Kukla's Korner

St. James on Sproul

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

The Free Press's Helene St. James profiled Martin Frk yesterday, and today, she discusses Ryan Sproul:

Sproul, [Xavier] Ouellet and Nick Jensen are waiver-exempt starting next season, putting onus on the Wings to decide whether they are part of the future in Detroit or worth risking on waivers. Where Jensen, who will be 26 in September, is viewed more as a potential depth guy, Sproul entices with his stature (he's listed as 6-feet-4 by the NHL, 6-feet-3 by the Griffins) and offensive talent. He picked up three assists in Grand Rapids' three-game first-round series, after finishing the regular season with a career-best 12 goals and 35 points.

The Griffins next take on Lake Erie tonight. Wings brass plans to be on hand to watch.

"He was one of the most improved players from last year to this year," assistant general manager Ryan Martin told the Free Press. "He has an absolute rocket from the blue line. He's got enough going his way that we need to find out where he fits on our depth chart."

Sproul, 23, has played one game in the NHL, appearing for the Wings in a meaningless season finale April 13, 2014, at St. Louis. He's a good skater, and his top asset is his shot. As with Wings defenseman Brendan Smith, Sproul sometimes makes errors in his own zone. But on a Wings team that has just one offensive right-handed shot in Mike Green, Sproul could be an asset on the third pairing and on power plays.

St. James continues...

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About Nyquist the Horse’s owner and ‘derby odds’

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

From CNN's Motez Bashara...

Picking championship racehorses is something J. Paul Reddam is exceptionally good at, but it's well known that hockey is his true lifeblood.

So just how big a fan is he?

Well, for starters, his horse Nyquist -- the 10-3 favorite to win Saturday's Kentucky Derby -- is named after a player on his favorite team, the Detroit Red Wings.

The 60-year-old Reddam, who made his fortune launching two lending businesses, grew up in Windsor, Ontario, just across the border from Detroit where his mother, a team secretary, would bring home Red Wings tickets and apparel.

"That's how I really got hooked," Reddam tells CNN, adding that he caught 75 of the Red Wings' 82 games on TV this season. He even got to sip champagne from the Stanley Cup when Detroit won the title in 2002.

"That was almost as big a thrill as winning the Derby a few years ago," he says, referring to his 2012 Kentucky Derby winner I'll Have Another, who went on to take the Preakness, before pulling out of the Belmont Stakes a race shy of the Triple Crown.

Bashara continues, there's a video attached to teh story, and, from NHL.com:

Continue Reading »

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The St. Louis Blues And Dallas Stars Are Keeping An Eye On The Fires In Fort McMurray

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Craig Custance of ESPN,

They were like scenes from a movie that St. Louis Blues forward Scottie Upshall never wants to see again.

There was the freeway he'd drive on into the small northern Alberta city of Fort McMurray from the airport, surrounded by leaping flames and billowing smoke.

There were old favorite restaurants he used to visit while growing up, completely wiped out by the wildfire that forced the evacuation of all 88,000 residents. The fast-moving blaze continued to engulf homes and buildings Wednesday, wiping out 18,500 acres and 1,600 buildings, including a new school, according to reports.

There were news stories of residents in tears, forced to rush out of their homes -- before they could grab personal belongings -- to avoid being trapped by the wind-whipped flames, which cost them the complete devastation of everything they owned.

"It's tough when it becomes national and global news for a city of 80,000 people," Upshall said Wednesday. "It's pretty upsetting."

continued

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

NBC Sports Group Coverage Of The World Championship

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

STAMFORD, Conn. – May 5, 2016 – NBC Sports Group will present extensive coverage of the 2016 IIHF World Hockey Championship from Moscow and St. Petersburg, Russia – NBC Sports Group’s sixth consecutive year covering international hockey’s premier annual tournament.

Live coverage begins tomorrow on NBCSN at 9 a.m. ET, when Team USA faces defending champion Canada to open up pool play in the tournament. NBCSN’s Team USA coverage will be highlighted by a matchup with Finland on Monday, May 9, at 1 p.m. ET, and a showdown with Slovakia on Monday, May 16, at 5 a.m. ET, to close out pool play. Last year, Team USA earned the bronze medal at the IIHF World Championships, defeating the host country Czech Republic in the bronze medal game.

Continue Reading »

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

A Griffins-Monsters preview from a Lake Erie/Columbus perspective

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

The Grand Rapids Griffins have posted video and text previews setting up tonight's second-round series against the Lake Erie Monsters (7 PM EDT on The AHL Live/ESPN 96.1 FM), and today, the Columbus Dispatch's Aaron Portzline posted a definitive preview from the Monsters' perspective and the perspective of their parent team, the Columbus Blue Jackets:

In a 76-game regular-season schedule, the Lake Erie Monsters and Grand Rapids Griffins played each other 12 times, or nearly 16 percent of the American Hockey League schedule.

“We played two exhibition games before the season, too,” Monsters coach Jared Bednar said. “So, yeah, there are no secrets between us.”

The AHL affiliates of the Blue Jackets and Detroit Red Wings open a best-of-seven, second-round playoff series at 7 tonight in Quicken Loans Arena. If familiarity breeds contempt, this should be fun.

“We know them and they definitely know us,” said Dublin’s Trent Vogelhuber, one of the Monsters alternate captains. “We have had some real battles this season. We were talking about it earlier in the season (in the room), how playing this team in the playoffs would be a really good match-up for both of us. It’s a team we wanted to play, just because we think we match up well against them.”

