Kukla's Korner

‘Leftover Sharp’ takes a right turn at Teemu Pulkkinen’s potential

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

I haven't seen somebody completely change the focus of an article and produce a new product, but the Free Press's Drew Sharp did just that. Sharp drastically revised the article he posted yesterday regarding the much-watched Grand Rapids Griffins (as noted in the overnight report), producing an almost-new product that discusses the particulars who took in yesterday night's loss to Utica...

There were at least a half-dozen executives and scouts in Blashill's office. Even Johan Franzen, sidelined with concussionlike symptoms much of the season, hung around outside, chatting with Mark Howe and Chris Chelios.

"Yeah, it is a little crowded around here," [Griffins captain Jeff] Hoggan said with a laugh. "But instead of being a distraction, you have to look at it as the organization having a lot of confidence in what we're doing here."

Suggesting that Ken Holland's not long for the general manager's seat, at least assuming that he can pull off another championship via his "rebuild" of the roster minus one Mike Babcock...

He deftly hides his emotions, but privately, Holland must feel the same level of excitement and energy that Babcock acknowledged last week, after taking the Toronto Maple Leafs' head coaching job. If they climb back to playoff elitism in the next couple years -- with zero top-10 draft picks in a salary cap-driven league -- Holland adds one last glorious chapter to an already-illustrious career.

And Sharp's final focus involves Teemu Pulkkinen, who's most likely poised to blossom under an AHL-graduating coach who knows how to get the most out of the Finnish sniper:

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Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Fighting For Work

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Brett Popplewell of Sportsnet,

Used to be the warrior was the noble, set apart from those he swore to protect by his acceptance of violence and by a code of conduct that kept him honourable. Medieval knights called this chivalry; to the samurai it was the way of the warrior. It didn’t matter what he accomplished day to day, all that mattered was that when the time came, he entered the battle and fought like he was already dead. That’s what made him noble. That’s what made him selfless.

Kevin Westgarth knows this. Not because he is a student of history and war but because he is one of hockey’s discarded enforcers. A wandering samurai who now finds himself alone and bleeding in a Belfast arena.

Barely a minute has passed since he threw his last punch, cracked a man’s helmet and ripped the skin from the mangled remnants of his reconstructed knuckle. The residual sounds of the brawl—bloodthirsty shouts and chants—echo through the stands, bouncing off the boards and rafters and finding their way into the corner of the dressing room where Westgarth sits, chest heaving, blood pumping out of that knuckle.

continued

Filed in: Non-NHL Hockey, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: kevin+westgarth

The Latest On Nathan Horton

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Joe McDonald of ESPN,

Nathan Horton has his good days and his bad days.

On Friday, he’s celebrating his 30th birthday with family and friends, and his wish is to some day be healthy enough to resume his NHL career.

Horton has been dealing with a degenerative back injury that has kept him sidelined since April 2014. He missed all of last season and the Columbus Blue Jackets traded him to the Toronto Maple Leafs on Feb. 26 in exchange for forward David Clarkson.

“Yeah, I’m doing all right. I’m living my life,” he told ESPN.com. “Obviously, my back’s not great but I have my good days, and some OK days. I’m just taking it easy. Eventually it’s going to go away -- I hope. I’m just enjoying my life. I’m healthy and I’m happy. It’s obviously tough because I want to play. It’s only my 30th birthday today, so I know I’m still young. Life gives you curveballs and I’m just trying to be positive and that’s pretty much all I can do.”

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: nathan+horton

Craig Button’s Final Prospects Ranking

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Craig Button of TSN,

Connor McDavid and Jack Eichel started the season as the top ranked NHL prospects and they finish 1-2 on the final Craig's List of the season. The NHL can only hope No. 1-ranked McDavid and No. 2-ranked Eichel develop a rivalry similar to the one Crosby and Ovechkin launched 10 years ago. 

Two Ontario Hockey League rivals are next on my final list: Erie centre Dylan Strome at No. 3 and London right winger Mitch Marner at No. 4. Why Strome over Marner at three? The answer is simple. When players are so close in ability, I choose the centre over the winger. While Marner may eventually score at a higher rate than Strome in the NHL, top line centres are instrumental to team success. Strome has a complete yet unspectacular game in the style of Ron Francis. Strome is an elite complete player.

Marner is a unique and creative player who brings people out of their seats. Arizona is interesting at No. 3 in the draft order because either Strome or Marner would add significantly to an already deep prospect pool that includes Marner's London teammate, Max Domi.

The NHL Central Scouting Service has Boston College defenceman Noah Hanifin ranked third among North American skaters, behind only McDavid and Eichel. But Hanifin is No. 12 on my list. He's a fantastic skater, but I'm not yet convinced he will make an impact in the NHL worthy of investing such a high pick. 

continued

Filed in: Non-NHL Hockey, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Your NBC Sports Group Broadcasting Crew For Both Game 7’s

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

via a press release from the NBC Sports Group...

STAMFORD, Conn. – May 29, 2015 – NBC Sports Group goes coast-to-coast this weekend to present two NHL Conference Final Game 7 showdowns in a 24-hour span tonight and tomorrow on NBCSN and NBC, respectively. Coverage begins tonight on NBCSN at 8 p.m. ET, when Henrik Lundqvist and the New York Rangers host Steven Stamkos and the Tampa Bay Lightning in Game 7 of the Eastern Conference Final.

NBC presents live coverage of Game 7 of the Western Conference Final on Saturday night in primetime at 8 p.m. ET, when Ryan Getzlaf and the Anaheim Ducks host Jonathan Toews and the Chicago Blackhawks. NBC Sports Live Extra – NBC Sports Group’s live streaming product for desktops, mobile devices, and tablets – will provide streaming coverage of both Game 7s.

