Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
As if the battle for the Norris Trophy needed any more viable candidates, here is the Tampa Bay Lightning’s Viktor Hedman, off to an exceptional start and proving once again that even the most likely regarded, massively talented defensive behemoths need time to find their NHL sea legs.
Hedman is now in his sixth season and starts a trip Saturday with the Tampa Bay Lightning that will see them visit all four Canadian-based Western Conference teams in the next six days. Vancouver is a unique and special first stop because he gets to play against the Sedin twins for a rare time. Hedman is from the same northern Swedish town as the Sedins – Ornskoldsvik – and played his developmental years for the same club team Modo before going second overall to Tampa in the 2009 NHL entry draft.
from Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette,
P.K. Subban had some advice for Steven Stamkos after the Tampa Bay sniper scored three goals Monday night to lead the Lightning to a lopsided 7-1 decision Monday night at Amalie Arena.
“I’d tell Steven to enjoy it because it’s not going to happen again,” said Subban....
“We’ve played a lot better against this team, i.e. in the playoffs last year, and we just have to park this loss,” said Subban, who was minus-2 on the night, was in the penalty box when Stamkos made it 4-1 and generally didn’t play very well.
“We’re still trying to figure out how to play,” said Subban. “We ‘re trying to figure out our identity. We’re very happy with this road trip and we just have to move on.”
more post-game comments
from Ryan Dixon of Sportsnet,
If the emergence of a nimble six-foot-six defenceman was the only big thing happening in Tampa, you could still forgive Bolts fans for being aflutter. But Hedman is just one reason why there are widespread rumblings about how good the Lightning might be this year. Tampa is coming off a season that somehow managed to seem cursed and charmed all at once—then everything ended with a thud.
Now, with sniper Steven Stamkos whole again, some new battle-scarred faces to complement a group of precocious kids and, of course, Hedman’s ongoing development, there’s sufficient evidence to believe the Lighting and their prized blueliner are primed for another simultaneous leap.
With his sixth NHL season on the horizon, it’s only natural that Hedman feels more at home than ever in Tampa Bay. He and his long-time girlfriend, Sanna, have had a couple years to settle into their house.
And on the ice, Hedman has become so accustomed to North America’s smaller rink dimensions that when he returns home to Sweden in the summer, the spacious European surfaces almost seem foreign.
“It feels like you skate forever and you don’t get anywhere,” he says.
No penalty from the hit...
from Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times,
Veteran defenseman Eric Brewer is in an unfamiliar spot tonight, a healthy scratch for the season opener against the Panthers at Amalie Arena.
And it didn't sit well with Brewer, 35, who has played 15 seasons and 965 career NHL games....
The Lightning is going with 12 forwards and six defensemen, with Victor Hedman-Anton Stralman, Jason Garrison-Radko Gudas and Matt Carle-Andrej Sustr the pairings. Coach Jon Cooper acknowledged Brewer was understandably "pissed" about it, and Cooper didn't like doing it. But Cooper said with the Lightning depth, it needs everybody to play, and it was just Brewer's turn to sit.
"We talked about it, it was not an easy conversation," Brewer said. "But they made their decision. No details that are going to make it any easier. I don't like it. But that's the way life is."
Cooper said it'd be one thing if Brewer didn't work hard, or "rested on the fact he's played in the league for a long time." But that's not what Brewer is.
from Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune,
In the spring of 2010, new Lightning owner Jeff Vinik zeroed in on one name to fill the vacant role of general manager — Steve Yzerman.
After some persistence on Vinik’s part, Yzerman decided the time was right to leave the Red Wings organization — he was a Hall of Fame player with Detroit and worked alongside general manager Ken Holland for three-plus years — and lead the Lightning front office.
Now entering his fifth season with the Lightning, Yzerman has almost completely remade the organizational roster heading into the 2014-15 season.
Gone are Vinny Lecavalier and Marty St. Louis, the last two holdovers from the 2004 Stanley Cup championship team still with the Lightning when Yzerman took over. Other core members when Yzerman took over also have left — Ryan Malone was bought out this summer; Teddy Purcell, Steve Downie and Nate Thompson were traded, and Mike Smith left as a free agent.
In fact, in the entire organization — not counting European-drafted players — there are only seven inherited players still in the system from when Yzerman assumed his role before the 2010-11 season: Steven Stamkos, Victor Hedman, Alex Killorn, Richard Panik, Mark Barberio, Luke Witkowski and goaltender Jaroslav Janus.
added 9:57am, Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times on Steven Stamkos,
Steven Stamkos is known to distinctly remember every single goal he's ever scored. James Duthie tested that theory and the results were outstanding.
from Luke Fox of Sportsnet,
Biggest story line to watch: While it will be interesting to see if so many of the core Lightning players coming off career seasons—Palat, Johnson, Bishop, Hedman, Valtteri Filppula—can continue their upward trajectory, the greater topic of conversation will surround the one guy coming off a nightmare campaign. Despite coming back toward season’s end and producing, Stamkos admitted his displaced right leg was still not quite at 100 per cent power in April. Can hockey’s most dangerous sniper return to his 60-goal form and give Sidney Crosby a run for the NHL scoring title?
2014-15 prediction: A surprising runner-up to Boston for the Atlantic crown last season, don’t be shocked when Cooper’s crew learns from its playoff humbling, plays a more balanced game and goes as far as the Eastern Conference final.
from Jeff Simmons of Sportsnet,
Are you new to hockey? A disgruntled Leafs fan? Looking for a new team to root for this season? You’re in luck.
In our first edition of Icebreakers, we’ll provide the reasons why and why notto support NHL franchises. And for additional perspective, we’ll even compare NHL teams to other North American sports franchises....
Why this team? The Lightning have become a trendy Stanley Cup pick in the East. They have an up-and-coming head coach, a deep core of young players and a true superstar in Steven Stamkos, who may be the most likable player in all of hockey. Just think what could happen if Drouin lives up to expectations.
Why not? If you’re a sports hipster, this won’t work for you. The Lightning are already big in the mainstream, despite the non-traditional hockey market. There are tons of writers and publications banking on this team to make a deep playoff run.
Other sport comparison: Carolina Panthers — Both expansion clubs from the 1990s have star players that were drafted first overall. Stamkos and Cam Newton have vaulted their teams into immediate contention, even after losing iconic franchise staples (Steve Smith and Martin St. Louis) over the past year.
more on the Lightning plus seven more Eastern Conference teams...
from Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune,
“Frankly we were losing a lot of money when we first bought the team, and now we are losing a little bit of money,’’ Vinik said. “It’s been such a fun experience over the past five years. Our mission to try and become the Green Bay Packers of the NHL, to try and become world class, we are gaining on both of those. But we still have a ways to go, and when we get there I will raise the targets because you can’t stop chasing excellence.’’
That includes continuing to increase payroll to try to field the best possible team.
“From Day 1, my philosophy was spend at or near the salary cap, because how lucky am I to be the owner of a professional sports team and a professional hockey league team,’’ Vinik said. “I want our fans and myself to enjoy giving it our best shot to win.’’
So when it comes time next summer for Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman to explore extending Stamkos’ contract and locking the franchise player into another long term-deal that could carry an average annual salary north of $10 million, Vinik said he will let his feelings be known.
“I’ll tell Steven loud and proud that I hope you are with us for your whole career and lead us to a lot of Stanley Cups,’’ Vinik said. “I will let Steve Yzerman handle (the negotiations). The day I get involved with hockey negotiations or picking players is the day you better worry about the future of our franchise.’’
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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