Kukla's Korner Hockey
NHL.com's "30 in 30" series focuses on the Buffalo Sabres today, with the team's top prospects, Anthony Stewart's presence and steps that need to be taken by both in-the-lineup players like Tyler Myers and top picks like Sam Reinhart faring significantly into the probability of the team turning itself around this upcoming season. The "hook" regarding today's articles comes in the form of surprising comments come from Sabres coach Ted Nolan and the aforementioned Stewart, who issue "We're not that far off" comments to NHL.com's Jon Lane:
Following what he called a "completely unacceptable" season, [Sabres GM Tim] Murray refused to buy into a five-year rebuild and accelerated the Sabres' reconstruction with the signing of five free agents on July 1.
"Probably the best couple of words I heard out of Tim's mouth was when he said 'five years,'" said Ted Nolan, who went 17-36-9 after taking over as interim coach and signed a three-year contract extension in March. "Who knows what's going to happen five years from now? I always, as a coach, just worry about now. My now is preparing this team to be the best we can. If we get the players like we did this summer, it could be a very short rebuild and we get to the point to where we're battling for what everybody wants, and that's the Stanley Cup."
The 2014 Winter Classic was marketed very strongly as a showdown at "The Big House" (a.k.a. Michigan Stadium), but the 2015 Winter Classic between the Washington Capitals and Chicago Blackhawks hasn't included, oh, say, a "Battle at RFK" angle.
According to the Washington Post's Alex Prewitt and Mike DeBonis, there's a good reason for the lack of location-specific marketing:
Since it was announced in December that the Washington Capitals would host the 2015 Winter Classic, it has been widely assumed the most natural venue for the game was Nationals Park.
NHL representatives visited Nationals Park, in addition to RFK Stadium and FedEx Field, a person with knowledge of the situation said at the time of the announcement, and had pegged the ballpark as the likely site for the annual New Year’s Day game.
But with one month left until the NHL preseason begins and with the Jan. 1 game between the Capitals and Chicago Blackhawks less than five months away, there has still been no official announcement where it will be held, and a source with knowledge of the negotiations said Friday there are hurdles left to clear.
Paul and I scratched our heads regarding the Naples News' rather relaxed interview with Sidney Crosby, who was skating at Germain Arena in Esthero, FL (home of the ECHL's Florida Everblades) alongside Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene, John Tavares and Kyle Okposo...But strength and conditioning coach Darryl Belfry's camp was supposed to be hush-hush from the get-go, so protocol ws followed.
The AP made sure to dispatch a correspondent to speak with Crosby before he left Southwestern Florida, however, and Crosby addressed the state of his not-surgically-repaired right wrist (albeit in classic Cliche Crosby mode)...
Pittsburgh Penguins star center Sidney Crosby's right wrist appears to be on the road to recovery. The reigning NHL MVP said Friday he's pleased with the way his wrist has responded to treatment over the summer and is anxious for training camp to begin as the Penguins try to recover from their second-round collapse in the playoffs.
"It's good," Crosby said. "You want to see how things progress throughout the summer once you start skating and get back to that regular routine. You want to see how it reacts so I'm happy with the way it's gone."
And Crosby addressed his team's roster, behind-the-bench and front office changes as well (and the AP reports that David Clarkson also attended the camp):
If you're looking for a little mid-August drama, the Chicago Blackhawks have been unable to come to terms with 2010 first-round draft pick Kevin Hayes, and the team issued the following announcement:
Chicago Blackhawks Vice President/General Manager Stan Bowman released the following statement regarding Kevin Hayes:
“We offered Kevin what we believed was a generous and fair contract. Unfortunately, he felt it was in his best interests to become a free agent. We are looking forward to the compensatory draft pick we are receiving and are focused on the excitement surrounding the start of training camp next month.”
Per the National Hockey League’s Collective Bargaining Agreement Article 8.3(b), the Blackhawks will receive a second-round pick (54th overall) in the 2015 NHL Draft.
Hayes is a 6'4," 216-pound forward who graduated from Boston College having registered 27 goals, 38 assists and 65 points over the course of only 40 games played, and as SI's Allan Muir noted on Friday morning, the Calgary Flames, Phoenix Coyotes, Colorado Avalanche, Boston Bruins (the "local angle" for the Boston native) and Florida Panthers (for whom Kevin's brother Jimmy plays) are all in the mix...
