Kukla's Korner Hockey
Team Russia faces Team Canada in the first semi-final game at the Wolrd Cup of Hockey.
The puck drops just after 7:00pm ET and is on ESPN2, CBC and TVAS.
from Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News,
The World Cup of Hockey is down to the nitty-gritty, with the semifinals this weekend and the best-of-three final series opening Tuesday night. Those who called it nothing but a cash grab have been proven wrong as the hockey and the storylines have been sensational.
Even before the final faces off, there's plenty to look back at and learn from. Here's what's been filling my notebook from group play:
One and done?
After Team North America's unfortunate elimination and Team USA's opening loss to Team Europe, you heard a lot of chatter about the tournament format and how one loss shouldn't be a death knell. One thing that could have been done was advance the two group winners and the best second-place team to the semifinals and then have a one-game playoff for that final semifinal slot.
Under that scenario, Canada, Sweden and Russia would have advanced and Team North America would have met Team Europe in the play-in game for the right to claim the fourth semifinal berth. That would have dramatically cut the impact of tiebreakers deciding stay-or-go-home scenarios.
Team USA essentially lost its chance to advance with its opening loss to Team Europe. Team North America will forever rue the four goals it gave up to the Russians in a six-minute span, because they ultimately proved to undo its other 179 minutes of breathtaking hockey.
continued plus more World Cup topics...
from Tal Pinchevsky of the New York Times,
When the two-day Quebec Hockey Summit took place in Montreal in 2011, it touched on issues including head injuries and ways to improve the game.
But the prominent topic of conversation in panels featuring former N.H.L. players like Luc Robitaille, Guy Carbonneau and Bobby Smith was a potential crisis looming large over the province: Where have all the Québécois N.H.L. players gone?
The province known for grooming many of hockey’s most charismatic stars has hit something of a developmental rut over the last two decades. Gone are the days of dominant French Canadian stars like Maurice Richard, Jean Beliveau, Gilbert Perreault, Guy Lafleur, Mario Lemieux, Patrick Roy and Martin Brodeur.
That may have never been more evident than at the N.H.L. draft in June, when 14 players from the Quebec Major Junior Hockey League were selected, by far the lowest total since 2004. Of those 14 players, only eight were born in the province.
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
Hockey has yet to reach football’s level of specialization. It’s coming. It’s not enough anymore to have a head coach, two assistants, and a goalie coach. In short order, there will be full-time assistants dedicated to each position: goalie, defense, center, and wing. Some teams will hire assistants to work specifically on the power play and penalty kill.
Skills coaches are also en route. In August, the Coyotes hired Dawn Braid as skating coach. The organization believes Braid is the NHL’s first full-time female coach. That’s not the important part. The good news is a team is thinking progressively enough to dedicate a position to skating, the most critical component to a player’s success. On the same day, the Coyotes hired Mike Van Ryn as the organization’s development coach and Steve Potvin as its skills coach. Clearly, 27-year-old GM John Chayka is thinking differently than his older counterparts.
This may seem like overkill to the game’s established minds. It’s not. It’s progress. When a team hires a full-time shooting coach, it will wonder what took so long. Improvement takes place when players are challenged, taught, and coached to do things they have not been prompted to do before.
If nothing else, hiring more coaches leads to an increase in the metabolism of thinking. It will not surprise you to hear that John Tortorella considers himself an alpha male. The Columbus coach is not alone in this category. Lead dogs are used to getting their way, not being tested to consider alternatives. Every coach improves when he’s forced to think differently.
more plus other hockey topics of interest...
via the Pittsburgh Penguins,
Pittsburgh Penguins goaltender Matt Murray will miss the next three to six weeks with a broken hand, it was announced today by executive vice president and general manager Jim Rutherford.
Murray suffered the injury on September 19 while playing for Team North America at the World Cup of Hockey.
from Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun,
Hockey Night in Canada.
On home soil.
In front of a raucous red-and-white clad capacity crowd at the Air Canada Centre and a national television audience watching at home from coast to coast.
