Kukla's Korner

Kukla's Korner Hockey

Redefining The Game

from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,

The conversation takes place in the corridors and press rooms of arenas across the country, and it takes place over the phone. But it is muted, and in public those whose constructive critics who wonder whether the league's Manhattan power-brokers have gone too far, wear gags, fearful now of being fined by a commissioner who thinks dissent is as harmful to the league as a tie game. We'd be far more patient with the administration and with the evolution of the game if we trusted the motives of the Blue Suits directing the agenda. If the people in charge were attempting to recreate the environment from, say, the late '80s or early '90s, when the NHL featured a blend of skill, speed and toughness that disappeared with the first lockout, we'd gladly hang in with the inevitable bumps of change. But they're not attempting to recreate an era during which hockey's popularity rose to a zenith. Instead, they're determined to invent a new game that will somehow appeal to consumers who have never had much interest at all in the sport. It's as if they're trying to invent a car that will appeal to people who don't have a driver's license.

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It All Makes Sense Now

from Doug Gilmour, special to the Toronto Sun,

This is a message for Jacques Demers, my former coach and a man who was much like a father figure to me early in my career. I had no idea. Never did I suspect you were illiterate. I never saw any evidence of such a handicap during my stint with the St. Louis Blues, a time when you were my first National Hockey League bench boss. It takes a big man to come out and publicly admit such a thing like you did. You know, as I look back, it all makes sense now.

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Waiting For The CBA

from the News & Observer,

Promoted to deputy commissioner in the days after the July 22 settlement, Daly has spent the past three months working with the NHL Players' Association to hammer out the final details and interpretations of the new labor agreement. Or, to answer fans' questions about when they might be able to see the new deal: not yet. "There are things that come up from time to time we discuss with the union," Daly said. "At some point, probably in the not-too-distant future, we'll make some minor modifications in writing and probably have the document formally printed.

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Watching The Bruins

from the Boston Globe,

It's the day after a big 2-1 home win over the Toronto Maple Leafs, and the Boston Bruins are filtering into the Ristuccia Memorial Arena's parking lot in Wilmington for an 11 a.m. practice. Luxury SUVs are the overwhelming vehicle of choice, and the players stroll toward the entrance of their locker room, many clutching cups of coffee to shake away the fatigue from getting home late the night before. Each player is greeted by a handful of fans, who ask the players to pose for a picture or sign an autograph. Most of the players are eager to oblige, others do so somewhat grudgingly, but not a single player refuses a fan's request. The same scene plays out in the Ristuccia parking lot every time the Bruins practice there, in a give-and-take between athletes and fans that is rarely, if ever, seen in professional sports.

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The Bulin Bust

from the Arizona Republic,

Former Coyotes goalie Nikolai Khabibulin, whom Phoenix is expected to face tonight in Chicago, has been an expensive bust for the Blackhawks. Chicago signed Khabibulin to a four-year, $27 million contract over the summer and, so far, the "Bulin Wall" has played more like the "Bulin Picket Fence." Khabibulin enters today's game with a 3-9 record, a league-worst 4.11 goals-against average and a league-worst .843 save percentage. He also enters the game fresh off an embarrassing outing vs. Dallas on Friday in which he was pulled after giving up four goals in the first 14:32 of the game.

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NHL Talk

from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,

-Markus Naslund might be a star in the NHL, but there are no guarantees he's going to be on Team Sweden at the Olympics. -The Penguins wouldn't mind moving RW Ziggy Palffy, D Dick Tarnstrom and G Jocelyn Thibault. The word is Pittsburgh GM Craig Patrick is disappointed in Palffy. -There's talk GM Mike Milbury could finally get fired if the team doesn't turn things around.

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“Le Gross Bill”

from the Toronto Star,

Jean Beliveau is patiently waiting and the woman assigned to clean his hotel room is nervously moving as quickly as she can. Sensing her anxiousness, Beliveau approaches her gently and says, "Don't worry. There is no rush. Take your time." Then he turns to the others in the room and says, "They work very hard." One of the classiest personalities ever to play the game, Beliveau remains a humble man, not nearly as impressed with his accomplishments as others are. That humility, cultivated in Victoriaville, Que., more than 70 years ago, served Beliveau well as a player, ambassador and spokesman for the game. Beliveau also happily answered all questions when Unplugged recently sat down with him. He was in Toronto promoting the revised version of his autobiography, Jean Beliveau: My Life in Hockey.

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Evolving NHL

from the Philadelphia Inquirer,

These days, Bettman's officials whistle everything, which makes the game choppy sometimes. Zero tolerance may someday be viewed as having saved the National Hockey League, or reinvented the game, depending upon your perspective. "I say this with a smile," said Gretzky, the player-turned-owner-turned-coach of the Phoenix Coyotes. "It's probably been better than they anticipated. The game itself is such a nicer game to watch and be part of. "I truly believe the finesse and smarts and intelligence of hockey players now, both offensively and defensively, is a factor. If you're not a good skater and you can't handle the puck and you're not a smart defenseman, you no longer can play in the NHL. That's the way it should be."

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The Least Division

from the Ottawa Sun,

When you remember how the new schedule has led to the increase of inter-conference play, Detroit's achievements seem less impressive. The Red Wings had 11 wins in October, but six came against teams that currently sit in the basement of the NHL standings -- Columbus, Chicago and St. Louis. Detroit, being placed within the Central Division, can use this new schedule to its advantage and may end up with an overall record that isn't as impressive as it seems.

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Offensive Numbers

from the Toronto Star,

Sometimes you have to be careful what you wish for, but the NHL's dream of more offence is reaching giddy heights. A return to the wide open Wayne Gretzky era it's not. But the hockey this season certainly is a notch above the whacking and grabbing style we had become subject to as the neutral-zone trap took hold. One month into the season, goals are up about 25% from the tedious 2003-04 season. Shots on goal are up almost 20%, while power-play goals have increased by more than 50% stemming from the crackdown on obstruction. The aim of the rule changes was to free up ice for the star players and certainly some have taken advantage.

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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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