Kukla's Korner Hockey
Ok, I’m feeling pretty good after watching the Bears first game, knowing that traditionally that means hockey is coming soon! Patrick Kane is almost healed, no one else has any problems, and then WHAM!!!! The word comes out that out of nowhere, Patrick Sharp has an emergency appendectomy late Monday night.
According to the Hawks and their team doctor (Dr. Michael Terry) Sharpie will miss all of training camp (at least 4 weeks) and will return during the season.. He was experiencing pain and checked himself in, only to find the problem at hand. Although a full recovery is expected, after the surgery to Patrick Kane, you have to wonder, are we lucky that this is all coming out before the season starts, or is this an early sign of a nightmare season to be?
Only time will tell.
Since today is September 11, it seemed like a good time to tell every one where I stand on what has, from time to time, been an issue of controversy regarding Blackhawk home games. I am referring to, of course, the way Hawks fans react to the singing of the National Anthem. I was reminded of this today due to the fact that Jim Cornelison, the Hawks Anthem singer, will be performing the Anthem at Soldier Field today for the Chicago Bears game. For those who don’t know what I am referring to, at every game Jim stands on the ice next to 2 or 3 veterans from the U.S. military. From the opening note of The Star Spangled banner, the entire crowd begins to clap and cheer. This has been going on for quite some time—watch below the National Anthem on from the 1991 All Star game if you want a pretty good example. This nationally televised game, which occurred just days after the war started in the Persian Gulf, was a lot of Americans first exposure to this tradition. (Note; Wayne Messmer was the Hawks public address announcer and singer at that time).
Once again, in my off season struggles to come up with something to blog about, discuss with my friends, or even chat about, with some one wearing Hawks gear, I’ve only been able to come up with a few more bits and pieces. Here’s a few of them now.
On the minor league note, The Rockford Ice Hogs single game season tickets will go on sale tomorrow, Thursday, September 8th. I have not read anything about an increase in tickets prices for this season. So here’s your chance to see future Hawk stars, on the glass, for right around $25.
Now, I said I would not comment on speculation as to the return of Patrick Kane. (Kane had surgery the third week in July on his left wrist) However, Kaner spoke about his recovery and here’s what he had to say;
“I’ve always believed training camp is a real big time of year for myself to get ready for the regular season, It’s definitely something you want to use.”
It’s good, make that great news for Chicago Blackhawk, Hall of Famer, Stan Mikita. Stan, who was diagnosed with oral cancer (stage one) a while back, spoke on Friday.
“It looks very clean,” “That’s what the doctors told me, and I am very thankful. Jill and I always had a happy home, but it’s even happier now.”
Stan, the all time Hawks leading points scorer and Ambassador, also added this,
“I was told at the start that the outlook was good,”. “What they do now is amazing. The doctors, nurses and oncologists who treated me have been unbelievable. It’s been an emotional time for me, and after I went in the other day to be examined, and got the results, I didn’t know whether to laugh or cry. My weight is still down, but I’m gaining a few pounds back, and my voice is stronger.”
Before I even get into what I want to talk about, there’s two things that I would like to cover. I have been asked why I haven’t commented on when Patrick Kane will return from his wrist surgery.There’s a very simple answer. What is there to comment on? I am not going to rush to the computer every time there is a “so called update.” On several occasions this pre-season, I have read an update only to have another report contradict all that was said a day, and sometimes even hours earlier. When he’s healthy, and the doctor’s give it the OK, then he’ll return. I’m tired of hearing that he is an hour ahead of schedule one minute, only to be followed up with news of his delay up to 5 weeks.
Also, on a side note, I read Bob Probert’s autobiography, “Tough Guy”. I couldn’t put the book down. It was a pretty honest evaluation of himself. I guess the times spent in rehabs will do that. (Not a mean joke, I’m being serious) Anyway, I really recommend it.
Now, to what I want to say. I’ve been thinking about hockey nicknames, both from the Hawks and the NHL in general. I’ve noticed certain patterns that intrigue me.
