Kukla's Korner Hockey
form the National Post via Canada.com,
“Certainly, the future is starting to become apparent to many GMs ,” he said. “We came out of that work stoppage in ‘04 and had a ton of guys to sign. Last year, the cap went up significantly,” loosening the screws on GMs a bit. “Now, I really feel that a lot of guys are saying, ‘There’s a guy on my team, and if he keeps playing at this level it’s going to cost me that much? Can I afford it?’ The money issues are more critical.”
While Bill Guerin emerges as the prime unrestricted free agent left in this year’s market—drawing feelers from San Jose, Detroit, Anaheim, Toronto and Carolina—there is much purpose in Naples for any of these GMs, whether or not the playoffs are a reality this spring.
from the CP via the Ottawa Sun,
Bryan Murray joined a distinct coaching fraternity Tuesday night.
Murray, 64, becomes the fifth NHL coach with 600 wins behind Scotty Bowman, Al Arbour, Dick Irvin and Pat Quinn.
“It’s elite company, no question about it, and I respect it a great deal,” said the Shawville native, who earned the milestone in his 1,199th career game after winning his first back on Nov. 14, 1981 as coach of the Washington Capitals. “To win that many games it’s a great compliment to the players I’ve had, to the teams I’ve coached,” Murray said.
from Johnette Howard of Newsday,
Admit it. For a week or two last July, back when the Islanders were being ridiculed as the laughingstock of the NHL, you would’ve taken a season like this in a heartbeat. The Isles may not be the scourge of the league now, but look: They are in the playoff hunt. The disaster that was darkly predicted for them hasn’t happened. The midsummer rants that Isles owner Charles Wang had reverted to his screwball ways, and Mike Milbury was still somehow secretly pulling the strings though he had stepped aside as GM—all of that is gone.
Nobody’s even dredging up the sumo goaltender jokes anymore.
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
Last night, referees Greg Kimmerly and Wes McCauley allowed Paul Martin to get away with an unpenalized first-period knee on No. 68. What else is new?
It was after the Jan. 31 game at the Garden against Toronto that Brendan Shanahan expressed amazement at the abuse officials had permitted opponents to inflict on Jagr. If anything, it has gotten worse since then.
It is as if the league is sanctioning flagrant fouls against Jagr. It is as if the NHL referees have declared open-season on the Rangers’ captain.
The league won’t protect Jagr and the Rangers don’t appear capable of it. Again, what else is new?
from Tom Powers of the Pioneer Press,
Folks, you don’t see it here in Minnesota, where the Wild are thriving. But hockey is dying in many other parts of the country. And that includes traditional markets such as Boston and Chicago. The sellouts you see at Xcel are the exception, not the rule.
Nashville is typical of the new wave of teams. The Predators may be one of the top two teams in the league, yet they can’t fill their building now that the novelty has worn off. Not that the other owners care. They’ve already pocketed the expansion fees.
Something needs to be done to juice up the competition. And out of all of the above issues, the lack of rivalries can be most easily addressed. This is a totally fixable situation. Of course, the NHL won’t fix it. Its solution to a problem is to try to spin the data.
from Allen Panzeri of the Ottawa Citizen:
Happy Birthday, Ryan Smyth.
As the Edmonton Oilers leave Ottawa for Columbus, Ohio, this morning, Smyth’s teammates will be helping him celebrate his 31st birthday.
It could well be his last one as an Oiler. As tough as Smyth makes it for goaltenders, it’s not a lot of fun to be in his skates right now.
from the LA Daily News:
Anze Kopitar, Los Angeles’ hockey savior, grew up in a city of 21,000 people - just more than the capacity of Staples Center. Turns out, that steel-mill town in northern Slovenia gave Kopitar all he needed.
The talent? It blossomed, nurtured by a hockey coach father and assisted by videos of Sergei Fedorov.
The motivation? It came from the desire to put his tiny Eastern-bloc country on the hockey map.
The work ethic? It sprung from the childhood days spent waiting tables at his mother’s restaurant.
In his skating posture, puckhandling abilities, and heads-up play, he’s a spitting image of Sergei Fedorov, circa 1992.
A word to the wise: Stay away from tennis players, kid.
from Chris Foster of the LA Times,
This, too, may be Johnson’s last Hail-to-the-Victors-Farewell-to-the-Wolverines night in Ann Arbor. Students plead for him to stay put, but the woeful Los Angeles Kings, who acquired his rights in a September trade, hope he comes west.
“Last year, they were yelling, ‘Three more years,’ now it’s two,” Johnson said the next day, huddling at the Yost as the temperature outside fought its way toward six, the day’s expected high. “After the game, the seniors [on the team] said I should go out with them to say goodbye. That was funny.”
But California dreamin’, even on such a winter’s day, is on the shelf until his college season ends, which could be as early as next month.
more (reg. req.)
You see, it pays to live in Canada…
Darren Dreger reports the Boston Bruins may be close to re-signing impending UFA forward Marco Sturm to a new four-year contract.
more from Spector…
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
On the second day of National Hockey League general managers’ meetings, it was the same old story — all talk and little action. Apart from approving the recommended changes on the instigator rule (suspensions will now follow after five transgressions as opposed to only three) and addressing a few house-keeping matters (teams were warned not to abuse the long-term injury exemption to get more salary-cap space), GMs spent most of the day, circling around each other, trying to lay the groundwork for trades.
It isn’t just NHL fans that want to see more movement, the GMs are in the same boat, playing a game of poker, where the stakes are just too high for most right now.
continued... Wings & Sabres fans, keep reading…
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