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It’s A Lock

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Canes can't lose now! With a pre-game speech like that, they will come out flying. image

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Back To CBA School

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

via the Columbus Dispatch,

The NHL yesterday rejected a number of contracts signed by European free agents, including two who signed with the Blue Jackets. The prospective Blue Jackets are Per Ledin, an agitator who plays in Sweden, and Janne Hauhtonen, a forward who plays in Finland. Both were to get a look in training camp, but would have had long odds on making the big club. Blue Jackets executive vice president and assistant general manager Jim Clark said the hang-up was in the fine print of the new collective bargaining agreement. "We attempted to sign these players to two-way contracts and the attempts failed," Clark said. "We obviously misinterpreted the CBA. We’ll spend time with their agents and determine exactly what their status is, and whether we can sign them after July 1."

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Over The Boards

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

via the Toronto Sun,

Bettman has to get the NHL back on a network (preferably sports-friendly ESPN) even if the league has to pay to do it. Only then can it win back fans. Many Canadians say they don’t care if the sport isn’t appreciated in the U.S. Well, better start caring. Fact is, the league and its players, need the U.S. market. Without that, all you’ve got left is the CFL with pucks.
-Games 3-5 in St. Louis had a 3.4 rating, 47% above the national rating. -Q. What did Steve Staios say to you? (if you missed it, the two had a little bump as Ward was skating off the ice at the end of OT) CAM WARD: I don't even remember. That's long over with. Just had a remark after the game and that's it. It's over. from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution,
They are neophytes to the NHL and reside in the sun-splashed cities of the southeast United States, the kind of cities where water turns to ice on its own outdoors with about the same frequency as the Braves have failed to make the playoffs. So in the early and mid-90s, when the NHL sent its minions to set up camp in south Florida, Tampa, Raleigh and Atlanta, the traditional hockey hotbeds responded with mocking laughter. But who's laughing now?
more (reg. req.)
My CWPFs(close warm personal friends) tell me fans aren't the only ones who have given up on the NHL. So have sports editors all across these United States. Moles say only six American newspapers have sent hockey writers to cover the Stanley Cup Finals. That's almost unbelievable. No wonder women's softball and the National Spelling Bee did better in the TV ratings than the NHL.
Rob Parker, Detroit News

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More Pressure On Canes Players

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,

The other important consideration is that the Canes are well-armed to compensate for the absence of Weight, who has a goal and two assists in the series before being levelled by a sandwich hit from Chris Pronger and Raffi Torres in Game 5. In Brind'Amour and Eric Staal, they have two studs who can deal with whatever minutes coach Peter Laviolette throws their way. Staal, in fact, has responded brilliantly to increased attention earlier in the series by assisting on both of his team's goal in Game 4 and scoring twice in Game 5. Moreover, Josef Vasicek has two games under his belt after only playing five games earlier in the post-season coming off season-long knee problems. He's played left wing so far in the series, but is a natural centre. The problem for Carolina is if the Oilers can blanket Brind'Amour with the combined forces of Mike Peca and Pronger while utilizing home ice and last change, that will put even more of the load on the youthful Staal. But the sense that the Canes are somehow on the ropes is probably due more to the emotional ebb and flow that goes with every playoff series.
more

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Edmonton Fans Live & Die With Oilers

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the News and Observer,

Regular Canes fans understand the significance of the Stanley Cup, but the general population isn't as engaged, and a loss would not be devastating. Edmonton is rife with "Go, Oilers, Go" signs on buildings, cars and buses. Oilers jerseys are common street wear. Thousands converge on Whyte Avenue after every Oilers win. In Raleigh, there are Canes flags on an occasional car and a win brings an uptick in the Glenwood Avenue bar business. Edmonton fans are aware of the difference. "I have a brother-in-law who went to a game in Raleigh," Connell said. "He had nothing but great things to say about the people down there and their hospitality, but he didn't run into a lot of hockey fans who were anxious to see their team win." Raleigh isn't helping its NHL image by waffling about where and whether there would be a Stanley Cup parade. Last week, more than six weeks into the playoffs, banners went up along city streets declaring Raleigh "Canes Country."
read on

