Kukla's Korner

Will Chicago Repeat?

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Adam L. Jahns of the Chicago Sun-Times,

But the absences of goalie Antti Niemi and some key role players—Dustin Byfuglien, Kris Versteeg, Andrew Ladd, Brent Sopel, Adam Burish, Ben Eager, John Madden and Colin Fraser—seemingly has created a rift between longtime fans, new followers, media and so on.

Some think they’ll be fine, if not better. Others contend that they’ve lost too much to defend their title and lost potential stars. I, for one, tend to believe the Hawks still will be one of the top teams in the league and a legitimate contender.

But will the Hawks repeat?

First off, here’s some humbling news: There hasn’t been a repeat champion in the NHL since the Detroit Red Wings in 1997 and 1998. The Red Wings and the Pittsburgh Penguins met in the two Stanley Cup finals before last season, winning one each. But neither made it past the second round last year.

After all, it’s said the Stanley Cup is the hardest championship to win in all professional sports.

more

Filed in: NHL Teams, Chicago Blackhawks, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Stars Trying To Get James Neal Signed

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Craig Custance of The Sporting News,

Nieuwendyk said he has spoken recently with Neal’s agent, Pat Morris, and both sides continue to work on a deal.

Morris works for Newport Sports Management, an agency that has represented many high-profile restricted free agents this summer. Ducks forward Bobby Ryan, another Newport client, is also without a deal.

Newport’s Craig Oster negotiated a three-year, $9.25 million deal for Nashville’s restricted free agent Patric Hornqvist.

Hornqvist put up comparable numbers to Neal’s last season, but Nieuwendyk warned against drawing any conclusions from that contract.

“There are comparables and there are people who belong to the same agent,” he said. “But we do things that reflect where we are . ... [Predators GM] David Poile did what he thought was best for his hockey club. We’ll do the same with ours, too.”

more

Filed in: NHL Teams, Dallas Stars, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: james+neal

The Collapsing Defense

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,

One of the minor tweaks made during last month’s research and development camp in Toronto was to reduce the depth of the net by 4 inches. By creating just that much more space behind the net, NHL thinkers believe it could free up room for offensive chances at one end and breakouts at the other.

There used to be a time when Wayne Gretzky made his living behind the net, holding onto the puck and looking to set up teammates for in-front chances. But one of the most significant shifts across the league has been the embrace of collapsing zone defenses.

In Gretzky’s prime, coaches were still instructing their forwards to stretch out and take away the points. Now, the emphasis is on eliminating the slot as a danger area.

Defensemen are stationed in front of the net. Forwards are scurrying away from the points and collapsing. As a result, there is less breathing room in front, and playmakers haven’t been as free to create from behind the net.

more plus additional hockey topics…

Filed in: NHL Teams, NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Out With The Old, In With The New

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Jeremy Rutherford of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,

When the Blues arrive for training camp Friday, general manager Doug Armstrong says something will be missing. The team may not recognize it immediately, because this ‘something” has been invisible the past few seasons, but eventually the players will understand.

“We’ve taken away whatever perceived ‘glass ceiling’ might have been there,” Armstrong said.

The definition of a glass ceiling is “an invisible but real barrier through which the next stage or level of advancement can be seen, but cannot be reached.”

In the business world, age, race and gender can prevent an employee from moving ahead. In Armstrong’s analogy, it was young players’ preference to defer to veterans that may have limited their progression. But on a roster that will average 25.9 years of age when it assembles this week, there will be “no excuses” not to stand taller than the ceiling that once existed.

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, St. Louis Blues, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

A Different Type Team For Renney

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Joanne Ireland of the Edmonton Journal,

The process hasn’t changed for Tom Renney, but the scenario will certainly be different when training camp opens and he steps in as head coach of the Edmonton Oilers.

“The circumstances are different. I don’t have Jaromir Jagr to lean on or Trevor Linden or guys like that. I have some players here who are young and inexperienced and are being exposed to this mechanism for the first time,” Renney said Friday.

“I would be excited anyway, but there’s certainly a different element about it this time.”

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, Edmonton Oilers, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Talking Hockey On A Sunday Morning

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,

• Is it just me, or does Dion Phaneuf look like he’d rather be a thousand other places rather than in front of a television camera talking about the team he captains. He makes me feel uncomfortable just watching him.

• The Vancouver Canucks need to move $3.6 million US in salary and the Boston Bruins are just behind them at $3 million. How comfortable willl training camp be with veterans worrying about who’s getting moved or shipped to the minors?

• The Atlanta Thrashers say that Dustin Byfuglien will play defence for them this season. Good luck to them. I’ll give it 10 games before Byfuglien is spending more time in front of the opposition’s net rather than in front of his own.

more

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Red Wings’ prospect tournament win lopsided in more ways than one

Blog: Abel to Yzerman By George Malik

The Detroit Red Wings’ prospects defeated the Dallas Stars by a 6-1 tally (whose box score you can take a gander at thanks to Poinstreak) at Centre Ice Arena on Saturday night, scoring the game’s first three goals, giving up one, and never looking back, but the game wasn’t necessarily a blowout in the truest hockey-related sense of the word, because the stats and scoresheet don’t tell the whole story.

Continue Reading »

Filed in: | Abel to Yzerman | Permalink
 

St Louis Financial Issues

Blog: The Puck Stops Here By PuckStopsHere

To paraphrase former US presidential candidate John Edwards, there are two NHLs.  In one NHL, big market teams make millions and millions of dollars a year.  These teams drive the NHL’s revenues and have no problem paying salaries that are as close to the salary cap as possible.  These are the teams that hire full-time capologists to try to find loopholes in the NHL’s salary cap that they can use to their advantage.  The other NHL is a growing group of teams that are dependent upon revenue sharing to stay afloat.  These are teams that routinely lose money and often struggle to have payroll that meets the NHL salary floor.

One team that finds itself in the poor group this season is the St Louis Blues.  An investment group led by Dave Checketts (former Madison Square Gardens president) bought the Blues in 2006.  This investment group was backed by TowerBrook Capital Partners, who held as much as 75% of the club ownership.

Continue Reading »

Filed in: | The Puck Stops Here | Permalink
 

Evening Line

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

“He just wants, like a lot of players, to be important and to feel that we understand what he wants to be (during) his career and what he’s capable of being. We’ve got a guy who is committed to the Ottawa Senators.

-Ottawa Senators GM Bryan Murray oon Jason Spezza.  More from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun.

Filed in: NHL Teams, Ottawa Senators, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: jason+spezza

Now He Understands The Crosby Hype

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Wes Gilbertson of the Calgary Sun,

Ryan Duncan had heard the hype, but he wasn’t convinced this kid was much different than any other aspiring hockey star.

That is, until a CBC reporter showed up in snowy Minnesota to interview his bright-eyed roommate—a 15-year-old phenom named Sidney Crosby—at the famous Shattuck-St. Mary’s prep school.

“To look back on it now, he was just a normal kid in my eyes,” said Duncan, a former Hobey Baker Award winner from Calgary now employed on Austria’s professional hockey circuit.

“I didn’t quite understand how big of a deal Sidney was going to be. For me, personally, when I heard he was going to Shattuck, my first impression was, ‘OK, I’m going to outscore this kid. I want to prove I’m better than this guy.’ Then, you go out there and you see what he’s all about and it’s like, ‘Alright, maybe I have some work to do.’

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, Pittsburgh Penguins, Non-NHL Hockey, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: sidney+crosby

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