Kukla's Korner

Mario on Crosby, “This is Huge”

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the AP via MSNBC,

Mario Lemieux, leaned upon so often for so many years by the Penguins he even had to buy the team to keep it from leaving town, now has a successor in place — a star in waiting, a potential franchise-saver, just as he once seemed to have in Jagr. The player for whom future teams will be built around, just as every Penguins team that Lemieux has played for was built around him. “He’s going to have a major impact,” Lemieux said. “This is huge,” Lemieux said, relating how the momentum generated by Crosby’s presence could spur the arena effort. “We’re on Cloud 9,” team president Ken Sawyer said. “This has probably been the greatest 24-hour period of building a team here since 1984.”

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Will Some Cities Ever Care

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the East Valley Tribune (Arizona),

It took an act of attempted suicide, but the league has finally come to its senses and recognized that American hockey fans aren't enthralled by ties, low-scoring games, and goalies who wear more padding than attack dog trainers. Players will be allowed to make two-line passes across the red line. The size of the offensive zone will be changed to encourage more offensive play. And, in an astonishing moment of clarity, a shootout will occur if a game is still tied after a five-minute overtime session. Thank goodness. No more 19-12-10-8 records for teams. The NHL hopes the changes - and an increased emphasis on marketing - will enable the sport to recover from its work stoppage and grow to unprecedented heights. Sorry. Won't happen. Hockey is a wonderful game, but it's never going to step onto the same podium as football, basketball and baseball. It's a regional sport that plays well in the Northeast and parts of the Midwest - where kids grow up skating on frozen ponds - but in too many sun-splashed states hockey is and always will be an afterthought. More importantly, until someone can figure out how to translate hockey to television - thus assuring better ratings and, in turn, bigger rights fees - the NHL can't attract the widespread attention it needs to grow. There has been considerable speculation the last few weeks about whether fans will return to the rinks this fall. Of course they will. Hockey's core fans are incredibly loyal and passionate. They'll forgive, forget and scoop up season tickets because they love the game. But the millions of sports fans who never cared for hockey in the first place aren't going to rush to the game just because commissioner Gary Bettman has instituted a few rules changes. "Let's drop the puck on a fresh start and a wonderful future for the National Hockey League," Bettman said Friday. A wonderful future? At this point, the best the NHL can hope for is that it won't be ignored.

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Capitals Plan to Spend around $25 Million

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

via the AP,

Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis answered 17 e-mails from fans before 6 a.m. Saturday, then immersed himself in a crash course in the hundreds and hundreds of pages that make up the NHL's new financial rules. "Now is the time I wish I had taken Evelyn Woods' speed reading classes," Leonsis said. While there is much to learn, Leonsis quickly made one thing very clear: The Capitals will not be among the big spenders when the league resumes play this fall after a lockout that canceled an entire season. The league's new salary cap is $39 million, but Leonsis said the team's spending will hover between the $21.5 million minimum and $25 million — far before the big-money standard he set a few years ago when he signed Jaromir Jagr to an $11 million-per-year deal. "The key element in this new system," Leonsis said, "is the ability to act at the right time with the right player."

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A Message to the Fans from Trevor Linden

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Dear Fans, With the lengthy negotiations now complete, and finally, a full season of NHL hockey awaiting us this fall, I’m very excited to be writing you. Certainly, this past year has been a trying time for everyone in the hockey community. The owners' lockout had a crippling effect on far too many people—on you, our loyal fans, and on those that rely on this sport for their livelihood. It’s for this reason, having already missed a full season of the game we all love, that the players realized the sport could not afford to miss one more game. I’ve spoken with many players, and there is one sentiment that they’d like to share with you: That is, at each step we made major efforts to reach a fair deal for both sides, offering many concessions in our attempts to save the season from being cancelled by the owners. Being locked-out and unable to compete as NHL players was a frustrating situation, but it was made more difficult knowing that the fans were getting caught up in the negotiations rather than the excitement of the game. It’s definitely encouraging to know that we can now move on and focus our energy on the upcoming season. On behalf of all NHLPA members, I thank you for your patience and commitment to the game. With some of the new changes that this agreement brings forward, I’m confident that you’ll be intrigued and impressed with how they enhance the game experience. We’re proud to have the best fans in sports, and we’re eager to put on our skates and bring the excitement of the world’s best hockey back to the ice. You deserve nothing less! Yours, Trevor Linden

