Kukla's Korner

A bit about the Wings’ signing of Libor Sulak

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji spoke with Red Wings GM Ken Holland about the signing of defenseman Libor Sulak to a 2-year contract:

This past week the team signed Czech defenseman Libor Sulak to a two-year entry-level contract, a player general manager Ken Holland saw at the recent IIHF men's world championship in Europe.

"Jiri Fischer was involved with the Czech team and there was two or three players that we were looking at on that team," Holland said during the first intermission of the Grand Rapids Griffins-San Jose Barracuda game Friday at Van Andel Arena. "He's 23 years of age. He's a real good skater. He's already signed a contract to play in Finland.

"We're going to bring him over to the development camp in July and then we'll assess whether we want to bring him over to the main camp or to let him go to Finland and have another year of development. But Fisch and I think he's a player that has a chance to be an NHL defenseman. He needs more time, more experience to learn to play his position."

Sulak has spent the last two seasons with Orli Znojmo, a Czech team that competes in the Erste Bank Eishockey Liga, the top professional league in Austria. Sulak was the rookie of the year in 2016, collecting six goals among 18 points in 62 games.

This past season, Sulak was fourth on the team with 28 points (10-18-28) and had a team-best plus-19 rating.

Wakiji continues...

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Khan clarifies the ‘Mrazek rumor’

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

MLive's Ansar Khan clarifies a bone of contention:

Holland denied telling Grand Rapids Griffins radio announcer Bob Kaser that he intends to trade Mrazek. A clip of their interview is making the rounds on the Internet (and posted below). Kaser, while off the air, asks Holland about trading Mrazek. Kaser didn't realize his microphone was on.

"When the radio interview ended, he said to me, 'I'm hearing a rumor you're trying to trade Petr Mrazek,' " Holland said. "I didn't say anything. I didn't respond."

Kaser said likewise.

"Kenny didn't say a word, plus his microphone wasn't even on," Kaser said. "Even if he would have said something you wouldn't have heard it.

"I asked him, 'Is there any truth to the rumor you're going to trade Petr Mrazek?' He had no response, which I didn't expect him to. My relationship with him is good enough to where I felt comfortable asking him that, but it was more to get a reaction out of him. He wouldn't have answered anyway, certainly not in that setting.

"I listened to it, too, and I could see where people would hear it and think, 'Maybe there's something going on here.' But there's nothing to it at all."

Khan continues...

Update: Here's a bit more from the Windsor Star's Bob Duff:

Continue Reading »

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‘Two Things’: Griffins post Game-Day Preview; AHL offers Griffins-Barracuda notes

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

Of prospect-related note this afternoon...

1. The Grand Rapids Griffins posted their Game-Day Preview ahead of tonight's game against the San Jose Barracuda (7 PM EDT on ESPN 96.1 and the AHL Live)...

2. And the AHL posted a "Morning Skate's" worth of notes regarding the Griffins-Barracuda series:

Continue Reading »

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Too Much Wear And Tear On The Players Plus Waiting On The Anaheim Ducks

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Fluto Shinzawa of the Boston Globe,

If the owners considered the long-term benefits, they would lop off a dozen games to promote better player health and more competitive action, both in the regular season and the playoffs. Of course, given the dough involved, the chances of that happening are slimmer than the MBTA running on time.

So it is up to the coaches to take action. They are the ones, after all, who have to deal with the consequences of their best players coming to work on crutches. Most of them did a good job this season scrubbing practices and morning skates because of the absurdity of the compressed schedule, thanks to the World Cup and the five-day breaks required of each team.

They can do better.

If a player has guaranteed himself a roster spot, he should play no more than once in the preseason. These are meaningless games, meant more for evaluation than to simulate in-season play.

During the regular season, the coaches should study their NBA counterparts and consider giving star players entire games off. Leaguewide parity makes this a tough job. No coach wants to be responsible for missing the playoffs by one point because of a loss in which a go-to player was granted a break. The length of the season, however, demands that such nontraditional personnel moves be considered. 

more plus other topics like...

With less than one month before the expansion draft, teams are waiting on Anaheim’s decisions before making their own. Nashville, Minnesota, and Tampa Bay are among the clubs that are projected to lose good players. But no team has as many pieces to protect as the Ducks.

If Anaheim chooses the 7-3-1 model, general manager Bob Murray will have to leave at least one good forward and desirable defenseman unprotected. The first issue Murray has to figure out is Kevin Bieksa, the aging stay-at-home defenseman with a no-movement clause. If Bieksa declines to waive his clause, it would leave Murray with two protected slots to divide between four defensemen: Cam Fowler, Hampus Lindholm, Sami Vatanen, and Josh Manson.

The outlook doesn’t look much better for Anaheim using the eight-skater protection format. 

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

Sidney Crosby, Top 5 All-Time?

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Andrew Bottomley of Sportsnet,

Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby has been one of hockey’s most prized possessions ever since his early teenage years.

After his recent Eastern Conference Final win earned him a ticket to a second straight Stanley Cup, the question begs: Where does Crosby rank among the NHL’s greats?

“Crosby could be the leader of the first team to win back-to-back Cups in the cap era and it would be his third Stanley Cup overall,” said Dan Riccio, on Sportsnet’s Hot Stove. “He is, at least, starting to chisel his face into the Mount Rushmore of NHL Players.

