Kukla's Korner

Crosby & Ovechkin Pave The Way

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the NY Times (Sunday edition),

Their cause is helped by the remaking of the N.H.L. in the postlockout era. A salary cap has brought back competitive balance, and new rules have opened up offenses. “Sid and Alex have come into the league at the perfect time,” said Bill Clement, the lead analyst for NBC and Versus (formerly OLN). “If there hadn’t been a lockout, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Now the game showcases just what they do, which is skate, pass, shoot and score.” The league is also showcasing its young stars in an invigorated marketing campaign, and it is hard to find a hockey preview not decorated with Crosby’s and Ovechkin’s elfin smiles. They have participated in those efforts happily, and neither has seemed to let it warp his perspective.
more

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Dallas - Montreal Trade

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Montreal Canadiens General Manager Bob Gainey announced today the acquisition of defenseman Janne Niinimaa and a 5th round pick in 2007 from the Dallas Stars, in return for forward Mike Ribeiro and a 6th round pick in 2008.

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Will Boston Changes Help

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Fox Sports,

While the Bruins will be much better than last season, it's doubtful they will be able to climb out of the basement in the highly competitive Northeast. Boston will give the Maple Leafs a run for their money for the fourth spot in the division, but that's about as high as this team will go. Boston still has too many question marks on offense, defense and in goal to be able to challenge for a playoff spot. After their top six forwards of Savard, Murray, Kessel, Marco Sturm, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Boyes, it's a crap shoot for the Bruins. P.J. Axelsson has offensive skills, but how much can he contribute if he's not playing with the other skilled players from one of the top two lines? Where they'll finish Division: 5th Conference: 12th
more

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Offensive Minded Hockey Coach

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

via Tom Gage at the Detroit News,

On Monday, Matt Stairs will be home in Bangor, Maine, contemplating his next big challenge: coaching the boys' varsity hockey team at John Bapst Memorial High. "I'll become a full-time dad again, and getting ready for the hockey season," said Stairs, who's not eligible for the postseason. Stairs grew up in New Brunswick, Canada, and played much more hockey than baseball as a kid. He continued to play as a adult, before "I stopped about five years ago because of a bad Achilles (tendon)." What does he stress as a coach? "Straight offense," Stairs said before going 1-for-5 with an RBI in the Tigers' 9-7 loss to Kansas City. "To heck with defense, I want offense."

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Rink Rage

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Toronto Star,

Desrocher did put Teskey in a hammerlock, squeezing to the point that the coach lost consciousness and dropped to the ground; he did close his hands around the victim's neck, yanking the poor man up and down in a choking motion; Teskey did, from all accounts, appear to stop breathing for a few seconds, couldn't get any air down his windpipe. All this, absurdly, was the result of one father's red-hot rage over the apparent benching of his 8-year-old son in a minor atom hockey game. I feel most sorry for the kid, who is reportedly back playing with his team. It can be no fun having an unhinged brawler — now felon — for a dad.
read on

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In The West- The Cap Changed Everything

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Elliott Pap of the Vancouver Sun,

The salary cap has returned free-spending franchises to the planet Earth, while natural evolution has taken care of the rest. All that's left is for the debate to rage. "I think the salary cap has definitely pushed things along," said Flames captain Jarome Iginla. "I mean, there were certain teams that would improve because they were developing their young guys and they were a strong organization. But the traditional powers have come back to the pack because they had to unload a lot of very good players. "I think it's exciting and I think it's enjoyable to watch as a fan and as a player," Iginla added. "There is a lot more balance in the conference. It's not the same teams winning and it's not the same teams loading up at the trade deadline."
read on

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Johnson Excited With Trade

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the LA Times (reg. req.),

Johnson is a skilled offensive defenseman, who was nurtured in the United States Development Program. He had 10 goals and 22 assists in 38 games with Michigan last season. "I think it's unbelievable to maybe get a chance to play with Rob Blake," Johnson said. "The guy is going to the Hall of Fame, and I could be in the same locker room with him. This is just an exciting day for me." An NHL source familiar with the situation said that Johnson would be willing to sign with the Kings after his college season. "We don't have a specific timetable, but we'll look closely at this in March depending on how he develops," Lombardi said.

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Casino Sponsors Florida Panthers

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Miami Herald,

The Panthers were the first professional team in South Florida to have an entire season ''presented by'' a corporate sponsor. Now, they are the first to have a season financially linked to a casino. The team recently announced the Seminole Tribe of Florida and its Coconut Creek casino would sponsor its 2006-07 season. Even though the NHL has publicly stated its disdain for illegal gambling, it has allowed teams to align themselves with legal gaming facilities such as Indian casinos and parimutuel facilities. The Panthers also have a sponsorship agreement with Hollywood's Mardi Gras greyhound track. ''The only prohibition by the league is against sponsorship by casinos that operate sports books,'' said NHL spokesman Frank Brown, who added he couldn't recall another NHL team having its season sponsored by a gambling entity.
read on

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Clarke Calls Them Out

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Daily Times,

...It was at that point that Clarke decided being vague wasn’t the appropriate tactic to get the message across to his players, so he decided to point fingers at specific groups of players. "If you ask me, on our defense our most competitive and best defenseman has been (Derian) Hatcher from day one," said Clarke. "But some of these guys should be competing a lot (gosh) darn harder than they have been in training camp and it might cost them at the start of the year. "(Nolan) Baumgartner is one of those guys that has to play better. He is what he is. He’s on the bubble. Just like (Denis) Gauthier and (Randy) Jones and (Freddy) Meyer. Jones and Meyer haven’t shown me very much for guys who should be fighting for a job. They haven’t shown the same fire that it’s going to take to be a regular on this club."
more

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Be Like Kipper

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Edmonton Sun,

Sitting in his stall after the morning skate, Josh Green looks over at Roberto Luongo and immediately thinks of Miikka Kiprusoff. Green, who played for Calgary during the 2003-04 season, saw first-hand day-after-day how much Kiprusoff means to the Flames and their fortunes. The Vancouver forward sees the same in Luongo, the Canucks prized goaltender acquired this past summer via trade. "In my mind, he and Kipper are up there as the best," Green said yesterday. "I can't score on either of them in practice. I keep the pucks I score with on him."
continued

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