Kukla's Korner

Yzerman Decision Coming Soon

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Detroit Free Press, The Wings have said they want Yzerman, 40, back, but they probably can't offer him much more than $1.5 million to $2 million. That's because starting Aug. 1, teams have to operate within a salary cap that starts out at $21.5 million and hits a hard ceiling at $39 million. "You cannot exceed the cap," Nill said. "Alarms will go off -- bells and whistles will start. Anytime you go to make a move, it's monitored by ourselves internally and by the league, and they will not OK any moves if you are in that position." The longtime Wings captain plans to meet Wednesday in Toronto with general manager Ken Holland and vice president Jimmy Devellano.

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Yotes New Analyst

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the East Valley Tribune,

Longtime ESPN analyst Darren Pang is the likely choice to replace Simmer on the TV side. A source familiar with the negotiations said it’s a done deal. Pang wouldn’t go that far, but said during a phone interview, "You’re hot on an accurate trail." The contract is reportedly for three years. Pang, a former NHL goalie, became available in May when ESPN declined to pick up a $60 million option it held for the 2005-06 season, leaving Pang without a network. Pang brings accomplished credentials to the Coyotes, including working for ESPN since 1993. He is a longtime friend of managing partner Wayne Gretzky and is often referred to as "the best in the business."

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Dealing with Revenue Loss

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Newsday,

With a labor agreement finally in place, the NHL appears to be in an economic position to move forward. But the process will require enormous creativity and commitment on all levels, sports business experts agree. Sal Galatioto of Galatioto Sports Partners, a Manhattan-based investment bank that provides advisory services and capital to the sports industry, said the league has a far better chance of surviving. "The economic system made no sense," said Galatioto, a former sports finance executive with Lehman Brothers. "Most owners, perhaps 24 or 25, lost less money by not playing. Now you basically have cost certainty with a commonality of revenues. If revenues go up, players and owners benefit. Now if you run your business right, you can make a profit, half of the equation is fixed. The rules changes are the other part: Hockey had became soccer on ice." Galatioto expects the Canadian teams to rebound quickly, as well as teams in New York, Philadelphia and Detroit, because of a strong and loyal fan base. "But some marginal markets - Carolina, Phoenix, Florida, Atlanta - will have a tough time," he said, and suspects that franchise sales and relocations, possibly even to Canadian cities such as Hamilton, Winnipeg or Quebec, could eventually occur.

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Canes Staying Put

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the AP via Ft. Wayne.com,

On the day the NHL officially came back, Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos insisted his team is doing the same - for good. He put to rest any thoughts to the contrary Friday night after returning from New York, where the league showed off its new labor agreement and its new rules. During a news conference on the club level at the RBC Center, Karmanos, also the chairman and chief executive officer of the software company Compuware, said he has no interest in moving the franchise and it never has been for sale. "I don't recall ever putting the team up for sale, or even coming close to that," Karmanos said. "My guys tell me that's a real concern around here, and I am just absolutely amazed by it." When pressed on the issue, he brusquely added, "Unequivocally, I'm not going to sell the team and it's never been for sale, all right? Ever, not since I bought it."

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Action Matters, Words Don’t

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Fox Sports,

Friday, in a cramped New York City hotel ballroom, NHL commissioner Gary Bettman presided over the welcome-back ceremonies after the owners unanimously ratified the armistice that brings about an end to the bitter labor war between the league and its players' union that nearly killed the game as it dragged on for 10 months. "With the ratification of the new (collective bargaining agreement), let me be the first to welcome you to our new season," Bettman said, starting his formal remarks on a positive tone that would continue throughout his speech. And, make no mistake, a positive attitude was demanded for this event. The "game on" announcement could be nothing less than a celebration of all the things that hockey fans adore about the game they have been denied since Tampa Bay hoisted the Stanley Cup last June. Friday had to be about moving away from the darkest days of this lockout; days when it appeared both sides were waging a scorched-earth campaign destined to leave the pro game a distant memory. And, move away Bettman did, hitting all the proper notes as he reopened the NHL for business. After thanking nearly everyone that ever attended a bargaining session for their part in brokering the peace, Bettman turned his attention to the customers, the fans who sat by through all the bickering, name-calling and proposal-trading. "We will return this game to our fans with a promise — a promise to be the best we can be," said Bettman. "We pledge to our fans that we will do everything we can to make it up to you." Bettman also stressed restoration of the league's "covenant with the fans" — a pact that was torn asunder last September with the league's cancellation of the 2004-05 season. It not only sounded sincere — which it, no doubt, was — but it also provided the sound clips that jilted fans will be happy to hear as the league attempts to move forward and rise from its own ashes. But, in the end, they were just words

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Not Always on Board

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the CP via Slam,

The Toronto Maple Leafs were a money-making machine way before the NHL battled the union in search of 'cost certainty.' So wasting an entire season to a labour dispute was a tough pill to swallow. And Larry Tanenbaum, chairman of Maple Leafs Sports and Entertainment, admitted Friday he wasn't always on side with the league's game plan. "It was reported that we were sometimes a dissenting voice," said Tanenbaum. "That is true." And he made no apologies for it. The Leafs, in his opinion, reserve the right to voice their opinions. "We are the No. 1 franchise in the NHL," Tanenbaum said. "As far as I'm concerned we will always continue to be the No. 1 franchise in the NHL. We acted when we had these discussions with our colleagues at the governors meetings. "We're acting very much in the interests of the No. 1 team, the one that has priority for us, the Toronto Maple Leafs. We have no regret about it."

