Kukla's Korner

A Shot At The Stanley Cup For Every Eastern Conference Team

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from USA TODAY,

A clean slate at the start of a new season provides optimism for every team: A look at the Eastern Conference teams' reasons for hope in ending the drought.

Disclaimer: This is not to say that each item is created equal, or that each one is the only component to a deep run. This list does not account for injuries, which could cripple even the strongest teams. These are simply plausible reasons why your favorite team could be in store for a deep run. It's only fair after discussing the roadblocks to success last week.

Boston Bruins: Four foundation blocks. Boston fans can moan about the loss of Dougie Hamilton and Milan Lucic, but that doesn’t change the reality that the Bruins have a first-rate center combination in David Krejci and Patrice Bergeron, a former Norris Trophy winner Zdeno Chara on defense and in elite goalie in Tuukka Rask. If you presume that coach Claude Julien will insist the Bruins play stingy team defense and hope that David Pastrnak blossoms into a 20-goal scorer, you can make a case that the Bruins are still a contender.

Buffalo Sabres: Timing could be right for Cinderella remake. Unquestionably, the Sabres are going to be the most improved team next season. Their forward group will include Evander Kane, Ryan O'Reilly, Tyler Ennis, Matt Moulson, Brian Gionta, plus super rookie Jack Eichel and prized prospect Sam Reinhart. The defense will be significantly improved, and the Sabres are also courting free agent defenseman Cody Franson. Remember that the 1990-91 Minnesota North Stars once stunned the hockey world by reaching the Stanley Cup Final with a losing record. The NHL is overdue for a Cinderella playoff story.

read on

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Will Nazem Kadri Be An “Elite Player” This Year?

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Lance Hornby of the Toronto Sun,

Kadri, perhaps in line for a higher-profile role at centre, looked sturdy on Monday during an informal team workout. Last year he was listed at six feet, 188 pounds, but what everyone wants to know, from club boss Brendan Shanahan, to new coach Mike Babcock to the patience-weary patrons in the purples, is will his maturity level keep a better pace? Babcock has said he expects Kadri to be "an elite player" this year.

"There was no playing around this summer, it was right to work," Kadri said. "I was just trying to improve on my weaknesses. I want to continue to start doing that, becoming more professional and kind of handling myself the right away.

"There have been ups and downs and that's just how it is. Obviously in Toronto there is a lot of speculation and a lot of scrutiny. Sometimes that's hard for young players, but as time goes on, the maturity comes into play. You start to realize this is what you really want."

After protracted talks, the RFA did get a million-dollar raise up to $4.1 million US, but not the multi-year pact he had been negotiating at mid-season.

read on

Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: nazem+kadri

It Will Soon Be Hockey Season

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Adrew Gross of The Record,

It is September.

Seriously....

With that in mind, here’s a list of things that make this sports writer giddy with the opening of NHL training camps in a little more than two weeks (and with a large chunk of the league’s players already skating informally at their respective teams’ practice facilities):

* Getting reacquainted to the wondrous speed of the game. It always takes a few practices or preseason games to retrain the eye to keep up with the on-ice action, no matter how long you’ve been watching the sport. The breakneck pace of the sport is what gets lost in translation on television. Seeing the sport played live by the best hockey players in the world is truly a privilege....

* Watching the notoriously overbearing Toronto media lose its collective mind trying to deal with new Maple Leafs GM Lou Lamoriello as he shuts down any leaks of information from within the organization.

read on

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Morning Line- Milan Lucic

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

"I honestly don't know what's going to happen moving on. I mean I have one year left on my contract, and there's a possibility that I can hit the [unrestricted free agent] market.

"It's obviously something that's been a dream of mine since I've been a kid, is to play in your hometown and play for the Canucks, but right now the main focus is going down to L.A. and trying to make the most of that."

-Milan Lucic of the Los Angeles Kings.  More from Mike Battaglino of NHL.com.

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

The Outlook For Drew Miller This Season

Blog: The Malik Report By Paul

from Ansar Khan of Mlive,

2015-16 outlook: The Red Wings have gotten terrific value from Miller, who they claimed off waivers from Tampa Bay in 2009. He's been a checking line mainstay and one of their top penalty-killing forwards.

Despite his slight frame, Miller doesn't shy away from contact and is willing to sacrifice his body by blocking shots. Miller's output has declined since he posted career highs of 14 goals and 25 points in 2011-12, but offense is secondary to checking, penalty killing and providing energy.

While younger forwards Landon Ferraro, Joakim Andersson and Teemu Pulkkinen battle to earn spots in the lineup, Miller's defensive game and penalty killing ability should give him an edge.

