Kukla's Korner

Give The NHL The Cold Shoulder

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Ventura County Star,

One year after scratching an entire season, failing to award the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1919 and disrespecting its entire fan base, the National Hockey League returned with 15 season openers last Wednesday night. Reaction: Yawn. Translation: Who cares. The NHL is about to discover that it's easier to settle a protracted collective bargaining agreement that it will be to cajol its fans to return to the arenas. Talk about nuclear winters: The fallout from last season's histrionics, when the NHL's owners and players basically acted like two bratty kids fighting over the pail and shovel in the sand box, won't easily be forgotten.

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Will The Rules Stick

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Bradenton Herald,

Too bad hockey isn't more like golf. No refs. No whistles. No penalty boxes. You pitchfork your stick into someone's kidney, you take yourself out of the game. You grab a mittful of jersey, you park yourself on the bench. You give an elbow to the chops, you give yourself two minutes to ponder your sins. If golf - a sport in which players call their own infractions - is a gentleman's game, what is hockey? Rugby on ice? Cheaters' paradise? The NHL says it's serious about eliminating the absurd amount of interference (hooking, holding, clutching, grabbing and anything else players think they can get away with) that has become an accepted part of the game. Problem is, we've heard this refrain before, in 1995, '98, 2000 and again this season. Check out this Hockey News headline: "NHL edict should halt clutch-and-grab play." The date? October 1951.

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Aound The League

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Al Strachan of the Toronto Sun,

Here's one the deep thinkers at the league office have not addressed. Many players, especially Europeans, love to use sticks with blades shaped like fish hooks. They're quite illegal, but in the first and second periods no one ever checks. But NHL rules say that no coach can call for a stick measurement in overtime. So when the shootouts start, check the curves on some of the sticks. They won't be close to legal but nothing can be done about it.

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The Grind Is Gone

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Toronto Sun,

I didn't suffer any damage to my teeth watching the first few games in the new-look NHL. I comment on my teeth because, for the past five years or so, I have spent most of the time, while watching NHL games, grinding my teeth together unable to stomach the product that for 82 games, plus pre-season and playoffs, was being passed off as the greatest spectator team sport. Why the sudden change? First, gone from the games (thus far) is the hacking, grabbing, impeding and general wrestling that went on in the neutral zone as players of speed and skill were brought down (many times literally) to the level of the slow and less skilled so that the latter could compete on the same ice surface as the former. What I see now are players able to generate true skating speed up the ice with and without the puck, thus producing a much better flow to the game. The result? No grinding of my teeth.

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Improved NHL

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Herald Tribune,

One can't expect the NHL to rid itself of its Jay Bouwmeesters in just three games. Ingrained behavior takes longer than that to change. Since the days of Howie Morenz, hockey's first superstar, the stick has proven the great equalizer for plodding players without the necessary RPMs to keep up. A hook here, a jab or poke there. No real malice intended. And none was exhibited when Bouwmeester, a Florida Panthers' defenseman, put his stick Saturday night into a definite no-no zone.

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More On Escrow Payment

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Larry Brooks of the NY Post (reg. req.),

The PA membership was informed by executive director Ted Saskin that the total opening night compensation of $1.031B for 713 roster players accounted for a 12 percent overage of the 54 percent allowed the players as measured against the projected 2005-06 league revenues of $1.803B. The $1.031B includes $23M in earnable bonuses. The 731 roster players includes 34 on Injured Reserve. Escrow will be computed again and adjusted if necessary at the quarter-mark, halfway-mark and three-quarter mark of the season. In his memo, Saskin informs the players that the revenue projection is "very conservative," and does not include the $65M from the OLN television contract or the $10M from the league's satellite radio deal. He also states that the revenue projection was on a "contemplated significant drop in attendance . . . that does not [match] the current 3-percent rise in season-ticket renewals. "The forecast of year-end revenues is significantly higher [than $1.803B]." As cited in the memo, if league revenues reach $1.85B, escrow for the season will amount to 9.5 percent. Should revenues reach $2B, escrow will be $1.7 percent. If, however, revenue is $1.6B, then players will be hit with a season escrow of 22.6 percent. And if escrow is 22.6 percent, someone other than Saskin will be sending out the escrow memos next year.

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More Questions Answered

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Phil Coffey of NHL.com, answers some mail,

Hey there. With the new NHL season looming over the horizon, I would like to ask a question that I've been pondering for the past couple of years: Why was it changed so that the home team wears their away jersey and the away team wears their home jersey? Personally, I liked it better the old way, seeing the Flyers with their white uniforms at home ice. Now, they have to wear the black ones, and it just doesn't seem like the same old game I knew. Any answers? This is a case of what's old is new again. It used to be that the road team wore its white uniforms and the home team pulled on the more colorful jerseys. The switch was made to home team wearing white during the 1960s and it remained that way until the switch was made for 2003-04. The switch was made as means of giving the home fans the chance to see their team in their more colorful uniforms. I'll admit that the change does take some getting used to. I'm also used to seeing the white uniforms at home.

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Thibault Injured

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Pittsburgh Penguins goalie Jocelyn Thibault injured his left knee while being struck by a puck during Saturday's pre-game skate, forcing Andy Chiodo to be recalled from Wilkes-Barre/Scranton of the AHL. Sebastien Caron started in goal for the second straight night after also playing in a 3-2 loss Friday at Carolina decided in a shootout. The Penguins did not disclose any more information about Thibault's injury, which occurred during the morning skate about eight hours before the team's home opener against Boston.

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Nothing New With Boynton

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the CP via Canada.com,

With Ilya Kovalchuk now under contract with the Atlanta Thrashers, Nick Boynton remains the only notable restricted free agent that hasn't re-signed with his club. But the all-star defenceman and the Boston Bruins are no closer to a deal as the NHL season heads into Week 2, despite the fact both sides are only $150,000 US apart on a new deal. "There's nothing new to report," Bruins general manager Mike O'Connell said on Saturday from Pittsburgh, where his club faced the Penguins.

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Players Give Back 12%

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

via TSN,

When National Hockey League players receive their first paycheque on October 15th, 12 per cent of it will be withheld to fulfill the escrow payment as part of the new collective bargaining agreement. Sources tell TSN, the precise 12% figure for escrow has now been posted on the NHLPA secure web site, The Source. TSN reported, earlier this week, that the rate of escrow for the first quarter of the season would be at least 10% and perhaps more. Although members of the NHLPA have been aware of the escrow situation, it's not likely too many of them will be thrilled when they see 12% missing from every paycheque they receive in the first quarter of the season.

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