Kukla's Korner

Season Outlook For Brendan Smith

Blog: The Malik Report By Paul

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

A puck-rushing offensive defenseman in college and the AHL, Smith's transition to a more stay-at-home style in the NHL has been bumpy. He's experienced puck management issues and made his share of mistakes, not unlike many young defensemen. But he's still inexperienced and should improve over time.

He's a tremendous skater and has offensive potential. He might be able to help the power play, but he probably won't get that opportunity because the team wants him to focus on improving defensively. He is not particularly physical but sometimes plays with an edge. After a rough start last season, he settled down a bit in the second half.

Being paired with Niklas Kronwall during Jonathan Ericsson's absence due to injuries helped Smith. Ericsson likely will be reunited with Kronwall, putting Smith back on the third pairing with Jakub Kindl.

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Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Blues Happy To Have Paul Stastny

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Louie Korac at NHL.com,

"You don't see him really doing the flashy things or anything like that, but playing with him at the [Winter] Olympics, he makes every part of the game so much easier on his linemates," forward T.J. Oshie said of Stastny. "... He makes the game easier, he makes it more simple and everything's more clear on the ice."

General manager Doug Armstrong got the blessing from team leaders, including captain David Backes and alternate Alexander Steen, to go out and acquire a top-notch player regardless of the cost. If Stastny, who is the highest-paid player on the team, can push the Blues over the edge, then the investment will be more than worth it.

"I think it's a respect for an older, veteran player in 'Steener' and myself knowing that the free-agent market was one where you were going to have to pay a premium for a great player," said Backes, who played with Stastny on the United States team at the 2014 Sochi Olympics. "There was no hesitation on both parts to say, 'Absolutely, bring a guy like that in.' We're only going to be better for it. Ultimately, we're here to win. We're here to win games. We want to win a championship, and he's going to help us do that.

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

Avs Feel Like They Are Closing The Gap In The West

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Mike Chambers of the Denver Post,

Less than a month shy of its preseason opener, the Avalanche is feeling stronger than it was a year ago. The toughness and depth gaps between the Avs and the Los Angeles Kings, defending Stanley Cup champions, along with the Western Conference giant Anaheim Ducks, seem to have diminished.

Executive vice president of hockey operations Joe Sakic, defensive assistant coach Adam Foote and newly signed right winger Jarome Iginla recently spoke about the improvements while trying to maintain their excitement about defending their Central Division title and making another step in the playoffs.

"Last year we were dealing with trying to win back the trust within the community and belief in the team, and this year is a different challenge," Sakic said. "We did so well last year, but (now) it's to improve and get to the next step, and obviously the next step is not to just make the playoffs — it's to improve in the playoffs."

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, Colorado Avalanche, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Questions Facing The Vancouver Canucks

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Kevin Woodley at NHL.com,

Can Henrik Sedin and Daniel Sedin be elite scorers again? -- The Sedins were so determined to prove they could be good defensively last season, and so irked by the belief their best offensive seasons were simply a product of starting so many shifts in the offensive zone, they sacrificed much of the scoring the Canucks long relied on them to provide.
"That was a little bit interesting, but it comes from just how proud they are to play defense," coach Willie Desjardins said of offseason meetings with the Sedins. "They have no problems blocking shots or playing against the other team's top line. It's not like, 'Oh, I don't do that.' They want to prove they can play in big situations defensively. They cherish those roles."

Last season, the twins embraced coach John Tortorella's request to kill penalties and play more minutes in the defensive zone, and for a while they managed to stay near a point-per-game pace offensively. But as injuries and those harder minutes appeared to catch up with them, their offense disappeared.

Henrik had 10 points in his final 24 games,...

Which Ryan Miller did the Canucks get? -- Vancouver is counting on Miller playing like he did for the Buffalo Sabres to start last season, when he had a .923 save percentage, earned a spot on the U.S. team at the 2014 Sochi Olympics, and became the hottest trade commodity in goal.
After signing him to a three-year, $18 million contract, the Canucks can't afford to have Miller perform like he did after a trade to the St. Louis Blues, where he finished with a .903 save percentage in 19 regular-season games and .897 after being knocked out of the playoffs in six games by the Chicago Blackhawks.

There are questions how Miller's aggressive style will fit with goaltending coach Roland Melanson's more passive preferences....

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

Shannon Hogan Moving From FoxSports Detroit To MSG

Blog: The Malik Report By Paul

from Neil Best of Newsday,

Shannon Hogan went to high school in Northville, Michigan, outside Detroit, so working for Fox Sports Detroit for the past four years covering the Tigers, Red Wings and Pistons was a comfortable fit.

But when her agent called during the Stanley Cup Final with news MSG was looking for a new Islanders reporter, she responded without hesitation.

"I said, 'Oh my God, absolutely; whatever I can do, I have to get in there,'" she recalled Monday, the day before the network officially was set to announce she will succeed Peter Ruttgaizer, who had held the job since 2011.

