Kukla's Korner

Tyler Bertuzzi’s earning his praises

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

Both the Detroit News's Ted Kulfan and DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji took note of Tyler Bertuzzi's performance of late. Bertuzzi has fit right in with the Red Wings' top nine forward corps after being recalled permanently from Grand Rapids. Per Kulfan:

Tyler Bertuzzi is continuing to make quite an impression with the Red Wings.

The young forward had two more assists in Tuesday’s 4-2 loss against Dallas but more than the offense, also showed the tenacity and hockey sense that could serve him well for many years. Bertuzzi has eight points (one goal, seven assists) in his last nine games, and is looking more confident with every shift.

“I’m just getting more used to it every game,” said Bertuzzi, who coach Jeff Blashill now has playing on a line with Dylan Larkin and Andreas Athanasiou. “Playing with Larks and Double-A, it’s pretty easy on me.”

Bertuzzi was expected to make the Red Wings out of training camp, but a wrist injury derailed those plans until December, when Luke Glendening was injured. Bertuzzi is definitely making up for lost time.

Kulfan continues, and DetroitRedWings.com's Dana Wakiji picks it up from there:

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Upper Body/Lower Body

Blog: KK Hockey By George Malik

The Washington Post's Curtis Rush and Isabelle Khurshudyan wrote an excellent article about the NHL's inconsistent injury disclosure policy:

Ken Hitchcock was tired of the dance. In his 22nd year behind an NHL bench, the Dallas Stars head coach decided he would break from the prevalent, league-wide trend of referring publicly to player injuries only as "upper body" or "lower body" ailments.

"It's an injury and within two hours after we tell you [the media] it's upper body, you know exactly what it is, so why not just tell you?" Hitchcock said earlier this season.

The practice of vague, binary injury designations was adopted decades earlier by coaches who believed they were protecting their players by being vague. They theorized that opponents aware of injury specifics would target the ailing body parts or otherwise exploit the injured players. But Hitchcock does not buy that logic.

"The players don't go out and say, 'He has a broken left pinkie, and we're going to go after that pinkie,'" Hitchcock says. "Nobody thinks like that."

The "upper body"/"lower body" convention has been allowed to persist because, unlike the NFL, the NHL does not have a policy requiring teams to release injury information publicly. But the practice is under increased scrutiny in an age of distrust for corporate communication and of increased concern around the treatment of concussions - an injury commonly lumped into the "upper body" category.

Continued

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  Tags: dallas+stars, ken+hitchcock

Penguins’ Matt Murray To Miss Time After Passing Of Father

Blog: KK Hockey By George Malik

Via Sportsnet:

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  Tags: matt+murray, pittsburgh+penguins

Rene Rancourt To Retire At End Of Season

Blog: KK Hockey By George Malik

From the Associated Press:

Rene Rancourt, the tuxedoed troubadour who has sung the national anthem before Boston Bruins games for more than 40 years, announced on Wednesday that he will retire at the end of the season.

The 78-year-old trained opera singer began singing the "Star-Spangled Banner" at Red Sox games and took over the U.S. and Canadian anthems at Bruins games during the 1975-76 season. He ends his performance with a signature fist pump he modeled after Bruins forward Randy Burridge.

Rancourt performed the anthem on April 17, 2013, for the first sporting event in the city after the Boston Marathon bombing. He sang the first few words and then allowed the crowd to take over.

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  Tags: boston+bruins

On The Hapless Hawks

Blog: KK Hockey By George Malik

From the Chicago Tribune's Steve Rosenbloom:

If Corey Crawford’s “upper-body” injury keeps him out the rest of the season, which was a possibility indicated by Sportsnet’s Elliotte Friedman, then the Blackhawks will have a “lower-standings” issue.

No, wait. They already do. They’re already three points out of the playoffs, and while they continue their five-day break that ends this weekend, they’ll continue to lose ground.

Just guessing that “One Goal” was not about finishing last in the division and missing the playoffs, but hey, that’s one way to avoid getting swept by the Predators, eh?

When Crawford was placed on the injured list on Dec. 27, the Hawks were two points behind the Wild for the second wild-card spot, but held two games in hand.

Without Crawford, the Hawks have gone 5-4-1 and find themselves three points behind the eighth-seeded Kings, who also have a game in hand.

Continued

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  Tags: chicago+blackhawks, corey+crawford

Willie O’Ree Celebrates 60th Anniversary Of NHL Debut

Blog: KK Hockey By George Malik

From NHL.com's Amalie Benjamin:

It was 60 years ago this week when [Willie] O'Ree got the call from the Boston Bruins, notifying him that they would like to bring him up for a pair of games against the Montreal Canadiens, the first on Jan. 18 at the Montreal Forum, a place that O'Ree had played in multiple times.

But never like this.

"I took the train up to Montreal, met the team, met Milt Schmidt the coach, and we sat down," said O'Ree, now 82 years old. "He said, 'Willie, we brought you up because you could add a little something to the team.' He said, 'Don't worry about anything else. The Bruins organization is behind you 100 percent. Just go out and play your game.'"

