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Hockey’s Most Important Players

Today's "Free Friday" submission is from KK member Joe Pelletier. A great and must read for every hockey fan. Make sure to check out Joe's websites, Hockey's Greatest Legends and the 1972 Summit Series.com. "Free Friday" is open to any KK member and must be hockey related. All you need to do is send me a brief overview of your topic and chances are you will be appearing on KK in the near future.

There is no shortage of great hockey players. But there is a lack of important hockey players. When the Toronto Maple Leafs recently honoured Hall of Fame defenseman Borje Salming, I realized something. He may not have been the greatest player of all time, but his legacy suggests he was arguably the most important. While a handful of Europeans preceded him, Borje Salming was hockey's first great European player. By doing so he quickly diminished stereotypes and blazed the trail for more Swedes and all Europeans to come the NHL. The impact was far reaching, and still being explored today. The influence of the European skill game took hockey from the dark era of 1970s goon hockey to a more skilled game that has evolved into what we have today. The league that was once ruled by hard working, small town Canadian boys was greatly enhanced by influx of European players and their different schools of the sport. The acceptance of the European player has also greatly enhanced hockey's global status, spurring on generations of new players and fans worldwide. Fans and future stars on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean worshipped the likes of Pavel Bure, Jari Kurri, Peter Forsberg and Niklas Lidstrom. While history may remember others as better players, there are only a handful of figures who can claim an equally important legacy:

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The Trophy Battle

from Terry Frei at ESPN,

The Heisman Trophy is college football's Hobey Baker Award. Both pieces of hardware are earmarked for the top players in the U.S. college game, meaning it would be futile to try to sneak in votes for star quarterback Benoit Groulx of the top-rated Laval University Rouge et Or.... The head-to-head academic year tally as a harbinger of professional success? Hobey 6, Heisman 8, one push. Though extremely subjective, that's a lot closer than we expected, too. Maybe we should stop looking down on the Hobey. Or somewhere amid all those weekly charts and polls, make fun of the Heisman.
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All Masks

What did you expect on Friday the 13th? Check out Masks from the Past for vintage goalie masks. image

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Who Did That Stat

from Chirs Young at his JABS blog,

A truism from the (pardon the expression) New NHL™: Special teams are important. A key stat, the PP and its PK flipside. But what I'd like to see: stats kept on fouls committed, and who they've been committed against. The NBA (at least on fouls in the act of shooting) and soccer keep track in their play-by-plays of both ends of the candle, but the NHL, as far as I can see, does not.

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Federko Keeps The Faith

from the St. Louis Review,

In his National Hockey League playing days, Bernie Federko often turned to other Catholic players when he needed support. "You knew that support was there. You knew who they were, and if you needed something they were the first people you would go talk with," said the former member of the St. Louis Blues and now a Hockey Hall of Famer. Some people might not think that a person who takes his faith seriously would play a physical sport such as hockey, but Federko said the perception that the game and its players are violent is a false one. "It’s totally the opposite. There is some intimidation involved, but when you play against somebody it’s just competition," he said.
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Yotes Need Help

from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,

For this season, Phoenix Coyotes are wearing large patches on the right shoulders of their jerseys with the slogan "Decade in the Desert" to commemorate the passage of time since they made the move south from Winnipeg. Well, the Coyotes might want to pick it up a bit, or it's not hard to see that slogan being mocked and twisted around a bit. How about "Disaster in the Desert," or perhaps, "Doomed in the Desert?"

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Miller Wants A Win

from the Buffalo News,

Thing is, Miller insists he's not concerned with The Dominator's aura. Rather than chasing ghosts, he is more interested in tracking down something that has proven just as ethereal in Buffalo: a world championship. And at least for tonight, when the Sabres play Hasek's Detroit Red Wings in Joe Louis Arena, Miller will be preoccupied with attaining another elusive feat. For once in the NHL the former Michigan State star would like to beat his hometown team. "I've had two cracks at it and they smacked me around," said Miller, who is 0-2 with a 5.64 goals-against average and .766 save percentage against Detroit. "I want to go in there and get a victory against these guys and keep this team going where we need to go."

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It’s Early

from Mark Spector of the National Post,

Of 15 offensive categories on the NHL stats package, nine of the early leaders are Europeans. They've even infiltrated the rookie ranks, where you can't tie your dog [Lasse Kukkonen] to a Pole [Wojtek Wolski] without finding some guy named Alexander Suglobov or Loui [Satchmo] Eriksson. This deep into the season, it's obvious: The Calder Trophy will go to Anze Kopitar, the Los Angeles Kings draft pick who hails from Slovenia. There, hockey is so scarcely played that one in four registered players makes Slovenia's national team. (And still they wouldn't pick Rob Zamuner). But it's early, right? The Kopitar kid can't keep on averaging 21 minutes and scoring two points per game, can he?
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Go Kolnik

SUNRISE, Fla. - The Florida Panthers announced today a pair of special in-game promotions for their upcoming game against the Tampa Bay Lightning on Friday, October 13. The Cats have partnered with Hooters to give fans 13 free chicken wings if RW Juraj Kolnik (#13) scores a goal in tomorrow nights game versus Tampa Bay. In addition, one lucky fan seated in one of the BankAtlantic Center’s seat 13’s will receive two tickets to attend the Guns N’ Roses concert at the BankAtlantic Center on Oct. 24.

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Early Trade Talk

from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,

While the NHL schedule is less than 10 days old, the heat is already being turned up with some teams off to slow starts. You can bet trade talks are going to heat up in the next week. "I would say by the end of next week you're going to have teams calling around trying to see what's available because they're not where they should be," said an NHL executive yesterday. "You can't afford to wait until you've played 20 games before you make changes. It's all about making the playoffs now and if teams want to stay in the race they're going to have to decide pretty quickly what they're going to do." Most eyes are on the Phoenix Coyotes. The club is coming off a 9-2 loss to the Detroit Red Wings with goalie Curtis Joseph taking the brunt of the shellacking.
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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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