Kukla's Korner


Ottawa In Tough For Roster Battles

Butler, Cowen, and Wiercioch battle for fresh spots, Shannon and Carkner look to improve their depth chart position, Ottawa’s overflowing roster, hope for 2012 All-Star Weekend success, and a former Senator looks for work at home, but first. . .

From the Ottawa Citizen, on the rise of Mike Hoffman,

Hoffman wasn’t even selected in 2008, the first year he was eligible for the NHL draft, which tells you a lot about how he was perceived by scouts. The rap against him was that he didn’t always work hard and didn’t always think about playing defence.
“We have some work to do there,” Kleinendorst said. “He’s a tremendously skilled hockey player. When he figures out how to compete on a consistent basis, wow, that’s the complete package. But I would say, right now, that that’s the one thing we’re going to have to spend some time on.
“I know what they’re looking for down the road in a couple of years, so I’ve just got to build my way up there and take advantage of every situation that I’m given,” [said Hoffman.]

There’s no doubt that when you go from being cut by both OHL and QMJHL teams to Q MVP honours this season with 46-39—85 in 56GP and going up against Seguin and Eberle for CHL Player of the Year, you’re going to cause some heads to turn.

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Forming Evaluations Through Rookie Tournament

Lenher’s tournament debut, Ottawa’s scoring outburst against Chicago, Lehner’s careful rise in the organization, Cowick’s Ottawa dream coming true, not quite the hoped for endorsement of Gonchar from Shero, resting the Spezza rumours, and broadcast headaches, but first. . .

From the Ottawa Sun, on the evaluation of Ottawa’s defensive prospects,

“The rookie tournament is good, but for high picks like Cowen and Wiercioch, you want to see how they perform against and with better players in main camp,” said Murray.

“The play isn’t going to be as scrambled. It’s more structured and that’s when they’re going to show if they’re ready. This is just a tuneup. What you’re going to see is that those guys are going to be much better with the older guys.”
“We expect them to show that they’re players,” said Murray. “They may not show that they’re players today, but right now they’re good prospects and down the road they’re going to be good players.

“If that’s coming out of this camp or next year’s camp or for Wiercioch halfway through the year, I don’t know. They just have to continue to show they’re elite players and they have to continue to improve. They’ve both come in stronger. They both had a lot to learn and they’ve just got to continue to do that.”

Despite the lower organization and competition at the rookie tournament, there is still much to be gleaned.

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Hoping For A Fluke-Free Season

Update on rookie tournament roster (injury), but first. . .

From the Ottawa Sun, Leclaire is ready for a fluke-injury-free season,

If Pascal Leclaire is feeling the heat, it doesn’t show.
“I want it to be an awful year. I want to go pump gas next year,” Leclaire said jokingly to reporters. “It’s not the first time that it’s been a contract year for me. This is something I’ve been through four or five times.
“It’s a brand new season,” said Leclaire, who is sporting new Sherwood pads. “Whatever happened last season — good or bad — is gone. In sports, you have to prove yourself every year. It’s the same thing.
“I had (some) bad luck that kind of got me out of my rhythm a little bit. Before I got hurt, I was starting to feel good,” said Leclaire. “It’s done. (The way the injuries happened) make good stories (at) barbecues and a lot of people laughed about it.”

For $4.8 million, higher than all but Kovalev, Gonchar, Spezza, and Alfredsson, expectations are a tad higher than the 12-14-2, .887Sv%, 3.20GAA he put up last season.

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Ellis’ Tweets Offered Glimpse Into CBA Battle

From seemingly out of nowhere, Dan Ellis has found himself etched into the public sphere in no time at all, and just as quickly buffed out of it. Based on the reaction of the 12,000+ followers and countless more who would read and reply to his tweets on the subject of money, it would seem less a debate than a Frankenstein’s-monster-eque mob swirling around the outspoken player.

Somehow, I once had the belief that athletes with opinions and more than dried up cliches to offer were the ones the public wanted to hear from.

Given everyone’s economic distress, his own admission of stress over money was bound not to fly with many. But it does highlight the upcoming battle with the end of the current CBA, a battle with four sides. A battle that Ellis’ tweets offered a glimpse of, and of a reality few would believe in.

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Rookie Tournament To Showcase Roster Battles

From the Ottawa Senators, on what is expected to be a competitive battle to crack the Ottawa and Binghamton rosters at this weekend’s rookie tournament against Leafs, Pens, and Hawks prospects,

“I don’t know if anybody out of that camp (can push for a roster spot), but there usually is,” said Senators general manager Bryan Murray. “We have a number of (top) young guys that are going to be there. (Defenceman) Patrick Wiercioch, I think, will really benefit from a rookie camp situation. Certainly, Robin Lehner will benefit from it, just going through the experience of playing against pro players.”
A year ago, defenceman Erik Karlsson and centre Peter Regin both took part in the rookie tournament and eventually ended up earning regular spots in the Senators lineup. Defenceman Jared Cowen, the Senators’ top pick in the 2009 NHL Entry Draft, would appear to be the best bet to take that route in 2010, with forward Bobby Butler figuring to get a long look as well. Lehner, Wiercioch and high-scoring forward Mike Hoffman are top prospects from recent drafts that also have a chance to make an impression.

