Kukla's Korner

Kukla's Korner Hockey

The Most Important Player For The Pittsburgh Penguins Is Kris Letang

from Scott Burnside of ESPN,

Let’s start with this: For our money, Sidney Crosby is still one of the top two or three best hockey players, if not the best player on the planet. That is a given. And it will not shock us at all that if Crosby wins another scoring title playing with Phil Kessel.

But if the Pittsburgh Penguins, a team strangely adrift since back-to-back trips to the Stanley Cup finals in 2008 and 2009, are going to get back to relevance -- never mind seriously contending for a championship -- then the key is the blue line. And the blue line begins and ends right now with Kris Letang.

For most of last season, Letang and the now departed Paul Martin were the top pairing on a defense that for most of the season was a top six or seven team in goals allowed per game. A late-season swoon that coincided with injuries to their top defensemen saw the Pens finish 10th in goals allowed per game. All in all, not too shabby. Still, the Penguins were ousted in five games in the first round by the New York Rangers, losing all four games by a 2-1 count.

continued

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  Tags: kris+letang

Team Russia Fined For The Snub OF Canada At The World Championship

Converting the Swiss Franc to US Dollars would make the fine $85,000.

from IIHF.com,

The Ice Hockey Federation of Russia was fined CHF 80,000 due to an incident that occurred following the end of the gold medal game of the 2015 IIHF Ice Hockey World Championship in the Czech Republic.

The Russian national team and staff left the ice during the medal ceremony after Canada had won the gold medal game 6-1 and received the medals, but before the national anthem had been played and the flags of the three medal-winning teams were raised.

Supported by video footage of the ceremony, the Deciding Panel of the IIHF Disciplinary Board ascertained that the Russian team captain had discussions with team staff members, after which he talked to his teammates, at the same time moving his head towards the open gate; the gate had been open since the start of the ceremony. The majority of the players and the staff members left the ice immediately following the Canadian Players receiving their medals while a few players remained, eventually leaving the ice themselves a little later. 

continued

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  Tags: team+russia

More Pressure From The Columbus Blue Jackets

from Rob Mixer of BlueJackets.com,

A year ago at this time, the word was “faster.”

“We want to play faster,” Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards said heading into the 2014-15 campaign. “And we need to play faster.”

It pertained to quicker thinking on the ice, quicker puck decisions and a variety of other factors that enabled the Blue Jackets to dictate the pace of the game and force their opponents to react. After this past season, Richards said he felt the team played faster, but thought they could take it to another level.

This year, he wants his players to think a little differently – he wants them to think about pressure. But not the external brand of pressure.

“We're going to use that word a lot," Richards told BlueJackets.com. "I think if you’re playing hard and pressuring the puck, then you’re playing faster already. When you have the depth that we have here, you should play with more pressure and play a faster game because you’re able to get good rest in between shifts, and that allows you to maintain a high level of play and a high level of speed in your team game.

“We’ve got great depth right now. This will be my fifth year in the organization, and I don’t remember ever having this type of depth. It’s a credit to the team and everyone upstairs, as far as drafting, restocking the cupboards with some young talent.”

continued

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Status Quo For The Nashville Predators

from Robby Stanley at NHL.com,

Nashville added center Cody Hodgson and forward Steve Moses, whose 36 goals led the Kontinental Hockey League last season. Hodgson and Moses likely will start the season on the third line, which did not produce much offense last season. Young forwards Kevin Fiala and Austin Watson will have a chance to make the roster and compete for spots on the third or fourth lines.

Nashville's core remains the same. Weber and Josi will eat up a lot of minutes on defense; Forsberg and James Neal (23 goals in 67 games) will be the two main scoring options; and Rinne should play 60-65 games.

Secondary scoring will be key; forwards Colin Wilson (20 goals, 22 assists) and Craig Smith (23 goals, 21 assists) were productive on the second line. Each signed a long-term contract in July (Wilson, four years, $15.75 million; Smith, five years, $21.25 million).

"We improved the team, first of all, by keeping the team together," Poile said. "There has been so many changes in the last couple years, including leading into last year. I think we needed a little bit more stability than we've had the previous years. The previous years, we didn't win, we didn't make the playoffs, [and] we needed to make some changes."

more

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Christian Ehrhoff Agrees To A One-Year Deal With The Los Angeles Kings

added 1:21pm,

 

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  Tags: christian+ehrhoff

Being Sidney Crosby

from Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,

Troy and Trina Crosby sat side-by-side on the same blue couch they've owned for more than a decade. Cards celebrating their son's recent birthday were displayed on the mantle. Photos of their hockey-playing children framed the room.

Now an empty nester and looking every bit the part in capri lounge pants, bare feet and a pair of glasses pushed above her forehead, Trina Crosby seemed genuinely surprised she has spent about one-fifth of her life as the mother of an NHL superstar.

“I think for some people it will always be ‘Sid the Kid,' ” she said. “But it doesn't really stick as much as it used to.”

Ten years into his career, Penguins captain Sidney Crosby is no longer a kid. He's a mature 28, celebrating his birthday on the final day of his first hockey camp for kids held to much acclaim in his hometown, at his home rink.

Crosby also is the proud owner of college credits for a World War II history course he completed online last season. He's a philanthropist and has started thinking about his legacy outside of hockey, something he hopes to shape through charity and his foundation.

