Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Jeff Blair of the Globe and Mail,
I have no problem with the fact the Toronto Maple Leafs want to play host to the NHL All-Star Game, as much of a fraudulent cash grab disguised as an afternoon skate as it is anyhow. But, honestly: by what stretch does BMO Field deserve to be the site of the annual outdoor game, an event that has had a surprising shelf life and if nothing else seems to be about the only time during the year anybody in the U.S. watches the game? Putting the game in as non-descript a facility as BMO Field would cheapen the event – although I’m sure that’s the only way the word “cheap” would be associated with it, since the mind boggles at how much Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment will charge for the game.
from Randy Youngman of the OC Register,
Is Ducks goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere on his way out of town?
If so, all signs point toward Toronto.
The rumors that were rampant in the offseason and then dissipated in training camp have resumed in earnest….
Giguere (0-2, 3.65, .895) is winless in four games this season and currently is recovering from a strained groin muscle. Giguere, 32, makes $6 million this season and $7 million next season, so the Ducks obviously don’t want to pay that much to a backup.
Jiggy has a no-trade clause in his contract, but the word is that he would waive it to go to Toronto, where he would be reunited with General Manager Brian Burke and longtime goalie coach Francois Allaire. He also would have a chance to play more regularly.
from Damian Cox of the Toronto Star,
Was it the Maple Leafs, suddenly a very competent looking hockey club after two straight victories?
Or was it the Detroit Red Wings, or at least the current injury-riddled, talent-depleted version of the squad that went to the Stanley Cup final the past two springs but was steamrolled 5-1 by the Leafs last night?
Hard to say. But let’s start with this. When the Leafs were being trampled with Joey MacDonald in net and with Phil Kessel’s presence still a distant dream, it was suggested that it would be impossible to evaluate the Toronto team and individual players until top-flight goaltending was supplied by somebody, and that it was a little early to describe the Kessel-for-two-first-rounders deal as a disaster until he at least played a game.
Today, the Leafs, after beating awful Carolina and the Wings on back-to-back nights, look like a club that at least has a chance to vie for a playoff berth.
from Joe O’Conner of the National Post,
For about six years now, Jonas Gustavsson has been skinny. Not slender, just skinny. His legs are skinny. His waist and chest are skinny. And even his face is skinny. Dress him in a skinny black tie and a skinny black suit and Gustavsson would not look out of place in a jazz club full of New York hipsters, circa 1955.
“It doesn’t matter how much I eat or how much I practise—I get stronger, but I just can’t get any bigger,” says the Toronto Maple Leafs goaltender who begins each day with bacon and eggs, toast and an assortment of fruit, and ends it with a bedtime snack. “Everything I eat, I burn away. But I think this is the right way for me.”
from Jim Hughson of CBC,
After last Saturday’s 3-1 win in Calgary, Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said, “For the first time all year we were a five-man unit, we made some nice plays. It was impressive. We looked like a hockey team.”
That served as an ominous warning to the league that, despite a slow start, reports of the Wings demise are rather premature.
The Wings returned home and dispatched the Bruins 2-0 then beat San Jose 2-1 in a game they deserved to win before the shootout. They’ve won three in a row and four of five.
So what’s got the winged wheel rolling straight again?
continued and a look at the HNIC matchup tomorrow between the Leafs and Wings.
from Paul Hunter of the Toronto Star,
Tonight, the Leafs and Hurricanes, boasting two of the league’s worst offences, will clash in a battle for the basement in the NHL and Carolina coach Paul Maurice thinks he knows what will happen.
“(It will be) 9-8, that’s the prediction,” he said with a smirk. “They’re going to try and manufacture goals, just like we will.”
Ron Wilson, his Toronto counterpart, was incredulous.
“If he wants to give up eight or nine goals, we’ll take that right now,” said Wilson. “He hasn’t watched us play much if he thinks we’re capable right now of scoring eight or nine goals.”
There is a sense among the Leafs, both the players and management, that they are heading in the right direction with points in five consecutive games.
from Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun,
Now that the all the hype and hoopla are over, here are 10 things we learned about Phil Kessel last night from his Maple Leafs debut—one for every shot he had on net.
1. In recent weeks there have been suggestions that the deal to bring Kessel to the Maple Leafs for two first-rounders and a second-round pick might be one of the worst in franchise history.
After Phil The Thrill’s electrifying performance last night, can we put a temporary gag order on such talk please? It is far too early to make such claims. And, after watching Kessel oozing his raw offensive skills last night, you can see why general manager Brian Burke paid such a heavy price to land this talented kid, who has yet to reach his 23rd birthday.
If the Leafs finish dead last and the Boston Bruins get the top overall selection in a deep 2010 draft, the criticism will be legit. But let’s at least give Kessel a chance to prove he’s worthy of Burke’s risky gamble.
from Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun,
Ron Wilson feels head shots should be banned, even if contact is made with the shoulder.
And that goes for the hit delivered by Andrew Ladd of the Chicago Blackhawks, who flattened an unaware Matt D’Agostini of the Montreal Canadiens during the Hawks’ 3-2 victory Friday.
“(Ladd) was trying to rip his head off,” Wilson, the Maple Leafs coach, said yesterday.
“You should not be allowed to target the head. That’s not a clean hit.”
via Mark Spector of Sportsnet,
But the losing and the Phil Kessel speculation is clearly grating on Wilson.
“Phil hasn’t played in six months,” Wilson said after Saturday night’s loss in Montreal, when innocently asked a legitimate question about Kessel’s status. “I know everybody is going to think he’s going to score six goals on the first night. I don’t expect that, if he does play on Tuesday. We’ve just got to remember that he hasn’t played in six months. He hasn’t even had an exhibition game or anything under his belt, so we’ll be very patient when he does play.”
Wilson knows that no one expects Kessel to be much help for the first month, much less that he would have a Darryl Sittler night in his debut as a Leaf. But the coach is on edge.
So, what’s really bugging him?
How about the fact his general manager, Brian Burke, made way too much noise about the Maple Leafs being a playoff team. But then the season started, and now it’s Wilson who has to stand in front of the microphones every day and answer for a roster that Burke oversold.
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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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