Kukla's Korner

Growing Pains With Versus Worth It

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Chris Russell of the Sporting News has a one on one with Gary Bettman…

SN: How about the comparison of your move to VERSUS, to when the NBA went to TNT a while back—the impact you saw firsthand because you were involved with the NBA before coming to the NHL?
GB: If, in fact, we can develop that same type of relationship, the short term pain will be worth it.
SN: A lot of fans believe you’re not able to do your job well, because your not an “NHL guy” and because you were involved with the NBA. Does that accusation bother you?
GB: When you do what I do for a living, you can’t let that bother you. I get amused by the fact that I get stereotyped. It may be a revelation to people but I have been at the NHL longer than I was at the NBA.

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Pens Like Smolinski

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,

One player the Penguins are believed to be in the hunt for is Bryan Smolinski, a veteran center who will be an unrestricted free agent this summer and could help the Penguins on faceoffs. As the Chicago Blackhawks’ second-leading scorer, Smolinski has 12 goals and 21 assists and is 51.4 percent on draws.
The Penguins, whose payroll is believed to be in the upper $30 million range, will have competition with the Vancouver Canucks for Smolinski, however.
Another player the Penguins have expressed interest in is Bill Guerin, but they’re not alone.

more on the Pens…

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GMs Watch Their Team In Naples

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,

Gentleman Lou Lamoriello of the Devils – looking sharp, if not just a little incongruous in his suit - sat with them as well. The expression on Lamoriello’s face when Sean Avery ran over goaltender Martin Brodeur and knocked his mask off – well, you can imagine the daggers directed Avery’s way from his vantage point. Avery probably felt the intensity of that gaze from 2,000 miles away.

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Legace Close To Re-Signing

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the News-Deomcrat,

St. Louis Blues President John Davidson said Tuesday that things are getting closer on a deal for goaltender Manny Legace and negotiations continue with defenseman Eric Brewer.
Expect the Blues to seek high-level young forwards in any deals involving Keith Tkachuk or Bill Guerin. Anaheim and Detroit seem to be among the front-runners for these veteran wingers, with the New York Rangers and Minnesota also possibilities.
“From what I’ve been told, and I talked to John a couple times today, we’re not close on anything,” Blues coach Andy Murray said after the game. “Unless it’s the right situation, nothing’s going to happen. That can also change with one phone call. That’s the way this works.”

read on

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Pronger Preparing For Playoff Run

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Province,

He was then asked if he ever let that media scrutiny become a distraction. “Never,” he said with a wry smile.
Pronger’s uneasy relationship with the media—notably made worse by the firestorm created when he asked out of Edmonton—clearly hasn’t vanished.
“The media likes to run with [stories] and make up their own opinions and lies and rumours. It makes for good TV and print media, doesn’t it?” Pronger said when asked about the looming trade deadline.
He is now enjoying his time out of the spotlight. He said his mental approach is as sharp as ever as he attempts to again peak at just the right time—the playoffs.

read on

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Preds Try To Get Radulov Going

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Tennessean,

The question now: Will third-line right wing Alexander Radulov be the next to benefit from Legwand?
The Russian rookie was all the rage the first few weeks of the season, when he lit the lamp 10 times in his first 18 games.
But Radulov has just one goal in his last 24 games and he’ll take a 15-game goalless streak into Thursday’s duel with the Montreal Canadiens at Gaylord Entertainment Center.
“He needs to get going here. He’s got to have a little more game,’’ Predators Coach Barry Trotz said of Radulov, whose last goal came on New Year’s Day.

read on

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Be Careful Of What You Wish For

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Detroit Free Press,

“If you try to put together small pieces to the puzzle, it can sometimes work, but to make major changes at the deadline, more often than not, they don’t really work out for that season,” Schneider said Tuesday.
“What happens is you bring in a high-impact player, and he’s taking away someone else’s ice time, possibly. It takes time to get adjusted to fit in with your new linemates.”
The Wings’ acquisition of Schneider in March 2003 didn’t pay off in the immediate playoffs, as they were swept in the first round.

more

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Critical Options For GMs

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

form the National Post via Canada.com,

“Certainly, the future is starting to become apparent to many GMs ,” he said. “We came out of that work stoppage in ‘04 and had a ton of guys to sign. Last year, the cap went up significantly,” loosening the screws on GMs a bit. “Now, I really feel that a lot of guys are saying, ‘There’s a guy on my team, and if he keeps playing at this level it’s going to cost me that much? Can I afford it?’ The money issues are more critical.”
While Bill Guerin emerges as the prime unrestricted free agent left in this year’s market—drawing feelers from San Jose, Detroit, Anaheim, Toronto and Carolina—there is much purpose in Naples for any of these GMs, whether or not the playoffs are a reality this spring.

more

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Murray Joins Elite Group Of Coaches

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the CP via the Ottawa Sun,

Bryan Murray joined a distinct coaching fraternity Tuesday night.
Murray, 64, becomes the fifth NHL coach with 600 wins behind Scotty Bowman, Al Arbour, Dick Irvin and Pat Quinn.
“It’s elite company, no question about it, and I respect it a great deal,” said the Shawville native, who earned the milestone in his 1,199th career game after winning his first back on Nov. 14, 1981 as coach of the Washington Capitals. “To win that many games it’s a great compliment to the players I’ve had, to the teams I’ve coached,” Murray said.

read on

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Not Laughing Now

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Johnette Howard of Newsday,

Admit it. For a week or two last July, back when the Islanders were being ridiculed as the laughingstock of the NHL, you would’ve taken a season like this in a heartbeat. The Isles may not be the scourge of the league now, but look: They are in the playoff hunt. The disaster that was darkly predicted for them hasn’t happened. The midsummer rants that Isles owner Charles Wang had reverted to his screwball ways, and Mike Milbury was still somehow secretly pulling the strings though he had stepped aside as GM—all of that is gone.
Nobody’s even dredging up the sumo goaltender jokes anymore.

continued

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