Kukla's Korner

I’ve Been Traded to SBN

There are times when a superstar player leaves a team for greener pastures, and that team looks to fill the void by trading for a second-line player while promoting within the organ-i-zation. And it’s happened once again, as Hart Trophy candidate James Mirtle has left SBN’s From The Rink to go to the Cup-contending Globe & Mail. To take his roster spot, the following trade has been made:

To SBN’s From The Rink: Mike Chen
To Kukla’s Korner: Draft picks, cap space, and a few rolls of hockey tape.

(Anyone got the E number on that one?)

Now, there’s no way that I could take Mirtle’s spot by myself—I’m just a two-way forward, not a 50-goal guy. That’s why SBN will be calling up some talent from within the organ-i-zation, and I’ll be acting as the editor/manager overseeing a team of several bloggers. Our continuing mission: to provide new content and new opinion, to boldly go where no hockey blog has gone before. We’ll be doing a variety of things and we’ve got some very talented writers on board. All of that starts on Monday with the new iteration of From The Rink, so please swing by and check out the new digs when you turn on the computer Monday morning.

Now, this is the first part of the press conference, where I make my teary farewell to my old team before going to SBN’s arena and putting on the new jersey.

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Filed in: Blog Stuff, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
 

What’s JR Up To?

Everytime I think Jeremy Roenick does something too silly to be taken seriously, he comes across as engaging, (somewhat) thoughtful, and entertaining. His appearance on the NHL on NBC was a nice addition to one of the best regular season games I’ve seen in a while, and it’s certainly nice seeing JR do something like that rather than some of the more head-scratching things he’s done. Jeremy Roenick, Insurance Salesman? What were the odds of that one happening?

Well, it did, and it’s not the only thing JR’s been up to. What’s a retired 500-goal scorer supposed to do without hockey in season? Let’s see what Mr. Roenick’s been up to:

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Filed in: NHL, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: jeremy+roenick

Intent To Blow vs. In The Crease

The NHL has a not-so-pretty track record of going overboard comes to rule changes; in the past, they either made rules that seemed nonsensical (whoever thought a two-line pass would be a good rule?) or they wound up mucking up their own rules with crazy flowcharts of “if-then” statements for interpretation. Case in point—the ever-popular intent-to-blow rule.

It seems like just about every team has been screwed out of at least one goal with the whole intent-to-blow debacle, and it’s not getting any better. When we came out of the lockout, the first few years were all about rainbows and harmony when it came to the rules. The “new” NHL (with a logo going UP instead of down!) and the “new” rules (actually, just the old rules finally being called) made everyone as happy as Luke Skywalker buying power converters.

I’ll leave the rant about the return of obstruction for a more appropriate time, like the playoffs. I think we all know everyone’s big complaint is the whole intent-to-blow rule, and it makes me think back to the late 1990s when skates in the crease were all the rage.

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Filed in: NHL, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: brett+hull, officiating, rules

A Tiny Sign of Life

Since I’m on the west coast and I watch a lot of Pacific Division match-ups, I’ve had the opportunity to catch a variety of Phoenix Coyotes games throughout the season. Normally, this wouldn’t mean too much but it does allow me to get snapshots of how the Phoenix market is trending without getting involved on a fan level. I think we’ve all seen the pictures from early on when an announced crowd of 8,000 really seemed like about half of that. You could pause the game and literally count the number of people in a section. It was pretty brutal, to say the least.

Since the Coyotes’ ownership situation has stabilized somewhat, I’ve noticed my look-ins on the Coyotes have gradually changed in that you can actually see people in the crowd. Some games have more than others, and certainly many people are wearing the opposition’s sweaters, but butts in the seats still means butts in the seats. Here are the reported attendance figures for a 3+ week period:

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Filed in: NHL, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: attendance, phoenix+coyotes

Success is Relative

Only one team can win the Stanley Cup. Does that mean that the season is a failure for the other 29 teams? For teams like Chicago and Washington, the answer could be yes, though I’d say that making the final four teams could be argued as the measuring stick for a reasonably successful season. For the rest of the teams, I think fans have to consider the context of their expectations going into the season. Did you expect your team to vie for the Stanley Cup this season or were you just hoping they wouldn’t finish in the basement again?

