Kukla's Korner

Now it’s time to say goodbye…

As Paul noted, as of today On the Forecheck has moved, to join the Sports Blog Nation network of sites, as their representative covering the Nashville Predators. I hope to build a locally-focused hub there for Preds coverage that will also be part of a broader network, and I’m sure I’ll be in contact here quite often as well, either linking to stories, participating in the comments, etc.  You can find the new site at (the appropriately named) OnTheForecheck.com (now why didn’t I think of that a long time ago?).

I really want to thank Paul for allowing me this stage for the last several months, and wish the gang here all the best going forward. As many of you already know, Paul is a class act, and an incredibly generous person to work with. I couldn’t believe some of the stuff he dug up, then sent along to me with a quick, “hey, would you like to run with this?” For all of us bloggers, sometimes inspiration is hard to come by, and having a batting practice fastball lobbed down the middle for you makes for a nice booster!

Thanks to Alanah too for being so helpful as I toddled my way along here in the early going; a stats geek like myself can be a pain to deal with (”how do I get these tables presenting properly!”), but she was always quick to lend a hand.  I wish the best of luck to everyone here, and like I said earlier, I’ll see you around.

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A pivotal Predators prospect: Colin Wilson

While Nashville Predators fans are focused on the chase for the playoffs and the question of whether or not the team will act as buyers or sellers at next week’s trading deadline, I thought it would be a good time to take a look into the Preds’ future, with a detailed profile of Colin Wilson, the team’s 1st-round pick (7th overall) in the 2008 NHL Entry Draft.  He should help the team and should also helps my online sports betting picks in the future

Now, just as with the profile of Chet Pickard that ran earlier in this space, I thought it would be best to get the scoop straight from someone who sees Wilson play all the time, so our guest today is Kat, better known as “Sportsgirlkat”, a prolific Boston sports writer and member of HLOG (Hockey’s Ladies of Greatness). So, without further ado, here’s Kat…

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The collective mass of Boston University hockey fans have a love-hate relationship with Colin Wilson. We love him for his talent. We hate him for the fact that he’s so immensely talented that we probably won’t have him around next year.

Wilson, the seventh overall pick in last June’s NHL Draft by the Preds, is the front runner for the Hobey Baker Award (for those unfamiliar with college hockey, it’s the game’s version of the Heisman) and is easily one of the most talented forwards in recent BU hockey history. As of February 25, he leads the team in points with 41 (14 goals, 27 assists.) He possesses the sheer power and pure hockey skill to single-handily win a game, as he did against UMass Lowell in November. Despite all of his positives, however, he has two weaknesses that Predators fans should be mindful of.

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I like it, I love it…

Once Chicago took a 2-0 lead in the 2nd period tonight in Nashville, Pat Foley and Eddie Olczyk sounded confident of victory on the Chicago broadcast, especially given the Predators’ offensive woes of late.  But just when it seemed that Nashville’s slim playoff hopes were going to get snuffed out, they racked up 5 goals for the first time since January 28 to notch a gigantic comeback win over the Blackhawks. One thing I’ve always given this team credit for is putting forth a solid effort win or lose, and once they faced that two-goal deficit heading into the 3rd period, it would have been easy to either pack it in, or take shortcuts offensively that inevitably lead to harmful turnovers.  But Barry Trotz still has the ear of his charges, and most of the key plays down the stretch were more due to hard work and determination than just talent.

Some will say this was the biggest comeback win of the season, but I’ll say it’s a tossup between this and the January 8 win over Pittsburgh, when the Preds came back from a 3-0 hole to top the Penguins.  Within the context of the playoff chase, however, this win over Chicago is particularly sweet.

Next up, the Phoenix Coyotes come to town Thursday night. Until then, enjoy the highlights…

 

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Canadian hockey team on the road to Nashville

Besides having the Blackhawks, Coyotes and Red Wings coming to Nashville this week, a truly special hockey team is on the road to Music City, and they’re getting ready for a major showdown.  This from the Timmins Daily Press of Timmins, Ontario:

The Northern Allied Steelers atom ‘A’ team of the Timmins Minor Hockey Association are on the road trip of a lifetime.

The team’s 14 players are headed by bus to Nashville, Tenn., to watch Steve Sullivan and the Nashville Predators in not one, but two NHL games.

The Steelers will not only be specatators, but they will also put on their own show in three games against other atom teams from the Nashville area.

Steelers coach Gary Sullivan, brother of Predators player Steve Sullivan, said it was always a goal to give local kids the opportunity to see the southern team in action.