Turns out Hogan, 29, is a hockey true believer, a love affair sealed during her first exposure to the Red Wings upon moving to Northville for her freshman year of high school. (She was born in Syracuse.)

"This was Hockeytown," she said. "I will never forget going to Joe Louis Arena for the first time and saying, 'Oh, my gosh, this is such an amazing atmosphere.'"

continued

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

The Season Outlook For Tomas Tatar

Blog: The Malik Report By Paul

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

He is coming off a breakout season when he provided some much-needed offense. That experience, and being in the lineup from the start of the season, should make him better and more productive this season.

He spent a good chunk of the season on the Kid Line with Riley Sheahan and Tomas Jurco. They had good chemistry and might remain intact, unless Jurco is forced to start the season in Grand Rapids due to a roster crunch.

Despite his small stature, Tatar goes to the net and has good hands in tight. He also flashes good open-ice moves. He should improve as he gains strength. He sometimes holds onto the puck too long in the offensive zone, leading to turnovers. He could be more productive on the power play, where he'll likely continue playing on the second unit.

He aspires to be a solid two-way forward in the mold of Red Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg but doesn't have natural defensive instincts. As long as he produces, the club will be happy.

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Pittsburgh Penguins Head Coach Mike Johnston Wants To “Lessen The Load” On Sidney Crosby

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Jason Mackey of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,

Johnston talked with Crosby in Pittsburgh, and then again in Nova Scotia — Johnston is from Dartmouth, Crosby from Cole Harbour — and was impressed with how Crosby handles himself off the ice.

“Look, if you want to have a leader in sports, the first thing I think the leader has to do is set an example,” Johnston said. “He sets a great example.

“You don't ever question his work ethic. You don't ever question his commitment. For a guy his age coming into the NHL and carrying the load that he's carried, I believe he's done a phenomenal job.

“Do we have to lessen the load? Yes.”

Johnston pointed to the importance of veteran leaders such as forwards Chris Kunitz, Pascal Dupuis and Craig Adams, as well as defenseman Paul Martin.

Another key part will be letting fellow franchise center Evgeni Malkin and goaltender Marc-Andre Fleury be themselves.

“We just have to lean on those guys' ability to lead,” Johnston said. “And the guys with the Fleury- and Malkin-type energy and humor, let them balance the group out a little bit.”

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Filed in: NHL Teams, Pittsburgh Penguins, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: mike+johnston

Marcel Dionne Enjoyed Playing When He Did, Even Though The Financial Picture Was Different

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Katie Strang of ESPN,

Dionne, who amassed 1,771 points over the course of his 18-year NHL career, said he enjoyed his time playing, even if the financial landscape was such a contrast from the multimillion-dollar mega-deals players are signing now.

“When we played, it was for thousands of dollars; now it’s for millions of dollars,” Dionne said.

He holds no hostility toward current NHL players despite that disparity in pay, however. Dionne said he’s adapted to the game and its changing salary structure.

He credits the NHLPA with the help it has given former players, but said that some of his contemporaries still can’t get their mind around what the top players are making these days. Explaining why P.K. Subban deserves to be making $9 million on average per year isn’t always easy, but Dionne is content with the livelihood he earned during his playing days.

“Some guys don’t understand and think the game owes them something,” Dionne explained. “The game owes me nothing. It’s not what you make, it’s what you do with your money.”

the story is actually about the LA Kings so read more if interested...

Filed in: NHL Teams, Los Angeles Kings, NHLPA, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: marcel+dionne

Joe Kocur Foundation For Children 6th Annual Softball Game

Blog: KK Hockey By Monica McAlister

Over the weekend the 6th Annual Softball game to benefit the Joe Kocur Foundation for Children took place north of Detroit, Mich. Celebrities including NHL, NFL and MLB alumni along with radio and television personalities including: Joe Kocur, Darren McCarty, Kirk Maltby, Kris Draper (yes all of the members of the grindlines), Eric Hipple, Dino Ciccarelli, WRIF’s Meltdown, and Amy Andrews from Fox 2, hit the field for the all-day event to raise money for charity.

The Joe Kocur Foundation For Children was created in 2009 with a mission to assist needy families and charities with local events that allow interaction within the communities themselves. Just a few of the organizations that have benefited from the foundation over the years include: FAR Conservatory, The Huron Valley Special Olympics, Orchard Children’s Service, and The Wings of Mercy.  Along with the yearly softball event the Foundation also held a benefit for the family of Officer Patrick O’Rourke (West Bloomfield, Mich. Police Officer killed in the line of duty) in which $150,000 was raised.

The yearly softball event is more than just softball, it is a great day-long event for the entire family while helping those in the community.

Continue Reading »

Filed in: | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Ottawa Senators Sign Craig Anderson To A Three-Year Extension

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

 

added 9:56am, Press release is below...

Continue Reading »

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

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