Kukla's Korner Hockey
from the LA Times,
An emotional pregame ceremony looking back on Robitaille’s stellar career was followed by a demonstration of Kopitar’s ample skills.
The Kings were killing a power play. Kopitar was thinking offense. He stripped the puck from the Coyotes’ Travis Roche, then made goaltender Curtis Joseph look foolish. Kopitar showed Joseph the puck, then pulled it back before tucking it into the net for a 2-0 lead.
Just more stock footage for the rookie-of-the-year campaign.
“Kopi has to win the Calder Trophy,” Kings center Craig Conroy said. “We have to get that campaign started. People in the East don’t know what he’s done. We have to make them aware.”
more (reg. req.)
from the Detroit Free Press,
The Red Wings have a dilemma: What are they going to do with Pavel Datsyuk? He has put up numbers lately that hint of someone who could be a 100-point seasonal performer, but he hasn’t exactly been Mr. Playoffs.
Datsyuk is 28 years old and eligible to become an unrestricted free agent this summer, one of several prominent Wings in that position. None, though, could affect the team’s future with quite the same impact.
As he has illustrated over the past month, Datsyuk can be the most dynamic, breathtaking player in the NHL. He produced 14 points in five games between Jan. 9-17, and 20 points between Dec. 27-Jan. 17.
from the OC Register,
Darkness had just swallowed the insides of Staples Center when a standing-room-only crowd began the bass-voiced chorus of “Luuuuuuuc” for the King who made us all “Lucky.”
Luc Robitaille’s throat shook. His soft hands pulled on the knot of his black suit’s black tie. Nerves struck the legendary left winger who retired from the NHL last spring but will never have the heart to leave the game.
The spotlight waited to bathe Robitaille, as it did the NHL legends standing at center ice, ready to honor him in an hourlong, jersey-retirement ceremony on Saturday night before the Kings played the Phoenix Coyotes.
“The Great One,” Wayne Gretzky, said nobody loved the game more than Robitaille did. Former Kings coach Barry Melrose remembered “the student of the game.” Jari Kurri, Larry Robinson, Marty McSorley, Rogie Vachon were among the Kings alumni and 14 of Robitaille’s former teammates who clapped heartily for the King of the night.
added 9:07am, from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
Robitaille reminded a lot of people about the good things in hockey and sports and human nature. “I can come back here and bring my grandkids one day and see my name at the top of the building in a city the size of L.A.,” he said. “With all the stars in this town and have my name in Staples Center, it wasn’t what I set out to do, but it’s the greatest honor I’ve ever gotten.”
more (reg. req.)
from Wayne Fish of Philly Burbs,
When Bob Clarke stepped down as GM on Oct. 22, Holmgren was only named an interim. Team chairman Ed Snider began a search for a replacement but after getting turned down by NHL vice president Colin Campbell, Snider announced on Nov. 11 that Holmgren would have the job for the rest of the year.
At the time, Snider said: “Paul has been working very hard and I felt it was important at this time to provide some stability in his position and help him with the tasks at hand.”
But if Holmgren only has security until the summer, does he have the power to make long-term moves?
Holmgren believes he does.
from the Star-Telegram,
Thriving hockey markets such as Dallas are suddenly finding themselves fighting indifference. And what is happening with the Stars isn’t an anomaly….
For all of the improvements, a league that used to sell itself as one of the “four majors” is in danger of becoming one of the “minors.” No-shows belie the bloated attendance figures. News outlets cover it briefly, if at all. And the network the NHL calls its American flagship isn’t as popular as the Food Channel—and harder to find on the remote.
What is even more ironic is, amid this madness, NHL execs seem content to act as though “If we do not talk about the problems, they cease to exist,” instead of aggressively searching for ways to make fans fall in love with hockey all over again.
from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,
Veteran W Gary Roberts is all but done with the Panthers. The question now: Where will he land at the NHL trade deadline? It’s believed Florida coach and GM Jacques Martin is getting ready clean house, something that would put Roberts near the top of the list to be sent packing….
What’s this we hear about the Senators trying to trade D Joe Corvo?...
more...plus Chelios vs. Saskin, round 245…
from Chris Stevenson of the Ottawa Sun,
So (deep breath), how about an eight-team, four-on-four tournament?
It’s not as complicated as it sounds.
I’ve put a good 20 minutes of thought into this.
The teams would represent the seven big hockey nations with Canada getting two teams (I’m making the rules here) to make a nice even number along with the USA, Russia, Sweden, Finland, Czech Republic and Slovakia.
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
How equitable again is the collective bargaining agreement re-entry waivers clause that prohibited the Kings from recalling without prejudice superior AHL goaltender Jason LaBarbera even after both of L.A.‘s top two goaltenders went on injured reserve?
No one should misunderstand, least of all league GMs. The triple-cap CBA is acting exactly as the punitive document it was meant to be. Predominant mediocrity is not only legislated by the hard salary cap, it is enforced by the system that has made trades obsolete.
more... plus Brodeur on bigger nets…
from Michael Russo of the Star Tribune,
Earning their tips- Wild tip specialist Mark Parrish says the three players he respects the most when it comes to redirecting pucks are Edmonton’s Ryan Smyth, Detroit’s Tomas Holmstrom and St. Louis’ Keith Tkachuk. It’s no surprise then that when asked what he plans to do in the skills contest Tuesday, Smyth said, “I don’t imagine they have a deflections competition.”
Southern discomfort- Is there a worse hockey market than Nashville?
Their exceptional ownership steps up and signs Paul Kariya and Jason Arnott. There’s stability off the ice with the same coach (Barry Trotz) and GM (David Poile) since Day 1.
Yet, on Thursday, when Nashville overtook sinking Anaheim for first in the NHL, an announced 10,927 showed up to watch the Preds’ shutout over Columbus.
What more can this franchise do to embrace the fans? And imagine, the Pittsburgh Penguins could be moving.
more... including why scoring is down…
From Joe O’Connor of the National Post:
He is a sports marketer’s dream: a polite, well-spoken, handsome and humble teenager with supreme hockey skills.
He is a sports marketer’s dream: a snarling, sometimes foul-mouthed hockey hooligan who can bellow “You’re f—-ing dead,” at an opponent when he feels wronged.
He is a young man with two distinct sides, and it is Sidney Crosby’s split personality that makes him the most attractive NHL commodity to skate for an American-based team since Wayne Gretzky tearfully bid goodbye to Edmonton for Los Angeles.
“He is exactly the way Michael Jordan was,” says Marc Ganis, president of Sportscorp, a Chicago- based sports marketing firm.
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