Kukla's Korner

Goodbye To Pittsburgh

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Marc-Andre Fleury at The Players' Tribune,

Saying that the last few weeks have been bittersweet would be an understatement. As we reached the Stanley Cup finals, I knew very well that my time as a Penguin was nearing its end. I love to play. I love the game, and everything about it. Putting the mask on, diving around, stopping the puck, feeling the intensity of the game, feeling useful. I wish I could have been in net for my last game as a Penguin. But we raised the Cup, again, and it made all the sacrifices worthy. I felt proud — proud of my teammates for battling through injuries, for showing a lot of character, and for winning two years in a row. I am grateful that I had the chance to contribute to our success through the first rounds. And I feel very fortunate that the last time I have skated with a Penguins jersey, it will have been with the Stanley Cup in my hands. Not that it wasn’t an emotional moment.

Fourteen years. Nearly half of my life. I remember my first training camp, in September 2003, like it was yesterday. I was so nervous. There are so many expectations on a first-round pick, and I didn’t want to let anybody down. I just tried to do my best, and wanted to leave a good impression. But when you face Mario Lemieux in training camp, it can be quite intimidating, to say the least.

more

Filed in: NHL Teams, Pittsburgh Penguins, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: marc-andre+fleury, vegas+golden+knights

The Vegas Golden Knights Need To Unload Players

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Michael Traikos of the National Post,

Even after trading Trevor van Riemsdyk to Carolina and David Schlemko to Montreal, Vegas has about a dozen defencemen and more than 20 forwards on a roster that has to be pared down to 23 names by the start of the season. Some of those players, such as defenceman Griffin Reinhart and forward Brendan Leipsic, will be sent to the minors.

But McPhee still has to move a ton of contracts out. And they are not all desirable ones.

What team is going to want Alexei Emelin, whom the Canadiens almost seemed glad to lose in the expansion draft? How about forwards David Clarkson or Mikhail Grabovski, whom Vegas had to take as part of a deal for draft picks?...

Making it even more difficult? Some of the Golden Knights’ most coveted assets — like Nate Schmidt, who is coming off his second full season in the NHL, and 21-year-olds Shea Theodore and Alex Tuch — are off limits.

“We’re not trading any young players,” said McPhee.

more

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: vegas+golden+knights

Ottawa Trying To Sign Their Soon To Be UFAs

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,

While free agency doesn’t officially open until noon on Canada’s 150th birthday, the party already started Sunday when the league’s 31 teams were allowed to reach out to UFA’s even though no deals can be officially done until the market is open.

That’s why before Dorion left Chicago Sunday, he planned to pick up the phone or meet with representatives for goalie Mike Condon along with forwards Viktor Stalberg, Tom Pyatt and Tommy Wingels. All four are UFA’s and the Senators would like to bring all of them back but they can’t do so at any cost.

There had been progress made in talks with all four players before the focus shifted to the expansion draft for the Vegas Golden Knights and since all the players knew they weren’t going to be protected they didn’t want to sign any deals. Now, other teams can enter the mix which only makes the job of keeping them more difficult.

The most interesting situation to watch is backup goalie Mike Condon. He did an outstanding job in Craig Anderson’s absence during the regular season, but the two sides weren’t even on the same page when discussions were called off before the playoffs began, however, they did move closer in talks more recently.

more

Filed in: NHL Teams, Ottawa Senators, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

The Captain’s Portrait

Blog: The Malik Report By Paul

from NHL.com,

Yzerman almost had two careers in one during his 22 seasons in the NHL, all spent with the Detroit Red Wings.

In the first, he was one of the League's top scorers, setting Red Wings records with 65 goals, 90 assists and 155 points in 1988-89, when he won the Lester B. Pearson Award (now the Ted Lindsay Award), given to the NHL's Most Outstanding Player as selected by the NHL Players' Association. In the second, he sacrificed some offense but improved his all-around game and become one of the NHL's greatest leaders, captaining the Red Wings to the Stanley Cup in 1997, 1998 and 2002 and winning the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP in 1988.

