Kukla's Korner

The third day of the Red Wings’ training camp: impatience versus assessment

Blog: Abel to Yzerman By George Malik

Check for news updates at the bottom of the story: The Detroit Red Wings made their first series of cuts this afternoon in Traverse City, MI, ahead of their training-camp-concluding “Red vs. White” game, after which the Red Wings’ trainers and equipment staff will begin a process they hope to repeat at least 46 times this season—they’ll pack up the Wings’ still-wet gear, using a moving van instead of a Ryder truck-sized vehicle because there are still 51 players on the roster, and truck it first to Detroit, where they’ll air it out, and then half of that gear will be moved again as 20 players head to Pittsburgh to face a stacked Penguins team on Wednesday (and thanks to MarkK for the tip). 

A good chunk of the Wings’ press corps and scouting staff will precede the equipment and players, most of whom drove themselves or carpooled this time around, as the “Red vs. White” game (which MyFoxDetroit promises to stream live at 12 PM) is more of a formalized and, if you look at the roster, NHL-heavy scrimmage which the players use to crank up their pace of play and say, “Thank you” to Traverse City for hosting the team and its prospects for the better part of two weeks. 

And because I’m starting to feel burnt out after spending the better part of two weeks running on little sleep and doing little else than going to the rink, writing, and catching a few non-Zetterberg “Z’s” here and there, I’m employing a cheesy metaphor: Wings coach Mike Babcock truly believes that it’s through the exhibition season that jobs are really won and lost, so the man whose decisions will ultimately decide whether Drew Miller, Mattias Ritola, Kirk Maltby, Aaron Downey, Derek Meech or Jakub Kindl have to call a moving van of their own may as well have worn the tag placed on the Coast Guard helicopters that fly in and out of the base near my hotel every day: “REMOVE BEFORE FLIGHT.”

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Filed in: | Abel to Yzerman | Permalink

The Top Defensive Pairing In LA

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,

When you see them on the ice together as a pairing, you wonder if you aren’t watching the makings of one of the NHL’s great defensive tandems for the 2010-11 season.
Free-agent newcomer Willie Mitchell was again skating alongside blueliner phenom Drew Doughty at Kings training camp Monday, a fit that makes so much sense.

“Mitchell and Doughty—I really like the look,” Kings coach Terry Murray said Monday between on-ice sessions at the team’s practice facility. “A great veteran player in Mitchell, a defensive guy whose really a solid character person, is going to help push Doughty along.”

Mitchell, the towering, shutdown D-man, plus Doughty, the offensive wizard and puck-mover and ... voila! You have the Kings’ top pairing.

“A perfect fit for a guy like Doughty,” Kings GM Dean Lombardi told ESPN.com on Monday.

Lombardi’s eyes rarely shifted away from the ice surface while he discussed his team with ESPN.com. His excitement for the Mitchell signing is unmistakable; so much so that, while he would never say it out loud, I’m convinced Lombardi would be more excited about signing Mitchell even if Ilya Kovalchuk would have become a King this summer. Seriously.


Filed in: NHL Teams, Los Angeles Kings, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Turnaround in Tampa Starts at the Top

Blog: KK Hockey By Jon Jordan

Before a single tweak to the roster, the Tampa Bay Lightning were already poised for improvement in 2010-11. With the tumultuous era of previous ownership already behind them when the sale of the team to Jeff Vinik was completed late last season, gone in an instant were any and all off-ice concerns and the circus went back to being an annual visitor to the St. Pete Times Forum rather than a permanent resident. With the appointment of Steve Yzerman as general manager, credibility returned to the franchise and new head coach Guy Boucher was widely regarded as the hottest commodity on the off-season coaching market.

Without a solitary player move, hockey life in Tampa was good again.