No longer Mario Lemieux's tenant, Crosby is a homeowner twice over, including lakefront property in rural Nova Scotia that he showed off recently to a Trib Total Media reporter and photographer.

Yet Crosby, the NHL's top earner who pulled in about $17 million last season in salary, endorsements and memorabilia, remains most comfortable in sandals or sneakers, athletic gear and a cap.

read on

Filed in: NHL Teams, Pittsburgh Penguins, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: sidney+crosby

A Few Hockey Notes

via Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,

- Not sure why it makes sense for the Leafs to open training camp in Halifax. With a new GM and a new coach, I would have kept my training camp at home and focus on the new beginning ... Oh, to be a fly on the wall when Lou Lamoriello addresses the Leafs for the very first time.

- For those wondering, Mrs. Daryl Sydor was home in Canada when her husband allegedly drove their 12-year-old to hockey while way over the legal drinking limit. The suspicion here: His NHL career is over.

- Almost every time Connor McDavid steps on the ice with NHL players who haven’t seen him before, the reaction is the same: I knew he was good. I didn’t know he was that good ... Still hate the fact that McDavid’s career begins in the Western Conference and Jack Eichel’s begins in the East. They may never meet in a playoff series, just like Sidney Crosby has never had a playoff series against Jonathan Toews ... I’m starting to think my original pick for McDavid — 70 pts on 18 goals and 52 assists as a rookie might be a bit off. I may be low on goals, high on assists.

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Questions For The Vancouver Canucks

from Kevin Woodley at NHL.com,

Is there enough scoring after the top line? Doubts about trade acquisition Brandon Sutter's ability to play a more offensive role at center would be moot if Bo Horvat can continue last season's late scoring push and grab the second-line job. The Canucks more than likely will rely on depth and versatility with two units behind the Sedins that are better suited for third-line duty.

Vancouver should have enough depth on the wings to spread around, whether Alexandre Burrows or Radim Vrbata plays with the Sedins at even strength, but the pressure is on 22-year-old Sven Baertschi and possibly 19-year-old Jake Virtanen to score following the departure of Matthias, who scored 17 of his 18 goals at even strength, and Kassian, who scored nine of his 10 goals at even strength.

Is there enough depth on defense? The Canucks have never really had a bona fide No. 1 defenseman, and they usually need to go well beyond their top six to get through each season. In 2014-15, Vancouver used 10 defensemen, including 27-year-old Alex Biega, who played his first seven NHL games during a run of injuries in mid-February.

With Bieksa and Adam Clendening traded, and their lone free agent addition of Matt Bartkowski offset by the departure of Ryan Stanton, the Canucks defense looks thin going into the season. Rookie Frank Corrado should give them seven NHL-ready defensemen to start, but 5-foot-10, 187-pound Biega could be called up from Utica earlier this season.

more

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One And Done For Milan Lucic In LA and The Goalies In Anaheim

from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,

Lucic caught in numbers game

Had Milan Lucic been traded to a team other than the Kings, the ex-Bruin could already have his next contract in place. The 27-year-old left wing, with full health, a primary role, and motivation on his side, is in line to have a good season. An extension now would cost less than a new deal next offseason. But LA’s first priority is re-upping Anze Kopitar, who will also be unrestricted on July 1. And that will be a complicated transaction. Had business proceeded normally, Kopitar would have signed an extension comparable to Jonathan Toews’s eight-year, $84 million blockbuster. Kopitar is LA’s version of Toews. But within the context of a slow-to-rise cap, Toews’s deal is inflationary. As much as they need Kopitar back, the Kings have to be conservative. Tanner Pearson and Tyler Toffoli will be restricted after 2016-17. In that context, Lucic is a secondary priority for the Kings. He may even be a short-term acquisition in the Kings’ push to return to the playoffs.

Masking agents

Anaheim’s goaltending tandem of Frederik Andersen and John Gibson may not continue in 2015-16. The Ducks acquired Anton Khudobin from Carolina for James Wisniewski on June 27. The ex-Bruin could be Andersen’s backup, leaving Gibson to develop in the AHL. If so, it would break up the best mask duo in the league. Andersen will wear another logo-themed lid in 2015-16, this time with a Batman mask over a duck’s face. Gibson will have a mask based on Duck Hunt, the classic 8-bit Nintendo shooter game. 

many more hockey topics...

Filed in: NHL Teams, Anaheim Ducks, Los Angeles Kings, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: milan+lucic

Daniel Alfredsson, The Hockey Executive

from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,

The Senators are in the final stages of discussions with their former captain to bring him back in an off-ice role in hockey operations. What his title is going to be will be determined next month but the 42-year-old Alfredsson has told the Sun in the past he liked the role of senior VP that Steve Yzerman played in Detroit.

“Alfie can probably have whatever title he wants but the key is what he can bring to the table and he’s got a lot to learn,” said another league executive.

If Alfredsson wants to follow in the footsteps of Yzerman, who is headed into his sixth year as GM of the Lightning, then that isn’t going to happen overnight and the Super Swede will likely get a look at every aspect of the organization when he officially signs on with the Senators sometime before training camp.

At this point, Alfredsson is back in Detroit and there’s some belief his family may stay there this winter because the kids are enrolled in school and sports.

A move back to Ottawa may not happen until 2016-17 and at that point Alfredsson would be able to take on more of role.

read on

Filed in: NHL Teams, Ottawa Senators, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: daniel+alfredsson

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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.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com

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