For the latter, it’s important to temper mid-season frustrations with a little bit of realism. If rookies are having a good first season and the team is competing hard most nights, then a .500 record could be a major step forward—and anything else could just be a bonus. Let’s look at a few examples.

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Filed in: NHL, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: colorado+avalanche, standings, tampa+bay+lightning

Looking Back At 41 Games

Just about every team has hit the halfway point (41 games) into this season, and while some teams are hitting all cylinders, there’s very little we can predict based on standings at this point. For a brief history lesson, let’s look at the 41-game records of the past five Stanley Cup champions:

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Filed in: NHL, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: standings

What Do You Expect From A Rookie Season?

I know we live in a “Win now!” era, but it seems kind of ridiculous for the media to be getting on John Tavares for an extended slump in his first NHL season. These must be the same folks that called Steven Stamkos a bust because he didn’t have 90 points in his rookie year.

Tavares is 19 and hit the first long slump (one point in eight games) of his career. When I was 19, I spent my days pondering which of my college neighbors would have the best house party, not how I could revive an entire franchise from the money pit that is the Nassau Coliseum. Give the guy a break. He’s a rookie, and rookies hit slumps. Isn’t it a bit unrealistic to expect absolute consistency out of a teenager in the NHL?

What would be considered a successful rookie campaign for Tavares? Do we expect every #1 pick to be another Alexander Ovechkin or Sidney Crosby? That seems a bit far-fetched. Look at the point totals for previous forward Calder winners NOT named Ovechkin or Crosby:

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Filed in: NHL, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: john+tavares, rookies

Cross ‘Em Off

With the turn of the calendar year nearly upon us, it’s time to look at the standings. I’ve always maintained that the first unofficial throw-in-the-towel marker is the end of December; basically, by my logic if you’re not hovering around .500 by this time, then it’s time to start looking at the draft lottery. Which is, of course, appropriate since the World Junior Championships are going on right now. Convenient, right?

So with that said, it’s good bye Columbus, see you later Edmonton, best wishes Carolina, nice hustle Islanders, and good try Toronto. I know, not exactly earth-shattering proclamations. Still, many hockey fans would probably still give Columbus and maybe even the Islanders and Leafs an outside chance.

How can we cross them off the list when they’re within a handful of points of a playoff spot? Here’s my reasoning.

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Filed in: NHL, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: standings

Do You Want Your Players In The Olympics?

With everyone caught up in Olympic-team discussion these days, I find myself torn between wanting to watch peaking players in a best-on-best tournament and—selfishly, yeah—not wanting to see key players on my favorite team involved in what will be a physical and intense tournament. As a Sharks fan, I’m facing the potential of eight guys involved in the tournament: Patrick Marleau, Dan Boyle, Joe Thornton, and Dany Heatley for Canada; Joe Pavelski for Team USA; Douglas Murray for Sweden; Evgeni Nabokov for Russia; and backup goaltender Thomas Greiss for Germany.

That’s almost half of the roster, and almost all of the critical guys. I can’t be in this boat along—teams like Detroit, Pittsburgh, Chicago, and others will have a good chunk of their guys hopping on a plane to get to Vancouver. I’m sure fans of teams like these have debated this back and forth, and it brings up the question: is the magnificent competition of the Olympic tournament worth putting your players at risk?

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Filed in: NHL, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: olympics

Winter Classic Doubleheader In Discussion

In case you missed it earlier, NHL.com did a Q&A with Gary Bettman about the BoG meetings. Here’s this little nugget:

Q: Has there been any talk of having any Canadian teams in the Winter Classic?

A: We had discussion not with the board but over the summer about dong a second Winter Classic this year with two Canadian teams in Canada. That’s something timing-wise we couldn’t make happen, but it’s something we’re going to look at again for next year.

...

Q: Do you think the issue of second outdoor game in Canada is something that will be looked at again going forward?

A: Yes. If I didn’t say that clearly, it’s something we’re going to look at for next season. We’ll see if we can make that happen.

Read the entire thing here.

Overkill on a good idea or a good way to satiate the demands of two markets/TV networks? You make the call! (Said in deep old-school NFL Films voice.)

Filed in: | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: winter+classic

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