Kukla's Korner

Parity Everywhere

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Toronto Globe and Mail,

"Overall, the deal is pretty much what we expected," said Edmonton Oilers governor Cal Nichols, who heads the Edmonton Investors Group. "Not being there during the negotiations, you understand there will always be some giving and taking. It came out differently. "But when you shake it all down to the bottom line, it's to the point where it should provide long-term stability for us and allow us to compete for high-end players," he said. "I think now, because we won't have three to five high-end players on the same team, we'll get back to a better balance [in the NHL]. We'll get back to a better game." An anonymous team official added: "It has to be a better game, otherwise we lost an entire year for nothing."
This may be the first time I have read a team official, althought anonymous, say something like that; interesting

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Defending the Lottery Decision

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Toronto Globe and Mail,

NHL executive vice-president Bill Daly, however, said yesterday that, despite the concerns expressed, the draft lottery will still be held behind closed doors. "That continues to be the plan, yes," he said. There is a method to the NHL's madness. First of all, its draft lottery process is going to take longer than the 20 minutes the NBA uses to dole out the order of its 14 selections. The NHL lottery, this time around, will be a time-consuming procedure because each of 30 clubs has to be slotted in the slightly weighted lottery. Also, when the draft lottery will be played out behind closed doors and in front of the league's board of governors on Friday, the draw is only part of what will be an extremely hectic "relaunch" day for the NHL. The new collective agreement, tentatively agreed upon last Wednesday, needs to be ratified in New York by the board of governors and the players, who will gather in Toronto. Next on the agenda would either be the draft lottery or debate over proposed rules changes. By the time the process is completed, it could be late in the afternoon before NHL commissioner Gary Bettman emerges to announce the lottery winner, the rule changes and the ratification of the new six-year collective agreement. After which, Crosby, the Rimouski Océanic star and consensus No. 1 pick in this year's draft, will address his thoughts on the NHL city that will become his new home via a satellite video conference from Cole Harbour, N.S., his agent, Pat Brisson, confirmed yesterday.

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The Savior

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Macleans,

Walk into any of Canada's six NHL arenas and you'll soon see them: portraits, rafter banners and statues memorializing the lions of hockey's past. For years in Vancouver, fans on their way to their seats at the old Pacific Coliseum passed beneath a looming, sepia-tinged photograph of Fred "Cyclone" Taylor, the rushing defenceman who in 1915 helped bring the city its only Stanley Cup. At the Saddledome in Calgary, it's colour shots of the redoubtable Lanny McDonald, moustache in full splendour, holding his 500-goal puck. In Edmonton, fans and scalpers gather beneath the statue of Wayne Gretzky hoisting the Stanley Cup. Now picture, if you will, some likeness of Gary Bettman in any of these places. A smaller effigy, perhaps, to reflect both the NHL commissioner's physical stature and the fact that, so far as anyone knows, he's never laced up a pair of skates. But there nonetheless, alongside the game's great heroes, its builders and its keepers. Gary Bettman, Saviour of Small Market Canadian Franchises. Who'd have thunk?

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Spend Less

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Al Strachan of the Toronto Sun writing about the balanced schedule,

Under the new NHL order, the sensibilities of Canadian fans are of no great concern. The league is run by lawyers who, naturally enough, think like lawyers. In their minds (one uses the word loosely), all rules must be equally applied. There is no room for emotion, only the enduring fiction of "equality under the law" and the all-important bottom line. While there's no doubt that new balanced schedule will heighten rivalries and can be rationalized on that basis, a significant aspect in its favour, as far as the owners are concerned, is that it reduces travel costs. It is not inconceivable that some eastern teams could go through the entire regular season without having to spend 10 nights on the road. The teams would therefore spend less on such things as hotel rooms, players' per-diem allowances and various other travel costs. If you want to grab someone's attention in the new NHL, no phrase does it as successfully as "spend less."

