Kukla's Korner

A Silent Vladimir Tarasenko

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Ben Frederickson of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,

During a locker clean-out that marked the transition from this season to next, Blues star Vladimir Tarasenko missed a chance to take out the trash.

The $60 million man declined to participate in the final media availability of the season on Saturday. The no-show was harder to explain than Tarasenko's disappearance in 17 of the Western Conference final's 18 periods. This time there wasn't San Jose defenseman Marc-Edouard Vlasic to blame....

He could have told the doubters why they were wrong. He could have told those who defended him why things will be different next postseason. The new father could have explained what it was like, balancing the biggest moment of his personal life — he welcomed a son into the world before Game 2 — with the biggest moment of his professional career.

At least tell them something.

More importantly, Tarasenko's no comment closed the book on his season without addressing the elephant in the dressing room.

There is growing speculation of friction between Tarasenko and the Blues. Is there a rift between the star and his club?


Filed in: NHL Teams, St. Louis Blues, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: vladimir+tarasenko

Notes By Brooks

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,

- Those few thousand people who were denied the opportunity to cry if they wanted to at the Game 7 viewing party in Tampa that was canceled by the NHL/NBC powers that be, they dramatically increase the ratings of this hopelessly and perennially penny-wise, pound-foolish operation by watching on their own screens, did they?

- Kris Letang’s omission from Team Canada was the biggest roster shock on Friday, though Jack Johnson’s inclusion on Team USA (coupled with Justin Faulk’s exclusion) wasn’t far behind.

- Wonder how much, if at all, Tyler Johnson’s struggle against Pittsburgh factored into his snub by Tortorella’s Yanks, who go into the tournament with Joe Pavelski the lone skill center; with David Backes, Ryan Kesler, Derek Stepan and Brandon Dubinsky (who could shift to wing) behind him?

Dubinsky-Kesler-Ryan Callahan matched against Crosby?

more topics including the evolution of Penguins' coach Mike Sullivan...

Filed in: NHL Teams, Non-NHL Hockey, International Hockey, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Khan: Wings to interview potential picks at draft combine

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

MLive's Ansar Khan spoke with Red Wings assistant GM Ryan Martin regarding the team's presence at the draft combine this week in Buffalo:

Scouts and members of the front office meet with many prospects through the course of the season. The Combine offers a more formal setting with several members of the staff, including general manager Ken Holland, special assistant Kris Draper, director of player development Jiri Fischer, director of amateur scouting Tyler Wright, chief amateur scout Jeff Finley and scouts Len Quesnelle and Andrew Dickson, in addition to Martin.

"In some cases the players are well-rehearsed; most of them seem mature or professional beyond their years because of what they're exposed to and the spotlight that they're under all the time," Martin said. "But it's possible to put players in a little less than comfortable situations and see how they react in answering some difficult questions. I think that's when you learn more about players.

"If a player had some question marks about consistency or perhaps a label as a player that needed to work harder or train harder or maybe he had some issues away from the ice for immaturity reasons or otherwise had gotten in trouble, you get a chance to address that. It's nice to see how they react to that. Are they taking responsibility for their actions? Are they accountable? Are they making excuses? You can pinpoint them on specific areas of concern and force them to discuss those."

Khan continues...

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink

NHL Short Notes

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

The NHL announced the officials for the 2016 Stanley Cup Final:
Referees: Wes McCauley, Dan O’Halloran, Dan O’Rourke and Kelly Sutherland
Linesmen: Derek Amell, Brian Murphy, Jonny Murray and Pierre Racicot
All eight teams competing in the World Cup of Hockey 2016 announced their final, 23-man rosters (20 skaters and three goaltenders).
Current NHL players represent 173 of the 184 total selections (not including top prospectsAuston Matthews and Patrik Laine).
The Blackhawks and Lightning lead all NHL teams with 12 selections apiece. The Bruins, Capitals, Flyers and Red Wings follow with eight each.
Click here to view each roster.
All Times Eastern
San Jose @ Pittsburgh, Game 1, 8:00 p.m., NBC, CBC, TVAS

the information above was provided by the NHL PR department

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Caputo reminisces with Bruise Brother, Grind Liner Joe Kocur

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

From the Oakland Press's Pat Caputo:

On YouTube, you can see dozens of Kocur’s fights. But do yourself a favor. Also check out a couple of his goals, especially the one in Game 1 of the 1997 Stanley Cup finals. Kocur intercepted a clearing pass, faked out Flyers’ goalie Ron Hextall, and roofed a backhander that literally popped the water bottle sitting atop the net into the air. Steve Yzerman couldn’t have scored a prettier goal. It broke a 1-1 tie early in the first period, and the Red Wings were on their way to a four-game sweep and their first Stanley Cup title in more than four decades.

AWood40 has the goal, of course:

“Nothing could beat that,” Kocur said. “Hextall was going one way and I was going another. I probably could have just slid the puck in the net, but I’m glad it worked out the way it did.”

Kocur, who resides in Highland Township, will be inducted into the National Polish-American Sports Hall of Fame on June 23 in Troy. He holds an annual celebrity softball game in Highland Township. It benefits the Joe Kocur Foundation for Children, a non-profit with no paid administrative staff, which helps needy families and supports numerous charitable causes. This year’s event is scheduled for Aug. 27 at Duck Lakes Pine Park.


Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink

Saturday Night Hockey Notes

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,

- So, if someone told you in mid-winter or last Wednesday that the Pittsburgh Penguins, led by Bryan Rust and Matt Murray, would play for the Stanley Cup, you would have said what?

