Kukla's Korner Hockey
by George Malik on 08/19/14 at 02:43 AM ET
If you don't follow Paul on Twitter, you should for many reasons, including the fact that he posts a significant amount of content that doesn't quite make blog standards, generally because it's more "talk" than "news" (and we want you to get the news here on KK, not the fluffernutter). Three of those kinds stories follow:
1. Tomas Kaberle is 36, he posted a less-than-enthralling 4 goals, 20 assists and a -8 in 48 games with HC Kladno of the Czech Extraliga this past season (and 3 assists and a -5 in 5 games for the Czech Olympic team; I'm not sure if the pass-first-past-second-and-pass-third defenseman ever shoots the puck), but he showed up at Biosteel Sports' pro camp in Toronto on Monday, and in addition to reminiscing upon his time spent in Toronto, Kaberle told the National Post's Michael Traikos that he's got a try-out deal in the works...
“It’s not in Ontario,” Kaberle said Monday at the BioSteel Pro Hockey Camp at St. Michael’s College. “I’m planning to stay around here if possible, so we’ll see what’s going to happen in the next few weeks.”
Kaberle discussed his decision to spend a year with his hometown team...
Kaberle was traded to the Boston Bruins in 2011, where he helped the team win the Stanley Cup. He spent the following two seasons playing for Carolina and Montreal, before playing last year in the Czech Republic.
“It’s nice to play where they taught you how to play, where you grew up,” he said. “It was fun. I went there especially because it was an Olympic year, with the [larger] ice surface as well. So it was a fun year. We didn’t do well, but otherwise everything else worked out well.”
As the oldest guy at this week’s BioSteel Pro Hockey Camp, Kaberle seems a step slower than teenagers such as Michael Dal Colle, Darnell Nurse and Max Domi. But he can still think the game on a higher level. And on the right team and in the right role, he believes he can do more than just watch games.
“I still enjoy the game,” he said. “That’s the key. If I didn’t enjoy the game, I wouldn’t be practicing right now. Obviously I don’t have any injuries right now. It would be nice to play a couple of more years. We will see what’s going to happen in September.”
And Kaberle dropped some strong hints as to what kind of "fit" he's looking for while speaking with the Toronto Star's Mark Zwolinski:
He recalls being in the same position as current defencemen Morgan Rielly and Jake Gardiner when he broke in with the Leafs under Quinn.
“Pat told me to play and be myself. Don’t try and do things you haven’t done before,” Kaberle said. “Use your speed and be in the defensive zone, too, and Pat knew I was not a (penalty-kill guy) so he was always good to me. I have nothing but good memories under him.”
“I formed a trust with Pat,” Kaberle added. “He let me play my game and even though there were mistakes on my part, he stuck with it. Gardiner is obviously an offensive guy, a skill guy and Rielly is one of the best pick-ups for the Leafs in years. They will become core guys. When you get to be 24-25-26 they depend on you more, and I always enjoyed those years very much.”
2. Toronto native and New Jersey Devils forward Mike Cammalleri was also in attendance at the camp, and he got a little gushy about the possibility of Brendan Shanahan turning around his hometown Leafs while speaking with the Toronto Sun's Mike Zeisberger...
"As soon as you start talking that way, my initial thought is that I think Shanny will clean that up. I really do,” Cammalleri said on Monday when the idea of a Toronto Snub Club was brought up. “He’s too experienced and too intelligent a guy to allow anything like that to take place. Put a structure in here where players feel appreciated, players feel protected, feel defended by the organization and the staff. I remember Bob Gainey was that way in Montreal. Whenever things got negative, he was able to support the team and the players in the room. The community ends up appreciating that about the group. I see the same with Shanny. It starts at the top. I would expect to see that in the culture of the team here.”
During his two-plus seasons in Montreal, Cammalleri was exposed to the same elements that supposedly causes some players to shy away from Toronto — a huge media throng; a constant glaring spotlight; and a community that lives and breathes the sport every day of the year.
Yet, even after stints with the Habs, Kings, Flames and, this coming year with the Devils, Cammalleri still understands how important the Toronto franchise is on the sport’s landscape.
“I think that the Toronto Maple Leafs to me — the brand — well, it’s the New York Yankees, it’s the Dallas Cowboys, it’s the most valuable franchise in hockey,” he said. “I think the marketplace here, especially with the economic and population growth in Toronto, well, Toronto has turned into a major city on the world stage. And the biggest sport, because it’s so hockey-centric, it’s almost the perfect mix that results in it being such a big deal. I think Torontonians, they’re very passionate about their team. But they’re very knowledgeable too. The only thing I can equate it to is playing in Montreal.
