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Merchandising and the NHL

from Sports Business Journal (paid sub.),

The NHL wants to join the party. With a collective-bargaining agreement finally in place, new rules designed to create a more entertaining product and the expectation of many marquee players shifting to new teams, the only league to miss an entire season due to labor strife is hopeful to rebuild its licensing business to pre-lockout levels in two to 2½ years. “The American fan is forgiving; we’ve seen that after every labor stoppage,” said Ed Doran, who heads the licensing business for VF Corp., the longtime rights holder for the NHL’s official championship locker-room T-shirt. “The good news was no licensee was hurt badly because we all knew this was coming. So we think we’ll be back up to 75 percent [of pre-lockout levels] sometime next year.” Even during a year without hockey, there were some encouraging signs. A pricing war in the video game category certainly helped, but nonetheless it is intriguing to note that during a season where it did not play a single game, NHL licensees sold more video games than ever. The NHL already has reached agreements in principle with all of its video game licensees — EA Sports, Take 2, Sony and Atari — to return. Hockey equipment sales also stayed strong until recently. Reebok successfully introduced its RBK and Vector hockey lines, following its acquisition of The Hockey Co. As for Nike, “we’re feeling pretty good, because we actually gained share [during the lockout],” said Nike Bauer Hockey President and CEO Chris Zimmerman. With the lockout just settled, the league licensees have missed the fall buying season but may be able to chase some business for the holiday season. The first big sales push will come for the fall 2006 season. During the lockout, the NHL took the opportunity to prune its licensee base by around 10 percent, update many licensing contracts and move its quality-control process entirely online.

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Daily Dose of Rumors

from Spector and Fox Sports,

Boston Bruins GM Mike O'Connell raised expectations on Monday with his comments to the Boston Herald that he was working on a "huge trade", fueling speculation he was about to ship out forward Joe Thornton. Turns out O'Connell has a sense of humor, as he dealt a fourth-round pick in 2006 to the Edmonton Oilers in exchange for Brad Isbister, a failed power forward whose career has stalled in recent years. Could the Boston Bruins wind up shopping Joe Thornton? It certainly appears to be a distinct possibility. Although Bruins management claims they're trying to re-sign him long-term, the Thornton camp was unimpressed by the club's five-year, $25 million offer.

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Babcock with Albom

Of interest to Wing fans, Mike Babcock was on Mitch Albom's Monday Sports show and said the Wings will be relying heavily on Fisher and Krowell. Said he expects Datsyuk to be back, if he wants to play against the best, this is the place to be, but mentioned he has to fit into a salary slot. A bunch of teams after Khabibulin and getting a player like him is like a marriage, you are in it for the long term and you have to ask yourself, are you ready for that. 7:54pm, Shanahan was just on with Mitch, Shanny said he signed for $17 million, Wings had to cut 17 players to afford him, but he is working extra hard to replace them. Also mentioned the players are happy to give up all the money they were used to earniing as long as it goes to the coaches and owners. Oh, that Shanahan sense of humor. Shanny said in the past, when a player got a raise, it helped the other players, but now there could be some bad feelings among players but it is up to coach and management to make sure the locker room is ok. He talked about his decision to come back, basically shut off his cell phone for a few days, called the Wings and said he was coming back, Wings said ok and that was it. He wanted to check with Holland to make sure he was a "fit" and was assured he was. Thinks Babcock will do well. Wings lacked a bit of discipline at times and thinks Babcock's demanding ways will be good, compared him to Bowman in that way. With Dave Lewis, team was run by committee, under Babcock, it will be his way. Mitch assumed Yzerman was coming back, Shanny thinks he will be back. Steve was not happy with the way things ended for the Wings and he still has hockey in him. If he felt his decision was bad for the team, he would not come back. He has made the decision that he can compete in the NHL and just because he doesn't score 60 goals, he can still do other things. He still has it in him, win a big faceoff, score a winning goal, etc. Shanny feels the future is good for the league. Players had to take a few steps back, we hurt the fans, there may be a period of time in cities to win the fans back. NHL must give them value for the dollar and a better product on the ice.

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Russians Against IIHF Agreement

from the CP via TSN,

The NHL's tentative new agreement on player transfers with the International Ice Hockey Federation has apparently hit a snag. Several Russian media outlets reported Monday that Russian clubs voted not to sign the new IIHF-NHL agreement. The Russian hockey federation can't sign the deal without the consent of its clubs. All other European federations have ratified the agreement.

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Dandeneault Wants to Play in Montreal

from RDS, (translated from French to English),

The leaders of the Canadian were in contact with several agents of players in order to unearth one or two defenders and an attacker. Precisely, a player who combines the two positions, Mathieu Dandeneault, acknowledged that he would like to continue his career in Montreal.

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Manon Rheaume Joins CCHA

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from CSTV,
The Central Collegiate Hockey Association today announced that Manon Rheaume has joined the league's staff as the Director of Sales and Marketing. "Manon's sales and marketing experience, unique background in hockey and her passion for the sport are all attributes that will benefit the conference in our ongoing efforts to attract corporate partners and demonstrate to them the tremendous potential of college hockey," stated CCHA Commissioner Tom Anastos.

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Palfy:  Toronto, Detroit or Florida

from the AP via Fox Sports,

Zigmund Palffy, a former Los Angeles Kings forward and now an unrestricted free agent, wants to sign a contract to last him through the end of his NHL career, a newspaper reported Monday. "The avalanche with contract signing ... will start on Aug. 1," Palffy told daily Sme. "My former club, Los Angeles Kings, is showing greatest interest, but I don't exclude that in the end I will end up in Toronto, Detroit or in Florida."

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Colorado Shoots For Forsberg and Naslund

from the Denver Post,

The Swedish NHL stars have said in two publications they want to play together this coming season, and travel plans have been explored to bring Forsberg and Naslund to Colorado within a 24-hour window of each other. Some of Forsberg's closest friends say he doesn't want to leave the Avalanche, and fans who want him to stay have been heartened in recent days by his image being displayed prominently at the top of Avalanche's website. This could be harbinger of things to come or mere coincidence.

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Complete Free Agent List

from NHL.com,

The National Hockey League today released the names of the players, who, effective today, became free agents. Some players whose names appear on this list may recently have signed with their respective Clubs; however, their contracts had not yet been filed with the League.

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The Gun Goes Off

from Scott Burnside of ESPN,

At noon ET Monday, an imaginary starter's gun sounded and the National Hockey League's general managers donned blindfolds and began their journey across the foreign terrain of the free-agent playing field. Some will sprint from the starting blocks. Others will move tentatively. Some will stumble or fall. Some will step in something unpleasant along the way. The luckiest or smartest, or some combination of both, will complete this journey having built a playoff contender or even a Stanley Cup champion. The one common theme is that none of these individuals has any clue as to what is going to happen going forward. None.

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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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