Kukla's Korner Hockey
From Erik Erlendsson at Bolts Report,
I’m currently up in Toronto for two purposes. The first was to have the chance to meet Steven Stamkos and his family, which I did on Thursday night. The other was to swing by the combine today for the physical testing of the top prospects, including Stamkos, to find out about this VO2 bike test they put the prospects through, which has barf buckets right next to the bikes. Look for that story in Saturday’s paper.
As far as Stamkos goes, he certainly seems like one of the nicest high-profile teenagers you might ever meet. Spent just over two hours at the family house outside of Toronto and had some great conversations. Very humble family and you can see how that has carried over to Steven. Despite all the heavy marketing the Lightning have already done with Stamkos, they still answer everything with “if Tampa Bay drafts’’. They are taking nothing for granted, and that’s just how they are, they don’t want to get ahead of anything.
more on Stamkos
From Damien Cox at the Toronto Star,
One of the worst kept secrets in hockey is expected to become public in the next few days as Barry Melrose returns from TV exile to take over the coaching reins of the Tampa Bay Lightning.
Melrose, who last coached in the NHL with the Los Angeles Kings 13 years ago, is expected to get the Tampa job, replacing John Tortorella, who has yet to be replaced or reassigned.
More at TSN.
Update 8:42pm ET: Melrose responds on ESPN‘s SportsCenter—
“This is no different than any of the last 10 years,” Melrose said in response to a report in the Toronto Star. “I’ve been contacted by a handful of clubs every year since joining ESPN. My desire to coach again has never been a secret, but I love what I do at ESPN.”
Melrose’s return to NHL coaching has been speculated upon several times in recent years but, when asked about the report on ESPN’s “SportsCenter” on Friday, Melrose added: “I want to coach again in the NHL. But nothing’s going on. Uh, I work for ESPN and I’m very happy working for ESPN.”
from Lightning Strikes,
The NHL declined to comment, but if the smiles on the faces of Oren Koules and Len Barrie were an indication Thursday, they could have control of the team by the June 20-21 draft.
Koules, the Hollywood producer, and Barrie, the former NHLer turned real estate developer, met for 60 minutes with the NHL’s executive committee at its Sixth Avenue offices in New York. Koules called the meeting “a very good step” and Barrie said, “We’re excited.”
From Eric Duhatschek at the Globe & Mail hockey blog,
A more intriguing story is what will happen next in the organization if and when the Oren Koules group completes its purchase of the team from Palace Sports & Entertainment. The assumption is that Koules will then ask Feaster to replace his current coach, John Tortorella, with Barry Melrose, the ESPN analyst and coach of the Wayne Gretzky-led Los Angeles Kings team that went to the 1993 Stanley Cup final. Koules is from Chicago; he played junior hockey in the Western League, for a time in Great Falls and then in Medicine Hat. That’s the connection to Melrose - that and the fact that because of his ESPN platform, Melrose may be one of the most recognizable faces in hockey south of the 49th parallel, even if he hasn’t coached in more than a decade and the game has changed in so many dramatic ways since he last worked behind an NHL bench.
If Tampa shows signs of being a gong show, how will Vincent Lecavalier respond to ongoing attempts to sign him to a what could amount to a lifetime contract extension? He might just ask that negotiations be put off until everything settles out between the old and new ownership groups and he can see how the front-office shapes up.
from Lightning Strikes,
This news release just arrived from the Lightning. No confirmation on the ACL, but the fact that the team is acknowledging surgery is likely would seem to square with the early reports. Here’s the release:
TAMPA BAY - Tampa Bay Lightning center Jeff Halpern has suffered a right knee injury that is expected to require surgery, it was announced by Lightning Executive Vice President & General Manager Jay Feaster.
added 8:10pm, from the CP via TSN,
Tampa Bay centre Jeff Halpern is expected to miss the next six to eight months after rupturing his anterior cruciate ligament at the IIHF World Hockey Championship, the Lightning announced Wednesday.
from John Romano of the St. Petersburg Times,
His numbers had dipped, and his contract had become a focus. Richards had seemingly gone from essential to cumbersome in a matter of months.
“Based on where the team was going and the budget situation, it was probably the right thing to do,” Richards said. “But that doesn’t make it any easier.
“I had a few uncertain moments about (waiving his no-trade clause). But I just felt it was going to get harder and harder. The way things were being run, it was turning into a dead end for me. I ended up getting pushed out, and a lot of guys had an entire season of their careers ruined.”
The Bolts bring Vinny Lecavlier and his shoulder to you.
Thanks to Bolts Report for the pointer…
Watch the video below…
from Martin Fennelly of the Tampa Tribune,
I think the Torts-led Lightning are played out.
Leaving this franchise might be the best thing for him, if not the franchise.
Yes, part of me says keep the coach, ditch the GM and hope for wondrous new ownership. Ah, the perfect world. It won’t happen.
Johnny Torts would get another job in about 139 seconds. He’d coach on. It just shouldn’t be here.
Four years ago, the Lightning won one more Stanley Cup than we ever thought they would, and Tortorella was a driving force, pushing, prodding, winning.
He’s a great coach. I like him. I love his honesty. And he cracks me up. But he’s not the man to carry this team forward, with the wiring and patience to retool and rebuild, especially with the ongoing fouled-up sale of the team.
from the St. Petersburg Times,
John Tortorella wishes he could do it over again because he certainly would do it differently.
The Lightning coach said he regrets telling general manager Jay Feaster perhaps it was time he step down because he discovered that is not how he feels.
“I want to stay here and fight and try to make this team better with the new ownership group and Jay Feaster,” Tortorella said Wednesday. “I want to be part of the retooling.”
But at his postseason meeting with Feaster, Tortorella said the opposite; that after seven seasons and finishing 2007-08 last in the league, “Maybe there needs to be a different voice.”
via Daniel Kaplan of SportsBusiness Journal (paid sub.),
Oren Koules, the prospective buyer of the Tampa Bay Lightning, has lost his second lender in three months as the global credit crisis continues to take its toll on sports financing.
CIT Group, which finance sources said had appeared ready to lend Koules up to $110 million, backed out earlier this month. This follows the loss of a pending loan earlier this year from Société Générale, which abruptly exited the sports business and scuttled an oral agreement with the Hollywood movie producer….
“It is fair to say that the financial markets are strained, as we speak, and we will look to help with the financing of a portion of the purchase price,” wrote Tom Wilson, chief executive officer of Palace Sports & Entertainment, which owns the Lightning, in an e-mail. “The deal is still on.”
added 7:59pm, from Lightning Strikes,
Hollywood producer Oren Koules, who has been trying to close a deal to buy the Lightning for four months, has some light at the end of the tunnel thanks to two two helping hands that will provide $100-million in financing for the $200-million deal.
Lightning president Ron Campbell said Monday that owner Palace Sports & Entertainment and Galatioto Sports Partners will share the financing Koules needs to make the deal work.
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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