Kukla's Korner

Hatcher Expects Better Year

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Philly News,

"I'm embarrassed about what happened to the team," said the 34-year-old Hatcher, entering his 15th NHL season. "Not necessarily about myself. I know I didn't end up on the strongest note, but as a team we fell apart. "No matter what way you look at it, that's what happened. Even those games we beat Buffalo, we had a couple go in off skates, and if you look back at those games you can see we fell apart as a team. "It's one of the worst things I've ever been through, especially the way we lost at home [7-1 in the final game]. "[In the meetings] we all agreed that halfway through the season I was playing at a pretty high level and it just fell off. Halfway in the season I was a good defenseman. Toward the end of the year it just started to go away." Today, Hatcher looks like a man on a mission. He spent the offseason training in order to regain whatever edge he lost between his last year in Dallas, in 2002-03, and last season with the Flyers.
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Lessons Will Be Learned

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Robert Tychkowski of the Edmonton Sun,

Looking good in the first week of NHL training camp is like looking smart on the first day of school. It's easy when all you have to do is pick a desk, unpack your school supplies, meet the new teacher and see if the class gerbil survived the summer. They don't separate the whiz kids from the dunce-cap candidates until the first book report, science project or math test.
continued

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Everyone Is Watching Kessel

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Boston Globe,

The Bruins have tested our patience and our wallets. They have teased us, tricked us, turned us off. Every season, they promise it will be different. The purge from last year's woeful campaign included the coach, the GM, the former superstar, even the fan's favorite foil (adieu, Hal Gill, you deserved better). This is a new day, a new team, and with the exception of a few stalwarts (Murray, PJ Axelsson, Patrice Bergeron), the Bruins are out for blood with new blood of their own. Phil Kessel wants to be part of this turnaround. Desperately. Not all 18-year-olds with just one season of college hockey can make this jump, and the Bruins are reserving judgment about their top pick (No. 5 overall). The skills are clearly there. But is the proper mind-set? ``I want to make this team really badly," Kessel said. ``It's the reason I left college. I know it's hard for them. They want to look out for my best interests. I've got to live with whatever they decide, but I'd be disappointed if I don't make it.
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Decision On Staal Getting Harder

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Pierre Lebrun of the CP via the Chronicle Herald,

Jordan Staal isn’t complaining. On any other team in the NHL, the second overall pick in this year’s entry draft would be in the spotlight right now but on the Pittsburgh Penguins he’s far from it. Not with Evgeni Malkin at his first camp, Sidney Crosby at his second and Marc-Andre Fleury at his third. "I’ve been under the radar my whole life and I really don’t mind it," the 18-year-old Staal said Wednesday after practice. "It’s kind of nice, actually. I’m just trying to play steady hockey and see what happens." What’s happened is that what was originally an easy decision for the Penguins, sending him back to the OHL’s Peterborough Petes for another season, has become a little less automatic because of his impressive showing in training camp. Odds are he’s still going back to junior, but he’s made the decision more interesting.
continued

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West Is New For Luongo

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Vancouver Sun,

Like all good goalies, Roberto Luongo keeps a book on the National Hockey League's top shooters. Actually, it's not really a book. "My black book is right up here," Luongo said Wednesday, pointing to his head. "Once I play against a guy or I see something on him, I always remember. I just have a tendency to remember these things." The trouble is, Luongo's 'book' contains some blank pages when it comes to the NHL's Western Conference. Ask him about some of the West's top guns and Luongo is not so sure. "Apart from a couple of guys who moved from East to West there's not many guys I know real well out here," Luongo said. "Obviously I have played with a few guys, but when you only play against them once every couple years you don't really tend to remember where they like to shoot or where they tend to go on the ice."
read on

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Hamhuis Talks Back On

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Tennessean,

The Predators and defenseman Dan Hamhuis are back on talking terms. Hamhuis' agent, Ross Gurney, said he contacted the Predators on Tuesday night and the two sides had multiple conversations on Wednesday. There's still no sign an agreement is on the way, but it's at least some progress, given the two sides hadn't spoken for 10 days prior to Tuesday. One snag appears to be that Hamhuis, 23, is interested in a one- or two-year deal, whereas Predators General Manager David Poile said Tuesday the team is more inclined to sign Hamhuis to a longer deal.
continued

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Dealing With Life

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Chuck Gormley of the Courier Post,

Every September, the Flyers invite players on the fringes of NHL rosters to training camp, each with stories of dedication, disappointment and desire. Very seldom, however, has there been a story as tragically inspiring as the life of 28-year-old right wing Brad Tapper. Raised in a Scarborough, Ontario, home that his parents turned into a haven for children of cocaine addicts, prostitutes and abusive parents, Tapper carries with him the pain of having lost two of his closest friends and seeing another resigned to a wheelchair.
continued

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Will They Click

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Calgary Sun,

"It's been a while, it's a new environment, new fans and I'm excited to be lacing up," said Tanguay, whose arrival via trade with Colorado in the summer immediately gave Flames fans hope they'd watch a more offensive squad. It certainly won't give a definitive answer but hockey fans will find out if the pair (Iginla & Tanguay) can click like Batman and Robin. Like Laurel and Hardy. Like Simon and Garfunkel. Montana and Rice. Or will they fizzle like Warren Beatty and Dustin Hoffman (Is there a movie worse than Ishtar?), Mick Jagger and David Bowie (Dancing in the Street, what were they thinking?), or even Gretzky and Hull (how that didn't work in St. Louis is still a mystery).
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What To Do With The Money

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Rick Westhead of the Toronto Star,

In the years leading up to the 2004-05 lockout, the union set about establishing a war chest, banking licensing and merchandise payments instead of paying it out to players. But just how much the union has stashed away has shocked many in the sports industry. According to drafts of NHLPA financial statements obtained by the Star, the players association on June 30, 2005 boasted cash deposits of roughly $140 million (all figures U.S.). It had a further $27 million worth of long-term investments at the time. It's possible that those figures could change once the union completes its long-overdue audited financial statements, but one union source said the union's cash position is relatively unchanged. Now that the NHL and its players union are so-called partners in the restyled sport, the NHLPA should return much of that money. That's the contention of at least one current NHL player and two recent retirees.
read on

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Agent Senses No NHL For Zherdev

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,

Rolly Hedges, the Ottawa-based agent for the talented Zherdev, told the Sun yesterday that he doesn't expect a call from the Jackets to end the stalemate. Zherdev, a restricted free agent, had 27 goals and 27 assists in 73 games with the Jackets last year. Since the club won't have Fedorov for the next while, it would seem to make sense to try and get Zherdev signed. "We're dealing with (Columbus GM) Doug MacLean here," said Hedges. "My sense is (Zherdev's) going to be playing in Russia (this season)."
read on

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