Yes, we know there are cynics out there who feel the 2016 World Cup of Hockey is nothing more than a lucrative cash grab for the National Hockey League and the NHLPA. If you are in line with this way of thinking, you certainly are entitled to your opinion.
Having said that, if you are a hockey fan and can’t get cranked up for the on-ice theatre that is set to take place in downtown Toronto on Saturday when these two long-time foes clash in a one-game, winner-take-all semifinal, well, you don’t have a pulse.
Don’t take our word for it. Just ask Team Canada’s Corey Perry.
from Aaron Portzline of the Columbus Dispatch,
Q: You called last season "a kick in the teeth." Now that you have had time to reflect, do you have a better understanding of what went wrong?
A: I think the biggest disappointing thing, and I think the players in talking to them will all agree, is that it was primarily the veteran players that didn’t have a good year, not all of them, but some of them. And that was disappointing. I don’t think I have to say that to them because they know it. For whatever reason it was just strange and at all at once. Just strange.
Q: Then why did you say earlier that last season was on you?
A: Because I am in charge. I’m in charge and winning is my department. I’ve talked to the players, I’ve talked to the coaches, I’ve talked to the general manager and we are all on the same page here right now. But we are not going to panic, even though it was real … it was hard. I think a lot of players here understand it and they don’t want to go through that again. What’s even more astonishing is everyone I talked to in the hockey world, including at the draft, says, “I can’t believe that happened to you guys."
from Scott Cruickshank of the Calgary Herald,
“Gully’s done a great job so far,” said Mark Giordano, getting a load of, unbelievably, his sixth head coach in Calgary. “He comes in, he’s been clear in what he wants us to do. But really, really positive … and really easy to approach and talk to.
“I don’t see that any player should feel intimidated.”
The on-ice portion of Gulutzan’s term began in the morning with the first of his three groups on the Saddledome sheet.
Nervous? Nah. This is a day he’d been looking forward to.
“I was anxious,” said Gulutzan. “I’m like, ‘I’m done looking at the computer, I’m done looking at schedules. I would like to get on the ice and see these players for myself for the first time.’ ”
Collar popped, hair perfect, the skipper glided out amongst his troops – name-bars, finally, on the backs of their practice jumpers – and demanded, and received, a brisk pace.
from Kevin Baxter of the LA Times,
... Four days later Setoguchi took one final drink, then walked through the doors of a rehab center in Malibu. That was 19 months ago and Setoguchi says he hasn’t had a drink since, allowing him to reclaim both his life and his health.
Now he wants his career back too. And he took what he hopes will be a big step on that road Friday afternoon when he skated with the Kings on the first day of training camp in El Segundo, less than an hour’s drive from the rehab center that may have saved his life.
“I’ve been out of the league for a year. It’s not like I can go two years out of the league and have a chance to make it next year,” he said. “So yeah, this is a chance.
“Is it my last chance? Probably.”
The odds against him succeeding are long ones. Setoguchi, a right wing who once made $3 million a year, is in camp on a tryout contract, which means the Kings can cut him at any time. The same is not true of many of the players Setoguchi is competing against for a spot on a team with little salary-cap space.
from Jeff Miller of the OC Register,
“It’s hard to watch the playoffs,” the veteran defenseman said Friday. “You don’t want anybody to win. It feels like you get punched in the gut every time you watch a game.”
Punched in the gut … or some place even worse, the Ducks, for the fourth consecutive season, experiencing the stun-gun zap of being eliminated in Game 7 at Honda Center.
Such punches certainly can knock out your wind. But dropping the deciding, do-or-don’t game four straight times at home turns on its head the concept of breathtaking.
Being eliminated this way – and repeatedly so – can take away more than just your breath. Portions of your heart and soul can go, too.
“Without having much success last year in the playoffs, guys are a little bit snarlier,” Bieksa said. “Guys are little bit more (ticked) off, a little bit more focused, I think.”
That’s a good sign this early, on the opening day of training camp. It’s also a good sign that the Ducks have upped their level of snarly and Corey Perry isn’t even here yet.
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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