Kukla's Korner

Kukla's Korner Hockey

This Year’s Upstarts

from Sherry Ross of the NY Daily News,

The cap this year is set at $44 million, but several teams are budgeted well below that figure. Pittsburgh and Washington, to name two, will be at or under $30 million. Burke said his Ducks have a $38 million budget — despite the fact that, in the past two years, he has added two of the top defensemen in the league in Scott Niedermayer and Chris Pronger. “You still have to run a business like a business,” Burke said. “But the difference between $38 million and $44 million is a manageable disparity.” Teams that adapted poorly — the three-time Cup champion Devils among them — can no longer bury their expensive blunders. Those that have managed, drafted, scouted and hired well will count among the league’s elite. Just don’t be shocked when another duo of upstarts scraps for the Cup come June.
read on...and Sherry picks her playoff teams...

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Win Early

from the Chicago Tribune,

As the Blackhawks begin the 46th season since they last won the Stanley Cup, the question is whether this year will be any different from the last few miserable years. The answers are important for the team, its long-suffering fans and the NHL, which can't continue to watch its third-largest U.S. market slide into irrelevance. Which way the Hawks' fortunes go could depend on these six factors during the 82-game season. Simply put, if the Hawks are 11th or lower in the Western Conference on Dec. 1, their chances of making the playoffs will be poor because history has shown that by that date, at least six of the eight playoff teams already will be entrenched.
continued

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Cool The Playoff Talk

from the Columbus Dispatch,

The Blue Jackets are at it again. As the Jackets gear up for their sixth NHL season, the buzz around Nationwide Arena — mostly from the suits and broadcasters — is a certain "P" word that seems to pop up every September, only to be a distant memory once the puck has been dropped a few times in October. That word? Playoffs.... And lots of preseason publications have the Blue Jackets making the postseason, meaning the front-office folks might not be too far off. We shall see. In the short term, getting out of the hockey basement might be a more reasonable goal than making the jump into the NHL’s elite.
read on

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The League Is Saved

from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,

The NHL may have its most appealing product in more than a decade, but not by definition. For this appealing product somehow appealed to fewer people than ever, if TV ratings are the measurement by which all leagues live. But have no fear. The league in which all games have a winner but nearly a quarter of them don't have a loser is about to be saved from itself for the second time in 12 years by its most important and most loathed franchise. The small-market league is going bright lights and Broadway again. The NHL will rest in peace no more. The Rangers are on their way to another parade up the Canyon of Heroes, this time 41 years ahead of schedule.
more

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The Season Of Rebuilding

from the Pioneer Press,

Commissioner Gary Bettman enters his 14th year as the head of a sport that continues to evolve after its radical makeover. He recently spoke to the Pioneer Press from his New York office. PP: The salary cap increased to $44 million from $39 million because of record revenues. Is the cap acting as a magnet for spending by teams or a management tool? GB: I think it's a management tool. If you check what happened last year, there was no rhyme or reason. There were plenty of teams that spent near or to the cap didn't make the playoffs. There were plenty of teams that spent at midpoint or below and did make the playoffs, and you had a $32 (million) team (Carolina) face off against a $34 (million, Edmonton) in the Finals. What the cap provides is a range within which a well-managed club can be competitive if there anywhere in the range. There's no magic to spending to the cap. If you spend to the cap, you may lose your flexibility to deal with trade opportunities or deal with injuries. If I were running a team, I would try to be around the midpoint. There's no reason you can't be competitive when you're within $6-8 million of the cap.
read on...many topics touched upon...

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Everyone Can Watch

from the Toque,

The Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms grants every Canadian citizen the right to receive radio transmissions, and the right to watch our national sport--hockey. But for many millions of Canadians living in isolated regions, such as Saskatchewan, cablevision is not an option. That is why the Canadian government spends tens of thousands of dollars every year on Hockey Mobiles, big trucks with big screens that provide "live" hockey action to underprivileged and transmission-deprived Canadians. The trucks are maintained by the Canadian Broadcast Corporation (CBC), the only approved television provider in the culturally and technologically backwards nation.
continued...and you may run into the ad with a buzzing mosquito, so be prepared...

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Crosby & Ovechkin Pave The Way

from the NY Times (Sunday edition),

Their cause is helped by the remaking of the N.H.L. in the postlockout era. A salary cap has brought back competitive balance, and new rules have opened up offenses. “Sid and Alex have come into the league at the perfect time,” said Bill Clement, the lead analyst for NBC and Versus (formerly OLN). “If there hadn’t been a lockout, we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Now the game showcases just what they do, which is skate, pass, shoot and score.” The league is also showcasing its young stars in an invigorated marketing campaign, and it is hard to find a hockey preview not decorated with Crosby’s and Ovechkin’s elfin smiles. They have participated in those efforts happily, and neither has seemed to let it warp his perspective.
more

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Dallas - Montreal Trade

Montreal Canadiens General Manager Bob Gainey announced today the acquisition of defenseman Janne Niinimaa and a 5th round pick in 2007 from the Dallas Stars, in return for forward Mike Ribeiro and a 6th round pick in 2008.

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Will Boston Changes Help

from Fox Sports,

While the Bruins will be much better than last season, it's doubtful they will be able to climb out of the basement in the highly competitive Northeast. Boston will give the Maple Leafs a run for their money for the fourth spot in the division, but that's about as high as this team will go. Boston still has too many question marks on offense, defense and in goal to be able to challenge for a playoff spot. After their top six forwards of Savard, Murray, Kessel, Marco Sturm, Patrice Bergeron and Brad Boyes, it's a crap shoot for the Bruins. P.J. Axelsson has offensive skills, but how much can he contribute if he's not playing with the other skilled players from one of the top two lines? Where they'll finish Division: 5th Conference: 12th
more

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Offensive Minded Hockey Coach

via Tom Gage at the Detroit News,

On Monday, Matt Stairs will be home in Bangor, Maine, contemplating his next big challenge: coaching the boys' varsity hockey team at John Bapst Memorial High. "I'll become a full-time dad again, and getting ready for the hockey season," said Stairs, who's not eligible for the postseason. Stairs grew up in New Brunswick, Canada, and played much more hockey than baseball as a kid. He continued to play as a adult, before "I stopped about five years ago because of a bad Achilles (tendon)." What does he stress as a coach? "Straight offense," Stairs said before going 1-for-5 with an RBI in the Tigers' 9-7 loss to Kansas City. "To heck with defense, I want offense."

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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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