Kukla's Korner

SENShobo

Hearts go out to man of compassion

From the Ottawa Sun, on the status of team doctor Don Chow,

There is only one injury that currently concerns the Senators, and that’s to popular team doctor Don Chow.
[...]
“He’s obviously an important member of our staff,” said Murray. “Our thoughts and prayers are with him on a daily basis.

“He’s been (with the team) a long time, but the most important thing is he’s a friend. He’s a very caring person. He’s helped every one of us, in one way or another. He takes time on a regular basis to do whatever is necessary for the team, the team members. From a personal point of view, my wife had surgery, and he didn’t do the surgery, but he was the one calling on a regular basis and offering support, help and advice. When a person cares that much, you miss him as part of your team, but again, we know what his family must be going through while we wait for him to recover. We’re going to miss him a great deal on the first day of training camp.”

Not the news I was expecting to start a fresh September with, but no question about where all sympathies are right now.

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Kovalchuk contract arbitration not clear cut

This week, starting today and in an undisclosed location, men will sit down in a small square room with the windows shuttered, and the NHL and the NHLPA will goe toe to toe over the validity of the flag-bearer contract of Ilya Kovalchuk. While the NHL asserts that the contract is “a circumvention of the Collective Bargaining Agreement,” many have been quick to point out that it follows every letter of the law of the CBA.

Rule 50.6 (a) limits compensation in any year of the contract from exceeding 20 per cent of the cap as it was in the year the contract began. With a cap of $59.4 million, Kovalchuk’s high water salary mark of $11.5 million respects this by $380,000. Rules 50.7 (i) and (ii) look at the first two years of the contract—valued at $6 million each—and requires that any year-over-year increase in salary be not greater than the lower of the two years—the largest jump, from $6 million to $11.5 million, flies $500,000 under the radar—while any decrease cannot exceed half of the lower of the two years—the largest drop on the way down from the $11.5 million peak being equal to this $3 million limit. Even the required minimum salary is met throughout the tail of this dragon contract.

But outside the rules, you have to accept that there are valid reasons for wanting a contract with more ups and downs than Rick DiPietro’s. You must see that even in respecting these rules, the contract can indeed be called a circumvention of the CBA, at least in spirit, and one damaging to the whole League.

And you must also be aware that, despite following the rules of the CBA to the letter, the NHL might reveal to the arbitrator that they have some unmentioned trump cards yet to play.

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History Will Be Made?

In round one, if you were in the West, being the 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 5th seed meant you won. In the East, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 5th seed meant you lost. In round two, if you were in the West, home ice advantage meant you won, and the original 1st and 2nd seeds advanced. In the East, home ice advantage meant you lost, and the original 7th and 8th seeds advanced, also marking the first time in NHL history that a Conference Final featured the 7th and 8th seeds, or so I hear from Versus. Not one team has known their coach in these Conference Finals for more than two seasons.

The President’s Trophy winners were felled by the Canadiens, and then the Stanley Cup winners fell too. The Flyers were down three goals to none in game seven, just as they had been down three games to none in the series; in both cases, rare series and game seven comebacks happened.

Whether you love seeing a season’s hard work prevail, or an end of season push triumph, intrigue remains this spring, and the NHL commercials indeed had it right. History was made.

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Who Wants The Cup?

A fun trip to shop.nhl.com, thanks to the Sens Underground podcast for the pointer (specifically StooLi at 44m25s), reveals much to anyone’s surprise that while 16 teams have yet to hit the links this spring, only 15 of them actually want the Cup.

I’m sure there’s an explanation for this somewhere. But they will be “available soon.”

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Where I’ve Been

In case you’ve come here and wondered where the posts have gone, I’ve come across a very busy time at work.

As well, I have been pondering what I want to do with this blog, wondering what you readers have taken from it as I ponder where to take it in a way that won’t tax too heavily my schedule.

Expect for an absence during this busy end of year time, with perhaps unfortunately sporadic posts, and feel free to leave any comments you have about the blog, they’ll be taken to heart.

...also seemed that my absence, up until Wednesday but rectified Thursday, had a good effect on the depleted team. Coincidence?

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Clouston’s NHL Career Turns 50

Should Leclaire’s goaltending be questioned, is Emery really the focus the team needs tonight, and a little more love in the Senators’ organization, but first..

