Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

Yzerman Has The Final Say On Mantha’s Return

(12/13/2019)

from Ansar Khan of Mlive, “We just want to make sure we’re putting him in the right position, but he certainly has tested it and feels good about it,” Blashill said. “I anticipate that he’ll play, but until I chat with Steve, I just want to make sure.” Mantha is eager to return. “I wouldn’t be saying I was ready to go if I wasn’t,” Mantha said. “It’s still earlyish in the season and I can risk it. I feel perfectly fine, the (test) results are good, and I did off-ice testing (Thursday) and everything was good, so I don’t see a reason why I wouldn’t be in except we’re starting two-in-two (games) these next two days.”... If Mantha plays Saturday, Blashill said they’ll see how he feels before deciding whether to play him Sunday at home against Los Angeles. “You don’t love, necessarily, putting him in back-to-back, but we’ve had so many guys out you just love the fact he wants to play,” Blashill said. “Obviously, it’s Montreal. I get it. If he’s sore, we’ll be precautionary.... Blashill said he anticipates Athanasiou returning after missing two games with an undisclosed injury. Dylan Larkin did not practice Friday, having been sick the past couple of days, but he’ll play Saturday, Blashill said.... Jonathan Ericsson, injured in Thursday’s game, is doubtful for Saturday, but Blashill said, “He’d like to push to try to play, so we’ll see.” more

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

Tim Thomas Is A Survivor

(12/13/2019)

from Steve Conroy of the Boston Herald, The first question for Tim Thomas at the Marriott Marquis was as basic as it gets. The former Bruin and one-time greatest goaltender on the planet was asked what the honor of being inducted into the U.S. Hockey Hall of Fame meant to him. But as he immediately hinted at the emotion welling up inside of him, it was clear that this was not going to be a boilerplate media scrum with the ever-thoughtful Thomas. In a session marked by tears — and a few laughs, as Thomas himself did his best to lighten the mood — the goalie described a living hell that he’s been going through since suffering a concussion in his final NHL season in Florida and Dallas, his complicated relationship with the game that once was all-consuming and, later with a just a couple of familiar reporters, his fleeting thoughts of suicide. “I’m a survivor,” said Thomas prior to the induction dinner. That was not a boast, but rather a declaration of gratitude of what could have, but did not befall him, having avoided the fate of deceased hockey players that he knew such as Steve Montador, Derek Boogaard and Wade Belak. Though he still needs a couple hours each morning to “re-order things,” he has started to feel like himself in just the past couple of years. While Thomas did not know how many concussions he had suffered during an active lifetime that’s included boxing on the street in Flint, Michigan, playing football and, of course, hockey, the one that sent him for a tailspin occurred while he was with the Panthers in 2013-14 when, in warmups, he took a puck off the chin. continued

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

Cholowski And McIlrath Sent To Grand Rapids

(12/11/2019)

DETROIT - The Detroit Red Wings today assigned defensemen Dennis Cholowski and Dylan McIlrath to the American Hockey League's Grand Rapids Griffins. Cholowski, 21, has appeared in 29 games for Detroit in 2019-20 and is tied for second among the team's defensemen in points, showing eight points (2-6-8), including five points (1-4-5) on the power play to lead Red Wings defensemen and tie for fourth on the team overall. The second-year pro has also registered four penalty minutes, 14 hits, 27 blocked shots and 43 shots on goal while averaging 19:34 time on ice. In 2018-19, Cholowski made the Red Wings out of training camp and scored in his NHL debut on Oct. 4, 2018 vs. Columbus. He has totaled 24 points (9-15-24) and 20 penalty minutes in 81 NHL games over the last two seasons. The 6-foot-2, 197-pound blueliner has also appeared in 26 regular-season games for the Griffins since debuting in 2016-17, picking up 12 points (0-12-12) and 12 penalty minutes. Cholowski has also added two assists and two penalty minutes in six career AHL postseason games. McIlrath, 27, has appeared in 16 games with Detroit this season and ranks among team leaders with 23 penalty minutes (2nd) and 48 hits (3rd) in 14:49 average ice time per game. He has also skated in 10 games with the Griffins in 2019-20, registering three points (0-3-3) and 15 penalty minutes. McIlrath has totaled 66 NHL appearances since making his NHL debut in 2013-14, totaling five points (3-2-5) and 121 penalty minutes with the New York Rangers, Florida Panthers and Red Wings.

