Kukla's Korner

Kukla's Korner Hockey

Tough Guy Fading Away

from the Buffalo News,

Rob Ray made a career out of brawling in Buffalo. Marty McSorley was chief of security for Wayne Gretzky, Dave "The Hammer" Schultz spent years protecting Bobby Clarke. There's a long list of other players with similar roles, but they could become dinosaurs in the new National Hockey League. "There will be none," Ray said. "That player is going to have to be able to play. Most guys are going to be regular players. They're going to be your fourth-line guys who give other guys a rest. The one-dimensional player is going to be gone." We pause for a moment of silence for Tony Twist.

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It Is All Offensive

from the Phillyburbs,

The lockout convinced the NHL to unlock the offense. As the new NHL opens after its one-year Armageddon, Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock foresees the opening of Pandora's Box, with the penalty box less of an option. "It's a radical look right now," he said. "It's not going back to the way it was. There's a long adjustment phase that players are going to have to go through. This is a game of chaos, and now nothing is going to feel comfortable. You're leading 5-1 going into the third, it's not comfortable. I think you're going to be on edge all the time."

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Cherry & MacLean Together Again

from the Toronto Sun,

It's the melody of a nation. Sure the game's the thing, but its return just wouldn't have been the same without Hockey Night in Canada. A Saturday night hockey match without the bombastic tirades and eye-numbing outfits of Don Cherry? An intermission without the calm, incisive tones of host Ron MacLean? It would have been like the hotdog without the bun, the greasy pizza without the cheese. Hey, it would have been as sacrilegious as Tim Hortons without the coffee.

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Bits And Pieces

-Perhaps it was just an isolated incident starring a clueless chap, but an eye-rolling moment after the Pittsburgh Penguins played the Carolina Hurricanes on Friday night in Raleigh, N.C. might give a glimpse into how off the radar hockey is in most of the southern U.S. After the game, reporters were interviewing Penguins captain and owner Mario Lemieux in the visiting locker room. A local scribe wandered into the room, glanced at the hockey legend and puzzled, said not quietly and to no one in particular: "Who's that guy?" Er, just likely the second most recognizable hockey player ever. Wonder if he'd recognize Gretzky if he saw him? (via the Globe and Mail) -Mark Messier on HNIC last night, "A big part of me felt like I had had enough, achieved as much as I could achieve, and I didn't feel there was a lot more for me to play for," he said. "When I did play, the most important thing for me was to win. And maybe winning just wasn't as important as it once was, and I think once I really came to terms with that, that was kind of the deciding factor for me." -The return of the NHL wasn't exactly a splash. It was more like feathers hitting the water. (Arizona Republic)

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Give The NHL The Cold Shoulder

from the Ventura County Star,

One year after scratching an entire season, failing to award the Stanley Cup for the first time since 1919 and disrespecting its entire fan base, the National Hockey League returned with 15 season openers last Wednesday night. Reaction: Yawn. Translation: Who cares. The NHL is about to discover that it's easier to settle a protracted collective bargaining agreement that it will be to cajol its fans to return to the arenas. Talk about nuclear winters: The fallout from last season's histrionics, when the NHL's owners and players basically acted like two bratty kids fighting over the pail and shovel in the sand box, won't easily be forgotten.

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Will The Rules Stick

from the Bradenton Herald,

Too bad hockey isn't more like golf. No refs. No whistles. No penalty boxes. You pitchfork your stick into someone's kidney, you take yourself out of the game. You grab a mittful of jersey, you park yourself on the bench. You give an elbow to the chops, you give yourself two minutes to ponder your sins. If golf - a sport in which players call their own infractions - is a gentleman's game, what is hockey? Rugby on ice? Cheaters' paradise? The NHL says it's serious about eliminating the absurd amount of interference (hooking, holding, clutching, grabbing and anything else players think they can get away with) that has become an accepted part of the game. Problem is, we've heard this refrain before, in 1995, '98, 2000 and again this season. Check out this Hockey News headline: "NHL edict should halt clutch-and-grab play." The date? October 1951.

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Aound The League

from Al Strachan of the Toronto Sun,

Here's one the deep thinkers at the league office have not addressed. Many players, especially Europeans, love to use sticks with blades shaped like fish hooks. They're quite illegal, but in the first and second periods no one ever checks. But NHL rules say that no coach can call for a stick measurement in overtime. So when the shootouts start, check the curves on some of the sticks. They won't be close to legal but nothing can be done about it.

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The Grind Is Gone

from the Toronto Sun,

I didn't suffer any damage to my teeth watching the first few games in the new-look NHL. I comment on my teeth because, for the past five years or so, I have spent most of the time, while watching NHL games, grinding my teeth together unable to stomach the product that for 82 games, plus pre-season and playoffs, was being passed off as the greatest spectator team sport. Why the sudden change? First, gone from the games (thus far) is the hacking, grabbing, impeding and general wrestling that went on in the neutral zone as players of speed and skill were brought down (many times literally) to the level of the slow and less skilled so that the latter could compete on the same ice surface as the former. What I see now are players able to generate true skating speed up the ice with and without the puck, thus producing a much better flow to the game. The result? No grinding of my teeth.

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Improved NHL

from the Herald Tribune,

One can't expect the NHL to rid itself of its Jay Bouwmeesters in just three games. Ingrained behavior takes longer than that to change. Since the days of Howie Morenz, hockey's first superstar, the stick has proven the great equalizer for plodding players without the necessary RPMs to keep up. A hook here, a jab or poke there. No real malice intended. And none was exhibited when Bouwmeester, a Florida Panthers' defenseman, put his stick Saturday night into a definite no-no zone.

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More On Escrow Payment

from Larry Brooks of the NY Post (reg. req.),

The PA membership was informed by executive director Ted Saskin that the total opening night compensation of $1.031B for 713 roster players accounted for a 12 percent overage of the 54 percent allowed the players as measured against the projected 2005-06 league revenues of $1.803B. The $1.031B includes $23M in earnable bonuses. The 731 roster players includes 34 on Injured Reserve. Escrow will be computed again and adjusted if necessary at the quarter-mark, halfway-mark and three-quarter mark of the season. In his memo, Saskin informs the players that the revenue projection is "very conservative," and does not include the $65M from the OLN television contract or the $10M from the league's satellite radio deal. He also states that the revenue projection was on a "contemplated significant drop in attendance . . . that does not [match] the current 3-percent rise in season-ticket renewals. "The forecast of year-end revenues is significantly higher [than $1.803B]." As cited in the memo, if league revenues reach $1.85B, escrow for the season will amount to 9.5 percent. Should revenues reach $2B, escrow will be $1.7 percent. If, however, revenue is $1.6B, then players will be hit with a season escrow of 22.6 percent. And if escrow is 22.6 percent, someone other than Saskin will be sending out the escrow memos next year.

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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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