Kukla's Korner

Not the Same Wings

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Gaylord Herald Times

, The Red Wings will be back but not in the same form as you remember them. Darren McCarty, one of the most popular Wings, was let go - a casualty of the National Hockey League's new collective bargaining agreement that will allow for a more even playing field for all league clubs. Derian Hatcher was waived. So was Ray Whitney. Coach Dave Lewis was relieved of his duties and replaced by Anaheim's Mike Babcock. It is to be seen if Chris Chelios, Pavel Datsyuk and even the immortal Steve Yzerman will return to the 2005-2006 team. The team will also likely shop for a new goaltender. This will not be your father's Red Wings team nor will it be your father's NHL.

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Heads Up

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

I will be out of touch for a few hours, but should be back to posting by the time the free agent signing period starts.

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Game Changing

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Terry Frei of the Denver Post,

The question has come up often since the NHL unveiled its post-lockout package of new rules designed to make the game something other than a crawl through T-REX at rush hour. Overnight, did the highly physical, stay-at-home, punish-the-superstars defenseman become less of a prized commodity? More to the point in Denver, did it all help make Avalanche defenseman Adam Foote's departure in the upcoming unrestricted free agency period at least an acceptable option for Colorado general manager Pierre Lacroix? It's starting to look as if the Avs are thinking that way, as the open market for unrestricted free agents begins this morning.

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Time to Walk the Walk

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Daily Herald,

The Blackhawks have promised over and over to be active when the NHL’s free-agent signing period begins today at 11 a.m. We’ve heard that one before, haven’t we? But that was then. This is general manager Dale Tallon’s chance to show that things are indeed going to be different, that there’s a new progressive front-office philosophy that is all about winning the Stanley Cup and not simply competing for a playoff spot.

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Wait Until Next Year

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Detroit Free Press,

Here's a dilemma: You find a really nice house, and it's available to buy now. But you also know that next summer, a dreamier house may be available. Which do you buy? Free agency begins today in the NHL, and, like the other 29 teams, the Red Wings will be looking to shape a team while being fiscally responsible. There may well be 200-plus unrestricted free agents available by noon, when the deadline for clubs to qualify their own restricted free agents expires, and a list that already includes Peter Forsberg, Markus Naslund, Scott Niedermayer and Adam Foote will further burgeon. What team wouldn't want some of those names? Well, actually, a team that might decide to hold out until next summer, when the list of unrestricted free agents could include names like Jarome Iginla, Joe Thornton and Vincent Lecavalier.

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No Rush on Signing

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

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

Nobody really knows what to expect when the first capped free-agent market in NHL history opens today at noon. But here's what not to expect: a rush of unrestricted upper-end talent signing for discount prices to accommodate general managers claiming and complaining they won't be able to maintain (or build) a winning team unless players are willing to take less. Lifestyle preferences will play a part in the decision making process, of course, and each individual has his own unique priorities, but it would be naive to expect people like Scott Niedermayer, Nikolai Khabibulin and Markus Naslund not to seek as close to the max $7.8M contract permitted under the CBA after losing millions last year and going forward in a capped open market — and how's that for a paradoxical concept? A new model will emerge under this restrictive CBA, and it's likely to be one that's completely antithetical to anything we've ever seen before in hockey. Some creative GM somewhere is going to recognize that a championship team can be constructed by signing two or three elite players to 20-percent-of-the-cap max contracts and then filling the rest of the roster with draft choices and inexpensive support players who will be close to a literal dime a dozen.

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Everyone May Play Today

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,

Will there be real fireworks or merely just a small spark? With the entry draft now in the rear-view mirror, NHL teams point their focus toward free agents starting today, as GMs roll up their sleeves and begin laying the groundwork for the opening of training camps in September. Depending on who you believe, teams are either going to come charging hard out of the starting blocks at noon today, or they're going to take a cautious approach with a $39-million (all figures US) salary cap now in place.

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Building a Team

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from al Strachan of the Toronto Sun

, This is a hectic time for general managers. As Florida Panthers GM Mike Keenan said, "It's going to be like studying for the finals at university. There are going to be all-nighters and lots of coffee." By the time all the bought-out players have found new homes, the free agents have been signed and the qualifying offers have been accepted (very few will be rejected), the National Hockey League will have a whole new face. As a result, this will be a season unlike any other because the track records will be totally irrelevant. A team that has been abysmal for years suddenly could become a contender. A good example would be the Pittsburgh Penguins.

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Modano Will Test Market

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Star-Telegram (reg. req.),

The Stars, like all teams, had to prioritize which of their potential free agents was most important to re-sign. Their choice was between Mike Modano and Sergei Zubov. They signed the 35-year-old defenseman Sunday but not the 35-year-old center, and, as a result, there is a chance that Modano has played his final game for the Stars, the only franchise for which he has played. "Certainly this is a bittersweet day that he becomes an unrestricted free agent," Stars general manager Doug Armstrong said. "He wants to see what is on the other side, but hopefully he doesn't have to go there."

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Sabres Look to Canada with New TV Deal

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Buffalo Business First,

While it will be two months before the first regular-season game, the Buffalo Sabres are ratcheting up efforts to sell tickets, line up sponsors and produce more revenues. With a new collective-bargaining agreement in place between the National Hockey League and NHL Players' Association, the Sabres' marketing staff has emerged from a yearlong deep freeze. "It was tough to hold any productive discussions until we knew what the road map was going to be," said Dan DiPofi, chief operating officer. The team's marketing effort will go beyond its traditional base of Erie and Niagara counties. The franchise will be looking to make a stronger outreach into Rochester, Syracuse and southern Ontario.

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