- One minute to play in Game 7 protecting a one-goal lead and Sidney Crosby was on the bench for the Penguins. Mike Sullivan has some stones.

- I had trouble watching Steven Stamkos play in that terrific Game 7 against Pittsburgh. I kept worrying someone was going to hurt him.

- The longer the playoffs go, the more I wonder: How many offside goals did we miss in our lifetime?


Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink

The St. Louis Blues Cleared Their Dressing Room Today

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Jeremy Rutherford and Tom Timmermann of the St. Louis Post Dispatch,

There are many questions facing the club this summer, perhaps some that will have light shed on them Tuesday, when general manager Doug Armstrong and head coach Ken Hitchcock meet with the media.

But on Saturday, it was the players' turn to look back and look ahead. Here's a collection of news and notes from those interviews:  

• David Backes had an emotional post-game interview following the Blues' Game 6 loss. During part of it, describing the kind act of teammate Steve Ott giving him "something" to help the captain stay in the lineup, knowing that would mean Ott wouldn't play, Backes broke into tears.

"I think I'm getting a Visine endorsement after that interview," Backes joked. "I've seen a bit of it and quite a few people have referenced it. That was real, that was raw, that was my heart right on my face and coming right out of my tear ducts. It's one of the hardest things I've done as an athlete is emerge out that room and have to face these cameras with that sort of emotion all over the place. In hindsight, I'm glad I came out and I talked. I think people could see how much it meant — and I was speaking for the whole group — what that opportunity and this run meant to these guys and that we didn't get it done. The sting of that is with every guy in this room."...

• Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk was at the center of much trade speculation last offseason and that expects to be the case again this summer. He will be entering the final season of a four-year contract that has a salary-cap hit of $4.25 million.

"It was a wild year with all the rumors going on, and it might plant the seed of doubt in your head," Shattenkirk said. "But that's not my decision. I'm happy to be coming back here next year. I have a year left and this is where I want to be next year. That's out of my hands unfortunately."

much more

Filed in: NHL Teams, St. Louis Blues, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Stanley Cup Finals Prediction

Blog: The Puck Stops Here By PuckStopsHere

Today I will make my prediction for the Stanley Cup finals.  This year the series will be played between the San Jose Sharks and the Pittsburgh Penguins.  This is San Jose's first ever finals appearance.  This is Pittsburgh's first finals appearance in seven years.

I argue that neither of these teams is an elite team.  That should be important to hockey fans.  They are being short-changed from seeing truly elite teams.  In a wrestling or boxing analogy we have the main event in the biggest show of the year in the Stanley Cup finals.  Instead of two legitimate main eventers battling against each other we see two mid-carders promoted to the main event for this big show.  It is lacking the excitement that could exist.  There is nothing to say that two mid-carders cannot have a good fight but it lacks the intrigue of legitimate main eventers.

In this case we have a San Jose team that missed the playoffs last year meeting a Pittsburgh team that looked like it might miss playoffs earlier this season before they fired coach Mike Johnston.  Elite teams shouldn't have been thought of as teams that could miss the playoffs within the last year.

Continue Reading »

Filed in: | The Puck Stops Here | Permalink

Different Opinions On The Future Of Steven Stamkos

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Martin Fennelly of the Tampa Bay Times,

The season is over. Now there's only the door. And Stamkos walking through it. And his introductory news conference, in Toronto, Detroit, Buffalo or wherever.

It's just a question of when No. 91 walks through that door, be it July 1, when he can become an unrestricted free agent, or sometime after.

Feel free to surprise us with an eleventh-hour contract, guys.

It would be the salary cap upset of the century.

Let's not get all weepy here or turn this into an Adele song. Stamkos will make tens of millions of dollars no matter where he goes, and the Lightning will carry on.

It still feels like the end of something.

I think the Lightning is crazy for letting 312 goals and 26 years old walk. I think Stamkos, given the talents around him, is crazy to walk. No one is to blame. Everyone is to blame.

How did a deal not get done last summer? How?

read on

from Terry Koshan of the Toronto Sun,

Continue Reading »

Filed in: NHL Teams, Tampa Bay Lightning, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Storylines For The Stanley Cup Final

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Cam Cole of the Vancouver Sun,

It is a rare fantasy players’ bracket that remains intact in this upset-fraught chase to the Stanley Cup, though no doubt some statistical smarty pants picked the Sharks and the Penguins to be the two left standing and will never let you forget it.

But there are still predictions to be made.

Here is one man’s prognostication of the storylines that will be ground into paste during all those travel-day plane flights:


* On San Jose coach Pete DeBoer, a slight underdog to be hoisting the Cup 19 days from now or fewer, while the two men who fired him as head coach, Lou Lamoriello in New Jersey and Dale Tallon in Florida are, respectively, looking up from 30th place with the Toronto Maple Leafs and adapting to having been replaced as GM by the Panthers.

* On Pittsburgh coach Mike Sullivan, ever-so-slightly favoured to be drinking from Lord Stanley’s old cuspidor while silently celebrating that the man who fired him from his only previous NHL head coaching job, Peter Chiarelli, has since been fired himself and is currently trying to solve the Rubik’s cube with 29th-place Edmonton.

* On Penguins’ Phil Kessel, who appears to have given up hotdogs for scoring clutch goals, and Justin Schultz, dismissed as part of the problem in Edmonton, playing on the Pens’ power play.


Filed in: NHL Teams, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks, | KK Hockey | Permalink

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