Kukla's Korner Hockey
from the New York Times,
While clean and skillful play has become the prevailing style among most of the N.H.L.’s best teams, the Ducks, who will start the Stanley Cup finals against Ottawa tomorrow night, earned more penalty minutes (1,457) and engaged in far more fights (71) than any other club this season. And if the opinions available on fan-generated Web sites and blogs are any indication, Anaheim has become the team fans love to hate.
The Ducks have not toned down their act, and have been responsible for some of the postseason’s most unpleasant incidents. There have been 13 fights in the first three playoff rounds, and Anaheim has been involved in four.
more on the NHL and the NYT needs to take a better look at the UFAs they have mentioned…
from Mark Sutcliffe of the Ottawa Citizen,
This week’s events should cause the NHL to take stock and review its long-term goals. Evidence is mounting that the dream of a lucrative U.S. TV contract will never be realized. The league should abandon its singular focus on that unachievable goal and reposition itself in pursuit of a better opportunity: To thrive in markets where there is demand for hockey.
Hockey will never be a national game in the United States. There are too many regions where hockey ranks behind not just the big three American sports, but a dozen others as well. But that doesn’t mean the NHL doesn’t have an opportunity to grow.
from the San Francisco Chronicle,
If Ron Wilson is on the verge of getting fired as Sharks coach, that’s news to Greg Jamison, team president, chief executive officer and the person who manages San Jose’s ownership group.
General manager Doug Wilson only has the authority to recommend such a change, a decision that would ultimately be made by Jamison. And since the possibility of dismissing a coaching staff that signed multi-year contract extensions in November 2005 has not come up, Jamison isn’t expecting any bombshells before the GM’s self-imposed Memorial Day deadline.
“I don’t think that there’s an indication he (Ron Wilson) wouldn’t be here,” Jamison said.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
If the Senators’ trio of Dany Heatley, Daniel Alfredsson and Jason Spezza can continue to shred defences with the same efficiency as they have in the first three rounds of the playoffs, Ottawa will win.
If the Ducks’ defensive duo of Chris Pronger and Scott Niedermayer can find a way of shutting them down, Anaheim will win.
Fundamentally, it really can be as simple as that.
from John Steigerwald of the Beaver County Times,
Do you think anybody at the NHL sees any irony in the fact that its final championship series opens on the same day that swimming pools all over America open?
It will be 8 p.m. in the Eastern Time zone when the Ducks and Ottawa Senators start skating and most normal people will be soaking up the holiday weekend’s last hour of sunlight.
On Tuesday, newspapers all over America will be filled with columns laughing at the putrid TV ratings for the first game of the Stanley Cup Final and talking about what an obscure, niche sport hockey has become.
The NHL deserves the terrible ratings that all of the games will get just as it deserved to have NBC drop out of overtime in a series clinching game in Buffalo in favor of 90 minutes of blather leading up to a two minute horse race.
more... So John, don’t watch, simple as that!
from the Daily Observer,
When Dorothy Villamere and her husband Cecil bought the family hunt camp near Dacre 58 years ago, never in a million years did she dream the Stanley Cup would find its way there.
As the winners of the ‘Bring Home the Stanley Cup’ contest on CBC, the family won the ultimate playoff party, complete with a visit from six-time Stanley Cup champion Mark Messier and hockey’s holy grail.
After much anticipation, at 6:45 p.m. just as planned, Mr. Messier emerged from behind the tall trees lining the dirt road leading to the camp carrying the cup.
via MutliChannel News,
Other sports are skating on thinner ice. Viewership of the National Hockey League playoffs on Comcast’s Versus network is flat compared to last year. And TNT and ESPN are reporting double-digit dips in viewership of the National Basketball Association playoffs.
Versus’ 0.2 household rating for NHL playoff ratings through May 25 is even compared to its inaugural season of hockey coverage, according to network president Gavin Harvey. The network’s conference finals coverage however, posted a 17% increase to a 0.7 from a 0.6.
He said the network has benefited from several competitive playoff series featuring a number of big market teams, including all three New York City-area teams and the upstate Buffalo Sabres.
He also pointed to the increased awareness of Versus’ NHL coverage, which includes regular-season, playoff and two Stanley Cup finals telecasts. “Clearly we have more awareness as the home of hockey than we had last year,” he said.
from Terry Jones of the Edmonton Sun,
Gretzky is cheering for the Ducks, mostly because of location, location, location in terms of the Coyotes. But there also is his legacy.
“Oh yeah. I think all of us who were around back then see the Ducks as a success of our group. It came at the same time as the Disney movie Mighty Ducks and Mr. Eisner of the Disney Corporation came to all our games,” said Gretzky, who spends the off season in Southern California.
“The sport has grown an awful lot in the southwest and the Ducks getting to the final and winning the Stanley Cup would only help.”
It’s one thing for a California team to have all the stars, moons and planets lined up and to knock on the door every once in a while, but the door needs to be knocked down, said No. 99.
from the LA Times,
StubHub, a San Francisco-based online ticket marketplace, said that only about 250 seats from season-ticket holders were available for Monday night’s opening game, selling for $200 to $1,200 each.
“That’s not nearly as many as you’d see for a Dodgers playoff game or even a Lakers playoff game,” said Sean Pate, a StubHub spokesman. “It shows me a lot of those season-ticket holders are holding onto their seats.”
Chuck Alexander of Anaheim said he is leaning toward selling his seats behind Ducks goalie Jean-Sebastien Giguere, especially when he heard center-ice seats were going for $1,500 each, more than five times the face value of his $280 seat. He sold his two tickets to a semifinal game for $1,200 to a Detroit fan.
more (reg. req.)
from Scott Bordow of the East Valley Tribune,
Short of committing a felony — and getting caught — there is little a professional athlete can do to make himself a pariah. Drugs? There’s always a second chance. A DUI arrest? Counseling and some harsh words. Dogfighting on your property? I wasn’t there, officer.
But there is one unforgivable sin: illegal gambling.
Even the whisper of a gambling scandal threatens the integrity of a sport.
But the popularity of sports is dependent on the games being fairly decided. Once that truth is violated, a sport is forever compromised.
Which is why former Coyotes assistant Rick Tocchet should be permanently banned by the NHL.
About Kukla's Korner Hockey
Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.
From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.
Email Paul anytime at firstname.lastname@example.org