Kukla's Korner Hockey
SPRINGFIELD, Mass. … American Hockey League President and CEO David Andrews announced today that the league’s Board of Governors has unanimously approved the following:
• The transfer of ownership of the Hamilton Bulldogs franchise to Club de Hockey Canadien Inc., owners of the National Hockey League’s Montreal Canadiens.
• The relocation of that franchise from Hamilton, Ont., to St. John’s, N.L., beginning with the 2015-16 season.
• The relocation of the AHL franchise owned by True North Sports & Entertainment Ltd., owners of the National Hockey League’s Winnipeg Jets, from St. John’s, N.L., to Winnipeg, Man., beginning with the 2015-16 season.
Division alignments and schedule formats for the 2015-16 season will be determined by the Board of Governors at a later date.
from Dave Feschuk of the Toronto Star,
Ray Ferraro, the TSN hockey analyst, was prepping for a broadcast recently when the starkness of the change struck him.
“I’m looking at the game notes, copying down the number of power play goals teams have. And I’m like, ‘There aren’t many power play goals anymore,’ ” Ferraro said. “I’m thinking, ‘Didn’t teams used to have, like, a power play goal a game?’ ”
They did, indeed. As recently as 2005-06, the average NHL contest saw clubs combine for about two power play goals. But 10 seasons on from the post-lockout crackdown on obstruction, teams are combining for about half as many — 1.1 a game. The downturn in man-advantage offence can be attributed to a few things, the improvement of the league-average save percentage from .901 to .914 among them. But it’s largely the product of a gradual decline in the number of power-play opportunities being handed out by referees. This year, the teams are averaging just 3.1 power-play chances a game, the lowest number in at least 50 years according to hockey-reference.com.
Some see it as a sweet spot. In the bulk of a decade since the “new” NHL produced a freer-flowing version of the game — and with it an historic high of nearly 12 power-play opportunities per game in 2005-06 — the referees have used their whistles more sparingly. Some are happily applauding.
“I think every coach in this league appreciates how the games are being called right now,” Ken Hitchcock, head coach of the St. Louis Blues, was saying recently. “The referees are allowing us to play.”
from Frank Seravalli of the Philadelphia Daily News,
Other than the coaching position, the captain usually follows as the next logical scapegoat on a hockey team that fails to meet expectations.
Few take into account that the more likely reason for missing the Stanley Cup playoffs is roster construction and the fact that certain players failed to meet standards set in previous seasons. The Flyers have quite a few of those passengers this season.
It didn’t help, either, that the Flyers traded away both of their alternate captains from last season - Scott Hartnell and Kimmo Timonen. Berube admitted the Flyers missed Timonen’s “calming influence” in the locker room.
Even so, Giroux said he would not change anything the way this season has been handled from a captain’s perspective.
“We’re obviously not in the situation that we want to be in right now,” Giroux said. “We made a lot of mistakes that cost us that. It’s not one, two or three players - it’s everybody that comes together.
“I think we had times during the year that we played very good hockey, we played as a team, and our chemistry was really good. I don’t know how to explain (our troubles). When we have big games, we find a way to play at our best. I don’t know if we’re not ready or our motivation isn’t as good when we play against teams that are not as good. It’s obviously something we’ve got to look at.”
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
I asked interim head coach Peter Horachek after Thursday's practice how he would have reacted had I told him in training camp that everything listed above was going to happen.
"Take a hike," Horachek said would have been his answer, and while he was chuckling, it's probably true.
I posed the same question to goalie James Reimer, to put himself back at camp and imagine for a moment that the season would have rolled out like this nightmare.
"No, going back to camp, I thought we had put a pretty good group here," Reimer said Thursday. "Obviously you're never going to have the perfect team, but we definitely had potential to do some stuff. If a team comes together, that's a real possibility. A lot of bad habits crept into our game. We just weren't able to correct them and things just kind of fell apart."
