‘Evaluating is everything in our game’ — Sabres hire Murray as new GM

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“Evaluating is everything in our game.”

Those were the words of new Sabres general manager Tim Murray, introduced at a press conference this morning in Buffalo.

Lauded as one of the top talent evaluators in the game, it was no surprise to hear Murray accentuate the importance of what’s considered his best strength.

“We judge every day, and you want to make better judgments every day versus making poor judgments,” said Murray.

“My background is in scouting. I’ve done a lot of different managerial jobs, as far as contracts and stuff like that, but the main thing is evaluating players, being able to project players, being able to understand what constitutes a good trade, an average trade, or a bad trade.”

He added: “I believe having a pretty good eye has set me up to get into this position right now.”

It’s also no surprise that a candidate with Murray’s credentials (most recently the assistant GM in Ottawa) was given the job by president of hockey operations Pat LaFontaine. Going forward, the draft will be paramount for the last-place Sabres. Expect some trades, too. Which is to say, there will be all sorts of roster turnover. Who should they get? Who should they keep? To answer those questions successfully, a good talent evaluator will be required.

Other key quotes from Murray today:

On player development: “You can draft a guy in the first round. If you don’t develop him right…you can lose him. The other side is, you can draft a guy in the fifth round and if he’s developed right and you do all the right things, he could become a player.”

On the future of head coach Ted Nolan: “There’s no preconceived notions. He’s the coach of the hockey team and I’m looking forward to getting to know him, getting to know the staff, and getting to know the style of coaches they are and the style they want to play. I have ideas. Pat has ideas. It’s a clean slate here.”

On the team’s pending unrestricted free agents, like goalie Ryan Miller: “This team’s in last place right now. Everybody could be traded.”

On the importance of the draft: “You build a team through the draft. Good drafting allows you to trade well, and then you use free agency to put you over the top.”

Following is the audio from today’s presser:

The Sabres also hired Craig Patrick to serve as a special assistant and advisor to the hockey department.

Related: Sabres promote Cunneyworth to player development coach

Milbury, Jones: Tkachuk walked the walk; Kings’ response was embarrassing

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The Los Angeles Kings got revenge on Matthew Tkachuk and the Calgary Flames on the scoreboard on Wednesday. But was that 4-1 win enough?

Mike Milbury and Keith Jones provided a lengthy “overtime” segment on NBCSN that brought about some really fascinating takes on the situation between Tkachuk and the Flames versus Drew Doughty and the Los Angeles Kings.

Watch the full video above, as it’s worth your time.

A few interesting lines if you’re (tsk tsk) skipping it:

Milbury: Believes that Doughty didn’t “do enough,” noting that star players sometimes have to stick up for themselves. On the other hand, Tkachuk showed that he can “walk the walk.”

He also gave the Kings a “C-, D+ if not worse” for their overall response. “Fight your own battles,” Milbury said of Doughty.

Jones disagreed to some extent, believing that Kings teammates won’t look at Doughty differently. But Jake Muzzin? He believes that Muzzin’s frequent defensive partner (at least over the years, maybe not this season) backing down from a fight was an embarrassment.

Spicy stuff.

For what it’s worth, Drew Doughty has one career fight (against Joe Thornton [!] in 2011-2) while Jake Muzzin’s lone bout came against Andrew Desjardins in 2012-13, according to Hockey Fights. Does that mean they shouldn’t have dropped the gloves on Wednesday? Milbury and Jones seem to believe that they should have answered the bell.

For more, check out a collection of the early violent moments and Tkachuk’s attempted shot at Doughty. The Kings win is summarized in greater detail here.

Measure of revenge: Kings delay clinching efforts for Flames, Blues

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Deep down, the Los Angeles Kings probably realize that their season will end on game 82. Still, they kept their slim playoff hopes alive on Wednesday night … and managed to spite a team they’re growing to hate.

OK, maybe the hate is almost totally focused upon Matthew Tkachuk, yet the disdain for that talented-but-tormenting rookie was palpable.

It didn’t feel like the Kings exacted physical revenge on Tkachuk, but beating his team 4-1 ranked as classic scoreboard vengeance. With that, the Calgary Flames (and by extension the St. Louis Blues) will need to wait to clinch a playoff berth.

Now, as much as tonight was about Tkachuk, the focus was also on a pugnacious player who once dazzled for the Flames: Jarome Iginla.

In what might be Iginla’s final visit to Calgary – at least as an active NHL player – he was one of the best players on the ice. His fitting curtain call included a “Gordie Howe hat trick” with a spirited fight, an assist and a goal.

Seriously, that fight with Deryk Engelland:

That goal included a bit of luck, but hey …

Iginla was named the first star of the contest, and cameras captured his big smile in enjoying a special night. For all the nastiness of that game, it was refreshing to see such a heartwarming moment.

For more on the violence, check out this post on the early stuff and this one on Tkachuk’s missed missile launch on Drew Doughty.

Kings and Canucks will square off in first NHL exhibition games in China

graphic via NHL
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It’s official: the NHL will hold preseason games in China before next season.

The league made the announcement on Wednesday night: the Los Angeles Kings and Vancouver Canucks will play two exhibitions: one on Sept. 21 (Shanghai) and Sept. 23 (Beijing). How cool is that?

“It is a privilege and an honor for the L.A. Kings to represent the National Hockey League in China as part of these two games against the Vancouver Canucks,” Kings president Luc Robitaille said. “Growing the game of hockey is something we take great pride in and it is a big priority for our hockey club and AEG as a whole. This will be a once-in-a-lifetime experience for our players and our staff, and we are looking forward to the games taking place in two tremendous facilities in two remarkable cities.”

The press conference inspired some jokes tonight.

Some of the best bits came in roping in … Kobe Bryant and David Beckham?

Alrighty then.

Click here for more details.

 

Video: Drew Doughty (mostly) avoids massive Matthew Tkachuk hit

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Hockey is such a fast sport that it’s probably not so easy to make someone your “target.” Instead, a big hit often comes down to the right combination of circumstance and timing.

Still, there’s no denying that Matthew Tkachuk is gunning for Drew Doughty (and the Kings are gunning for Tkachuk) on Wednesday.

Doughty isn’t oblivious to that notion, either, as you can see him avoid what looked like a pretty terrifying hit above.

We’ve already covered the early violence in this game, and it’s quite possible that there will be more carnage going forward. Stay tuned.