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Say Goodbye To McCabe

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,

As the silence from Bryan McCabe drags into its third week, more daggers are pointed at John Ferguson. However, the culprit is not the Toronto Maple Leafs' general manager, nor is it McCabe's wife, Roberta, who is said to be reluctant to commit to a five-year stay in Toronto. The culprit is McCabe, the suddenly reluctant defenceman, who seemingly agreed to a contract more than two weeks ago, but has yet to sign it. Efforts yesterday to reach all three parties involved in this mess — Ferguson, McCabe and agent Jeff Solomon — were fruitless. But conversations with people familiar with the negotiations did not cast McCabe in a favourable light.
continued

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Clearly A Better Game

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Vancouver Sun,

If you can't see that we're watching a vastly improved game -- faster, every bit as physical, and with endless possibilities for comebacks that simply didn't exist two years ago -- it's time to pull your heads out of your ... uh, collars. "It's clear to all of us that the game is a lot better," Edmonton Oilers coach Craig MacTavish said Friday. "I think the one question mark was, were we going to revert back to the clutching and grabbing tactics that always framed the NHL playoffs?""And that's been answered pretty clearly. At times, as coaches, we complain about the number of calls, and the marginal calls, and what's called and what's not ... but the bottom line is that it has made the game itself better.
more

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Now We’re Talking

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Scott Burnside of ESPN,

Much has been made of the meager television audiences in these playoffs, especially in the United States. But thanks in large part to a compelling final series, NBC's national ratings for the last three games are now on a par with the 2004 Stanley Cup finals, ESPN.com has learned. More impressive, Game 5 managed a 2.5 rating and peaked at 4.0 in the late stages of the Oilers' 4-3 overtime win. The rationale, according to television types, is that the product is a strong enough lure fans in and keep them interested, one of the key elements of improving the weak-kneed American television audience as a whole. Total viewers for Game 5 were 3.85 million, up 4 percent from Game 5 of the 2004 Stanley Cup finals between Calgary and Tampa Bay.
much more on the SCF...

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Whitehorse To Edmonton

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Whitehorse Daily Star,

For a diehard, obsessive Oilers fan like me, it was unavoidable. It had been 16 long years since Edmonton last made it to the Stanley Cup final, 16 long years since the city was completely overcome by the fever, 16 long years since I had bragging rights over all of my friends. I had told myself during the second round that if the Oilers made it past San Jose – who, by the way, I admittedly picked to win the west – I would head to Edmonton to catch a game. I had to. But it just didn’t work out at that point, as none of my friends could get the time off to drive the Alaska Highway with me – a hockey road trip just doesn’t include an airplane in my books, it’s much more fun to drive for 24 hours straight, jacked up on coffee and Red Bull. When the Oil went up 3-0 in the conference final against Anaheim, I promised myself I would go to the Stanley Cup final no matter what. I would find a way. And when they closed out the series in five games, the planning was well underway. So last Thursday, my boyfriend – who by the way, is also a huge Oilers fan, which is good because he’s been able to put up with me this spring – and I packed up enough clothes for a few days, stopped to pick up some Red Bull and potato chips, and hit the road with the Oilers flag blowing furiously in the wind.
continued image

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Pisani Playing Confident

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,

In the Italian Centre Shop, in the heart of Edmonton's Little Italy, the hot seller right now is a cream-colored bracelet, with the red, white and green flag of Italy emblazoned on it, a sign of support for the Azzurri at the World Cup. Outwardly, there is little sign of Oilers' fever until the name of favourite son Fernando Pisani comes up, and then, there is much smiling about the local boy making good. Pisani occasionally drops by the store on 95th St. for one of the paninos that they sell in big baskets by the deli counter — they come in either hot or mild — but he hasn't been around much since the playoff run started. Once the playoffs are over, there'll be time to indulge in one of the massive, foot-long heroes, loaded with capicolla, mortadella and salami that have become a playoff staple for sports writers who spend their days inside Rexall Place, covering home and visiting team practices.
continued

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