Key question: Can Miller stave off competition from younger players to remain in the lineup?

more

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

NHL players’ summer training regimens aren’t all about strength training

Blog: KK Hockey By George Malik

This story from the Toronto Sun's Michael Traikos is particularly interesting, because it lifts the veil over a summertime's worth of NHL training that isn't all carrying kettlebells and circuit training--mostly because players tend to "lose their shape" over the course of an 82-game season:

Emaciated bodies need recovery time. So players are told to stay out of the gym for the first few weeks and get back to a normal sleep schedule. Eight months of staying up late to play games, traveling at all hours of the night, while eating post-game meals of chicken wings and pizza, not to mention the mental stress of competing at the highest level, takes its toll. The summer is about building the body back up, piece by piece.

“The first half of the summer, we’re just trying to get these guys into alignment,” said [Biosteel Sports' Matt] Nichol. “For some, training camp hits and they just ditch their strength training and just hold on. A lot of the guys will show up at the end of the season like they haven’t had a solid meal.”

The off-season is split into four parts. The first month involves transition and recovery. Depending on specific diets catered towards the age of the player and how long his season was. Gary Roberts, who trains Steven Stamkos, Mark Scheifele and James Neal, ships in his favourite spring food from Italy and has Nature’s Emporium prepare organic meals for his clients.

“I’m an extremist when it comes this nutrition part and the holistic part and the whole foods part,” said Roberts. “I’m not a big supplement guy. I don’t push four shakes a day, like guys say I did.”

Players usually don’t lift weights for the first month. But they might do gymnastics-based training, like rolling and tumbling and even head to a nearby playground to climb on the monkey bars.

“If you see all these guys in January or February, they’re all walking like ducks, because their IT band is fused. You need to recover from that,” said Beyond The Next Level’s Dan Ninkovich, who trains John Tavares and Sam Gagner. “People used to train for exercise. Now they train for the movement. A healthy player is the best player. Not the player who can squat 500 pounds.”

As the summer progresses, players go from recovery training to building strength, then turning that strength into power and speed. By the end of August, it is about conditioning.

Continued

Filed in: | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: biosteel, john+tavares

Evening news: Blashill talks ‘short strokes’; on Datsyuk, Cleary and promotional appearances

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

Updated 2x at 10:04 PM: Of Red Wings-related note this evening:

First, Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill attended the Grand Rapids Griffins Youth Foundation's golf classic today, and he not only spoke to the Grand Rapids Press's Peter J. Wallner about his relationship-building with new Griffins coach Todd Nelson, but he also discussed his acclimation to his new job:

"Preparation wise, we're in a good spot," he said Monday at the Grand Rapids Griffins Youth Foundation golf tournament at Egypt Valley. "We've had a lot of different meetings with our coaching staff over the past three weeks. All of us have been in Detroit enough to meet and get together so I think we're in a good spot."

He did also note: "The excitement level is certainly rising here as we're finally getting close. August is, obviously, a long month."

Blashill discussed his very, very busy summer with Wallner before offering an intriguing simile for his formal introduction to the Red Wings' players:

Continue Reading »

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Video- Top Defensemen With A Different Team

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

via Sportsnet,

Between signings and trades a lot of NHLers changed zip and postal codes this summer. Check out our Top 5 defencemen who’ll be rocking a new jersey this season.

 

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Rangers, Wild release prospect tournament rosters

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

The Red Wings have released their prospect tournament roster (try-outs included), and today, the New York Rangers and Minnesota Wild released their tournament rosters:

 

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

A Look At Jessica Berman, VP And Deputy Counsel For The NHL

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Hillel Kuttler of the Jewish Telegraphic Agency,

Several years ago, Jessica Berman and her husband, Brad, bumped into her high school boyfriend.

“If you aren’t working as a lawyer in hockey, I’d be amazed,” Berman recalled him saying.

The ex had her pegged. Berman, 37, has been employed by the National Hockey League for nearly a decade and currently is a vice president and deputy general counsel. She fell for the sport as a teenager.

Some foresee Berman as the first female commissioner of a men’s professional sports league. She helped negotiate key labor agreements with the players’ union, including the deal ending the 2004-05 lockout and the 10-year pact signed two years ago.

But perhaps she’s made an even greater impact since a 2013 stroke left Brad, then 37, in a monthlong coma.

Besides tending to him and caring for their two sons, Berman has spearheaded efforts to benefit the Burke Rehabilitation Center, the suburban New York City institution that’s been instrumental in Brad’s continued recovery. Charity races – Brad is an avid runner who aspires to compete again in marathons – and retail promotions have raised $650,000, most going to build a lower-limb robotics clinic.

continued

Filed in: NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: jessica+berman

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