Kukla's Korner

Category: NHL

General NHL posts

A Timeline For Panic

Colorado wins the Stanley Cup! Detroit is the worst team ever! Alexander Ovechkin will score 200+ points!

Sweet Jebus, people, grab a pint of Newcastle and take a deep breath. The season’s less than a week old and it seems like everyone’s already making all sorts of weird proclamations about their team and/or players. The most absurd of these things had to be whether Ovechkin would break Gretzky’s scoring records this season (though the discussion of whether or not Craig Anderson would win the Hart comes in second); come on, guys, it’s only been a handful of games. There was a time in San Jose’s history when the line of Owen Nolan/Vincent Damphousse/Jeff Friesen had a combined dozen points or so in the first two games, but I don’t think Sharks fans had any delusions of Friesen scoring 150.

It’s not time to panic. It’s not time to claim a winner. Let’s just enjoy the early games, ok? In the meantime, I tend to look at December as the most critical month of the season. However, you can almost consider it like a three-strikes rule, with October, November, and December each being a potential strike—and three strikes and you’re out of the playoff picture.

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

DTV & Versus…For What It’s Worth

Pretty much everyone knows that the NHL has suggested that DirecTV subscribers call DirecTV and bug them about Versus. As a longtime DirecTV subscriber, I decided to do just that to see what they’d say. After doing a little research, I saw that some people were getting free stuff for complaining.

I’m not necessarily advocating that you do this, but it never hurts to try. Here’s what happened and what I got:

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Filed in: NHL, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: center+ice, directv, versus

Would You Sign This Guy?

It’s the end of September, which means that we’re subjected to the annual Peter Forsberg comeback rumors. (Everyone collectively roll their eyes right now.)

Been there. Done that. Excellent player when healthy. Still has great vision and hands. Fragile, capable of straining a groin while reaching in the cupboard for cereal. Has an alien-infested foot that can’t seem to fit in any skate.

Oh, but the temptation. Just imagine, if—this time, really!—Forsberg was healthy, wouldn’t he be a fantastic addition to a team? Sure, maybe not a #1 center (even the most desperate GM would be delusional if he counted on Foppa to be his top guy), but if you needed another playmaking forward, a fiery competitor, a veteran presence who knows how to win at the most crucial of moments…boy, that sounds inviting, doesn’t it?

Well Peter, what do you have to say for yourself? “But my foot felt better tonight, and it feels like it’s going in the right direction.”

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Filed in: NHL, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: peter+forsberg

Versus vs. Common Sense

(Apologies for being MIA over the last little while. We’ve had a family medical situation, which causes priorities to shift quite a bit. Fortunately, things look much better this week. Don’t worry, I won’t go all Dwayne on you with soap-operaish details about my life other than that things are probably gonna be ok.)

The NHL season is two weeks away. I still don’t have Versus on my DirecTV, and it looks like I probably won’t have it anytime soon.

According to Puck Daddy, folks with Time Warner Cable may not be able to enjoy Center Ice at the season’s start

Great time to be a hockey fan with all this technology, right? Fortunately, there are other options, such as online streaming (both the official Center Ice Online and…uh…other not-so-official means, but you didn’t hear that from me).

Still, this whole mess just seems to be a game of chicken that doesn’t really need to be happening. While the collateral damage here is a bunch of big companies pissing off fans, Versus has the most to lose here. Sorry guys, but you’re just not important enough to most people to cause a seismic shift in how a broadcast provider measures its performers.

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Filed in: NHL, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: center+ice, espn, versus

Kessel Can’t Go To The Sharks (Directly)

Ok, so the Phil Kessel-to-San Jose rumors are flying about now thanks to the Sharks’ cap-clearing moves last week. However, a simple look at numbers shows that a trade between the two teams is pretty much impossible without a third party getting involved.

Please recall that the trading of Christian Ehrhoff and Brad Lukowich to the Vancouver Canucks opened up about $4 million of cap space. That’s why everyone thought the trades were a precursor to something else. However, the Sharks promptly signed Torrey Mitchell, Brad Staubitz, and Thomas Greiss, which took up about half of that $2 million cap space. As it stands right now, the Sharks are hovering around the $54 million mark. That leaves them with about $3 million in cap space.

The Bruins, on the other hand, have about $1.5 million to play with thanks to buyouts of Glen Murray, Peter Schaefer, and Patrick Eaves, along with the $3.3 million signing of Derek Morris. However, this is a best-case scenario as it doesn’t factor bonuses in there (bonuses count against the cap); if all bonuses are achieved, then the Bruins are technically around $1.5 million over the cap—and that’s even without Kessel’s new contract.

