Kukla's Korner

Players Starting To Get It

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Al Strachan of the Toronto Sun,

Slowly but surely, the National Hockey League's players appear to be getting accustomed to the game's new philosophy. They're not fully there yet, and that's why the level of scoring has yet to rise appreciably. In a performance that is fairly typical of the pre-season, the Maple Leafs and Detroit Red Wings hooked up in a 4-1 affair to close out the pre-season last night, with the Leafs getting the edge over the Wings for the second night in succession. At the moment, dealing with the new rules is taking precedence over actually using the new rules, and as a result, the free-flowing game has not resulted in a scoring increase. But more and more, the players are starting to feel comfortable with the new philosophy and they're starting to learn what they can do. For one thing, they're going to the net more. In the old NHL, that area was sacred territory and trespassing was definitely a threat to good health. But now, the larger players, like the Leafs' Nik Antropov, can plant themselves in that area and give the defenders a problem.

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Good, Bad & Ugly

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,

The ugly ideas include adoption of the shootout, which trivializes the sport; the commitment to use tight, form-fitting uniforms that everyone but everyone who's worn them or seen them up close despises, in the 2006 Olympics and then for the 2006-07 season; and the new, "My NHL" ad campaign that is at best, a turnoff, and at worst, offensive. The ugly concepts include the suggestion that the NHLPA should just go along with the hiring of Ted Saskin without a full review of the CBA debacle. The ugliest free-agent signing was the Rangers' addition of Marek Malik for three years at $2.5M per. The ugliest situations will take place in Detroit, where the marquee Red Wings will capsize; in Toronto, where the marquee Maple Leafs will be very bad; in Colorado, where the fans will have to begin to settle for less. The ugly teams will include the Rangers; the Caps, who have given up; the Hurricanes; and the Blues.

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For The Love Of The Game

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Terry Frei of the Denver Post,

In the Hockey Hall of Fame's Great Hall, Joe Buxton of Belleville, Ontario, squinted at the Stanley Cup. Nearby, a young Hall employee watched closely. If asked, he would have stepped behind the Polaroid camera to snap a picture of Buxton with the trophy for $10. If Buxton attempted to imitate Ray Bourque and triumphantly lift the Cup, the employee likely would have turned as combative as any NHL enforcer. Visits to Toronto, Tampa and Los Angeles during the NHL exhibition season produce glimpses of North American passion for the sport. After more than a year of NHL darkness, this much we know: Reconciliation and reconnection with fans such as Joe Buxton are the goals.

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Players Must Adjust To Calls

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Ottawa Sun,

Have you seen many penalties called in the preseason so far? Welcome to the NHL's latest dose of bad medicine -- you may not like it, but it's the only way the patient is going to get well. The real deal begins in only three days, but the law has been laid down throughout the league. Clutching, grabbing, and any other game-muddying variety of obstruction penalties are being called without hesitation. Ottawa's tilt in Buffalo on Wednesday featured the undisciplined elements of the Oakland Raiders, combined with the stop-start nature of a run-of-the-mill NBA game. In other words, it didn't qualify as Must See TV. Twenty-six penalties in total -- 13 awarded to each team. A teenager driving a stick shift has a smoother progression than this. Bad medicine becomes more bearable as time goes on, and in the case of multiple penalty calls, it appears we are on our final dose. Give credit to the NHL for finally tending to the health of its league.

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Panthers Have Not Created A Buzz

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Sun-Sentinel,

I don't want to say this with my first step back on the ice. I really don't. Do I have to write how the Panthers already have blown it? How they've created absolutely no buzz around this team's return? Couldn't I just write something poetic about hockey coming back after a year away ("It comes back on little cat paws ...") or an uplifting piece about the pulse around this franchise ("Everything's different with the big addition of ...")? But that's just it. There are no marquee additions on this roster. There is so little different. After a fantasy-style draft for the league, the Panthers' identity remains Roberto Luongo. This isn't to say there aren't other capable players. It's to say they made no splash to make South Florida notice them again.

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Hockey An Afterthought In D.C.

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Philadelphia Inquirer via the Mercury News,

It's a tale of two cities: Pittsburgh and Washington. Both are struggling hockey markets with indirect competition and economic circumstances that make the game a tough sell. And both have won the draft lottery in the last two years, gaining the No. 1 overall picks. Pittsburgh chose Sid "The Kid" Crosby this summer. Washington chose Alexander Ovechkin two summers ago. There the similarities end. In Pittsburgh, Crosby's impact was immediate. The second the Penguins got Crosby, the phone lines at their box office were jammed. The club nearly sold out its season in advance. In Washington, which has a diverse audience that stretches beyond political, socioeconomic and multicultural boundaries, hockey is an afterthought. So when the Caps got Ovechkin, it hardly registered a blip on Pennsylvania Avenue.

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Defense Files Motion To Dismiss Bertuzzi Case

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from ESPN,

Former Colorado Avalanche winger Steve Moore is expected to testify at a hearing Monday in Denver District Court in connection with his lawsuit against Todd Bertuzzi, Marc Crawford, Brian Burke, Brad May and the Vancouver Canucks' ownership. The story was first reported by the Denver Post in its Sunday editions. The hearing involves defense motions to dismiss the case, arguing that it isn't appropriate for a U.S. courtroom.

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Players Doing the Right Thing

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Vancouver Canucks, Two Vancouver Canucks were up a little early today to make it special for a number of young hockey players. Dan Cloutier and Trevor Linden were both at General Motors Place before 8:00am this morning to go out on the ice and do an instructional camp with Associate Coach Mike Johnson and Manager of Hockey Development Rod Braithwaite. more...including a few audio clips...

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The Bottom Line- Good & Bad News

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Televison and radio adverting income will play a big part in establishing the NHL's bottom line. Sales of advertising spots in the typical strong NHL markets are close to 95% of pre-lockout rates, and inventory is close to being sold out. But in markets where the team and fan loyalties aren’t as strong, ad rates are being discounted as much as 70%-80% from 2003-04 levels, and at least 50% of inventory remains unsold.

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OLN Believes In Hockey

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Check out the new promo (will open wmp video) OLN is running.

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