Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
Joe Thornton is going to be an interesting test case for the Hockey Hall of Fame even though he clearly should be a no-brainer. But no question there are those who will hold his lack of a Stanley Cup against him. Of course, he still has time to win one before his career is out. But even if he doesn’t, it would be ridiculous to make that argument against him. His career screams Hall of Famer.
The Case For
Thornton, a consistent top-end point producer his entire career, currently sits 36th all-time in regular-season points with 1,259 (358 goals-901 assists), ahead of Hall of Famers Michel Goulet, Bernie Federko, Joe Nieuwendyk, Mike Bossy and Glenn Anderson, among others.
And he’s still got a few more seasons left in his career. For example, say the 36-year-old center plays three more seasons and I’m very conservative here in projecting 60 points a year. That puts him on pace for 1,439 career points, which would rank him 16th all-time, sandwiched between Teemu Selanne and Bryan Trottier.
As it stands, his 901 career assists are 19th all-time already, one assist away from passing Bryan Trottier.
from USA TODAY,
A clean slate at the start of a new season provides optimism for every team: A look at the Eastern Conference teams' reasons for hope in ending the drought.
Disclaimer: This is not to say that each item is created equal, or that each one is the only component to a deep run. This list does not account for injuries, which could cripple even the strongest teams. These are simply plausible reasons why your favorite team could be in store for a deep run. It's only fair after discussing the roadblocks to success last week.
Boston Bruins: Four foundation blocks. Boston fans can moan about the loss of Dougie Hamilton and Milan Lucic, but that doesn’t change the reality that the Bruins have a first-rate center combination in David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron, a former Norris Trophy winner Zdeno Chara on defense and in elite goalie in Tuukka Rask. If you presume that coach Claude Julien will insist the Bruins play stingy team defense and hope that David Pastrnak blossoms into a 20-goal scorer, you can make a case that the Bruins are still a contender.
Buffalo Sabres: Timing could be right for Cinderella remake. Unquestionably, the Sabres are going to be the most improved team next season. Their forward group will include Evander Kane, Ryan O'Reilly, Tyler Ennis, Matt Moulson, Brian Gionta, plus super rookie Jack Eichel and prized prospect Sam Reinhart. The defense will be significantly improved, and the Sabres are also courting free agent defenseman Cody Franson. Remember that the 1990-91 Minnesota North Stars once stunned the hockey world by reaching the Stanley Cup Final with a losing record. The NHL is overdue for a Cinderella playoff story.
from Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun,
Kadri, perhaps in line for a higher-profile role at centre, looked sturdy on Monday during an informal team workout. Last year he was listed at six feet, 188 pounds, but what everyone wants to know, from club boss Brendan Shanahan, to new coach Mike Babcock to the patience-weary patrons in the purples, is will his maturity level keep a better pace? Babcock has said he expects Kadri to be "an elite player" this year.
"There was no playing around this summer, it was right to work," Kadri said. "I was just trying to improve on my weaknesses. I want to continue to start doing that, becoming more professional and kind of handling myself the right away.
"There have been ups and downs and that's just how it is. Obviously in Toronto there is a lot of speculation and a lot of scrutiny. Sometimes that's hard for young players, but as time goes on, the maturity comes into play. You start to realize this is what you really want."
After protracted talks, the RFA did get a million-dollar raise up to $4.1 million US, but not the multi-year pact he had been negotiating at mid-season.
from Adrew Gross of The Record,
It is September.
With that in mind, here’s a list of things that make this sports writer giddy with the opening of NHL training camps in a little more than two weeks (and with a large chunk of the league’s players already skating informally at their respective teams’ practice facilities):
* Getting reacquainted to the wondrous speed of the game. It always takes a few practices or preseason games to retrain the eye to keep up with the on-ice action, no matter how long you’ve been watching the sport. The breakneck pace of the sport is what gets lost in translation on television. Seeing the sport played live by the best hockey players in the world is truly a privilege....
* Watching the notoriously overbearing Toronto media lose its collective mind trying to deal with new Maple Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello as he shuts down any leaks of information from within the organization.
"I honestly don't know what's going to happen moving on. I mean I have one year left on my contract, and there's a possibility that I can hit the [unrestricted free agent] market.
"It's obviously something that's been a dream of mine since I've been a kid, is to play in your hometown and play for the Canucks, but right now the main focus is going down to L.A. and trying to make the most of that."
-Milan Lucic of the Los Angeles Kings. More from Mike Battaglino of NHL.com.