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

Hockey Thoughts Today

(12/11/2019)

from Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, - At last year’s December Board of Governors’ meeting, Bettman predicted an $83 million cap, only to see it end up at $81.5 million. Because that number wasn’t finalized until late June, the squeeze tortured teams and players. This time, he was more guarded, refusing to give an estimate. Instead, he recognized that the final number will come as part of a negotiation with the players, who have the right to “inflate” the ceiling by up to five per cent. While some clubs will be careful because of what happened a year ago, others have the impression it could be $84-$85 million. Why?... - You know who is looking for a scorer? The New York Islanders. But I’m not expecting Lou Lamoriello to tell me how he feels about Taylor Hall. -  Brendan Shanahan, asked what he would say if another club wanted to talk to Mike Babcock: “I think that’s sort of a hypothetical I wouldn’t want to get into, quite honestly. Much was made of the incident with Mike a few years ago with Mitch Marner, for instance, and I know our general manager at the time (Lou Lamoriello) had called me and let me know about it right away and had addressed it right away with Mike. Mike apologized to Mitch and there was communication with (Lamoriello) and the agent and the family. It wasn’t something that was appropriate or acceptable to us. Since then, my general manager — whether it was Lou or Kyle — had never come to us with a situation like that.  more on the first and last topic plus additional Thoughts...

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

Detroit’s Top Trio

(12/10/2019)

from Craig Custance of The Athletic, It’s a concept that was coined by former Los Angeles GM Dean Lombardi when the Kings were at the peak of their power during the middle of the last decade. He called the trio of Anze Kopitar, Drew Doughty and Jonathan Quick the Kings’ microcore. The theory was pretty simple: Teams that build around high-end players at those three positions – No. 1 center, No. 1 defenseman and goaltender – should be in pretty darn good position to challenge for a Stanley Cup.... To get a sense of how each NHL team’s microcore stacks up, each team’s microcore was identified and presented to a panel from inside the hockey world to rate each one on a scale of 1-100. To provide an analytics balance, we added in ratings from The Athletic‘s Dom Luszczyszyn as part of the average. Here was the breakdown of the panel: Two NHL executives, two NHL scouts and an NHL coach, plus Dom.... Tampa is rated first with Brayden Point, Victor Hedman and Andrei Vasilevskiy with an average rating of 90.9. Detroit is ranked 30th with Dylan Larkin, Filip Hronek and Jimmy Howard and their rating is 63.9 It’s been a tough season in Detroit but this exercise is another example of just how badly the franchise needs high-end talent at key positions. The pain right now is necessary for a team that needs a couple more top picks in the system. “I like (Dylan) Larkin. He’d be a really good No. 2 center. Maybe a No. 1 winger,” suggested one executive. “(Filip) Hronek is more of a prospect. And you wouldn’t want to be a goalie in Detroit right now.” “Hronek is their No. 1 D?” Asked one panelist. “That’s a tough depth chart. But I have always liked Hronek because of his compete.” the rest of the teams...

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

New Technology About To Hit The Ice

(12/9/2019)

from Bryan Horwath of the Las Vegas Sun, Many remember how the technology created a glowing puck on TV screens, leaving a cometlike trail of color once the puck reached certain speeds. But FoxTrax didn’t last long, to the delight of hockey purists who’d denounced it as too gimmicky for a sport steeped in tradition. Dave Lehanski, the NHL’s senior vice president of development and innovation, says FoxTrax was “way ahead of its time, but it just wasn’t ready back then. You could see it wasn’t working right.” Now, the NHL is preparing to introduce a more advanced version of the technology in 2020 in an attempt to make itself more attractive to younger viewers. Players will don wearable technology—sensors about the size of an Oreo cookie—on the back of their shoulder pads, which will track certain metrics in real time. The puck will also be outfitted with a chip that can communicate with a series of cameras and sensors. The technology was tested in January during two Vegas Golden Knights games at T-Mobile Arena. Golden Knights winger Max Pacioretty says he’s intrigued by the idea, but adds, “There were a lot of issues with bouncing pucks and whatnot.” Still, he says, “It’s something that could be fun for the fans.” That’s the league’s goal for this technology, which will produce more in-game data to enhance the viewing experience, especially for statistics fans and sports bettors who desire more information. read on

