Kukla's Korner

On The Upswing In Columbus

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch,

As Davidson put it, after mentioning bricks: “There’s good things that are happening. We’ve talked from day 1 about the foundation. I think the foundation is stronger. We still have a ways to go, but we’re in a decent place.”

Coach John Tortorella’s debriefing, held two days earlier, had a different tone. His message: The Blue Jackets haven’t done anything yet; the next step is to become a winning playoff team (“Good is the enemy of great”). Tortorella did everything but pound his fist as he described the organization’s new standard.

JDJK struck a happier tone. They are entitled. The Blue Jackets went from the fourth-worst record to the fourth-best record in the league during the regular season. They won 50 games, racked up 108 points. Then, they were eliminated from the first round of the playoffs by the Penguins, and it took only five games....

“We may not have a Malkin or Crosby, but we have a lot of good depth and balance on our forwards side, and we have some good young players coming,” Kekalainen said. “We also have a back end we can compare to any in the National Hockey League, and a (Vezina-caliber) goaltender. (Bobrovsky) will be better. I’m convinced of it. ... I’m 100 percent confident he’ll get over that hump.”


Filed in: NHL Teams, Columbus Blue Jackets, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Big Changes Not Expected In Montreal

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Pat Hickey of the Montreal Gazette,

Bergevin conceded that he’s working on finding help up the middle, but he flatly rejected the idea of trading Price for a first-line centre. Price has one season remaining on his contract and there’s some urgency to sign him to an extension before he’s in a position to become an unrestricted free agent.

“I don’t have any worries about it,” Price said. “I’m sure it will all take care of itself. I love playing here and I’m sure we’ll figure something out.”

When asked whether he would be willing to take a hometown discount so Bergevin could sign other key players, Price said:  “That’s part of the business, right? That’s a tough question to ask me right now. Put me on the spot, huh? Like I said, I want to stay here. I know we’ll figure out a way to make all the pieces fit and bring a championship here.”

The Canadiens can’t sign Price to an extension before July 1.

When Bergevin was asked what would happen if Price wasn’t signed and there was a possibly of losing him to free agency, he said: “We’ll cross that bridge when we come to it.”

Radulov said he was grateful to Bergevin for giving him a chance to return to the NHL and wanted to stay here. He said his one hope was a deal longer than the one-year contract he signed last summer.

As for the 38-year-old Markov, he expressed a desire to stay here “for the rest of my life.” There’s never been a problem signing him in the past and he probably rates a two-year deal.


Filed in: NHL Teams, Montreal Canadiens, | KK Hockey | Permalink

NHL Short Notes

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

The First Round of the 2017 Stanley Cup Playoffs featured 18 overtime games in 42 contests (42.9%), a record for any round in the history of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. The previous record of 17 overtime contests, established in the 2013 opening round, was set in 47 games (36.2%). There were 20 overtime games in the entire 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs (91 GP).
* Three days saw every game extend past regulation, including April 17 when all four contests went into overtime – the third time in Stanley Cup Playoffs history that four games required overtime on the same day (also April 11, 1980 and April 10, 1985).
* The Presidents’ Trophy-winning Capitals and No. 2 Wild Card Maple Leafs played past regulation five times in the opening round, matching the single-series NHL postseason record set in the 1951 Stanley Cup Final (Games 1-5, 4-1 TOR W vs. MTL) and equaled in the 2012 Western Conference Quarterfinals (Games 1-5, 4-2 PHX W vs. CHI).
* Three of eight series were decided by an overtime goal, scored by St. Louis’ Magnus Paajarvi, Ottawa’s Clarke MacArthur and Washington’s Marcus Johansson. There only were two such goals in the 2016 Stanley Cup Playoffs. The record for a single postseason is six, set in 1993 and matched in 1999.
* Nine of the 12 games in the Capitals-Maple Leafs (5) and Senators-Bruins (4) series required overtime. Only two other rounds in the history of the Stanley Cup Playoffs have featured two series with at least four overtime games – all within the past six years: the 2012 Conference Quarterfinals (Coyotes-Blackhawks: 5, Capitals-Bruins: 4) and 2014 First Round (Wild-Avalanche: 4, Blackhawks-Blues: 4).

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Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink

St. James: Holland getting back to his scouting roots this spring

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

The vast majority of the Red Wings' front office, coach and director of player development took in Sunday's game between the Grand Rapids Griffins and Milwaukee Admirals, and it's "that time of year" for the Wings' braintrust as the Under-18 World Championship just concluded, the AHL, ECHL, OHL, QMJHL and WHL playoffs are all underway, and the World Championship will begin in Paris and Cologne next Friday.

The Free Press's Helene St. James reports that Red Wings GM Ken Holland is doing his best to scout as much hockey as possible prior to the draft this June:

Today saw him travel to Toronto to catch the OHL playoff game between Mississauga and Peterborough. Next up is a trip to Kelowna, British Columbia, to see the Rockets take on the Seattle Thunderbirds in the Western Hockey League semifinals.

“I’m focused on the draft,” Holland told the Free Press this afternoon. “Got to see the kids. (I) was at under-18 worlds, got to see a lot of good games there.”

Holland spent last week in Slovakia taking in the U18 world championship -- the Wings had eight scouts there all together, Holland said. He returned in time to catch the Wings’ top farm team, the Grand Rapids Griffins, win both weekend games to take a 2-0 lead on Milwaukee in the AHL playoffs. Several Wings prospects are off to good starts in the Calder Cup race, including Tyler Bertuzzi (two goals), Evgeny Svechnikov (goal, assist), Tomas Nosek (goal, assist) and Axel Holmstrom (goal).

