Kukla's Korner

Up & Down Dom

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Toronto Star,

Dominik Hasek didn’t look like the world beating, future hall-of-fame goalie who was supposed to start against the Leafs tonight. In fact, during the pre-game skate this morning, Hasek looked very doubtful to even start the playoffs for the Senators when they open late next week.... Hasek, though, cast serious doubts the past two days despite taking to the ice for full workouts. During those sessions, he clearly either refused to drop to the ice to make a save, or simply couldn’t.
more Let's go back a couple of years and think what Dom said while with Detroir and nursing a groin injury. If my memory is correct, it was February-March that Dom said he needed some regular season games, something like five games, to get under his belt before the playoffs. We all know Hasek marches to a different beat and went home about that time, knowing full well his health would not allow him to compete at the level he thought he needed to be at. A few of the Wings were surprised by his sudden retirement announcement and thought it was a very strange move to make by their #1 goalie. Dom I am sure learned a few lessons from that, but what is still in my head, is Hasek saying he needed regular season game action in order to play in the playoffs. That has to be on his mind right now, the last thing he wants to do is go on the ice in the round #1 and embarrass himself. Time will tell, but the longer he goes without playing, the chances of course become greater that we may not see him on the ice this year.

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A Year Ago- Darkness

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Terry Frei of ESPN,

The New NHL is far from perfect, and another strength of the game is that both its fans and media corps aren't sycophantic and argue about it all. Bettman will remain the lightning rod for those who ridiculously want to blame him for everything that is perceived to be wrong about the sport. But he not only was dynamic enough for his regime to get what it set out to get, he had overseen the implementation and -- most important of all -- the acceptance of the new system. This, at times, seems to have become the wingers fighting, then buying each other beers in the Pullman cars on the way to the second game in the barn-and-barn series. And so, a year after the darkness, the NHL can get on with the best postseason in professional sports.
more Frei opens his column with this,
A year ago, there was darkness. It seems amazing at times how little talk there is about that.
I believe many of us just want to look ahead. Looking back just brings up so many bad memories and at this time of year, I don't even want to go there.

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Possible NBC & OLN Playoff Coverage

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Mike Emrick was on Detroit radio yesterday and mentioned OLN and NBC realize what USA cities will draw the most fan interest. He mentioned NYC, Philadelphia, Detroit, Dallas and Denver so this may be a sign which NHL playoff series may get the most coverage from OLN and NBC. Just something to watch for as the playoffs approach.

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Decision Time On Tkachuk & Who Watches The Blues

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,

Before new ownership has a chance to settle in, the Blues have to make a decision on veteran Keith Tkachuk's future with the club. They have seven days after Tuesday's season finale in Chicago to accept a $3.8 million team option on the left winger, who turned 34 in March. "It's a decision that we have to make and we'll deal with it at the proper time," Blues general manager Larry Pleau said Friday.
Also from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,
The season mercifully ends for the Blues next week, as they will finish with the worst record in franchise history - and their worst television ratings, too. On FSN, the best rating was 2.7 - for its second telecast of the season, a game in October against Detroit. Since then, FSN hasn't had a game go above 1.7, and its average rating in March dipped to a measly 0.6. That means, according to Nielsen, that only about 7,300 homes in the entire market were tuning in. On KPLR, the high point came on opening night, when 3.3 percent of the homes in the market saw the Blues play San Jose on Oct. 8. But Channel 11 hasn't had a 3-or-better rating since early December, and its best rating is worse that the season average for their last year of play - 2003-04.

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Committed Captain

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

via the LA Times (reg. req.),

Defenseman Mattias Norstrom said he told Swedish hockey officials that he won't play for his homeland in the world championships because he wants to remain in the Los Angeles area while the path of the Kings' coaching and management future is decided. "I decided that I need to stick around, with this season ending up with all the rumors and talk about changes," Norstrom said. "As the captain, as long as I am captain of this team, I need to stick around and be available. Whether it's [reporters], or the team or teammates. I can't just pack up and say, 'I've got to play hockey.'

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Nieuwendyk Mentor For Horton

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Sun-Sentinel,

Panthers coach Jacques Martin has kept second-year winger Nathan Horton on a line with center Joe Nieuwendyk because, among other reasons, the 19-year veteran has been good for Horton. Nieuwendyk talks to him often. He's supportive. He's encouraging. He's an example Martin hopes Horton continues to follow so his development goes on next season.
continued

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We Deserve This

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Winnepeg Sun,

Thornton has as many assists (94) as 2003-04 scoring champion Martin St. Louis had points. In fact, Thornton has caught Jagr for the scoring lead and should he win, he'll be the first person to take the Art Ross Trophy after being traded in mid-season. He should be the first to win the Hart Trophy after getting traded in mid-season. Minus his terrible Olympics, Thornton has had one of the most memorable seasons since that Gretzky guy hung up the skates. It has all combined to make it easy to be a fan again. After years of holding our noses and watching crap hockey, we deserve this.
more on the NHL (2nd half of the column)...

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Cujo Considering Staying With Yotes

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Arizona Republic,

Curtis Joseph, who is set to become an unrestricted free agent after the season, is seriously considering re-signing with the Coyotes. Joseph said negotiations between his agent Don Meehan and General Manager Mike Barnett are ongoing. Asked if he expected a deal to get done after posting his 31st victory and third shutout of the season Thursday night against Los Angeles, Joseph passed. "I can't speculate," Joseph said. "It may change day to day. I'm sure where there's a will there's a way."
continued

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Does Colorado Want The Wings

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Bill at Abel to Yzerman (back to blogging after spending a week in the hockey hotbead city of Pensacola) gets into the groove again, a welcomed relief for Wings fans.

If the ‘dique lose tonite against Vancouver, Monday’s game with Edmonton determines who the Wings get when the playoffs begin late next week. You think they don’t realize that in Denver? Think again.

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The Pros & Cons

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Edmonton Sun,

If anything, it was going to be a shortened season, the first half wiped out by the work stoppage and the second half playing to near-empty arenas. Instead, it's been everything the owners, players and fans could have ever asked for. Wild playoff races through the final week of the season. The most amazing crop of rookies in decades. League-wide parity on a level playing field. Goals. Shootouts. Attendance records. As Edmonton ramps up for the playoffs - it's been so long, even Detroit looks good - it's hard not to shake your head at how remarkably the NHL has recovered from what could have easily been a fatal labour dispute. Here's a look back at the pros and cons of what might go down as the most important season in the league's history: PRO: After numerous bold attempts and embarrassing retreats, the NHL finally stuck to its obstruction crackdown all year. Well, most of it, anyway. Inconsistent officiating is still a problem, but games are infinitely better than the garbage we had to sit through before.
read on

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