Kukla's Korner

Griffins coach Todd Nelson discusses player ‘buy-in’ process

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

NHL.com's Patrick Williams engaged in an intriguing conversation with Grand Rapids Griffins coach Todd Nelson, discussing the team's tremendously streaky play over the course of the 2015-16 season, and Nelson was both blunt and insightful in discussing the process by which he and the Griffins' coaches gained traction with the team:

"I think what it really came down to was that we're a whole new coaching staff, and these [players] have been together for two or three years," Nelson said. "So it was almost like we were the stepdads coming in."

That transition proved difficult. The Griffins, a Calder Cup favorite before the season, lost eight of their first nine games. Opponents outscored them 28-11. It was not until mid-November that the Griffins began to show signs of life.

"I think it just got to a point where the guys accepted us," Nelson said. "We found common ground. I had to tweak a few things that I did, and they had to tweak a few things. Just like anything, you have to earn trust and respect for guys to buy in.

"They didn't know a lot about me, and I didn't know a lot about the players, so in order to push the right buttons, I have to get to know the players. You have to communicate well and build that player-coach relationship. I really firmly believe that is where [coaching] is going. It's based on relationships with players.

"Being a good communicator is key. I think the biggest thing is earning their trust and earning their respect, but it's a two-way street."

Williams continues...

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink

Morning news: On home ice, the Eurotwins, goal-scoring and highlights

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

Of Red Wings-related note this morning:

1. The Free Press's Jeff Seidel summarized the "State of the Wings" as they enter the stretch drive with what's now a 2-and-0 record on their 5-game home stand:

This is a critical time of the season for the Wings and, over the last few games, the Wings have built some momentum. They have scored eight goals in their last two games, giving up only one.

“It’s not enough,” Datsyuk said. “We need more scoring.”

And some more wins at home.

2. MLive's Ansar Khan took note of Jeff Blashill's take on the Eurotwins reunion...

Continue Reading »

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink

Milan Lucic Returns To Boston

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,

Milan Lucic is a bear of man. Everything about him is oversized, from his 6-foot-3, 228-pound frame and the force of his personality to the way he plays hockey – mean and on the edge.

Some NHL players just fill space in a dressing room. When Lucic walks in, he radiates a natural ebullience, and it is contagious. And so the fit for Lucic – going from Boston, where he played the first eight seasons of his career, to the Los Angeles Kings – has been seamless.

Lucic makes his first return to Boston Tuesday, when the Kings start a season-high seven-game road trip. They’re comfortably atop the Pacific Division and plotting another long playoff run.

For Lucic, the timing really couldn’t be better. He’s been with the Kings for five months now, long enough to distance himself from his days in Boston, during which the Bruins won a memorable Stanley Cup in 2011. But he’s also looking forward to renewing acquaintances with old friends and the Boston staff, many of whom he plans to see before the teams hit the ice.

His return to Beantown may be a big deal in hockey circles, but, as he says in an interview, “I never asked to get traded.”


Filed in: NHL Teams, Boston Bruins, Los Angeles Kings, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: milan+lucic

The ‘Old’ Sidney Crosby Is Back

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Michael Traikos at the Toronto Sun,

After a slow start, where Crosby managed five points in October, had a minus-11 rating in November and even had some questioning whether he belonged on Canada’s World Cup roster, the two-time league MVP has returned to his old self.

On Monday morning, Crosby was named the NHL's first star of the week after scoring five goals and eight points in three games. Following Monday night's game, he is now on an 11-game point streak, with 12 goals and 22 points during that stretch. And with 53 points in 51 games, he is once again amongst the top-10 in league scoring.

Simply put: Crosby is back. And the rest of the league is on notice.

“A lot of people will judge him just on his points,” said Rutherford. “But the last month or two, I really think he’s been the best complete player in the league, which is not a big statement because he is the best player in the league. He has been the best player for a while and he will be for quite a while going forward.

“He can just put the team on his back and take it.”

This no longer looks like the same team that couldn’t score on the power play, couldn’t string together more than two wins in a row and ended up firing the head coach in early December after stumbling out of the gate with a 15-10-2 record. With Mike Sullivan behind the bench and Crosby leading the offence, the Penguins have two regulation losses in their last 11 games.


Filed in: NHL Teams, Pittsburgh Penguins, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: sidney+crosby

The New York Rangers May Have To Keep Keith Yandle

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,

The Rangers’ workmanlike 2-1 victory over the Devils at the Garden on Monday cannot obscure how Ryan McDonagh’s concussion complicates matters for general manager Jeff Gorton as the Feb. 29 trade deadline approaches.

For the issue as it applies specifically to pending free agent Keith Yandle is no longer black and white in the aftermath of the grey matter rattled inside the captain’s skull as a result of the gloved sucker punch he took on the jaw from Wayne Simmonds in Philadelphia on Saturday.

