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Zdeno Chara Changed The Bruins

from Kevin Paul Dupont Of The Boston Globe,

The most vivid memory of Zdeno Chara’s time with the Bruins undoubtedly will be the night of June 15, 2011, in Vancouver. The bearded Bruins captain, then 34, took the handoff from NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and shook the glimmering Stanley Cup vigorously over his head, turning the trophy into an oversized salt shaker to sprinkle grains of joy.

In that one cathartic moment, the franchise’s 39-year championship drought finally came to an end. The days of the Big Bad Bruins, of Orr and Espo, of leather skates and wooden sticks and a dusty, fetid Garden, officially were relegated to a distant corner of the memory vault. All of it certified in that joyful moment some 3,200 miles west of Causeway Street by the towering Big Z.

More powerful and lasting, though, is the Chara legacy here of the last decade-plus, his combination of Herculean work ethic, athleticism, and professionalism that delivered a much-needed culture change that the organization prays can linger for many more years to come.

continued plus more topics...

Filed in: NHL Teams, Boston Bruins, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

The Talk During Training Camps

from Luke Fox of Sportsnet,

A quick mix of the things we gleaned from the week of hockey, serious and less so, and rolling four lines deep. Apologies in advance: We’re still in preseason form.

1. Connor McDavid ($12.5 million AAV) will have held the title of most handsomely paid NHL player for five seasons, when Nathan MacKinnon’s new deal ($12.6 million AAV) knocks him off the peak next season.

MacKinnon’s reign on the top will be short like leprechauns.

Auston Matthews is destined to supplant him after just a one-year run. (And, while we’re playing this game, Connor McDavid should leapfrog Matthews after two seasons, by 2026-27.)...

2. Is it unusual for a cash-flush organization — the same one that doled out millions for Mike Babcock to not coach the team — to not at least give Dubas a short-term extension and save the GM from “lame duck” status?

Yes, it is.

Heck, the Dallas Stars went as brief as one year on Jim Nill’s security cushion.

But as consistent as the Maple Leafs’ regular seasons have been, the optics of rewarding four straight one-and-done postseasons under Dubas would’ve landed awkwardly....

more on the above topics and more notes too...

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One More Long Cup Run For The Bolts?

from John Romano of the Tampa Bay Times,

If this were a movie, the credits would have rolled months ago.

The story of a team’s rise through setbacks and heartbreaks to become back-to-back champions before falling valiantly, maddeningly close to a third consecutive title.

Cue the theme music as they skated off the Amalie Arena ice after Game 6 of the Stanley Cup final against Colorado, never to perform together as a band of mismatched brothers again.

But tell me, what if that wasn’t really the end?

What if the Lightning have a sequel to tell?

It’s not likely. The idea of another Stanley Cup run, that is.

The gap between the Lightning and the rest of the Eastern Conference has been growing narrower over the years and may finally have flipped. The Panthers. The Maple Leafs. The Hurricanes. Oddsmakers say all three teams are more likely to win the conference than Tampa Bay this season.

Realistically, the idea of a team reaching the Stanley Cup final five times in nine years is unheard of in the salary-cap era of the NHL.

continued

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Mullett Arena Reviews

from Michael Traikos of the National Post,

The aptly named Mullett Arena, which immediately conjures up images of long locks of hair flowing out the back of a helmet, has yet to host an actual NHL game — much less has even finished construction — but it’s already getting rave reviews from players around the league.

“I think it will be pretty fun,” said Toronto’s Auston Matthews.

“It’s going to be electric,” said Columbus’ Zach Werenski.

“It’s going to be amazing and unbelievable,” said Arizona’s Clayton Keller, “One of the best places to play in the league, for sure.”

By the sounds of it, you’d think these players were gushing about the possibilities of playing in a 30,000-seat venue, complete with a gigantic video screen and the kind of bells and whistles that would rival the noise and fan experience of seeing a game at the Bell Centre in Montreal. Instead, what has the NHL buzzing these days is a 5,000-seat rink located on a college campus in Tempe, Arizona, of all places.

continued

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On Joe Thornton’s Possible Return To San Jose

via Sheng Peng at NBC Sports Bay Area,

Is the door still open for Joe Thornton to play for the San Jose Sharks?I

New GM Mike Grier didn’t slam it shut, when asked specifically in what capacity that Thornton would be welcome back to the Sharks.

“Things are kind of up to him. I don’t know if he wants to play or not play,” Grier said on the opening day of training camp. “When he figures that out, and his family figures that out, then I’m sure I’ll have a conversation with him at some point.”

Thornton was not on the Sharks’ initial training camp roster, released on Tuesday. There was some thought that San Jose could offer the 24-year NHL veteran, the No. 1 pick of the 1997 Draft, a PTO.

“I think he’s enjoying being a dad and being around his kids and helping coach his kids, and then kind of coming in here and skating with the guys,” Grier said.

