Kukla's Korner

Kukla's Korner Hockey

Talking Bolts, Ducks, Yotes And More

Craig Custance of ESPN just held an online chat...

Realistic expectations for the Lightning this year? Especially in regards to Bishop, Drouin, Stamkos, and the revamped blue line. Thanks.

Craig Custance  I like Tampa. They've been patient with their young players and the payoff is coming now. There will be competition for spots among some really, good talented players. Drouin is a guy I expect to challenge for the Calder. I think it's asking a lot for Bishop to repeat last year's success, so I'd expect a little downgrade there. But there's so much good young talent there in Tampa that they can make up for it. They're definitely headed in the right direction.

What's your outlook on the ducks this season? How does their goaltending situation shake out? Do they have enough to take home the cup? Thanks!

Craig Custance  Bob Murray is taking a pretty calculated risk in going young with his goalies but it allowed him to bolster his team elsewhere. Plus, if it goes sideways, he's left himself enough flexibility to add a goalie later if need be. But Gibson is a stud, I would have made the same decision. If Kesler is healthy come playoff time, I like the Ducks a lot. The West is ridiculous so it will come down to matchups but they're in that group of teams capable of winning it all.

Mike Smith has had one really good year in an 8-year career. Seems to me the seven years of mediocrity are more indicative of how good he is than the one outlier year. So why do analysts assume he can return to 2011-12 form? Arizona is going to regret that contract, if they don't already.

Criag Custance  I think it's asking a lot of Mike Smith to be a .930 goalie and I agree, that year definitely jumps out at you. But his style of play, the way he plays the puck so well, fits what Phoenix does. It's such a weapon to have when your goalie can be such a part of the puck retrieval process. That, to me, is what makes Mike Smith special. Signing any goalie to term is risky, especially one who doesn't have a long track record.

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Video- NHL 15 Gets Real

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Fredrik Modin On The Columbus Blue Jackets

from Katie Strang of ESPN,

Modin, who won a Cup with the Tampa Bay Lightning in 2004, said he thinks that experience will be invaluable for the team moving forward, especially for the young players who got a taste of what playoff action is truly like.

[[I was] impressed with how the team came together and seemed to find their identity during the run last year,Modin told ESPN.com when reached via email from Sweden. think the coaches and the players were looking to play that type of game all season but didn't really get the consistency early on. The team has lots of young talented players with limited experience that played big roles during the Pittsburgh series. Going through that will make them stronger both as individuals and as a team.

Speaking of young players who will be influential in the team’s future, Modin thinks getting dynamic, young center Ryan Johansen is a top priority for the club. Johansen, a 22-year-old restricted free agent, remains at a contract stalemate with Columbus as negotiations have grown contentious at times this summer.

“I hope they can agree on a contract before camp,” Modin told ESPN.com. “I think Ryan is and will be a big part of this team’s success. [He’s] a very talented player that can develop into something special.” 

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  Tags: fredrik+modin

Who Should Be The First Three Players The Toronto Maple Leafs Plan To Honor With Statues?

from Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun,

No matter the state of the hockey team in the Air Canada Centre, from now on there’ll be solid bench strength just outside.

Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment has begun construction on its long-discussed touchstone team monument. As revealed in the Toronto Sun in January, the concept will be an evolving art piece of famous players from nearly 100 years of franchise history, in various poses on a team bench in Maple Leaf Square.

A source familiar with the project says the first three players have been chosen, with details to be released Thursday morning at the chosen site, near the ACC’s West entrance. The first phase will place three life-sized statues along the bench, adding at least three more per year to a maximum of 10 or 11, leading to the club’s 100th anniversary in 2017-18.

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Morning Line

“We’re still looked upon to finally getting over that hump and I feel the we can do it. We’re going to pick up where we left off. At the start of the year, we struggled and that’s going to be a big thing for us. We have to start the season well, because I think last year we really dug ourselves in a hole early on and that killed us going into the rest of the season. It gives you confidence if you can start off winning and you realize you have a good team.”

-Jordan Eberle of the Edmonton Oilers.  More on Eberle from Derek Van Diest of the Edmonton Sun.

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  Tags: jordan+eberle

It Just Wasn’t Boston’s Year

from Steve Conroy of the Boston Herald,

Long summers are not what a hockey player wants. It means that he fell far short of every player’s goal of winning the Stanley Cup.

But goalie Tuukka Rask, speaking at Shawn Thornton’s charity golf tournament on Monday, is taking the long sabbatical for what it’s worth.

“It’s been a little different,” Rask said of the extended vacation, “but every once in a while I guess it’s good to refocus and reload the batteries. We’re still over a month away (training camp starts Sept. 18) and it feels like we’re ready to go already.”...

