Kukla's Korner Hockey
Q: Hey Damien: Do you think there’s any way the Leafs and Mats might structure something for next year that allows him to play the back half of the season only, if the Leafs are in contention? It would free up cap room, allow more ice time for some promising younger talent, and lessen the wear and tear on Mats. A healthy, rested Mats could be a powerful weapon for a playoff run.
A: Interesting idea, I suppose. But pointless, and there’s no guarantee Sundin would come back as the same player he was. Moreover, he might not be inclined to sit around not getting paid for half a season if he really wants to play.
More questions answered (mostly Leafs related) from the mailbag of Damien Cox of the Toronto Star…
via the San Francisco Chronicle,
The Bay Area’s seasonal infatuation with the Sharks has returned, at least based on the local ratings from Tuesday’s 5-3 win over Calgary. Comcast SportsNet Bay Area announced that its telecast of Game 7 drew a 4.6 average rating (approximately 111,000 households) and an 8.8 peak rating (212,000), the highest since Game 7 of the 2002 second-round series with Colorado that drew a 5.7.
The rating for the series finished at 2.7, against the team’s regular-season rating of 0.9. These numbers do not include the viewers who chose the Versus or CBC telecasts.
The ESPN experts weigh in at the playoff page...
Watch Barry Melrose make his 2nd round playoff picks…
from the Courier Post,
Marty Biron spent nearly 12 years in the Buffalo Sabres’ organization waiting, hoping and praying for a chance to prove himself in a playoff series.
He never got it.
Danny Briere spent the past two years in Buffalo hearing how he could produce offense during the regular season, but disappeared in the playoffs.
Even one of his current teammates commented last year that Briere had been “pushed out” of the Sabres’ conference finals against the Ottawa Senators.
Today, the two former Buffalo soldiers are proving themselves as playoff warriors for the Flyers.
from the Times & Transcript,
Robbie Laird, director of pro scouting for the Los Angeles Kings, today offers his predictions for the second round of the 2008 National Hockey League Stanley Cup playoffs… Pittsburgh Penguins vs. New York Rangers
Both teams looked real good in the opening round, both are healthy and ready to go. You have a potential Vezina trophy winner in Lundqvist vs. a hot at the right time Fleury.
Gomez, Jagr and Drury are all on different lines so the Rangers have a special three line mix. Pens have the game breakers in Crosby and Malkin. The Rangers are very well coached. When you have your producers playing a hard checking game that is a formula for success. Sergei Gonchar does not get enough credit; he has been great this year. In the end, home ice is going to matter and Crosby gives the Pens the slight edge.
Prediction: Pittsburgh in seven.
from Dave Waddell of the Windsor Star,
A goalie’s life is never easy, but it should be particularly difficult for Colorado’s Jose Theodore and Detroit’s Chris Osgood over the next 10 days.
That’s because the NHL’s two best pests in front of the net, Tomas Holmstrom and Ryan Smyth, will be plying their trade.
“They’re both similar players,” Detroit’s Nick Lidstrom said.
“They’re good at knocking pucks down, good hand-eye co-ordination. They’re both good at taking the puck to the net too.”
from Dave Molinari of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
The Rangers profess to be glad to have him as a teammate; one was quoted recently as saying he would “take a bullet” for Avery.
Not surprisingly, players on other clubs view him a bit differently. Characterize their feelings about him as mixed, because some think he’s a jerk and a blight on the sport; others aren’t nearly as charitable.
Earlier this month, when asked about Avery’s celebrated face-guarding stunt against New Jersey goalie Martin Brodeur in a first-round game, Penguins left winger Gary Roberts responded by labeling Avery an “idiot.”
It was the kind of remark Avery isn’t likely to forget. After all, it might be the nicest thing an opponent ever says about him.
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
Brian Burke very much wanted to talk to the Maple Leafs about their opening for a new hockey boss.
But his bosses with the Anaheim Ducks said no chance.
That, in short, is what happened yesterday, just 24 hours after Burke said he didn’t know if he’d be back with the Ducks next season. Burke will now have to grit his teeth and fulfill the fourth and final year of his existing contract next season knowing he could have had the Leaf job.
Update 12:59pm ET—(alanah) Jim Kelly at Sportsnet.ca shares another perspective:
But there is another version making the rounds in the NHL, and though it’s clearly still in the rumor stage now, it also makes a great deal of sense: The NHL said no go.
It makes sense on several levels, the most important being that, to the best of anyone’s knowledge (and I’ve polled a few long-time hockey people on this), no GM under contract to a team and in good standing with ownership has ever jumped to another club while the contract was in force.
And Marty Henwood at Hockey.com points out that maybe Burke just didn’t want to go to Toronto. (And could you blame him?!?)
from Jay Greenberg of the NY Post,
“With all due respect for [Sidney] Crosby and [Evgeni] Malkin, I don’t think they are Mario Lemieux,” said Jagr, preparing to go to Pittsburgh, his first NHL home, for tomorrow’s night second-round opener between the Rangers New York Rangers and Penguins.
“I say that with all due respect because the game has changed.
“The gap between the best and worst players on a team [today] is very small. The gap between Mario and the rest of the guys when I was in Pittsburgh was so huge he was able to score 20 points in one series. I don’t think those kids are able to do it. If I am wrong I am going to apologize and [say], ‘Great job.’
from the St. Petersburg Times,
John Tortorella wishes he could do it over again because he certainly would do it differently.
The Lightning coach said he regrets telling general manager Jay Feaster perhaps it was time he step down because he discovered that is not how he feels.
“I want to stay here and fight and try to make this team better with the new ownership group and Jay Feaster,” Tortorella said Wednesday. “I want to be part of the retooling.”
But at his postseason meeting with Feaster, Tortorella said the opposite; that after seven seasons and finishing 2007-08 last in the league, “Maybe there needs to be a different voice.”
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