Kukla's Korner Hockey
From the CP via TSN,
Murray employs a tough style that is ‘‘demanding not demeaning’’ and puts a lot of responsibility on the players. After arriving in St. Louis, he found a group of men that felt as if they had let down Mike Kitchen, the man Murray replaced behind the bench.
The Blues have gone a combined 43-28-10 since - including 16-10-1 so far this season. His message to the players has been simple.
‘‘Basically we just tried to sell a belief system that if we played hard every night and competed that we would have an opportunity to be successful,’’ said Murray. ‘‘Losing is misery ... I think the players were just fed up with the way they were feeling here.’‘
From Jeremy Rutherford at the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
“He’s a young guy, and he’s big,” Blues President John Davidson said. “He has good work habits, and he’s a good person. We expect him to be a really good goalkeeper, and he is. He’s a pup, but there’s a future there.”
It was less than eight years ago that Toivonen chose hockey over soccer, a difficult decision that changed his life for good.
“I was like 15 or 16, and there were two camps at the same time,” Toivonen said. “There was a soccer camp, the top select camp in my area, and there was a (Finnish) national team camp for hockey.
“The hockey guys basically laid it out to me. They said, ‘If you go to soccer, catch you later.’ I just decided to go to hockey. I thought I had a better chance making it as a hockey player where I was from ... because of the money and support that was being put into hockey. I don’t think I ever played a soccer game after that.”
from Pierre LeBrun of the CP,
Only one division in the NHL can boast having every single team over the .500 mark. Surprisingly, it’s the Central.
Widely considered the weakest of the league’s six divisions over the last few years, where Detroit has captured six straight titles, the Central has some spine this season.
The Chicago Blackhawks, St. Louis Blues and Columbus Blue Jackets are vastly improved while the Nashville Predators have not tumbled badly as many had predicted.
“They’re all good teams,” Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock told The Canadian Press this week.
from the CP,
The Blues, who play the Flames on Tuesday and the Oilers on Friday, are 8-1-1 in their last 10 games and playing some of the best hockey in the league right now.
“We, as a team, feel we can play with anybody,” Blues president John Davidson told The Canadian Press on Monday. “And we should feel that way. Last year we were just hoping to survive and stay in the hunt as long as we could. This year it’s different.”
The 15-8-1 Blues sit fourth in the tightly contested Western Conference, making a major statement two months into the season after missing the playoffs two straight years.
“And we’re going to be around for a long time,” said Davidson. “We’ve got eight players 24 and younger. So we’re going in the right direction. We feel good about the way we play the game, we feel good about the way we’re committed. Our team is well prepared.”
from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
However, as Tkachuk’s opportunities get fewer, he is beginning to appreciate the career accomplishments that are coming his way. One of the most significant will come tonight when he plays Game No. 1,000 in the NHL….
“When we came in, nobody thinks they’re going to be in the league that long ... it’s an amazing accomplishment,” Weight said. “But you know ‘Walt’ ... he’s too cool for school. You know, he’ll say, ‘Ah, it’s not that big of a deal.’ But deep down, Walt knows it’s a great accomplishment and he’s excited.”
from the Buffalo News,
There will be 18,690 waiting in HSBC Arena. The Buffalo Sabres host St. Louis tonight, and it’s a long-awaited outing for McKee and Blues teammate Lee Stempniak. McKee hasn’t played in Buffalo since Game Six of the 2006 Eastern Conference finals, while West Seneca’s Stempniak has never played professionally in his hometown.
“It’s special,” McKee said Tuesday. “I was very fortunate to grow not only as a player but as a person here in this town. To come back and play here is going to be a pretty neat feeling. The fans were great, stuck behind me over the 10 years I was here, and that doesn’t always happen with players. I felt very fortunate for that.”
from Jeff Gordon of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
“You have the Patriots right now, (Bill) Belichick last week was pretty hard on them, I understand,” Murray said after the Blues edged the Predators 2-1 Monday night.
“We’re pushing our guys to get better as well. We’re not comparing ourselves to the Patriots by any means, but no matter how good you’re playing, there is always room for improvement. We’ve got quite a bit of room for improvement. Which is encouraging.”...
“I don’t know if I’m holding guys accountable,” Murray said. “I’m just trying to come up with 20 players on a given night to give us the best chance to win. I believe players make those kind of decisions for you.”
from the News-Democrat,
Fast forward to Monday, and Perron began the day as one of the NHL’s hottest scorers with four goals and five points in his last five games. He has goals in four of his last seven contests and pumped some much-welcomed offensive life into a Blues team that followed up a three-game losing streak with four consecutive one-goal victories.
“He’s something special,” Blues President John Davidson said. “He’s got a great passion for the game; he’s a rink rat. There’s no question he’s got the ability to score goals and pass the pucks, plus he has no fear of going into any area on the ice.”
From Jim Kelley at Sports Illustrated,
Is it possible that Brett Hull might save Toronto Maple Leafs general manager John Ferguson, Jr.‘s job?
Seems illogical, but then logic rarely is a dominant theme at Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, a behemoth in terms of producing revenue, but a consistent failure in terms of on-ice success in the NHL.
The buzz for weeks has been that MLSE’s board of directors has been contemplating Ferguson’s dismissal, but the recent appointment of Hull as interim co-director of the Dallas Stars may have made an impact in Toronto.
The argument in favor of keeping the beleaguered Ferguson has long centered on a simple question: “Who can we get to replace him?” That question gave the board some pause this past offseason when several high profile (and under contract) GMs quietly let it be known they weren’t interested in the board’s plan to bring in an experienced hockey man to “mentor” Ferguson.
continued… including a look at shakeups in Dallas, St. Louis and Florida
from the News-Democrat,
McKee spoke with Murray about why he was chosen to sit out.
“We had a brief talk and he expressed to me that he was happy with most of my play, he just wanted me to work on puck-handling skills,” said McKee, who watched his last game on video to look for problems. “I was surprised, I’ll say that. I didn’t think my play warranted being pulled from the lineup. It’s his decision to make and that’s what he did.”
Murray realizes tough decisions come with the territory.
“There’s some certain areas where we’ve asked him to address his game,” Murray said. “He’s such a proud guy and a professional, and he will do that.”
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.
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