Kukla's Korner

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Seix Degrees of Sean Avery

per Mouthpiecesports.com, a great Chicago-based sports commentary.

Pretty good. I would have liked to see the end with someone better than Chris Klein (spoiler alert!), but I digress.

related: The Six Degrees of Separation of OJ Simpson

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John Grahame drinking his way out of the KHL

From Caroilna On Ice, via Beyond the Blueshirts:

“More trouble for Avangard Omsk”

“Yesterday near the club “Atlantid” Grahame was noticed in an intoxicated state, after which a police squad arrived and took him to a detoxification center. Club president Konstantin Potapov and Avangard general manger Anatoli Bardin came shortly after to collect him from there. Later from a source in the club came information that the management of the Hawks is going to terminate the contract with the hockey player. Another option that is not ruled out is the possibility of trading the player. The press service of the club has not yet officially commented on the situation.”- Russian site, Sports Planet

So let me get this right.. a man can’t even get drunk in a bar anymore without losing his job? What’s this world coming to?

Strange news as the Russian translation is so vague on the description of events. Was Grahame just seen drunk and buzzed? Was he found passed out face down on the sidewalk outside the club? Did he almost Jimi Hendrix/Jim Morrison himself?

I’m not sure what exactly went down, but I do know that he hasn’t been playing well - and the team finding out that he’s piss-drunk and being arrested to detox would get just about anyone dismissed from any pro hockey team. This one here hopes he can get his act together to at least make a decent back-up goaltender in the NHL one day. Perhaps he could consult current River Rat Dan LaCouture - who gave up alcohol for the betterment of his personal life and hockey career.

After all, if you can’t handle your liquor - you shouldn’t be drinking in the first place.

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  Tags: hurricanes, john+grahame, khl

Laviolette fired; Hartsburg might be next

The Carolina Hurricanes have just announced that they have fired head coach Peter Laviolette, who led the team to the 2006 Stanley Cup championship. They have replaced him with former Hurricanes and Maple Leafs head coach Paul Maurice.

Sources say Maurice will remain on as head coach at least until the end of the season, at which point the position will be re-evaluated leaving the Hurricanes the freedom to head in a different direction, or sign Maurice to a long term contract.

The Hurricanes missed the playoffs the last two seasons and are 12-11-2 this season after Sunday’s 4-1 loss to the Anaheim Ducks.

The team has called a press conference to announce the news…

The next NHL head coach that might be shown the door is Senators’ head coach Craig Hartsburg, and that might be very soon as the Senators are struggling to avoid the league’s basement. Tonight the Sens face the Atlanta Thrashers, the only team keeping them from being dead last in the Eastern Conference. A loss against the Thrashers, who lost 5-4 to the Montreal Canadiens on Tuesday, could be the last nail in Hartsburg’s coffin.

As I previously stated in a previous blog, Hartsburg is on a short leash since the beginning of November. Ottawa went 4-5-3 in 12 games, scoring only 23 goals (1.92 goals/game). A loss against the cellar-dwelling Thrashers might force GM Bryan Murray to make a coaching change to sparkplug his hapless team. From: http://www.nhl-northeast.com

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  Tags: hartsburg, laviolette, murray, ottawa, senators

NHL’s Cy Young Leader, etc.

There has been a lot of discussion on who is leading the Calder and Art Ross races, but there is another race that NHL fans should be looking at: the leader for NHL’s Cy Young award. The leader right now has to be has to be Thomas Vanek with an 18-5 record (the exact record that Tim Lincecum finished with after winning his Cy Young award this past season). However, he is followed close behind by Jeff Carter, who got his 17th and 18th goals (wins) last night, but also got an assist to bump up his total of 7. Whoever can reach the 40 mark without getting 20 assists will be saying “woo hoo!” in no time. My bet is on Vanek, whose game is more in front of the net; while Carter is a center and handles the puck more, and should see his assist total come up a little bit more. Despite their great starts towards the NHL’s Cy Young award, I’m not too sure if either will match Marek Svatos’ ratio of 26:11 last season. Incredibly, through 23 games this season, Svatos has more assists than goals (4-7)!