“Having grown up in Toronto, the one thing you have in both places is a very knowledgable fan base. That’s why I think Shanny will do a great job. With the right principles in place, with a team that works hard, challenges opponents the right way and plays the game the right way, I think people realize you’re not going to win every night and you are not going to win a Cup every year but if you can build a Detroit-like franchise that’s always competing and always doing things the right way, I think you get an appreciation from the intelligent fans.”
3. While New York Islanders prospect Josh Ho-Sang may be annoyed about not having been invited to Hockey Canada's World Junior Evaluation camp--and his me-first personality might turn some folks off--he told the Toronto Sun's Lance Hornby that the Biosteel camp is helping him learn about the level of preparation necessary to become a professional athlete...
Joshua Ho-Sang, who took plenty of flak for his brash persona before the draft, says the BioSteel camp has been valuable in many ways, not the least of which is seeing how old-school NHLers conduct themselves.
“You see they’re a different calibre of player, they’re smarter,” said Ho-Sang, picked late in the first round by the Islanders. “You see their mannerisms, the professionalism they have to have in front of people and the way they are in the dressing room, being funny. They’re human. It’s great to see.”
Yet Ho-Sang believes the Isles were a perfect fit for him because they won’t insist on major changes to his approach, on the ice and off.
“I went to the right place, where I feel comfortable,” the Windsor Spitfire insisted. “People said before the OHL draft, ‘he won’t be able to play the way he plays, he won’t be able to do this or that’. I went in the first round so obviously some of it worked. There will be things I have to change and I’m aware of that, but let me learn.”
4. And this definitely falls into the "talk" category. Via CBS Sports' Chris Peters, Phoenix Coyotes co-owner George Gosbee told Fox Sports Arizona's Craig Morgan that the Coyotes believe that they can turn a profit sooner than later...
"I wish people would stop looking at the five-year out clause and start looking at all the long-term deals we're signing," the team's chairman and governor said in a lengthy interview with FOX Sports Arizona. "I'm not sure it will matter if I say it, but we're committed to this market for the long run and we keep proving it."
Wednesday's announcement of a nine-year, hybrid partnership agreement with Gila River Casinos that will pay in the neighborhood of $3.5 million per year was the latest example of a long-term Coyotes' commitment to the Valley. The Coyotes have also signed a number of other long-term agreements, including a television rights agreement with FOX Sports Arizona last year. Other long-term deals include City of Glendale (arena lease, 15 years), LEVY Restaurants (food and beverage, 15 years) and Ticketmaster (10 years).
Those deals, and increased revenue from suite sales and tickets, have allowed Gosbee to pull back a bit from his involvement with the operations of the club during Year 1 of IceArizona's ownership. It also allowed former CFO and co-owner Avik Dey to pull back from his day-to-day duties entirely.
But it's the combination of the Coyotes' local progress and the financial success of the NHL overall that has Gosbee thinking once inconceivable thoughts.
"As an ownership group, we're really comfortable with how the club is working on financial platforms," he said. "We've always had a three-year plan for achieving profitability here, but with how well the NHL is doing, we think that could fast-track our plan and we could get there even earlier."
Gosbee suggested that the extra $5 million in hockey-related revenues distributed to each team via the Rogers Sportsnet TV deal were a pleasant surprise, and he also gave Morgan three points of emphasis:
-- The Coyotes missed the playoffs the past two seasons, and the internal view was that the veteran mix had grown stale and needed more youth and speed.
-- The amount of money being thrown around in free agency seemed rash and potentially damaging in the long-term to a team that still needs to watch its bottom line and was still reeling from the failed Mike Ribeiro experiment -- its first foray into the major free-agent market under the new ownership group.
-- Finally, the team is not yet profitable; ownership has only been in place for one year.
Morgan continues, but this stuff definitely falls under the "talk" category--and in the case of the Phoenix Coyotes, both Paul and I believe that there's a significant amount of reader fatigue about article 8,328 about the Coyotes either being on the brink of collapse or the brink of profitability, depending on the day, so we try to be judicious about the coverage given to their financial straits.
"What makes the blog" represents a small sample of the hundreds of articles and press releases that the boss goes through on a daily basis "24/7 365." This blog's high standards speak to Paul's experience in learning and knowing what his readers prefer to read, but he does read much more than he posts, so give him a follow on Twitter as well.
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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 firstname.lastname@example.org