From the Ottawa Citizen, on Clouston’s “50th,”

“I think the biggest thing I’ve probably learned is how difficult it is to win, that any win is a good win, even though you may not have played as well as you possibly could have,” he said in an interview Wednesday.

“You’ve got to make sure that you appreciate the wins and take the positives out of that, and work on the things that need to be improved on, because it is such a tough league to win in.”
...
To say winning has always come easily to Clouston is a little misleading. His Western Hockey League, American Hockey League and NHL squads have never posted a losing record in eight years, so it certainly looks that way.

But you don’t pick up various coach-of-the-year awards and get to be the second-youngest active head coach in the NHL because you’re lucky. Clouston’s willingness to work harder and longer than the next guy has been the secret to his success thus far.

The man who hired him and saw him pull a few all-nighters at Scotiabank Place, Senators general manager Bryan Murray, can vouch for that.

A bit of self-congratulation? Maybe. But there’s a bit more to Clouston’s performance that’s assured him the opportunity to prove himself.

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A Class That Embodies The Real Lesson

You could see a great many stories about the Senators today, from their unfortunate status as the most penalized team in the League (SENS), Murray’s desire to add at least a player (HC), the Oilers who Heatley kept in Edmonton rolling into town (OS), and Emery’s first game hosting ‘a team he used to play for’ (OC).

But, after last night’s Hockey Hall of Fame inductions, perhaps a little more reflection on the organization would be diligent.

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Third Time’s The Charm

Ottawa’s goal ‘luck’ returns, how to lay a clean hit, H1N1 hits the organization, and the can’t miss $4 million hockey cards, but first..

From the Ottawa Sun, on Ottawa’s 3-2 OT win over Tampa,

Returning to the lineup after missing two games with what’s believed to be a back/groin injury, the Senators centre fired his first goal of the season past Antero Niittymaki at 4:17 of overtime to give Ottawa a 3-2 win over Tampa Bay at Scotiabank Place.
...
“To get one in overtime, get the win and get my first is always nice,” said Spezza, who hadn’t scored since April 11, in the Senators’ season-ending game — against the Toronto Maple Leafs.

“I felt pretty good about my game going into this. I just wasn’t getting any bounces. It’s nice to get one — that’s for sure.”

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Sens Need Mending

Face off woes, flu shot ponderings, Binghamton’s visit, possible rookie camp move, and prospect updates, but first..

From the Ottawa Sun, on Spezza’s back problems,

“I felt pretty good. I got through the whole practice and I didn’t have to leave. The rest has definitely helped it, but the only way you can tell how it’s going to be is by skating,” said Spezza, who is still looking for his first goal, but has eight assists in 10 games and has been good at both ends of the rink.

“It hasn’t gone away completely, but it’s been better. It’s a positive sign. It’s been hampering me all year. I just got to the point where I didn’t feel I could go on much longer without taking a bit of time off. Hopefully, we’ve got it under control now and it doesn’t become an issue for me.”

Whether or not Spezza plays tonight (and with Volchenkov still sidelined), the real team need is consistency, in all areas. Update - 2:20 p.m. - (OC) Spezza, Fisher, Leclaire are in, Donovan and Winchester out.

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Sens’ Final Resting Place

Melnyk looking to stab back at Heatley, Kovalev supposedly needs to improve, and some injury updates with shocking schedule realities, but first..

From the Ottawa Citizen, on Elliott’s future prospects,

Like Elliott, Leclaire has another year left on his contract. At that point, the Senators will have to decide whether they want to re-sign Leclaire and/or Elliott or whether they want to trust their future to Swedish goalie Robin Lehner, who is playing very well this season for the Ontario Hockey League’s Soo Greyhounds.

Cory Clouston, who coached Elliott in Binghamton before both of them were parachuted into Ottawa, has no doubt Elliott will be a No. 1 NHL goalie. It’s a matter of finetuning.

“I think the structure of his game and his positional play is a lot better,” said Clouston, who was promoted to Ottawa after the firing of Craig Hartsburg in February.

Going 2-1-1 with a 3.20GAA and .892Sv% won’t convince anyone that last season’s end wasn’t a fluke, but there’s much more still to come.

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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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