Kukla's Korner

Teamsters Support Rejected By NHLPA

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Toronto Star,

Eight days after the NHL announced last fall that it was locking out its 700-plus players, the head of one of the world's largest unions quietly contacted NHL players association boss Bob Goodenow with an intriguing offer. In a two-page letter sent to the union on Sept. 24, 2004, Teamsters president James P. Hoffa wrote that his powerful union was willing to help the players put more pressure on NHL team owners such as Maple Leaf Sports and Entertainment, which owns the Maple Leafs and basketball's Raptors. "The BT (Brotherhood of Teamsters) stands willing to support the NHLPA's fight for fairness," Hoffa wrote in his letter to Goodenow, which was obtained by the Star. Two months passed before Goodenow responded to Hoffa's letter and when he did phone one of the union's top Canadian officials, Goodenow's reply was terse, a Teamsters official said. "He just said `thanks but we're ok with where we're going,'" said Larry MacDonald, president of Teamsters Local 938 in Toronto. "I've been around 25 years and I've never seen such a lackadaisical approach to collective bargaining," MacDonald said. "We had members who would have been ready to picket Raptors games in Toronto and we have members in the U.S. who would have come up with a strategy to pressure companies like Disney (which until this year owned the Anaheim Mighty Ducks). This is our business."

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Corporate Sponsorship Sales Are Difficult

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Sports Business Journal (paid sub.),

When looking at all of the NHL’s businesses, the league’s corporate sponsorship sales will take the longest to recover from a full year without games. The league is not expected to open its season with any new corporate sponsors and it is looking at new ways to sell corporate affiliations. “Our conviction is that we’re going to grow, so we’re presenting new ways to make deals, with success-based fees,” said Andrew Judelson, NHL group vice president of corporate marketing. Those “success-based fees” include benchmarks that would let potential sponsors structure a deal with sliding fees based on meeting or exceeding certain measures that could include product sales, television ratings, attendance or traffic on NHL.com. “We’re telling people that hockey is coming back in a big way, and this is a way for us to put our money where our mouth is,” added Judelson. With some incumbent sponsors having marketing rights in Canada only, the league is trying to adopt a policy under which sponsors can buy only North American sponsorships. While the league is unlikely to open its season with any new partners, some current sponsors are activating with the “My NHL” advertising campaign that the league debuted last week, including Anheuser-Busch, Dodge and McDonald’s. The league must also rebuild its sponsorship staff, which shrank from more than 20 people to fewer than a handful during the lockout.

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Saskin Situation Won’t Go Away

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Kevin Allen of USA TODAY

, Detroit Red Wings defenseman Chris Chelios says the NHL Players Association is trying to obstruct him and others from rallying support for their challenge to the process by which Ted Saskin was hired as executive director. "Ted is censoring the information that we want put out to the players," Chelios said. "He has made it difficult for us to communicate." Chelios' group objects that a search committee wasn't appointed to find a replacement for longtime leader Bob Goodenow, who stepped down on July 28. The vote on Saskin, Goodenow's deputy, was taken by conference call, not by secret ballot, as the union's constitution requires. Saskin reopened the vote to make it secret.

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Kovalchuk Update- Thrashers Owner Involved

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution (reg. req.),

In an effort to move along negotiations with All-Star left wing Ilya Kovalchuk, Thrashers owners Bruce Levenson and Ed Peskowitz met with Kovalchuk's New York-based agent Jay Grossman on Friday in Washington, where the two Atlanta Spirit part owners are based. Levenson, who acts as the group's governor to the NHL, said the meeting came at the suggestion of general manager Don Waddell, who also was present. Levenson said the meeting was of the "get to know you" variety. Grossman has made it clear that it is Kovalchuk's intention to play a full season either in the NHL or in Russia. Once a player plays in Europe after the NHL season starts (Oct. 5) the player must clear waivers before he can return to his NHL team. Kovalchuk would almost certainly not clear waivers, and the Thrashers, would lose him to another NHL team. Thus, if the Thrashers have not signed Kovalchuk by Oct. 5 and Kovalchuk plays a game after that date, it would be impossible for him to return to the Thrashers this season. Waddell has expressed confidence the Thrashers will sign Kovalchuk before the deadline. "The meeting hopefully will be a stepping stone towards moving this process in the right decision," Grossman said.

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Touching All The Bases

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

The Maven of MSG Network provides us with bits like this from around the NHL:

Stephen Walkom’s early run as ref boss has received superb notices from those with whom we talk. Distrust in the zebra ranks has given way to trust. According to The National Post’s Mark Spector, under Andy van Hellemond, 20 officials were fired during his four years in charge of the zebras, “Only to see nine of them reclaim their jobs through an appeal process.”

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Looking Out West

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from John Buccigross of ESPN

, Well, here goes nothing. The annual Bucci NHL-musical-new zoo review column. This is my favorite column of the year. Although this year, it's probably the stupidest column to write. Let's face it, it is an entirely different sport now: the rules have radically changed, players have retired, rosters have dramatically changed and goaltenders have had their equipment reduced. The game will be faster then it has ever been. Let me say that again: the game will be faster than it has ever been. The best players will be the young players, which is how it should be. There hasn't been this much of a makeover on something since Sally Jessy Raphael's dreadful facelift. It makes it nearly impossible to predict and forecast each team, but we'll try our best and do it anyway. Remember, I love all 30 teams equally. There are no haters in this house. How the West will be won will be covered this week. Next week, we'll rank the East. As usual, we count down from 15-1:

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A Long Time Coming

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Canadian Press via the Montreal Gazette,

New rules, new faces and new hope - the NHL drops the puck for real on Oct. 5 having undergone a major face lift after the 301-day lockout that wiped out all of last season. "It's been a long time coming for a lot of people," said star goalie Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils. "I know a lot of the players are real thrilled to get back at it. In New Jersey, the level of excitement is huge."

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Caps Get Friesen

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Washington Capitals,

The Washington Capitals have acquired left wing Jeff Friesen from the New Jersey Devils in exchange for a conditional pick in the 2006 NHL Entry Draft, vice president and general manager George McPhee announced today.
more In case you missed the official word, Datsyuk has signed with the Wings for $3.9 million a year for two years.

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Forsberg & Hatcher Back

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Phildadelphia Flyers,

The two biggest off-season additions on the Flyers finally got to do more with their teammates than just sit in meetings and chit chat in the dressing room. Peter Forsberg and Derian Hatcher, both sidelined since the beginning of training camp with injuries, took part in their first full skate with the team since signing a day apart during a fruitful couple of days for the organization in early August.

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Wooing The Fans Back

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Shawn P. Roarke of Fox Sports,

The NHL is trying, in a myriad of ways, to change that undeniable fact. The league office understood from the day it canceled last season — the first time a major North American sport lost its entire season to a labor dispute — that there would have to be a serious outreach program to potential customers to put the product back on the radar of the average sports fan. Partially taking for granted the loyalty of the hockey junkie, the NHL tailored much of its welcome-back initiative to embrace those that have nothing more than a passing interest in the sport; believing that the lockout-induced clean slate could provide the perfect opportunity to woo a whole new fan base to supplement the diehards whom welcomed the NHL's return unconditionally.

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