Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Ken Warren of the Ottawa Citizen,
Spezza has never had a problem presenting himself. On any given morning, Spezza can be found holding court in the dressing room, talking to anyone and everyone, about anything and everything -- from video games to the number of teammates who have babies to the state of the team and his own game. "You have to be who you are," he says. "I would rather be honest and say what I feel, whether it's right all the time or not. I'm not going to second-guess myself." That attitude carries over to the ice, as well, where he often attempts plays no one else would dare try, often looking for holes between skates and over sticks.more...long, but if you like Spezza it is a must read...
from the Globe and Mail:
Now, if you're the sort of person who thinks of Ken Dryden more as a hockey player rather than a member of Parliament, get ready for Wednesday's launch of globesports.com, our significantly souped-up sports site. Hockey will be its key focus, although we are well aware, and will be paying plenty of attention as well, to the baseball playoffs, which begin Tuesday afternoon. But hockey is Canada's sport and The Globe and Mail is determined to up our game. Our hockey writers (Eric Duhatschek, Al Maki, Grant Kerr, Tim Wharnsby, David Shoalts, David Naylor and William Houston, with regular assistance from the likes of Stephen Brunt and Roy MacGregor) are the best in the business. With the launch of globesports.com, you'll no longer have to wait for your morning paper to read them. They will be filing regularly from the rink throughout the day, as will members of the Hockey News team. If you have any questions for our writers, you can join them for a live Web discussion on Wednesday.continued
from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution,
Ilya Kovalchuk could not contain his infamous temper — even though this time he might have been justified — and because of it, he didn't make it past the first period. Kovalchuk's ejection for kicking after he received a vicious cross-check from Nashville's Jordin Tootoo, who was later ejected for a third-man-in penalty, led to a downward spiral of penalties and power-play goals. The Thrashers ended their 3-4 preseason with a 5-1 defeat before 12,070 at the Gaylord Sports and Entertainment Center. The Thrashers can only hope now that the NHL takes mercy on Kovalchuk and chooses not to take any further disciplinary action before opening night on Thursday.continued (reg. req.) from the Tennessean,
"He kind of slashed Vokey after the whistle, and I just went in there and kind of pile-drived him,'' Tootoo said. "That's part of the game — you want to protect your goalie. Every team knows that.'' Thrashers Coach Bob Hartley said the incident marked the second straight night Tootoo had run one of his players, blaming Tootoo for a similar act involving Steve Rucchin on Friday. "It's two nights in a row that he ran someone and got away with it,'' Hartley said. "That's the way he plays and referees are there and they call the game and obviously he's a tough young kid.''
from the Edmonton Journal via Canada.com, TSN commentator Pierre McGuire, who was sounded out by the Pens for a player personnel job several months back but turned it down, said on his radio show Friday that a Western team was talking to the Pens about the 21-year-old who has tons of ability but has been clearly outplayed by former Blackhawks goalie Jocelyn Thibault in camp. Pens GM Ray Shero says Fleury isn't going anywhere and goalie coach Gilles Meloche says the same thing, but maybe a Western club like San Jose or Anaheim, each with two No. 1 goalies, is sniffing around. Certainly, Fleury has lots of blemishes on his game. As acrobatic as he can be, flashing his glove or diving to make stops, he gives up too many rebounds.
Technically, he needs more than remedial work, but he was also thrown into the fire far too early (playing in the league at 18, then being jerked back and forth between the minors and the Penguins).read on
from the News & Observer, The Carolina Hurricanes cemented their celebrity in the hockey world by winning the Stanley Cup, but winning the state's first major-league title has generated just a trickle of celebrity endorsement opportunities. Prominent players such as defenseman Mike Commodore, who inspired Carolina fans to mimic his appearance by wearing bushy red wigs and white bathrobes to playoff games, are still waiting by the phone. "There's absolutely nothing," Commodore said last week. "I told my agent that I'm interested if there's something going on, but there's been nothing to come to me. ... I'm in for just about anything."... "I started my career in Toronto, where every guy on the team had a car that they were given by a dealership, a free cell phone and all the other stuff," (Kevyn) Adams said. "That's just the way the culture is there, and every place is different." read on
from the Hartford Courant,
When asked if it might feel strange walking into the visitors locker room at the Civic Center for the first time in nearly 15 years next Saturday, Sean Burke, sporting a black Springfield Falcons T-shirt, broke into a smile and uttered a reply worthy of a wily 17-year veteran of the NHL. "I'm kind of on a strange road right now in general," Burke said as the Wolf Pack rallied for a 5-3 victory Friday night in Springfield... I wasn't totally surprised [to be sent down]," Burke said. "I kind of got wind of it about a month ago after they signed Holmqvist. For what it matters, I didn't play myself out of the NHL. I got in a situation where I wasn't in the plans any longer. "But, hey, when I came into the league I took somebody's job, so at some point somebody takes yours, and that's the way the cycle goes...."more
from Sherry Ross of the NY Daily News,
The cap this year is set at $44 million, but several teams are budgeted well below that figure. Pittsburgh and Washington, to name two, will be at or under $30 million. Burke said his Ducks have a $38 million budget — despite the fact that, in the past two years, he has added two of the top defensemen in the league in Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger. “You still have to run a business like a business,” Burke said. “But the difference between $38 million and $44 million is a manageable disparity.” Teams that adapted poorly — the three-time Cup champion Devils among them — can no longer bury their expensive blunders. Those that have managed, drafted, scouted and hired well will count among the league’s elite. Just don’t be shocked when another duo of upstarts scraps for the Cup come June.read on...and Sherry picks her playoff teams...
from the Chicago Tribune,
As the Blackhawks begin the 46th season since they last won the Stanley Cup, the question is whether this year will be any different from the last few miserable years. The answers are important for the team, its long-suffering fans and the NHL, which can't continue to watch its third-largest U.S. market slide into irrelevance. Which way the Hawks' fortunes go could depend on these six factors during the 82-game season. Simply put, if the Hawks are 11th or lower in the Western Conference on Dec. 1, their chances of making the playoffs will be poor because history has shown that by that date, at least six of the eight playoff teams already will be entrenched.continued
from the Columbus Dispatch,
The Blue Jackets are at it again. As the Jackets gear up for their sixth NHL season, the buzz around Nationwide Arena — mostly from the suits and broadcasters — is a certain "P" word that seems to pop up every September, only to be a distant memory once the puck has been dropped a few times in October. That word? Playoffs.... And lots of preseason publications have the Blue Jackets making the postseason, meaning the front-office folks might not be too far off. We shall see. In the short term, getting out of the hockey basement might be a more reasonable goal than making the jump into the NHL’s elite.read on
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
The NHL may have its most appealing product in more than a decade, but not by definition. For this appealing product somehow appealed to fewer people than ever, if TV ratings are the measurement by which all leagues live. But have no fear. The league in which all games have a winner but nearly a quarter of them don't have a loser is about to be saved from itself for the second time in 12 years by its most important and most loathed franchise. The small-market league is going bright lights and Broadway again. The NHL will rest in peace no more. The Rangers are on their way to another parade up the Canyon of Heroes, this time 41 years ahead of schedule.more
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