Kukla's Korner

Handwriting On The Wall For McKee

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Buffalo News,

Quite a few former Buffalo Sabres skated this past week at the Amherst Pepsi Center. Miroslav Satan. Alexei Zhitnik. Michael Peca. Matthew Barnaby. By the looks of things, Jay McKee belongs on that list, too. The unsigned defenseman is coming to grips with the likelihood his days as a Sabre are done. "The way things are progressing, it's more possible now than I ever thought it was," McKee said Friday. "I think it would be disappointing, but I'm not so naive that I'm not thinking to myself "Yeah, you could have played your last game here.' " The writing is on the wall, as plain as a dasherboard ad. McKee is eligible to become an unrestricted free agent after this season, and although he would like to remain with the Sabres on a multiyear contract, the sides aren't close to an agreement. The Sabres on Thursday extended the expiration date for McKee's one-year qualifying offer of about $1.6 million. It's believed the Sabres pushed the deadline back eight days to give them more time to trade.

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15 Year Contract

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Allan Hahn of Newsday,

Rick DiPietro often has said he wants to spend his entire career as an Islander. On Friday, the Islanders expressed a mutual desire, offering the 23-year-old goalie a 15-year contract, according to multiple persons with knowledge of the situation. The contract, which was believed to be worth about $67.5 million, never got past the negotiation stage because of astronomical insurance premiums, most of which would have to be borne by DiPietro. The NHL insures only up to five years on a contract; the rest is up to the player. A more conventional deal that extends three or five years appears to be the most logical conclusion for DiPietro, the No. 1 overall pick in 2000, but there is a chance the sides still might work out a longer-term contract.

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Bondra Wants To Play For Caps

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Tarik El-Bashir, Washington Post beat writer,

Peter Bondra said he would respond to the Washington Capitals' contract offer before the weekend. And yesterday Bondra and his agent did just that, submitting a counterproposal for an additional year and more money. The Capitals had offered Bondra, the franchise leader in goals and points, a one-year deal worth $1.5 million. The counterproposal is for two years and a higher salary, but "substantially less" than what his representative believes to be fair market value, agent Rich Winter said. Winter declined to divulge the specific contract demands.

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New Beginning For Officials

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the National Post,

For a decade, the NHL watched its relationship with its players plunge to precarious depths. The distrust was the footing on which professional sports' longest work stoppage was built. Meanwhile, the relationship between the league and its officials quietly eroded in a similar fashion. Under van Hellemond, who had fired 20 officials during his four years in charge only to see nine of them reclaim their jobs through an appeal process, officials were working scared. They didn't trust the supervisory system allegedly put in place to help them hone their craft. They didn't trust a league that demanded officials crack down on obstruction, yet second-guessed them behind the scenes for calling too many penalties. And they surely didn't trust their league-appointed boss, van Hellemond, who many officials complained had approached them for loans over the years.

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Datsyuk Given Deadline By Dynamo

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Red Wings Central, according to Russian newspaper Kommersant, Datsyuk had a noon deadline in Russia (which now has passed) to sign with Dynamo. update 5:13pm, Here is the story in Russian and a translation of it can be found at Mlive.

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NHLPA Troubles

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Al Strachan of the Toronto Sun,

