Kukla's Korner Hockey
from the Globe and Mail,
National Hockey League officials are convinced their business is well on the road to a quicker-than-expected recovery after a devastating work stoppage that wiped out an entire season, embittered long-time fans and alienated advertisers and broadcasters. And there is some evidence to support their optimism, in the form of strong early ticket sales, renewed interest from sponsors and a new U.S. TV deal that could raise the sport's profile south of the border. Coming out of the lockout, both the league and the NHL Players' Association forecast that revenue would likely fall to about $1.75-billion (all figures U.S.) from $2.1-billion in 2003-04. Now they may be revising their estimates. "It looks like we've had a tremendous bounceback frankly, far better than anyone really was anticipating," said Ted Saskin, executive director of the NHLPA. "My expectation is that the decline is not going to be as significant as many were projecting. And we might actually see some upside off the conservative projections that we all put in place."
from the NY Times,
Hockey fans might have the idea that a puck is what the Canadian Standards Association says it is, a black disc made of a rubber compound that is 76.2 millimeters in diameter (give or take .6 of a millimeter) and 25.4 millimeters thick (give or take the same), with a mass of 155 to 170 grams. But Sean McKenna says: "I like it when people say a puck's a puck. Because a puck is not a puck." Some fans may remember McKenna as a versatile forward who played for the Buffalo Sabres, the Los Angeles Kings and the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 1980's, but he never had control of the puck the way he does now as the vice president for sales and marketing at InGlasCo, the world's largest puck supplier. With the National Hockey League resuming regular-season play after a year lost to a labor dispute, it is possible to say with some justification that it would not be possible without InGlasCo. Located in this small, pleasantly nondescript city a couple of hours east of Montreal, InGlasCo produces souvenirs with the logos of clubs, teams, schools and other entities on them, items like miniature hockey sticks (about 800,000 in an average year) and water bottles (about 500,000). But what drives the business is pucks.
from the Akron beacon Journal via the Times Leader,
We celebrate the NHL's return from a 15-month absence on Wednesday afternoon in my driveway. You provide the sticks and skates. I'll supply the pucks and nets. FEMA is supposed to bring the ice. On second thought, everybody might want to bring a few bags, you know, just in case they can't find the place. Everyone is welcome. I've called Barry Melrose, Don Cherry, Gordie Howe. I sent an invitation to Gov. Bob Taft, although the papers say he already has tickets to the Columbus Blue Jackets. The more people in attendance, the better chance someone will know where to find the Outdoor Life Network on the cable box. Dropped from ESPN after three decades, the NHL makes its new television home on a network better known for Babe Winkleman, Buckmasters and the Tour de France. Perhaps Lance Armstrong will drive the Zamboni for the New York Rangers-Philadelphia Flyers season opener. That's OK, because hockey is back. Gazing at my inflatable Stanley Cup and listening to the old Hartford Whalers fight song, Brass Bonanza, I realize everything is right in the sports universe. Go ahead, poke fun. Laugh it up as we run back to a league that locked out players and fans a season ago. Yes, our numbers are shrinking. We aren't a fan base as much as a secret society.
"I'd rather people not look at us to win," goaltender Manny Legace said. "It would be nice to come in as an underdog. I think the guys would get more motivated if we were underdogs. I'd rather they look at other people for a change." "All the teams are so different. I'm anxious to get back and see what the rosters are like," Wings captain Steve Yzerman said, before sustaining a groin injury that will keep him out of tonight's game. "There's a lot of uncertainty, but I still look for us to be a very competitive team." Due to injuries and incomplete lineups, the Wings learned little about themselves during the preseason. "Today's NHL is definitely tighter, that's the one thing you do know," Wings coach Mike Babcock said. "You're going to have to engage every night if you're going to be successful."
from the NY Times,
Devils goaltender Martin Brodeur says the N.H.L. is not taking full advantage of Sidney Crosby's debut. When Crosby, the Pittsburgh Penguins' 18-year-old phenomenon, makes his much-anticipated debut against the Devils at Continental Arena on Wednesday night, the league's new cable television partner, OLN, will be showing the Rangers-Flyers game at Philadelphia instead. Brodeur, who will be facing Crosby, Mario Lemieux and the revamped Penguins, says the league and the television network are making a mistake. Brodeur said Tuesday that the league erred by having all 30 teams play on opening night rather than showcasing Crosby's debut in an attempt to increase interest in the N.H.L.'s return. "That's what it should have been," he said. "It would have been easy to do. But OLN starts with Flyers-Rangers. Sidney Crosby is the guy you want to market. He's the new, upcoming guy."