So Mirtle, are you carrying their bags or something?  The timing here is awfully coincidental…

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Two recreational hockey players die on same night, at same rink

As if I didn’t feel sore enough already after my beer-league game last night, this sobering news from San Jose (hat tip to AOL’s NHL FanHouse) got my attention. Two adult recreational players died Sunday night in separate incidents during their games at Sharks Ice.

Brian Kobata, 38. and Kelly Calabro (memorial at team’s website), 41, both collapsed on the ice just a few hours apart and rescue attempts failed to revive them.  From the San Jose Mercury News:

“It’s a very unfortunate and tragic situation,” said Ken Arnold, senior director of communications for Silicon Valley Sports and Entertainment, which operates the facility at Tenth Street and East Alma Avenue.

Sharks Ice, which is the official practice rink for the San Jose Sharks, is home to the largest adult hockey league in the nation, with 3,000 registered players. However, the strenuous sport can be hard on older players. Arnold said ambulances are called to the rink about once every 18 months.

The cause of death has not been determined for either man, family members said.

Heidi Kobata was at the rink watching her husband skate off the ice on Sunday night when he suddenly fell. She is expecting the couple’s first child in June and said her husband had not had any health problems

As a 38 year-old beer leaguer whose best playing days were 10 years and 40 pounds ago, this story just hit home with me this morning.

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Calgary investor Brett Wilson to buy stake in the Nashville Predators

As was anticipated a few months ago, Canadian investor Brett Wilson appears to be close to finalizing the purchase of a “nominal” share in the Nashville Predators. This morning’s report in the Edmonton Sun (hat tip to the Nashville Post) indicates that a handshake agreement is in place, so final details still need to be sorted out.

It should be noted that this transaction is unrelated to the minority position formerly owned by Boots Del Biaggio, which is still tied up in bankruptcy proceedings. Wilson already has sports business ties with Preds chairman David Freeman, including the ownership of a soccer team in Britain, and the West Tenn Diamond Jaxx in minor-league baseball.

There’s no word yet as to whether this purchase involves buying out any of the current minority owners, or whether it’s simply an injection of capital to relieve some of the team’s debt load.  Of course, if he wanted to write a quick check so David Poile could go trade for Alex Kovalev and Martin St. Louis, I’m sure Nashville fans would welcome him with open arms!

UPDATE: Per John Glennon at the Tennessean, the stake involved here “would likely be less than 5 percent of the team”.

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Preds enjoy a command performance

From this morning’s Tennessean, a pleasant treat for an NHL team fighting their way down the difficult road to the playoffs:

Garth Brooks (remember him? Hat? Belt buckle? Sold more albums than Elvis or the Rolling Stones?) showed up at the Tin Roof in Brentwood Sunday afternoon, only to find a “Closed” sign in the window. Thwarted on the nachos front, then, right?

Uh, no. Garth was not there for salty treats nor for cold brews, but rather to play a “thank you” concert for the Nashville Predators. And Tin Roof management was more than happy to open the place up on a Sunday.

Why thank the Preds? Every member of the team made a donation to Garth’s Teammates For Kids charity. That organization works to provide health services and education for kids who need it. After the Preds delivered for his kids, Garth decided to deliver for the Preds. And since many of the Predators enjoy hanging at the Tin Roof, the club seemed like a natural fit.

 

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To buy or not to buy? That is the question…

The NHL Trading Deadline is just over a week away, so here’s your Nashville Predators Question of the Week: Should David Poile starting buying, selling, or should he stand pat with his current roster?

I’ll admit to being somewhat conflicted on this one, but let’s take each option one at a time…

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You better not pout, you better not cry…

The Nashville Predators open up a 5-game homestand tomorrow night against Chicago that will serve as the pivotal section of this 2008-9 season. Not only will the Preds need their fans to be at their loudest and most energetic as they seek much-needed victories and a fifth consecutive playoff berth, but there’s another reason for fans to bring the noise particularly on Thursday vs. Phoenix and Saturday vs. Detroit.

Why?

‘Cause James Mirtle’s coming to town, that’s why. For those of us who complain that scribes from the Great White North misrepresent our city and team, this is a welcome opportunity for Preds fans to show what the Sommet Center experience is like, especially for a Red Wings game.

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Preds beat the Blues and remain in the hunt

The team that everyone loves to hate just refuses to go away quietly; showing the gritty determination that has been a hallmark of Barry Trotz’s teams over the years, the Nashville Predators earned a 1-0 victory in St. Louis tonight.  Despite a pair of back-to-back losses in the last couple weeks, the Preds have now earned 17 points in 14 games since the All-Star break, and sit three points behind 8th-place Anaheim in the Western Conference with over 20 games to go for all teams involved.

The OT winner came off the stick of Shea Weber, his first goal since January 17 and a welcome return to the scoresheet…

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