Kukla's Korner

Kukla's Korner Hockey

Decision on Thursday

from Media Week,

The National Hockey League is expected to wait until Thursday morning to announce which network has been awarded the rights agreement to televise its games, as a result of confusion over the deadline for ESPN to file a matching bid to Comcast's Outdoor Life Network. OLN bid a guaranteed $135 million for the first two years, and another $72.5 million for a third option year, according to sources, and OLN believed the deadline was 5 p.m. Wednesday, while ESPN believed the deadline was midnight. ESPN would not comment on whether it would make a bid, but earlier in the day, an ESPN representative had said, "We've been carrying hockey for a long time. Sure we're interested in continuing."

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Friends Fighting for A Piece of the Pie

from Canadian Business,

Lecavalier's $6.875-million annual pay has eaten a big chunk out of the Lightning salary cap. It means St. Louis, a restricted free agent who was the last NHLer to be named regular-season MVP, will probably have to sign for less than $5 million a year. Welcome to the new NHL, where friends fight for a piece of the same pie. "Everybody's doing the math, it's not rocket science to see what it means," said fellow Tampa star Brad Richards. "I'm very good friends with both guys, it's a tough, tough situation - it sucks. There's no other way to put it.

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Down to the Last Hour

from Media Week (reg. req.),

Don't count ESPN out in the bidding for NHL TV rights. With a little less than an hour to go before a 5 p.m. deadline to match a three-year $210 million offer by Comcast, ESPN executives were said to still be interested in carrying the NHL games and trying to determine whether the dollars and other terms make financial sense. "We've been carrying hockey for a long time," said an ESPN representative. "Sure we're interested in continuing." ESPN would not comment on whether it will indeed submit a matching bid prior to the deadline, but Comcast insiders aren't popping champagne corks just yet. For competitive reasons, ESPN might have no choice but to match the offer.

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Stumpel to Panthers

Jozef Stumpel signs with Florida, 2 years, $3.25 million.

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Bourque Signed

The Washington Capitals have signed forward Chris Bourque, the team’s fourth choice (second round, 32nd overall) in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft, to a three-year contract. Did I get anyone wih that headline? Thanks to a reader of Kukla's Korner for the heads up.

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Tampa Talks Turn to Martin St. Louis

from the St. Petersburg Times,

That leaves Martin St. Louis as the only big piece of the Lightning's puzzle left to be re-signed. St. Louis' agent, Lewis Gross, is expected to meet with Feaster on Thursday in Tampa to discuss what is believed to be a multi-year deal that could pay St. Louis, the 2003-04 NHL MVP, somewhere between $4-million and $5-million a year. While Feaster is confident St. Louis will be re-signed, talks could get sticky now that Lecavalier is the highest-paid player on the team and in the same pay scale as Calgary's Jarome Iginla and Boston's Joe Thornton.

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Flyers Favorite to Win Cup

After a busy off-season, Sportsbook.com has updated the odds on the Philadelphia Flyers Stanley Cup aspirations, bumping them to the top of the list at 5-1 from an opening line of 10-1. The additions of former league MVP Peter Forsberg, Derian Hatcher and Mike Rathje and the resigning of goaltender Robert Esche are the major factors in Philadelphia's bright outlook.

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Rivals Working Together

from Scott Burnside of ESPN,

Wayne Gretzky insists he never worried he might wander into the Team Canada locker room one day and find his Olympic coaching staff in a roiling three-way melee. Sitting a few feet away from Gretzky, head coach Pat Quinn recalls a different version of the evolution of what has become a fascinating relationship with often bitter NHL rivals Ken Hitchcock and Jacques Martin.

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What Will ESPN Do

from Media Life Magazine,

There’s certainly some irony here. Weeks ago ESPN passed on renewing its hockey rights deal, having implied during the lockout that it didn’t care if it ever got hockey back, so poor were its ratings. But this week, possibly as soon as today, ESPN may extend its deal after all, and not entirely out of choice. The network might do it simply to keep the NHL out of the hands of OLN, which has suddenly become a big worry for ESPN. How things have changed.

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Joseph to Phoenix is Official

Some media sources are still doubting Joseph to Phoenix, but I just received confirmation that he officially signed with Phoenix. update 10:56am, from TSN,

Curtis Joseph has been taken off the list of available NHL free agents, as the Phoenix Coyotes have signed the veteran goaltender to a one-year contract. "We are very pleased to add a goaltender like Curtis with his many years of exceptional play and experience," said Coyotes General Manager Mike Barnett. "He is as excited to be coming to Phoenix as our fans will be in seeing him in a Coyotes uniform. We like this fit a lot."

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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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