There is no rule of thumb to apply to recovery time from brain injuries. The Rangers have not released any information regarding the severity of McDonagh’s symptoms, but they were bad enough that he did not make it to the rink at all Monday.

Is this going to be a long-term or short-term absence? It is folly to hazard a guess. But the injury clouds Gorton’s mandate. If McDonagh’s symptoms persist, the Rangers obviously cannot even think about dealing Yandle, who led the team in ice time both against the Flyers and the Devils, getting 27:33 and 25:19, respectively.


Filed in: NHL Teams, New York Rangers, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Numbers From Last Night

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Ottawa's new scoring connection, Crosby continues to climb in the scoring race; Letang, Datsyuk, fantasy and more in Scott Cullen's Statistically Speaking.


Jean-Gabriel Pageau and Mark Stone - The Senators duo each contributed three points in a 5-1 win over Tampa Bay. Pageau had a goal and two assists, and has eight points (3 G, 5 A) in the past six games, while Stone scored twice and added an assist, giving him eight points (5 G, 3 A) in the past four games.

Sidney Crosby - Okay, this is getting nuts now. Crosby put up two goals - both on breakaways - and two assists in a 6-2 win over Anaheim, giving him 22 points (12 G, 10 A) during an 11-game point streak. He's tied for fifth in the league with 53 points in 51 games.

Kris Letang - Crosby's on a great run, but so is Pittsburgh's No. 1 defenceman. With two assists against Anaheim, Letang has 26 points (8 G, 18 A) in the past 17 games. Erik Karlsson is the only defenceman ranked ahead of Letang's 0.95 points per game.

Pavel Datsyuk - Detroit's slick puckhandler buried a couple of goals, on nine shot attempts (7 SOG), in a 3-0 win over Florida. He has 12 points (3 G, 9 A) in the past 11 games. While his points-per-game production is his lowest since his rookie season, Datsyuk continues to drive play for the Red Wings.

read on for more from Scott Cullen of TSN...

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Video- Recap Of The Four NHL Games Played On Monday Night

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Catch the highlights from the four NHL games played last night.


Filed in: | KK Hockey | Permalink

The overnight report: Red Wings-Panthers wrap-up—Panthers demand action on Barkov hit

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

The Detroit Red Wings at least continued the process of nudging themselves back into the Atlantic Division standings on Monday, defeating the Atlantic-leading Florida Panthers 3-0.

For Red Wings fans, Pavel Datsyuk's 2-goal performance, Henrik Zetterberg's pair of assists, Tomas Tatar's tip-in and Petr Mrazek's shutout--for his 20th win--are what were wonderful about the game, with Justin Abdelkader's fight with Derek MacKenzie serving as something of an afterthought.

For the Florida Panthers, Abdelkader's hit on Aleksander Barkov was the game's story in its entirety:

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel's Harvey Fialkov offers the Panthers' take on the hit--big time, suggesting that Abdelkader leaped at Barkov:

Continue Reading »

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink

Krupa: 5 Nations Tournament a big opportunity for Team USA

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

The Detroit News's Gregg Krupa discusses the 2016 U17 Five Nations Tournament, which is taking place at USA Hockey Arena in Plymouth starting this evening:

This week, the team of 16- and 17-year-olds play for the United States in a five-nation tournament against the best players their age from the Czech Republic, Finland, Russia and Sweden.

They start against Russia at 7 tonight in the former Compuware Arena, which the USA Hockey Foundation purchased two years ago and is renovating and expanding.

It is the first international tournament in the new home of the NTDP.

“These tournaments are great developmental tools,” said coach Don Granato, brother of Red Wings assistant Tony Granato and U.S. Olympian Cammi Granato, a member of the Hockey Hall of Fame. “And really that’s what this whole program is about: Developing the kids beyond here, and developing them in the hopes of winning a U-18 World Championship, which is what our older team is going for in April.

“It’s going to be experience gained for our players. Having to perform against Russia, Sweden, the Czech Republic, Finland — in this case, in our own building — it’s thrusting those expectations and that pressure on the team. It’s very important.”

Krupa continues...

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink

Abdelkader’s hit on Barkov ‘borderline?’

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

Justin Abdelkader hit Aleksandr Barkov pretty heavily during the Red Wings' 3-0 victory over Florida on Monday, and Barkov left the game with an "upper-body injury," never to return. Abdelkader told the press after the game that he didn't attempt to hit Barkov in the head, that he kept his feet down and tried to finish through the body, but something tells me that Gerard Gallant and the Panthers will be lobbying the Department of Player Safety for a review:

Derek MacKenzie fought Abdelkader at the end of the game in retaliation, but Abdelkader won the fight.

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink

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