Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Bill Clement at NBC Sports,
Sidney Crosby and Alexander Ovechkin. The two best players in the NHL and in a real treat for hockey fans they’re both part of this year’s playoffs. Their careers are in their infancy and will forever be the subject of comparison and debate. The test of time may or may not definitely answer which one was greater.
As for the present, it’s fun asking which would be the choice if one were starting a team from scratch?
If in reality such a decision had to made, it would be the greatest can’t-lose proposition in the history of hockey. The possibility of being wrong would not exist.
From James Mirtle’s blog, an interview from April 2007 with Ted Leonsis,
And on this Saturday afternoon last April, they were awful.
I knew they were awful. Leonsis knew they were awful. And the fans in the building, at least those wearing Capitals colours, knew it, too.
It was with that uncomfortable knowledge that we all watched the third period together.
I’ve only met Leonsis the once, but there were two things I realized right away: (a) this is one competitive guy and (b) I’ve just met the biggest Capitals fan in the world.
more… on what a difference a year makes
From the Washington Times:
Is [Bruce] Boudreau ready to be an international folk hero?
“I don’t know,” he said. “I just stay in the house. I turn off the TV because if I see myself, like most people, [they] wish they were 30 pounds lighter.”
from Mark Spector of the National Post,
Exactly one year ago this morning, the hottest kid in the National Hockey League bounced out of bed in a nation’s capital, hustled good and early down to the rink, and readied for a night he’d looked forward to for all of his hockey life.
And on that night—April 11th, 2007—Sidney Crosby notched his first career playoff goal. It was a meaningless, last-minute strike in a 6-3 loss at Ottawa, but those inside Scotiabank Place knew right then and there they had witnessed something to tell the grand kids about.
This morning, the hottest kid in the NHL will wake up just outside a nation’s capital, step over the fan mail that people have taken to dropping randomly on his doorstep, and begin this long awaited day. Tonight is the night that Alexander Ovechkin has anticipated since he pulled a Washington Capitals sweater over his mane of hockey hair as the first pick in the 2004 draft.
You can watch a report on Ovechkin from Russia Today…
Capitals GM George McPhee via Dan Rosen’s blog at NHL.com,
“Everybody tries to build their team the same way. You need scoring, good goaltending, defense, grit, physical play, speed, depth, leadership. The Flyers have done a good job of putting that together. We think we have to. It should make for a good series. I don’t think anybody has any idea who is going to win this series. You look at some of the other series and say if Team A plays its best and Team B plays its best, well Team A is going to win. I don’t think you can say that about this series. I don’t think anybody knows who is going to win this one.”
much more on McPhee and the Caps…
From the AP via Sports Illustrated,
“I’ve had a good run here,’’ Kolzig said Thursday. “And I hope it continues in the next two months.’‘
In other words, until the playoffs are over. After that, Kolzig will become a free agent, presenting an understandably murky future for a 38-year-old goalie who lost his starting job just as the Capitals were becoming good again.
“The worst thing I can do is have a pity party,’’ Kolzig said. “I’m not really going to talk about the situation until the end of the year, but it is what it is and I’ve come to grips with it.’‘
Kolzig has been supplanted by Cristobal Huet, acquired from Montreal at the trade deadline.
From Dan Steinberg at the DC Sports Blog (Washington Post),
The Stanley Cup playoffs require a wide-ranging level of civic commitment. For Mike Green, that commitment was on display this morning, in the form of an early-morning mohawk. Dozens of fans will be receiving similar ‘hawks tomorrow. For Pat Sajak, that commitment might involve a red-eye flight back East from a “Wheel of Fortune” taping next Friday, to make sure he can get to Verizon Center in time for Game 5.
“If the Caps don’t sweep,” Sajak noted. “I’m pretty well at their mercy.”
Yeah, that’s right, Sajak has become a hard-core Caps fan, a front-row season ticket holder for the past two seasons who attends 30 games a year and was “Rocking the Red” throughout last week’s spasm of Caps passion.
Unfortunately, there’s a good reason Sajak isn’t going to be able to pull off his own mohawk to support his favorite team.
from Mike Hume of the Falls Church News-Press,
Since the rebuild began, Leonsis tried to sell fans on his team. But for all of silver-lining citations and what, at times, seemed like overly-optimistic opinions, he never once presented a false front. He never lied about his commitment to the team and to the fans — even the ones that had temporarily forsaken him.
In a perfect world, such behavior would be common place, but struggling sports teams seldom receive the commitment the Capitals have from Leonsis. Fans of the Baltimore Orioles, Kansas City Royals, Florida Marlins and Pittsburgh Pirates, feel free to send in your testimonials.
So as the euphoria of the Stanley Cup Playoffs washes over Washington this weekend, praise the players that willed this team into the postseason. But save something for the man in the owners’ box that made this playoff push possible.
added 10:16am, The Wall Street Journal published a Q & A with Ted Leonsis today,
The Wall Street Journal: Like most other NHL teams, the Capitals get little exposure. What can the NHL do to get a better TV deal than the arrangements with Versus and NBC—and, of course, more fans?
Mr. Leonsis: My belief, and what I’ve been advocating, is we’ve lost the TV war. That’s where the puck is. We want to go to where the puck’s going to be. We want to fight the big battle, and there we’re advantaged. The NHL has the most wired, the most affluent fans. They’re living their life on the Net. We wanna be, and we’re becoming, the leader in growing digital media.
more (not sure if it is for paid subscribers only)
from Rich Hofmann of the Philadelphia Daily News,
One player cannot halt him alone. It really does take a village to stop an Ovechkin. Saying that and acknowledging that, though, recent history suggests that one sweater among all of the black-and-orange sweaters will be greeting Ovechkin most of all:
No. 44, Kimmo Timonen.
“It’s going to be a big challenge, but I’m looking forward to it,” said Timonen, the Flyers’ smoothest defensive presence. “Taking his time and space away - that’s the key for me. If you give him too much space and time, he’s going to make a play, he’s going to shoot the puck. So, for me, going into the game, you have to make sure you’re right on him all the time and contain him.”
from Chuck Gormley of the Courier-Post,
The Flyers’ rationale heading into the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals that begin Friday night in Washington is simple. If Ovechkin spends more time exacting revenge on irritants such as Mike Richards and Scott Hartnell, he’ll spend less time firing rubber in the direction of Marty Biron.
“The big knock on Peter Forsberg was that you could get him playing more of a physical game instead of trying to score,” Flyers defenseman Derian Hatcher said. “I can see Ovechkin going that way. He seems like he might have that in him, where he’s more worried about hitting guys than he is scoring. If you can push him that way, yeah, that’s good. We’ll see. It’s his first playoff series, right?”
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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