In his NHL100 profile of Yzerman, author Bob Duff writes about Yzerman's understated leadership style.

"Yzerman wasn't the type of captain that gave fire-and-brimstone speeches. He led by quiet example.

"Being captain, it's a recognition of leadership,' Hall of Fame left wing and former Red Wings captain Ted Lindsay said. 'A quality [is] that you have to hold your team together, make them perform as a unit.
"'I think Steve Yzerman would be the best illustration. Steve Yzerman didn't kick any butt. He used to show guys how to do it. I think this is where lots of mistakes are made by people who think a guy gets in the dressing room and he makes a big show. That's not true leadership. You do it by leading by example."

"You do it the way Yzerman did."

more plus Andy Bathgate's portrait revealed too

Below, see Yzerman's portrait as part of the 100 Greatest NHL Players.

Continue Reading »

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Is it ‘Mrs. Hockey’s’ time to make the Hockey Hall of Fame?

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

The Hockey Hall of Fame will introduce its 2017 induction class today at 3 PM (on TSN), and this is one of those "off years" where two of the four possible player inductees (Teemu Selanne and Daniel Alfredsson) are slam dunks.

In theory, Chris Osgood could land a spot among a crowded field of, "Should have" inductees, but I have a bad feeling that there are more overdue candidates who will get a nod first...

And, as the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa notes, the family of Gordie and Colleen Howe have been pushing very hard to encourage the Hockey Hall of Fame's Selection Committee to induct Mrs. Hockey as a "builder":

The criteria set out by the Hockey Hall of Fame are: “Coaching, managerial or executive ability, or ability in another significant off-ice role, sportsmanship, character and contributions to his or her organization or organizations and to the game of hockey in general.”

There has not been a “her,” yet.

In the mid-1960s, at a time when United States-born NHL players literally could be counted with the fingers of a single hand, she organized the construction of an ice arena on the east side of a city that had no other enclosed ice surface open to the public.

She also essentially insisted Red Wings management establish the first Junior A team outside of Canada, the Junior A Red Wings

As an agent, although few called her that at the time, she negotiated contracts with the Red Wings and her husband’s endorsements. Later, she engineered the blockbuster World Hockey Association contracts for Gordie, Mark and Marty with the Houston Aeros.

It secured the opportunity for Gordie Howe to play regular seasons with his sons, beginning at age 45, before even he finally got too old to do it, and at a time when Marty and Mark were both too young to play in the NHL.

Krupa continues, and we'll find out how progressively-minded the Hall's Selection Committee feels later today.

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

The overnight report: Lots of draft talk, draft dissent and some free agent talk

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

Of disparate Red Wings-related note this morning:

1. Regarding the draft, part 1: The Detroit News's Ted Kulfan spoke with Wings director of amateur scouting Tyler Wright regarding the team's decision to pick defensemen with 6 of their 11 draft picks this past weekend:

“Everybody knows the price of what it is to get a defenseman in this league,” said Tyler Wright, the Red Wings’ director of amateur scouting.

To that end, the Red Wings got all kinds while selecting six defensemen. They drafted offensive-minded ones like Gustav Lindstrom (second round), Kasper Kotkansalo (third round) and Malte Setkov (fourth round), and defensive-minded defensemen such as Cole Fraser (fifth round) and Reilly Webb (sixth round).

“You can’t have enough of those guys that can skate and move the puck. That’s why we tried to load up on those guys,” Wright said. “We wanted to get bigger. But we wanted to get bigger but also keep the identity for what we’re known for, and that’s skill and hockey sense.”

Kulfan continues, speaking with Hakan Andersson regarding Lindstrom and Setkov in particular...

2. Regarding the draft, part 2: The Wings' final draft pick, Saginaw Spirit center Brady Gilmour, spoke to Northumberland Today's Jeff Gard about being drafted by the Red Wings:

Continue Reading »

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Bob Probert Ride draws 1,200

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

AM 800 CKLW's Gord Bacon reports that this year's annual Bob Probert Ride was a smashing success:

An astounding 1200 plus riders hit the road for the seventh annual Bob Probert Ride.