This story from the Toronto Sun's Michael Traikos is particularly interesting, because it lifts the veil over a summertime's worth of NHL training that isn't all carrying kettlebells and circuit training--mostly because players tend to "lose their shape" over the course of an 82-game season:
Emaciated bodies need recovery time. So players are told to stay out of the gym for the first few weeks and get back to a normal sleep schedule. Eight months of staying up late to play games, traveling at all hours of the night, while eating post-game meals of chicken wings and pizza, not to mention the mental stress of competing at the highest level, takes its toll. The summer is about building the body back up, piece by piece.
“The first half of the summer, we’re just trying to get these guys into alignment,” said [Biosteel Sports' Matt] Nichol. “For some, training camp hits and they just ditch their strength training and just hold on. A lot of the guys will show up at the end of the season like they haven’t had a solid meal.”
The off-season is split into four parts. The first month involves transition and recovery. Depending on specific diets catered towards the age of the player and how long his season was. Gary Roberts, who trains Steven Stamkos, Mark Scheifele and James Neal, ships in his favourite spring food from Italy and has Nature’s Emporium prepare organic meals for his clients.
“I’m an extremist when it comes this nutrition part and the holistic part and the whole foods part,” said Roberts. “I’m not a big supplement guy. I don’t push four shakes a day, like guys say I did.”
Players usually don’t lift weights for the first month. But they might do gymnastics-based training, like rolling and tumbling and even head to a nearby playground to climb on the monkey bars.
“If you see all these guys in January or February, they’re all walking like ducks, because their IT band is fused. You need to recover from that,” said Beyond The Next Level’s Dan Ninkovich, who trains John Tavares and Sam Gagner. “People used to train for exercise. Now they train for the movement. A healthy player is the best player. Not the player who can squat 500 pounds.”
As the summer progresses, players go from recovery training to building strength, then turning that strength into power and speed. By the end of August, it is about conditioning.
Between signings and trades a lot of NHLers changed zip and postal codes this summer. Check out our Top 5 defencemen who’ll be rocking a new jersey this season.
from Hillel Kuttler of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency,
Several years ago, Jessica Berman and her husband, Brad, bumped into her high school boyfriend.
“If you aren’t working as a lawyer in hockey, I’d be amazed,” Berman recalled him saying.
The ex had her pegged. Berman, 37, has been employed by the National Hockey League for nearly a decade and currently is a vice president and deputy general counsel. She fell for the sport as a teenager.
Some foresee Berman as the first female commissioner of a men’s professional sports league. She helped negotiate key labor agreements with the players’ union, including the deal ending the 2004-05 lockout and the 10-year pact signed two years ago.
But perhaps she’s made an even greater impact since a 2013 stroke left Brad, then 37, in a monthlong coma.
Besides tending to him and caring for their two sons, Berman has spearheaded efforts to benefit the Burke Rehabilitation Center, the suburban New York City institution that’s been instrumental in Brad’s continued recovery. Charity races – Brad is an avid runner who aspires to compete again in marathons – and retail promotions have raised $650,000, most going to build a lower-limb robotics clinic.
What message, if any, needs to be sent by the league to Kane, other players, franchises and, again, the public at large about such serious allegations, even if there are no criminal charges laid?
We ask because as the summer disappears into the fall, we honestly are unsure about the nature of truth and punishment and judgment.
But if there is one thing this summer has reinforced, it's how little we really know about the people we watch play the game of hockey.
-Scott Burnside of ESPN where you can read more on this topic.
from Jenny Menendez of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
The process of buying an NHL franchise is long and arduous, and the sale of the Penguins will be no different.
Industry experts, including a former Penguins counsel, contend they are not at all surprised little has surfaced regarding the sale as the calendar flips to September. Primary owners Mario Lemieux and Ron Burkle retained Morgan Stanley in June to begin the process of exploring a sale, but virtually no significant information has emerged since.
“I’m not surprised at all, because these are very valuable assets and there are complications, particularly if the buyer is someone who hasn’t been involved in professional sports in the past,” said Bob Caporale, a former Penguins lawyer and founding partner at Game Plan, a sports finance, investment banking and consulting firm. “It may take time to do their due diligence. Frankly at this time of year, as you know vacations and so forth will always slow things up. I’m sure in the fall things will get more active.”
Caporale was the lead attorney for the Penguins from 1991-97, and the club’s Alternate Governor to the NHL during Howard Baldwin’s controversial tenure as owner.
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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