But far be it from Yzerman to rest on the comfort that fans surely feel by him simply not being one of those other guys. The addition of former Flyers forward Simon Gagne headlines a list of shrewd off-season maneuvers for the rookie GM and the revamped roster could very well translate to the sort of on-ice success that will make Lightning followers quickly forgot about three non-playoff seasons gone by.


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Filed in: NHL Teams, Anaheim Ducks, Atlanta Thrashers, Calgary Flames, Carolina Hurricanes, Chicago Blackhawks, Colorado Avalanche, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Edmonton Oilers, Florida Panthers, Los Angeles Kings, Montreal Canadiens, New York Islanders, Ottawa Senators, Philadelphia Flyers, Pittsburgh Penguins, San Jose Sharks, Tampa Bay Lightning, Washington Capitals, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: alex+tanguay, andrej+meszaros, antero+niittymaki, antti+niemi, blair+jones, brad+richards, brett+clark, brett+connolly, carter+ashton, cedrick+desjardins, chris+durno, dan+ellis, dana+tyrell, dominic+moore, dustin+tokarski, eric+perrin, guy+boucher, james+wright, jaroslav+janus, jeff+vinik, johan+harju, kevin+quick, khl, kurtis+foster, lady+byng+trophy, marc+pouliot, mark+barberio, mark+parrish, martin+st.+louis, matt+lashoff, matt+walker, mattias+ohlund, mike+smith, mitch+fadden, nate+thompson, nhl+awards, nhl+previews, niklas+persson, paul+szczechura, pavel+kubina, radko+gudas, randy+jones, richard+panik, riku+helenius, rocket+richard+trophy, ryan+craig, ryan+malone, sean+bergenheim, sidney+crosby, simon+gagne, simon+gagne, stephane+veilleux, steve+downie, steve+yzerman, teddy+purcell, training+camp, traverse+city+prospects+tournament, ty+wishart, victor+hedman, vincent+lecavalier, vladimir+mihalik, zenon+konopka

Watching The Flames

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun,

While the media has been skeptical about the direction of the club throughout the summer and into the fall, it’s evident city-wide support of the club is still on the up-and-up.

If you couldn’t tell by the full parking lot outside the northeast rink, you could see it in the eyes of jersey-wearing parents and kids dotting the railings alongside scouts, scribes and even GM Darryl Sutter.

Clinging to free lineup sheets they picked up at the front door, they oohed with every shot and awed with every save as part of a memorable afternoon of hockey hooky.

They cheered when Jay Bouwmeester found himself on the opposition’s goal-line, slapping home a rebound and they roared when Miikka Kiprusoff kicked out a tester.

The highlight of the early-afternoon affair came when the top trio of supposed saviours — Jarome Iginla, Alex Tanguay and Olli Jokinen — combined for a nifty goal.


Filed in: NHL Teams, Calgary Flames, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Pietrangelo Appears To Be NHL Ready

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Craig Custance of The Sporting News,

Blues general manager Doug Armstrong has high hopes for the development of his young team and wants to send every signal to prospects in the organization that a job is theirs to be had.

“We’re not looking at (veteran tryouts). We really want to give the opportunity to the players in our organization. I don’t want to muddy the waters,” Armstrong told Sporting News. “Right now, we’ve given them the opportunity to know they’re coming into training camp with spots to earn and I don’t want to take that away from them.”

Defenseman Alex Pietrangelo is ready to seize that opportunity.

Last week, Pietrangelo wrapped up his third prospects tournament in Traverse City. He did it in an impressive way, scoring a goal on a big shot from the point in what should be the 20-year-old’s final game as a prospect in northern Michigan.

Talk to enough people and consensus becomes clear that the 6-3 Pietrangelo is the most NHL-ready of any player in the tournament. And really, he should be.


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

Long Time No See

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

via Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal,

Oilers general manager Steve Tambellini was sitting in media row at Millenium Place when Sportsnet’s Louie DeBrusk strolled in.