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

The Equipment Fixer

(12/8/2019)

from Sonny Sachdeva of Sportsnet, Marco Argentino has been the man NHL superstars from Gretzky to McDavid trust with their gear. Now, he's also helping shape the future of equipment design. The smell of leather hangs thick in the air, tangled with the scent of metal and wood and the years-old collections of dust that gather here and there atop the shelves lining every wall in the place. It’s mid-March of 1991, and 26-year-old Marco Argentino is perched on a stool in the back corner of this unassuming shoe repair shop, engrossed as he inspects the finer details of the hockey gloves on the desk in front of him. This isn’t any old run-of-the-mill establishment, though walking down Wellington Street and glancing up at the curling blue-and-white lettering atop the storefront — Cordonnerie Argentino — a passerby could be forgiven for not feeling the full weight of the Argentinos’ place in Montreal’s storied hockey history. No, this shop isn’t interchangeable with any of the others that have lined this street, precisely because the pair of gloves sitting before Argentino isn’t interchangeable with any other in the city. These particular gloves belong to Guy Carbonneau, captain of the Montreal Canadiens, who’s awaiting the results of Argentino’s work as he prepares for the ’91 playoffs. The problem is the palms. The captain wants them replaced with something thinner, something that gives him a better feel for his stick. Argentino’s already made one unsuccessful attempt today, sewing on a fresh horsehide palm and making the trek up to the Montreal Forum, only to be met with a stern, “Thinner.”  continued

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

Detroit’s Offense Perks Up And Larkin Looking Good Again

(12/8/2019)

from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press, When a team is as fragile as the Detroit Red Wings are, anything positive helps. Their losing streak has grown to 11 games, but at least they came away from Saturday’s game with a little more confidence in their ability to score. After scoring just five goals the previous six games, the Wings scored twice in the third period in the 5-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins. “We have to do a better job of trying to keep four out, or five, but I thought we competed right till the end and that’s a good sign for this team,” Luke Glendening said. “We had a tough first getting down 2-0, but we battled till the last minute.”     from Ansar Khan of Mlive, It was another night where the Detroit Red Wings answered more questions about the many things that have gone wrong during the team’s worst stretch in years. But if there is anything positive to be gleaned from Saturday’s 5-3 loss to the Pittsburgh Penguins at Little Caesars Arena, it was Dylan Larkin looking like his usual self, following an extended slump. Larkin picked up a goal and an assist, giving him four points in three games (two goals, two assists) after seven games without a point. He led the comeback efforts and had chances to score the tying goal in the final minute before John Marino’s empty-net goal with nine seconds remaining sealed it. “His drive’s great,” Red Wings coach Jeff Blashill said. continued

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

The Future Of Detroit’s RFAs

(12/7/2019)

from Max Bultman of The Athletic, At present, the Red Wings are at 47 of the maximum 50 contracts, according to CapFriendly. That shouldn’t pose an issue since a handful of those contracts (including those of Trevor Daley, Mike Green, Jonathan Ericsson and Jimmy Howard) expire as unrestricted free agents after the season. Of the prospects on Detroit’s reserve list, whom Yzerman must either sign or relinquish the right to do so by this summer, only goalie prospect Victor Brattstrom looks like a solid bet to do so. There are prospects Detroit could choose to sign earlier than it has to (in order to bring them over from Europe or lure them from college, for example) but still, even if the Red Wings wanted to sign a couple of outside free agents, they could, in theory, bring all their RFAs back. But that doesn’t seem likely. Whether because of prospect development, planning for future moves, or simply an evaluation that certain pieces don’t fit, at least some of the Red Wings’ pending restricted free-agent forwards are likely going to have to head elsewhere after this season.... With one caveat: I won’t get into the big three of Anthony Mantha, Andreas Athanasiou and Tyler Bertuzzi in this piece. They’re all obvious locks to bring back (barring a trade of some kind) and I’ll go more in-depth on their situations and potential contracts later on.... On the inside track Robby Fabbri: Let’s start with the most immediately successful of the Red Wings’ in-season trades because he’s the most obvious candidate to be back next season.  many more (paid subscription) names including those in Grand Rapids...