Kukla's Korner

Tasca's Take

Mindless Rantings

It's always amusing to hear a hot-headed coach fly off the handle following a tough loss. 

Tonight's example comes from the QMJHL, where Victoriaville Tigres head coach Yanick Jean went bonkers following Game 2 of the team's first-round playoff series against the heavily-favored Moncton Wildcats.  Phillip Danault scored on a power play in overtime, lifting Moncton to a 3-2 victory.  Mike Sanderson picks up the story from there:

Jean was adamant that Wildcat forward Ivan Barbashev dove to draw the interference call on Tigres defenceman Petr Sidlik that lead to the Wildcats man advantage in the extra frame. He directed his frustration and anger towards referees Todd Thomander and Steven Starzomski after Game 2.

“It’s unbelievable. Unbelievable that they [fall for] a [dive] like this in overtime,” Jean said. “I’ve never seen that before.

“I can't wait to return to Quebec [for games 3, 4 and 5] because at least in Quebec, diving is called and we know that for sure. Here, it’s not the same refereeing. We didn't have the same spark as yesterday, maybe not the same energy. Still, if you get two or three [penalties] less if the referees called the diving, it’s not the same game. The difference in the refereeing will have a huge impact."

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Missing the Point

Steve Simmons continues to beat a dead horse:

People can grouse all they want about the Phil Kessel deal and how it has worked out with the Bruins — and too often we hear this debated — but not enough is said about the Rask mistake.

Yet (former Leafs GM John) Ferguson may have had the right idea in trading a young goalie to Boston for Raycroft. He just picked the wrong goalie, preferring Justin Pogge over Rask. That’s the Pogge who now stars for Ritten Renon of the Italian Hockey League, if he stars at all.

The Rask trade isn’t necessarily the worst deal ever made by the Leafs, but it’s certainly part of any conversation on the subject.

It's quite obvious that Toronto fans will have to put up with garbage like this for the indefinite future.  The fact that Boston pummels the Leafs on a regular basis only compounds the problem, and it provides all the ammunition Steve Simmons needs to take potshots at the organization, riling up an already disenchanted fan base. 

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A Lesson in Humility

It's not often that a professional hockey player requests a demotion to a lower-tier league.  But that's exactly what Chad Costello did this week.

Fresh off an MVP season with the ECHL's Colorado Eagles, Costello was once again leading his club in scoring early on this year.  The Bridgeport Sound Tigers took notice, signing the Iowa native to a professional tryout contract in mid-December.  Costello performed admirably while in Bridgeport, notching 12 points in 21 games. 

Kevin Lytle picks up the story:

That production came as a fourth line player, behind players he didn’t feel were as talented as him. The tipping point was when he was in the lineup, registered points, then be benched for apparently no reason.

So he asked for, and was granted, his release and a return to Colorado.

“There comes a time when you’re not enjoying the game anymore and I could tell that nothing was going to change and it was time for me to make a move to better me, the Eagles and my family,” Costello said. “I wanted to get back to enjoying the game and go to where I was wanted.”

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Hold Your Horses

Despite earning a spot on the NHL's all-rookie team last season, Toronto defenseman Jake Gardiner has spent virtually the entire season with the team's minor-league affiliate.  That's not sitting well with his agent Ben Hankinson:

Hankinson tweeted his displeasure with Gardiner's absence from the Leafs lineup following Toronto's 5-2 defeat at Winnipeg Tuesday night, completing their first three-game losing streak of the season.

"#FreeJakeGardiner," Hankinson tweeted before immediately being repeated close to 500 times by NHL enthusiasts.

Not surprisingly, Gardiner took the high road when asked to respond to Hankinson's ill-advised tweet:

“It’s just my agent’s thoughts and his choice to tweet that,” Gardiner told reporters following the Toronto Marlies’ morning skate on Wednesday.

“There are always different opinions. I don’t think he meant any harm by it. I think he was just expressing his opinion.”

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Linesman Blues

After a week-long vacation, it's always fun to come home to a goalie fight.  It's even more fun when a linesman plays the role of punching bag in said fight.  It all went down in last night's WHL game between Everett and Seattle:



Interestingly enough, the linesman is a former WHL player by the name of Ryan Gibbons, who played five seasons with, you guessed it, the Seattle Thunderbirds. 

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No Meaning

Rick DiPietro's first AHL game after clearing waivers was a disaster, to say the least.  The former Boston University standout suited up for Bridgeport tonight, giving up five goals on 12 shots in the first period against Connecticut. 

The fifth and final goal was by far the worst of them all.  Mike Fornabaio explains:

And yup, he goes out, plays the puck, “miscommunication,” he said, it slides away on his backhand, the puck pinballs around, and still, if it doesn’t hit Kirill Kabanov’s skate, maybe it stays out and it’s only 4-0 after one instead of 5-0. “At the end of the day, when it rains, it pours,” DiPietro said.