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NHL Transfer Deal with IIHF

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from TSN,

Now that the new collective bargaining agreement has been ratified by owners and players, TSN has learned the NHL has new a Player Transfer Agreement with the International Ice Hockey Federation. Sources tell TSN that the tenative IIHF agreement includes provisions for the orderly and prescribed transfer of all European players, including Russians, an issue which many thought would have scuttled any chance of getting a new deal with the IIHF. The Russians had been insisting they negotiate their own separate agreement with the NHL, but NHL commissioner Gary Bettman and IIHF president Rene Fasel, sources say, concluded the tentative agreement that includes the Russians during the course of the 310-day NHL lockout.

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Ed Snider Statement:  “We’re Back Where We Belong”

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

The last time I stood at this podium to talk about hockey, it was to announce the cancellation of the season. I described it then as the saddest day that I have ever had in my career in hockey. Today is a much better day. Because today, we can finally get back to Flyers hockey, and that’s great news for our fans, our Club, and our League. I want to thank all those who have supported the Flyers during this very difficult time, and I make you this promise: We intend to make the game we all love better than ever. The new Collective Bargaining Agreement provides a way for the NHL and its players to grow and flourish together, as partners, the way it should be. What’s more, this partnership will benefit our fans, the people who have supported us so faithfully for so long. We intend to make hockey more affordable for you. We are reducing prices for all of our season ticket holders and have also created family sections with ticket prices of $20 for adults and $10 for kids. Our fans deserve to benefit directly from the cost controls that are part of the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, and our ticket price rollback does exactly that.

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NHL Looking for Forgiveness

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Russ Conway of the Eagle Tribune,

What a big happy family that was at Gary Bettman's nationally televised press conference in a New York City hotel yesterday. Announcing the new six-year contract agreement ending the war year and sending the National Hockey League into a new Ice Age, they might as well have had a summer picnic on the beach, basking on chaise lounges in the sun. The way in which Bettman, NHL Vice President Colin Campbell and veteran player Brendan Shanahan were so upbeat about the future promised for the 2005-06 season and beyond, they must have had lobster rolls and watermelon for lunch. The new-look NHL will no longer have games that end in a tie. Five-minute regular-season overtimes that are still deadlocked will be determined by a shootout among three players apiece on each team. The center-ice red line has been eliminated, encouraging what Shanahan called "home-run passes." Goalie equipment has been reduced in size. Nets will be moved back two feet closer to the end-boards, opening a bit more room from the blue lines. And thank goodness, the idea of a proposed five rounds of playoffs with 20 teams making the post season has been postponed indefinitely.

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First Announced Buyouts

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

The Philadelphia Flyers are buying out the contracts of forwards John LeClair and Tony Amonte. The buyouts will be announced at a news conference scheduled for Saturday morning, team spokesman Zach Hill said. update 11:53am. TSN now has it.

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Winner of Draft Lottery Contest

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

The winner of the 2005 NHL Draft Lottery contest was awarded to Kukla's Korner reader Jim from a suburb of Philadelphia. Although no one had all five positions correct, Jim did pick the first 4 correctly. Five other entrants had the first 3 positions correct. Thanks to everyone who participated. Paul (pk)

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Yzerman Decision Coming Soon

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Detroit Free Press, The Wings have said they want Yzerman, 40, back, but they probably can't offer him much more than $1.5 million to $2 million. That's because starting Aug. 1, teams have to operate within a salary cap that starts out at $21.5 million and hits a hard ceiling at $39 million. "You cannot exceed the cap," Nill said. "Alarms will go off -- bells and whistles will start. Anytime you go to make a move, it's monitored by ourselves internally and by the league, and they will not OK any moves if you are in that position." The longtime Wings captain plans to meet Wednesday in Toronto with general manager Ken Holland and vice president Jimmy Devellano.

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