Kukla's Korner Hockey
from the Columbus Dispatch,
When Hitchcock was fired by the Philadelphia Flyers earlier this season, Trotz called his good friend every few days to offer support. Then, on Nov. 22, when the Blue Jackets hired Hitchcock as their coach, the calls abruptly stopped.
Trotz, after all, is coach of the Nashville Predators, the Blue Jackets’ chief rival in the Central Division.
“We go through intermediaries now,” Hitchcock said, with a smile. “We just nod whenever we see each other. That’s the way it has to be.”
The friendship remains strong; but it remains on hold during hockey season.
from the Miami Herald,
Defenseman Jay Bouwmeester’s late fade in fan voting for the All-Star Game on Jan. 24 in Dallas means he won’t be starting for the Eastern Conference.
But the fact Bouwmeester, in his fourth season, got more than 410,000 votes while playing for a last-place team in a city that’s hardly a hotbed of hockey is evidence that his profile is growing around the NHL.
‘‘It makes you realize a little bit that there’s people out there that kind of recognize what you’re doing,’’ Bouwmeester said Wednesday. ``I didn’t expect it. I was honored.’‘
If Crosby gets some leniency from the referees, Blake said he’s earned it by becoming the best player in the league, just as he earned the right to crow in victory.
“He proved himself,” Blake said. “Again. He does it every day. He’s their captain. He’s their best player every night, and that’s what you need. Your best players have to be your best players.”
That comment underlines Blake’s frustration.
“It is frustrating right now,” Blake said. “It just seems that we’re not getting the bounces we did early in the year, but then again, maybe we’re not working as hard as we did. I don’t have an answer for it….”
more from Blake on Crosby & the Islanders
from the Times-Colonist,
As luck would have it, the Northwest Division is the place to be. You can have your Brodeurs and your Haseks and your Lehtonens, all fine in their own right, but for top-to-bottom goaltending strength, the Northwest Division has no equal.
Says who? The stats, man.
In the goals-against-average column, all five Northwest teams have at least one goalie among the top 16. In save percentage, all five teams make an appearance in the top 17.
from Bill Lankhof of the Toronto Sun,
“I remember when I was younger, I’d see kids playing and want to get involved. I’d like to express myself. I’m a vibrant, intelligent person,” he said yesterday through an interpreter. Mark Couture is deaf. He talks with his hands. In his world there has been joy, but no cheers. Tears, but no sobs. Games, but no sound of laughter.
“Physically, hockey is the same whether you can hear or not,” Couture said. “When you’re deaf, you just use your eyes more.”
Nobody ever took liberties with him on the ice. Sure, he had his nose introduced to the end boards “but I’m a big guy. If they messed with me I could take care of myself.”
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
This has been a struggle all season for the Rangers. A sense of quiet desperation has begun to creep into the team’s body-language. Something is off. The games don’t look like fun. Something is missing. The immediate chemistry that became the signature of last year’s admirable franchise turn-around squad has been lost.
But which was lost first, chemistry or games; 10 of the last 15 of them (5-10) since Dec. 16?
After announcing yesterday the Rangers would not make any roster changes for Saturday’s pre-All-Star finale against Atlanta, Tom Renney said, “I believe we can win with this team,” even while admitting Brendan Shanahan’s inability to score at even strength, “would be symptomatic of a larger issue, yes.”
from the Mercury News,
Becoming a dad has helped brighten Nolan’s disposition. Nolan could be crabby at times—he once had a memorable conversation with Al Iafrate in which each player claimed he was moodier than the other—and that rubbed some teammates in San Jose and Toronto the wrong way. Coyotes Coach Wayne Gretzky was aware of that reputation but said the opposite has been true in Phoenix.
``I knew he was a consummate pro that was going to work hard, but he’s been really good in the locker room too,’’ said Gretzky, who made Nolan an alternate captain. ``People said he could be grumpy, but we haven’t seen that.’‘
Kings’ GM Dean Lombardi tells the LA Times how assistant GM Ron Hextall helped him avoid an international incident with Konstantin Pushkarev:
“Hex is down there and I call him and I’m losing my patience,“Lombardi said. “I’m in Western Canada, waiting in this huge line to cross the border and I’m yelling into the phone, ‘Get [Pushkarev] out of here. I don’t want him around our players anymore.’
“I’m out of my car and I’m just screaming. The border guard is looking at me and wants to go through my trunk now. He was ready to frisk me, people are beeping their horns behind me and all I hear in my ear is Hex saying, ‘Calm down, I’ll take care of this.’ … I’m yelling at him, ‘He’s going to tell every other player to try to go somewhere else to get their way.’ Hex is just saying, ‘Trust me, Dean, I can get to this guy.’ These are the critical moments in the development of a player.”
from Kevin Dupont of the Boston Globe:
Shot-blocking is not without risk. The league has been dotted this season with some significant injuries, most often to the feet, that were the result of blocked shots.
Tony Priolo, owner of Sportmask, the Toronto-based company that produces the protective headgear for Boston goalies Tim Thomas and Hannu Toivonen, figures he may have part of the answer. He’ll journey today to Buffalo, where he’ll hand his latest innovation to Bruins defenseman Andrew Alberts and Don Del Negro, now in his 14th season as the club’s trainer. Alberts is already wearing extra external protection on the insteps of both skates that he believes has significantly minimized his risk of injury.?”
continued...Priolo’s highly respected in the goaltending equipment industry for his high-end masks and customer service. I’d bet a toe that he’ll succeed.
from Bernie Miklasz of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch:
When John Davidson took giant steps from the broadcast booth to the team president’s office, when he traded in a microphone for the most important desk in the Blues’ organization, it was natural to wonder if he’d make a successful transition.
We knew that Davidson could talk about a hockey team.
But could he actually run one with distinction?
Davidson had playing experience, yes. He knows the game. But the same things were said of Matt Millen, who went from All-Pro linebacker to network TV football analyst to president of the Detroit Lions. And in six seasons, the Lions are 24-72 under Millen. His leadership has provided little but a sequence of disasters.
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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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