Kukla's Korner

Mike Cammalleri and New Jersey, a perfect fit?

Blog: KK Hockey By George Malik

This past July brought more than a couple of eyebrow-raising free agent signings, but the New Jersey Devils' signing of Mike Cammalleri to a 5-year, $25-million contract was my biggest "WHAT?" moment. Today, the Hockey News's Ryan Kennedy explains why the unlikely marriage occurred:

“He played with an edge and had results,” [New Jersey Devils GM Lou] Lamoriello said. “He’s very diligent and he competes. When you see that in a player, it naturally sticks out. When we were looking at the potential free agencies and the type of player we needed, we felt we needed a scorer. Mike stood right out, and he was one of the top players we looked at, if not the top player.”

The money and especially the term were a huge vote of confidence to Cammalleri, who says the courtship lasted longer than the free agent negotiating period. His best years are behind him, but he remains a useful scorer who can play among the top six forwards. The Devils are taking a leap of faith on him, but it works both ways.

“What attracted me to the Devils was the success they’ve had, the template, the way they do things,” Cammalleri said. “I have a belief in how things are done that leads to successes.”

Continued

Filed in: | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: lou+lamoriello, mike+cammalleri, new+jersey+devils

Florida Panthers hope to be more than ‘paper tigers’

Blog: KK Hockey By George Malik

The Florida Panthers nearly stole the spotlight away from the Wings and Leafs during HBO's 24/7 series, and of the Atlantic Division's non-playoff teams I'd argue that the franchise may be a Phoenix Coyotes East off the ice (their financial situation is quite the mess), but on the ice, the Panthers have the greatest chance of serving as not only a playoff spoiler for their Eastern Conference opponents, but also a potential playoff-qualifying team.

NHL.com's "30 in 30" series profiles the Pantehrs today, and they note that Dale Tallon was predictably aggressive in improving the Panthers' roster over the past half-year, trading for Roberto Luongo and signing Jussi Jokinen, Willie Mitchell and another former Blackhawk (the Panthers have more than a few players from Tallon's previous employer's team) in David Bolland; they note that the Panthers' top prospect, Aaron Ekblad, is probably NHL-ready, and of course the Panthers hired a new coaching staff headlined by Gerard Gallant, too...

And in addition to discussing Ekblad's would-be defensive partners and "5 Questions" that the team faces going into the 14-15 season, NHL.com's Alain Poupart engages in a conversation with Tallon that, let's say involves personnel moves which allow more substantive, "We aren't that far off" talk than what was issued by Saturday's profiled team:

Continue Reading »

Filed in: | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: aaron+ekblad, dave+bolland, gerard+gallant, jussi+jokinen, roberto+luongo, willie+mitchell

Red Wings overnight report: The runky Joe, Miller on Miller, MSU Pro Camp info and Datsyukian goals

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

I try to be as honest as humanly possible with my readers, so I'm going to start this entry with the slightly-less-directly-Red-Wings-related story for honesty's sake.

I happened to enjoy the commute to the Red Wings' summer development camp a wee bit better when it was held at Joe Louis Arena, and my attendance at said camp really opened my eyes to the reason I'm so baffled about the slowness of the follow-on rink's construction.

While I happen to believe that the Joe has the best sightlines of any rink, it's an uncomfortable place to watch a game and it's certainly a spartan place to work in (perhaps you have heard of the true stories of the press box occasionally springing leaks after heavy rain, sometimes disturbingly close to broadcasters), and if you witnessed the amount of maintenance put into the 37-year-old rink when completely empty, to simply keep its state up to "dilapidated" standards, it would shock you.

Continue Reading »

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Calgary Flames 1989 Cup run nearly derailed in 1st round

Blog: KK Hockey By George Malik

The Hockey News's Adam Proteau has penned the first of a two-part "oral history" chronicling the Calgary Flames' 1989 Stanley Cup win, and it never ceases to amaze me how very heavily Cup-winners are challenged in the playoff round that Scotty Bowman insisted is the most dangerous round:

For the second year in a row, the Flames had finished the regular season with the NHL’s top record. In 1988, they’d won their first-round series against the Kings, only to be swept by the Edmonton Oilers in the Smythe Division final. Two years earlier, they’d made it to the first Stanley Cup Final in franchise history, falling to the Montreal Canadiens in five games.

