Kukla's Korner Hockey
by pcoffey on 05/26/11 at 11:22 AM ET
Just a few random thoughts today as provisions are being laid in for Friday’s Game 7 of the Eastern Conference finals.
* At some point in the future, there will be a debate about whether Marty St. Louis belongs in the Hockey Hall of Fame. Right now, he could care less, what with Game 7 against the Bruins fast approaching. St. Louis is the one primarily responsible for making Friday night, Two goals and an assist in an elimination game is clutch by anyone’s standards.
“I think that’s what you play for,” he said after the Game 6 win. “Whether it’s as a kid in the driveway and pretending to be a Game 7. Those are the games you watch as a kid. Those are the games that gets your fire going and those are the ones you want to play in. The do-or-die games. Our backs against the wall.
You want to leave it out there, and I was fortunate to get a couple of good bounces today. And guys made good plays. But I felt like in those games, I said I like to give myself a chance to help my team.”
My respect for St. Louis grew immensely a couple seasons back when he was named as an injury replacement to the NHL All-Star Game. In this day and age when skipping out on All-Star contests is common, St. Louis instead went the extra mile to get to Montreal. He cancelled a family vacation and then battled through all sorts of travel problems to get to the Bell Centre to play. That kind of determination sets an example.
“He’s the heart and soul of our team,” Steven Stamkos said. “You see how hard Marty works during the game. You guys get to see that but you don’t see what happens in the room. He’s the first guy to step up and get the guys going. He’s obviously been through every type of experience and every single type of championship you could win, he’s been there. He’s won individual awards. He’s won the Stanley Cup and he’s always been a big part.”
Think having St. Louis in the Tampa dressing room for Game 7 is going to give the Bolts an edge? You bet.
“He knows what to do and how to react in those situations,” Stamkos said. “And he stepped up before the game and said a few words, and just the respect he has from every single guy on the team. Coming from him, we take that to heart. And like I said he leads by example on the ice with his work ethic and everyone follows that. But the way his leadership qualities are, especially in the Playoffs, he’s been our go-to guy, and he was again tonight, and can’t wait to see what happens in Game 7.”
* Jumping back to the discussion earlier this week on whether Brian Rafalski merits Hockey Hall of Fame status comes this quote from Mike Babcock.
“He was an elite, elite player. When we were fortunate enough to sign him, it gave us new life, immediately.”
Two “elites” is pretty impressive stuff coming from Babcock folks.
* Another Wings note in relation to life after Rafalski. GM Ken Holland admitted that his summer will be spent on reworking his defense. No surprise there.
“We need to overhaul our defense, either through trade, but probably really we set our sights on July 1,” Holland told reporters at the Rafalski presser. “There are some good names out there, but you expect some of them are going to be signed between now and July 1. We’re going to go through all the names, and when July 1 comes, we’ll be ready to move.”
But here is where the Wings and a lot of the competition differ. Holland isn’t going to make a move simply to make a move. Tossing money around for the hell of it is why there is a never ending discussion of “bad contracts” going on in sports these days.
“The cap world is about, for the player and for the club, finding people at a certain number that work for us, and they have to find a number that works for them,” Holland said. “So no, we’re not just going to throw a bunch of money at people on July 1, and then on the first of December, wake up trying to figure out: ‘How do we get rid of those people?’ That doesn’t sound like a great plan to me.”
That approach is why the Red Wings are always in the discussion when it comes to elite organizations.
* To no one’s surprise, Trevor Linden thinks the Vancouver Canucks are going to win the Stanley Cup.
“This team I believe is going to win and they will be celebrated for all the right reasons,” Linden told The Associated Press. “And that’s winning. After 17 years, to be honest it isn’t a topic I was particularly comfortable talking about, the ‘94 team. We didn’t win, right? Hopefully they take it one step further.”
* Lastly, sincerest best wishes to the great Stan Mikita as he battles cancer.
The Hockey Hall of Famer has been diagnosed with stage 1 oral cancer, but according to his doctor, the prognosis is good.
“Stan has been diagnosed with an early base of tongue cancer and the prognosis is excellent,” Dr. Richard Borrowdale of Loyola Medical Center told the AP. “He will be treated with external beam radiation therapy.”
During his Hall of Fame career, Mikita, now 71, scored 541 goals and 926 assists in a 21 seasons with the Blackhawks.
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