Kukla's Korner

Finding A Way To Win

Blog: The Malik Report By Paul

Ansar Khan of Mlive checks in after the Wings' optional skate today...

With Pavel Datsyuk (concussion), Henrik Zetterberg (herniated disc) and Darren Helm (shoulder) all out against the New Jersey Devils (7 p.m., Fox Sports Detroit), others must step up.

“This is who we got, this is who we’re playing, let’s find a way to win,” coach Mike Babcock said after the optional morning skate at the Prudential Center. “Opportunity knocks right now. With good structure and good work habits we’re going to be just fine.

“So we’re not spending a whole lot of time worrying about the people who aren’t here.”

Todd Bertuzzi returns after missing six games with an upper-body injury. He’ll play on what might be considered the top line, with Johan Franzen at center and Gustav Nyquist at left wing.

“I’m excited to be back,'' Bertuzzi said. "I’m playing with two good players; kind of keep it simple. My job really doesn’t change: Get them the puck, go to the net and get to the hard areas.’’

read on

For those of you wondering about George, he is ill and will return when his health improves.

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink

[12/06/2013] GDT: Red Wings vs Devils

Blog: Abel to Yzerman By RedMenace

Helm too, eh? Well hasn't this just been a peach of a season so far...

Continue Reading »

Filed in: | Abel to Yzerman | Permalink

Mike Commodore Not A Babcock Fan

Blog: Abel to Yzerman By Paul

Mike Commodore did an interview with KHL.hr and PuckDaddy tranlated it...

"They offered me a one-year deal worth one million. My gut was screaming: “Don't take it, you've got one chance, if it doesn't go well, you're done in the NHL!”

“I told my agent: ‘I don't want to play in Detroit for Mike Babcock, I don't trust him. Call him back and tell him thank you, we'll get back to you.’

"My agent then told me the GM put a 15-minute time limit on the offer. I needed to make up my mind in 15 minutes or he was gonna pull the offer off the table. This was July 1st, free agency had just started 10 minutes prior. I called the GM and told him: ‘Ken, Mike Commodore here, I like you, you're a good guy. Is it you who wants me or the coach?’ Ken Holland said that he wanted me and so did Babcock. So I told him that I would love to play for Ken, and I would love to play for the red wings, but that I didn't trust the coach from previous experience. So I called the coach, by now I had 10 minutes left.

"I called him: ‘Babs, Mike Commodore here. Please be honest with me, do you want me on your hockey team or not?’ He said he did. I wanted to know if I’d get an opportunity. I told him I am not looking for anything special, but that I needed to know if I was gonna get a fair shot and a chance to play. He said ‘I want you on my team. You will get a fair chance. We need someone physical on the back end with a right shot. I want you. You will play.’

“I hung up the phone, five minutes left. My gut screamed ‘Say No!’ This coach screwed me over nine years ago. He buried me in the paper after I had a good camp in Anaheim. He buried me so I would look bad so he could then play his boy from juniors who was an undrafted rookie at camp that year ... Kurt Sauer.


Filed in: | Abel to Yzerman | Permalink

Morning Line

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

“When you hit rock bottom and work your way back up, it makes you appreciate what you have. I’ve gone through so much to get to here and worked so hard to get to this point. You don’t want to waste your second chance.”

-Steve Mason of the Philadelphia Flyers.  Much more from Nicholas J. Cotsonika of Yahoo.

Filed in: NHL Teams, Philadelphia Flyers, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: steve+mason

NHL Short Notes

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Playing in his 500th NHL game, captain Sidney Crosby recorded a trio of assists to lift the Penguins to their fifth consecutive victory overall and fifth straight win at CONSOL Energy Center. Crosby has 253-453—706, including 31 game-winning goals, in his NHL career. According to the Elias Sports Bureau, that’s the sixth-highest point total by any player in League history through his first 500 regular-season games:
1. Wayne Gretzky: 1,186
2. Mario Lemieux: 971
3. Peter Stastny: 759
4. Mike Bossy: 757
5. Jari Kurri: 730
6. Sidney Crosby: 706

Continue Reading »

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Islanders’ Winless Streak Hits Eight

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Arthur Staple of Newsday,

The cities change, the arenas and the opponents change, but the Islanders' inability to play well on the road has stayed constant.

The Islanders allowed the game's final four goals in a 5-1 loss to the Blues, the Isles' eighth straight loss away from home (all in regulation) and their eighth straight game without a win (0-6-2).

"There should be some pride in here," John Tavares said after another exasperating night dropped the Islanders to 8-16-5, the furthest they have been below .500 since finishing the 2010-11 season at 30-39-13.

"We need to have a lot more pride," Tavares said. "You're playing in the NHL . . . We proved a lot last year, but that doesn't mean you're going to just keep climbing. We're not earning it."


Filed in: NHL Teams, New York Islanders, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Keeping Toews And Kane In Chicago

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Craig Custance of ESPN answers some email...

Where do you suppose the Kane and Toews deals come in at next summer money wise? Stan Bowman has done a good job of getting guys to take a tad less money to stay in/on a good situation/city/roster in Chicago. Also, if Kane and Toews do want to break the bank, does that screw the up the whole plan?

Great question. I recently went to Chicago to chat with both of them and they talk about their next contract at length in the next ESPN The Magazine. Make sure to grab a copy when it hits newsstands. But it’s a fascinating negotiation.

