Kukla's Korner

Panthers Sign Jokinen & Van Ryn

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

via the Palm Beach Post,

With the opening of training camp just two days away, the Florida Panthers have reached contract agreement with two of their three remaining restricted free agents. Center Olli Jokinen and defenseman Mike Van Ryn, both 26, agreed on one-year contracts, according to NHL sources and the players' agents. The lone remaining unsigned restricted free agent is defenseman Jay Bouwmeester.

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Team USA Thin On Ice

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Ottawa Sun via Slam,

When it came to piquing Americans' interest in hockey, Olympic participation seemed to be a surefire bet, at least during the last 25 years. But as the USA Hockey Olympic orientation camp concluded on Thursday, it was difficult not to look at the potential roster without a multitude of questions ... and perhaps a bit of skepticism. The Americans will argue that this is a team with the proper mix of international and NHL success. Some of the older components have been replaced with younger talent.

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Wings Still Recognized

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Phil Coffey of NHL.com,

At first glance, a gander at the list of players who have left Detroit since the end of the 2003-04 season would make you think that the Red Wings are about to be clipped. Brett Hull, Ray Whitney, Boyd Devereaux, Steve Thomas, Matthew Dandenault, Darren McCarty, Derian Hatcher, Curtis Joseph, and Dominik Hasek are all former Red Wings -- a pretty good core for a team. So, surely, the Red Wings are in full-blown rebuilding mode for 2005-06, right? Not exactly. The Red Wings have long had a stacked lineup, and even with the departure of so many "name" players, some of the names that still reside in Hockeytown are among the most recognizable in the sport.

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Talking Red Line

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Boston Herald,

Fans may believe that the NHL's elimination of the red line, making passes across two of the three center-ice lines legal, will instantly produce the sort of wide-open, high-speed attacking game the Edmonton Oilers played in the 1980s - with the great talents of the game suddenly free to fly up the ice unfettered by the trapping defenses that have so adversely changed the game the last 10-15 years. Sorry, folks, but it ain't necessarily so. For as long as the red line removal has been discussed as a possible antidote to what ails the NHL, analysts have concluded it really won't change much. The trap, which is said to have been devised by Swedish coaches in an effort to contain richly talented Soviet teams, can be sprung within the offensive zone or, more commonly, in the neutral zone, once a puck-carrier has crossed his own blue line.

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9/11

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Don't Ever Forget!

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Future Unknown

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Mlive,

"With the new CBA (collective bargaining agreement), we're going into an unknown -- who are the good teams, who are the bad teams?" Wings general manager Ken Holland said. "Without Datsyuk, a lot is going to have to go right for us to have a good year. But, that's the same for a lot of teams. Nobody has any depth, that's the nature of these new rules. "Are we going to be as good as we were in the past? Of course not. But that's the new world." The line between the league's elite clubs and its perennial also-rans has been blurred, but the Wings aren't conceding anything.

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Start A Revolution

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,

Ted Saskin "dodged a bullet" when he was approved as the new executive director of the NHL Players' Association. But he's not out of the woods yet. While Saskin will make a reported $10 million (all terms US) over five years in his new contact, many members of the 'PA are concerned about what the escrow portion of the new collective bargaining agreement holds for them. While the players approved Saskin's deal 10 days ago during a heated five-hour conference call with president Trevor Linden, the word is Saskin and Co. could face a mutiny once the rank and file has to start paying into the owners' escrow account. "My feeling is Saskin could have a revolution on his hands," said a well-placed league source, who requested anonymity because of the sensitivity of the subject.

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Bits From Brooks

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,

The Thrashers are offering Kovalchuk, the 22-year-old Group II free agent, the exact same five-year, $27M deal that Rick Nash signed with the Blue Jackets, with Waddell indicating that he's not prepared to budge. Did someone say, penny-foolish and pound-foolish all at once? Kovalchuk is not posturing, even if his prospective unrestricted free agent eligibility would be postponed by a year from 2008 to 2009 if he doesn't play in the NHL this season. You'll recall that Kovalchuk, who had 87 points to Nash's 57 while each scored a co-league-leading 41 goals in 2003-04, signed a contract in Russia last year that bound him to his club after Dec. 31, regardless of whether the lockout ended after that. For this year and this year only, once the season starts, all players 25 and older who play in one game either in the NHL or in the minors, are exempt from waiver claims either going down or coming back up. In a brewing and growing controversy that threatens to further splinter the battered and shattered union, no fewer than 19 player reps — a majority of the PA's 35-member executive board — have hired Bob Lanza, the former chief counsel of the NBA Players' Assn., to undertake a thorough review of a series of the executive board's actions commencing with the end of the lockout.

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Culture Change

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Toronto Sun,

The way out of the quagmire that the league created in the previous 10 years will rest in large part with the guys drawing X's and O's. But when the flood of penalties begins this month, coaches will find it hard to restrain their anger, especially those toughest on zebras . "No one has the right to complain," said Edmonton Oilers' general manager Kevin Lowe, a member of the competition committee. "We all signed off on it. "It's our aim to put the tools of the game back in the hands of the offensive players and get a balance with physical play. I've had (officials) tell me, 'I ref a rodeo, there's so much obstruction going on.' "I hope they (crack down) early so there is a parade to the penalty box in the exhibition games. I've talked about this with my coach, Craig MacTavish. Guys who take penalties will not play on our team."

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Playing For The Flyers

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the News Journal,

Today, four years removed from the Lindros era, the Flyers are recognized around the NHL as one of the most attractive teams in the league. "I don't think a player can ruin the image of a team," said Flyers defenseman Eric Desjardins, who lived through the Lindros era and is beginning his 11th season with the Flyers. "I think it's more who is on top and how they treat people. "You talk around the league and there aren't many guys who treat their players like Clarkie and [team chairman Ed] Snider. If you respect them, they'll respect you." Desjardins said there are NHL teams who cut corners on hotels and air travel and meal money, and it affects team morale.

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