Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
Every 20 years or so—or in this case 19—Gary Roberts and Chris Chelios play against each other for the Stanley Cup.
It happens about as often as all-Canadian final, which it happened to be when Roberts and Chelios met for the Cup in 1989.
For Chelios, this really is nothing new. He has rings older than Evgeni Malkin and trips to the final with Montreal and Chicago in ‘89 and 1992, and of course, a Cup ring from the Red Wings six years ago.
But for Roberts, this wait has almost been forever. From the time he won his first and only professional championship, so much has happened.
Leyland’s boss, Tigers owner Mike Ilitch, also owns the Red Wings. They’re in the finals for the first time since 2002. Leyland has frequently expressed his gratitude and appreciation for Ilitch and the way he allowed the Tigers to make the moves they felt they needed.
On the other hand, Leyland is a Pittsburgh resident who attended some Penguins games over the offseason with former Tigers first baseman Sean Casey, who is a Penguins season ticket holder. They’re in the finals for the first time since 1992.
It’s an exciting matchup for fans around the league, but not the best matchup for Leyland. So when a reporter asked him about it, Leyland tried to be diplomatic.
“That’s obviously a no-win situation for me,” Leyland said. “I have no comment. May the best team win.”
from the Columbus Dispatch,
Dispatch hockey reporters Aaron Portzline and Tom Reed discuss the key issues heading into the best-of-seven series:
Question: Is this the Stanley Cup Finals matchup that could spring the NHL back into mainstream sports fans’ consciousness?
Portzline: If it doesn’t, the NHL might forever be a fringe sport. A great sport but a fringe sport. This is a dream matchup because both clubs have dynamic players that can get fans out of their chairs. Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg—these are four of the top six or seven players in the league. Even halfhearted hockey fans might tune in to watch these clubs go back and forth.
“At the end of the day, what really defines you?” he said. “Is it how much money you make? How many Cups you’ve won? No, what matters is your community. There are people out there without parents. People who can’t afford to go to a hockey game. People who can’t afford cable to even watch a hockey game.
“I wasn’t always fortunate when I was a kid. But, with the image we have as hockey players, it’s amazing the impact we can have. How fortunate am I to play in the NHL? What percentage of people get to do that? I just want to show that I appreciate it. That stuff is important, more important than hockey.”
more on Laraque at the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette…
From Brian Biggane at the Palm Beach Post,
There could be a good reason the Panthers have been so patient in selecting a new head coach: One of their leading candidates is still working.
Pittsburgh Penguins assistant coach Andre Savard, who has been an NHL head coach and general manager and is a close friend of Panthers GM Jacques Martin, has emerged as a top candidate for the Florida vacancy, according to several league sources.
Savard was also rumored earlier this month in a report from Bruce Garrioch (previously cited here on KK). Other names in the mix include former Panthers coach Doug MacLean, current NYR assistant Perry Pearn, Pat Quinn, Pat Burns, Joel Quenneville and AHL Rochester coach Randy Cunneyworth.
from Pierre LeBrun at Sportsnet,
The Wings’ top four on defence—Lidstrom, Rafalski, Brad Stuart and Niklas Kronwall—is of a quality that the Penguins have not faced this year.
For the first time in these playoffs, the Penguins won’t have home-ice advantage. They’re a perfect 8-0 at Mellon Arena.
Sid and the boys will make this a tougher final than many will predict, but in the end, experience and home ice are the difference for me.
Wings in a very difficult seven. And let’s enjoy every minute of it.
Pittsburgh Penguins GM Ray Shero participated in a NHL teleconference today. Below is the transcript from the Q&A.
Q. Being swept up in the middle of this playoff run, have you had a chance to step back and appreciate what your team has done, the rebuilding process that has gone on in the last couple of years?
RAY SHERO: I think so. In between every round, there’s a different challenge, the first one being Ottawa, which was, honestly, a little nerve-racking. They were a team that beat us last year quite handily in five games. Trying to see how the team would react. Getting the early goal from Gary Roberts in Game 1, that was great.
But it’s been a great experience for our club here. Every round we’ve gone on, I think we’ve got more confidence. Hopefully we’re going to be ready for Saturday night.
Ryan Malone participated in an NHL tele-conference today…
Q. Could you sit back and look at the big picture, where this franchise and team was about 15 months ago when it looked like the team might possibly move, the arena deal was difficult to negotiate. Nervous time for everyone in Pittsburgh. 15 months later you’re in the Stanley Cup final, sold out every game, a new rink on the way. Has that been kind of a fun but nervous ride?
RYAN MALONE: A little bit. I think especially being from Pittsburgh, even being with the team early on, when you heard all the rumors about we might be moving, I think deep down inside with the fan support we had at the time, it was great, so it would have been tough to leave such a good hockey town with the support we were receiving at the time.
I think deep down inside we knew we weren’t really going anywhere. For some reason, people were dragging their feet, finally got the rink deal done. It would have been crazy to think at the end of this year we would be going somewhere else.
Definitely great to see. I think you really have to thank the fans for the way they supported us. Had big rallies during that time to make sure we knew they were supporting us. It was great.
from Spector at Fox Sports,
They’re now facing a healthy, fast and deep Penguins team that plays a very aggressive offensive style that won’t be as easily contained, which should prove the biggest test of the playoffs for the Red Wings defense.
It’ll also prove a major challenge for Chris Osgood, who’s played well but hasn’t been nearly as busy as Pittsburgh netminder Marc-Andre Fleury, who leads all playoff goalies in wins (12) and shutouts (3), and sports a slightly better save percentage (.934) than Osgood (.931).
Osgood will certainly face more shots and offensive pressure in this series than he did in the previous three, while Fleury is used to facing more shots and could adjust more quickly to the Red Wings offensive attack. It’ll be interesting to see how well Osgood fares under the heavier workload.
read on for his Stanley Cup winner…
The 2008 Stanley Cup Final marks the first playoff series between the Red Wings and Penguins in the 41st season that both clubs have been members of the NHL. It is the first postseason meeting of pro franchises from Detroit and Pittsburgh since the 1909 World Series, when the Pittsburgh Pirates topped the Detroit Tigers four games to three in a celebrated competition between Hall of Fame shortstop Honus Wagner for the Pirates and outfielder Ty Cobb for the Tigers.
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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