Kukla's Korner

Red Wings overnight report: On the MSU pro camp, Paek’s ‘unveiling,’ Z’s numbers, Sheahan and Jurco

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

Updated with some Datsyuk stuff at 6:19 AM: I don't stare at the overnight report's batch of stories and wonder how to put them together but that's the case this morning, so:

Let's start with a reminder. Michigan State University's "Pro Camp" begins today at Munn Ice Arena in East Lansing and continues until Friday, and every 10 AM-to-12 PM skating session is open to the public. The Free Press's George Sipple listed some of the camp's more prominent participants, and he revealed that two more non-MSU alums and a Wings alumnus will attend the camp as well:

Former Spartans Justin Abdelkader and Drew Miller will join 18 other former Michigan State players in a pro hockey camp that runs today through Friday at Munn Ice Arena in East Lansing. The players will skate from 10 a.m. to noon each day. The camp is free and open to spectators.

Abdelkader, 27, had 10 goals and 18 assists in 70 games last season for the Red Wings. Miller, 30, had seven goals and eight assists in 82 games last season for the Wings.

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NHL’s ‘30 in 30’ series: Maple Leafs face significant questions

Blog: KK Hockey By George Malik

Today, NHL.com's "30 in 30" series profiles the Toronto Maple Leafs, and NHLcom discusses "advanced stats" angle as it applies to the Leafs' roster (see: Kyle Dubas' hiring as the Leafs' assistant GM), Jake Gardiner's contract extension, the Leafs' top prospects and the team's front office and roster turnover--as well as the goaltending issue--but there are other questions which remain very pertinent that don't involve Babcock-to-TO rumors or jitters about Phil Kessel's lack of social graces, as noted by NHL.com's Sean Farrell in "five questions" form:

3. What role will forward David Clarkson play? -- A rebound or not from a disappointing debut season in Toronto will tell the tale.

With the depth that the Maple Leafs have added up front, it may prove difficult for Clarkson to find playing time in the top six. That said, if Clarkson brings the kind of two-way game he is capable of, he would be a formidable third-line presence.

Clarkson was spotted training with Sid-the-no-longer-Kid, Nathan MacKinnon, Matt Duchene, John Tavares and Kyle Okposo under the guidance of Darryl Belfry last week, in the sunny locale of Esthero, FL...

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  Tags: david+clarkson, toronto+maple+leafs

Las Vegas not necessarily a good fit for NHL, or any other pro sports league

Blog: KK Hockey By George Malik

This might not make the blog when Paul's in charge because he has higher standards, I mean he's not an obsessive-compulsive poster, I mean this might be "summer fluff," but the Typing Monkey is in charge today, so:

The Las Vegas Sun's Ray Brewer, Tovin Lapan and Joe Schoenmann offer a from-Las Vegas perspective as to why Sin City's soon-to-be status as possessing a 20,000-seat, Anschutz Entertainment Group-ran multi-sport facility may not necessarily bring a professional sports team to Las Vegas.

Instead of focusing upon the endless rumors about NBA or NHL teams either relocating to Vegas or sprouting in Nevada as expansion teams, Brewer, Lapan and Schoenmann mostly discuss the pluses and minuses of Major League Soccer expanding to the city, and they offer a succicnt list as to why a city with only 1.9 million metropolitan area residents isn't necessarily a natural fit for a pro sports team:

• Gambling. Professional sports leagues traditionally have shied away from Las Vegas because of our sports books. The NFL has long snubbed its nose at our city for fear of fixed games, athletes gambling and fuzzy betting lines. Even if no actual funny business took place, the policing and PR needed to win over skeptics could get expensive.

• Entertainment. Las Vegas is the Entertainment Capital of the World. There are dozens of shows, concerts and events to choose from any night of the year. Would people opt out of those in favor of a catching a game?

• Population. We’re a big city, and a growing city, but we still are puny compared with most sports television markets. And TV contracts are what make franchises big money.

• Scheduling. Ours is a 24-hour city with a huge number of hospitality workers, many of whom work nontraditional schedules. Since locals would make up the bulk of a team’s fan base, owners have worried potential fans would be tied up working and unable to attend games.

The gents continue, and their article's a very good read.

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Flames on a plane, with the Cup

Blog: KK Hockey By George Malik

On Saturday, the Hockey News's Adam Proteau posted the first installment of a two-part "oral history" of the Calgary Flames' 1989 Stanley Cup run, and he continues today with more behind-the-scenes tales from the Flames' Cup win in the Montreal Forum and its aftermath:

Delirious with joy, the Flames boarded their plane for the flight back to Calgary. They would all go on to enjoy incredible NHL careers, but for those precious few hours, they celebrated as one extended family.