Back in the early part of the year, when the members of the National Hockey League Players' Association were starting the crumble that would eventually become a full-scale landslide, one of their number predicted trouble. "The big dogs are taking charge," he said, "because they know that the big dogs can always get to the food bowl. Wait until the smaller dogs figure out what's happening." Now, with the season about a month away, the smaller dogs are indeed figuring it out. They are beginning to realize that their leadership signed an agreement that, as one put it, "is sickening." They're just starting to understand the provisions of the deal, especially the controversial escrow clause, which requires the players to subsidize the owners.
more The Toronto Star touches on the same subject...
With the NHL Players' Association ensnared in controversy after the hiring of new executive director Ted Saskin, it's evident that there's no shortage of reasons why some hockey veterans are distressed over recent events at their union's Bay Street headquarters. Consider that Saskin has coaxed a $2 million (U.S.) annual salary, sources say, even after signing one of the worst collective bargaining agreements in North American sports. Not only is he poised to receive double the salary of Donald Fehr, the longtime chief of the baseball players' union, Saskin has won his contract at a time when the NHL's 700-plus players will receive pay cuts this season of perhaps 34 per cent or more. Besides the 24 per cent pay cut players agreed on in July, they also face the prospect of sacrificing a further 10 per cent or more of their salaries this season. That's because as part of hockey's new labour agreement, the NHL received a guarantee from players that salaries will be capped at 54 per cent of the league's revenue.
more The Glode and Mail chimes in with this,
There were reports yesterday that some players voiced their concern Wednesday that the vote should have been conducted by secret ballot, a process that NHLPA regulations stipulate. The reports were refuted by a player who participated in the conference call. "I think that constitution thing was being spread around by a couple of agents and one misinformed player rep who wasn't happy with [the new CBA]," the player said. "It was an issue brought up earlier in the week before the conference call, but [Linden] made the point that other votes, including the approval of Goodenow's last contract and [CBA] issues were voted on via a conference call."
read on

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No Trapping Allowed

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Scott Burnside of ESPN,

Off the top of your head, which coaches will have it tough when the new NHL hits the ice in a couple of weeks? Well, Jacques Lemaire, Barry Trotz, Peter Laviolette, Gerard Gallant, Mike Kitchen and Dave Tippett, right? The trap guys. The no-offense guys. Right? Right? Lemaire, a two-time coach of the year who won a Cup coaching the New Jersey Devils in 1995, has a chuckle at the notion that defensive coaches might be in trouble in what is expected to be a more wide-open NHL. "The people who say that are, I'm sorry, they don't know the game," Lemaire said. "It's a lot tougher to coach defense," added Jacques Demers, who coached the 1992-93 Montreal Canadiens to a Cup win and who is now a respected analyst.

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Ellis Wants To Be A Wing

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Of interest ot Wings fans... from Niagra This Week,

The future is now for Matt Ellis. After three seasons in the Detroit Red Wings minor league system, Ellis heads to training camp later this month optimistic that his own talent and hard work along with fallout from the National Hockey League's new CBA give him his first legitimate chance at calling the Motor City home. Ellis, who turned 24 on August 31, recently signed a two-year contract with the Red Wings after receiving a qualifying offer from the team in the summer. Last year with the Grand Rapids Griffins of the American Hockey League, Ellis had 18 goals and 23 assists in 79 games. Since signing as a free agent in 2002 following four years with the St. Michael's Majors of the OHL, Ellis has worked his way up the Red Wings' depth chart. Recently married, Ellis -- a graduate of the Welland Minor Hockey Association and former winner of the Golden Horseshoe Junior B Hockey League's rookie of the year award -- says he is glad to have the security of a two year deal especially following the uncertainty of last season.

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Atlanta Advancing

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Phil Coffey of NHL.com,

The Atlanta Thrashers have the potential to be not only one of the most interesting teams in the NHL this season, but one of the most improved as well. It has been quite the summer for Thrashers GM Don Waddell, who jumped into the free-agent market and then swung a blockbuster trade. In that deal, Waddell acquired winger Marian Hossa and defenseman Greg de Vries from the Ottawa Senators in exchange for Dany Heatley. It was a good, old-fashioned blockbuster, a swap that had folks around the NHL going "Wow!"

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Stanly Cup On Tour To Raise Funds

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

The Stanley Cup will tour East Coast Hockey League franchise cities to raise funds as part of the National Hockey League's ongoing effort to assist those affected by the Hurricane Katrina disaster. Details of the season-long tour, which will be coordinated with the ECHL to maximize fund-raising opportunities in such ECHL franchise cities as Biloxi, Mississippi (Mississippi Sea Wolves), still are being formalized. The NHL and NHL Players' Association also will be making significant monetary donations to the effort, complementing activities already undertaken by individual NHL franchises such as the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, who, in conjunction with the Arrowhead Pond of Anaheim, the American Red Cross and other organizations collected more than $400,000 for those affected.

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