“We’ve had an open mind since we’ve been here,” Senators assistant general manager Tim Murray said in a radio interview with the Team 1200. “It will take something special (to crack the lineup). As open minded as we want to be and say we’re going to be, salary cap and contracts do have a big say in it. In saying that, one guy may light it up. Who knows?”

Once again, for the fourth season in a row, I will have my say from the stands.

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To be or not to, Alfie, and ASG pitfalls

The longstanding (how-soon-ending?) career of Alfredsson, but first. . .

From the Ottawa Citizen, a hesitant endorsement of a possible All-Star Game,

“This would be fantastic for our city,” [vice-chair of the city’s corporate services committee] Desroches said Tuesday. “It helps with our work to brand Ottawa on an international stage. It helps hotels, it helps restaurants, it helps the taxi industry and it will go a long way to supporting the Ottawa Senators, who have to compete with a lot of bigger-market teams.”
The NHL All-Star Game is not without its critics, however. Many fans dismiss the weekend, which includes a skills competition and YoungStars game, because the on-ice product bears little resemblance to the more competitive games during the regular season and playoffs. All-star games are typically goaltenders’ nightmares, featuring plenty of goals, but little defence and hitting because players don’t want to risk injuring themselves.

Others suggest the weekend is simply a showcase for the league’s corporate sponsors to promote themselves and it’s often difficult for average fans to gain access. When the Carolina Hurricanes play host to the game in January, for instance, all tickets ($180 for the lower level, $135 for the upper bowl to the all-star game and $260 and $200 for full weekend packages) are expected to be held by either Hurricanes season- ticket holders and the NHL.

The same old questions from Montreal, and only aggravated by Ottawa’s arrangements will they be.

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Senators Hope For Success With All-Star(s)

Another possible stop for Cheechoo, another possible shot at an Ottawa All-Star Game, but first. . .

From a Jeff Rimer tweet (also on KK), the apparent replacement for the departed-to-HNIC Garry Galley,

Congrats to my old #Fla broadcast partner Denis Potvin the NEW #Sens TV ANALYST! Denis see U New Years Eve here vs #CBJ.

As much as a defensive pairing, the right broadcast mix can make or break a game on television and radio.

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A confusing fizzle of a CBA rewrite

The Kovalchuk drama is over, a compromise has been reached, and once again there is peace, and we can think about hockey’s on-ice moments.

Still, that ignores what really went on here, and why it still doesn’t make a whole deal of sense. Avoiding the headaches of opening full-on investigations into the now-grandfathered contracts falls into the realm of good sense, but not everything else. You’re still left wondering who Bettman was serving when he agreed to this, just as much as you’re wondering who Fehr (or whomever really was or was not running or not running the NHLPA when the agreement was made) was serving.

It was actually a peculiar bust of a moment for a storyline that’s kept us watching the papers and trolling the web for the whole off-season.

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Gearing up for camp, gearing down Kovalev expectations

Jersey musical chairs, a quick update on Dr. Chow, and how Kovalev is more consistent than you would think, but first. . .

From the Ottawa Citizen, on the rookie battles,

For Cowen and Wiercioch, getting a head start is a good idea. The competition to win a spot on the Senators’ blue-line this season will be tough.
“I’m definitely excited about it,” [Wiercioch] said. “Whether I make the team or not, I’m pushing to earn one of those spots. It’ll be my first NHL camp, so it’ll be a new chapter in my life, so the first year I’m just really trying to take it all in, take it in stride, take the lows as well as the highs.”
“There are quite a few guys trying out for spots this year, so it will be competitive, which is good for the team,” [Cowen] said. “For me, it’s going to be a lot harder, but that’s fine, because I don’t expect it to be easy to make the team.

“But I am expecting to make the team. I’m not saying I am on the team, but I really have a good chance.”

The pressure to make it could well be the key to successful development.

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Optimism in spite of the pain

An update on Dr. Chow, ex-Sens still job hunting, and the base hope for the season, but first…

From the Ottawa Senators, on television coverage,

For the first time ever, all 82 games are being made available to Sens Army faithful living within the Senators’ broadcast territory [...]

“It’s great for us,” said Senators president Cyril Leeder. “For our fans, we’ll have every game televised this year, so there will be more games available to more fans. It just speaks to the fact that Senators games are in demand by the networks, the fans and the advertisers as well.”

For a moment, the eyes lit up, and still clouded over just as quickly.

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About SENShobo

Native of Northern California.  Hockey fan since 1998... sort of... there's a hiatus in there that I still can't explain.

I want to know about anything and everything related to the sport and the spectacle.  I watch, I react, I write it down.

My interest in the Sharks was initially a matter of geographic convenience and regional loyalty because that seemed to be how it worked.  I had no prior interest (at all-- AT ALL) in professional sports of any kind.  When I met hockey, it might have set off a chain reaction of general sports fandom.  It hasn't, I don't think it will.  At all.

Since then, that interest developed into full blown (mostly sort of usually almost completely) exclusive loyalty to the Sharks.

I started blogging a couple years ago on wordpress. I still occasionally put things there that I don't think fit here because they are not about the Sharks. Wherever my words wander, here on Kuklas Korner, they will (usually) hang on to a teal thread.

I can be found in cyberspace on Twitter @petshark47, or emailed at talkingstick@petshark.net


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