St. James also has an update on Justin Abdelkader, reporting that Abdelkader won't have surgery on his troublesome knee for the present moment.

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink

Prospect news: Sambrook scores a goal in Otters’ playoff loss

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

Of prospect-related note:

In OHL playoff action, Jordan Sambrook scored a goal on 3 shots, finishing at +1 in the Erie Otters' 6-3 loss to the Owen Sound Attack. Erie and Owen Sound are tied 1-1 in their Conference Final series. You can watch highlights of the game here;

And Vili Saarijarvi finished at +2 with 5 shots in the Mississuaga Steelheads' 2-1 double overtime victory over Peterborough. Mississauga leads its Conference Final series 2 games to none. You can watch the 2OT winner on Twitter.

Update: The Grand Rapids Griffins posted a video in which Tyler Bertuzzi discusses Game 2 between the Griffins and Milwaukee Admirals:

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Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink

Howe Foundation promoting Colleen Howe for a Hockey Hall of Fame ‘builder’s’ spot

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

Gordie Howe's family has embarked upon a unique endeavor, attempting to lobby the hockey community to induct Colleen Howe into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a "builder."

As the Detroit News's Gregg Krupa notes, Colleen Howe was instrumental in (literally) building the roots of amateur hockey in Southeastern Michigan, and for that reason, the Howe Foundation believes that Colleen should break one of the few gender barriers remaining in hockey:

Some think Howe should be the first woman “builder” in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

The category honors, “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.” So far, there are no “hers.” Of the 102 inducted “builders,” all are men.

Nominations for the 2017 class, from members of the Selection Committee, were due April 15. Supporters are working on her behalf.

“Since Dad died, the Howe family is focused on continuing the legacy of our parents,” Mark Howe said, including furthering the work of The Howe Foundation, which his mother founded, and securing a home for his father’s memorabilia. “Someone is using our name to solicit some people, because you have to be nominated for the Hall of Fame. I guess what we’ve done is to put the ball in someone else’s corner and let them take it from there. I’ve never promoted myself or my parents. That’s not the way we were brought up.”

Krupa continues, telling the tale of Gordie Howe's Hockeyland in St. Clair Shores...

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink

Report- Joel Quenneville Not Happy With Dismissal Of Assistant Coach Mike Kitchen

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Chris Hine of the Chicago Tribune,

Blackhawks general manager Stan Bowman promised change after the first-round playoff sweep at the hands of the Predators. The first part of that change came Monday, and it cut close to head coach Joel Quenneville.

The Hawks fired assistant coach and longtime Quenneville aide Mike Kitchen after seven seasons with the team in a move that threatens to re-open old wounds between Quenneville and the Hawks' front office....

The Hawks news release did not include a statement from Quenneville, who was close with Kitchen since the two were teammates in the NHL with Colorado and New Jersey from 1979-83. Multiple sources said Quenneville and Kitchen are "best friends."

Multiple league sources told the Tribune the decision to fire Kitchen did not originate with Quenneville and that Quenneville was upset and surprised by the move. Kitchen's firing is likely to re-ignite conflict between Quenneville and Bowman and the rest of the front office, conflict over coaching and personnel that existed before the Hawks won Cups in 2013 and 2015, two championships that helped maintain peace in the organization. 


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

NBC Sports Group Announces Second Round Schedule

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

STAMFORD, Conn. – April 24, 2017 – Coming off a Stanley Cup Playoff first round that saw a record 18 games require overtime, NBC Sports Group has announced its second-round telecast schedule and game commentary pairings through Game 4.

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Filed in: NHL Teams, NHL Media, Hockey Broadcasting, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: nbc+sports+group

Small Or Big Changes For The Chicago Blackhawks?

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Rick Morrissey of the Chicago Sun-Times,

No one who has watched hockey for a significant amount of time can look me in the face and tell me that the same result would occur if the two teams played again in a best-of-seven series. Or could tell me that the Hawks wouldn’t win the series if a sequel were ordered.
Hockey is capricious. The NHL playoffs make capricious look like a conservative business suit.

The postseason isn’t a game of what-if, though, and the only thing that matters is that the Hawks lost and lost abysmally. Hence, the civic handwringing. If there were any more gnashing of teeth in Chicago, we’d all be down to our gums.

But there has been a fair amount of overreacting going on. I’m not talking about the people who, having watched the Hawks score a mere three goals in the series, immediately called for Corey Crawford’s ouster as goaltender. Those are the people on the edge of things, sanity being one of those things.

I’m talking about those of you who believe a large overhaul is needed. Bowman seemed to be nodding to that crowd when he hinted at definitive offseason action, though he was extremely light on specifics.


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

Joe Thornton Will Have Knee Surgery Today

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

via the Mercury News,

The knee injury that Sharks star Joe Thornton suffered was a significant one — he tore both his ACL and MCL before the NHL playoffs began, the team announced Monday.

Thornton, 37, played the last four games of the Sharks’ first-round playoff series against Edmonton after missing the first two.

“It’s as courageous an effort — him doing what he did — as I’ve ever seen,” said Sharks coach Peter DeBoer.

Thornton was scheduled to have knee surgery later Monday afternoon.

The Sharks also disclosed that Patrick Marleau played the series with a broken thumb and Tomas Hertl played with a broken foot.

added 3:24pm, if you need a refresher on the injury, watch below...

Continue Reading »

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

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