Kukla's Korner

Tasca's Take

Brashear Strikes Again

Believe it or not, Donald Brashear is still playing hockey.  He's currently competing in a semi-pro league in Quebec.  At age 41, Brashear is clearly over the hill.   But this clip from last night shows he's still pretty good at sucker-punching opposing players:


Once an idiot, always an idiot.

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Asking Too Much

Steve Buffery offers his take on what's wrong with the NHL:

The truth is, the NHL continues to be a weak cousin on the North American professional sports scene. Some suggest it’s fourth in the pecking order, but an argument could be made that NHL hockey, in terms of real following, has fallen to sixth; behind the NFL, MLB and NBA, as well as NASCAR and golf. But that shouldn’t be. Hockey is a wonderful game. Unfortunately, NHL hockey is often boring. Sure they are good games, but there are too many low-scoring, suffocating snorefests.

Buffery's lament sounds all-too familiar.  In fact, it's the same complaint hockey fans had back in 2004, which prompted the introduction of new rules and gimmicks designed to open up the game following the last lockout.  Yet here we are, nine years later, and the entertainment value of the NHL has improved marginally, if at all. 

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The Dallas Stars score a TKO over America's Team:

What started as seemingly innocuous Tweet by the Dallas Cowboys’ official Twitter account about the NHL got a little heated — and quite funny — Tuesday morning on the popular social networking site.

The original Tweet (which was made from @DallasCowboys and has since been deleted), read:

@DallasCowboys Similarly in the category of nobody-cares…the NHL is back!

That tweet was in response to Josh Ellis (@Josh_Ellis11) saying “Just six weeks until pitchers and catchers, everybody.”

The Dallas Stars official Twitter account (@DallasStars) didn’t seem to find that particularly funny and took at shot at the Cowboys:

@DallasStars At least our #9 got the job done.

The Tweet included a photo of Mike Modano hoisting the Stanley Cup. Modano wore No. 9 for the Stars on the team’s 1999 Stanley Cup Championship team. The Cowboys’ No. 9, QB Tony Romo, has been with the team for 10 seasons and has never won a championship.


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Ignoring History

Scott Burnside always produces thoughtful pieces, but this column does nothing more than reiterate what other writers and pundits have been saying time and time again over the past four months:

In the wake of a freshly minted labor agreement, one that in the end didn't cost an entire season but did cost almost half the 2012-13 season, the Winter Classic in Detroit and the All-Star Game in Columbus, Ohio, not to mention a healthy dollop of credibility on both sides of the fence, no one knows just how significantly the game has been damaged.

One long-time executive with a collection of personal and team awards under his belt suggested recently it would be "a battle" to bring the fans back.

Too many hockey writers have let their emotions get in the way of common sense during the labor dispute, and Burnside is no different.  He thinks the lockout has damaged the game.  He believes Gary Bettman and the players need to kiss and make up with the fans.  He suggests the league could have trouble attracting corporate sponsors going forward.


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Sweet 16

Nicholas Goss explains why he thinks allowing 20 teams to qualify for the Stanley Cup playoffs is a bad idea:

Having two thirds of the NHL qualify for the playoffs is way too high of a percentage. If additional teams are added, mediocre clubs would have an opportunity to win the Stanley Cup that they don't deserve.

Using Goss' rationale, the Los Angeles Kings may very well be the most undeserving Stanley Cup champion of all time.  They scored a mere 194 goals during the regular season, good for 29th in the league.  They were shut out a total of nine times (six of those losses were by a 1-0 margin).  They had only one player top the 60-point mark.

With 95 points, the Kings snuck into the playoffs as an eighth seed, setting franchise records for offensive ineptness in the process.  But while Los Angeles won't be remembered as the most exciting team in NHL history, their post-season performance, which included the ousting of the top three seeds in the Western Conference, was one of the most dominant in recent memory.  In the minds of most observers, the Kings are a worthy champion.

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Hot Legs

Kids will be kids:

Many hockey fans have held their own personal protests during the NHL lockout. Maybe it’s refusing to wear your team’s jersey during the work stoppage, or swearing off purchasing anything NHL-related.

Maggie Wagner has been holding her own lockout protest. And it’s a hair-raising scheme.