Three-time Emmy Award-winning play-by-play commentator and Sports Illustrated 2014 Media Person of the Year Mike ‘Doc’ Emrick, U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame member and analyst Eddie Olczyk, and Emmy Award-winning Inside-the-Glass analyst Pierre McGuire will have the call of both Game 7 matchups.

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Filed in: NHL Teams, Anaheim Ducks, Chicago Blackhawks, New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Mid-day news: Regarding Griffins projections, the AHL’s ‘Morning Skate’ and news about Kadeikin

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

Updated 4x at 2:46 PM: The Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner has posited an unusual question, asking MLive readers to weigh in as to which member of the Grand Rapids Griffins will have the best NHL career. It is at least worth noting that Wings GM Ken Holland doesn't believe that he can count the number of probable key contributors and depth players on one hand...

"I think we're probably hoping two, three, four can make it next year and certainly some of them – (Xavier) Ouellet, (Alexey) Marchenko – played games for us last year. But I'd say seven, eight, nine that have a chance to play for the Red Wings at some point in time.

Is it the greatest collection of prospects ever growing in Grand Rapids? Time will tell, but let's give the nod for now to the 2013 Griffins, whose Calder Cup Trophy team included the likes of playoff MVP Tomas Tatar, Gustav Nyquist, Petr Mrazek, Riley Sheahan and Tomas Jurco. All are Wings now.

The caveat Holland inserted into his reply was this: You never know how a youngster will develop. Then there's the other challenge - finding a roster place for them.

To me, whether we're talking about Larkin, Mantha, Pulkkinen, Bertuzzi, "AA," Nosek, Marchenko, Ouellet, Sproul, Jensen, any of the Griffins' players, the biggest unknown really is what goes on within a player's mind as he develops, and whether his physical, mental and on-ice development can intersect at the right time.

The Red Wings give their players all the information they could possibly need as the prospect development pipeline fosters strength and conditioning, on-ice systems play, off-ice time management, nutrition and plain old growing-up mentorship from the Griffins' leadership and Jiri Fischer, but who makes the jump and who doesn't really depends on what the players do with the knowledge they're availed of and the opportunities for growth that they're given.

In any case, the Grand Rapids Griffins get "back at 'er" against Utica this evening (7 PM EDT on WOOD Radio and the AHL Live), and the AHL posited a "morning skate" set of notes regarding the series...

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Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Afternoon Line- Steven Stamkos

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Filed in: NHL Teams, New York Rangers, Tampa Bay Lightning, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: steven+stamkos

Bylsma Will Hopefully Be New And Improved

Blog: The Sabres Observer By @DaveDavisHockey

Before reading any further, give an honest answer to this question: Do you want a coach who trusts his best players to use their abilities, think less on the ice and just read and react, or would you prefer a sophisticated system requiring them to process a lot of information on the fly?

If you chose the first option, perhaps you can understand my one big concern about Dan Bylsma.

When the Sabres announced the hiring of their new head coach yesterday, did they introduce a man with an unchanged mentality from when he lost a frustrated locker room in Pittsburgh, or someone who has progressed with the times and changed for the better?

Is Bylsma going to let promising youngsters like Jack Eichel, Rasmus Ristolainen and Zemgus Girgensons use their natural talent to help them find their maximum upside, or will he overthink the game and drag his players into an abyss of analysis paralysis?

He's not going to make Eichel play a dump-and-chase game, right?

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Filed in: | The Sabres Observer | Permalink
  Tags: bylsma+sabres+systems

Compensation For Fired Coaches

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

via Dave Hodge of TSN,

Obviously, Dan Bylsma was Buffalo's first choice to succeed Ted Nolan as coach of the Sabres….er, well, second choice…..so the matter of draft pick compensation owed to Pittsburgh wasn't about to get in the way.

But what if Bylsma and another candidate had similar credentials, Bylsma was favoured narrowly and the other prospective coach came with no strings attached? And what if the Sabres decided to take a pass on Bylsma as a result? After all, a third-round draft pick is something of value in every other sense. Teams don't give them away with a shrug of the shoulders.

If the issue of compensation meant that Bylsma did not get the Buffalo job, he'd be justifiably upset. The Penguins would still be paying him, and the Sabres, while having to live with their decision, would wonder why they couldn't sign the best coach available free of charge. In that case, I'm guessing Bylsma and every other coach would push for a rule change, and so would the Sabres. That ought to happen, anyway. Thumbs down to draft pick compensation for fired coaches. 

Filed in: NHL Teams, Buffalo Sabres, Pittsburgh Penguins, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: dan+bylsma

All Bob McKenzie

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Sean Fitz-Gerald of the National Post,

Before he hit the road, McKenzie (BM) took time to answer 20 Questions from National Post, talking about minor hockey grudges, giving the finger to newspapers and the time a Canadian hockey legend wanted to drop the gloves in the visiting dressing room.

1. Where do you think you would have landed had The Hockey News not offered you the job as editor-in-chief in 1982?

BM: I probably would have been a cop. When I graduated Ryerson, all I wanted to do was be a hockey writer for one of the Toronto dailies … I was desperately trying to get hired full-time by the Globe, the Sun or the Star, to cover hockey. I wasn’t having a lot of success, and I was getting frustrated. I used to leave the Globe and Mail after a rewrite shift and I’d walk out the front door, and I’d turn around and give the Globe the finger. Then I would get in my car, I would get on the Gardiner and, as I was going by — the Star on the right-hand side, the Sun on the left-hand side — I’d give each of them the finger every night because they hadn’t hired me.

2. What would have made you a good police officer?

BM: Oh, I don’t know. It’s a good question. I don’t know if I would have been.

read on

Filed in: NHL Media, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: bob+mckenzie

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