Kukla's Korner

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Matheson weighs in on Babcock, Ovechkin, PK’s payday, Caps GM talk and top prospects

I kind of "stole" the prime quotes from the Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson's main Hockey World column for my Malik Report overnight entry, but I smiled broadly and nearly laughed out loud form the Blog Cave while reading Holland tell Matheson the same dang thing--almost word for word--that Babcock's been repeating to journalists and radio talk show hosts who can't or won't believe that Babcock will remain with Detroit when he can coach anywhere he wants after his contract's up a summer from now:

“I don’t believe the grass is greener on the other side of the fence … I believe he’s happy in Detroit, but there are options,” said Holland, whose contract is also up next July, but will certainly get a new one from owner Mike Ilitch.

Holland has got the Red Wings into the playoffs in each of his 17 seasons. There were three Stanley Cup championships in 1998, 2002 and 2008, plus a Game 7 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins in 2009.

Late-season rallies were required to keep a 23-year playoff streak alive while the Red Wings integrated lots of young players — Gustav Nyquist, Riley Sheahan, Tomas Tatar, Tomas Jurko, Danny DeKeyser — into the lineup each of the last two years.

“Two years ago, we won our last four games to get into the playoffs. This year, we got in again (despite a terrible run of injuries),” said Holland. “Mike’s a tremendous coach, if not the best coach in the league, then one of the best.”

Matheson's main column focuses on Babcock and Holland, but he also included this nugget of wisdom from Ottawa Senators assistant coach Perry Pern (regarding Barry Trotz's attempts to get Alex Ovechkin to "buy in" to playing defense, as Matheson addressed in a Sunday afternoon column):

If [Barry] Trotz, the new Washington Capitals coach, wants to educate Alex Ovechkin into playing a 200-foot game, he should be digging up video of Chicago Blackhawks winger Marian Hossa at work. Hossa has tons of skill, but he’s the ultimate two-way player.

“Hossa realized very early that if I play hard without the puck, I’ll get it back,” said longtime NHL assistant Perry Pearn, who was in Ottawa when Hossa was with the Senators. “Goals don’t come off the cycle now, it’s all transition. Ovechkin used to be that way when he first started and was scoring. You come back hard and, boom, you get the puck and you’re going the other way against people who aren’t ready.”

Matheson also makes some intriguing observations in his "Short Shifts"...

I’m sure the Montreal Canadiens would like to pay P.K. Subban what fellow defenceman Kris Letang got from the Pittsburgh Penguins — eight years, $58 million — when they hammer out Subban’s new long-term deal this summer, but he might want more. Drew Doughty, a better player than Subban but without the Norris Trophy, got eight years and $56 million from the Los Angeles Kings. Letang actually might get traded, so the Penguins can free up some money. His no-trade contract kicks in on July 1.


So what does Ray Shero do now that the Capitals’ general manager position has been filled? He’s got two years left on his Penguins contract, so he doesn’t have to work, but I wonder if the Boston Bruins would snap him up as an advisor. Shero was assistant GM for the Ottawa Senators in the early 1990s, when Boston GM Peter Chiarelli was a player agent with the team. I keep hearing it was a power struggle between Shero and Pens president David Morehouse that led to Shero’s firing. And former Capitals GM George McPhee? Where does he pop up next season? Maybe he’ll go the route of one-time Los Angeles Kings general manager Dave Taylor, who went into player operations, first with the Dallas Stars and, now, the St. Louis Blues.

Early indications are Tampa assistant GM Julien Brisebois is the front-runner for the Penguins’ GM job. I suspect Pittsburgh owner Mario Lemieux, a good buddy of Lightning GM Steve Yzerman from their Olympic days, has sounded out Stevie Y on Brisebois.

And his "This 'N' That":

One NHL amateur scout on Oil Kings centre Henrik Samuelsson, who was the Phoenix Coyotes’ first-round draft pick in 2012: “He’ll be as good as he wants to be. You saw the way he played in that last game against Guelph, how badly he wanted to win that game.” Samuelsson’s transitional foot speed needs work, but he’s very strong on the puck and a right-handed centre, always something NHL teams are looking for. The Oilers had their fingers and toes crossed that Samuelsson would fall to No. 31 (first pick in Round 2) after talking repeatedly with Phoenix to make a deal for the 27th overall choice. The Coyotes refused to budge.

The New York Islanders are not trading Oil Kings captain Griffin Reinhart — no way, no how — to the Oilers for the No. 3 overall draft pick in June because they are painfully weak on the back end after dealing Andrew MacDonald to Philadelphia at the trade deadline because they couldn’t sign him. The Islanders don’t need more prospects. Reinhart, 20, will play on their team next season.

Word is the Panthers, who are weak on the blue-line, want a top-four defenceman from any of the teams behind them in the June draft who want the No. 1 pick. Unless the Oilers are offering Justin Schultz, I don’t imagine they’re moving to No. 1. The Isles (No. 5) can’t afford to move any of their ordinary defencemen. Would the Calgary Flames, at No. 4, give up Ladislav Smid?

Filed in: | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: alex+ovechkin, barry+trotz, detroit+red+wings, george+mcphee, julien+brisebois, ken+holland, kris+letang, marian+hossa, mike+babcock, montreal+candiens, perry+pearn, philadelphia+flyers, phoenix+coyotes, pittsburgh+penguins, pk+subban, pk+subban, ray+shero, washington+capitals


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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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