But if Rask is stewing over the loss to Montreal, he hides it well.

“You can’t just sit around and think about the past,” Rask said. “You have to focus on what’s ahead of you. But things happen quick and it’s just hockey. I don’t like to think about it too much. You’ve seen so many times that everything just needs to click in order to reach that ultimate goal and last year, it just wasn’t our year. You look at the Kings, who won it, and I think every series went seven games (three out of four series, actually). And you need some luck, too. So many things need to happen right and last year wasn’t our year.”

read on

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It’s Time For Charles Wang To Sell The New York Islanders

from Richard Sandomir of the New York Times,

Wang knew little about hockey and made some bizarre decisions, including elevating Garth Snow, a backup goaltender, to general manager, according to Mike Milbury, a former general manager, and wanting to get rid of the team’s scouts. Milbury recalled two years ago that Wang had wanted to try out sumo wrestlers in the crease.

Wang inherited a losing team, and experienced some improvement, but he still has a losing team.

That Wang still owns the team is surprising. He banked on the Islanders’ being in a new or refurbished arena long ago, but no matter what the plan, it never worked out.

He did not move the team to possible getaway cities like Kansas City, Mo.; Quebec City; Hamilton, Ontario; or Seattle. Maybe he should have picked one and made some of his money back.

In 2003, he let me read documents that pegged the team’s losses in his first three years of ownership at $52.2 million. “It’s uncomfortable to lose money having worked so hard to make it,” Wang said at the time. “I’m investing, in one sense. The team has to be self-sustaining. This is not a church that will stay open forever.”

But it has. By 2009, Wang told Newsday that his losses had climbed to $209 million. The total is probably close to $300 million by now.

Patience has only brought Wang fiscal grief. It’s time for a new owner to try to lose less money.

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  Tags: charles+wang

All Ron Hextall

from Randy Miller of NJ.com,

NJ.com: What are you expectations for next season? A lot of people see the 2014-15 Flyers having to fight for one of the final Eastern Conference playoff spots, then potentially being dangerous in the playoffs if your goalie gets hot. Your team doesn't appear to be the full puzzle yet, but seem to have the makings of a pretty good team. Agree?

Hextall: “We've got a good team. We expect our players every night to go out and be the best they can be and collectively be a cohesive unit. When you have that type of cohesion and players playing hard and playing for the cause every night, you can accomplish good things. Look at the Rangers last year. Who'd have thought they'd be a Stanley Cup Final team? And they beat us by one goal in Game 7 (in the first round)? So we’ve got a good team and our expectations are high. I don't know if the belief from people is we don't have high expectations. That couldn't be further from the truth. All I’ve said all along is we’re going to continue to get better every year.”

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  Tags: ron+hextall

Questions Facing The Chicago Blackhawks

from Brian Hedger at NHL.com,

"Whenever you see someone [else] lift the Stanley Cup, once you've done it once yourself, it kind of fuels the fire a little bit," left wing Patrick Sharp said. "It's definitely difficult to win it back-to-back, I think that's been proven over the years. Not only myself but the group of players we have, we're all excited to get back to training camp and go get that thing again."

Here are five questions they'll need to answer in order to do it:

1. Who won't be part of the equation once the offseason dust settles? -- Richards' contract is salary-cap friendly with a charge of $2 million for one season, but it puts the Blackhawks in a cap conundrum. According to CapGeek.com, they're about $2.2 million over the $69 million hard cap with a full roster under contract.

That means somebody's probably going to be traded before the Oct. 9 season opener at the Dallas Stars, barring an injury that would allow general manager Stan Bowman cap relief via injured reserve.

The most discussed names as potential trade candidates have been Sharp and defenseman Johnny Oduya. Sharp, whose agent says Bowman told him he won't be traded, has an annual cap charge of $5.9 million for the next three seasons. Oduya, who will be an unrestricted free agent July 1, 2015, has a cap charge of $3.3 million.

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Shnarped With A Major Announcement

Many of you know KK and Shnarped are partners and today they made a major announcement.

I encourage you to try out the app and right now is a great time to contact many of the hockey players in different leagues.  The guys at Shnarped do things the right way.

Kyle, Kamil, and myself (Dustin) would like to thank you for your continued support of Shnarped and update you on some exciting changes we released today. We are missing hockey this summer, but have been very busy improving our product and growing our community of players, fans, and teams! 

At Shnarped we strive to build a positive, youth-friendly social platform that brings together everyone in the hockey community.  Guided by your feedback, today we released a new iOS version, a new interactive web platform and blog, and added new privacy options.  Below we’ll elaborate on these changes and what’s coming next.  If you have ideas for what else should come next, please let us know here!

Continue Reading »

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  Tags: shnarped

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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.

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 pk@kuklaskorner.com

 

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