Probert passed away in 2010 from a massive heart attack.

More than $100,000 in proceeds donated this year will go towards cardiac wellness programs throughout Windsor-Essex in his honour.

Riders gathered at Thunder Road Harley Davidson on Huron Church Rd. Sunday morning to begin a tour through Windsor-Essex ending at the Caboto Club on Tecumseh Rd. E. for food and refreshments.

Former NHL tough guy Dave Hutchison captained the ride and he says it was a privilege lead the event in memory of his friend.

"To follow the footsteps, or at least the road tracks, of guys like Chris Chelios and Ryan Vandenbush, looking forward to it," says Hutchison. "Just being apart of this is wonderful. Bob was a good friend and we have a real tight NHL alumni family, we all support each other, this is just another one of the things we do."

Continued

Update: The Windsor Star's Tamar Harris also reported in from the Probert Ride:

Continue Reading »

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

The Athletic: Dylan Larkin, goal-scoring winger?

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

The Athletic's Jack Han questions whether the Red Wings are utilizing Dylan Larkin in a proper role as a 2-way center as opposed to a scoring winger:

The adjustments made to his game this past season related to playing center may have caused his even-strength scoring to dry up as well as adjustments made by opposing teams that have picked up on Larkin's tendencies in the offensive zone. Larkin’s defensive impact in high-danger areas remains significantly worse than team-average, and he has only won 44.5 percent of 532 faceoffs taken since 2015. However, Larkin has scored 10 more goals than Kessel two years into his NHL career and remains in the same class as Jack Eichel, Patrick Kane and Auston Matthews as the most productive American teenagers in recent memory.

This begs the question: If this is the opportunity cost of Larkin playing exclusively down the middle, would the Red Wings even want him to play there? Why not put him on a line with Sheahan, Frans Nielsen or Darren Helm, and let them do the heavy lifting so that Larkin can maximize his finishing ability?

If I were Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill, I’d give this plan serious thought. Every NHL team can use a 20-year-old Phil Kessel.

Han explains his rationale...

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Matheson: Arizona Coyotes will ‘talk’ to Todd Nelson

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

Via Pro Hockey Talk's Adam Gretz, the Grand Rapids Griffins know that coach Todd Nelson will be highly sought-after by any NHL teams with head coaching vacancies this summer, and while I was busy with the Red Wings' draft on Saturday afternoon, the Edmonton Journal's Jim Matheson Tweeted this:

Matheson had previously Tweeted that the Coyotes might give precidence to associate coach Jim Playfair...

Continue Reading »

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

After Teemu Selanne, Who Else Gets In The Hockey Hall Of Fame

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun,

Teemu Selanne, the 15th highest score in league history with a batch of trophies, is considered a lock to be announced in his first year, one of four spots open in the player category, including up to two female candidates. Of 14 skaters joining the waiting list this year with a common link of  1,000 NHL regular season games, 300 goals, 400 assists or 700 points, three besides Selanne have improved chances as winners of a Cup or Olympic gold medal, Daniel Alfredsson, Alex Kovalev and Ray Whitney. Among goalies, Nikolai Khabibulin comes in with 333 wins, 46 shutouts and a Cup and Olympic gold.

Beyond Selanne, there aren’t any sure-fire picks, perhaps opening a crack for a lengthy list of players that go back to the Original Six. Many arguments have been heard through the years on behalf of multi-Cup winners Claude Provost (nine), Jean-Guy Talbot (seven) and Ralph Backstrom, Larry Hillman and Kevin Lowe (six each). It follows the narrative that not just points make a player Hall-worthy.

It’s believed one of the strongest pushes behind the scenes this year was for four-time champion Butch Goring. The veteran centre of 16 seasons as the two-way demon for the Islanders dynasty, 

more

FYI, the announcement comes tomorrow.

Filed in: NHL Teams, Non-NHL Hockey, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: teemu+selanne

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