Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

Flashback To The Yzerman Trade Rumors

(10/18/2020)

The following is an excerpt from "The Big 50: The Detroit Red Wings," written by Free Press sports writer Helene St. James and published by Triumph Books. The book is available online and in bookstores. Steve Yzerman wearing another NHL team’s uniform? It boggles the mind. The Wings did talk to teams about trading The Captain. The first time was in 1992. Jimmy Devellano had been pushed upstairs to a senior vice president role, and owner Mike Ilitch brought in Bryan Murray as general manager and coach. Ten years had passed since Ilitch purchased the Wings, and there was still no Stanley Cup championship. Pat LaFontaine—the Waterford native the Wings really wanted to draft in 1983—had forced the Islanders to trade him in October 1991. He put up 46 goals in 1991–92, his first season with the Buffalo Sabres. “There was talk between Buffalo and Detroit about LaFontaine for Yzerman even up,” Devellano said in 2019. “There were talks. We didn’t make it happen. But it was considered.” Ultimately, Ilitch nixed the trade. The second time the Wings explored trading Yzerman was 1995. Scotty Bowman was in charge. Ken Holland was the assistant general manager. The Ottawa Senators were newly minted and having a terrible time; they weren’t competitive and they weren’t a draw. Their arena at that time, the Ottawa Civic Centre, only seated 9,500 —and still there were often more empty seats than filled ones.... When Yzerman found out his name had come up in trade talks, he fumed to reporters about how much it bothered him. “I can’t say I’m upset about the possibility of being traded,” he said. “I just expected to be treated like an adult. I would have thought that at some time somebody would have come to me and said, ‘Here’s what we’re thinking. Here’s why we’re doing this.’ I guess they’re not adult enough to do that. I thought I knew people in the organization well enough. I’ve always tried to be upfront and honest and I thought I deserved that in return—the good or the bad. I love this city and I love this hockey team. But life goes on. Hockey goes on. Careers go on. We’ll just wait and see what happens.” more

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

It’s Saturday Night, Time For Some Hockey Notes

(10/17/2020)

from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun, - The signing of Joe Thornton, not long after the signing of Wayne Simmonds, not long after the return of Jason Spezza is Maple Leafs management’s not-so-quiet indictment of club leadership. None of the three elders have a whole lot of game left in their marvelous careers. But all three will be expected to show the way in the upcoming Leafs’ season, whenever that will be. At 41, Thornton is slower than slow in a fast man’s sport, and has had an elite NHL career. Whether he can contribute much as a player — maybe on the second power play, maybe down low in the offensive zone — the thinking of those who know him best is that his contribution will come from his natural leadership skills.... - Hard to figure out the Florida Panthers. In the past year they hired Joel Quenneville to coach, brought in Sergei Bobrovsky to play goal, replaced Dale Tallon with Bill Zito as general manager, and lost three decent forwards, Mike Hoffman, Evgeny Dadonov and Vinny Trocheck and defenceman Mike Matheson. Are they getting better? Getting worse? Hard to know. - How can Brian Burke be such a fine father and, at times, such a despicable human being? The way Burke writes about Steve Moore in his recent book, Burke’s Law, is enough to turn your stomach. Not a word of sympathy. It’s 16 years after the horrible incident that cost Moore his career, and Burke piles on him in the book, apparently sad about what happened to Todd Bertuzzi’s career, with not an ounce of empathy for the injured Moore, who he denigrates as a minor leaguer, like that meant it was OK to ruin his life. “To this day, I’m convinced that the injuries weren’t severe enough to end his career. I think he could have come back and played if he wanted to,” wrote Burke. The 10 or so pages on the subject in Burke’s Law border on disgraceful. more on the first topic an other hockey related notes...

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

The Stanley Cup Tour

(10/17/2020)

from Bryan Burns of TampaBayLightning.com, With COVID restrictions continuing, there are sure to be more non-traditional ways of celebrating with the Stanley Cup for the Lightning this offseason. Pritchard is one of five people who guard and protect and shuttle the Cup from one place to the next. Pritchard was in the Edmonton bubble at the conclusion of the Cup Final - two of the southernmost teams in the NHL contesting the final in the League's northernmost city -- and carried the Cup along with Craig Campbell onto the ice before resting it on a table for the trophy presentation after the Lightning defeated the Dallas Stars in six games. He flew back to Tampa on the Bolts team charter, witnessed each player high-fiving Lightning owner Jeff Vinik as they deplaned, saw the emotional reunion of players, coaches and staff with their families on the tarmac following the lengthy postseason run spent entirely away from home. Pritchard will switch off with other Cup Keepers based on geography. For example, if the Cup's going west, he can rendezvous with another Cup Keeper in a connecting city and hand it over. This year, there won't be as many Cup Keepers because some of the guys only work in the summer. "They teach sports in schools, so they're not available," Pritchard said. This being 2020, the Stanley Cup was presented to the Lightning September 28, more than three months after it would typically be awarded. The Lightning organization will get to keep the Cup through October, November and December ahead of the NHL's targeted start date of January 1 for the 2020-21 season. read on