But in 1989 – their second year with Terry Crisp as head coach – the Flames proved a more resilient squad. And they had to be right away; In their opening-round series against Vancouver (a team that finished with 43 fewer points in the standings that season), Calgary lost key defenseman Gary Suter in the first game with a broken jaw, then found themselves pushed to the brink of elimination as the Canucks forced a heart-stopping seventh game – and overtime – and yet managed to move on thanks to astounding goaltending from Mike Vernon and the series-winning goal that banked in off Joel Otto’s skate.

TERRY CRISP, HEAD COACH We really dodged a bullet in that first round. You’re that close to being gone and maybe never getting another crack at it. When I look back, I think there must have been a divine destiny somewhere in the first round, because Vancouver took us right to the wall.

CLIFF FLETCHER, GENERAL MANAGER The pressure of the first round nearly did us in. We weren’t the hockey team we had been over the course of the regular season. We were very fortunate to win that series. Mike Vernon had to make three outstanding saves before we managed to shovel a goal late in the first overtime.

AL MACINNIS, DEFENSEMAN If Mike doesn’t make those saves, we don’t move on. But when we got by Vancouver, that’s when I think that pressure was relieved from us, and we felt just felt that, ‘Man, we’re really on our way.’ After that, we lost three games total in the next three series.

TERRY CRISP After that, the guys just put it into gear and away we went.

Proteau continues...

Filed in: | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: al+macinnis, calgary+flames, chuck+fletcher, mike+vernon

Simmons talks advanced stats—positively—and offers Sunday observations

Blog: KK Hockey By George Malik

To his credit, the Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons' weekly notebook includes exactly one mention of the "advanced stats" community, and it's one that voices a thought many of us have considered since Extraskater.com went "offline"...

When the analytics website @extraskater disappeared on Friday, my assumption was that creater Darryl Metcalf had been hired by an NHL team

(or the NHL itself, given that its new "terms of service" all but ban the kind of activity Extra Skater and Behind the Net engage in)

And Simmons issues a pretty dang solid set of NHL-related tidbits and observations:

Continue Reading »

Filed in: | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: brendan+shanahan, dave+nonis, david+clarkson, hartford+whalers, jean-sebastien+giguere, ken+holland, toronto+maple+leafs

Your Kevin Hayes sweepstakes update

Blog: KK Hockey By George Malik

If you're transfixed by the Kevin Hayes sweepstakes, the Providence Journal's Mark Divver reports that former Chicago Blackhawks first-round pick and 6'4," 216-pound power forward and Boston College graduate is going about the "wining and dining process" in the usual manner:

I used to think that 22-or-23-year-old players allowing themselves to be treated like accomplished NHL players available for nothing but the price of their contract was, to say the least, a little ego-driven.

That's changed after watching what happens to every NCAA-playing prospect who takes part in the Red Wings' summer development camp on the last day thereof: the team sets up bins in which the players deposit their jerseys, their socks, their pants and pant shells, any sticks or gloves or helmets the team "lent" them, even any t-shirts, hats or shorts the team gave them to wear.

The players pay their own way up to the camp, they pay for their own accommodations, food, attending the camp, and they can't so much as keep a t-shirt or they'll lose their NCAA eligibility. After living in that environment for 4, 5 or 6 years (as soon as players "commit," they've got to act accordingly), suddenly being treated like a superstar in the making and being allowed to get stuff from the vast majority of the NHL's teams, be they baseball hats, team-themed iPads or whatever...

It's got to feel like living in the lap of luxury, so of course they're going to listen to every single team that's willing to give them their pitch as to why NHL Destination X is the best one for them.

Filed in: | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Blue Jackets 1st-rounder Sonny Milano to sign entry-level deal, then play for OHL’s Plymouth Whalers

Blog: KK Hockey By George Malik

Per NHL.com, this isn't "Red Wings-related" so it's not going in that blog, but this is a KK Hockey entry that has a very "local" angle for the OHL team that plays all but in my backyard and not too far from the boss.

