Kukla's Korner

2021 Winter Classic And All-Star Weekend Have Been Postponed

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

NEW YORK (Oct. 22, 2020) -- The National Hockey League today announced the postponements of the 2021 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic and 2021 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend.

The 2021 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic, featuring the Minnesota Wild facing the St. Louis Blues at Target Field in Minneapolis, Minn., was originally scheduled for Jan. 1, 2021. The Florida Panthers were to host the 2021 Honda NHL All-Star Weekend at BB&T Center in Sunrise, Fla., originally scheduled for Jan. 29-30, 2021. Both events have been postponed due to the ongoing uncertainty resulting from the coronavirus. The League intends to return to both Minnesota and Florida for these signature events in the near future.

“Fan participation, both in arenas and stadiums as well as in the ancillary venues and events that we stage around the Winter Classic and All-Star Weekend, is integral to the success of our signature events,” said NHL Senior Executive Vice President & Chief Content Officer Steve Mayer. “Because of the uncertainty as to when we will be able to welcome our fans back to our games, we felt that the prudent decision at this time was to postpone these celebrations until 2022 when our fans should be able to enjoy and celebrate these tentpole events in-person, as they were always intended. We are also considering several new and creative events that will allow our fans to engage with our games and teams during this upcoming season.”

Today's announcement does not impact the joint declaration by the NHL and National Hockey League Players' Association on Oct. 6 that we are targeting on or around Jan. 1 as the start date for the upcoming NHL season.

Filed in: | KK Hockey | Permalink

Does This Mean No Canadian Division?

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Bryan Passifiume of the Toronto Sun,

The federal government will replace mandatory 14-day quarantines with rapid COVID-19 tests for international air passengers, the Sun has learned.

The move will mandate that arriving passengers be required to submit to a rapid COVID-19 test to ensure they are free from the potentially deadly respiratory disease upon arrival, and replace the problematic and rarely enforced mandatory two-week quarantine for all incoming international travellers.


Filed in: NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Brian Burke On The Recent Moves By Steve Yzerman

Blog: Abel to Yzerman By Paul

from Mark Falkner of the Detroit News,

While on his book tour last week to promote "Burke's Law: A Life in Hockey," the 65-year-old Burke said Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman is fast becoming the NHL's Mr. Fix-It after a last-place 17-49-5 season.

"He's MacGyver," Burke said of Yzerman, who signed free-agent forwards Bobby Ryan and Vladislav Namestnikov, defensemen Jon Merrill and Troy Stecher and goalie Thomas Greiss last week. The week before, he acquired defenseman Marc Staal and a 2021 second-round draft pick for future considerations.

"He's overhauled that team completely all on short-term deals," Burke continued. "No headlines, just solid signings. Bobby Ryan, who I drafted. Jon Merrill, who we tried to draft but he hit the gap on us. Stecher is a really good right-shot defenseman. Bringing back (Sam) Gagner, Namestnikov who I love. Greiss, Staal. In my mind, they are dramatically better than a year ago. It's sheer genius."

read on ($$$)

added 3:02pm, if you are interested in the sweater numbers for the new players...

Continue Reading »

Filed in: | Abel to Yzerman | Permalink

All About Sports Ratings On The Networks

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Kevin Draper of the New York Times,

It feels as if television networks should be panicking about their ratings for sporting events, pondering existential questions about how viewing habits have changed amid the coronavirus pandemic and the U.S. election.

But they’re not — despite some eye-popping numbers and a lot of armchair criticism.

Ratings for the N.B.A. finals were down 49 percent, and the N.H.L.’s Stanley Cup finals were down a whopping 61 percent. Baseball, golf, tennis, horse racing and other sports have all seen huge declines. Even the usually untouchable N.F.L. was down 13 percent through Week 5.

So what is going on here? A lot. Too much, actually, to pinpoint simple answers. Should everyday fans care? Not particularly — and there are good reasons not to overreact.

To decipher all that the ratings are and are not telling us, we need a sharper understanding of the practical functions they serve.


Filed in: NHL Talk, NHL Media, Hockey Broadcasting, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Four Players On The Toronto Maple Leafs Account For Half Of The Salary Cap

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Dave Feschuk of the Toronto Star,

...given that Tavares and hard-negotiating colleagues Auston Matthews, Mitch Marner and William Nylander will combine to earn about 50 per cent of the $81.5-million salary cap next season, the top-heavy roster has created a problematic imbalance in Leafland.

The imbalance, for now, is financial. Time will tell if it gets personal. While the Leafs have spent the off-season attempting to address various weaknesses — adding to their depth on defence while addressing the lack of “grit and work ethic” acknowledged by team president Brendan Shanahan at last season’s end — they’ve also created the potential for a dressing-room divide.

At the top of the food chain is a few star players who, if they don’t perform superbly, can be easily framed as greedy hogs who’ve commandeered the trough. Meanwhile, there’s a larger group of modestly paid but still important players who can make the case — as Mikheyev already has — that they have, unlike their highest-paid brethren, sacrificed for the cause. Count among that cadre veteran grit provider Wayne Simmonds, who signed on for a modest $1.5 million; Joe Thornton, the 41-year-old Hockey Hall of Famer in waiting who signed for the veteran minimum of $700,000; and Jason Spezza, another $700,000 lifer. Thornton and Spezza aren’t the only potentially key contributors who’ve jumped at the chance to play for the Leafs even though they will earn $1 million or less next season. The list also includes Zach Bogosian, Jimmy Vesey and KHL defenceman Mikko Lehtonen.

