Kukla's Korner Hockey
LOS ANGELES – Former Los Angeles Kings captain/defenseman and current club executive Rob Blake will have his No. 4 jersey retired by the Kings as part of a special pregame ceremony at STAPLES Center on Saturday, January 17, prior to the Kings-Ducks game, the club announced today.
Blake – who is also being inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in November – will become the sixth Kings player to be so honored by the organization, joining Luc Robitaille (#20 / 2007), Wayne Gretzky (#99 / 2002), Dave Taylor (#18 / 1995), Marcel Dionne (#16 / 1990) and Rogie Vachon (#30 / 1985).
from Dan Rosen of NHL.com,
"When you look at how young we are with some of our talent, it will be how they manage those expectations that are going to be placed upon them," Ruff said. "There's going to be no free nights."
The good news is Dallas fared well against the Avalanche, Blues, Blackhawks and Wild in the second half last season, going 5-2-1. Overall, Dallas was 12-10-6 against the other playoff teams in the West, including 5-2-2 against the three Pacific Division qualifiers.
"Our guys know they can compete against those teams," Nill said. "That's what excites me about our group. Our dressing room is unbelievable. They play for each other and they play the right way."
Nill has given the Stars the tools by making several shrewd personnel decisions since he was hired 15-plus months ago. His focus has been on building through the middle.
Speaking of the Penguins, here's a question worth mulling by Jim Rutherford-Mike Johnston: Malkin-plus-Crosby -- Can It Continue To Last: Or Is It Time To Deal The Russian?
Answer To Above: Take your best offer, Jim, and complete the change-over while keeping Captain Sid. The Gold Dust Twins are rusting.
-Stan Fischler of The Fishcler Report.
from John Manasso at NHL.com,
For the first time in the Predators' 16-year history, they have a new coach, and to an extent a new philosophy. It's not as simple as plugging in what could be six new forwards and then going about predicting how the Predators will perform.
Out as coach is Barry Trotz and in is Peter Laviolette. The only holdover on the coaching staff is assistant coach Phil Housley. The goaltending and defense, with the exception of the addition of Anton Volchenkov and subtraction of Michael Del Zotto, remain the same.
The major difference, along with the new faces up front, will be the philosophy, which will focus on generating more offense. Last season the Predators had four 20-goal scorers for only the second time since 2007-08 but finished tied for 18th in the NHL in goals per game (2.61). Nashville has had four players reach the 30-goal mark in its history and the franchise's single-season record for goals is Jason Arnott's 33 in 2008-09.
"I think it's going to be exciting, it's going to be interesting," general manager David Poile said. "What we know for sure it's not going to be the same and that's because of the number of changes, especially at forward; the coaching staff with a little bit different philosophy in how we're going to play. Pekka coming back is another situation that should be positive. I'm excited about the possibilities."
from Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star,
The first thing Jim Corsi wants the world to know? He didn’t invent the Corsi stat.
If that is a mystery to you, maybe you don’t know who Corsi is or what the stat named after him represents. If so, you haven’t been paying attention to the statistics revolution in the NHL that has made the last two months hockey’s summer of analytics.
Throughout the NHL, teams like the Maple Leafs, Devils, Penguins and Oilers have been gobbling up executives and statisticians who can walk them through what the blogosphere has been promoting for years — what some call analytics, or advanced statistics.
It’s growing social-media-powered movement with a fanatical following that believes there are means to measure a hockey player’s contribution to a team beyond the obvious stats of goals, assists and ice time.
And it all started with Corsi, hired this summer as goalie coach of the St. Louis Blues; he was previously with the Buffalo Sabres. He might otherwise be known as the WHA goalie who got a cup of coffee in the NHL with the Edmonton Oilers and, though born in Montreal, played on Italy’s national team.
from Adam Proteau of The Hockey News,
The NHL has always been a pressure-packed league, but from year-to-year, some teams face more pressure than others. Which franchises are going to be dealing with an especially hot seat once the 2014-15 season begins? These five:
5. Washington Capitals. When the Caps missed the playoffs last year and owner Ted Leonsis cleaned house on the management side, some observers expected them to go the same route with their underachieving roster. They did no such thing, and instead doubled down with two high-priced free agent acquisitions (defensemen Brooks Orpik and Matt Niskanen). Unfortunately, there’s no guarantee they’ll even make the playoffs in the mediocre Metropolitan division. And if they fall on their faces again and miss the post-season for the second straight year – the first time that will have happened since 2005-07 – what will ownership’s response be then?
4. San Jose Sharks. Sports has a long tradition of identifying underdogs – i.e., teams not expected to do well because they’re lacking in depth or talent – but the Sharks are now officially overdogs: a team not expected to do well despite having all kinds of depth and talent. San Jose GM Doug Wilson’s criticism of his group of players after last spring’s playoff collapse against the Kings should have everyone walking on eggshells as soon as training camp begins, but any kind of serious stumble during the season could lead to major changes.
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?
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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