Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Patrick Little of Alberni Valley Times,
"Mini Ha Ha" was grotesquely oversized for a teenage boy. His weight, I was told, was between three and four hundred pounds. I knew golf course superintendents who cringed knowing Mini was playing their course due to the weight he exerted on the greens with each step he walked. Wearing a signature pork pie hat and carrying clubs, he appeared to waddle down the fairways. I was always surprised how well he managed hitting the ball given the physical disadvantage.
Mini treated me as one of the boys. While he never won any tournaments of significance I was aware of, he did possess a self assurance and confidence that silently seemed to ignore his disability.
All I knew of Mini, outside of golf, was he worked at a bicycle shop in Edmonton's east end. Years later, he etched his name in history as a coach at Canadian junior hockey levels.
His nickname today is Hitch and Ken Hitchcock has become a legendary, respected and well-known National Hockey League coach with a Stanley Cup ring on his finger. Looking at him now though, one might think the greatest win was a battle within himself during those formative years as "Mini Ha Ha."
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
Salary arbitration filings create deadline-driven negotiations, and so there is still time for the Rangers and Derek Stepan to strike a deal prior to Monday’s scheduled hearing, as Chris Kreider, Ryan Callahan and Brandon Dubinsky all did on the mornings of their respective scheduled hearings and as Derick Brassard did on the eve of his last summer.
But at this point, with a wide gulf separating the parties, it’s more a question of whether the Blueshirts will decide to go for a one- or two-year arbitration award than whether the club and the 25-year-old center will be able to hammer out a long-term agreement within the next 72 hours.
The Rangers, who have the option, must declare by Saturday, when the club and player submissions are due. The decision will rest on management’s evaluation whether Stepan’s trade value would be higher on a hypothetical one- or two-year contract. Stepan is not eligible to become an unrestricted free agent until 2017.
from Mike Zeisberger of the Toronto Sun,
In a Maple Leafs dressing room too often stuffed with inflated egos, personal agendas and a greater concern for personal stats rather than the overall standings, the arrivals of Mike Babcock and, now, Lou Lamoriello, are a sobering reality check for all concerned.
In being introduced as the 16th general manager in Maple Leafs history on Thursday, Lamoriello was candidly clear about that as he stated his mandate in this, his new hockey home.
He doesn’t care about how many points you accrue. He couldn’t give a rat’s rump over how many individual awards are shoe-horned into your trophy case. If you aren’t contributing to the greater good of the team, there really isn’t any room for you.
As an analogy, Lamoriello, 72, compared the makeup of a hockey team to that of a successful symphony orchestra.
“It’s all about music,” he said. “If the music isn’t good, no matter how good each and every instrument is, everybody leaves.”
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
from Bruce Arthur of the Toronto Star,
In a sentence nobody ever expected to read, Lou Lamoriello is now the general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Like Dave Nonis before him, he says he has autonomy; like Nonis before him, the final vision and decisions rest with team president Brendan Shanahan. Lamiorello drafted Shanahan as an 18-year-old in 1987. This will be a different thing, for both of them.
“He’s much more nimble than people think. He’s much more flexible than people think,” Shanahan said. “I’m not afraid of very talented, strong-willed individuals. I actually think it’s an asset to have that in the organization. I think as long as the leadership is right, it can work.
“I just don’t see the logic in saying, just hire less competent people because they’re more likely to get along. I want winners. Winners know how to adapt to win. Will it be a challenge? Yeah, sure. It’s a challenge to have a great hockey team. It’s not easy to have a team full of superstars.”
Shanahan was criticized by some for moving too slowly; maybe now he will be criticized for doing too much. But he has assembled a fascinating array of strong voices for the Leafs, and it’s up to him to manage them.
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
If you are going to sweep out the country-club atmosphere, as Shanahan and Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment president Tim Leiweke promised, along with a lot of their predecessors, then there are no better people to do it than Lamoriello and Babcock. Both have definitive Type A personalities, both are demanding taskmasters and brook no nonsense.
When Lamoriello was asked about potential changes, he said change will come only if he decides it’s necessary after examining the organization. Then he said this: “The one thing that fundamentally will not change … is the word accountability.”
That was followed by something anyone who ever played for the Devils during Lamoriello’s 28 years that saw 21 playoff appearances, five conference championships and three Stanley Cups had heard many times. The kind of player he wants are those “willing to give up their own identity for that logo and never [mix] what’s on the back of the jersey for what’s on the front.”
Lamoriello, 72, also represents the missing piece of the picture Shanahan has been painting since he took the first year of his tenure to sit back and study this dysfunctional franchise. He is as old school as it gets, demanding shirts and ties at all times of team employees, but he is also one of the most respected men in the NHL. A long list of hockey people cite him as their primary mentor, from Shanahan to former Leafs GM Brian Burke and former Leafs head coach Ron Wilson, who both played for him at Providence College. There is no one in the NHL from commissioner Gary Bettman down who dares not to take Lamoriello’s calls.
added 5:39pm, from Chris Stevenson at NHL.com,
from Rich Chere of NJ.com,
Lamoriello should be applauded for what he did in his 28 years with the Devils, including five trips to the Stanley Cup Final, but he paved his own way out the door once ownership changed.
1. He stonewalled upper management's marketing attempts
As long as he was winning Stanley Cups and has past owners' support, Lamoriello was allowed to refuse attempts to market the team through use of players, fan events and alternate jerseys. However, once the team became an also-ran four out of the last five seasons and dollars-conscious owners moved in, he was a roadblock.
Ownership tried to ease Lamoriello into the modern world, but he fought it and continued to keep practices closed, argued against marketing ideas and even handcuffed the organization's own website from covering the team more extensively.
2. Stumbled as a general manager
Age wasn't the reason Lamoriello was nudged out as GM. It was because he seemed to lose his touch. His recent track record of free agent signings was not good, signing several players for more than they were worth. He also created roster situations that hamstrung coaches like John MacLean.
via Shannon Valerio of Hockey VIPs,
Alexander Semin will not be a free agent much longer, according to his agent Mark Gandler.
“We have offers,” he said in an interview with Sovsport.ru. “We are reviewing them, but have not yet made a decision.”
While he did not give any hints as to where those offers might be, he confirmed Semin is only considering options in the NHL and is not interested in returning to Russia any time soon.
“Sasha Semin is 31 years old. He still has a number of years ahead of him,” Gandler said when asked about the likes of Alexei Yashin and Ilya Bryzgalov whose buyouts essentially ended their NHL careers.
“[Semin’s] career can only go up. He is still young. His buyout was under unique circumstances and the (Hurricanes) coach did not understand Sasha’s game.”
The press conference is scheduled to begin at 2:00pm ET, watch it below....
GLENDALE, ARIZONA --- The Arizona Coyotes and the City of Glendale announced today that the two parties have agreed on a resolution to their ongoing legal dispute. The City of Glendale will release details of the proposed amendments to the existing arena management agreement this morning on the city’s website, http://www.glendaleaz.com/. The Glendale City Council will vote on the amendments to the agreement on Friday, July 24 at Glendale City Hall. Details of that city council meeting are also posted on the city website.
added 12:45pm, via Morgan tweets,
If Council approves amendments, city & team will reach settlement that will keep Coyotes at Gila River Arena for at least next 2 seasons.
Per terms of deal, Coyotes would collect all hockey-related revenue that previously went to COG (naming rights, tix surcharges, parking rev)
City would pay $6.5M a year to Coyotes to manage arena. Out-clause that was part of the original 15-year, $225M agreement would be removed.
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.
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