Kukla's Korner

The Teams Compete

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Scott Burnside of ESPN,

With Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby meeting for the first time this season and with Crosby's Pittsburgh Penguins and Ovechkin's Washington Capitals both defying observers by staying in the playoff hunt, one would have imagined that the lure of such a spectacle would have been strong enough to give the Capitals their first sellout of the season. Instead, great gaping rows of empty purple Verizon Center seats greeted the two young stars as they conspired to produce a compelling, seesaw tilt that saw the Penguins fall behind 4-0 before stealing a 5-4 shootout victory. Compelling? My goodness yes, despite the announced crowd of 14,793.... By the end, the buzz in the Verizon Center was electric. As it should be when the game's elite gather and turn in a performance worthy of the term. Even if there were thousands of empty seats that didn't bear witness to the event.
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Leafs Crumbling

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,

Strangled by their own economic mismanagement, the Maple Leafs plod on, unable to make changes, perhaps incapable of change. The very premise of this Leafs season -- a team built around an ultra-expensive defence, apparently emerging goaltenders and strong special teams -- is crumbling nightly.
continued

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Personality Removed From The Game

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun,

"I don't miss hockey at all," said Fleury, whose last three teams have been the Horse Lake Thunder, Belfast Giants and a Calgary summer- league squad. "I haven't really thought about it a whole lot. I've just been having fun with this." This is a family business he started with new wife Jennifer and brother Travis after reading Entrepreneur magazine on his honeymoon this summer.... "I don't see the game as being fun -- you don't have to get your nose dirty any more," said Fleury. "You can't be a (jerk) on the ice because there are two officials and 12 guys in Toronto watching every move you make. For a guy like me, I needed that aspect of my game to be effective. The craziness, the intimidation, the unpredictability -- there's no more of that in the game. They've taken personality right out."
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‘tis The Season To Second Guess In Ottawa

Blog: Abel to Yzerman By IwoCPO

I really have no patience for fans or journalists who make a habit of second-guessing NHL general managers. It saddens me when wannabe execs view personnel moves from opinionated perches and point fingers months after...oh, the hypocrisy. Even at my most sarcastic I can't continue that sentence. The point? It's this: in Ottawa today, hours before Dominik Hasek faces his former team, the media is a wonderin' where they'd be had they not signed Martin Gerber. Don Brennan/Ottawa Sun

They could have and should have accepted a trade offer from San Jose that would have seen them with Vesa Toskala rather than Gerber, for sure, but they simply could not have gone into this campaign with Hasek as their goalie. The players couldn't have faith in him finishing the job this time, nor could the fans. But on a mid-December evening, when they are struggling and he is soaring, it is easy to fall into the trap of imagining 'what if' the Dominator was still in Ottawa colours.

Continue Reading »

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Fan Base Not Increasing

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Brian Milner of the Globe and Mail,

Higher ticket prices in 25 of the 30 NHL markets were only possible in the wake of last season's deep discounts, and the cost increases are largely being absorbed by corporate customers. But it's not the smartest of business moves, considering that the league held out the promise of lower prices as one of the consumer benefits of getting its salary costs under control. The average price of an NHL ducat has climbed 3.7 per cent. But it is an exorbitant 29.1 per cent higher in Florida Panthers country, where the team isn't exactly a crowd magnet to begin with, and a ridiculous 45 per cent more in Carolina, whose brain trust must think that one Stanley Cup victory was enough to convert the state's fickle, basketball-loving sports fans to puck aficionados.
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Phil Kessel Diagnosed with Cancer

Blog: KK Hockey By Alanah McGinley

From Steve Burton at CBS4 in Boston:

CBS4 has learned for the second time in recent months, another young athlete is in a major medical fight. The Boston Bruins' first-round pick Phil Kessel has testicular cancer. Sources say Kessel is currently at Mass. General Hospital and was due to undergo surgery. Kessel is said to be in good spirits. He was the Bruins' number one pick and fifth overall in the NHL. Testicular cancer usually occurs in young men and can be treated and often cured, according to the American Cancer Society.
Continued... (And thanks to David at The Ice Block.com for the heads-up) *Earlier statement from the Bruins and the Kessel family was noted here.

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St. Louis Blues’ Coach Mike Kitchen Fired—Andy Murray Hired

Blog: KK Hockey By Alanah McGinley

From TSN:

Andy Murray is back coaching in the NHL. The St. Louis Blues have fired head coach Mike Kitchen and replaced him behind the bench with Murray. The Blues announced the move late Monday night but will hold a news conference at noon ET Tuesday to formally introduce Murray. The decision to change coaches wasn't entirely surprising, though. St. Louis is last overall in the NHL standings with a 7-17-4 record and is on a seven-game losing streak.
Continued... From St Louis Blues Online:
St. Louis Blues President John Davidson announced today that Andy Murray, one of hockey’s most respected coaches with over 25 years of experience at both the National Hockey League and International level, has been named the Head Coach of the St. Louis Blues. Murray becomes the 22nd coach in Blues history. Murray replaces Mike Kitchen, who was relieved of his duties earlier this evening. Terms of the deal were not disclosed, as per team policy. “Andy comes to us with extensive experience and a very successful coaching pedigree,” said Davidson. “He is one of the most prepared coaches in the NHL and I believe that he is the right person for the job. I look forward to working with him closely as we move ahead and get this franchise back to where it belongs.” “I would like to thank Mike Kitchen for the job he has done here the past two seasons,” continued Davidson. “He has stood behind our bench admirably and should be commended for that. I wish him nothing but the best of luck.”
Continued...

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Trying To Compete

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the New York Times,

Every day for two years, Ted Nolan awoke craving another head-coaching job in the N.H.L. Then one day he went to the movies, and what he saw helped him deal with the fact that he might not coach again. Nolan saw “Ali,” which starred Will Smith, and was impressed by how Muhammad Ali clung to his identity despite setbacks. Nolan, who grew up on an Ojibwa First Nation reserve in Ontario, had already been forging an identity apart from coaching.
continued

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Ducks Have A Plan

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from A.J. Perez at USA TODAY,

The Anaheim Ducks certainly aren't a Walt Disney production anymore, and some on this side of the 57 — a freeway that crosses between the arena and nearby Disneyland — don't seem to mind. "I never got the feeling (Disney) wanted to win," says right wing Teemu Selanne, who returned to the team as a free agent last season after being traded to the San Jose Sharks in 2001. "I remember after many years, we had one of the best lines in (the NHL). It was something we could have built around. We had meetings with the GM … and he said they wanted to go into the free agent market. That never happened."
read on... a good look at the Ducks...

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Bondra May Play Tuesday

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Bob Foltman of the Chicago Tribune via the Santa Barbara News,

...But Bondra did miss the NHL and the competition. And even though he said ''it's just a number,'' he certainly would like to reach 500 goals before he calls it a career. Bondra, 38, is two shy of that mark, and the Blackhawks are hoping he reaches that milestone this week-and moves well past it. Bondra passed his physical and had his first skate with the Hawks on Monday, and coach Denis Savard wouldn't rule out using him Tuesday night against the Blues. ''He looked pretty good,'' Savard said. ''We'll see where he's at. There's a chance.
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