Kukla's Korner

Hitchcock Fired

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

COLUMBUS, OHIO – The Columbus Blue Jackets have relieved Head Coach Ken Hitchcock of his duties behind the bench and named Assistant Coach Claude Noel as the club’s interim head coach, club General Manager Scott Howson announced today. 

Noel, 54, joined the Blue Jackets as an assistant coach on June 28, 2007 after spending four seasons as the head coach of the American Hockey League’s Milwaukee Admirals.  During that time, he led the club to a 183-94-12-31 regular season record, three 100-point seasons and two West Division titles.  He also compiled a 33-21 record in the Calder Cup Playoffs, including two appearances in the Finals (2004, 2006).  During the 2003-04 season, the club compiled a 46-24-7-3 record and went 16-6 in the playoffs en route to capturing the organization’s first Calder Cup championship.  That year, Noel was named the AHL’s Coach of the Year.

“This season has been very disappointing for the Blue Jackets organization and our fans and the responsibility for that rests with all of us from management to the coaches and players,” said Howson.  “Hitch worked tirelessly to build an identity for this team that was missing before he arrived and deserves a great deal of credit for those efforts.  He earned and received the opportunity to turn things around this season, but unfortunately that has not happened and it has become apparent that change is in the best interest of our organization.  Claude Noel is a good hockey coach with a proven track record in the American Hockey League.  He knows our team and is deserving of this opportunity.”

Filed in: NHL Teams, Columbus Blue Jackets, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: ken+hitchcock

Now We Can Talk Kovalchuk

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

via TSN,

Ilya Kovalchuk’s days as a member of the Atlanta Thrashers appear to be numbered.

Thrashers general manager Don Waddell met with the star forward on Wednesday and told him to expect a trade to another NHL team over the next few hours or days.

added 3:44pm, via Dan Rosen of NHL.com,

The Kings, Bruins, Rangers, Flyers and Blackhawks are reportedly interested, but all the stories we’re seeing now do not include the Flyers and Blackhawks.

added 3:55pm, via a Tweet from Bob McKenzie,

Teams in mix for Kovalchuk include: Boston, New Jersey, Rangers, Philadelphia, Calgary, Chicago and L.A. Some more. Some less. Auction time.

added 4:06pm, via a Tweet from Craig Custance,

Kovy very much in play, but I’m being told that the Blackhawks aren’t in the mix right now.

added 4:47pm, via a Tweet from Kevin Allen,

Thrashers’ want list hasn’t changed for Kovalchuk deal: they need players who can help now. There are interested teams we don’t know about

added 4:53pm, Another Tweet from McKenzie,

About a half dozen teams still in the mix for Kovalchuk. Likely to take at least another two or three days to sort itself out. No deadline.

Filed in: NHL Teams, Atlanta Thrashers, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: ilya+kovalchuk

Leading By Example

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN,

There’s certainly an element of satisfaction in quieting critics who say the Sedins can’t stand alone.

“I think so,” said Daniel. “We can’t do much about those kinds of things [what other people think], but it is good to know. For him to see he could play that kind of hockey, I think it was huge, and for myself, too.”

Henrik has also changed his game. Henrik has always been the passer, Daniel the shooter. But Henrik potted 10 goals while Daniel was out. Who knew?

“I don’t know if he shot the puck more, but he was finding the scoring areas,” Daniel said. “He really took it upon himself to do things out there and it was great to watch for myself. And for his confidence, it really helped. Once I was back, he just kept doing the same things. I think he got better as a hockey player.”...

“For a coach, you talk about low maintenance or no maintenance at all, he just goes out and does his job, prepares well,” Vigneault said of Henrik. “And he’s a real team guy. His focus is always on what the team needs.”

That’s what a leader does.

much more...

Filed in: NHL Teams, Vancouver Canucks, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: daniel+sedin, henrik+sedin

The Trade Deadline Freeze Dates

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Some confusion going around regarding the dates and times of the trade freeze for the NHL, so let’s clarify…

via Dan Rosen of NHL.com,

The NHL roster freeze goes into effect at 11:59 p.m. ET on Feb. 12 and doesn’t end until 11:59 p.m. ET on Feb. 28. The trade deadline is 3 p.m. ET on March 3.

Filed in: NHL Teams, NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Canucks Caught Diving

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Ian MacIntyre of the Vancouver Sun,

The Vancouver Canucks were assessed two diving penalties Tuesday, and neither was to Alex Burrows.