But there are another 24 teams that will heavily pursue Hayes as well, and with the rookie cap-max deal and signing/performance bonuses being equal, the 22-year-old power forward can pretty much pick and choose wherever he wants to play based upon which team he feels will be the best fit.
If he's looking for promises of playing time, Calgary, Phoenix and Florida can probably deliver there, but you can be sure that each and every NHL team--including the spurned Blackhawks--will "wine and dine" Hayes and his representatives.
My plan for the next two and a half days is to take it slow, real slow. I am even thinking about taking the ice in a glass challenge, filled with a little adult beverage.
I need to step away from the computer, email, twitter, etc. to recharge my battery and catch up on a little R & R.
George Malik will try to fill in when necessary while I am away and I will return on Monday.
Have a good weekend and the countdown for hockey will begin soon enough.
via Ryan Toohey of the Naples Daily News,
Pittsburgh Penguins star Sidney Crosby and a handful other NHL players wrapped up a week of training at Germain Arena on Friday.
Rookie of the Year Nathan MacKinnon and Matt Duchene of the Colorado Avalanche, John Tavares and Kyle Okopso of the New York Islanders, and David Clarkson of the Toronto Maple Leafs also have been in town.
The star-studded group of players traveled to Southwest Florida to train with performance coach Darryl Belfry.
“The environment here is nice – it’s relaxed,” Crosby said. “You’re able to recharge a little bit here before the season starts."
Below, watch Crosby talk about the training the players went through. Of course, if the video does not play, just click the Naples Daily News link.
Many of you know I am not into the advanced stats part of the game which continues to grow these days.
I just don't have the time and am probably a little old school on the topic, but I know many of you are and Rob Vollman has come out with his 2014 edition of Hockey Abstract.
One of the great reviews of the book is here...
from Dimitri Filipovicat The Sporting News,
... There'll surely be some noise in the form of Snake Oil salesmen that attempt to sneak in on a burgeoning product, but as long as you're looking in the right areas there should be plenty of reliable conduits of hockey analysis around. One of those is Rob Vollman , one of the first pioneers to mull all of these ideas over online back in the day, paving the way for those such as myself to dive headfirst into it.
For the second straight summer, he has released his version of the ' Hockey Abstract ' (playing off of Bill James' Baseball versions), which attempts to continue and bolster the intelligent discussion being had as opposed to claiming to provide any sort of dubiously earth-shattering revelations. He says it best in the introduction of this year's book, describing it as " a book that's not about what we know about hockey, but what we don't know. Most topics begin with a question, which is then explored without any preconception of what the answer should be. Virtually everything I have ever done in this field began with the words 'I don't know' .”
I've already parsed through the text with great pleasure this past weekend, and decided to share some of my favourite segments entrenched in the 300+ pages of work with the hopes that I don't spoil anything overly central to your own personal future enjoyment of it.
from Mark Herrmann of Newsday,
Al Arbour, the coach of the Islanders during their Stanley Cup run in the early 1980s, is experiencing health problems, former general manager Bill Torrey told Newsday.
"Al has had some health problems of recent vintage, but the family hasn't released anything and I respect the family," Torrey said. "I've talked to some of the former players who have called him, and they say the conversation doesn't last very long."
Torrey did not expand on Arbour's condition or mention any symptoms.
Bryan Trottier, who won four Stanley Cups playing for Arbour, said Tuesday on a Buffalo radio station that Arbour is suffering from dementia.
from Risto Pakarinen at ESPN,
You will hear New York Rangers goalie Henrik Lundqvist before you see him.
Or, rather, you will hear the roar of his black Maserati as it winds through the streets of this west coast city.
As a father of a 2-year-old daughter, he also has other cars, but there are no baby seats in the Maserati, so when he's driving solo, it's the Maserati with the matte finish that rolls out of the garage.
After the longest season in his career, Lundqvist took time off to recharge his batteries, but in the first week of August he was back on the ice, skating with local players in the Frolunda Indians practice facility, Frolundaborg, on the south side of town.
He arrives in the Maserati, stops at the parking lot meter, feeds it with a few kronor, grabs his ticket and parks his car around the corner, closer to the entrance. His famous hair is tucked under a baseball cap adorned with his own logo that combines his No. 30 with a crown.
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.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at email@example.com