHL history to come back from a deficit of at least three goals to win in two of their first four games of a season.
* Per Elias, at 18 years, 183 days, Laine became the youngest player in franchise history to record a hat trick (previously Ilya Kovalchuk: 19 years, 235 days, on Dec. 6, 2002 at WSH).
* Elias adds Laine is also just the fourth rookie in the last ten years to record a hat trick that includes an overtime winner, following Alex Ovechkin (3-0—3 w/ WSH on Jan. 13, 2006 at ANA), Jordan Staal (3-0—3 w/ PIT on Feb. 10, 2007 at TOR) and Michael Grabner (3-0—3 w/ NYI on Feb. 13, 2011 at BUF).
* Per Elias, Laine is the first player in franchise history to score a tying goal in the final minute of regulation AND score the overtime winner in the same game.
Patrik Laine scored a hat trick as the Winnipeg Jets rallied from a 4-0 deficit to defeat the Toronto Maple Leafs 5-4 in OT:
from Brendan Kelly of the Montreal Gazette,
At 3-0 Tuesday, my teenage son came running into the living room to shout — ‘Look. All the guys you hate are scoring! Desharnais, Pacioretty, Radulov. Bergevin’s a genius.’
Now clearly he’s just working through some Oedipal issues here, but he’s not the only one to express the same sentiment. When I got to the office Wednesday, Gaz photographer Dave Sidaway said more or less the same thing to me.
And you just know variations on the same conversation are happening across the city. Loads and loads of fans were dismayed with gusts up to disgusted by the team’s performance last year and were mighty jaded about a lot of players and managers by year end, notably general manager Marc Bergevin, coach Michel Therrien and prominent whipping boys like captain Max and his old pal Desharnais. When Bergevin then went and traded fan favourite Subban for Shea Weber, the grumbling went positively nuclear.
I know many of you think I make this stuff up, but the reality is that there still are thousands and thousands of disgruntled Habs fans out there. Just look at the reaction to the introduction of Therrien Tuesday night — the cheers were lukewarm at best and there were no shortage of boos. And keep in mind that the folks who’ve paid top dollar to go to the Bell Centre are the people least likely to jeer the coach or any of the players. In other words, go to any bar and you’ll find Montrealers only too pleased to vent their bad thoughts about Mike T.
So are all these malcontents back on the Habs bus after the heroics of Tuesday night and a pretty decent first week of the season? I don’t really think so. I think they’re going to wait and see.
Lisa Dillman tweeted earlier today stating Quick had a procedure done, not surgery. The injory is reported to be a groin issue.
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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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