The Canucks actually seem to have benefitted from officiating since Burrows lit a powderkeg three weeks ago by accusing referee Stephane Auger. There was a dubious overtime penalty call against the Edmonton Oilers, a unique no-goal interpretation against the Buffalo Sabres, and the Canucks have had more power plays than penalty kills in seven of the last eight games.

But if Tuesday’s 3-2 Canuck loss to the Montreal Canadiens is any indication, the National Hockey League has adopted a zero-tolerance policy towards diving. It’s about time.

Neither Canuck called for flopping — Darcy Hordichuk and Ryan Kesler received unsportsmanlike conduct penalties early and late in the game — admitted embellishing. Both calls resulted in offsetting minors, as Marc-Andre Bergeron knocked down Hordichuk after a whistle, while Yannick Weber tripped Kesler.

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, Vancouver Canucks, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

No Safe Bet When It Comes To Hockey

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News,

No sports fan can go to Las Vegas without checking out at least one sportsbook and I am no different.

It’s a place where you can bet on all sorts of games and most, if not all of the contests, are broadcast for you on huge screens. In the gonzo tradition so closely linked to this city, I offer some fractured reflections on my lovely time in what is essentially a huge awesome rec room.

• Betting the ‘under’ on a hockey game is utterly terrifying, especially when the Sedin twins are involved. On my first night in town, I made what I thought to be a very rational decision to take under 5.5 on Buffalo and Vancouver – made sense, since Ryan Miller and Roberto Luongo are two of the best goaltenders in the world and all.

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, Hockey Related Stories, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Preparing Camp Randall Stadium For Hockey On February 6th

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Adam Mertz of the Wisconsin State Journal,

The unique event — which includes a visit by the Stanley Cup, the legendary NHL championship trophy, and numerous memorabilia and interactive exhibits from the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame — carries a $600,000 operational budget, including upwards of $20,000 for snow removal by a team of shovelers, and required an additional $225,000 in scheduled winterization maintenance at the 1918 venue. Those costs are offset by a title sponsorship by the fast-food chain Culver’s and expected attendance of about 50,000 fans, many of whom paid the full $25 face value for a ticket.

That’s well below the stated goal of eclipsing the world record crowd for hockey of 74,544, set in a 2001 contest between Michigan State and Michigan at Spartan Stadium in East Lansing, Mich.

But it likely will stand as the fourth-largest event of its kind in North America. And for UW senior associate athletic director Sean Frazier, who is overseeing the event — the intangibles are immeasurable.

more

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

Technology Comes To The 50/50 Raffle

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

CBC looks at the technology behind the 50/50 drawings that are becoming more popular in hockey arenas.

Filed in: NHL Teams, Hockey Related Stories, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Surprises In The NHL

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Kevin Allen of Mucking and Grinding,

Just a month before the trade deadline, here are my biggest NHL surprises this season.

1. Phoenix Coyotes: After going through one short rough patch recently, they are back grinding out victories, thanks to tremendous goaltending by Ilya Bryzgalov, a highly-underrated defensive corps and timely goal scoring. I’ve been very impressed by this team this season, and I’m not ruling out the Coyotes winning a round in the playoffs, depending upon their draw and whether they can add a scorer.

9.  Steve Mason with an .890 percentage: It’s almost tradition NHL goalies to experience a setback in their 2nd year because teams now know their tendencies. Then goalies start doubting themselves, confidence wanes. But Mason was Rookie of the Year, and there were comparisons to a young Patrick Roy or Marty Brodeur. Now, you have to go to the third page of NHL goalie statistics to find Mason’s save percentage.

more

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Where Turco & Biron Could Land

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Pierre LeBrun and Scott Burnside of ESPN discuss possible destinations for Marty Turco and Marty Biron…

Burnside: The one team I look at and wonder about needing or wanting a veteran presence is Los Angeles. The Kings are on fire and I think a lock to make the playoffs. But remember what happened to a good Montreal team in 2008 that entrusted its playoff goaltending chores to untested youngsters Price and Halak—the Habs narrowly beat eighth-seed Boston and then lost in five to a less-talented Philadelphia team in large part because Price and Halak couldn’t handle the pressure….

LeBrun: Well, right now, the word out of Long Island is Snow isn’t getting offered more than a third-rounder for Biron, which seems absurd to me. But I guess it speaks to the market place. As for the Kings, while I agree with your premise, especially with Biron because he’s a cheaper cap hit, I’m told the Kings have lukewarm interest.

more

Filed in: NHL Teams, Dallas Stars, New York Islanders, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: marty+biron, marty+turco

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