Kukla's Korner Hockey
By George James Malik:
When Wayne Gretzky speaks, the hockey world listens. Gretzky’s impassioned plea to the NHL’s referees (and front office), demanding more accountability for the vicious and violent hits that have become commonplace in the 2006-2007 season, was completely justified. Whether you believe that Craig Janssen, Chris Neil, and Ryan Hollweg were “finishing their checks” or wantonly attempting to injure their opponents, the resulting body count can’t be denied. In the case of Chris Simon, an uncalled boarding penalty resulted in the ugliest incident in NHL history since Todd Bertuzzi’s attack on Steve Moore.
Referees seem to refuse to call more than one set of penalties in our post-lockout NHL, and it’s bafflingly frustrating to see players regularly line up their opponents, cruise in, and pop their hard-plastic-covered shoulders up as they intentionally direct their momentum and body mass upward instead of outward, making contact with chins, temples, and the Reebok logo on the backs of NHL jerseys instead of chests, arms, or team crests. Allowing “battles” for the puck has devolved into a tacit approval of anything that isn’t interference.
The latter half of Gretzky’s statements, however, have been pounced upon by he NHL’s commentators:
from the Dallas Morning News,
This wasn’t the way Mike Modano drew it up.
Modano scored two goals, Nos. 502 and 503 of his career, to break Joe Mullen’s record and become the greatest American-born goal-scorer in NHL history Saturday night….
On the other, the crowd of 17,113 took out its frustration for Tootoo getting penalized, booing Modano at the end of the third period and rumbling the “Modano’s a baby” chant on several occasions.
added 10:15am, Check out the tribute video (will open wmp video) the Dallas Stars produced for Modano…
from the Toronto Sun,
Colin Campbell is most often referred to as the National Hockey League’s chief disciplinarian. His official title is the NHL’s executive vice-president and director of hockey operations. The Tillsonburg, Ont., native is a former player and coach. He’s been front and centre when dealing with issues of rule changes, rule enforcement and discipline. This week, he chatted with Sun Media columnist Morris Dalla Costa….
Q: Will there come a time when any check to the head will result in a penalty?
We’ll discuss it. But I’ve talked to leagues where any check to the head is a penalty and . . . if this rule is out there, you’re getting players coming into our league who have played all the way up, knowing they are not going to get hit with a shoulder to the head, they come to the NHL and won’t be prepared for it. I remember when I played, I got nailed by Willi Plett. I remember I was out on the ice. I remember thinking,: “The coach is going to think; ‘How can I expose myself that way?’ ” My dad is going to give me crap for exposing myself. We’re to the point where we’ve gotten rid of a lot of things that have caused injuries. Now we’re looking at head checking. We’ll beat it up and discuss it with everyone involved.
from Maine Today,
When Portland Pirates goalkeeper Gerald Coleman was going to junior high school in Evanston, Ill., his gym teacher flunked him because he wanted to play hockey instead of basketball.
“At the time, I was like 6-3, and he gave me a bad grade in gym class because I didn’t want to try out for the basketball team,” Coleman recalled. “I wanted to play hockey. He said to me: ‘Why do you want to play that white man’s game?’ “
That kind of attitude motivated Coleman, who is black, to work even harder at hockey.
“It kind of woke me up,” he said. “People said you can’t do it, and it kind of pushed me to want to play it more and more.”
from Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun,
For the modern-day Oilers it’s now 10*. The asterisk is because it was a 3-2 overtime loss to the St. Louis Blues last night and the Oilers managed to get a point in the standings. So it is no longer “pure”, this losing streak.
But back in the fall of 1993 when Ted Green lost 11 in a row with the Oilers, there were two overtime losses in there. That losing streak absolutely gobbled Green up.
So far, MacTavish says he’s not worried about that happening to him.
from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,
Chicago GM Dale Tallon is expected to make big changes this summer. Getting RW Martin Havlat from Ottawa wasn’t enough—the Blackhawks and the club needs to put some talent around him. While the Hawks are trying to keep C Michal Handzus from going to unrestricted free agency this summer, there’s also talk the club will be free-agent shopping. The Hawks could make a pitch for Buffalo C Daniel Briere and Islanders LW Ryan Smyth.
much more from Garrioch… and we all know most every team will have an interest in Smyth, Briere and Drury…
from the Daily Breeze,
Who else but a fan of the Kings could better demonstrate the need for faith?
But when the NHL team decided Saturday night it was the right time to stage its first “Faith and Family Night” promotion before a game against Columbus at Staples Center, one for which hundreds from Southern California church congregations converged to witness a rough-and-tumble hockey game for perhaps the first time, maybe it was the faith of the longtime die-hards still sporting the “Gretzky 99” jerseys that ultimately was being tested.
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
There have been consistent and growing whispers about the conduct during the lockout of Don Meehan and the Newport Sports Agency that represents, among dozens of players, Trevor Linden - who served as PA president throughout the 2004-05 CBA negotiations - Jarome Iginla, Chris Pronger, Henrik Lundqvist, Wade Redden, Ryan Smyth, Nicklas Lidstrom, Sean Avery, Curtis Joseph and Dion Phaneuf….
“Who are these slime-balls who are trying to ruin my reputation? Why don’t they crawl out from under their rocks and show their faces? Let me tell you something, if anyone wants to file charges against me, let them. If anyone has the [guts] to make this claim against me, I’ll sue their [butt] off.”
From John Glennon at The Tennessean,
Modano did set a career record for goals by a U.S.-born player, but it was the Predators who snapped a five-game losing streak to the Stars with a 3-2 win in front of a sellout crowd at Nashville Arena.
The Predators hit the 100-point mark for the second consecutive season and – based on what Colorado did late Saturday – may have clinched a third straight playoff berth.
The contest took an ugly turn with 3:39 remaining, following Jordin Tootoo’s hard hit on Modano. Dallas defenseman Stephane Robidas skated hard toward Tootoo in defense of Modano, but Tootoo spun around and flattened Robidas with a punch to the jaw.
At Andrew’s Dallas Stars Page,
Robidas was taken off the ice on a stretcher and then was taken to a Nashville hospital. He suffered a concussion. He was released from the hospital Saturday night and will be re-evaluated in Dallas on Sunday.
Video of Tootoo hit:
Attention Wings, Canucks and hockey fans in general. Live blogging during the Wings/Canucks game tonight. Feel free to join in with your comments at this location. Bring your octopus and bra's too! note: brought to the top of page, originally posted at 3:10pm.
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