Once again, while waiting for what seems to be forever for training camp to start, I was killing some time. While looking through the Hawks “All Time Statistics” I was actually a little surprised by some facts. Steve Larmer (Blackhawks from the 1980-1981 season through 1992-1993) ranks fourth on the list for scoring. Stan Mikita ranks number one, followed by Bobby Hull, and then Denis Savard. No real surprise there, I knew he was Top 5, at least. But when you actually start breaking down the numbers, a couple of things stuck out.
Steve played in 891 games (10 more than than Savard) while racking up 923 points (1,096 for Savvy). Larmer scored 406 goals (third highest on the Hawks) and had 517 assists (fourth best). He leads all right wingers, historically, for Chicago. Overall, he was a +182 in his career. Those figures weren’t kept back in Stosh & Bobby’s playing days.—- It would be interesting to see exactly when +/-, power play goals, short handed goals, and other stats became to be recorded. Another article I guess.
As Training Camp draws near (seems like I’ve been saying that forever) one of the most interesting battles will be that of the back up goal tending position. Battling for the number 2 spot will be Alexander Salak and Ray Emery. The Hawks acquired Salak along with forward Michael Frolik, in the trade which sent Jack Skille (and 2 minor league players ) to Florida. Emery was invited to camp as a free agent, back in July. I’d like to take a minute to tell you what I know about each of them.
Back in May, the Hawks signed a 2 year deal with Salak. He has 2 NHL games to his credit, both with Florida. The 24 year old net minder played all of last season in the Swedish League. He lived in the Czech Republic, where he was born, until a couple of weeks ago. Salak has moved to Chicago and has begun working out in the United Center, assisted by the team’s trainers. Salak was quoted as saying “I always work as hard as I can.. I’m going to work hard and stop pucks. What happens, will happen. If they send me there (Rockford, AHL) I’d go there and play. I’m happy that they’re (the Hawks) are giving me a chance. I just want to make sure that I am ready.”
The Rockford Ice Hogs will start this season with a new head coach. He is 41 year old, Ted Dent. Ted has been an assistant coach for the past five seasons. He spent the last four seasons in Rockford, and before that, he spent one season in Norfolk. Ted will be replacing former Ice Hogs head coach Bill Peters. Coach Peters took a job over the summer to be an assistant coach in Detroit,with Mike Babcock. Coach Dent will be assisted in Rockford by Ben Simon and Steve Poapst. As with all minor league affiliates in every sport, your job is really two fold. You must prepare your players to move up while maintaining a winning record. Coach Dent is, of course, well aware of this “That was made very clear to me at my job interview,” says Dent. “We want to continue a winning atmosphere in Rockford, of course. But our primary responsibility is to teach and prepare these kids so they will be in the NHL within two or three years.” That is the balance that a minor league coach must learn quickly.
I was killing some time so I thought that I would look at the overall, teams stats from the regular season last year (2010 - 2011). There wasn’t really a lot of surprises with the Hawks who remain on the team for the upcoming 2011 - 2012 season, The “core” - a term which I know has bothered other readers of this blog in the past - of Toews, Kane, Sharp, Hossa, Seabrook and Keith, were the Hawks top six players in the total points department. I listed the names in order of point total from first through sixth. However, I was a little surprised to see that Kopecky, Brouwer and Campbell, were numbers 7, 10, and 11 (in that order). These three players, of course are no longer with the team. The question then becomes, with these guys gone, who makes up for their point total? The free agents that we have acquired, other roster players in a different role change, or kids from Rockford who are ready to step up?
Here’s a few bits and pieces of information, as we wait for the boys to don the blades.
Tickets for this years Training Camp Opener are on sale now. They are $5 and all seats are general admission. The first 10, 000 who enter the United Center will receive a Patrick Sharp bobble head doll. (Which I guess should be smiling after that 5 year extension). Last years opener was a sell out and a success.
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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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