Kukla's Korner Hockey
via Larry Brooks of the NY Post (reg. req.),
At this moment in time, is the NHLPA better served by anointing Saskin, with whom the league clearly has a close working relationship and whose candidacy Sixth Avenue clearly endorses, or is the union better served under the leadership of an independent counsel who will adopt a more traditionally adversarial approach with the overseers? If, as it now appears, the primary responsibility of the NHLPA is to prod the league into more aggressive and effective revenue-generating marketing campaigns, is it or is it not beneficial for the union to be led by an individual who's less likely to be a critical outside agitator? This, rather than simply the final escrow number — which a growing number of people on the union side now believe the league will find a way to tweak in order to keep to a single digit, thus aiding Saskin — is the underlying critical area for the players to consider.
from Al Strachan of the Toronto Sun,
So far, both the new rules and the new officiating approach are a roaring success. But like any radical departure from the norm, there are still a few rough edges to be worked out. Here are some suggestions, either for next season or sooner. Goalies are still too eager to freeze the puck. Fans want action. They didn't pay to see faceoffs. So, extend the anti-tedium crackdown to goalies who stop play when no attacker is within range. Furthermore, in cases where the puck is shot in from outside the blue line and the goalie is the first to touch it, he should be assessed a two-minute minor if he freezes it, whether the attacker is nearby or not. If the attacker is close to the crease by the time the goalie decides to fall on the puck, there was plenty of time to make a play.
from the Toronto Sun via the Edmontos Sun, These are the dark days for goons with fighting becoming a hollow exercise in the new-look NHL. "You don't need them," Detroit Red Wings senior vice-president Jimmy Devellano said of the tough guys. "All they do is get you penalties." If you scan NHL rosters, you'll find a deliberate trend. Fewer clubs see the need for someone whose sole function is to fight, including the Red Wings and Colorado Avalanche. The day of the goon "is over already," Washington coach Glen Hanlon said. "I still love physical players and I love having them in my lineup but if you can't skate, you can't even get involved in the play."
from the Boston Globe,
In The New Boston, the Bruins are a tough sell. Their only hope for salvation is to win, over and over and over, into the playoffs. Victories are their traction against the Sox and Pats. (Forget the Celtics. They're even further in the weeds.) Walk around Boston these days and listen for Bruins chatter. You won't hear any. They are simply not part of the vocabulary of this town in 2005. Part of the problem is the absence of a star. In this critical early period of the season -- Thursday's game was only the fourth at home since the season began on Oct. 5 -- a hero would help. The Bruins have none. Joe Thornton is a sputtering candle next to the klieg lights of Brady and Manny. They say Patrice Bergeron will be huge. Maybe.
from the CP via TSN,
A goaltender will be added to the NHL's competition committee in the near future, and sources indicate Martin Brodeur of the New Jersey Devils and Marty Turco of the Dallas Stars are among the candidates. The NHL Players' Association solicited goalies around the league over the past few months and recently handed the NHL a list of candidates. As per the collective bargaining agreement, the NHL will choose which of the goalies it wants on the committee. That could happen within the next two weeks.
St. Louis Blues forward Dallas Drake has been suspended for two games, without pay, as the result of an illegal check on Mighty Ducks of Anaheim player Corey Perry during Game #157 Friday night. Drake will miss the Blues' game at Los Angeles tonight and against the Chicago Blackhawks Wednesday, Nov. 2. He will forfeit $12,408.16 in salary. The money goes to the Players' Emergency Assistance Fund.
from the Courier-Post,
In terms of speed, the game is infinitely better than it was two years ago. Clutching and grabbing has gone the way of the wooden stick; goals are up; chances are way up; and the overtime shootout keeps fans in the seats, then puts them on the edge of them. But this "zero tolerance" thing with interference has to go. The NHL made significant steps in improving the game by allowing two-line passes, expanding the offensive zones and reducing the size of goaltenders' equipment. But the players have been blindsided by the "letter of the law" interpretations of the rules and as a result, the NHL is dangerously close to losing many of the fans it lured back after 17 months in the dark. "Zero tolerance is a hard way to start a season because to me that's an overreaction," said a former gap-toothed center who looks an awful lot like Bob Clarke. "(Referees) don't have a choice. They just call it." Don't consider this as much an indictment of the new NHL and its officials; rather as a recommendation.
from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,
For the first Canadian ever to coach in the Russian Super League, the learning curve has been relatively painless. Dave King, the three-time coach of Canada's men's Olympic hockey team, has his squad, Metallurg Magnitogorsk, in first place after losing only twice in its first 18 games. That left Magnitogorsk five points ahead of second-place Avangard Omsk and 11 points clear of Ak Bars Kazan, the two big-budget teams in Russia and the ones that drew all the attention during the National Hockey League lockout.
from the Delaware County Times,
In an unscientific poll conducted by the Daily Times of players from around the NHL, 23 players of varying experience levels were asked if the way the game is being played now is better than it was before the lockout, significantly worse, or about the same. While four players liked the new rules, 18 said the game was significantly worse and only one said it was about the same. A similar study of fans in three hockey crazy cities -- Philadelphia, Toronto and Montreal -- found that 83 percent of those interviewed (100 total) think the game is not as good as it was before.
from the News & Observer,
The NHL season is almost a month old, and the Carolina Hurricanes are still trying to nail down their secondary television package. The team's primary rights-holder, FSN South, blocked the team's HDTV deal with Time Warner Cable, leaving the team scrambling to find a way to get additional games on TV -- including Ron Francis Night on Jan. 28.
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