Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,
We've talked a lot recently about how the Calgary Flames had a more favorable schedule than their conference rivals down the stretch, soemthing that could perhaps be an edge in making the playoffs. But if there's one thing you always learn at this time of year, it's that there's no such thing as an easy game on the docket.
The Flames lost 4-3 in a shootout to the visiting Stars on Wednesday, and combined with last Saturday's 3-2 overtime loss to visiting Columbus, you wonder how much they might pay or not for those two lost points in the standings. Those were two very winnable games on paper, but Calgary got just two of four points.
The Flames are one point up on the Kings, but that's a razor-thing edge. The Stars, meanwhile, continue their desperate, late-season push. They're now at 82 points, six points behind Winnipeg for the final wild-card spot. Too little, too late I think, but stranger things have happened.
As for the Flames, they play six of their final eight games on the road, starting Friday at Minnesota. Suddenly that favorable schedule from two weeks ago doesn't look so good.
read on for more hockey topic from the ESPN staff...
via the Winnipeg Jets PR department...
The Winnipeg Jets are pleased to announce they have agreed to terms with forward Andrew Copp on a three-year, two-way, entry level contract with an average annual value of $958,300. Copp will now report directly to the Winnipeg Jets.
Copp, 20, recently completed his junior season with the University of Michigan Wolverines. The Ann Arbor, MI native has ended his college career with 81 points (40G, 41A) in 107 games over three seasons with the Wolverines. Copp was named Michigan’s team captain for the 2014-15 season. For his performance leading the Wolverines this season, he was recognized by the NCAA and earned All-Big Ten second team recognition. He previously led the University of Michigan in goals (15) during his sophomore year in 2013-14. That same season, he represented the USA at the 2014 World Junior Chamipionships where he recorded five assists in five games.
Copp was drafted by the Winnipeg Jets in the fourth round, 104th overall, in the 2013 NHL Draft
from Gary Lawless of the Winnipeg Free Press,
On Wednesday afternoon in Winnipeg, Price was soft-spoken, humble and a gentleman. He had chosen to take a day off from speaking with the Montreal media contingent but when word reached him that a Winnipeg reporter was hoping for a few minutes, he emerged from the trainers' room to talk.
Price turned every question about his individual greatness into an answer about his team. It would have been infuriating but for the manner in which he did it. An easy but small smile, patience with questions he'd likely heard a thousand times and when I clumsily dropped my recorder, he bent down to pick it up. He offered his hand when I'd exhausted my efforts to get a juicy quote and then shuffled off the team bus.
"It's just a cold hard fact that I wouldn't be where I'm at without these guys in the locker-room. It's just the reality," said Price. "This is the best our team has been. We've been playing pretty solid hockey all season long. Whenever you get to the 100-point mark, before the end of the season, it's definitely a feather in the hat."
During the Olympics, Team Canada coach Mike Babcock took to referring to Price as big, square and soft. Price smiled when reminded of the reference.
"If he's talking about me as a goalie, that's a compliment. If he's talking about my physique, then probably not," said the 27-year-old from Anahim Lake, B.C. "That's what you strive to do, is make yourself as big of a target as possible and try to give as few secondary chances as possible."
from Amy Moritz of the Buffalo News,
The motivation in the Buffalo Sabres locker room is clear and simple: Avoid finishing last.
That may ruffle the feathers of some in the team’s fan base who actively want the Sabres to finish 30th, thereby guaranteeing them at least the No. 2 overall draft pick. But athletes and coaches are wired to compete and at this point in the Sabres’ season, the most attainable goal they can compete for is 29th place.
“For sure you want to finish as high as you can,” Sabres captain Brian Gionta said Wednesday afternoon after practice in First Niagara Center. “In a season like this you gotta find little things to set your sights on and that’s definitely one of them.”
The stakes for 30th place are high Thursday night as the Sabres host the Arizona Coyotes.
The Coyotes are coming off an overtime win at Detroit, putting them five points ahead of the Sabres. Buffalo has nine games remaining, Arizona eight. They will meet again on Monday night in Arizona.
“Nobody wants to be in the position our two teams are in. Not one player,” Coyotes forward Shane Doan said. “You’re embarrassed. You have to be. Nobody ever wants to be considered the worst. Obviously, both teams are considered the two worst teams in the league. That’s not a good feeling.”
via Frank Seravalli of the Philadelphia Daily News,
The Flyers' win over Chicago on Wednesday night came at a price.
