Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
In hockey, progress happens regularly. Players become bigger, faster, and stronger. Equipment gets lighter and more durable. Coaches devise better game plans.
But the NHL will hinge — and change — upon the explosion of hockey intelligence.
We are experiencing the game’s IQ transformation. Teams like Los Angeles and Chicago are mining data diamonds and applying them to the ice.
They understand that four lines of skill, speed, and puck-possessing prowess overwhelm the traditional template of two skilled units, a checking threesome, and an energy group. They acquire and play mobile, pace-pushing blue liners over hold-your-ground defensive defensemen. They don’t panic when they fall behind, 2-0, because statistics show that scoring next impacts the outcome more than allowing a third goal.
Duncan Keith is Chicago’s best defenseman. But Keith sits against first lines. Chicago deploys Niklas Hjalmarsson in a shutdown role. That allows Keith to flourish in situations that play to his strengths: quickness, speed with the puck, accurate passing, and offensive instinct.
Joel Quenneville didn’t conclude this based on what he knew about the game. The Chicago coach listened to his stats guys.
more and other hockey topics too...
Less than 1% of my writing is about advanced statistics. But more than 30% of response to my writing happen to be about analytics. Can you say overly sensitive?
-Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun.
from Luke DeCock of the News & Observer,
Don Waddell has been around the NHL long enough to hear the alarm bells ringing before he even arrived in town as President of Gale Force Sports & Entertainment, parent company of the Carolina Hurricanes. The man who oversaw the sale and move of a struggling Sun Belt franchise to Canada is joining the Hurricanes?
“That was the first thing I had to address with the staff,” Waddell acknowledged this week over breakfast, one of dozens of get-acquainted meals he has brokered since taking over as team president last month.
His message: Waddell is here to grow the franchise, not move it.
Waddell is best known as the longtime general manager of the Atlanta Thrashers, a job he held for 12 years, but he has considerable experience on the business side of things as well. He at one point oversaw the Thrashers, Atlanta Hawks and Philips Arena, before the hockey team moved to Winnipeg, ran minor-league franchises in San Diego and Orlando and served as a consultant for ownership groups interested in putting an NHL team in Seattle.
How about five minutes of stand-up comedy with Dennis Hull?
from Stan Fischler at the Daily Freeman,
Welcome to Hockeytown.
And I don’t mean Detroit either.
This is Hockeytown, Israel and if that seems a bit strange to you at this time of the year -- or any time year for that matter -- it’s hockey time any time in Metula.
No bigger than Phoenicia, Metula sits on Israel’s Northern border, neck and neck with Lebanon. Its Olympic-sized Canada Centre ice rink actually produces good, young hockey players.
And one reason that it does is that every Summer a former National Hockey League player runs an ecumenical stickhandling camp for Jews, Christians, Druse and Arab kids.
Former Washington Capitals forward Alan May has worked for this Canada-Israel Hockey School and is amazed at how well the varied players get along.
from Ken Warren of the Ottawa Citizen,
Don’t hold your breath waiting for Ottawa Senators defenceman Marc Methot to sign a long-term contract extension any time soon.
Negotiations between the Senators and Methot’s agent, Larry Kelly, are at a stalemate as the sides try to work out a deal to prevent the 6-3, 230-pound defenceman from becoming an unrestricted free agent following the 2014-15 season.
Methot, who will make $3.75 million next season in the final year of a four-year, $12 million contract, has been compared to Brooks Orpik of the Washington Capitals and Matt Carle of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Orpik signed a five-year, $27.5 million contract with Washington during the summer and Carle is heading into the second year of his six-year, $33 million deal with Tampa.
But that’s a big price tag for the Senators, whose 2013-14 payroll ranks 28th among 30 NHL teams. The Senators are also in the midst of talks to try to keep Bobby Ryan, Clarke MacArthur and Craig Anderson from becoming unrestricted free agents next summer.
from Patrick Williams at NHL.com,
Can the Jets avoid letdown games? -- Last season the Jets managed to defeat the Anaheim Ducks, Chicago Blackhawks and San Jose Sharks (twice) on the road. However, they managed to negate the effects of those big wins by losing several road games against non-playoff teams. In an 18-day span in December, the Jets lost road games against the Florida Panthers, Buffalo Sabres and Edmonton Oilers, all of whom missed the playoffs. The Jets must show a better ability to bear down and defeat teams below them in the NHL standings.
Can Ondrej Pavelec break his way out of the bottom echelon of NHL goaltenders? -- This one is simple. If Pavelec fails to establish himself in his sixth full NHL season, the Jets missing the playoffs this season might be the least of Cheveldayoff's headaches.
There is little evidence to suggest that anything other than a phenomenal performance from backup Michael Hutchinson would threaten Pavelec's starting job. Another sub-par season from Pavelec would only intensify the critics calling for the Jets to ship out their starting goaltender.
In this video, it is Tampa Bay Lightning head coach Jon Cooper and a friend.
To find out more about the challenge and donate, check out the ALS Association.
from Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star,
Here’s a look at the best and the worst of hockey’s off-season:
St. Louis Blues
The key here is that they added a potential No. 1 centre in Stastny, hurting a division rival — the Colorado Avalanche — in the process. In the tight Central Division, a move like that could make all the difference. Add KHL veteran Jori Lehtera to a deep mix that includes David Backes and Patrick Berglund, and the Blues are solid up front.
The feeling in St. Louis is the Blues got a real deal in getting Gunnarsson from the Leafs for Roman Polak, making the Blues already solid defence even better. The issue with St. Louis, though, is always goaltending.
A new GM, a new coach and a perennial post-season disappointment, this franchise could well be on its way to a train wreck of a season.
The new GM, Jim Rutherford, is widely perceived to have erred in firing coach Dan Bylsma, pursuing Willie Desjardins as replacement only to low-ball him, having to settle instead for Mike Johnson.
Also, Rutherford’s trade of sniper James Neal to Nashville didn’t go over well in the dressing room. The team lost Orpik and Niskanen to Washington and will have to rely on recent draft picks like Beau Bennett and Olli Maatta — drafted by the man Rutherford replaced — to fill in. Things could get awkward.
more in each category...
from Rick Westhead of TSN,
The National Hockey League has lost a court motion to dismiss a case filed by six fans who allege that the its restrictions on local TV broadcasts are anti-competitive.
The case is expected to proceed to trial early in 2015. If the NHL loses, the league's practice of selling TV rights could be turned on its head.
Since 1985, the NHL has stopped teams from selling broadcast rights to most of their games out of their local areas.
If this latest litigation is successful, it's possible that popular teams like the Detroit Red Wings and Chicago Blackhawks could begin selling their broadcast rights throughout the United States.
In a lawsuit filed in New York two years ago, a group of disgruntled fans claimed that the restrictions on broadcasting were inappropriately driving up the price of sports cable television packages. The NHL subsequently filed a motion to dismiss the case and a judge ruled this week against that motion. The ruling was unsealed on Friday.
Here is the original story on this topic Westhead did in March, 2012 when he was with the Toronto Star.
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.
Email Paul anytime at email@example.com