Kukla's Korner

Snapping Up History

Blog: KK Hockey By George Malik

from Craig MacBride of the Toronto Star:

Standing in a Saturday evening mist outside the south-end service entrance of the Air Canada Centre, Graig Abel smokes a cigarette and watches the traffic on Lake Shore Blvd., waiting for the Maple Leafs game to begin.
Though unknown to the public, Abel’s pre-game smoke – he’s there before every home game, and during most intermissions – is probably the oldest of all Leaf rituals. (Unless, that is, not winning the Stanley Cup counts as a ritual.)
Consider: since 1977 the Leafs have had six captains, 15 head coaches, three sets of owners and hundreds of players, but there has been only one official team photographer – Abel.

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A Chip Off The Old Mess

Blog: KK Hockey By George Malik

from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal:

Mark Messier’s eyes light up as he talks about the progress his 19-year-old son Lyon is making, playing on the blue-line for the junior Texas Tornado in the North American Hockey League. Some U.S. colleges are starting to look at his progeny.
“Lyon had his first knockout and his first fight the other night ... the old man was proud of him,” laughed the ex-Oilers star whose No. 11 will be raised to the Rexall Place rafters on Feb. 27.
“He caught a guy coming out of his zone with his head down and hit him on the chin with his shoulder and knocked him out. He said, ‘Dad, it was just like (R.J.) Umberger in the playoffs last year (Sabres defenceman Bryan Campbell nailing the Flyers forward)’ ” said Messier.

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Subjective Statistics

Blog: KK Hockey By George Malik

from the Mercury News:

One of the Sharks’ best games this season was New Year’s Eve in Dallas when they chased goalie Marty Turco in the first period and rolled to a 4-2 victory. They were credited with 34 hits, their second-highest total of the season.
Another was Friday in Edmonton when they punished the Oilers in nearly every phase of the game and grabbed a 5-1 win. They were credited with three hits, their lowest total of the season.
This disparity was just the latest example of why you can’t trust the NHL stat sheet.
``With a lot of those statistics, they’re only as reliable as the building you’re playing in, who the statisticians are and who they’re rooting for,’’ said Sharks Coach Ron Wilson, who was startled to learn that Friday’s stat crew gave the Oilers a 21-3 edge in hits. ``To say these guys are neutral at times is stretching the truth.’‘

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Oilers Get Serious With Smyth

Blog: KK Hockey By George Malik

from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal:

Oilers general manager Kevin Lowe denied that he’s having a pow-wow with Ryan Smyth’s agent Don Meehan in the next little while, but he did admit he’s made “the first serious offer” to keep the free-agent-to-be winger here.
Lowe wouldn’t say how much, but he’s not about to lowball his longest-serving player.
“He’s got a lot of good hockey left in him,” said Lowe, who realizes the dynamics of signing a 31-year-old player are a little different than signing a left-winger in his mid-20s, like Simon Gagne or Alex Tanguay, who just signed five-year deals for $26.5 million.

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The American Plan

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Jean Lefebvre of the Calgary Herald,

You’re tossing and turning in bed one night, when suddenly it hits you like Derek Boogaard driving a cement truck downhill.
Eureka, you’ve found it, you tell yourself. A foolproof way to make the National Hockey League insanely popular in the U.S., from Montpelier to Monterey, from Sarasota to Seattle.
No one can explain it, but said plan has the American networks falling all over themselves to offer billion-dollar TV deals.

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Brisebois Out For The Year

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

via the Colorado Avalanche,

The Colorado Avalanche Hockey Club announced today that defenseman Patrice Brisebois will undergo surgery to repair a herniated disc. Brisebois will be sidelined for the remainder of the regular season.
“After extensive rehabilitation, further examination and a series of MRI tests, it was determined that surgery was his best option to correct this problem,” said Avalanche Head Athletic Trainer Matthew Sokolowski.

 

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Thinking Bigger

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Ken Warren of the Ottawa Citizen via the Star Phoenix,

In the old days, smaller National Hockey League draft prospects would stretch the truth as much as possible to reach loftier heights.
When asked about their height, players under 6-0 and their advisers tended to round up by a half inch or an inch to hit the standard. When players were officially measured, they often slipped a puck or two under the heels of their socked feet, hoping to stand taller in the eyes of those making the decisions on their futures.
It’s hardly coincidence that the most common height in team manuals is 6-0.

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Questions For The 2nd Half

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Joe O’Connor of the National Post, via Canada.com,

10 burning questions to ponder during the NHL’s stretch drive.
Can Sidney Crosby lead Pittsburgh to the Promised Land?
He can win a scoring title, a Hart Trophy and attract a dump truck full of endorsement deals. But Sid the Kid cannot play net for the Pittsburgh Penguins.
Crosby, Evgeni Malkin, Jordan Staal and the team’s potential suitors in Kansas City and Houston may grab the headlines around Pittsburgh, yet the job of grabbing the loose pucks still belongs to Marc-Andre Fleury.
The No. 1 pick in the 2003 draft continues to blow hot (a 31-save shutout over Carolina) and cold (three goals on 12 St. Louis shots) in his third NHL season.

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Still Going At It

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

via the Columbus Dispatch,

Friday morning, Ruff said, “I’ve noticed in some games that some calls have been let go. It’s not in every game. We need to keep in mind how the game has gotten so fast, and so good. We don’t want to give away the ground we’ve gained.”
Asked about Ruff’s contention, Hitchcock was quick to offer a contrary view.
“I don’t agree with (Ruff). I don’t see clutching and grabbing as part of the game at all,” Hitchcock said. “It won’t be the first time I don’t agree with him. I just don’t see refereeing as being an issue. Like everybody, I’d like to see more contact and more hitting, but I don’t think referees are the issue. My only concern as a coach is, when you’re put in a five-onthree situation, you don’t want that second call to be a cheapie. But I don’t think referees are a big factor.”

 

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60 Hours Of Travel To Catch The Blues

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,

It’s one thing to be a fan of the Blues, but do the Parmenters think that traveling 60 hours round-trip for two games is a bit strange?
“All of the folks we talked to think it’s really neat that we took the trip,” Tim said.
Blues players were wowed when they heard the story.
“That’s a long haul for a couple of games,” defenseman Matt Walker said. “Obviously, it shows that people are supporting the Blues, so it’s exciting. And it’s great for hockey that we’ve got people like that out there.”

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