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...

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

Bertuzzi Improving, Abdelkader Close And Daley Back On The Ice

(12/6/2019)

from Dana Wakiji of DetroitRedWings.com, It doesn't seem like it was that long ago that Tyler Bertuzzi was just looking to crack the Red Wings lineup. Now he's a mainstay on the top line and on the power-play unit that gets the most time. Bertuzzi, 24, is making the most of his increased role, leading the team with 24 points (10-14-24) in 30 games. Last season, Bertuzzi had nine goals and seven assists in his first 30 games. "It's another year of experience, I would say," Bertuzzi said after Friday's practice at the BELFOR Training Center. "We finished the year last year really strong and I think that connection came over to this year. Obviously some games could be a lot better, and some games were really good, so we just gotta be more consistent." Bertuzzi is averaging 19:35 in ice time this year compared to 16:31 last year.... It's not official, but there's a reasonable chance alternate captain Justin Abdelkader could return to the Wings lineup for Saturday's 7 p.m. tilt versus the Pittsburgh Penguins at Little Caesars Arena. Abdelkader has missed the Wings' last 11 games with an upper-body injury after blocking a shot in the closing minutes of Detroit's 3-2 victory over the Vegas Golden Knights on Nov.10.... Daley, 36, skated with his teammates during Friday's practice. "It was good to see Trevor," Blashill said. "Trevor stated to me he feels like he's doing really well but I think he was very, very cautious that the last time he started pushing it, he went backwards. So there's still that opportunity that that could happen but so far he's been making real progress forward. more...

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

The Case For John Carlson Winning The Hart Memorial Trophy

(12/6/2019)

from Neil Greenberg of The Washington Post, ... That start includes a 21-4-5 record with an NHL-high 47 points in 30 games, making Carlson the best player on the best team with a case for the Hart Trophy, awarded annually to the league’s MVP. Forwards have dominated the award. Montreal Canadiens goalie Carey Price won it in 2015, and the last defenseman to win it was Chris Pronger in 2000. Before that, it was Orr in 1972. Nicklas Lidstrom, a seven-time Norris winner and four-time Stanley Cup winner widely considered to be one of the best defensemen ever, never finished higher than fourth on MVP ballots. Despite those odds, Carlson is making a strong case. Let’s start with the last two defensemen to win the award, Pronger and Orr. Differences in season lengths, roster sizes and scoring environments make it difficult to compare season-long stats, but two advanced metrics, goals created and point shares, make era adjustments, allowing a more direct assessment of their respective performances. Goals created accounts for assists and adjusts them to the team level. Point shares is an adaptation of the win shares metric Bill James created in 2002 for baseball. In hockey, point shares estimate the number of standing points (two points for a win in regulation, overtime or a shootout and one point for an overtime or shootout loss) each player is responsible for. The higher the number, the more that player contributing to winning. more

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

Now Is The Time For The Columbus Blue Jackets To Make A Playoff Push

(12/5/2019)

from Michael Arace of the Columbus Dispatch, The Jackets won at least 45 games in each of the previous three seasons. The consensus three months ago, then, was that they had built something that was greater than the sum of their parts. As their hype video says, “From out of our blue, we rise.” The new season is one-third gone now. The Jackets (11-12-4, 26 points) are in seventh place in the Metropolitan Division and in 13th place in the Eastern Conference. Their 68 goals scored and minus-16 differential through 27 games put them among the most anemic teams in the league. Old rule of thumb: The earlier a team can get into playoff position, the better. Over the previous six years, 74 of 96 teams in a playoff spot on Thanksgiving Day went on to clinch. On Thursday past, the Jackets were in seventh place in the wild-card standings. (Insert turkey joke here.)... Although there is a lot of hockey yet to play, you will in the coming days get as good a gauge on these Jackets as you’re going to get. Remember all that talk about proving doubters wrong? About how the team would respond after losing Panarin, Bobrovsky, et al.? About how a strong locker room would coalesce in defiance? Now is the time. The Jackets host Panarin and the New York Rangers on Thursday. The Jackets play at Florida on Saturday and will probably see Bobrovsky in net. The Jackets play the Ovechkins in Washington on Monday. If they have an emotional response — if they rise — you will see what has largely been missing so far. more

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

Early December Hockey Thoughts

(12/4/2019)

from Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet, - Maybe the most impossible question to answer is what Mike Babcock’s future will be. When he was fired, word was that at least two teams privately reached out to gauge his interest in coaching right away — only to be told that he preferred to take some time. I heard from people in Russia that there was KHL interest, either as a coach or a consultant. There were rumours he’d be offered a World Junior role (not as head coach, but in an advisory position) and/or the head job for the World Championships. Then came the avalanche, and now that’s all in doubt.... - Chris Chelios’s Spittin’ Chiclets interview about Babcock had some confusing timelines, because when the Johan Franzen incident occurred (as Nashville eliminated Detroit in Game 5 of the 2012 first round), Chelios was no longer on the Red Wings. He referenced a meeting Ken Holland had with the players, where the GM defended his coach. I think this has to do with Marty McSorley. McSorley worked on San Jose Sharks broadcasts, and once said none of the Red Wings liked playing for Babcock. Word got back to Detroit reporters, who asked Holland about it.... - Reminder of other situations to watch: Los Angeles with most of their veterans, with the exception of Drew Doughty and Anze Kopitar; Buffalo with its defence; Carolina continues to look for a top-nine forward. Meanwhile, things have calmed in Minnesota as the Wild show a surge. - And one GM predicts, “Watch St. Louis. They think they can repeat, and they will go for it.” more on the first two topics plus additional Thoughts...

Paul Kukla (Kukla's Korner)

The Good In A Very Bad Season

(12/3/2019)

Jared Clinton of The Hockey News points out the bad, the very bad but I an concentrating on the good... ...in the interest of looking on the bright side and attempting not to pile on during what has already been an incredibly difficult season for the Red Wings faithful, we feel the need to point out that there have been a few positives. Here are five silver linings: 1. TOP LOTTERY ODDS Not since 1986 have the Red Wings had the first-overall pick in the draft and the last time Detroit picked in the top three was at the 1990 draft. That could change this season. While the draft lottery doesn’t promise the league’s last-place team anything, the Red Wings would have a nearly 50-percent chance at finishing with a top-three selection and an 18.5-percent chance of landing the first-overall pick if they finished dead-last. But there’s good news here just about any way you slice it. If the Red Wings fail to secure the first-overall pick, they’re doing so ahead of a draft that is considered one of the deepest in recent memory with a uber-skilled projected one-two of Alexis Lafreniere and Quinton Byfield. 2. OPPORTUNITY, OPPORTUNITY, OPPORTUNITY The lack of pressure, and lack of expectation, has opened up plenty of opportunity for younger players to come into the lineup and prove their worth. No player has done more with the chances they’ve been afforded than Filip Hronek. Drafted 53rd overall in 2016, he wasn’t considered one of Detroit’s blue-chippers, but there looks to be plenty of potential and upside in the 22-year-old rearguard. He’s been productive offensively – his 13 points put him fifth in team scoring – and he’s averaging 23 minutes per game, more than any other blueliner. much more