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Clicks and Clippings: Rutherford speaks

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The long-anticipated post-season press conference and Q&A with Carolina Hurricanes General Manager Jim Rutherford, held Tuesday morning, has generated numerous reviews and after-effects in the last 48 hours. Over the next few months, we're told to look for adjustments from the front office to the practice rink to the draft table. While the announcements and more subtle inflections are still sorting themselves out, here are a bunch of links to guide you along the way.

Rutherford speaks, others interpret

Leading off with some audio links

Jim Rutherford: Considering The Full 82 Games, "It Was A Good Season" - Canes Country Carolina Hurricanes general manager Jim Rutherford met with the media today and answered a considerable number of questions.

Hard Hits Feature: General manager's press conference - Looking Ahead: Prospects, free agents on Carolina's radar. David Droschak and Kurt Dusterberg each give their five bullet points from Tuesday's presser - Matt Karash - Here is what I would prioritize/offer from the current Canes How many of these guys can the Canes keep? How many do they want to keep versus letting go to make room for the kids?


After the jump, more from the N&O and others, notes on the Checkers season, Jeff Skinner as he was before we met him, Justin Shugg in the spotlight (and on TV in the US!), more on the RecZone's uncertain future, party time in Helsinki, plus various and sundry links on playoff hockey from around the puckworld.

The N&O had several stories on Rutherford's Tuesday comments:

Plus from a couple other guys who have a stake in the GM's decisions:

Ron Francis, "I'm happy with the move." - Ron Francis will leave his associate head coaching position to concentrate on front office duties with the Hurricanes

Brindy will be busy next year: Brind'Amour enjoys the fun in coaching youth hockey - WRAL's Erin Summers talked to Hurricanes AAA PeeWee head coach and former NHL star Rod Brind`Amour about his new role as a youth hockey coach. Plus this Video.

Charlotte Checkers: Super season comes to an end

Checkers come up short in OT, lose series - Video highlights with Mike Solarte from SportsNight (1:42); closes with a few words from Checkers Captain Bryan Rodney.

Teams' official Recap: CHECKERS INAUGURAL SEASON COMES TO A CLOSE: OVERTIME GOAL SENDS SENS TO FINALS, ENDS CHARLOTTE'S SEASON Checkers finish with longest playoff run by Hurricanes AHL affiliate

Senators sweep Checkers - "We came far after starting (the regular season) 2-6," Chris Terry said. "We knocked off the defending champions (Hershey) and the best team in the league in the regular season (Wilkes-Barre/Scranton). "But this still leaves a tough taste in your mouth."

From Charlotte-based blogger Chasing CheckersThe one where I wrap it all up. So losing tonight, it hurt a lot. I shed some tears, and am still struggling with how to write about the game we all witnessed. So I’m going to leave that to the media who get paid to cover the team, and instead focus on the emotions, and the passion we all have for our team.


Jeff Skinner, before we knew him

As Bob noted at noon, Jeff Skinner was named "Rookie of the Year" in a poll of 309 NHL players conducted by The Sporting News. A couple interesting links popped up yesterday, from 12 months ago, before most of us had even heard his name.

First this lengthy in-depth scouting report from an oft-cited  Boston prospects guru is about one year old and had me grinning ear to ear: Bruins 2010 Draft Watch: First round draft spotlight: Jeff Skinner . For starters:

Strengths: Wicked scorer who would shoot the lights out on the jumbotron if it meant his team would get credit for a goal. The puck is a blur on his stick; gone in a flash and usually hitting the back of the twine a split second later. Hard, heavy, accurate shot that he can get off in an instant and in tight with very little time and space to work with, or in the wide open with plenty of room-- he's as natural a shooter as any player you'll find and absolutely deadly from the hashmarks on in. 

Nifty music video featuring Jeff Skinner's 50th goal last season in Kitchener from Waking Sound Productions.




Justin Shugg and the Mississauga Majors on NHL Network

Justin Shugg and his OHL team in Mississauga have a very big week ahead. The Majors dropped game 7 in overtime to the Owen Sound Attack this past Sunday to lose out in the 2011 OHL Championship. Now the Attack and the champions of the QMJHL, the St John's Sea Dogs and the WHL, the Kootenay Ice, are headed to the Majors home rink, the Hershey Centre about 30 miles west of Toronto, to compete in a 10-day tournament for the CHL's biggest prize, the Memorial Cup. Because he won the Cup twice with the Windsor Spitfires in 2009 and 2010, Shugg is getting a lot of press looking at this opportunity to win 3-in-a row and how his leadership might be the difference.

Good news for Canes fans looking to get a better read on this 4th round pick that dropped into the team's lap in LA last June: the games will be available to watch on the NHL Network in the US; I've got the schedule below to set your DVR. 

The Hockey News: The Hot List:  Shugg shoots for three

"In Windsor, the organization built a dream team," Shugg said. "Here, we all have to work together; there are no superstars." Shugg himself would be one of the closest candidates, though. His 41 goals and 87 points in 66 regular season games this year represented a career-best and led the Majors in both categories. In the OHL playoffs, he was basically a point-per-game producer.