If you needed another reason to go to a Plymouth Whalers game, the team made a very big trade in acquiring Sudbury's Matthew Campagna on Friday, and today, after holding their annual alumni game, the Whalers landed a first-round draft pick who's played with the U.S. National Developent Team Program:

Columbus Blue Jackets prospect Sonny Milano will play in the Ontario Hockey League this season rather than at Boston College, the NHL team said via Twitter on Saturday.

#CBJ 2014 NHL Draft Pick Sonny Milano has informed Boston College Hockey that he will play with the OHL's Plymouth Whalers this season.

— NHL Blue Jackets (@BlueJacketsNHL) August 17, 2014

The 18-year-old forward will play for the Plymouth Whalers.

Milano, the 16th pick in the 2014 NHL Draft, attended United States World Junior evaluation camp in early August. There he said he planned to attend Boston College.

He is eligible to sign an entry-level contract with the Blue Jackets.

Filed in: | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: columbus+blue+jackets, sonny+milano

Devils will lose money for this upcoming season, but that’s not bad news

Blog: KK Hockey By George Malik

Via Pro Hockey Talk's Dhiren Mahibian, the Bergen Record's Tom Gulitti reports that the New Jersey Devils will lose money for the 2014-15 season...

Unlike the team's financial struggles under the Jeffrey Vanderbeek adminstration, however, the fact that the Devils are going to lose money this season is actually good news.

Gulitti reports that "new" owners Josh Harris and David Blitzer are spending a significant amount of money cleaning up the legal messes Vanderbeek left them, and they're also investing a good chunk of money in growing the Devils' "business brand," reestablishing ties with local businesses and significantly bolstering the team's hockey operations personnel:

[O]n the business side (non-hockey operations), O’Neil says the team had just 76 employees immediately following the sale. Blitzer said the number is “more than double” that now after O’Neil has spent the last year building up his department to put it in a position to be better able to grow the business of the Devils.

“You just didn’t have personnel there,” Blitzer said. “It wasn’t like anyone was doing anything negatively in that sense. They literally did not have positions filled that were entirely necessary to run a business like this. We kind of found that a little bit shocking in terms of how depleted it was at the time we went in.”

Continue Reading »

Filed in: | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: josh+harris, lou+lamoriello, new+jersey+devils

Red Wings afternoon news: Buckets for Babcock and ‘what it’s all about’

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock spends a signifcant portion of his "free time" advocating for pediatric cancer charities like the Jeffrey Thomas Hayden Foundation, he hosts a family battling cancer at every home game, and it's rumored that Babcock tends to show up unannounced at Children's Hospital in Detroit and the C.S. Mott Children's Hospital in Ann Arbor to visit kids and parents, so it's no surprise that Babcock took up the Ice Bucket Challenge to help raise awareness of and funds for ALS research in the U.S. and Canada:

The video quality isn't particularly good, but Babcock's muscle definition is:

Continue Reading »

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

New Jersey Devils still willing to employ Martin Brodeur…if he’s willing to wear a suit

Blog: KK Hockey By George Malik

Via SI's Allan Muir, New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello has every intention of employing Martin Brodeur should the legendary goaltender not find the "right fit" with a championship-contending team, but the Newark Star-Ledger's Steve Politi reports that Lamoriello's standing offer involves a front-office job:

What happens if Brodeur gets to a point where he realizes the right fit isn't there? Lamoriello has the answer. The longtime Devils GM said Brodeur has a job waiting for him with the Devils if he decides to stop playing.

"He knows that," Lamoriello said. "He knows he'll be a Devil for the rest of his life. What Marty has done and the type of personality he is, and what his experience is, it's a no brainer. He's a Devil."

But Lamoriello wonders: Does Brodeur want to work? He's been around enough great players to know that this is not always the case.

Continue Reading »

Filed in: | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: lou+lamoriello, martin+brodeur, new+jersey+devils

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