Kukla's Korner

Waiting For The CBA

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the News & Observer,

Promoted to deputy commissioner in the days after the July 22 settlement, Daly has spent the past three months working with the NHL Players' Association to hammer out the final details and interpretations of the new labor agreement. Or, to answer fans' questions about when they might be able to see the new deal: not yet. "There are things that come up from time to time we discuss with the union," Daly said. "At some point, probably in the not-too-distant future, we'll make some minor modifications in writing and probably have the document formally printed.

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Watching The Bruins

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Boston Globe,

It's the day after a big 2-1 home win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Boston Bruins are filtering into the Ristuccia Memorial Arena's parking lot in Wilmington for an 11 a.m. practice. Luxury SUVs are the overwhelming vehicle of choice, and the players stroll toward the entrance of their locker room, many clutching cups of coffee to shake away the fatigue from getting home late the night before. Each player is greeted by a handful of fans, who ask the players to pose for a picture or sign an autograph. Most of the players are eager to oblige, others do so somewhat grudgingly, but not a single player refuses a fan's request. The same scene plays out in the Ristuccia parking lot every time the Bruins practice there, in a give-and-take between athletes and fans that is rarely, if ever, seen in professional sports.

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The Bulin Bust

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Arizona Republic,

Former Coyotes goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, whom Phoenix is expected to face tonight in Chicago, has been an expensive bust for the Blackhawks. Chicago signed Khabibulin to a four-year, $27 million contract over the summer and, so far, the "Bulin Wall" has played more like the "Bulin Picket Fence." Khabibulin enters today's game with a 3-9 record, a league-worst 4.11 goals-against average and a league-worst .843 save percentage. He also enters the game fresh off an embarrassing outing vs. Dallas on Friday in which he was pulled after giving up four goals in the first 14:32 of the game.

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NHL Talk

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,

-Markus Naslund might be a star in the NHL, but there are no guarantees he's going to be on Team Sweden at the Olympics. -The Penguins wouldn't mind moving RW Ziggy Palffy, D Dick Tarnstrom and G Jocelyn Thibault. The word is Pittsburgh GM Craig Patrick is disappointed in Palffy. -There's talk GM Mike Milbury could finally get fired if the team doesn't turn things around.

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“Le Gross Bill”

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Toronto Star,

Jean Beliveau is patiently waiting and the woman assigned to clean his hotel room is nervously moving as quickly as she can. Sensing her anxiousness, Beliveau approaches her gently and says, "Don't worry. There is no rush. Take your time." Then he turns to the others in the room and says, "They work very hard." One of the classiest personalities ever to play the game, Beliveau remains a humble man, not nearly as impressed with his accomplishments as others are. That humility, cultivated in Victoriaville, Que., more than 70 years ago, served Beliveau well as a player, ambassador and spokesman for the game. Beliveau also happily answered all questions when Unplugged recently sat down with him. He was in Toronto promoting the revised version of his autobiography, Jean Beliveau: My Life in Hockey.

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Evolving NHL

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Philadelphia Inquirer,

These days, Bettman's officials whistle everything, which makes the game choppy sometimes. Zero tolerance may someday be viewed as having saved the National Hockey League, or reinvented the game, depending upon your perspective. "I say this with a smile," said Gretzky, the player-turned-owner-turned-coach of the Phoenix Coyotes. "It's probably been better than they anticipated. The game itself is such a nicer game to watch and be part of. "I truly believe the finesse and smarts and intelligence of hockey players now, both offensively and defensively, is a factor. If you're not a good skater and you can't handle the puck and you're not a smart defenseman, you no longer can play in the NHL. That's the way it should be."

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The Least Division

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Ottawa Sun,

When you remember how the new schedule has led to the increase of inter-conference play, Detroit's achievements seem less impressive. The Red Wings had 11 wins in October, but six came against teams that currently sit in the basement of the NHL standings -- Columbus, Chicago and St. Louis. Detroit, being placed within the Central Division, can use this new schedule to its advantage and may end up with an overall record that isn't as impressive as it seems.

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Offensive Numbers

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Toronto Star,

Sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for, but the NHL's dream of more offence is reaching giddy heights. A return to the wide open Wayne Gretzky era it's not. But the hockey this season certainly is a notch above the whacking and grabbing style we had become subject to as the neutral-zone trap took hold. One month into the season, goals are up about 25% from the tedious 2003-04 season. Shots on goal are up almost 20%, while power-play goals have increased by more than 50% stemming from the crackdown on obstruction. The aim of the rule changes was to free up ice for the star players and certainly some have taken advantage.

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Columbus In Trouble

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Al Strachan of the Toronto Sun,

The Columbus Blue Jackets are in serious trouble without Rick Nash, who tied for the league lead in scoring in 2003-04. The Jackets have scored only 28 goals in 15 games, and in this era, if you can't average two goals a game, you're not going to win many. And the Blue Jackets haven't. In fact, they've won only four -- and three of those came during what general manager Doug MacLean called "the most important five-game home stand in the team's history." That was back when MacLean still had his sense of humour. It was the only five-game home stand in the team's history. These days, however, Mac-Lean isn't chuckling much.

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LeClair Suffers Facial Fractures

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,

The Penguins suffered a major loss long before the opening faceoff of their game against Boston at the TD Banknorth Garden last night. Left winger John LeClair was struck near the right eye by a puck during the morning skate and will be out indefinitely. LeClair sustained multiple fractures in what team officials described as the "cheekbone region."

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