Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
They came into the league out of the ashes of a soul-sucking lockout that scuttled an entire season and got the kind of fanfare that precedes players maybe once in a generation.
They were asked to do nothing less than restore hope and guide the NHL into a new future, a new golden age of hockey.
So on many levels, it's hard to argue that Sidney Crosby and Alex Ovechkin haven't delivered on those demands in spades, time and time again.
"They're still the face of the league. For sure they are," said one longtime NHL player who has worked at a number of positions with a number of teams around the league.
Between them, Crosby and Ovechkin have collected five Hart Trophies and six Ted Lindsay Awards as the players' MVP in the past eight seasons. And then there's Crosby's Stanley Cup ring and two Olympic gold medals.
"That's not going away," the source said of the two players' accomplishments, regardless of whatever issues assail their respective franchises.
from Sean McIndoe of Grantland,
Best case: A team that had started to tune out Bylsma is revived by the roster shakeup and Johnston’s new voice, steamrolls through the Metro, then rides Crosby’s dominance to a Cup win. We all claim we saw it coming all along.
Worst case: Nothing quite clicks, Malkin or Crosby (or both) get hurt again, they struggle to secure a decent playoff seed, and then Fleury melts down again in the playoffs. We all claim we saw it coming all along.
Bold prediction: A slow start leads to an avalanche of mid-November “time to blow up the Penguins” hot takes. Then they win the division by 10 points.
more on the Penguins plus a look at the other six contending teams...
from Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
The injury keeping Evgeni Malkin out this preseason is one the franchise center suffered in the United States — not Russia — according to Penguins coach Mike Johnston.
And with four scheduled practices left before the Penguins' first regular-season game Oct. 9, Malkin doesn't have a lot of time left to prepare....
On Thursday, Sept. 18, the day before the first camp practice, Johnston said he expected Malkin's absence from an undisclosed injury to be “fairly short.”
Johnston said a week later that no additional tests or evaluation had been required; they're simply “waiting it out.”
On Friday, Johnston amended the original timetable, setting it another four to five days.
It has now been five days since that point, and Malkin is showing no signs of a return.
read on plus more on the Penguins...
from Sean Gentille of The Sporting News,
Hockey will be back in a few weeks, and that's pretty rad. Right now, we get "hockey."
Preseason games mean something to the guys who are playing in them, and the people who work at the arena, and the media that covers day-to-day events of the teams that are involved, and some of the people in the stands. For me — whose job consists in no small part of stuff like this — they mean nothing. I must create my own meaning. Life is what you make of it!
5:55 — On my way to Consol Energy Center for Penguins-Red Wings. However I felt on the ice at Staples Center in June, this is the opposite. I love hockey and I love my job. Just not in late September.
6:15 — Some scalpers a block down Fifth Avenue are yapping because they can't get $30 for their tickets. People will totally pay $20, though. Totally.
via the Pittsburgh Penguins,
Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin will be held out of the start of training camp, it was announced today by Pittsburgh Penguins Executive Vice President and General Manager Jim Rutherford.
Rutherford said the decision was made as a precaution after both players suffered injuries while preparing for camp.
from Rob Rossi of he Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
No team in this city is better at controlling its message than the Penguins, so I have to believe the messages management has been sending behind the scenes are the ones they want out there.
Crosby's been crushed by the burden of being Sidney Crosby.
Malkin needs to become a better leader.
Ray Shero was too close to his players.
Dan Bylsma ran a country club.
It's time to change the culture.
Now, that might be a fair point, but accountability is a tough sell from a franchise with owners who only take questions when they're trying to sound like they've been paying close attention....
I'm also pretty skeptical of the overly layered management structure working out the way the Penguins think it could.
from Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
While Crosby didn’t necessarily anticipate an offseason quite as chaotic as the one the Penguins experienced this summer — when general manager Ray Shero, coach Dan Bylsma and assistant coaches Tony Granato and Todd Reirden were fired and a number of established players left the organization — he figured a fifth consecutive playoff loss to a lower-seeded opponent might have major repercussions.