National story: Despite OHL final loss, host Majors feature a lot of weapons at Memorial Cup - Canadian Press

If the Majors go on to capture the Memorial Cup, Shugg will become only the second player in history to win three consecutive Memorial Cup titles. Robert Savard won in 1980 and 1981 with Cornwall and then in 1982 with Kitchener.


And from the hometown press:, Shugg: Majors are underdogs 

"To come this far, you obviously have to be a resilient group of guys and I think that's exactly what we are," Shugg said. "They won three overtime games against us that could have gone either way, but it was just a tough bounce today."


Last, from oft linked Toronto-based blogger Steve Dangle: Memorial Cup Blog: Majors’ Last Stand | Steve Dangle The Mississauga Majors are not just a great team. They are not just a contender. They are a severely pissed off, talented contender with everything to prove.


DVR Alert: Watch the Memorial Cup on NHL Network - TV Listings (Also posted on Canes Country Calendar).

  • Mississauga will be on Saturday, 5/21, 9am vs St John's - QMJHL (delayed)
  • Sunday, 5/22 at 7pm vs Kootenay - WHL (live)
  • Thursday, 5/26, Noon vs Owen Sound (delayed). This is the big OHL Finals re-match.
  • The Memorial Cup Championship game is set for 7pm, Sunday 5/29 (live)

We'll be tracking Shugg and his team's success and challenges for the next 10 days. One would think Shugg is at the top of the Hurricanes' list of prospects to be signed when his season wraps up at the end of the month.


Business Matters

Quick follow up on what might be happening with the Canes practice facility: Canes Now - Canes, Ammons could link up

Jeff Ammons, a Raleigh builder, would like to open a sports academy for young athletes near Brier Creek. He'd like to have ice rinks in it and have the Hurricanes be a part of it and practice in it. The problem: a still-sluggish economy, stingy banks and the ice business itself, Ammons said. For now, he said, the Brier Creek project is "in the planning stage, with a lot of fancy drawings."

Also - Sports Business Journal names NHL pro sports league of the year | ProHockeyTalk Sports Business Journal and Sports Business Daily named the NHL the top pro sports league of the year in a competition that saw the NHL matched up against the MLS, NBA, NFL, and UFC.

Mark Lazarus to succeed Dick Ebersol as head of NBC Sports | Los Angeles Times Lazarus was brought in by new NBCUniversal owner Comcast Corp. last December to oversee the media giant's cable sports channels and work on integrating that unit with NBC Sports.


Not your usual Playoff Hockey stories


Tissue alert: For Bolts' Roloson, boy's short story melts ice | Dwayne Roloson, Tampa Bay Lightning goalkeeper, has been a star most of these Stanley Cup playoffs.

Remember this guy? KuklasKorner : Q&A Game Day Transcript: San Jose Sharks Dany Heatley and Ian White prior to the beginning of their WCF series vs the Canucks.

Q. Ian, interesting day for you on and off the ice. How have you been feeling emotionally getting ready for this series?

Ian White : It’s been great. It’s been great, an exciting run just to be in the post-season. It’s been great. To cap it all off, having a little baby the other day, stressful day being a Game 7 and all, but to get the win, have a new addition to our family, quite remarkable.


Speaking of the Canucks...Down Goes Brown: Should Canadian hockey fans be cheering for the Canucks? It's been a long time since hockey lovers around the country joined together in pursuit of a common cause, unless you count getting Winnipeg fans' hopes up yet again and then laughing at them. 


Helsinki celebrates

A couple of those very cool 360 º interactive panoramas from Helsinki's Market Square when 100,000 of Finland's faithful welcomed Team Suomi and the 2011 World Cup Trophy. From near the stage at ground level: 360 º photo: Over 100 000 celebrated Finnish hockey lions at the Market Square | and then this from one of those cranes high in the sky at the waters edge: Maailmanmestarit 2011 . Especially great for those who made the trip there last October.


Loose change


Delighted to see Jeff Skinner was NOT mentioned here: The Hockey News: 'Battle of the Blades' mastermind says NHLers intimidated by quality of skating "The success of the NHL players is kind of a bit of a Catch-22 for us in that it gave great exposure and they all know about it now and they think it's great, but a lot of them are going: 'I don't think I can be that good,'" Albrecht said.

Red Light District: Top Game 7’s since the lockout because, as you surely have guessed, the Canes show up 4 times - out of 12. Video highlights included.

Down Goes Brown: Surprises from the NHL's brief filed in the NFL labour dispute At one point, the NHL writes that "That little silver football thing you guys have is adorable, but give us a call if you ever decide to move up to giving out big boy trophies."


Finally. from the photo at the top  - those 7 changes we need to consider in the next 120 days?

1) Ron Francis won't be on the ice coaching.

2-5) Contracts need to be signed with every player shown excepting Jamie McBain and Zach Boychuk  (that's 4, from left: Brandon Sutter, Troy Bodie, Jay Harrison, Jussi Jokinen).

6) What is in Boychuk's future? Will he even be up in Raleigh or mostly with Charlotte next season? 

7) And...will they skate again at the RecZone?