Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Dan Rosen of NHL.com,
With an improved cast around him, Benn will nudge out every other elite forward to win the Hart Trophy. He is the preseason choice to be the League's most valuable player in the 2015-16 season.
"Jamie improves every game and every year," Stars center Tyler Seguin said. "I've only been with him for two years, but as a player and as a person it seems like every week he's getting stronger and better, and becoming a better leader and better captain. He wants the team to be so successful that he's making himself better as a player."
The Stars became a better team during the offseason, adding goalie Antti Niemi, forward Patrick Sharp and defenseman Johnny Oduya. All three have won the Stanley Cup with the Chicago Blackhawks. Sharp and Oduya did it last season.
Sharp is expected to start the season on a line with Benn and Seguin. It could become the best line in the NHL. Benn's numbers could go up. Would anybody be surprised if he scored 40 or more goals? He had 35 last season, 34 the season before.
A better, more experienced team around him should make Benn an even better player. That should put Benn in the national spotlight, which gives him a chance to impress more members of the Professional Hockey Writers' Association, who vote for the Hart Trophy.
from Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch,
Years ago, a stupid columnist (ahem) described Blue Jackets coach Todd Richards as having the personality of drapery, which is not only unduly cheap, it is flat wrong. Richards simply knows who he is, which is small-town Minnesota. He is a Friday night fish fry at the supper club, cold beer within reach.
There is a facile mind behind this humble facade.
On Friday morning, Richards was asked whether he’d ever held the keys to such a fine automobile. He was asked whether expectations — on him — have risen.
He said, “I tell people this: We finished, what, 23rd last year in the league. And in a five-month period, we went from 23rd to ninth in the power rankings — and we haven’t even played a game. We haven’t even stepped on the ice.”
He said, “I guess if I’m sitting on a lot and I’m looking at a car, right now the car looks pretty nice on the outside. But to me now the question is: What’s under the hood? That gets into the potential. What’s under the hood? Right now, on paper, it looks pretty good, and the question is how are we going to come together as a group, and how are we going to play as a team.”
That is a primo answer to a metaphorical question.
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
- Inside the Blue Jays clubhouse, there was surprising sympathy for Jonathan Papelbon after the attack on Bryce Harper. Many thought Harper had it coming. Just not necessarily around the throat ... When Papelbon went for the throat, he was suspended by the Washington Nationals and widely criticized. When Mark Messier would do that inside an NHL locker room, it was called leadership and greatly applauded.
- The newest whisper term around the Maple Leafs: Bab-clock. That describes the amount of time Mike Babcock sets out for the media each day and how long he’s willing to hang in for post-practice and post-game interviews. The Bab-clock is a work in progress. Apparently, the time changes day to day and is based on the quality of the questions asked and whether he’s gone for his daily run or not.
- My Top 5 NHL Players: 1. Carey Price; 2. Drew Doughty; 3. Duncan Keith; 4. Victor Hedman; 5. Jonathan Toews.
a few more hockey notes...
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
We’re supposed to believe that “Mr. Jacobs” of the Bruins just might rather pass on his $33 million-plus share of the $1 billion in fees projected by Gary Bettman if the NHL adds two clubs for 2017-18 than recommend that the league in fact expand?
Sure he will.
Remember. Expansion fees are not included in Hockey Related Revenue and thus belong to the owners and owners only. And 2017-18 expansion would come two seasons before an anticipated Owners’ Lockout IV.
Spare us the consternation about the continuing numerical unbalance between the East and West if Quebec joins Las Vegas as expansion clubs.
The next round of expansion should bring a radical realignment of the NHL that could, if not should, feature a Canadian Conference.
But about the expansion draft. We raised the issue last year and are raising it again. In a league in which successful teams always have extremely limited cap space, is the NHL going to create a pair of teams that would have up to $75 million of space with which to bid on free agents?
read on for some talk about the New York Islanders' move to Brooklyn...
from Curtis Zupke of the LA Times,
Ducks Coach Bruce Boudreau said Silfverberg was fine and kept him out for precautionary reasons.
"There was no sense bringing him back," Boudreau said. "But we've seen that before."
Torres has a history of suspensions and is facing another one after he was ejected with a match penalty for intent to injure.
"Same player every year," Ryan Kesler said. "I played with the guy [in Vancouver]. He needs to learn how to hit. That has no part in our game anymore."
more on the game...
via Curtis Pashelka of Working The Corners,
Sharks forward Raffi Torres is in danger of receiving another long term suspension from the NHL after he was given a match penalty for an illegal hit to the head of Jakob Silfverberg in the first period of San Jose’s game against Anaheim on Saturday at the Honda Center.
Torres was given a 10-minute misconduct and ejected from the game for the hit on the Ducks’ Silfverberg, which came with 7:15 to go in the first period. Silfverberg left the ice and did not return for the rest of the period.
According to NHL rules, any player who receives a match penalty player “shall be automatically suspended from further competition until the Commissioner has ruled on the issue.”
Torres has been suspended four times in his NHL career.
Watch the hit below, via Sportsnet...
from the Sun Sentinel,
Comment:The kids have grown up enough. The roster is now deep enough. The Panthers slip into the playoffs, which considering recent history is the bar for a successful season.
Comment: After a league-best 25-point improvement last season, the Panthers are expecting to challenge for a Stanley Cup. Coach Gerard Gallant will roll out three balanced lines filled with a half-dozen players who should score 20 or more goals. However, it’s imperative that ageless wonder Jaromir Jagr, who instantly boosts the power play, and 36-year-old goalie Roberto Luongo remain healthy.
via an email from the New Jersey Devils,
New Jersey has agreed to terms with forward Lee Stempniak on a one-year deal worth $850,000.
Stempniak was on a PTO with the Devils.
RALEIGH, NC – Ron Francis, Executive Vice President and General Manager of the National Hockey League’s Carolina Hurricanes, today announced that the team has agreed to terms with goaltender Eddie Lack on a two-year contract extension. The deal will pay Lack $2.5 million in 2016-17, and $3 million in 2017-18.
“Eddie has been a great addition to our locker room,” said Francis. “We feel that we have a very solid tandem in net for this season and are excited that Eddie will remain a part of that picture beyond this year.”
from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,
By Claude Julien’s count, about half of the NHL’s teams now play man-to-man defense. Tampa Bay was one of those teams last year. The Lightning advanced to the Stanley Cup Final by playing man-to-man.
Julien does not plan to join that growing number this year.
“We’re not sold on man-to-man yet,” said the Bruins coach. “Maybe two years from now, whether the system changes or different things happen, we might say, ‘Hey, we’ve got to get man-on-man here.’ But right now, our defensive game still works. Our scoring chances against are still low. We’re sticking with it.”
Julien points to the results the Bruins had in the second half last season. By then, Julien praised his players for improving their movement in the offensive zone. Defensemen pinched down the walls without hesitation. The forwards were good about keeping a third man high.
more plus numerous other hockey topics...
"I've wanted to be the best player in the world since I was a little kid. Over the past 10 days he has gotten a taste of what is is like to play against such luminaries as Sidney Crosby, Patrice Bergeron, Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane, along the way contributing three goals among four points in five games.
"I think I can be right there. I know it is just preseason, but it was how competitive those guys were, and how they were playing, I think in my career, that is the kind of player I want to be."
-Dylan Larkin of the Detroit Red Wings. More on Larkin from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org