Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Tony Gallagher of the Vancouver Province,
If you believe the reports the Vancouver Canucks have contacted the agents for Dave Bolland and goalies Jonas Hiller and Ryan Miller, you have to wonder what the green brain trust of the Vancouver Canucks is thinking these days.
Not sure whether it escaped their notice, but only the Buffalo Sabres scored fewer goals than their team last year — and if the goal is to produce uptempo, entertaining hockey, perhaps looking at goaltenders and an overpriced checking centre with a concussion history might not be the highest priority.
Perhaps marshalling the forces toward producing some offence by way of getting some top-six talent and leaving the coach to rehab the lame performance of the back end last year might be a more efficient way to go....
What Benning, Desjardins and perhaps even Trevor Linden don’t seem to be fully grasping here, if this is in fact the direction they intend to take this team, is how genuinely boring the games were last year.
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
The Anaheim Ducks and Chicago Blackhawks have seemingly broken away from the pack when it comes to being the front-runners for Ryan Kesler, multiple sources have told ESPN.com.
Kesler's preference to land in either of those two cities in part stems from his desire to win a Stanley Cup and his holding of a no-trade clause, giving him the power to dictate to some degree his destination.
And he’s certainly a great fit for either club, both teams wanting to upgrade their No. 2 center position.
The one thing Kesler can’t dictate, however, is forcing the Vancouver Canucks to trade him.
continue and more topics too...
from Noah Love of the National Post,
What should happen: Benning’s in a tough spot here because the Canucks are somewhere between a playoff team — probably not a contender, though — and a full rebuild. On one hand, they’re amassing a decent collection of prospects, although few of them are NHL ready (Bo Horvat will get a good look in training camp). The aging offensive core of the Sedin twins and Alex Burrows remains. So, too, does a very solid defence. But the team’s goaltenders are outrageously young and inexperienced following the departures of Roberto Luongo and Cory Schneider. There’s a lot going on here. My guess is the Aquilinis will push Benning to assemble a contender. That probably means getting a goalie, which isn’t a bad thing because it’s a buyer’s market. Also, the return for Kesler should include a young, NHL-ready or established forward.
What shouldn’t happen: Best not to let the Kesler thing drag out. He’s met with management and teammates and still wants to leave, so that is going to have to be resolved quickly. Having said that, you can’t sell one of the league’s best second line centres for 50 cents on the dollar. Also, not to beat a dead horse, but the Canucks probably shouldn’t go into next season with an Eddie Lack/Jacob Markstrom tandem. There are just too many other options available at a reasonable cost.
from Ben Kuzma of the Vancouver Province,
It will take understanding how they can be more effective and less susceptible to injury. It will take a puck-possession and attacking philosophy that will entertain and allow them to play at their best. After all, the Sedins turn 34 on Sept. 26 and are in the first year of four-year, $28-million-US contract extensions. Desjardins will have to display the proper tact to ensure his four-year contract as a rookie NHL head coach plays out the right way because the Sedins are still the straw that stirs the drink. It’s why president of hockey operations Trevor Linden and Desjardins will eventually travel to Sweden to meet with the Sedins.
A system where the Sedins aren’t played to death, told to kill penalties and block shots will help. At one point last season, Ryan Kesler led all NHL forwards in ice time while Daniel was fourth and Henrik sixth. Henrik would average 20:40 and Daniel 20:36 to finish 10th and 12th respectively, but they often averaged 22-24 minutes and some nights even logged 25 minutes. Getting them back to the 19 minutes they averaged in their Art Ross Trophy years would be a step in the right direction. Daniel slumped to 16 goals this past season, Henrik laboured through injury to manage 11 and the power play was ranked 26th and the offence 28th.
“They’re key guys and want to play their best so we just have to find out what that is and do it,” said Desjardins. “They’re smart guys. They know. They’re elite players. You have to read it a little bit first but there is one style I like playing. You have to see what players are there and what you have to do. One thing I know is that it doesn’t matter how things start or how they work — you have to win. I know I have to win. I know I have to find a way.
“It’s about habits. They take some time to create and that’s something I’ll have to work on. You just have to respect the players. We all have the same goals and I just didn’t take the job without doing research on the team. I know the skill level. It’s how can we get there working together.”
The Vancouver Canucks will introduce Willie Desjardins as their new head coach at a 3:00pm ET press conference.
added 12:53pm, Trevor Linden, Jim Benning and Desjardins discuss the hiring, watch below...
from Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province,
With Willie Desjardins poised to become the Canucks next head coach, it’s time to step back and look at the first two and a half months of Trevor Linden’s administration.
Linden now has his coach and GM in place and both men are the polar opposites of their predecessors.
Desjardins is a no-BS career coach. Unlike John Tortorella, his press conferences won’t be appointment viewing.
New GM Jim Benning is a career scout who spent 20 years learning his craft. Like Desjardins, he is low-key and hard-working. Like Desjardins, he isn’t exactly a quote machine.
But this is what you like about the Canucks’ new hockey department. The men involved aren’t interested in reinventing the wheel. They are, however, interested in building an organization that encompasses the game’s core principles.
All three are from Western Canada. All view the game the same way. And the Canucks will reflect their philosophy.
There might have been sexier hires out there than Benning and Desjardins, but we’ve seen where sexy got the Canucks.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
If it’s true that Ryan Kesler will only agree to play for two teams in the NHL next year – the Chicago Blackhawks and the Pittsburgh Penguins – then new Vancouver Canucks’ general manager Jim Benning will have his work cut out for him, trying to make that deal work.
Because of his skill, versatility and reasonably cheap salary cap number ($5-million per season for two more years), Kesler would be a good fit on any number of teams willing to gamble on his health.
Chicago has long needed a No. 2 centre to play behind Jonathan Toews and last week, told one of the players who’ve been trying to fill the void, Michal Handzus, he wouldn’t be back. Pittsburgh doesn’t have an obvious need for a centre, not with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Brenden Sutter there, but Malkin can play the wing, as can Kesler.
It would be interesting to see if Kesler could develop chemistry with one or the other, or if the new Penguins coach – whomever that may eventually be – would just keep Crosby and Malkin together, which has worked well in the past.
No, the issue is that both the Blackhawks and Penguins are usually maxed out at the cap, and Chicago needs to be mindful of the raises that both Toews and Patrick Kane are going to get in their next deals.
continued plus more hockey topics...
As stated, Kesler is a tremendous player and could end the Blackhawks’ nonstop carousel at No. 2 center. He would have an instant chemistry with Kane, given their international play together in past Olympics. That’s all good. But there are always prices to pay. It just seems, for the Blackhawks, the move is not worth what the prices could be.
-Tracey Myers of CSNChicago on the report (Garrioch) stating Kesler wants to play for Chicago or Pittsburgh. Read more on this topic.
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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