 

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Filed in: NHL Teams, NHL Talk, | KK Members Blog | Permalink
 

Avery’s Sloppy Seconds

Sean Avery just landed in Calgary and already he is stirring the pot:

“I am really happy to be back in Calgary, I love Canada,” Avery told the media.  “I just want to comment on how it’s become like a common thing in the NHL for guys to fall in love with my sloppy seconds.  I don’t know what that’s about.  Enjoy the game tonight.”
read more

Ouch. What a burn. Obviously directed at Dion Phaneuf who is now going out with Elisha Cuthbert, Avery’s ex-girlfriend.

Should be a good game tonight.

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The Big OO, AHL Reebok Rookie of the Month

Bears’ Osala named Reebok Edge/AHL Rookie of the Month

Looks like Oskar Osala is finally getting the recognition he deserves.  This kid has the entire package, size and a knack for scoring goals. When is this kid going to get a shot in the big club? Next year?

Filed in: Non-NHL Hockey, Minor League, | KK Members Blog | Permalink
  Tags: ahl, oskar+osala, rookie

Oilers 4th Jersey, etc

Despite popular opinion, I like the Kings’ 3rd jersey. By the way, I knew The Hills’ Lauren Conrad was an avid hockey fan, but I didn’t know she was an LA King ice girl too.

Speaking of third jerseys, I think it is a great idea for the NHL to market the game. The only problem is that they are too bulky. If Snoop Dogg can’t make them look good, then who can? They aren’t like wearing baseball or basketball jerseys. Heck, even football jerseys are made more fashionable. But in terms of 3rd jerseys, I like the Blues, Bruins and Yotes the best. Thrashers’ are nice, and I like the Flyers old school look. I’m not really a big fan of the Sens’ and Canes. The Hawks’ new special jerseys aren’t bad looking either. Here is a look at Edmonton’s leaked FOURTH! jersey.

I spoke of this before in the comments section, but if the NHL wants to draw interest in the All Star game, they must start ballot stuffing in favor for a starting lineup that includes Sidney Crosby playing with Alex Semin. Of everything that has been said, this would be a very nice side story that would draw fans to the game.

Speaking of this newly anointed rivalry, Crosby has responded the best way he could: with a player of the week award (12 points in 5 games). Meanwhile, Alex Semin has missed the last 7 games with an upper back strain.

Last week Jim Hughson was the topic of a great blog here on KK. It is about time this guy is getting some recognition. He top my short list of favorite hockey play by play voices. And no, this isn’t because he is the voice of the greatest hockey game ever: NHL ‘06. The other 4 include: Rick “May Day/Top shelf where momma hides the cookies” Jeanneret, Sam “Nobody says Save by Lundqvist like me” Weinman, Chris “I do play by play for the CFL too” Cuthbert, and Harry “who needs the leafs” Neale.
However, none of these guys compare to my three favorite play by play guys: Gus Johnson, Dick Enberg and of course, the man - Chuck Swirsky. I can listen to them call ____ and i would find it interesting.

Another event that the NHL needs to plug more is the annual Winter Classic. In a marketing perspective, this is one of the best ideas the NHL has ever had. The new 46 second NBC ad is amazing. I love how they are doing it at Wrigley Field and I love how the ad incorporated one of Wrigley’s classic traditions with hockey’s classic jerseys. Bob Costas’ voice in the end gives the viewer a sense of legitimacy for the game. What would give the game more legitimacy is for President elect Barack Obama to accept the Blackhawks’ invitation to the game. It would be a great way to promote the NHL in the United States and also give Obama another sports base he can draw on, as he as already established himself in the basketball side of sports. Another example. And another example. Anyways, from a one time Chicago Bulls lover to a Chicago native, please Barack, accept the invite.

Game of the Night: Sean Avery vs Jarome Iginla. I hope Iginla does something to put Avery in his place. This game is not about Dallas vs Calgary, there must be some confrontation between Avery and Iginla.

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A look at Brian Burke’s probable moves before the trade deadline

During Saturday’s press conference to the Toronto media, Brian Burke all but confirmed that the Leafs are officially out of the Sundin sweepstakes. “I don’t think we fit his profile as a team,” said Burke. He referred to the 2-year $20 million offer from the Vancouver Canucks, putting the emphasis on the fact that Sundin’s comeback is not about money, but about playing for a contender.

Therefore, if Burke is not looking to add Sundin to his team, this means he will likely try to unload some veterans.