from Mitch Albom of the Detroit Free Press (Wed. edition) via the Mercury News,
Hockey returns Wednesday night, after 16 months away, and what a long, strange trip it's been - none more so than the odyssey of Brendan Shanahan. When we last saw him he was in a somber Red Wings locker room, near tears. Now, he's Winston Churchill. OK. Maybe that's a stretch. But not much, once you hear his story. In the beginning, it was all a vacation. Shanahan, like a lot of NHL players, figured there was nothing he could do about the hockey lockout, so he made the most of the time. He flew to the Ryder Cup and wound up drinking with the European golfers. He traveled to Fenway Park to see the Red Sox end the Curse of the Bambino. He took up paddleball. He coached lacrosse at a high school. He even dropped the puck for his old junior team as it played for a championship in London, Ontario. "Aside from the fact that we were locked out," he jokes, "I was having a pretty good year."
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
The Nashville Predators' Paul Kariya has always been a thoughtful sort - not a loud-mouth in the Jeremy Roenick or Brett Hull fashion, but someone who ponders the state of the National Hockey League and is happy enough to weigh in when he sees something amiss. In the aftermath of a destructive 310-day lockout that cost the NHL credibility, fan support and billions of dollars in lost revenue, Kariya asked a simple question: What if the lockout actually turns out to be a good thing? "You never want to see something like the lockout happen," began Kariya, "and you hope it never happens again, but looking ahead to five years from now, will the changes that came this summer make the league flourish? If so, then five years from now, we could look back and say, 'well, that (lockout) was the best thing that ever happened to the game of hockey.'"
from the CP via Canada.com,
Hockey's back. It's time to show off that Canucks fleece blanket, Flames cushion, Maple Leafs clock, Senators floor mat, Oilers coaster set or Canadiens wastebasket. The new NHL season doesn't come with the usual amount of new merchandise and memorabilia, as the creative and production processes for those products were pushed back because the labour agreement was concluded so late into the summer.
The Acid Queen pointed out a very interesting article from the News & Observer,
Strange to think the future of professional hockey might depend on the Carolina Hurricanes. The Canes say the National Hockey League's new labor agreement, reached after owners scuttled the 2004-05 season, gives them all the tools they need to break even, if not turn a profit. But if they can't, they won't be the only team to fall -- and the 30-team league will face change even more radical than a season lost to a labor dispute. The Canes just might be the canary in the NHL's coal mine.
If you happened to toss your hockey card collection from the 60's, don't read this. It happened to me, but my mom didn't toss them, my dad gave them to the neighbor, said I was too old to be collectiong hockey cards. As the NHL prepares to drop pucks for the first time in more than a year, hockey collectors are certain to drop their jaws when they discover that Mom's annual spring-cleaning binges likely cost them the equivalent of three season tickets against the glass. According to a recent study by Beckett Media, the acknowledged authority on the trading card hobby for more than 20 years, the value of the hockey cards found in a typical shoebox in the mid-'60s would equal about $15,065 today. "If you take a typical hockey-crazy kid who grew up in Canada back in the mid-60s as an example, we figured he'd have kept roughly 500 cards, or roughly three seasons' worth, in a shoebox," says Beckett Hockey editor Al Muir. "That assumption is based on the size of a youth shoebox and the varying dimensions of the cards from that era. "We estimate that the average shoebox in the winter of 1967 had a 65/35 mix of common cards and stars. That latter group would have included names like Gordie Howe, Bobby Hull and Jean Beliveau, along with the Rookie Cards of Bobby Orr, Phil Esposito, Yvan Cournoyer and Paul Henderson. "With those parameters in mind, that collection would have fetched about $33.75 back then. Today, in good condition, it would go for about $15,065. So next time you're scrimping to save for vacation or a new car, you can call your Mom and remind her what a great idea it was to ensure your room remained tidy by throwing away all your cards." Earlier this year, a similar study conducted by Beckett Media showed that a shoebox full of baseball cards from the 1950s would have been worth approximately $6,500.
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.
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