Forward Wayne Simmonds and defenseman Andrew MacDonald will both miss the remaining seven games of the season, general manager Ron Hextall announced after the game. Both players blocked shots in the third period, resulting in apparent fractures.
Simmonds limped off the bench at the end of the game with a left leg injury. MacDonald appeared to get caught with a shot on his right hand.
Simmonds, 26, scored his 100th career goal as a Flyer (284 games) earlier in the night. He will ultimately fall short of the elusive 30-goal plateau - ending his season with 28, one short of the career-high 29 he set last year. Only 9 players in the NHL currently have 30 goals.
MacDonald, 29, finishes out a trying first full season with the Flyers with another injury. He injured his knee in October, causing him to miss 10 consecutive games until Nov. 19. After that, he's been a healthy scratch for six games at varying times in the year, including three in a row after missing a game to attend the funeral of his grandmother in Nova Scotia. He admitted playing under the expectations of a six-year, $30 million deal has been burdensome.
If you think being a professional hockey player is hard, then you should learn about what Avalanche forward Danny Briere’s girlfriend does. Capt. Misha Harrell is a flight surgeon in the US Air Force and she has seen real battlefield action.
Christine Simpson with the feature...
from Rick Westhead of TSN,
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman should be forced to be deposed about matters relating to the NHL concussions lawsuit within the next three months, lawyers for a group of former players wrote in a legal filing.
Lawyers for the former players wrote to the NHL on February 23 asking to set up a time and location to depose Bettman.
Three days later, a lawyer for the NHL replied, saying that the league was refusing the request because of a so-called "apex doctrine." That legal doctrine gives the league the ability to refuse the deposition request if the information Bettman might offer could also be obtained through other means, the league's lawyer wrote, adding that without the doctrine, "high level executives would be 'vulnerable to numerous, repetitive, harassing, and abusive depositions.'"
In newly filed court documents obtained by TSN, lawyers for the former players write that the NHL has been stonewalling their effort to obtain information. They want Bettman deposed by July 1.
A group of former NHL players including Joe Murphy, Bernie Nicholls and Gary Leeman charge that the NHL did not do enough to protect them from head injuries before it created a committee to study head trauma in 1997. Even after that, the players charge the committee's findings were not adequately shared with players.
2 1/2 minutes of highlights from the NHL games last night....
Jason Spencer of the Brampton Guardian reports on a talk Ken Dryden recently gave.
Most of it was non-hockey related except for this...
Seeing as Dryden was president of the Toronto Maple Leafs from 1997-2003, Benmergui couldn't help but ask right out of the gate about the flailing hockey club.
Dryden suspects the continual poor play is a result of the club being haunted by former team owner Harold Ballard, describing him as an "irascible" and "provocative" character.
"When things weren't going well, his way of dealing with it was bravado. When the Leafs would lose, instead of sounding a little bit contrite or determined or something his way would be to kind of laugh at the bad news and say, 'Ah, it doesn't matter, I still go to the bank every day,'" said Dryden, 67.
"(Ballard) had this public persona that really stayed with the Leafs and stays with them to this day of where, that when you get down to the crunch moment, and it's an extra point in the standings or an extra dollar in the bank, that you go for the extra dollar in the bank."
He added that the public comes to resent the message about money over championships.
Same Page, Sarah Kwak and Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated discuss a few hockey topics...
Losing three of their past four games has pretty much put the kibosh on the Sharks’ playoff hopes. Following on the heels of several years of postseason frustration, you have to think change is coming to San Jose. Which shoe drops first?
KWAK: Change must come in San Jose, but the Sharks have been parroting that line for the last two years and so far, nothing. So I don’t know if change is coming. If it does, it’ll be GM Doug Wilson because he’s the one who has promised change and then not delivered.
PAGE: Wilson has to go first, right? It’s the order in which these things usually go, and he’s the instigator of the team’s recent dysfunction. It will then fall to the new GM to decide what to do with Todd McLellan and Joe Thornton, though it’s hard to imagine that either will be back with the Sharks next year.
MUIR: Thornton’s not going anywhere. They’ve stripped the C off his sweater, they embarrassed him in public and he doesn’t care (which really speaks to the bigger issue with Jumbo Joe, but that’s not the point of debate here). He’s happy in San Jose and he wants to stay. And with two years left on his contract and full no-movement protection, you can bet that’s exactly what he’s going to do. McLellan and Wilson, though? I think this is it for both of them. Not to wish ill on either man, but this organization needs fresh thinking before it considers a roster overhaul.
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