“I knew, obviously, everyone wasn’t pleased with the way things happened,” Crosby said after an informal workout Wednesday at Consol Energy Center. “At that point, you don’t know what’s going to happen and you know there are going to be changes, but to what extent, I didn’t really even think about it.
“I knew everyone was going to have to answer for it, so to speak. It’s just something you have to deal with when you don’t win, and the expectation is [high]. It’s never a fun time.”
Bylsma has been replaced by Mike Johnston, who will be Crosby’s fourth coach in the NHL. He broke in under Eddie Olczyk before playing for Michel Therrien and Bylsma.
His relationship with Johnston is in its embryonic stages, but Crosby seems impressed by the way Johnston has approached his first few months on the job, citing the new coach’s “calm demeanor” and the way he has tried to connect with his new players in the offseason....
“Hockey is all the same language once you get on the ice, but I think he wants to get to know guys personally. It was great by him to do that.”
from Micholas J. Cotsonika of Yahoo,
He coached in world juniors, world championships and an Olympics. He became associate coach for two NHL teams, the Vancouver Canucks and Los Angeles Kings, and head coach and general manager of a major junior team, the WHL’s Portland Winterhawks.
Now, after 35 years of work, at 57 years of age, he has his first NHL head coaching job. He is coaching Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin.
“People say, ‘Well, you finally got to where you wanted to go,’ ” said Johnston this week in his office at Consol Energy Center. “I never, ever really viewed it that way.”
Johnston did have NHL ambitions, of course. Early in his career, he wrote letters to NHL teams. He received one response, from Canucks GM Pat Quinn, who didn’t offer anything but encouragement. Quinn said he would keep his name in mind.
But Johnston said realistically his ambitions were always smaller – to succeed where he was and climb the next rung on the ladder. It wasn’t until he joined the Canadian national team that he really thought about coaching in the NHL.
Not to tie together the narrative too neatly, but Johnston will take the same approach with the Penguins when training camp opens Sept. 19. Enjoy the journey. Focus on the process. Prepare, so when the big time comes, you’re ready.
via the Pittsburgh Penguins,
The Pittsburgh Penguins have signed forward Daniel Carcillo to a professional tryout contract, it was announced today by executive vice president and general manager Jim Rutherford.
Carcillo, 29, originally broke into the professional ranks with the Penguins organization after being drafted by Pittsburgh in the third round (73rd overall) of the 2003 NHL Draft. He played two seasons with the Penguins’ American Hockey League affiliate, Wilkes-Barre/Scranton, from 2005-07, tallying 54 points (32G-22A) and 494 penalty minutes in 103 regular-season games.
The 6-foot, 200-pound Carcillo has played nine NHL seasons, beginning with the Arizona Coyotes in in 2006-07. Since then, he has gone on to suit up for the Philadelphia Flyers, Chicago Blackhawks, Los Angeles Kings and New York Rangers.
from Katie Strang of ESPN,
Recently, Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Jim Rutherford indicated that the club’s starting goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury would enter the 2014-15 season without a contract extension.
Rutherford said it was not an immediate priority to re-sign the 29-year-old netminder, who is heading into the last year of a seven-year, $35 million deal. His agent, Allan Walsh, told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review that he had no problem with that, saying the decision was “of no consequence at all.”
But that doesn’t mean that the lack of a new deal won’t be in the back of Fleury’s mind when he enters training camp next month. His friend and former Penguins teammate Brent Johnson can only imagine the impact that situation might have if he were in Fleury’s skates.
“I believe, if that were me, I’d probably take it worse than Marc [has],” Johnson told ESPN.com in a recent telephone conversation. “It could weigh on your mind. I’m not saying it will, but it could.”
The 37-year-old Johnson, who backed up Fleury for three years and knows him about as well as anyone, thinks Fleury will handle it like a true professional. A player that Johnson describes as “outgoing” and “affable,” Fleury will likely keep any anxiety or unease he may have about the situation private, Johnson said. You won’t see him spouting off to the media or griping behind closed doors, he said. Fleury will want to make his statement in the crease, instead.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org