One of things we talked about was whether or not they needed to have the exact same deal and they pointed out that we’ve seen teammates like Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf all take different amounts of money to get long-term deals done. In the case of Kane and Toews, they’re both represented by Pat Brisson, which might make things easier in that regard. But those are the deals I’d look at when figuring out their potential value. You have to throw out Sid’s deal because it was done before the new CBA. But Perry, Getzlaf and Malkin are certainly fair comparables so we’re talking something in the annual range of $8.5 to $9.5 million. Malkin had KHL leverage, which Kane and Toews don’t, so I’m not sure Stan Bowman has to go as high as the Malkin deal. Also, I don’t know how you do anything less than eight years for these two considering their age (25). So let’s split the difference and say they get $9 million per season, for the sake of answering your final question. That’s an extra $2.7 million per season cap hit for each player, for a total of an additional $5.4 million compared to their current deals. A healthy raise but not debilitating to Chicago’s future cap.

It doesn’t screw up the long-term plan at all because most salary cap projections have it continuing to grow in the next couple years, especially considering the billion dollar Canadian television deal. I don’t think it’s a reach at all to think that the salary cap will be north of $70 million when the new deals kick in for Chicago. Even if the cap just gets to $70 million for the 2015-16 season (the first year of a new Kane/Toews contract), which I think is conservative, that’s a $5.7 million increase from the cap this season, covering the $5.4 million raise we’re giving those two annually. If you look at the cost certainty Bowman has already built into the equation with his other long-term deals, the Blackhawks should be able to keep the band together.

more Q and A (paid subscription)

Filed in: NHL Teams, Chicago Blackhawks, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Should The Sabres Keep Ryan Miller?

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Mike Harrington of the Buffalo News,

It’s very difficult to get your head around what the Sabres should do with Miller. I used this space a scant three weeks ago to say Miller should be traded immediately after he stood on his head to make 43 saves and then beat the Los Angeles Kings in shootout.

Of course, everything in Sabreland spun on its axis the next day with the firings of Darcy Regier and Ron Rolston.

Now you wonder. I’m open to the Sabres making Miller an offer and letting him decide his fate rather than just simply dumping him. But only a limited offer.

Remember, the Sabres aren’t clearly tanking anymore like they were under Regier. They’re just not very good. Big difference. The mood in the locker room is better and Pat LaFontaine means instant credibility in hockey circles.

Then antennas went up everywhere Wednesday when interim coach Ted Nolan said he wanted to build around Miller and not use him as an asset to deal.

The Sabres have been built from the net out for basically the last 20 years. And you can’t say it hasn’t gotten them places with Miller or Dominik Hasek.

Still, I don’t entirely agree with Nolan either. How about building with guys who can actually put the puck in the net? And I’m talking a couple of real NHL players, and not just kids out of the draft.


Filed in: NHL Teams, Buffalo Sabres, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Habs take another one

Blog: The Upper Canadien By The Upper Canadien

The Canadiens are hot. Red hot. Hotter than they've been in a while, and it doesn't look set to end anytime soon. The Habs fought back last night, down 1-0 to Boston, to win 2-1. It was a team effort, led by Max Pacioretty and Tomas Plekanec up front, while Carey Price held down the fort and provided stellar goaltending against one of his only netted colleagues who could be considered at his level thus far through the season.

Price-Rask games have become something to catch. It's always worth making the time to watch a Habs-Bruins game, but with these two young netminders, it has become all the more worthwhile, as they make save after highlight reel save. 

The Canadiens, playing their third game in four nights, came out flat with 3 shots in the first, before charging back with 17 in the second. Whereas last year's Montreal Canadiens often faded, this year's Habs seem to storm back with regularity, led by the youth and skill on their third and fourth lines, depth they haven't had in years.

Montreal will rest up today, before taking to the ice against the Sabres tomorrow. This could be a huge letdown game, after wins against Boston and New Jersey (x2) this week, but based on last night's result, I think Therrien will have them ready.

Of note: Daniel Briere is now playing less than ten minutes a night. Where does he fit? On the transactional front, RDS jumped on the trade rumour bandwagon last night, echoing Sportsnet's assertion that the Canadiens may be after Paul Stastny in Colorado. My question: when a team is playing this well, does making a major move like that make sense, or is a bolt-on acquisition the way to go? 

Happy Friday everyone. 

Filed in: | The Upper Canadien | Permalink

Lady Byng Leader

Blog: The Puck Stops Here By PuckStopsHere

At the beginning of November, I picked Logan Couture of the San Jose Sharks as the Lady Byng Trophy leader.  While he is a contender for the award, I don't think he is the leader on his own San Jose team.  Joe Thornton has more points (31 vs. 28) and fewer penalty minutes (2 vs. 6).  Joe Thornton is a better Lady Byng Trophy candidate. 

Thornton is a future Hall of Famer who has won the Hart Trophy, but he has never been a serious Lady Byng Trophy candidate before this season.  In fact, he has exceeded 100 penalty minutes three times in his earlier career.  The veteran Thornton has played a more and more sportsmanlike game.  In 2011/12 he had 31 penalty minutes in 82 games played.  He is on pace to significantly reduce that total this year.  He is also on pace to have his best offensive season since 2008. 

Joe Thornton is a top NHL player who has had a very good career.  He might be on pace to increase his Hall of Fame credentials with another good season that could lead to the Lady Byng Trophy.

Filed in: | The Puck Stops Here | Permalink

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