Kukla's Korner Hockey
"He's an investment for us. isn't just, 'Well, he was a high draft pick, let's throw him into the lineup and he's going to come in here and be our MVP.' That's not how he should be looked at by everybody. He's a 19-year old junior hockey player that's trying to work his way into the National Hockey League. We want him to not only perform this year, but 10-15 years down the road. For me, there's no rush on Jonathan Drouin. Let's see where he fits in, if he makes the team. We're very confident in his abilities."
-Jon Cooper, head coach of the Tamap Bay Lightning on Jonathan Drouin. A bit more from Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times.
from Katie Strang of ESPN,
The Lightning should have a healthy Steven Stamkos and goaltender Ben Bishop, something that was not the case in the 2013-14 Stanley Cup playoffs.
Add some splashy offseason acquisitions -- defensemen Anton Stralman and Jason Garrison, and forward Brian Boyle -- and highly touted prospect Jonathan Drouin, and this could be the sleeper team of the NHL.
Former Lightning defenseman and Stanley Cup champion Pavel Kubina is hoping to see his old team emerge as one of top dogs in the East.
“I think it’s a great mix,” Kubina told ESPN.com in a recent telephone conversation. “[Jeff] Vinik really got behind them -- he’s one of the best owners I’ve ever played for -- and the team has a great future. They’ll definitely make the playoffs.”
“From what I’ve heard and what I’ve seen (another year) has made a big difference (for Drouin).
“I think it probably lit a little fire under him. He’s out there to prove a lot of people wrong and that’s a good thing for us. Physically he looks a lot bigger, stronger and his skating looks great, his shot looks great.
“He’s always had the quickness, the smarts and the playmaking ability, so it looks like he has worked extremely hard and that’s a good thing to see from a guy who has always been the best player on his team.’’
-Steven Stamkos of the Tampa Bay Lightning on Jonathan Drouin. More on Drouin from Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune.
from Joe Smith of the Tampa Bay Times,
However, when Stralman joined Hedman, 23, last week for the team's informal skates at the Ice Forum, he said they had quick-developing chemistry.
"It's almost like that when you meet a fellow Swede, it's like you've known each other forever," Stralman said. "It's just natural."
How the two Swedes mesh on the ice could go a long way toward determining whether Stralman will join Hedman in the Lightning's top pairing this season, a decision that will be sorted out in training camp, which starts Sept. 18 at Amalie Arena.
Stralman was Tampa Bay's biggest free agent addition on July 1, signing a five-year, $22.5 million deal to help bolster the blue line. And Stralman, who has never been partnered with a Swede in the NHL, would be pumped to be paired with Hedman, who has developed into one of the league's top young defensemen.
"It'd be awesome to play together," Hedman said. "But we'll see what happens."
from Erik Erlendsson of the Tampa Tribune,
Stamkos’ right leg, which was broken in a horrific on-ice accident on Nov. 11 in Boston, feels stronger than it did at the end of last season, when Tampa Bay was swept out of the playoffs by Montreal in the first round.
One of two screws was removed from the leg last month, he said. And though he skated in Toronto last week, Stamkos came to Tampa early for additional treatment and to gain more strength in the leg. There are no concerns about his leg, he said.
““It’s amazing, even week after week, how much better it feels and how much closer it’s getting to where it was before the injury,” he said.
Stamkos is excited by the summer moves by general manager Steve Yzerman, who retained winger Ryan Callahan on a long-term contract and brought in defensemen Jason Garrison and Anton Stralman, center Brian Boyle, veteran forward Brendan Morrow and goaltender Evgeni Nabokov.
“The bar has definitely been raised,” Stamkos said. “The expectations aren’t to just sneak into the playoffs, it’s that we want to get in there and win.’’
TAMPA BAY – Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment, LLC has entered into a long-term partnership with Amalie Oil Company (AM-a-lee), giving the manufacturer of motor oils and industrial lubricants naming rights to the downtown Tampa home of more than 100 events per year, including the home games of the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Tampa Bay Storm, Chairman and Governor Jeff Vinik announced today. The recently renovated 19,204 seat arena, which opened in 1996 as the home of the Lightning, will be hereafter entitled “Amalie Arena.” The arena naming rights had been controlled by the Tampa Bay Times (formerly St. Petersburg Times) since 2002. Although it cedes the naming rights of the arena to Amalie, The Times will remain the organization’s exclusive print partner.
“I am pleased that the Barkett family has chosen to partner with our organization in displaying the good name of its local, family owned company on our facility,” said Vinik upon making the announcement. “Like Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment, the Barkett family and Amalie Oil are heavily vested in our community, providing jobs and stimulating economic activity. The brothers share our vision and values and we look forward to a long and healthy partnership working together to achieve business and community objectives.”
from Dan Rosen of NHL.com,
Do you feel the fact that you were a Vezina Trophy finalist last season means you're a proven goalie in the NHL, or are you still of the mindset that you have to prove yourself the way you've had to your entire career?
"I think I proved to myself and other players that I can play at that level, but I think every year you're trying to go out and prove yourself. You're never going to be satisfied with the past year, you're always trying to build on it. I'm going to approach the year the same way, the way I have the last three years at least. I'm going to go in, win the job out of training camp. You always have people competing for jobs. When I was in St. Louis I was trying to take people's jobs and make the team. You always have that competition. So I have to go into camp the same way I have been doing the last couple of years. I'm not going to change anything. I'm not going to try to do anything different."
But can you treat this training camp the same way when it's obviously different for you to know that you're heading into the season as the unquestioned No. 1 goalie on a team expected to win? This is a first for you.
"Yeah, I mean, if you word it like that it's a first, but personally the way I prepare and the way I play, there hasn't been a change from when I was a backup, or when I was able to start in Ottawa for a month, or last year when I was a starter for the season. You still approach every game the same way. Whatever is going on around you as far as expectations, where you are in the standings, if you're first or last, who you're playing against, I still approach the game the same way. There is nothing different. It's the same routine and preparation no matter where I am, if I am a backup in Ottawa or a starter last year. So I don't see there really being any difference going into this season. I think the experience last year will help me even more this year."
three more questions...
Time certainly does not stand still, I still picture Steve Yzerman's daughters as children...
from Tal Pinchevsky of NHL.com,
Will Bishop show last season wasn't a fluke? -- Bishop was one of the League's true breakout players last season, establishing career bests with 37 wins, a 2.23 goals-against average, a .924 save percentage and five shutouts. He missed the Stanley Cup Playoffs with an arm injury, but was rewarded for his efforts when he was named a finalist for the Vezina Trophy.
After signing a two-year extension earlier this month, it's now time for Bishop to show 2013-14 wasn't an aberration and he is indeed a franchise goalie.
"He was arguably the MVP of our team last year. We really leaned on our goaltender heavily," coach Jon Cooper told NHL.com. "I truly believe he's coming into his prime. With his work ethic and the way he approached the game as the year went on last year, I'm fully confident he'll be a rock back there for us."
Can the Lightning make it count in the playoffs? -- Outside of their run to the Eastern Conference Final in 2011, the Lightning haven't won a playoff series since hoisting the Stanley Cup in 2004. After being swept last season by the Montreal Canadiens, this team is expected to take the next step in the postseason.
"We know the standard that is set, what's expected. We set a really high bar for ourselves and I'm really excited about that," Cooper said. "It's so hard to make the playoffs in this League. We know what it takes now. If we want to not only make the playoffs but try to advance, we know the work that has to be put in."
Below, watch E.J. Hradek and Dan Rosen discuss the outlook for the Lightning...
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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