CLIFF FLETCHER My son and daughter were on the plane with me. We had a special passenger, too: It wasn’t supposed to be allowed, but it just so happened the Stanley Cup was in that cabin with us.

AL MACINNIS We knew that was our one time as a team – from managers, to coaches, to trainers, to players – to really just be together for those few hours and take in the moment. That was a pretty special time, and quite a plane ride.

COLIN PATTERSON One of my favorite pictures from the flight is myself, Joel Otto and Lanny: We were sitting in one row and we’d just got the Cup. We were just so excited to have it.

THEO FLEURY I think I passed out on the plane hugging the Cup.

DOUG GILMOUR The only disappointing part of it was we ran out of beer before we took off. Whatever was available after that point – liquor, wine, whatever – was what we drank. We didn’t really care at that point.

TERRY CRISP We sat with our wives in the front of the plane; the players were in the back with the Cup. It was great because you could just sit and listen to the guys back there. And it really was just the team. Nobody could interfere with you. Until you land, it’s yours. When you’re up in the clouds – as you deserved to be, because you just knocked off one of the best in the business, in the Mecca of hockey – you get to enjoy it.


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  Tags: al+macinnis, calgary+flames, chuck+fletcher, doug+gilmour, montreal+canadiens, theo+fleury

Red Wings evening news: Caputo on the Holland extension, Kindl’s Ice Bucket and jiggly Tatar

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

After August 15th, "It's quiet" takes on a very different meaning. On Monday, MSU's Pro Camp kicks off in East Lansing, when my appointment-filled week takes me to Sterling Heights on Thursday, I'm going to stop by the Troy Sports Center to see whether the Wings who are already "in town" are skating there (I'll probably stop by Hockeytown Authentics to see what summer development camp gear's on sale, too), and next weekend's Joe Kocur Foundation softball games are a high point of the summer--and a training-camp-is-close-reminder--for many, many Wings fans.

Two weeks from Tuesday, the Wings will begin their "informal" practices at Joe Louis Arena, and we're four full weeks removed from the start of the Wings' prospect tournament, and five removed from training camp (a training camp that precedes the exhibition season by exactly three days). It's not going to remain "quiet" or "slow" for much longer, and

Today it remains "slow," however, and this afternoon's Wings news mostly consists of a slightly late-to-the-party critique of the Red Wings' recently re-signed GM from the Oakland Press's Pat Caputo. After scratching his head at the Wings' most recent trade (David Legwand) and Holland's most money-heavy free agent signing (Stephen Weiss), he offers the followng commentary:

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Mike Cammalleri and New Jersey, a perfect fit?

Blog: KK Hockey By George Malik

This past July brought more than a couple of eyebrow-raising free agent signings, but the New Jersey Devils' signing of Mike Cammalleri to a 5-year, $25-million contract was my biggest "WHAT?" moment. Today, the Hockey News's Ryan Kennedy explains why the unlikely marriage occurred:

“He played with an edge and had results,” [New Jersey Devils GM Lou] Lamoriello said. “He’s very diligent and he competes. When you see that in a player, it naturally sticks out. When we were looking at the potential free agencies and the type of player we needed, we felt we needed a scorer. Mike stood right out, and he was one of the top players we looked at, if not the top player.”

The money and especially the term were a huge vote of confidence to Cammalleri, who says the courtship lasted longer than the free agent negotiating period. His best years are behind him, but he remains a useful scorer who can play among the top six forwards. The Devils are taking a leap of faith on him, but it works both ways.

“What attracted me to the Devils was the success they’ve had, the template, the way they do things,” Cammalleri said. “I have a belief in how things are done that leads to successes.”


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  Tags: lou+lamoriello, mike+cammalleri, new+jersey+devils

Florida Panthers hope to be more than ‘paper tigers’

Blog: KK Hockey By George Malik

The Florida Panthers nearly stole the spotlight away from the Wings and Leafs during HBO's 24/7 series, and of the Atlantic Division's non-playoff teams I'd argue that the franchise may be a Phoenix Coyotes East off the ice (their financial situation is quite the mess), but on the ice, the Panthers have the greatest chance of serving as not only a playoff spoiler for their Eastern Conference opponents, but also a potential playoff-qualifying team.