He mistook Tambellini for one of the media members, slapped him on the back and made some comment that can’t all be repeated but suffice to say the colour man turned a slight shade of red when he realized it was Tambellini.

As for Tambellini, he just said: “Didn’t you used to work for us?”

Filed in: NHL Teams, Edmonton Oilers, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Yzerman Has Positive Comments When It Comes To Winnipeg And The NHL

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Ken Wiebe of the Winnipeg Sun,

Count Steve Yzerman among those who believes the NHL would be wise to return to Winnipeg somewhere down the line.

The new general manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning spoke glowingly of the possibility on Monday, just a few days before his club hosts the defending Stanley Cup champion Chicago Blackhawks in an NHL pre-season game at the MTS Centre Wednesday night.

“I think the current CBA is favourable to small-market teams and a city like Winnipeg, I’m quite confident they could fill their building,” Yzerman said in a telephone interview. “I don’t know the details of it all, but I think Winnipeg could be a good option for the NHL to put a team into.”


Filed in: NHL Teams, Tampa Bay Lightning, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: steve+yzerman

Expect A Big Year From Joe Thornton

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Nabil Karim of CBC,

So San Jose’s management team has some big time questions to answer.

Does the organization believe Thornton has exorcised his playoff demons? In the twilight of his career, can he deliver consistently for multiple seasons? And what is the right price to pay for number 19?

It will all make for some interesting storylines to follow in California this season.

Will San Jose sign Thornton early on to squash the distraction? Or do they gamble and play out the year to see how Thornton and the Sharks fair this season?

Will Sharks’ general manager Doug Wilson trade Thornton at the deadline to get valuable assets in return, or lose him for nothing in the off-season?

It’s a tough decision to make with any player. It’s even more difficult with a player of Thornton’s calibre and worth.


Filed in: NHL Teams, San Jose Sharks, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: joe+thornton

All The Good Guys

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Steve Buffery of the Toronto Sun,

Still, the opening day of training camp is generally a feel-good type of deal, with optimism for the upcoming season running high and Wilson not yet agitated by the Toronto media.

When Wilson finally does make an appearance, he’s immediately surrounded, and a blond bombshell opens the questioning with: “Another season begins. Are you excited about today, medical day?”

Nobody’s sure how Wilson, a noted wisenheimer, is going to respond, but it’s clear that the coach is in a relaxed frame of mind when he refrains from answering with something like: “Yeah, there’s nothing more exciting than watching a guy ride an exercise bike in his pyjamas.”...

Team captain Dion Phaneuf, who spoke to the media during informal workouts in Toronto during the week, pops out and asks if anyone needs him (clearly with the hope that nobody does).

One reporter, and one reporter only, says, yes, he needs to ask him one question. Phaneuf steps over to the question area and, suddenly, is surrounded by 16 or so media types, and quickly the one question turns into many questions.

At one point , Phaneuf reveals that Phil Kessel is “a good guy.”


Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Red Wings release ‘Red vs. White Game’ roster, make cuts, and a death stare

Blog: Abel to Yzerman By George Malik

Because I’m not too comfortable with my “smart phone” yet, I sped back from the rink to the hotel to write this entry, and I’m doing so because I’m going to tell you the difference between a journalist and a partisan blogger right here: journalists watch young men walk by and be summoned into the scouts’ office and wait for the next quote, as is their job.  Partisan fans who happen to write about hockey can’t really look away as they watch young men first wait outside an office and then be summoned in to hear what the team’s scouts, director of player development and GM have to say as to what they need to improve upon because they’re being cut, and the Red Wings had to make twelve hard decisions today. 

Twelve players I’d watched and to some extent cultivated relationships with over the last week and a half got their walking papers today, and watching it happen was one of the hardest things I’ve ever had to do as a hockey writer.  All I could do is shake the vast majority of their hands and tell them, “Good job” or “see you next year,” and it hurt—because I’m a Red Wings fan.

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Filed in: | Abel to Yzerman | Permalink

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