Look for Burke to start moving players in January as he will study his team in the next few weeks to see which players fit his style of players: physical, gritty, tough, hardworker, reliable defensively, etc.

Goaltenders: Curtis Joseph is having a tough season, posting a 3.95 GAA and a woeful .861 save percentage. He hasn’t won any game yet for the Leafs. The veteran goaltender might be asked to hang his skates to give some seasoning to Justin Pogge, the Leafs’ goaltender of the future.

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Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Members Blog | Permalink
  Tags: antropov, burke, kaberle, maple+leafs, ponikarovsky, toronto

Fantastically: Take That Lundy!

Henrik Lundqvist has now played 23 games without a shutout. By this time last year, he had 4. So what’s the deal? Despite his lack of shutouts, I believe he is playing better hockey this year than last. He is making more saves, handling the puck better and waiting out players’ moves in the shootout. He is still top 10 in the league in Goals Against Average and Save Percentage, even with his 5 goals against vs Vancouver and 3 quick ones yesterday vs the Panthers. Meanwhile, Craig Anderson, backup goalie for the Panthers got his second shut out of the season… Take that Lundy.
Fantastically, Lundqvist‘s ability to keep the Rangers in the game is essential to get those goalie wins. Even though he isn’t shutting teams out, he is only letting it a limited amount of goals per game. He is a must start in every situation and don’t let his recent slide discourage you from playing him. Lundqvist faces a tough test this Thursday in Montreal, should be an interesting match up barring a melt down from either goalie.

 

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Memories From the Turkey Tournament

This post was submitted for Happy Hockey Day by Suzanne Hebert, Head Coach of the Dover Stars Girls, U12

____________________________

It was the second round robin game of the Turkey Tournament. One of I’m sure many youth hockey tournaments surrounding the Thanksgiving holiday across the US this past weekend.

The girls U12 team was playing a known team, one we had beaten, shut out actually, earlier in the season. What made this game different was the fact that it was a tournament game - a first tournament game for a few of the younger players on the team. My pre-game locker room spiel started with, “anything can happen in a tournament.” After skating to a 0-0 tie for 2 periods against a team they thought they could easily beat, they were learning what I meant when I said, “teams that have never beaten you before, can beat you in a tournament.” Although we were not officially losing, we weren’t winning either.

Emotions were high on the bench. If you’ve never seen a U12 age girl’s hockey bench, it’s an experience. The line up includes 12 year old players that are 5’5” tall to 10 year olds who don’t even reach 4’10” with their skates on. Pony tails hang down from helmets, pink laces, pink gloves, green laces, green ribbons woven into helmets, pink sticks with purple polka dots, even some mascara and eye liner.

We were keeping the puck in the offensive zone, getting as many shots on net as by the net but their goalie had kept even our strongest shooters scoreless. There were shots from the point that hit the opponent’s shin pads two feet in front of the shot, rebounds that didn’t connect with a stick, and passes that went through the crease untouched.

The third period started and we were getting a bit panicky. Finally, a beautiful pass from our winger, to the center who got off a good shot, a rebound that the other winger got her stick on and slide it past the goalie. Danielle is a first year travel player who I’ve moved around all season. She’s played defense, she’s been a winger. Today she was our right winger and she was the one who put the puck in the net for us.

Another highlight moment for the tournament came a few minutes later. We had managed to hold onto our 1-0 lead and were feeling good. The other team, in a desperate move, pulled their goalie. At the face off, we controlled the puck and got it down to their end. Now, it’s not as easy to score an empty net as one would think. A couple of our stronger shooters had chances they were unable to capitalize on. With just over a minute left in the game, Avery, my youngest, smallest, least experienced player on the team got the puck on her stick, evaded the D and pushed the puck into the empty net giving us the insurance we needed. All 65 pounds of her came straight up off the ice eight inches into the air. I can still picture her –surrounded by her teammates, hugging her, patting her on the helmet. I can still hear their shouts of joy. I remember jumping on the bench, my hands thrown up in the air, at the same time her gloves were raised high on the ice. I can feel the emotions of a game clinching goal for nine-year old.

We went onto the championship game, finished second in the tournament. But what remains the best part of the entire tournament for me is having my two youngest, least experienced players put the puck in the net in their very first tournament. I hope they carry the joy and the confidence of the moment with them for a long time. I know I will.

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  Tags: happy+hockey+day

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