The Maple Leafs' headline-a-minute season has been the talk of the NHL. One cannot get off the phone with a coach or scout or team executive without the Leafs coming up unprompted in the conversation.
We asked one rival team executive Thursday how he would put the Leafs' season into words.
"Before the season began, they undercut a very good GM by firing his support staff," said the executive, referring to Dave Nonis and his assistants, Claude Loiselle and Dave Poulin, who were let go last summer. "They fired a good -- albeit tough -- coach in Randy Carlyle before the midway point in the season and declared that his replacement was only a temp.
from the New York Islanders,
The New York Islanders announced today that defenseman Johnny Boychuk has agreed to terms on a seven-year deal, signing through the 2021-22 season.
Boychuk, 31, leads all Islanders defensemen in points (32), assists (25) and plus-minus rating (+17) through 59 games this season. The Edmonton, Alberta native has already established career highs in goals (seven), assists and points in his first season with the Islanders and ninth professional season.
“Johnny’s influence in our dressing room, both on and off the ice, has been immeasurable,” Islanders General Manager Garth Snow said. “His veteran presence is an asset that we are thrilled to help lead our club.”
from Mike Johnston of Sportsnet,
The Toronto Maple Leafs caused a bit of a ruckus Wednesday when president Brendan Shanahan announced the team was extending Nazem Kadri’s punishment by at least two more games.
Some praised the decision to make an example of players that don’t abide by the rules, but others questioned the manner in which the team went about it.
Sportsnet’s Doug MacLean believes the Maple Leafs mishandled the situation. He also said off-ice incidents with players happen all the time, only most teams keep the discipline private.
“I had a situation with [Nikolai] Zherdev [in Columbus] where I had to hire a private investigator to follow him for a week and come back to me with a written report as to what was really going on with this guy,” the former Blue Jackets general manager told Dean Blundell & Co. Thursday on Sportsnet 590 The Fan. “Then I got [the report] and I dealt with Zherdev and, yeah, he sat out some games, but nobody had a clue that it was going on. Nobody.”
I've been saying in this space for 14 years: If you want more goals, you have to make the net bigger or get goalies in space-age/ultra-safe padding that is smaller, especially the jersey. Jack Black should get the scientists working not only on the Tube Technology, but also this tender technology.
I've been skeptical that the NHL can go backward in terms of equipment type and size because of possible lawsuits/unsafe-work claims. That's why I've advocated a slightly bigger net (an inch or so) to offset human size (we are getting bigger and likely will continue to get bigger) and improved skill and performance at the position.
Baseball lowered the mound, basketball took out hand checking, added a 3-point line (that's more for comebacks, leveling the playing field and exciting game-ending shots than pure production) and the NFL made it more difficult to defend. Is it a coincidence that the popularity of college and NFL football has exploded as offense and the passing game exploded, making stars out of quarterbacks? Even golf has gotten smart and added the drivable par-4 at most tournaments.
Imagine if the NHL did that with its most talented and marketable. When a goalie -- a player who stands on one tiny slither of the playing surface -- is being pushed as MVP of a league, I believe something is wrong.
-John Buccigross of ESPN where you can read more as he answered some questions via Twitter.
RANGERS CONTINUE SURGE, CLIMB INTO TOP SPOT IN NHL STANDINGS
Cam Talbot denied 28 shots, including a dazzling glove save on Nicklas Backstrom, to lead the Rangers to their third consecutive victory and points for the 15th time in their past 16 contests (12-1-3).
* At 42-17-7 (91 points), the Rangers leapfrogged the idle Islanders (43-22-4, 90 points) for first place in the Metropolitan Division. They also moved past several clubs to take over the top spot in the NHL standings, where seven teams remain separated by two points:
* The Rangers earned their third consecutive victory over the Capitals dating to Jan. 19, 2014, including a 2-0-0 mark this season. They also improved to 11-4-1 in their last 16 regular-season meetings dating to Dec. 12, 2010. The clubs face off two more times this season, on March 29 at NYR and April 11 at WSH (the final day of the regular season).
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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