This is not to say DiPietro’s going to bounce back. This is not to say DiPietro was fantastic. This is not to say DiPietro looked like his old self. This is not to say this was a good night.

It’s just to say that this is no night to make grand statements about Rick DiPietro. I know we want ‘em on Day 1. But it’s not.

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Stirring the Pot

Here's a prime example of a non-story:

Asked if the Montreal Canadiens will be looking to carry out revenge against him at the Air Canada Centre on Wednesday, Mikhail Grabovski coyly shrugged his shoulders.

“Why would they? What happened last time? I forget,” Grabovski said, obviously playing dumb after the Maple Leafs 4-2 win in Philly on Monday.

Don't be fooled. Of course he knows what happened. He just doesn’t want to give the Habs any more reason to be riled up.

Of course, Grabovski was accused of biting Montreal's Max Pacioretty during a game earlier this month.  With that in mind, it's perfectly reasonable for reporter Mike Zeisberger to pose the revenge question to Grabovski.  But the fact of the matter is Grabovski said absolutely nothing newsworthy.  Funny enough, Zeisberger actually acknowledges why the Leafs winger wouldn't take the bait in his column. 

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Bleeding Heart

This week, Brian O'Reilly, father of Colorado Avalanche holdout Ryan O'Reilly, wrote a lengthy e-mail to the Denver Post explaining why his son has chosen not to re-sign with the club.  Some entertaining excerpts:

If my son was getting 95 in math we wouldn’t ask him to get 65 so the rest of the students in the classroom could feel better about themselves. Many parents have stories about their kids excelling in certain areas but they are asked to tone it down because you’re making the other kids not look as good or feels good about themselves. Is this not a Testament to the fact that we are not teaching our kids character. This would never happen in the classroom. So to a kid who isn’t as Academically gifted but in the arts or character, athletically Or proficiency in a certain skill why does it have to be devalued. So we ask the person who has a tremendous amount of character to take less money for his character yet it is the essential building block any team matter of fact the key Ingredient.

Character, compete level , dedication, the love of the game,is what are the building blocks for dynasties. That is a long-term picture but it has to be always the short-term value. Character has to win out over skill that is why it takes a lot of skilled players a lot of losses to understand the character element of the game . When we call an athlete mature beyond his years what we’re referring to is his character they already have developed .We practice , we play games in order to win a championship. The team that develops the most character will be the team in the end that succeeds most of the time.

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Reality Check

Shades of Jiri Fischer:

A game between the Adirondack Phantoms and Springfield Falcons was abruptly postponed Sunday after a Springfield forward collapsed to the ice and suffered a seizure.

Officials from both teams and the referees made the decision after Springfield’s Wade MacLeod was removed from the MassMutual Center ice on a stretcher with 3:42 left in the second period.

“I think it was the right decision,” Phantoms coach Terry Murray said in a telephone interview.

The incident occurred shortly after MacLeod was boarded from behind by Phantoms defenseman Brandon Manning, which sent MacLeod’s head jarring into the glass, though the forward did not immediately fall to the ice.

I was at the game, and in Manning's defense, the hit was not particularly vicious (video after the jump).  In fact, it was more of a bump than anything.  MacLeod's head happened to strike the glass awkwardly following the contact.  It's the kind of play seen many times during the course of a hockey game.  Unfortunately, the result in this particular instance was harrowing.

Here's hoping Wade MacLeod makes a full recovery.

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Living Without You

Don Brennan thinks nobody outside of Ottawa is going to want to watch the Senators now that Erik Karlsson is injured:

Yes, not only did Cooke hurt the Senators, he hurt the Islanders, Tampa, Florida. He kicked a dent in the entire NHL. How much revenue did his actions cost the Panthers for their game at the BB&T Center in Sunrise April 7, against a Karlsson-less Senators team? And don't answer only a couple of grand because tickets can be picked up at a gas station for five bucks. That's not the point.

Karlsson is the most exciting player in the league. He's one of the few (fans) will spend big bucks to go see (when) they could otherwise watch at home. Hell, even Maple Leafs fans are calling for Cooke's scalp on this one.

With all due respect to the reigning Norris Trophy winner, I don't know a single hockey fan who buys a ticket specifically to watch Erik Karlsson play hockey.  He's an incredible talent and an absolute joy to watch, but it's a stretch to suggest he's a drawing card, especially in the States. 

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About Tasca's Take

Tasca's Take is written by Joe Tasca. Born and raised in Westerly, Rhode Island, Joe works as a broadcaster for seven radio stations in southern New England. Whether that's a testament to his on-air ability or because he has a desparate need for money is debatable.

Joe spends his summers playing golf, enjoying the beauty of Misquamicut Beach, and wining and dining girls who are easily awed by the mere presence of a radio personality. During the winter months, he can usually be found taking in a hockey game somewhere in North America. In the spring, he spends much of his time in botanical gardens tiptoeing through the tulips, while autumn is a time to frolic with his golden retrievers through piles of his neighbors’ leaves.


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