(For anyone interested, those bonuses are for Milan Lucic, Blake Wheeler, and Tuuka Rask. So you can be pretty sure that the first two will achieve their bonuses. The latter? Not so much.)

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Filed in: NHL, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: boston+bruins, phil+kessel, san+jose+sharks

Appropriate Use Of Hockey Terminology

Heard these terms lately?

Stoned: “Well, if you mean stopped a shot on goal, yes.”
Puck Bunny: “No. But I’ve met them.”

Who is this and what’s he describing? Here’s a hint—I think the world of the guy who was interviewed and I’ll still be sticking with the rival product in a few weeks.

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

Can’t You Remember?

With each passing day, I think I better understand just why Dany Heatley stayed silent for so long. It’s cause every time he opens his mouth, he appears worse and worse.

Today, he gave us this gem (hat tip to the Illegal Curve guys): “I love playing in Canada. I think there were some Canadian teams on the list that I gave the Senators earlier in the summer.”

Wait. You demanded a trade, you identified the teams you wanted to go to, and now you can’t remember them? You think there were some Canadian teams on the list? Maybe Jim Balsillie’s Make It Seven campaign made it confusing for you?

Ok, Dany, seriously, let’s do the math. There are the 30 teams in the leagues. Six of them are Canadian. You’re on one of them, so you can only go to five other ones. Reports suggest that you had a list of about a half-dozen teams.

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Filed in: NHL, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: dany+heatley

Guess Who’s This About?

From Eugene Melnyk, owner of the Ottawa Senators (via the Canadian Press):

As a businessman, I know about playing tough and getting your elbows up.

I also know lessons that most of us learned early in our childhoods - you play fair; you play by the rules and you help others when you can.


I used to privately feel sympathy for his plight, but as I’ve watched his conduct with and towards the league and other owners, I clearly believe the sport of hockey is better off without him.

You get three guesses who Melnyk is talking about and the first two don’t count (don’t look at this post’s tags). Read the whole thing here.

Filed in: NHL, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: jim+balsillie

In Defense of Patrick Marleau

Several years ago (pre-lockout), a friend and I debated what Patrick Marleau’s actual upside was. This was when he still floundered in 40-point brilliant-one-game-awful-the-next land, pre-captaincy and with the life being squeezed out of him by then-coach Darryl Sutter. We finally agreed that under the right coach and with the right circumstances, he could ultimately turn into a Mike Modano-style player: 80-90 points per season, a good penalty killer because of his speed, and a threat for 35+ goals each season.

It seems fitting, then, that like Modano a few years ago, Marleau was stripped of the captaincy. While Todd McLellan has left open the possibility of the C returning to his chest, reports out of the San Jose Mercury News make it seem like that won’t happen. McLellan hinted at a decision come training camp based on work ethic and focus, but that just seems to pave the way for Dan Boyle being named captain. He’s skilled, signed long term, honest without Roenick-style foot-in-mouth disease, and brings a genuine intensity to the team, along with Stanley Cup experience. It’s a logical choice, and as a fan of Boyle since his Tampa days, I fully support it.

(The dark horse candidate is Joe Pavelski, in a move that might mirror Dallas’ choice to make Brendan Morrow captain.)

But I continue to find fault with people who make it seem like Marleau’s head deserved to be on every possible chopping block from here to Saskatoon. It’s funny, not in a “ha ha” kind of way but in a shake-your-head-in-bemusement kind of way. It seems like everyone forgot about the year that Marleau had.

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Filed in: NHL, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: dan+boyle, patrick+marleau, san+jose+sharks

If Gretzky Ran America’s Energy Policy…

It’s not everyday you read a political/scientific article in Time Magazine with a random hockey reference, but I flipped open the new issue (dated August 24) today and a little sidebar (well, bottom bar) on page 32 showcased Wayne Gretzky in Heritage Classic tuque.

Ok, that seemed a little weird, especially when the rest of the article seemed to be about energy efficiency and carbon footprints.

A closer look at the article (which you can read here but it doesn’t have the awesome sidebar) shows a profile of Nobel-winning Secretary of Energy Steven Chu. The part that mentions Gretzky is a little blurb called “The World According to Chu: Inside the mind of the U.S. Energy Secretary.”

On Leadership: U.S. energy policy should be like hockey star Wayne Gretzky: not just chasing the puck where it is now but heading where the puck will eventually end up.

Well then, if only every politician could compare policy to a hockey player’s style, people might actually be a little more interested in their agenda. Chu grew up on Long Island, so perhaps if you asked him about foreign policy, he’d say the U.S. should be like Bryan Trottier in the corners (or not like Rick Dipietro’s hip).

(Please, no political debates in the comments. Snarky Islanders references are ok, though.)

Filed in: NHL, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: new+york+islanders, wayne+gretzky

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