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It was Worth the Wait

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

St. Louis Blues president Mark Sauer said Friday the NHL's new deal shows that owners did the right thing by canceling last season. "It was worth the wait, absolutely, no question about that," Sauer said. "It was difficult and we apologize to the fans for the loss of the season, but it had to be done." Sauer said the deal that brought hockey back, although it appears to be extremely owner-friendly, benefits both sides. Players become free agents earlier in their careers, along with a higher minimum salary and 54 percent of revenue under terms of the salary cap. "It was a very difficult process, but from a franchise standpoint it was very, very important," Sauer said
Anyone else have a problem with this. "Had to be done", well, I for one take this as a slap in the face. Does Mr. Sauer think the fans who have given up on hockey believe the owners did the right thing? Now I know both sides were at fault for the season being cancelled, but statements like this from a team President do not sit well with me. Maybe it has been a long week, but even Jeremy Jacobs, the Bruins owner said “I plead guilty. We did take way too long,” Read the rest of the article about Mark Sauer and the St. Louis Blues.

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Ad Blitz for Bruins

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

via the Boston Herald (Sat. edition),

The Boston Bruins yesterday unleashed a marketing and public-relations blitz - including a major ticket-price cut - in a bid to win back fans disenchanted by labor turmoil that canceled the most recent National Hockey League season. The Bruins will cut ticket prices across the board this coming season, though the exact amount is still being hammered out. Children 12 and under will be given free passes to early season games. Team executives also plan to offer close to 1,000 seats at $10 each - a ticket price not seen at Bruins games in 20 years. "Virtually every seat will have a price rollback of some sort," said Charlie Jacobs, a top Bruins executive whose family owns the team and the newly renamed T.D. Banknorth Garden. The pocketbook incentives come as part of a larger marketing campaign by the Bruins. The team will take out full-page ads tomorrow in the Herald and the Boston Globe, with TV spots planned for the fall. Jacobs has also hired a top public-relations firm, Rasky Baerlein Strategic Communications, to help woo the media. And quirkier promotions are planned, including ice sculptures to be unveiled today in the summer heat at Faneuil Hall and other gathering places. "We have a several-million-dollar campaign in broadcast, TV and print," Jacobs said. Teams across the NHL are scrambling to court fans and fill arenas when play resumes this fall. League owners and players recently cut a labor deal after a year of bickering. The pact is expected to help rein in the sport's spending binge on player salaries, restoring the league's battered finances. By putting fans in seats - even with price cuts and free tickets for young kids - the Bruins would benefit from food, beverage and other concession sales. Jeremy Jacobs, who owns the Bruins and the Garden, also owns the arena's concessions company. Yesterday, Jeremy Jacobs acknowledged that the long labor battle wasn't ideal for the NHL - or hockey fans. "I plead guilty. We did take way too long," he said.

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The Crosby Show

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Fans in Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver will have to hit the road if they want to see Sidney Crosby in person this season. While the 2005-06 NHL schedule is not out until next week, the NHL did release schedule guidelines Friday. And interconference play will be limited. Pittsburgh, which has the first pick in the July 30 draft, isn't scheduled to play teams in the Western Conference's Pacific Division this season. And while the Penguins will play teams in the West's Northwest Division, home to the Flames, Oilers and Canucks, they will do so in Pittsburgh. The only Western Conference teams the Pens will visit will be in the Central Division: Chicago, Columbus, Detroit, Nashville and St. Louis. The Penguins will play eight times against each of their Atlantic Division rivals: New Jersey, New York Islanders, New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers. Pittsburgh will also play four games against each of the 10 non-division clubs in the Eastern Conference. That includes Montreal, Ottawa and Toronto.

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Back in Business

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Sports Illustrated,

Some said it would be this way all along. Others still wonder why the NHL had to forsake an entire season to arrive at this point. Neither matters. What matters is that on R-Day (ratification day), the NHL is back in business. There is now a sense of getting busy -- frenetically rebuilding at first, but hopefully over time, for the long haul. And history is on the NHL's side. After all, the game has been around in one form or another for a long time. The biggest difference now is that for the first time, owners and players have forged an economic partnership. This is the way it should be. The owners need the players, and the players need the owners. Now they have one another, bound by a Collective Bargaining Agreement better measured in pounds than by the page. The protagonists now are partners. From inert to energized; from stasis to skating. What seemed nonsensical now has structure and balance. But what holds the answers to so many questions, the NHL relaunch also is fraught with the unknown.

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