Kukla's Korner

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A Showcase, Not A Game

from Red Fisher of the Montreal Gazette,

It’s a charade of what hockey is all about. No hits. No blocked shots. No penalties. No emotion.

Once, when the All-Star format called for the reigning Stanley Cup champions to face the best of the rest, the competition was there. Pride in winning was there. Competition was there. Now, it’s mostly a party for players and an opportunity for the NHL to show its major sponsors how much they appreciate the millions they pour into the game each year….

The NHL has made it abundantly clear it likes what it has now: sellouts year after year in arenas charging sky-high prices. It likes the skills competition and loves the outpouring of goals that have become the rule rather than the exception.

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Filed in: NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: all-star+game

Nolan Calls His Goal

from the Calgary Herald,

“Top corner, bar and in,” grinned Jarome Iginla, Nolan’s present-day teammate with the Calgary Flames and an NHL rookie at the time. “Yeah, I remember it. It was great. It was nice to see. He was calling his shot. I think Hasek had made some pretty good saves on him before that and he was saying, ‘I’ve got you this time.’ And he did. It was pretty cool. A good way to finish off a hat trick.”

“It was great,” said Nolan. “First of all, it’s an honour just to play in an all-star game. And to be able to score a goal during it and then get a hat trick in front of the home crowd? It’s too hard to explain. It was a great atmosphere when that third goal went in, I honestly thought the roof was coming in. It felt like an earthquake.”

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Filed in: NHL Teams, San Jose Sharks, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: owen+nolan

1st Half Awards

from Chuck Gormley of the Courier Post,

(If I Only Had A) Heart Trophy: Patrick Marleau, Sharks. A year ago, the high-flying center taken second overall in 1997 was on his way to 32 goals, 78 points and a plus-9 rating. Heading toward this year’s All-Star break, Marleau was on pace for 15 goals, 40 points and a team-worst minus-31. But he can take heart because he’s in bad company with Dishonorable Mention: Thomas Vanek, Sabres; Jaromir Jagr, Rangers; Andrew Brunette, Avalanche….

Vezina Trophy: Roberto Luongo, Canucks. Just when you thought this masked man couldn’t get any better, he did. Entering the All-Star break, Luongo was among the league leaders in wins, goals-against average, save percentage and shutouts and was on pace for a career-best 2.04 GAA.

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Stop The Blocked Shots

from Terry Frei of the Denver Post,

Obstruction and trapping slowly are creeping back into the game, with referees being less vigilant and coaching strategies and player mind-sets retreating to the dark days.

Yet there is a new and perhaps even bigger threat to the NHL’s entertainment value.

That’s the approach of backing up and erecting what isn’t quite like the human wall in front of a soccer free kick, but is at least reminiscent of it in intent. The goal is to block or tip shots, preventing the puck from getting through to the goaltender.

The NHL needs to take a look at legislating the strategy out of the game, whether with imaginative uses of additional lines and what could amount to defensive offsides standards, or something else.

read on

Filed in: NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Sign Or Trade Pitkanen

from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal,

In today’s escalating salary wars, Pitkanen could be a $5-million defenceman. “We really haven’t started into negotiations,” said his agent Larry Kelly, who says he’s been a moving target, tough to track down with other things going on.

Does Lowe want to go to $5 million for another defenceman? He’s already paying Souray a cap hit of $5.4 million, but he was an unrestricted free-agent and price was of little concern to get him last summer. Lowe’s going to have to bump up Gilbert a good deal.

If he gives Pitkanen $5 million, then that’s considerably more than his best three best forwards Shawn Horcoff, Ales Hemsky and Dustin Penner.

If you were Lowe would you be talking to Rutherford about, say, winger Erik Cole and a prospect? Would you be calling Dean Lombardi in L.A. and inquiring about Alex Frolov or Mike Cammalleri, if he gets back from his bruised ribs?

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Filed in: NHL Teams, Edmonton Oilers, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: joni+pitkanen

Line Of The Week

Don Waddell during the coaches roundtable at the ASG…

DON WADDELL: No, we’re always looking for new avenues to get our word out. We’re in a market and we compete with a lot of things in this marketplace. The only thing that bothers me about media is when you deal with all the speculations of the rumors, you know. Let’s deal with facts. We spend probably half our time, and I know these guys do, coaches, and I know the GM’s answering calls about these fake trade rumors that these guys in Ottawa make up. Not John (paddock), but…

THE MODERATOR: I thought John made a few of them up himself.

DON WADDELL: But that’s what happens in the world. We’re in that world where somebody blogs something, and we dealt with a big issue last week. Somebody blogs something, it becomes the Bible, and then you have to deal with it. You spend a whole day putting out all the fires of where there is no truth. That’s the frustrating part

Filed in: NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Even The Losers Have A Chance

from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,

Sixth Avenue wanted to create a system in which all 30 franchises would somehow have an equal chance at winning; er, at not losing in regulation. And so the bar has been lowered. Essentially everybody is in it, but at the cost of quality. The NHL is now about the pursuit of mediocrity, not excellence. Do you see who’s on defense for the division-leading Devils New Jersey Devils?

read on

Filed in: NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Penguins Go Shopping

Colby Armstrong, Max Talbot, Sergei Gonchar and Evgeni Malkin got together and did a commercial...

*my thanks to the KK reader who dropped this link on me earlier today

Filed in: NHL Teams, Pittsburgh Penguins, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Some Work Needed

from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,

ATLANTA – There are some wrinkles that need to be worked out for the NHL’s skills competition.

The event was revamped for this year’s all-star game, which led to some confusion for the spectators and media. At first, no one was sure if the contest started and then it was a little difficult sorting out who was winning in the fastest-skater event.

A new addition was the obstacle course, where players from each team tried to score on a tiny net after shooting the puck over a ramp, hit a target in the net from the blueline and then the goaltenders had to try and score on the net at the opposite end of the ice.

This one needs work. The most interesting part was watching the goalies try and score. Yep, as exciting as it sounds.

continued

Filed in: NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: all-star+game

Waiting For The African-American Star

from Time,

Bottom line: hockey needs a transcendent African-American star, a Tiger Woods, to market the game to a black audience. “If you had somebody of that caliber who was African-American, then, yeah, I think that would break the barrier,” says James Jemison, a black hockey fan from Atlanta. Iginla is great, but as a Canadian who grew up in hockey-mad Alberta, his backstory isn’t that surprising.

How long might we have to wait for such a player? “I’d say 10-15 years,” says veteran San Jose Sharks forward Mike Grier, an African-American from the Boston area.

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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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