Kukla's Korner Hockey
“The whole season overall wasn’t how I wanted it to be. It was unfortunate losing your confidence early. It’s a confidence game. So I’m just trying to get it back this summer. I know what I can do and can provide a team. I’ve done it in the past; I’m just trying to get there again.”
-Unrestricted Free Agent Michael Del Zotto. More on Del Zotto from Luke Fox of Sportsnet.
from Ian Cooper at the Toronto Star,
The free agent sweepstakes ended in a flash and two of our favourite players (Radim Vrbata and Benoit Pouliot) found themselves a new home and a significant raise.
For those who can’t get enough hockey in July, the league has served up its next round of entertainment: the arbitration game.
What could be more exciting than following the stories of 23 players as they, their employers, and a phalanx of lawyers and agents slowly wend their way toward a settlement on the courtroom steps?
NHL salary arbitrations have detailed rules and a veneer of science to them as the combatants try to come up with “comparables” to assess a player’s worth.
from Adam Proteau of The Hockey News,
The off-season is when NHL teams examine their rosters and look to improve. But as we know, there’s more to every franchise’s business dealings than the players themselves. There’s also the matter of the in-arena experience for fans who spend big money on tickets. While some teams are better at it than others, there’s lots of room for improvement in the way paying customers are entertained 41 nights per season. Here are three easy ways to do that:
1. Enough of the same old song. At the Air Canada Centre in Toronto, the same songs often are played not just game after game, but in the exact same circumstances every night. (I’m not talking about a team’s “goal song”. That’s fine.) While there are hundreds, if not a few thousand people on any given night who may only attend one or two games a year, there are many more who are season-ticketholders in attendance every night. It’s indefensible to subject them to a near-identical, cookie-cutter in-game experience, but that’s the reality in many rinks.
from Mary Clarke of CSNPhilly,
If they're going to win the Cup, Roenick believes they'll have to do it with a different goaltender.
"I like Steve Mason," Roenick said on Philly Sports Talk, "but I don’t think Steve Mason is the answer to winning a Stanley Cup."
Mason posted a 33-18-7 record, .917 save percentage and 2.50 goals-against average in his first full year with the Flyers. The 26-year-old once won the Calder Memorial Trophy, in 2008-09, as the league's rookie of the year with the Blue Jackets. But he regressed in his next three and a half seasons before Columbus eventually shipped him to the Flyers for Michael Leighton and a third-round pick.
"I think you need an upper echelon defenseman, I think you need an upper echelon goaltender," Roenick said. "The Flyers do not have [either].
"I think that’s something that you’re going to have to look at in terms of improving your team."
more including video of Roenick making the remarks...
The Bruins need to continue showing they’re the tough, experienced, puck-possession team to beat in a wide open East or the current band may not be together that much longer.
-Joe Haggerty of CSNNE on the Boston Bruins. Read more to find out what choices the Bruins may be forced to make.
from Dan Marrazza of Sports Illustrated,
SI: How did you end up in Poland?
Danton: The team had been interested [in me] the last couple of years. One agent who deals with that league approached me and asked if I would be interested. I jumped at the opportunity because I had to get out of Kazakhstan.
SI: Your criminal background is pretty well documented. How familiar are European fans and players with it? Do they try to antagonize you based on your past?
Danton: They know. I’ve had to put up with the same stupid jokes for the last four or five years. Anything about jail or being gay. During one game [in Tychy, Poland] a guy filled a cup with urine and threw it on me as I was going through the tunnel. They said it was just beer, and that’s what the local beer smells and tastes like. But I know what piss smells like, and it was definitely not beer. It was just very classless. That’s too far. I’m obviously doing my job because I’m really pissing them off.
SI: How do you respond when things like this happen?
Danton: I just wave and blow kisses at them. Or I wink at their girlfriends. Ask for their phone numbers. And that pisses them off even more. I’ve got an answer for everything. But I’ve heard these things so many times, so it doesn’t even faze me. I just laugh.
from Sean McIndoe of Grantland,
The NHL offseason isn’t over yet; it’s only mid-July, which means we still have roughly seven weeks until training camp starts. But it’s mostly over, in the sense that virtually all the big signings, trades, hirings, and firings have already taken place. While we’ll probably get the occasional surprise or two over the next month, we’re well into the summer dead zone now.
And you know what that means: It’s time to fire up the NHL Offseason Bizarro-meter! Last season we debuted the system for a breakdown of the Toronto Maple Leafs summer moves, and the poor thing barely survived. But we’ve spent the year tweaking the hardware, and we paid for the extended warranty, so let’s push things one step further by running through the entire league and seeing which teams’ moves made the least sense.
Here’s a look back at every team’s offseason so far, broken down by division and ranked in order of increasing Bizarro-meter score.
from Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News,
The Buffalo Sabres' top returning goal scorer and most prominent restricted free agent is back in the fold for the long term.
Multiple sources confirmed to The Buffalo News early this morning that the team has re-signed center Tyler Ennis to a five-year deal worth $23 million. The deal was first noted Wednesday by NHL Network analyst and former NHL goalie Kevin Weekes. It has yet to be confirmed by the team.
Ennis' cap hit of $4.6 million would thus put him behind only defenseman Tyler Myers ($5.5 million) and recently re-signed winner Matt Moulson ($5 million) on the Buffalo roster.
from Justin Bourne of The Score,
The 1990s might have been the golden age for fans of face-knuckling. While the 70s and 80s gave us names like Clark Gillies and Terry O’Reilly, the majority of heavies from those generations still took regular shifts and tried to contribute offensively (those two men in particular combined for 1,100 NHL points). There were exceptions as there always are, but they’re called “exceptions” for a reason.
By the 90s, the team “tough guy” became so specialized, so compartmentalized, that they trained for it exclusively. Guys focused so much on winning their fights - after all, that defined their status, their paychecks, and the league they were placed in - that hockey took a backseat. They took boxing lessons, they hit the gym with custom workouts designed for combat, and they studied on-ice fighting technique. They wore gear that was more conducive to winning fights.
It became a sport within a sport, like boxing on ice. Win your fight against an established heavy, and your status would rise and you’d stay in the league.
from Sarah McLellan of the Arizona Republic,
It's clear the Coyotes need to bolster their scoring options, but by late July or early August the remaining free agents don't usually provide that type of impact. A trade still is a possibility, and that might be the best remedy.
But even that might take some time to execute — perhaps in training camp when teams have a front-row seat to their deficiencies, and the pressure is on to find solutions. At this point in the summer, patience typically is the smartest course of action. That could end up paying off for the Coyotes.
Because they still have two forward spots available, a prospect such as Max Domi, Henrik Samuelsson or Tyler Gaudet could wow the coaching staff and help pick up some of the offensive slack during the season.
Recently acquired center Sam Gagner might capitalize on a new surrounding and finally have the breakout year many have been awaiting. And winger Martin Erat might rediscover his offensive touch in his first full season with the team.
All of these variables could pan out for the Coyotes. Or they might not.
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