Marner, a year after engaging in the hardest of hardball negotiations with the club that brought him a six-year deal worth an annual $10.893 million, sounded more than slightly tone deaf this week when he lauded the willingness of so many of the new arrivals to join the Leafs for relatively humble wages.


Filed in: NHL Teams, Toronto Maple Leafs, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Playing Well In Europe

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Ryan Kennedy of The Hockey News,

So who's hot right now? We've got a lot of candidates since a number of leagues are well into their regular seasons, even though some - Germany and the Czech Republic for example - have either been delayed or put on hiatus due to the pandemic.

Juuso Valimaki, D, Ilves (Fin.): Valimaki's development has been held back by injuries, but the 2017 Calgary Flames first-rounder is healthy and hot in his native Finland, racking up eight points in seven games for Ilves. That makes him the top-scoring D-man in the whole league, while Valimaki is also playing a robust 22:46 per game.

Jonatan Berggren, C, Skelleftea (SHL): Speed, smarts and great hands are Berggren's trademarks and the Detroit Red Wings prospect has really been putting all three together with 13 points in nine games for Skelleftea, making him the third-highest scorer in the league right now. The 2017 second-rounder has already eclipsed the 12 points in 24 games he had in the SHL last season.

Dmitry Ovchinnikov, C, Sibirskie Snaipery (Rus.): Ovchinnikov, who was taken in the fifth round of the 2020 draft by Toronto, has logged some major minutes for his Russian junior squad so far, going as high as 33:20 in a shootout loss earlier in the month.


Filed in: NHL Teams, Non-NHL Hockey, | KK Hockey | Permalink

The Edmonton Oilers Retain Kris Russell For Another Year

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

(Edmonton, AB) - The Edmonton Oilers have signed defenceman Kris Russell to a one-year contract extension through the 2021-22 season worth an annual average value (AAV) of $1.25 million.

Russell, 33, appeared in 55 games with the Oilers last season, posting 9 assists, 14 penalty minutes and an even plus/minus rating. He also played in four games in the 2020 Stanley Cup playoffs. 

The 5’10”, 170-pound blueliner has appeared in 846 career NHL games over 13 seasons with Columbus, St. Louis, Calgary, Dallas, and Edmonton, registering 236 points (46G, 190A), 259 penalty minutes and a -5 plus/minus rating. Russell has also recorded 20 points (3G, 17A), 24 penalty minutes and a -4 plus/minus rating in 53 career playoff games.

Filed in: NHL Teams, Edmonton Oilers, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Faith In The GM

Blog: Abel to Yzerman By Paul

from Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News,

“It’s a good young team,” Greiss said after signing with the Wings. “They have a very good future, and I trust Steve Yzerman that he is going to do a great job.”

Greiss isn’t alone.

The Wings signed five free agents — Greiss, forwards Vladislav Namestnikov and Bobby Ryan, and defensemen Jon Merrill and Troy Stecher, along with trading for defenseman Marc Staal — and there was a consensus among them about where the Red Wings are in their rebuild.

Yes, the Wings have been through difficult times and still may not be a playoff team. But the base for a turnaround is there. And players are excited about expediting the turnaround and still view Detroit as an attractive option, in no small part because of Yzerman.

“I want to be part of the rebuild, want to be part of the Red Wings,” said Namestnikov, who lives in Commerce in the off-season and has longstanding ties to the Wings’ organization. “I’m going to come in here and try to help the team as much as possible.”


Filed in: | Abel to Yzerman | Permalink

The Bubble Effects

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Matt Larkin of The Hockey News,

...The client had begun his off-season program. Prentiss was putting him through the paces like it was any summer between seasons. Suddenly, the client stopped.

“I just can’t get my head into this,” the client said.

He had to walk away, mid-workout. His heart, body and mind weren’t in it. It was the bubble hangover.

The client played for a team that made the NHL post-season tournament. He’d spent weeks and months training after the March-12 shutdown in hopes of peaking physically in time for the bubble. He trained inside the bubble. He played a rigorous schedule that commonly included three games in four nights and regular back-to-backs. Now he was embarking on an off-season workout plan with no confident understanding of whether the NHL would meet its planned return date of Jan. 1. And something just switched off. After a pattern of training, waiting, training, playing and training, then back to training…he wasn’t ready. Prentiss and his staff paused the program.

The NHL just completed the first “bubble season” in its history. Doing so required unprecedented preparation for the athletes who competed inside. Once there, they endured unusual physical and mental strain during the tournament. Now that the athletes have left the bubble, they need a different timeline of recovery and workout-plan customization than in any other off-season.

What has the experience been like from a training perspective for NHLers before, during and after the bubble?


Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink

Video- Top Mike Emrick Goal Calls

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

via Sportsnet's YouTube page,

Sportsnet counts down the top 10 calls of Mike 'Doc' Emrick's legendary broadcasting career.


Filed in: NHL Media, Hockey Broadcasting, | KK Hockey | Permalink

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