The Monsters went 5-4-3 vs. Grand Rapids this season, with Lake Erie winning the first two games and last two games in the series. But it was close all the way. Aggregate score: 35-34, Grand Rapids.

“We’ve played all kinds of different games against these guys,” Bednar said. “We’ve had some really physical games against them, and then some games that turned out to be run-and-gun. By now we know how we want to play, how we feel we have to play against them to have success. I’m sure they’re feeling the same way.”

Portzline continues at significant length, discussing the large number of Blue Jackets NHL players returned to Lake Erie after Columbus' regular season ended, listing Lake Erie's lines and noting that both teams have endured a significant lay-off between series...

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Nyquist, Larkin give Russian-language interviews from the World Championship

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

This is going to be a little weird. Gustav Nyquist and Dylan Larkin gave English-language interviews to Russian websites on Thursday, and here are the rough translations thereof:

1. Nyquist spoke with R-Sport's Roman Solvyev regarding Pavel Datsyuk's possible NHL exit...

Russian forward Pavel Datsyuk from the NHL team "Detroit Red Wings" will be a great loss, says Swedish "Red Wings" forward Gustav Nyquist.

Pavel Datsyuk won an Olympic bronze in 2002 and a World Championship in 2012 as a member of the Russian national team, and he just spent his 14th season in the NHL. In April he announced that he's probably going to complete his performance overseas after the current season. The 37-year-old Russian's contract with Detroit will expire in 2017. Later, Datsyuk said that he'd determine his future after the home-ice World Championship.

Continue Reading »

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Credit To The Penguins Defensive Group

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,

Consider what a season-altering moment it really was for the Pittsburgh Penguins. Consider just who, exactly, would have played a team-high 28:41 minutes Wednesday night in a huge playoff game against the Washington Capitals, scored a goal and registered a plus-3 in the absence of Kris Letang.

And consider whether it might just be the trade of the season in the NHL.

Veteran GM Jim Rutherford aggressively pursued defenseman Trevor Daley, calling the Chicago Blackhawks numerous times when he saw things weren't working out. Finally he struck on Dec. 14, sending the struggling Rob Scuderi the other way.

"[What he did in] Chicago was just a real small snapshot of [Daley],'' Rutherford said Wednesday night after his team's 3-2 overtime victory that gave it a 3-1 series lead. "I've liked Trevor his whole career. My friend Bobby Orr had been telling me for five years how good he is. I've always agreed with him, but just could never swing a deal for him. It's our good fortune that things didn't work out for him in Chicago, he became available, we were looking for more speed to our defense and get a better transition game.

"I knew his character, I had already done all the work on him over the years. I don't need to say much more. Just watch tonight's game.''

continued

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

Morning news: On Brad Richards, a mock draft and a Gordie Howe pro-am press release

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

Of Red Wings-related note this morning:

1. MLive's Brendan Savage took note of Brad Richards' locker room clean-out day remarks:

"Guys that I grew up and started my career with are retiring," said Richards, who turned 36 this week. "It's probably going to creep into my mind here in the next month a little bit too in what I want to do. I'm not there yet where I want to say I'm retiring. I need to get away and kind of see mentally how I feel and where I'm at.

"It's a young man's game now and it's hard to start a family and all that stuff and put in the time and effort it takes to stay in shape against some of these young guys. You do have to make sure you're 100 percent all in mentally. The offseasons so big at this age.

"That's going to go into a lot of decision-making."

Savage continues...

2. ESPN's Corey Pronman conducted a mock draft as part of an Insider-only blog entry, and he believes that the Red Wings will draft an American forward with the 16th overall pick:

Continue Reading »

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Positive Thinking For The San Jose Sharks

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Curtis Pashelka of the Mercury News,

The Sharks went through a normal off-day routine Wednesday. Holding meetings, getting treatment, keeping it loose with a lighthearted game of two-touch in a hallway in the bowels of Bridgestone Arena.

Nobody on the Sharks was underestimating the importance of Thursday's Game 4 against the Nashville Predators, and how they'll need to improve after a three-goal loss in Game 3 on Tuesday.

But there was no evidence of discouragement, either, with the Sharks well aware they're still leading the second-round series two games to one, and of their history of rebounding after a loss on the road.

"I think the mindset is we're in a good spot, we're up 2-1," Sharks coach Pete DeBoer said. "We were the best road team in the NHL all year and I like our spot."

continued

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

Jamie Benn’s Time?

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Rick Gosselin of the Dallas Morning News,

Jamie Benn seems to bring out the best in Blues captain David Backes.

It's time for Backes to reciprocate.

The Blues have taken control of the conference semifinal series with the Stars 2-1, and Backes has been at the forefront. He has scored the game-winning goal in both victories and set a physical tone that has resonated in this series, dishing out a game-high seven hits in the Game 2 victory and nine more in the Game 3 rout.

"He's stepped up to the plate," said Blues teammate Alex Pietrangelo of Backes. "He seems to be all over the ice. He's done that all year. But with the big stage right now, he's really stepping it up and playing a big role at both ends of the ice."

The big stage is what defines Benn. He's one of the best hockey players in the world, and it's time he match the performance of the St. Louis captain. I would be surprised if Benn is not the best player on the Stars in Game 4 Thursday night. In fact, I'd be surprised if the Stars captain is not the best player on the ice.

continued

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

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