NHL.com's "30 in 30" series profiles the Pantehrs today, and they note that Dale Tallon was predictably aggressive in improving the Panthers' roster over the past half-year, trading for Roberto Luongo and signing Jussi Jokinen, Willie Mitchell and another former Blackhawk (the Panthers have more than a few players from Tallon's previous employer's team) in David Bolland; they note that the Panthers' top prospect, Aaron Ekblad, is probably NHL-ready, and of course the Panthers hired a new coaching staff headlined by Gerard Gallant, too...

And in addition to discussing Ekblad's would-be defensive partners and "5 Questions" that the team faces going into the 14-15 season, NHL.com's Alain Poupart engages in a conversation with Tallon that, let's say involves personnel moves which allow more substantive, "We aren't that far off" talk than what was issued by Saturday's profiled team:

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  Tags: aaron+ekblad, dave+bolland, gerard+gallant, jussi+jokinen, roberto+luongo, willie+mitchell

Red Wings overnight report: The runky Joe, Miller on Miller, MSU Pro Camp info and Datsyukian goals

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

I try to be as honest as humanly possible with my readers, so I'm going to start this entry with the slightly-less-directly-Red-Wings-related story for honesty's sake.

I happened to enjoy the commute to the Red Wings' summer development camp a wee bit better when it was held at Joe Louis Arena, and my attendance at said camp really opened my eyes to the reason I'm so baffled about the slowness of the follow-on rink's construction.

While I happen to believe that the Joe has the best sightlines of any rink, it's an uncomfortable place to watch a game and it's certainly a spartan place to work in (perhaps you have heard of the true stories of the press box occasionally springing leaks after heavy rain, sometimes disturbingly close to broadcasters), and if you witnessed the amount of maintenance put into the 37-year-old rink when completely empty, to simply keep its state up to "dilapidated" standards, it would shock you.

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Calgary Flames 1989 Cup run nearly derailed in 1st round

Blog: KK Hockey By George Malik

The Hockey News's Adam Proteau has penned the first of a two-part "oral history" chronicling the Calgary Flames' 1989 Stanley Cup win, and it never ceases to amaze me how very heavily Cup-winners are challenged in the playoff round that Scotty Bowman insisted is the most dangerous round:

For the second year in a row, the Flames had finished the regular season with the NHL’s top record. In 1988, they’d won their first-round series against the Kings, only to be swept by the Edmonton Oilers in the Smythe Division final. Two years earlier, they’d made it to the first Stanley Cup Final in franchise history, falling to the Montreal Canadiens in five games.

But in 1989 – their second year with Terry Crisp as head coach – the Flames proved a more resilient squad. And they had to be right away; In their opening-round series against Vancouver (a team that finished with 43 fewer points in the standings that season), Calgary lost key defenseman Gary Suter in the first game with a broken jaw, then found themselves pushed to the brink of elimination as the Canucks forced a heart-stopping seventh game – and overtime – and yet managed to move on thanks to astounding goaltending from Mike Vernon and the series-winning goal that banked in off Joel Otto’s skate.

TERRY CRISP, HEAD COACH We really dodged a bullet in that first round. You’re that close to being gone and maybe never getting another crack at it. When I look back, I think there must have been a divine destiny somewhere in the first round, because Vancouver took us right to the wall.

CLIFF FLETCHER, GENERAL MANAGER The pressure of the first round nearly did us in. We weren’t the hockey team we had been over the course of the regular season. We were very fortunate to win that series. Mike Vernon had to make three outstanding saves before we managed to shovel a goal late in the first overtime.

AL MACINNIS, DEFENSEMAN If Mike doesn’t make those saves, we don’t move on. But when we got by Vancouver, that’s when I think that pressure was relieved from us, and we felt just felt that, ‘Man, we’re really on our way.’ After that, we lost three games total in the next three series.

TERRY CRISP After that, the guys just put it into gear and away we went.

Proteau continues...

Filed in: | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: al+macinnis, calgary+flames, chuck+fletcher, mike+vernon

Simmons talks advanced stats—positively—and offers Sunday observations

Blog: KK Hockey By George Malik

To his credit, the Toronto Sun's Steve Simmons' weekly notebook includes exactly one mention of the "advanced stats" community, and it's one that voices a thought many of us have considered since Extraskater.com went "offline"...

When the analytics website @extraskater disappeared on Friday, my assumption was that creater Darryl Metcalf had been hired by an NHL team

(or the NHL itself, given that its new "terms of service" all but ban the kind of activity Extra Skater and Behind the Net engage in)

And Simmons issues a pretty dang solid set of NHL-related tidbits and observations:

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Filed in: | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: brendan+shanahan, dave+nonis, david+clarkson, hartford+whalers, jean-sebastien+giguere, ken+holland, toronto+maple+leafs

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