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NHL and Comcast

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from The Phildadelphia Inquirer,

When Comcast Corp. named former Fox cable guru Jeff Shell as president of programming in February, the idea was to expand the company's national portfolio in a big way. He might just do that with the NHL. According to sources inside and outside the company, Comcast is preparing an offer to televise NHL games for the 2005-06 season. Comcast has not made a formal proposal to the league, but the company has informed officials that it intends to become a major player in the bidding rights. "Talks haven't reached a price figure, but there is definite interest there on Comcast's part," one source said. In April, ESPN chose not to exercise its $70 million option to televise the NHL for 2005-06 and 2006-07. Some confusion remains about whether ESPN still retains those rights. The NHL has a two-year agreement with NBC to televise games when play resumes this fall. In Canada, the league has deals with the CBC and the Sports Network. The league's previous five-year TV deal with ABC and ESPN was worth $600 million. Because of the lockout and canceled season, media observers don't foresee a deal approaching that figure in the league's immediate future. Comcast spokesman Tim Fitzpatrick declined to comment on the company's interest in the NHL yesterday, and Shell could not be reached. "The Comcast networks are always interested in compelling new content, including sports," Fitzpatrick said. "But our policy is not to comment on programming rumors or speculation." Locally, Comcast, which owns the Flyers and 76ers, televises both teams, as well as the Phillies, on its cable channel. To facilitate national telecasts in areas where Comcast does not have a presence, it would have two choices: Create a new national network or use one of its other networks - E! or Style or Outdoor Life, among others - to telecast games. Because the discussions are in the preliminary stages, the source said, Comcast has not decided which avenue it would pursue. "It's not something we can talk about right now, at this stage," said Jack Williams, president of Comcast's regional sports television.

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Friday is the Day

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the AP via TSN, The action heats up again on the NHL front this week with players and owners set to vote on the agreement reached between the two sides. The ratification vote and news conference has been set for Friday. By the end of the week Sidney Crosby should know his future home, fans will know what rule changes are being brought in to open up the game and a new collective bargaining agreement should be rubber stamped so the league can re-open for business. Colin Campbell, the league's director of hockey operations and executive vice-president, will meet with the newly created competition committee Tuesday to narrow down a final list of recommendations that owners will then vote on at a board of governors' meeting in New York later this week.

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Could it Be

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

A long time, regular reader of this blog is not going to like this. I happened to find this classic picture and did not do any touch up to it.

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Busy Week

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Canadian Press via Slam,

The action heats up again on the NHL front this week with players and owners set to vote on the agreement reached between the league and union last Wednesday. By the end of the week Sidney Crosby should know his future home, fans will know what rule changes are being brought in to open up the game and a new collective bargaining agreement should be officially ratified so the league can re-open for business. Colin Campbell, the league's director of hockey operations and executive vice-president, will meet with the newly created competition committee Tuesday to narrow down a final list of recommendations that owners will then vote on at a board of governors' meeting in New York later this week. The NHL Players' Association kicks off a packed week in Toronto with an executive committee meeting Tuesday: president Trevor Linden and the rest of the crew - Vincent Damphousse, Bob Boughner, Bill Guerin, Daniel Alfredsson, Arturs Irbe and Trent Klatt - will get an update and oversee the week ahead.

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NHL Winners and Losers

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from MSG Network,

At last, the NHL’s long lockout appears to be over. In the lockout postmortem, the vast consensus amongst commentators is that the players ultimately collapsed and the owners’ have scored a major victory with this new CBA. By the end of this proposed six-year agreement, however, we will learn whether this "New NHL" will be profitable and will allow all involved (players and owners) to make more money. As a lawyer, I can honestly advise that labor negotiations can be a long and difficult process. The key is to strike a balance between resolve and reasonableness. The danger is that your side will crack if you push your side’s agenda too far. This seems to be the case with the NHLPA and its negotiating team. The NHLPA did not properly understand the resolve of the owners. Specifically, the owners were willing to shut down the league without a time limitation. The league, beaten before in prior CBA negotiations, was not giving in this time. Prior to the lockout, the owners had commissioned the Levitt Report concerning the state of the league’s dire finances and it had become the bible of their bargaining position. The owners’ point of view, as set forth in the Levitt Report, depicted a league is serious financial trouble and in need of a complete salary reform. According to the owners, part of a potential NHL rebirth required a hard salary cap.

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Leafs Lunch

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Talking with a writer from The Hockey News about the NHL Lottery not being televised. The writer says Bettman is fearful a televised event would not be fully covered by the media. The guys also mentioned this is the main reason why the players did not want to create a partnership with the NHL, they just don't do a good job of marketing the game. The entertainment dollar is up for grabs; the NHL needs to come out with guns blazing and yet they are not. Bettman has been a failure in marketing the game, what happens if Crosby goes to a team like the Blackhawks, they must be prepared to market the game. THN writer thinks Bettman does not have the forward vision to handle all of the major roadblocks the NHL faces.

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