Wagner, 17, is a Pittsburgh Penguins fan from Xenia, Ohio. When the lockout seemed inevitable back in September, she started to wonder what small personal protest she could offer against the NHL shutting its doors. So on 11:59 p.m. on Sept. 15, Wagner vowed not to shave her legs until the players and owners cut a deal.

Should the season be cancelled, it's safe to say this young lady will probably not have a date for senior prom.

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The Chosen Ones

Al Daniel can't figure out why Bruins prospect Jordan Caron has struggled so badly in the AHL this season:

Everybody knows he has it in him based on his better moments in Boston, such as his four-game production streak that saw him tally three goals and four assists between March 4 and March 10, 2012.

Simply put, though, the confidence Caron’s skill set can give the Bruins is not valid as long as he is failing to make an impact in the AHL. It is not enough to merely be on the ice for two goals, as No. 38 was against Worcester on Friday, when he had only one shot to his credit and Providence collapsed after blowing a pair of leads.

A first-round draft pick in 2009, Caron was expected to put up some big numbers in Providence this season.  It hasn't happened.  In 27 AHL games, Caron has tallied a mere five goals and two assists (three of those goals came in one game), to go along with an ugly minus-seven rating.  It's a stat line that's very typical for a young rookie trying to adjust to the pro game.  However, Caron is a highly-touted third-year player with 71 games of NHL experience under his belt. 

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Taking Pause

This week, Adam Kaufman wrote a fabulous piece on Worcester Sharks defenseman Nick Petrecki, who was named the AHL's Man of the Year in 2012 for his outstanding community involvement and charitable contributions.

Petrecki's resume is impressive.  He mentors children at several Boys and Girls Clubs in central Massachusetts.  He speaks to thousands of students at school assemblies about the importance of reading.  He helps organize the Sharks' annual toy drive, in which Worcester players donate thousands of dollars to purchase gifts for needy children over the holidays. 

For Petrecki, being active in the community is something he truly enjoys:

“It’s not just going to a school, reading off a note card and getting out of there,” he continued. “It’s about really taking it and trying to evolve it and enjoy it while stressing the message, ‘This is what I believe in and I think this could help you guys.’ Obviously (the Man of the Year award) was a good honor but I’m just glad that we saw the positive impact in some of the things we did last year."

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Not the First Time

Stu Cowan ponders the idea of awarding the Stanley Cup to the winner of another league should the NHL season be wiped out:

Maybe the Stanley Cup could replace the Memorial Cup for one year, presented to the Canadian Hockey League junior champions, or maybe to the Canadian Interuniversity Sport champion? Maybe a youth-league championship team?

“The Cup doesn’t really belong to anybody, it almost belongs to everybody,” (Stanley Cup guardian Howard) Borrow told The Canadian Press. “So, technically it could be played for.”

Kudos to Cowan for originality, but it's hard to take a ridiculous idea seriously.  The Stanley Cup has always been associated with the best hockey league in the world.  Presenting it to the champion of a youth hockey circuit would cheapen the history behind the trophy.  It would also add an insulting element to a winning accomplishment that should be celebrated, not subject to mockery. 

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Terms of Endearment

On the same day he left the Saint John Sea Dogs to join Team Canada's National Junior Team selection camp in Calgary, former Memorial Cup MVP Jonathan Huberdeau was suspended four games by the QMJHL for injuring a linesman over the weekend.

While the league-imposed ban won't affect his ability to compete in the World Junior tournament later on this month, columnist Neate Sager thinks Huberdeau's antics could impact his chances at being named captain of Team Canada:

It wouldn't do for an outsider to suggest who should be captain, but it is certainly a valid jumping-off point. The standard of decorum for someone who wears a letter and plays on the first line for Team Canada is a little different than it was for, say, sandpaper guys Steve Downie, Stefan Della Rovere and/or Brad Marchand when they wore the Maple Leaf.

Discipline is supposed to win out over emotion. At the same time, Huberdeau and Weegar have history and the Sea Dogs star saw someone take a liberty with Tesink, one of the Sea Dogs' core players. In a QMJHL context, Huberdeau had to do something, but resisting the linesman's restraint is way beyond the pale.

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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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