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Kukla's Korner Hockey

Ratings Tumble

from Tony Gallagher of the Vancouver Province,

The NHL governors got a rude awakening at their board meeting this week at the beautiful Breakers Hotel in Palm Beach, Fla., when they had the U.S. television ratings plunked in front of them. Talk about devastating. And unless there is a rapid recovery, it's very difficult to understand what will become of this sport in the U.S. Keep in mind this has nothing to do with the league's appearance on Versus network, or the old Outdoor Living Network as it was known last year. This is virtually every U.S. city in the league as viewers seem to be turing away from the game at a remarkable pace.
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Is Kitchen Next

from the St. Louis Post-Dispatch,

Blues coach Mike Kitchen understands what's going on behind the scenes. With the losses piling up, new owner Dave Checketts and team president John Davidson are "trying to find out the right avenue to go," Kitchen said. The Blues endured their seventh consecutive defeat Saturday night, losing 5-1 at home to Columbus, and certainly need a shake-up. And with the salary cap making it difficult to do trades until closer to the Feb. 27 deadline, that shake-up may include firing Kitchen. Davidson declined to discuss Kitchen's status this week. "Regarding coaching, I can tell you they work," he said. "Other than that, I don't make any comment on coaching. They work hard. It's senseless to make comments on coaching in any direction at any time."
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Ticket Prices Increase - Coverage Decreases

from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,

Others grope for answers to explain the empty seats and declining television ratings, even - according to early calculations this year - across Canada. But the answer is clear, even if the true believers cannot allow themselves to admit it. It was the cancelled season. The cancelled season marginalized the NHL as a mainstream league in the Lower 48 to a degree that would have unimaginable five years ago. The season without hockey gave the media decision-makers the excuse they needed (and may always have been seeking) to make hockey as dead to them as Fredo was to Michael in "Godfather II." There is essentially no television coverage of the league. Newspaper coverage has been slashed dramatically across its major U.S. markets.
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UFA Goalies Hard To Come By

from Kevin Allen of USA TODAY,

Not many teams will be looking for a new goalkeeper next summer, but as long as there are two teams in the marketplace Jean-Sebastien Giguere can be confident of improving on his $3.9 million salary. Giguere is the only headliner of a small collection of free agent goaltenders.
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An Honor To Play At Red Square

from the AP via the International Herald Tribune,

The first ice hockey game ever played at Red Square honored the 60th anniversary of the birth of Russian hockey, the 50th anniversary of the former Soviet Union's first hockey victory at the Olympics and the 25th anniversary of the creation of the famous KLM line in the 1980s. "This is a historic event — to come to Moscow and play at Red Square," Bowman said. "And it's an honor to have all these great players to play here at a time to honor the heritage of the Soviet and Russian ice hockey."
more added 4:58pm, CP story via TSN with picture... added 5:48pm, More pics via USA TODAY...

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It Is Not An All-Star Game

from Red Fisher of the Motreal Gazette,

Even Fitzpatrick has found it amusing. He says: "I have a good sense of humour and I'm taking it lightly. People have put a lot of time into it. There's a lot of stuff out there. I have to give them their props for putting so much time and effort into trying to get me in." My question is: who cares? The All-Star Game stopped being one when the NHL decided to turf the idea of the reigning Stanley Cup champions taking on the best of the rest, and the fact Fitzpatrick's 113,509 votes this week were more than any other Western Conference player tells you all you want to know about this bogus "competition."
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Draper Feeling The Special Atmosphere

from the Detroit Free Press,

For now, though, the Wings will host only one Eastern Conference division per season. Tonight is one of those fortunate times, with the Toronto Maple Leafs coming to town. The Leafs are 0-5-1 in their past six games and have been outscored, 18-2, in the third periods during that stretch. But they're an Original Six team, and for Toronto-area native Kris Draper, it doesn't get much better. "I really enjoy playing Toronto," he said Friday. "I think my dad gets a little bit more excited for this game than I do, taking on all his buddies back home in Toronto. It's fun. I've said it before: It's unfortunate that we don't play these guys more often. I know there's a pretty good buzz going around the Joe with the Leafs coming in. You expect a real good atmosphere, and those are the games that are fun to be a part of. We know they're struggling, but when they come in here and it's Detroit-Toronto, there's so much history and so much pride in both organizations, it's a fun game to be a part of."
read on... and it is a shame, two teams only 4 hours apart, don't play each other more often...

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Spezza & Heatley Working Again

from the Ottawa Citizen,

Spezza and Heatley are, were and into the future shall be, the Senators' one-two offensive threat. Brothers in hockey, Spezza is Frick to Heatley's Frack. They do everything together: hang out ("Church bingos," Spezza says with a wink), dine at each others' homes, watch hockey games and highlights, track league scoring stats ... oh, and score goals by the bunch. In the early season, those were losses that were coming in bunches. Pressure was building to bust up last season's deadliest pair in the Eastern Conference.
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Blueliner With The One-Liners

from the Columbus Dispatch,

One-liners fly from the northwest corner of the Blue Jackets locker room, where Anders Eriksson has a seat next to the goaltenders. What a wall that is: two goalies and Bubba. Where’s Shemp? When Eriksson showed off a new spandex undershirt, he said, "What do you think? Superman, right? " After Rick Nash was slashed in a sensitive area, Eriksson said, "He took one in the next generation." When Eriksson was named the first star of the game in Colorado the other night, he said, "I finally found a guy who knows what he’s talking about."
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Dmen Don’t Have Many Options

from the Palm Beach Post,

Although defensemen say they're learning what they can and can't get away with "and un-learning what they've done their entire careers," they also say offensive players have learned to make the most of stricter enforcement by embellishing. "It's becoming more and more like soccer," Van Ryn said. "I've seen it a million times: If you get your stick anywhere around a guy's waist, they're grabbing your stick and falling down. "When you see guys who made a living standing in front of the net, taking hacks and whacks, and now they're diving, it's sad to see."
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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 pk@kuklaskorner.com

 

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