Kukla's Korner

Holland, Blashill on Larkin and Mantha

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

Michigan Hockey's Nick Barnowski attended this morning's press conference for the Red Wings' prospects, and in addition to posting half-a-dozen videos of prospects chatting with the media, he took note of Ken Holland's take on the futures of Dylan Larkin and Anthony Mantha, per Ken Holland and Jeff Blashill...

"Coach Blashill’s got to say to me, I want him to play,” Holland said. “He’s not going to be a 13th or 14th forward. He’s going to be really important for our franchise moving forward. We want to make sure we do what’s right for him and for us.”

Blashill said he thought Larkin did a great job in his short stint in Grand Rapids during the playoffs, where he had five points in six playoff games. He compared his career path with Gus Nyquist’s, saying he grew as a player when he wasn’t with the Red Wings and made an immediate impact when he was called up.

“It’s a tiny sample size but he seemed to pass all those tests in terms of small sample sizes – World Championship, World Junior, his freshman year at Michigan,” Blashill said. “I think he’s going to be a really good player. We’ll see when.”

Mantha, who produced 15 goals and 18 assists in 62 games with the Griffins this past season, will struggle to make the Red Wings, Holland said. The Wings GM said he would have to take someone’s job, with 14 to 16 forwards competing for a spot.

And after addressing the Green and Richards signings, Holland and Blashill looked toward the upcoming summer development camp, which begins tomorrow:

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The Fedorov compromise

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

Take this from Fox Sports Detroit's Keith Gave, who believes that the Red Wings simply won't retire #91 due to the burnt bridges from Fedorov's offer-sheet signing in 1998 and his exit for Anaheim in 2003, for what you will:

There may be room for a reasonable compromise, however, while honoring one of the most memorable eras in Wings history -- and five fabulous players at once. Hang a banner with the names and numbers of all the Russian Five who were so instrumental in helping the Wings end their Stanley Cup drought.

Invite Scotty Bowman -- the man who assembled them and put them together as a unit nearly 20 years ago -- and have him help hoist the banner to the rafters at Joe Louis Arena. Three of those players, after all, are in the Hockey Hall of Fame: Slava Fetisov, No. 2; Igor Larionov, No. 8, and Fedorov. The others: the ever-popular Vladimir Konstantinov, No. 16, and Slava Kozlov, No. 13.

Three of those numbers remain in service: Brendan Smith wears No. 2; Justin Abdelkader wears No. 8; and Pavel Datsyuk wears No. 13. No one has worn No. 16 since Konstantinov took off his sweater on June 7, 1997, the night the Wings won the Cup. Six nights later, a limo crash ended his career.

Oct. 24 marks the 20th anniversary of the trade Bowman made with San Jose to bring Larionov to Detroit and complete the Russian Five unit. Hold a ceremony this fall honoring them, but keep all their numbers in service.

That way, Richards can wear No. 91 in Detroit, if it means that much to him. But we bet it doesn't.

Continued...

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Martin St. Louis Retires

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

via New York Rangers release,

Martin St. Louis, who totaled 391 goals and 642 assists for 1,033 points in 1134 regular season games spread over 16 National Hockey League seasons, announced his retirement from professional hockey today. St. Louis, who played right wing for the Calgary Flames (1998-2000), the Tampa Bay Lightning (2000-14), and the New York Rangers (2014-15), leaves the game having been named to seven NHL All-Star Games, while earning All NHL Second Team honors four times and All NHL First Team honors once.

“I have been blessed to play for 16 years in the NHL; it has been an amazing ride,” said St. Louis in making the announcement.  “I would like to thank the Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers organizations and owners for providing me the opportunity to play the sport I love for so many years.  I could have never played for so long or accomplished all that I have without the unwavering love and support from my wife, Heather, our three sons, Ryan, Lucas, and Mason, and my parents.

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Filed in: NHL Teams, New York Rangers, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: martin+st.+louis

Vancouver Canucks Make Some Changes In Hockey Operations

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Vancouver, BC – Vancouver Canucks President of Hockey Operations, Trevor Linden announced today that the club has relieved Vice President, Hockey Operations and Assistant General Manager, Laurence Gilman, Assistant General Manager, Lorne Henning and Director, Player Personnel, Eric Crawford of their duties.

“On behalf of our entire organization I would like to sincerely thank Laurence, Lorne and Eric for their commitment and dedication to the Vancouver Canucks,” said Trevor Linden. “They have been important members of our staff for a long time and made significant contributions to the success of this team. Further still, they are great people and respected members of the hockey community.”

“We have made some difficult decisions to our roster and staff recently after a thorough review of the team,” continued Linden. “These are not easy decisions, nor were they taken lightly. But they’re important as we transition this team and build for the future.”

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

New York Rangers Hire GM Jeff Gorton

Blog: The Puck Stops Here By PuckStopsHere

Probably the most important piece of news that was buried in the free agent signings yesterday was the official announcement that Glen Sather is stepping down as New York Ranger general manager.  He will remain president of the organization.  He had been the Ranger GM since 2000.  Before that he had been the Edmonton Oiler GM for twenty years winning five Stanley Cups.  At age 71 it is time for Sather to slow down.

Taking over as general manager is Jeff Gorton.  He has been with the Rangers organization since 2007 and has been Sather's chosen successor for years.    Gorton is ready for this chance and has been well schooled under Sather.  It will likely be a seamless transition.  Matt Hunwick signed with the Rangers yesterday.  It seems like business as usual.

I am sure that Sather and Gorton knew well in advance that this transition would occur and everything is running according to plan.  The transition was buried in the free agent frenzy in part due to modesty.  There was no need to make the Rangers transition a big story.  Glen Sather didn't need a big send off.  Jeff Gorton didn't need big media scrutiny.  It is business as usual in New York - at least that is how they want to run things.