“On that Mount Rushmore would be Wayne Gretzky, Bobby Orr, Mario Lemieux and probably Gordie Howe. Is Crosby there yet?”

Crosby, who is still only 29 years old, has already compiled an outstanding NHL career.

In just 782 career regular-season games, he has recorded 1,027 points composed of 382 goals and 645 assists, good enough for 77th all-time. His points-per-game is off the charts -- especially considering that he is doing it in an era when scoring is generally down -- at 1.31, good enough for sixth most in the history of the league.

continued

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

St. James speaks with Jeff Blashill regarding the Worlds, Wings’ top prospects

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

The Free Press's Helene St. James spoke with Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill regarding the World Championship and the performances of the Wings' top prospects playing with the Grand Rapids Griffins:

On playing Dylan Larkin at center throughout the [World Championship] tournament: “Dylan played very well at center with the Wings the last month of the season, so it made sense for him to continue playing that position at the World Championship. He did excellent. He was very good in the defensive zone, played against the other team’s best payers and won the matchups. It was an excellent tournament for him, I think it will be a real positive leading into next year. He’s an important piece for us. He learned valuable lessons. He was great on face-offs, played power play, penalty kill. He was one of our top forwards. I coach him, so it’s one thing for me to think that, but that was universal among the coaching staff.”

...

On seeing how well Wings prospects Tomas Nosek, Tyler Bertuzzi and Evgeny Svechnikov are doing in the AHL playoffs: “I don’t know what all the pieces will be for us next season, but certainly Nosek made us confident he can be an effective NHL player. Bertuzzi and Svechnikov, they are making a statement as well. They are becoming elite players in the AHL playoffs, and those are statements you want to make. We’ll look at them in camp and make our decisions based on who is going to make us better.”

St. James continues...

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Griffins want to ‘take care of business’ vs. Barracuda

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

The Grand Rapids Griffins spent last night's post-game media availability suggesting much more than, "The fourth win is the hardest" when addressing the state of their foes, the San Jose Barracuda, ahead of tonight's possibly Western Conference Final-clinching game.

Instead, the Griffins insisted that the Barracuda were still a force to be reckoned with, and as a result, the Griffins are heading into tonight's Game 5 (7 PM at Van Andel Arena, on ESPN 96.1 FM and the AHL Live) with a bit of desperation to close out a series that would shift cross-country if the Griffins lose. DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji and Art Regner took note of the Griffins' comments to that end:

"Our mindset all along was to try and take care of business at home," said Eric Tangradi, who had a goal and two assists Friday. "We put together a good 40-minute effort so I think that's somewhere we can grow. They're a desperate hockey team, they're playing for their season (tonight) so we got to make sure we're ready to rock when the puck drops."

The Griffins are expecting the Barracuda to play their best game of the series tonight.

"We know how good they are," Griffins coach Todd Nelson said. "They're so dangerous. (Tonight) we have to come out and play hard and try to put doubt in their minds. But I don't think it's going to be the case at all. They're a very proud group over there, they're very good and they're very dangerous so it's going to be a battle."

Van Andel Arena has certainly been the friendly confines for the Griffins as they have won a new franchise record six straight playoff games there and are looking to extend that streak.

"We've taken a lot of pride in defending our home ice," Tangradi said. "The people that have come out here, the crowds, the energy, it's been amazing. It's very important to us to make sure that whenever the puck drops in the the Van Andel, we're ready to go and it's straight business."

Wakiji and Regner continue, discussing both the Griffins' desire to "take care of business" tonight and the presence of Dylan McIlrath as an intimidating presence in the Griffins' lineup...

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Video- Puck Drops Monday Night

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Filed in: NHL Teams, Nashville Predators, Pittsburgh Penguins, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Holland on the Griffins’ playoff run

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

Red Wings GM Ken Holland spoke with the media during last night's Grand Rapids Griffins game (Grand Rapids defeated the San Jose Barracuda 6-2, and the Griffins can advance to the AHL Final tonight), addressing a broad variety of topics over the course of a 12-minute interview...

And the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner took note of Holland's comments as they pertained to the Griffins:

Continue Reading »

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Battle Of The American Head Coaches In The Stanley Cup Final

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Sam Werner of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,

After the NHL took control of the Stanley Cup in 1927, it didn’t take long for an American coach to win it. Bill Stewart was the first to do so, leading the Chicago Black Hawks to the title in 1938.

The wait for the second American Stanley Cup-winning coach was just a bit longer -— 53 years, to be exact, when “Badger” Bob Johnson led the Penguins to the team’s first title.

While American coaches have established themselves as a presence in the NHL over the past 25 years, this upcoming Stanley Cup final between the Penguins and Nashville Predators will set a new benchmark.

For the first time, two American coaches — the Penguins’ Mike Sullivan and Nashville’s Peter Laviolette — will coach against each other for hockey’s ultimate prize.

Not only are both American, but both are Massachusetts natives, too. Mr. Sullivan is from Marshfield, Mass., while Mr. Laviolette grew up about 35 miles west in Franklin.

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, Nashville Predators, Pittsburgh Penguins, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: mike+sullivan, peter+laviolette

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