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Stars For January

NEW YORK (February 1, 2007)—Ottawa Senators left wing Dany Heatley,Pittsburgh Penguins center Sidney Crosby and Vancouver Canucks goaltender Roberto Luongo have been named the NHL’s ‘Three Stars’ for January.

FIRST STAR—DANY HEATLEY, LW, OTTAWA SENATORS

Heatley led all NHL scorers in January, tallying 22 points (11 goals, 11 assists) in 13 games, and posted a League-best +14 rating as the Senators went 9-3-1 and improved to second place in the Northeast Division. Heatley had multiple points in seven contests, highlighted by a four-point performance (three goals, one assist) in a 6-3 victory over Buffalo Jan. 3 and consecutive one-goal, two-assist efforts in wins over the New York Rangers (6-4, Jan. 11) and Montreal Canadiens (8-3, Jan. 13). Heatley finished the month with two points (one goal, one assist), including his sixth game-winning goal of the season, in a 3-2 victory over the Washington Capitals Jan. 30. The 26-year-old leads the Senators in points (67), goals (31), assists (36), shots (200), even-strength goals (21) and power-play goals (10).

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Original 6 Style

from EJ Hradek of ESPN,

I pondered a goalie’s life in the Original Six and thought about which of today’s goalies would make the cut. If there were just six teams, which six stoppers would have an NHL-level job? With a tip of the mask to the Gumper (despite the fact that he rarely wore one), here are my picks from current crop:
Martin Brodeur
The Devils goalkeeper is a stopper for all eras. Brodeur would have loved to play during a time when it wasn’t unusual to start each and every game.

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NHL Denies Approaching Gossage

via Sports Business Daily (paid sub.),

NHL Senior VP/Communications Bernadette Mansur told THE DAILY, “No one from the league office, acting in any official or unofficial capacity, has approached Mr. Gossage, and no intermediary been solicited to do so on the NHL’s behalf. Any assertion to the contrary is a fabrication”

If you are not familar with Mr, Gossage, you can check out the story I pointed to yesterday from ESPN.

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Shanny Rant

from Scott Burnside of ESPN,

Reading through Shanahan’s carping, we are reminded of the sound Charlie Brown’s teacher used to make. If, as Shanahan has suggested, the referees turn a blind eye to fouls on Jagr because he’s European (or because he used to have a bad mullet), it flies in the face of Shanahan’s own experiences.
It would appear the veteran forward has a strangely short memory when it comes to international hockey diplomacy.

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Love The Sport

This morning, I talked with Dan Wetzel, National Sports Columnist for Yahoo Sports.  He wrote a recent column titled “Unhappy Anniversary” that has received much attention throughout the hockey community.
Dan is in Miami covering the “Big Game” and was glad to speak with me about his views on the NHL.

Dan was born in the early 70’s, raised in Massachusetts and played pond hockey on a daily basis.  He was a huge Bruins fan, attending many a game and lived and died with the Bruins.
He recalls buying SRO tickets to games, which only gave him a view of 1/2 of the ice (he saw the Brad Park goal), and still cherishes those games and times like many of us do.

I asked Dan if he were commissioner, what changes would he make.  Dan responded he is not qualified or as smart as Bettman and those running the game today, but the game that he once loved has lost its luster.
Stars such as Crosby & Ovechkin, should be household names in the United States, but hardly anyone knows who they are.  The default channel for sports in the States is ESPN, and not having hockey on there is a major problem.  Sports fans go to ESPN first, looking for a game and hockey is non-existent on the channel.

Dan loves the game but has questioned Bettman ever since he decided to change the names of the divisions- taking the history out of the game to make it more geographically correct.  He also feel the game now caters to attracting new fans instead of remembering the old fans of the game.  Dan mentioned a thousand decisions made by the NHL has put them in the position they are now in.

Dan Wetzel now lives in Detroit, and occasionally appears on WXYT radio there and claims hockey is way off the radar of sports fans, even in Detroit.  Other sports have taken over the airwaves and it is sad.  He said he talks to his sister in Boston, and it is the same there, just look at the attendance figures for this season.

In closing, my sense is Dan will always be a hockey fan.  He doesn’t get to catch as many games as he used to, family and his job covering all sports are his priority, but in my brief talk with him, I get the impression Dan wants only the best for the NHL.  He wants to see it accepted and embraced by sports fans and the media, just like us.

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Best Ever January

from the NHL, With dramatic playoff races continuing to build, National Hockey League clubs set an all-time record for January attendance—attracting 3,193,093 fans to 187 total games and posting a per-game average of 17,075, the highest in the League’s 89-year history. The per-game figure, which represented 92.3% of capacity, was nearly two percent higher than the previous January high of 16,795, set during last season’s record-setting campaign.

League-wide average attendance has increased month by month: 16,537 in October, 16,538 in November, 16,850 in December and 17,075 in January.

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Always Looking For Skill

from the London Free Press,

(Dale) Hunter is clearly comfortable in London, where as co-owner and president of the team he has ultimate job security and never feels it necessary to resort to public relations ploys to boost his image. He’s made some masterful decisions with the Knights on special teams and line combos—moves that might not work with the same effect in pro.
“In the NHL, you’re dealing with more egos, an age range from 20- to 40-year-olds, and there’s money involved, so you have to be careful how you do things,” he said. “But I watched a Rangers game the other night and Jaromir Jagr was out for the whole two minutes of a power play, so some things are the same….”

read on

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Malkin Case Dismissed

Just in case you were wondering…

via the Pittsburgh Penguins,

The United States District Court for the Southern District of New York on Wednesday dismissed both complaints filed by Metallurg Magnitogorsk of the Russian Super League against the NHL, the Pittsburgh Penguins and Evgeni Malkin.
“We are very pleased that all aspects of the litigation concerning Evgeni Malkin’s right to play hockey for the Pittsburgh Penguins have now concluded,” said Ted Black, the Penguins’ vice president of business and legal affairs. “On behalf of the Pittsburgh Penguins, Mr. Malkin and his family, I want to thank Bill Daly and Julie Grand at the NHL and our attorneys, Brad Ruskin, Scott Eggers and the Proskauer Rose law firm, who represented us in this matter.”

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Good & Bad Bettman

from Jack Todd of the Montreal Gazette,

So compared with the wreckage that went before, Bettman is practically Pete Rozelle. He has ruled with an iron hand, he had definite ideas and a definite direction and no one can say that he hasn’t been busy commishing all along - although the league would arguably be better off if it had operated without a commissioner all these years.
Bettman’s tenure has been a mixed bag at best: on the plus side of the ledger are the entry of NHL pros into the Olympic Games, the crackdown on clutching and grabbing, the long overdue move to a shootout to decide games that are tied after five minutes of overtime and, above all, the much touted Collective Bargaining Agreement under which the league now operates.

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Lack Of Support For Khabibulin

from the Chicago Tribune,

“It has been a better year [personally], but we always want team goals too,” Khabibulin said. “We’re not where we want to be right now so it’s everybody’s fault, mine included.”
While he has had some clunkers this season, including a stretch at the United Center that was particularly rough in late December, Khabibulin mostly has given the Hawks an opportunity to win nearly every night.
“We haven’t given [Khabibulin] enough support,” Hawks general manager Dale Tallon said.

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added 9:42am, Check out Spector for some trade talk, including Khabibulin may be available…

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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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