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

Hope In Detroit AKA Steve Yzerman

(10/16/2020)

from Nicholas J. Cotsonika of NHL.com, Steve Yzerman has generated more optimism the past three weeks than the Detroit Red Wings have had since … well, since he took over as general manager April 19, 2019. He has passion, patience and a plan, and though the Red Wings are still early in their rebuilding process, you can see the path forward based on the NHL Draft, free agency and trades.... The Red Wings need difference-makers, and the most likely way to add them is through drafting and developing. They selected forward Lucas Raymond with the No. 4 pick of the 2020 NHL Draft on Oct. 6. He represents the highest pick they have had in three decades, since forward Keith Primeau at No. 3 in 1990. Perhaps he and defenseman Moritz Seider, the No. 6 pick in the 2019 NHL Draft and Detroit's first pick under Yzerman, can become cornerstones. But since former GM Ken Holland recognized their 25-season playoff streak was about to end in 2016-17, the Red Wings have been stockpiling picks to give themselves more lottery tickets. After selecting 10 players in Rounds 2-7 last year, including three in the second round, they selected 11 players in Rounds 2-7 on Oct. 7, including three in the second round and two in the third. They have three picks in the second round and two in the third next year. Can some of them blossom into stars one day? In the meantime, the Red Wings have to improve all parts of their roster and become more competitive, for their fans and the development of the players they already have. more

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

Will They Become Good To Great NHL Players?

(10/16/2020)

I have never understood this type of comparison except for the 'we drafted this player in this round and maybe it will happen again' theory. from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press, They are the long shots of the drafts, the players who, if they become regulars in the NHL, are referred to as "later-round gems." Notable players drafted in rounds 4-7 by the Detroit Red Wings include Sergei Fedorov, Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Gustav Nyquist, Darren Helm and Petr Mrazek. In the 2020 NHL draft, general manager Steve Yzerman and his scouting staff mined the later rounds for two forwards, two defensemen and one goaltender in hopes of adding a player or two to the rebuild. Two have impeccable hockey pedigrees, and all appear determined to overcome the odds of making the NHL from their draft slots. F Sam Stange, 4th round (No. 97 overall) This was quite a round for the Wings. Fedorov, three-time Stanley Cup champion, was taken at 74th overall in 1989, when NHL teams were wary of drafting Russians because of the Cold War. There’s also John Ogrodnick (drafted No. 66 in 1979), who played 558 games with the Wings, and Nyquist (No. 121, 2008), who recorded 295 points in 481 games in a Wings uniform. Stange (6 foot, 200 pounds) is in good hands, committed to play at Wisconsin, where he’ll be coached by former NHL’er and ex-Wings assistant coach Tony Granato. Stange projects as a power forward. “I’m a bigger, stronger forward who relies on my shot and my speed,” he said. “I also think I’m pretty responsible defensively, so I’d say I’m a two-way forward. One of the things I’m looking to work on is using my size and strength a little bit more, just being more physical.” more players

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

Bargains Can Be Had

(10/15/2020)

from Michael Traikos of the National Post, While signing Alex Pietrangelo and Taylor Hall made supposed winners out of Vegas and Buffalo, respectively, there are several players out there looking for contracts. Very good players, we might add. There is a top-20 goal scorer, a Stanley Cup finalist and a winger who has outscored Artemi Panarin and Jack Eichel the past three seasons.... Here are seven of the best: Mike Hoffman, LW, 30 2019-20 cap hit: $5.65 million (Florida) The best pure scorer available in free agency, Hoffman finished among the top 20 with 29 goals for Florida last season and had 36 goals two years ago. Did he struggle with inconsistency? Well, yeah. But this is still a player who has scored 26 or more goals in five of the six years he has been in the league, and who had three goals and five points in four playoff games against the notoriously stingy New York Islanders. Anthony Duclair, LW, 25 2019-20 cap hit: $1.65 million (Ottawa) I don’t know why Duclair chose to represent himself in free agency or why he didn’t go to arbitration with the Senators. But that, combined with the fact that he has played for five teams in six years, could be why he’s still unsigned. After all, he had a breakout year last season with 23 goals and 40 points in 66 games. Possible destination:While some believe a return to Columbus, where Duclair could be reunited with former Arizona linemate Max Domi, is in the cards, Nashville’s lack of scoring wingers makes the Predators a more likely landing spot. Evgeni Dadonov, LW/RW, 31 read on