Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
We’ll take a look at different storylines over the next couple of weeks as camps near, but here are two of the teams that grab my attention right away: the St. Louis Blues and Anaheim Ducks.
ST. LOUIS BLUES
This is an important season for this franchise. They’ve been knocking at the door for three years and have one playoff series win to show for it.
Of course, losing to powerhouse Chicago in the opening round last spring is hardly anything to be embarrassed about. And they lost to Los Angeles the other two postseasons. Talk about playoff royalty. It just underlines yet again the imbalance that exists in the NHL right now in terms of the predominance of the Western Conference.
It’s difficult, yes, but the Blues have to figure out how to join the Kings and Blackhawks at that level.
from Paul Lukas of ESPN,
The classics are classic for a reason.
The uni-verse has taught us that lesson countless times, and it did so again this week when the St. Louis Blues finally dispensed of all the nonsense and got back to basics with their new uniform design.
How superior is this new design to the one it's replacing? Let us count the ways:
1. No more apron strings.
Those annoying gold stripes that ran down the torso and continued onto the pants, which were added to the Blues' uniform in 2007, were a disaster from the get-go. They made the chest logo feel too boxed in and confined, they looked like dangling apron strings, and they almost never lined up from jersey to pant leg. They reeked of gimmickry and templating -- two surefire ways to ruin a uniform -- and getting rid of them is a textbook case of addition by subtraction.
from Louie Korac at NHL.com,
"You don't see him really doing the flashy things or anything like that, but playing with him at the [Winter] Olympics, he makes every part of the game so much easier on his linemates," forward T.J. Oshie said of Stastny. "... He makes the game easier, he makes it more simple and everything's more clear on the ice."
General manager Doug Armstrong got the blessing from team leaders, including captain David Backes and alternate Alexander Steen, to go out and acquire a top-notch player regardless of the cost. If Stastny, who is the highest-paid player on the team, can push the Blues over the edge, then the investment will be more than worth it.
"I think it's a respect for an older, veteran player in 'Steener' and myself knowing that the free-agent market was one where you were going to have to pay a premium for a great player," said Backes, who played with Stastny on the United States team at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. "There was no hesitation on both parts to say, 'Absolutely, bring a guy like that in.' We're only going to be better for it. Ultimately, we're here to win. We're here to win games. We want to win a championship, and he's going to help us do that.
from Katie Strang of ESPN,
“I think everyone in the organization was disappointed, fans clearly were, when we were up two games to none [and lost],” Tkachuk told ESPN.com in a recent phone interview. "The young guys, I think it will be beneficial to them to be a little aggravated, to see them knocked off by Chicago, which is a good rivalry here in town.
“I think you’ll see a lot of angry guys, pissed-off guys [in camp].”
Those young guys are the key to the Blues’ future and remain a bright spot for a team that has gone into recent postseasons as one of the elite squads out West and then run into some of the most fearsome opponents.
more from Tkachuk on the Blues...
from Louie Korac at NHL.com,
Can the Blues compete for the Cup with their revamped goaltending? -- The Blues allowed Ryan Miller to leave via free agency and will confidently turn to veteran Brian Elliott and rookie Jake Allen, who has 15 games of NHL experience under his belt.
The Blues feel like Elliott, who signed a three-year, $7.5 million contract, earned the right to go into the season as the No. 1.
"[Ellliott's] watched two other guys [Miller and Jaroslav Halak] get the ball," coach Ken Hitchcock said. "Now he feels like it's his turn. There's still going to be competition, but I think Brian's going to start as the incumbent based on experience and all the work he's put in."
Will the additional depth at center pay off? -- Adding Stastny, Jori Lehtera, Peter Mueller and Joakim Lindstrom to a group that includes David Backes, Patrik Berglund, Steve Ott and Maxim Lapierre gives the Blues strong reinforcement despite losing Vladimir Sobotka to the Kontinental Hockey League.
"We wanted to add depth, we wanted to add competitive depth, we wanted to strengthen the middle of the ice and that's what we've done," Hitchcock said. "We've added scoring depth and we added real definitive depth at the center ice position."
“I don’t like Brett turning 50. To me, that’s sort of like a realization that your kids are growing up. I always saw Brett as a big kid. But I guess the truth of the matter is that it probably doesn’t matter that he’s turning 50. He’s probably the same big kid.”
-Brendan Shanahan on Brett Hull turning 50 on August 9th. More on Hull from Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.
Let's take a look at one of the legends of our game, goaltender Glenn Hall who played 502 consecutive games in goal.
I can't imagine this record will ever be broken.
Ken Hitchcock, head coach of the St. Louis Blues took to Twitter today (the full chat) to answer some questions...
Then this zinger...
from Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
In five NHL seasons, Gunnarsson has produced 15 goals, 86 points and a plus-minus rating of plus-15. In 2013-14, he played in a career-high 80 games and was a plus-13, despite the fact that Toronto ranked No. 26 in the league in goals-against per game (3.07).
“I try to do my best,” Gunnarsson said. “I’m more of a team guy than anything. If guys can play their game when they play next to me, that’s what I’m there for. I’m not a flashy guy who shows off any super skills or anything like that. I just try to come to work every day and make everyone else better — whatever is good for the team.”
The Blues have been searching for a lefthanded shooting defenseman to play with Kevin Shattenkirk and perhaps also take some of the load off Jay Bouwmeester by playing with Alex Pietrangelo.
“We’ll see how that works out during training camp,” Gunnarsson said. “I guess they have a plan with me, but whoever I play with, it’s going to be fun. Shattenkirk and Pietrangelo — two great D-men — if I play with any of those guys, it’s going to be a fun season.”...
Gunnarsson is not skating yet this offseason. After dealing with multiple issues in his left hip the past two seasons, he had surgery in late April to repair a labrum tear and help facilitate a condition which he’s had since birth.
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