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Do The Pittsburgh Penguins Have Another Long Playoff Run In Them?

from Wes Crosby at NHL.com,

Even with Malkin at 36 years old, and Crosby and Letang each 35, Hextall said he remains confident that core can be the catalyst for another deep run. If he's right, it would mark the first time the Penguins won a playoff series since Hextall was hired as GM on Feb. 9, 2021, and their first series win since 2018.

"There's urgency. Every year is a new year," Hextall said. "Like, 'OK, we lost the last two years in the playoffs, since I've been here.' We felt like we certainly could have won both series. But I think that's what gives you the hope that it's still there. These guys are still very good players.

"We felt like this group could still go on a run and do a lot of damage. We're happy with our group. I'm really excited about where we are right now, as a team. The feeling around the room, there's a lot of hunger. … I like where we're at. So it's hard to win in this League. It's hard to win a round in the playoffs. It's certainly hard to win the Stanley Cup, but that's our mission."

more

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The New Look Carolina Hurricanes

from Luke DeCock of the News & Observer,

Rod Brind’Amour had to pause for a moment to count up the new faces his head. It doesn’t seem, in this season of continuity and expectations, that all that much has changed for the Carolina Hurricanes, even with the turnover on the roster.

“I think we’ve got, what, seven new guys? Out of 20, that’s a lot,” the Hurricanes coach said Thursday. “I think we had eight last year. Same kind of thing. It’s just the nature of the game, how it goes. But it’s the pieces that we do always seem to keep, that’s our core group, and we love them, obviously.”

There’s always a sense of newness and novelty on the first day of training camp, inexorable and unavoidable. But despite all the new faces it’s more muted this year than it ever has been. The core group remains intact, the goalies are back, the staff remained intact, the captains are intact and the mission hasn’t changed.

continued

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A New Attitude In Vegas

from Ed Graney of the Las Vegas Review-Journal,

It can be one of the more contrived sources of motivational tactics in sports.

It can also work if used in the right way.

Us Against the World.

It seems that’s how the Golden Knights might prefer to approach the season, to know what outside noise suggests but certainly not buy into it.

The team that missed the playoffs for the first time in its short franchise history last season opened training camp Thursday and to a man insisted there is much to prove.

“You always try to bring different motivation to the team, a different energy, ideas to bond together and try to generate great chemistry quickly,” forward Reilly Smith said. “We know we fell short last year because of injuries or whatever — it doesn’t matter. We have high standards for this group, and if we don’t make the playoffs, it’s on us.

“We’re focusing on what we can do in this room. We just have to make sure we’re keeping each other accountable.”

They’re certainly not liked by other teams and their fans. Haven’t been since advancing to the Stanley Cup Final in that magical expansion season of 2017-18. Shouldn’t matter. Rarely has.

continued

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Imagine The Leafs Missing The Playoffs

from Michael Traikos of the National Post,

What does a successful season look like for the Toronto Maple Leafs?

How about an unsuccessful one?

Two days into training camp, the latter is once again starting to pick up some steam. After all, the Leafs have major question marks in net. Two of their top-six defencemen are already out with injuries, while another is in a contract holdout. And based on the betting odds, both their general manager and head coach appear to be on borrowed time.

Forget about failing in the first round. Is there a chance that Toronto, which has qualified for the post-season for six straight years, might miss out on the playoffs entirely?

That might sound unrealistic — if not unfathomable —  after the year the Leafs had last season, having finished with the fourth-best record in the NHL, with Auston Matthews leading the league in goals and Mitch Marner ranking 10th overall in points. Then again, a lot has changed since then. Not so much with Toronto, but rather with the teams around them.

With non-playoff teams, such as Ottawa, Detroit and possibly Buffalo, are all expected to make a major push for a playoff spot, the already tough Atlantic Division just got a whole lot tougher. Toronto, along with Florida, Tampa Bay and Boston, is still considered one of the favourites to grab one of the top-3 seeds. But a lot still has to go right for the Leafs to get into the playoffs. Or rather, a lot can’t go wrong.

And this year, there’s a lot that can go wrong.

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Kirill Kaprizov’s Summer

from Sarah McLellan of the StarTribune,

Kaprizov's status remained unclear until he arrived back in the Twin Cities on Aug. 2. Kaprizov needed a work visa, and Guerin said the Wild had "some very, very special people" helping secure that.

"It was more difficult than we thought it was gonna be," Guerin said. "We just had some issues getting him back in the U.S. We did get help from some friends in Washington D.C., and we're extremely grateful for that.

"Kirill was really patient. Did exactly what he had to do. It was just a really tough time for him."

With his linemate Mats Zuccarello by his side, Kaprizov was asked after practice Thursday about the situation, but Zuccarello was first to respond, "We're not going to talk about that. We'd only like hockey questions."

Kaprizov, however, did mention through an interpreter that he wasn't worried about making it back for the season before eventually saying, "If we could just keep the questions to hockey-related topics at this time, I think that'd be best."

While Guerin said he didn't believe Kaprizov was in a position that was "life-threatening or anything like that," he did acknowledge the Wild didn't know about Kaprizov's safety initially. Guerin said he wasn't sure if this would remain an issue for Kaprizov.

more

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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 pk@kuklaskorner.com

 

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