Kukla's Korner

Boycott Opening Night

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Anyone want to boycott the opening game of the NHL season? Not me! First and foremost we want professional hockey around so our grandchildren can watch it. The game must be protected so it survives for years to come. But, so far the individuals in positions to accomplish that goal have failed miserably. The recent lockout is an example that is almost too obvious. They have bumbled it to the brink of failure. The players and owners both equally share the responsibility for this fiasco. And now it rests on the shoulders of the fans to dig them out. Our response to the lockout will determine if the sport can succeed. OneGame.ca believes that with the right set of actions the fans can set a precedent that will affect not only professional hockey, but other professional sports as well. We must make a bold statement that says, “We will not tolerate this anymore!” Another lockout cannot be allowed.

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Working Towards Revenue

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Thanks to reader Jim for passing this along. From the Rocky Mountain News,

Hockey fans weren't too happy when the NHL went dark, but the lockout and embarrassment of a lost 2004-05 season could turn out to be a good thing in the long run. At least, that's the opinion of people such as Colorado Avalanche defenseman Rob Blake, player agent Tom Laidlaw and ESPN analyst Barry Melrose. But only if the pain of a year of empty rinks will have been the impetus to make the changes needed to put all 30 NHL franchises on solid financial footing, forge a true partnership between owners and players and make the on-ice product more appealing to fans. The league is expected to reopen for business this weekend, after ratification of a tentative collective-bargaining agreement by NHL Players' Association members today in Toronto and the NHL Board of Governors on Friday in New York. The governors are expected to approve the deal, but there are players among the 700-plus union members who lost a year of salary fighting the hard salary cap that is the key component of the six-year agreement. "We offered that cap in (the winter) to get a deal, so we all understood it was on the table for good," Blake said. "Now both parties can work together to create new revenues."

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NHL Draft Lottery Gets Little U.S Coverage

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the AP via Sports Illustrated,

U.S. hockey fans will have to rely on regional cable outlets for full, live coverage Friday of the NHL draft lottery. The event will determine the entire 30-team draft order as well as which club has won the right to draft 17-year-old Canadian juniors phenom Sidney Crosby. While people up north can turn to TSN -- Canada's version of ESPN -- to see NHL commissioner Gary Bettman open the envelopes, American viewers will have to live in the right areas of the nation or settle for bits and pieces of news. Cable outlets Altitude, in Denver, Comcast Sports Net in Chicago, the Mid-Atlantic area, and Philadelphia, and New York's MSG Network will show TSN's telecast in their viewing areas. ESPN, which last month decided not to pick up a $60-million option to broadcast hockey games next season, also passed on the chance to show the lottery in full. "We have ongoing conversations with the NHL on a number of different topics," ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz said. "It was expressed from our end that this was not something we were interested in televising. "It never went any further than that."

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Linden Wants to get Back on the Ice

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from AP via TSN,

A weary Trevor Linden was ready to get out of the boardroom and back on the ice Thursday. As president of the NHL Players' Association, Linden has spent weeks studying documents, analysing data and negotiating with the league. "I'm looking very forward to getting on the ice and becoming a player again," the Vancouver Canucks forward said after the PA voted to approve the new collective bargaining agreement. "There's no question about that." The 16-year NHL veteran has said little publicly during the last few weeks of hard negotiations been the NHL and the players' association. Even so, he is believed to be a driving force behind getting the two sides back together when there seemed little chance of doing so, because he knew the players had had enough.

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The Leaders Must be Held Accountable

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from ESPN and Scott Burnside,

Talk about an exercise in suspension of disbelief. Bob Goodenow and Gary Bettman, architects of the most devastating labor stoppage in pro sports history, sitting shoulder to shoulder, insisting that, heck yes, they're prepared to become partners in a new NHL. As if it would be any other way. The two, appearing at a joint news conference for the first time since the Salt Lake City Olympics in 2002, practically killed each other with kindness Thursday as they came together to announce the ratification of a new collective bargaining agreement by the players. Please. Thank you. I agree. You're quite right. No, you first. I insist. As for the fact the two have been at each other's throats in boardrooms and across bargaining tables for more than a decade? Completely blown out of proportion, they insisted -- a media fairy tale. "I think there's been too much made about a fragmented relationship. It tends, I suppose, to make for interesting reading and telling," Bettman told reporters during a news conference that was broadcast live nationally in hockey-starved Canada. "But Bob and I have always had a professional relationship. On a personal level we've never had a problem dealing with each other. And I don't suspect there'll be any change in that. "I have no doubt that labor and management can work together for the benefit of the game and the fans in an unprecedented way," Bettman added. "I agree totally," Goodenow chimed in, and it was a wonder he didn't throw his arm over Bettman's shoulder to make the point. "I think anyone who suggests that there's a problem and an inability for us to work together don't really know the level to which, as Gary alluded to, that we have had discussions in the past," Goodenow said. "I think you would all be very surprised at the level of the topics we discuss when we get together." The only thing missing was a rendition of Kumbaya.

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Goodenow’s Future Intriguing

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the CP and Canada.com,

Will he stay or will he go? The future of NHL Players' Association executive director Bob Goodenow was a hot topic as players overwhelmingly ratified the new collective bargaining agreement Thursday. Given that this isn't the deal he would have wanted left to his own devices, many wondered if can live with it moving forward. But Goodenow left the impression that's he not going anywhere. "There's been some reports and speculation (about the future) and that goes with the territory," Goodenow said after his joint news conference with counterpart Gary Bettman. "But I enjoy my work, I have a contract and I intend to abide by it certainly."

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NBC A-Team

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

The lead broadcast team for the NBC NHL broadcasts will be Mike "Doc" Emrick and John Davidson. Great decision by NBC.

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Rangers Hope to Stop Bad Luck

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the CP via Canada.com,

The New York Rangers can end a dubious drought Friday at the 2005 NHL draft lottery. New York is among four teams to have the maximum three balls in the lottery, which will determine which NHL squad will have the first overall selection and the opportunity to select Canadian junior phenom Sidney Crosby. The other franchises are the Columbus Blue Jackets, Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres. The Rangers haven't had the first overall pick since 1965 when they took Andrew Veilleux, a Jr. B right-winger from Montreal who never played a regular-season game with New York.

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Voting on Rule Changes

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the CP via Canada.com,

The NHL's relaunch will officially get started Friday with the announcement of new rule changes meant to open up the game. Colin Campbell, the NHL's director of operations, met with the newly created competition committee Tuesday to nail down a final list of recommendations for owners to vote on Friday. The original 13-point memo sent out to GMs on June 29 has been whittled down somewhat. "It was revised a little bit," Campbell said Thursday. "The board of governors now have it in their hands." Campbell would not disclose what was on the final list but here are some of the changes that are expected:

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Peace in Our Time

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Stan Fischler of MSG Network,

Peace in our time." The late, not-so-great, British Prime Minister Neville Chamberlain knew nothing from hockey but his words certainly ring true on the NHL front today. Pending the obvious certification of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement on Friday by league owners, hockey's worst Civil War is over. This was made official on Thursday afternoon when NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and his NHLPA counterpart Bob Goodenow shared the dais to reveal that more than 85 percent of the union members approved the new CBA. "We now can move forward together," said Bettman, "and move our sport to new heights." Reviled by many for his negotiating tactics, Goodenow described the process as "long and challenging." Nevertheless he showed a commitment to peace on the big-league hockey front by adding, "We are fully committed to the new deal and are optimistic to get to work." How intense the recriminations and bitterness experienced in the days and months ahead are difficult to discern. Questions about Goodenow's future as NHLPA boss were diffused during a question-and-answer period.

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