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Wings Now Have More Options

Blog: The Malik Report By Paul

from Paul Harris at NHL.com,

Holland said with everyone healthy, Richards will be Detroit's No. 2 center. But with the uncertainty about Pavel Datsyuk, who had surgery on ruptured tendons in his right ankle last Friday, Richards could open the season as the No. 1.

"Throughout his career, he's been productive as a top-couple-of-lines center," Blashill said. "... He's a great power-play guy who can run it from up top and who can pull up on the half boards."

Blashill is comfortable with Richards' age.

"He's slowed down, but I think he's got some great hockey left in him," he said. "He's been great in the playoffs, he just won a Cup and he has two."

Blashill said he talked to Green and Richards on Wednesday. He added that he already had an idea about what type of player and person Green is.

Blashill was the head coach of the Red Wings' American Hockey League affiliate, the Grand Rapids Griffins, the past three seasons. One of his assistants in Grand Rapids was longtime NHL player Mike Knuble, who was Green's teammate in Washington and also played for Detroit during his career.

"Mike Knuble had good things to say about [Green] as a person and a teammate," Blashill said.

It remains to be seen how Green and Richards will fit in with the Red Wings.

"I don't know the exact picture," Blashill said. "We won't know that until we get to camp. … But you'd rather have more options than not enough."

more

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Steve Yzerman And The Red Wings Way

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Cristina Ledra of The Sporting News,

Jim Nill and Ken Holland sat at the Detroit Red Wings table at the 2011 NHL Draft in Minneapolis and couldn’t believe what was coming from the nearby Tampa Bay Lightning camp and their protégé Steve Yzerman.

“Kenny and I were kind of sitting back-to-back to him and they were doing their picks and I think that year — and they were the right picks — he picked a bunch of Russians,” Nill said. “We kinda looked at him and said, ‘Stevie’s picking all these Russians.’ And that wasn’t his style all the time and here he was.”

Imagine that: The brain trust that put together something as unique and remarkable as the Russian Five, Yzerman’s former teammates in Detroit, was now nonplussed that the Lightning’s new general manager was gathering his own collection of Russians 20 years later when, similarly, teams just weren’t drafting players from that country.

This wouldn’t be the last time Yzerman borrowed from the Red Wings’ — and Holland’s — model, one that has produced a North American professional sports record 24 consecutive playoff appearances, four Stanley Cup championships and featured scores of Hockey Hall of Fame members.

continued

Filed in: | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: stee+yzerman

‘Name’ Players Still Available

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Frank Seravalli of TSN,

Cody Franson netted more points (36) last season than Beleskey (32) and he’s a big, in-demand, right-shooting defenceman still looking for a job. 

The Maple Leafs landed a first-round pick for Franson from the Predators in a February trade. That his numbers and minutes dropped off in Nashville is less indicative of his play and more about the overall depth of the Predators’ defence corps. He is still in the prime of his career and can instantly be plugged into almost any team’s top two pairings.

Then there’s Johnny Oduya, 33, who steadied the Blackhawks on two Stanley Cup runs in the last three seasons. Christian Ehrhoff, 32, struggled to stay on the ice last season in Pittsburgh but is still a capable of eating 20 minutes per night.

Then there is the third tier of defencemen, where a possible value buy like Jan Hejda is available. Hejda just turned 37, but he has only 627 games of wear on his tires.

Up front, former Hart Trophy winner Marty St. Louis is still waiting for the right fit. That may or may not come - with him hoping to stay close to his family in Connecticut. St. Louis, 40, posted 52 points in 74 games last season.

Chris Stewart, Eric Fehr, Jiri Tlusty and Joel Ward all drew significant interest on Wednesday, but weren’t able to settle on any terms.

more

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

More Winners And Losers From Yesterday

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the CP at CTVNews,

Free agency day didn't have the wild money tossed around like usual, and trades overshadowed most of the signings. Yet there are still some clear winners and losers from July 1.

WINNERS:

Restraint
With the weakest free-agent pool in recent history, NHL general managers kept themselves from overpaying. No contract was longer than six years, Andrej Sekera's US$33 million with the Oilers was the most money and Mike Green's $6 million with the Red Wings the highest cap hit.

The Battle of Alberta
Edmonton continued its makeover by improving the blue line with Sekera, so the Calgary Flames brought back goaltender Karri Ramo at a reasonable $3.8 million and signed sought-after "utility tool" forward Michael Frolik. The next few seasons of this rivalry should be fun.

Phil Kessel
Traded to the Penguins, Kessel doesn't have to be in the spotlight on a team with Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Kris Letang. At a cap hit of $6.8 million, Kessel just has to score 30 -- or more -- goals and go about his business in Pittsburgh.

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Wings’ prospects get the new arena sales pitch

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

From DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji, via RedWingsFeed:

They came from all over the world yet there was a general consensus about what they saw – the Red Wings' new stadium looks fantastic.

The Wings' just-drafted players, prospects and invitees to their development camp got a private tour along with Jiri Fischer, director of player development, of the plans for the new stadium and District Detroit.

District Detroit is the vision of the Ilitch family for a state-of-the-art events center and surrounding areas that will comprise 50 blocks of the city, including Comerica Park, Ford Field and the Fox Theatre.

Wings general manager Ken Holland had mentioned that the experience at Montreal's Bell Centre, where the fans seem to be on top of the ice and the noise can be intimidating, so the Wings are looking to exceed that with what is expected to be the tightest bowl in the league.

As Ypsilanti, Michigan, native and Windsor Spitfires defenseman Jalen Chatfield said, "Who wouldn't want to play there?"

Continued...

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