Continued

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  Tags: boston+bruins, milt+schmidt, willie+o'ree

New Hurricanes Owner Charles Dundon Discusses Realities of Sports Team Ownership

Blog: KK Hockey By George Malik

Among Sportsnet's Elliotte Friedman's "31 Thoughts" is an interview with new Carolina Hurricanes co-owner Thomas Dundon:

It is a common observation from sports owners. You can run a huge billion-dollar business and stay anonymous. But, buy a professional team and prepare for a newer, more intense level of scrutiny.

“That’s the biggest adjustment,” Thomas Dundon said Sunday. “Eventually, you want your fans to have an attachment to the team. Your biggest asset is the players… and you want your fans to gravitate to them. That will come later. Right now, it’s me they want to hear from.”

Dundon finalized his majority purchase of the Carolina Hurricanes late last week. One of the first noticeable changes came as fans entered PNC Arena for Sunday’s game against Calgary. The Raleigh News & Observer’s Luke DeCock reported that the owner — disliking the setup in the team’s merchandise store — moved apparel into the concourse, making it easier to shop.

That came two days after Dundon met Alain and Monica Taylor, season-ticket holders who got married seven years ago on the arena’s ice surface. He gifted them with a spot on the team plane for a future road trip.

“Our fans are great, passionate,” Dundon said. “What we need is for each one of them to tell 10 more people about us. How can we get them to help bring more fans? It’s just effort. That’s the truth. I’ve told our people that every time I go there. ‘Here’s my schedule. I will make myself available and do all that is necessary.’ But it’s new. I haven’t done this before.”

Friedman continues...

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  Tags: carolina+hurricanes, thomas+dundon

Grand Rapids Griffins to hold ‘Great Skate’ on Saturday, January 20th

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

From the Grand Rapids Griffins:

GREAT SKATE WINTERFEST IS BACK AT ROSA PARKS CIRCLE THIS WEEKEND

GRAND RAPIDS, Mich. – Grand Rapids Griffins players, the Calder Cup, sled dogs, ice sculptors, horse-drawn carriages, winter sport athletes, museums, other community partners and local celebrities will all be part of the 2018 Great Skate Winterfest, which will run for 34 consecutive hours this Saturday, Jan. 20 and Sunday, Jan. 21 at Rosa Parks Circle in downtown Grand Rapids.

Everyone is invited to join this celebration of winter in our city and help the Griffins Youth Foundation provide opportunities for more than 350 deserving boys and girls – many of whom are underprivileged, underserved, at-risk or have special needs – to participate in the great sport of hockey at no cost.

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Should the Wings consider trading Jimmy Howard?

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

The Detroit News's John Niyo believes that the Red Wings should be as aggressive as possible ahead of the NHL's trade deadline, and Niyo suggests that the Wings' management ought to consider trading Jimmy Howard:

Why not seriously offer up Jimmy Howard? It's an idea that’s been tossed around the past couple years. But now that he's nearing the end of that long-term contract, with another year at $5.3 million all that’s left after this season, it's worth a longer look.

Howard endured a monthlong slump starting in mid-November, but rebounded with a half-dozen strong starts, including four consecutive wins and a .952 save percentage before the bye week. He took the loss Tuesday, but he had no shot at stopping the first two deflected goals — the second on a 5-on-3 power play — and couldn't be blamed for the other two, either.

There won’t be many playoff contenders searching for a No. 1 goalie. But there should be at least one, as the New York Islanders desperately try to make the postseason while also trying to convince star John Tavares to sign a long-term extension. The Isles' tandem of Jaroslav Halak and Thomas Greiss ranks last in the NHL with a 3.62 goals-against average and .895 save percentage — a shoddy defense has plenty do with that — and GM Garth Snow has extra draft picks to offer. Chicago might be another playoff hopeful in search of a starter, what with Corey Crawford’s season in jeopardy due to vertigo-like symptoms.

Niyo continues, and I don't see the Wings moving Howard...unless they remain on the hook for some of his paycheck. I don't know who they have to replace Howard if Mrazek is on the outs, either.

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Luke Witkowski’s penalties vs. Dallas vexed the Wings

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

The Free Press's Helene St. James noted that the Red Wings were very upset with the penalties called on Luke Witkowski during last night's 4-2 loss to Dallas:

The Wings fell, 4-2, Tuesday at Little Caesars Arena, with two of Dallas’ goals coming during power plays. In the first period, Witkowski was called for elbowing Martin Hanzal, even as there was little, if any, contact.

In the second period, Stars defenseman Stephen Johns delivered a big, clean hit on Dominic Turgeon, sending the Wings rookie into the boards. Johns then appeared to invite Witkowski to fight; the two did – and Witkowski also was called for roughing in addition to the 5-minute majors each received, giving the Stars another power play. That rankled.

“To me, the roughing call is a made up call,” Wings captain Henrik Zetterberg said. “Either it’s instigator or it’s nothing. I don’t know where he got the extra 2 from. To me, I think they both dropped the gloves at the same time and we’ve been in that situation before this year and it’s just been two 5s. So, that’s a tough one. The first one, too, I don’t think he even hits him. But, that happens. As a player you have a bad game sometimes, and so does the refs.”

Continued, and you can watch Witkowski and coach Blashill's comments as posted by Fox Sports Detroit:

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