Kukla's Korner

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

Positive Projection

Blog: Abel to Yzerman By Paul

from Dom Luszczyszyn of The Athletic,

Here’s how much each team has changed this offseason, from highest value added to most value subtracted.

Detroit Red Wings

Wins Added: 5.9 wins

Salary Added: $14.9 million

In: Marc Staal, Thomas Greiss, Vladislav Namestnikov, Troy Stecher, Bobby Ryan, Jon Merrill

Out: Jonathan Ericsson, Justin Abdelkader, Jimmy Howard, Trevor Daley, Madison Bowey, Christoffer Ehn

The worst team in hockey has only one way to go next season: up. That’s especially true with the offseason they had. No, they didn’t sign any big names that moved the needle — but they did replace serious drags with actual NHL calibre talent. Every player on the way out was a negative value player last season, worth a combined minus-4.6 wins. That’s where most of the team’s added value comes from: addition by subtraction.

Aside from Marc Staal, who is comparable in value to the players on the way out, everyone else is projected to bring positive value. It may be small, but at least it’s on the right side of the ledger and not actively hurting the team. It may not make sense for a bad team like Detroit to sign all these players, but it helps create a less toxic environment of losing. There’s a difference between playing at a 45-point pace and one closer to 70. It still sucks but it’s a lot less demoralizing.

read on (paid subscription) for more teams...

The Wings did rank #1 in this category.

Filed in: | Abel to Yzerman | Permalink

An Early Camp For The Wings

Blog: Abel to Yzerman By Paul

from Curtis Pashelka of the Mercury News,

It appears the Sharks and six other teams that did not qualify for the NHL’s postseason earlier this year will be allowed to have extra time to train and practice together before the start of any main training camp.

This summer, general managers from the seven teams asked the NHL if they could get an extended training camp — possibly as long as two weeks — before the start of the 2020-21 regular season. The GMs were seeking the same chance to skate the 24 other teams got during Phase 3 of the NHL’s Return to Play before the start of the postseason.

In an email to this newspaper, NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly wrote the league and the NHL Players’ Association have a general agreement on the structure of extra pre-camp workouts for those seven teams, but have not yet finalized any details.


Filed in: | Abel to Yzerman | Permalink

TSN Insiders Tonight

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

The TSN Hockey Insiders discuss what the Blackhawks' planned rebuild means for veterans such as Jonathan Toews, Patrick Kane, Duncan Keith and Brent Seabrook, whether there's been any progress on determining when the next NHL season will begin, if players salaries will be prorated next year in the event of a shortened season, and the Maple Leafs' plans to be salary cap compliant.

Watch at TSN

Filed in: NHL Teams, NHL Talk, NHLPA, | KK Hockey | Permalink

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