Kukla's Korner

Kukla's Korner Hockey

Devils Lack Fans

from the New York Times,

Through their first nine home games, the Devils have averaged 12,336 fans — 9 percent less than the 13,548 they averaged during the same span last season. The Devils, in their 25th season in New Jersey, have rarely been a big draw, but this season stands out. “We’ve been playing pretty well for many years, but attendance can be better than what it is,” Patrik Elias, the team’s captain, said.... “I am very disappointed, very disappointed,” Jeffrey Vanderbeek, who has owned the Devils for two years, said during an interview at his office in Newark last week. “I’m embarrassed for our players. Last time I checked, we were in first place.”

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YouTube, NHL Looking For Cross-Legitimization

from Rick Westhead of the Toronto Star:

While users have already been able to access NHL highlights for months at the website — clips available at YouTube, before yesterday's deal was announced, included a 1999 brawl between the Maple Leafs and Philadelphia Flyers and a collection of goals scored by Washington's young forward Alexander Ovechkin — a formal agreement with the hockey league helps to legitimize the Internet site. "It's further validation for YouTube," said Jimmy Schaeffler, a former producer with ABC Sports who now works as the Carmel Group media consultancy in California. "It's kind of like when the government says something's illegal but doesn't do anything about it, and then they make it legal and, all of a sudden, people rush in and it becomes that much more popular." Still, Schaeffler said, "how the NHL monetizes this remains the big question."

Continue Reading »

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Putting Your Best Face Forward

from NHL.com's Marcie Garcia:

Mostly, I know that there is an interest into the personal lives of the favorite player. Notice the autograph line is never without a picture to sign or picture to take. And yes, some teams do an outstanding job of allowing a peek into the personal lives of their athletes. Good Public Relations Departments make sure there are player and team involvement throughout the season, which is important for both sides of the puck. Why not invest in fans the way they invest in the team? Fans invest their time, energy, not to mention dime, and most importantly, emotion - even when at times it’s tough. Let’s face it; it’s easy to latch onto another winning team as opposed to sticking to your guns, even when a losing record is as common in your city as garbage day pick up, sometimes the two are hard to differentiate.
The old logic is that players put fans in the seats, and winning keeps them there, but if you don't know anything about the name and number on the back, you probably won't care about the logo on the front. Fan bases aren't a renewable resource. Teams that treat their fans like chattel tend to pay for their attitudes in both in lost revenues and bad reputations with the media members who have to deal with crappy PR departments. Are you listening, Mr. Hahn? continued

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Wings’ “Kids’ Club” A Reasonable Investment

The Red Wings have decided to charge $15 for something other than parking at the Joe:

There is a brand new program at 'The Joe' this season -- the Red Wings Kids Club. The kids club is an exclusive fan club for the little Wings' fans. Kids who join the club will receive a members-only goody bag, have the chance to win tons of super cool prizes, and even be able to attend a Wings' practice. In addition, Niklas Kronwall has agreed to be honorary president of the Kids Club this season. He will send out birthday cards and welcome letters and will even hold a question-and-answer session at the Wings' practice.

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Reflections From The Top Of The Crease

By George Malik: The CBA (will open pdf file) is a strange bird. In two weeks, Sean Bergenheim (NYI) is stuck in Sweden because he's a restricted free agent. If Pavel Vorobiev (CHI), Mika Noronen (VAN), Timofei Shishkanov (STL), Denis Grebeshkov (NYI), Niklas Nordgren (PIT), or Evgeni Artyukhin (TB) are having second thoughts about their decisions to head over to Europe--in Bergenheim's case, specifically, to get contract leverage--they're simply not welcome in the NHL. Restricted free agents can't be re-signed after December 1st. Given the hold-outs staged by Yashin, Khabibulin, and Fedorov, the December 1st stipulation's well-intentioned, but it is a bit strange in its execution.

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The UFA Interview Period

from Kevin Allen of USA TODAY,

On July 1, the interview period would begin. The objective would be to have a parade of players moving from city to city for interviews. It would be similar to what goes on in the NBA, NFL and Major League Baseball when free agents, fly in, spend a day with a team, meeting the coaches and talking to other players. They see real estate agents, review the area, and talk to folks about schools. That seems much more professional than the NHL microwave approach to signing free agents. During the interview process, teams would be free to negotiate with players all they want, but no one can sign until July 8.
read on for much more...

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Cheechoo Injury Not Serious

via the AP,

Jonathan Cheechoo's left leg injury isn't thought to be serious, but the San Jose Sharks will wait until Saturday to determine their star goal-scorer's status for their next game. Cheechoo, who won the Maurice Richard trophy with an NHL-best 56 goals last season, was injured late in the second period of the Sharks' 4-3 win over Colorado on Wednesday night. He has just two goals in his last 11 games - both in a road victory over Los Angeles last week. The Sharks refused to comment on the injury's specifics Thursday. They host Philadelphia on Saturday night.

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Jordan Smith Will Skate Again

from the Canadian Press:

It took only a second to happen, and it changed his life. Skating for the Portland Pirates in an AHL game in Maine last Feb. 24 in his rookie pro season, [Jordan] Smith was struck by a deflected puck. "I was in front of the net and the puck came up and struck me in the eye," he recalls. He lost sight in his left eye, which forced him to reassess his future.
After the frightful injury, he came to accept the reality that he'd be better off choosing a different career. So, he decided to become a teacher, and now he'll attend Lakehead University in Thunder Bay, Ont., for the schooling that will someday put him in a classroom - and allow him to play hockey again. He'll begin his hockey comeback in January with the varsity Thunderwolves. Coach Pete Belliveau has him pencilled in for a Jan. 5 game in Windsor, and Smith is excited about the prospect.

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Smart Move NHL Hooking Up With YouTube

from Ray Slover of the Sporting News,

Exposure is hockey's most dire need. Great stories involving the NHL are less available than insight on the Iditarod or Galapagos tortoise races. The NHL needs to get its stories, its action, its people into the mind of its target audience. And that audience is you, or folks like you, who eschew slick, vanilla TV for video on the web. More people are getting news and information from the web every day, and more than once in recent weeks have I heard how smart folks are getting their message across via computers. No longer will fans have to wait for video to appear on TV. It'll be right there are their fingertips. I'm impressed. For a sports organization that too often goes into lockdown mode, this is a great move for the NHL. Let's see just how open it will be in distributing clips from all 30 teams and whether its video images will be honey or have enough vinegar to give a true taste of the game.
read on

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Fix The Picture

from Adam Proteau at the Globe and Mail,

However, there’s no denying some NHL telecasts still appear to be lit via candlelight, with interview sets on loan from the local community cable channel. It’s also quite clear the energy levels of a few play-by-play men rival that of Ben Stein (a.k.a. the near-comatose teacher from Ferris Bueller's Day Off). A remedy for the problem is, of course, an infusion of money from the owners (insert cynical belly-laughs here) to spend on broadcasts. The old adage “you’ve got to spend money to make money” obviously applies, but NHL owners have preferred cost certainty to image improvement since the league was founded.

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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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