Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

What NHL Players Are Doing During The Pause

(3/30/2020)

from J.J. Regan of NBCSports Washington, NHL players can often seem larger than life. They are celebrities in peak physical condition who get paid millions of dollars to play in arenas full of tens of thousands of screaming fans in games that are broadcast on television often nationally. And yet, none of that matters in a time like this. With the coronavirus spreading throughout the world, all sports just don't seem to matter. At this moment, the real superstars are the doctors and nurses on the frontlines battling against the virus while the hockey players we view as superstars remain at home, suddenly rendered remarkably ordinary in the face of a global pandemic. "It was just kind of weird to see the world kind of stop," New Jersey Devils defenseman P.K. Subban said.... "Lots of stuff to do at house," Washington Capitals forward Alex Ovechkin said. "Play with the little one, we're expecting another one in a couple of months, I'm trying to do some more workout as well, but it's getting boring, obviously. First week was kind of good thing. We're relaxing, we chilling and right now it's kind of getting boring right now." "That first week, you're just excited to be around the family," Columbus Blue Jackets forward Nick Foligno said. "We don't really get this time. Let's be honest, we don't really get at the end of March when you're gearing up for a playoff race, you're not really gearing up to be with the family. Your mind starts to stay with the team a little bit more. So I've enjoyed the past little while with my family and my kids. They definitely don't really understand why I'm home so much, but it's been nice. But it's getting to a point now where you just start to now feel like things aren't right." read on

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

Start The Season Earlier

(3/26/2020)

from Justin Bourne of Sportsnet, What needs to change? The slot the NHL season takes up on the calendar. This current season and its potential endpoints aside, the NHL season generally pushes far too deep into summer for the liking of just about everyone. Last season the St. Louis Blues won the Stanley Cup on June 12. Given the majority of NHL cities are located in colder climates, we’re talking about one of the three or four months where it’s really nice and hot — proper summer — and where it sure as heck isn’t hockey season. At that time, you’re also going head-to-head with the NBA finals, which means the NHL never truly has the sporting spotlight to itself for the culmination of its season.... This isn’t some drastic change I’m proposing – really the whole season just needs to be pulled back about three weeks, moving puck drop to early- or mid-September (around the 10th or so) and ending in mid-to-late May. With training camps starting a couple weeks prior to the season, we’d be looking at teams getting going within a handful of days of Sept. 1. In most years it would be hard to drop a shortened summer on players, particularly those who’ve played into June, but this isn’t most years. A big part of what we’re talking about here hinges on the worst-case scenario (at least financially) of the league not being able to resume the 2019-20 season in any fashion. This is the doomsday scenario, but also not an unrealistic outcome at this point. An earlier start to the 2020-21 season would offer at least a tiny bit of consolation for fans who’ve had their seasons cut short by a month or more. It would allow players to fully let go of 2019-20 and focus on their families in a time where their families deserve to have their sole focus. It would avoid a scenario where you rush players back into situations that still feel riskier than they will in late summer/early fall, when we hopefully have the worst of all this in check. more

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

Thoughts On Dylan Larkin

(3/25/2020)

from Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, - One of the things I’ve wondered this year is how much Steve Yzerman discusses his early years in Detroit with Dylan Larkin. Yzerman went through tough times in Detroit and eventually was rewarded. What advice does he give Larkin on how to handle things? “I have had very positive talks with Steve throughout the season,” Larkin wrote via email. “He has been very helpful and a mentor to me as someone who has been in this situation a few times as a player and manager. His advice has been to make sure my level of professionalism — in mindset, work ethic and leadership — is setting the tone and example for the rest of the team all the time.” I thought that was really interesting. No matter how tough a season, there are always fun moments. What are the moments of this season that did make you smile? “There have been a lot of bright spots. This season has had a lot of downs, but we have a great group of young players that have made it very enjoyable coming to the rink every day. I look back at our opening-night win against Nashville on the road and our home opener the next night against Dallas when Anthony Mantha scored four goals. We have played very well against top opponents in our division and that makes me excited for the future. We’ve also played better in buildings where we have struggled in the past.” - Larkin made me laugh with this next one. Him, Connor McDavid and Mathew Barzal. Goal line to goal line. Standing start. Who wins, and by how much?... more Thoughts from Friedman...

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

On The Detroit Prospects

(3/25/2020)

from Max Bultman of The Athletic, With a bit of convincing (as a condition of this article, I agreed to explicitly note Scott’s reluctance to make prospect comparisons), The Athletic’s Scott Wheeler agreed to lead our panel alongside former NHL GM and TSN director of scouting Craig Button. Then, to round things out, we asked Jokke Nevalainen, the head of European scouting at Dobber Prospects, and Will Scouch of Scouching to share their opinions on Detroit’s Europeans and North Americans, respectively. Jared McIsaac, LHD, Moncton (QMJHL) Wheeler: Alec Martinez. The first thing that comes to mind for me with McIsaac has always been that he’s a strong complementary player. He has been asked to be more than that throughout his career as a relatively high-end prospect, particularly in Halifax where he’s a power play-guy and relied on to produce points, but I’ve never seen a ton of skill in his game and I don’t think that’s the kind of player he’s going to be at the next level. Instead, I see a useful left-shot defender who can contribute mid-20s points, act as a safety valve for his partner and make the odd play at even-strength while not being shy physically. Button: Jared to me is never going to be a big offensive player, but he’s going to be a really good defenseman. And by defenseman, you’re not going to hear me use “defensive defenseman.” He’s going to be a defenseman that’s going to be able to play in the defensive zone, he’s going to be able to start the play moving, break the play down defensively and get the puck in the offensive zone and in the neutral zone in transition. He reminds me a lot, in terms of competitiveness and style of game, of Ryan Lindgren (of the Rangers). Jared has got a quiet, quiet competitiveness to him. And the one thing I’ll tell you about Jared: The harder the game, the more important the game, you don’t ever have to worry about Jared shrinking, ever. He rises to that occasion. I think he’s a really quietly fierce competitor. more (paid) players...

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

A Look At Joe Veleno

(3/25/2020)

from Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press, Like many young players, the jump from junior to pros has been a learning curve for Veleno, who turned 20 on January 13. He had just started to look more like the player the Wings hoped they drafted when the season was postponed. Now he’s on hold — including his strength and conditioning program. As part of the fight to stop the spread of COVID-19, players have been told by stay home as much as possible. The Wings are trying to come up with alternate strength and conditioning routines. Though Veleno looked better in the second half, he projects to spend more time in the AHL next season learning how to be the two-way center the Wings want him to be. The Free Press spoke to Shawn Horcoff, the Wings’ director of player development, about Veleno’s progress. “He’s had a really good second half of the year,” Horcoff said. “There’s been so much emphasis for him from the coaching side and the development side on his defensive game. He put a lot of hard work into that and he’s come a long way. He’s much more comfortable at that now. He’s playing big PK minutes, he’s on the ice at the end of the game — important minutes. So defensively we are really happy with his game.” “The problem is sometimes when you do that, it can affect the offensive side. It can take time to figure out how to play at both ends of the rink properly. For Joe, he really started to figure it out in the second half. The biggest thing I noticed is his skating  he is starting to separate himself down there, he’s starting to have confidence to move the puck through the neutral zone, drive wide on D. That’s going to be an asset for him as he gains more strength and maturity.” more