Kukla's Korner

Kukla's Korner Hockey

NHL Fails in Marketing

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

Given a glorious opportunity to come out of the gate by showcasing Sidney Crosby in a stand-alone opener a night before the remainder of the league's Egalitarian 30 drop the puck, the NHL has failed its first re-launch marketing test, and has done so miserably. Instead of arranging for the Penguins-Devils opener in New Jersey to be played on Tuesday, Oct. 4 as the national opener of whatever cable television package the league negotiates, that instead will be just one of 15 games played the following night. But why would the league want to trumpet the debut of the most talked about neophyte since Eric Lindros, if not Mario Lemieux? Why would the league want to promote an opening showdown between Crosby, its most commercial-friendly marquee freshman ever, and Martin Brodeur, the best, and, coincidentally, most media-friendly, goaltender in the world? Why would the league want to advertise the potential of Mario Lemieux bearing in on Brodeur in perhaps the first shootout in NHL history? Why would the league want to actually re-open with pizzazz, why would it actually want to focus the spotlight on a transcendent 18-year-old and a goalie for the ages, when instead it can diffuse the attention across the continent to mouth-watering matchups such as Minnesota-Calgary, LA-Dallas, and the Islanders-Buffalo? With the Rangers opening in Philadelphia that night, even the New York market won't be paying attention to the prodigy's first NHL performance. But that's the NHL for you. This is the league that believes the burden is on the players to sell the sport by "getting out into the community." This is the league that believes no market is more significant than any other, and it was that core philosophy as much as any financial concerns that drove the Sixth Avenue salary-cap crowd.

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Comcast vs. ESPN

from the NY Post (reg. req.),

Beneath Comcast CEO Brian Roberts' meek appearance lies a killer instinct and the best poker face in cable television deal-making. That's why industry watchers last week greeted news that Comcast may look to acquire rights to air NHL games — as part of a total repositioning of its Outdoor Life Network as an all-sports channel to challenge ESPN — with more than a bit of suspicion. It might just be a ploy to gain Roberts leverage — and save him millions of dollars in ESPN carriage fees, analysts said. "Going after the rights gives Comcast the ability to say to sports programming providers that they expect to be a player, and that they expect to be accommodated if they decide to back off," said Jimmy Schaeffler, a cable industry analyst with The Carmel Group. By actively pursuing sports-programming rights, Comcast is simultaneously positioning itself to, at the very least, extract concessions from ESPN when its contracts come up for renewal next year. Roberts has to do something to stem the rising fees paid to ESPN. If not, by 2009 Comcast will be paying the network a humongous $6.48 per-subscriber per-month fee, according to one estimate.

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Clueless NHL

from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,

Nobody ever cancelled an entire season before. Not surprisingly, then, nobody — at least nobody in the NHL — seems to know how to spring a dormant league back to life again. At least not quickly. At best, it can be said there are signs that the NHL is groggily awakening from a long, fitful slumber, with yesterday's entry draft the latest evidence that moving from a war footing to a bright new day is proving to be sluggish and awkward. If the draft was supposed to provide a vibrant sense that the league was finally reopening its doors for business and plotting an exciting new future with young, talented hockey players, it was a thoroughly abysmal effort. The Sidney Crosby era, history will record, dawned as part of the most muted, subdued and joyless draft in decades. This was no glittering coronation. This was about as thrilling as having a new oil filter installed in the family car. When Crosby's name was announced as the No. 1 pick, there was a smattering of applause from a handful of people surrounding the draft tables, nothing like the thunderous standing ovation the NHL's new saviour would have received had the event been held in an arena anywhere from Ottawa to Montreal to Red Deer. The anti-climactic nature of the Crosby selection following last week's draft lottery, of course, took all of the intrigue out of the moment. But the league's decision that the first order of business in its new, fan-friendly approach should be to bar fans from the draft didn't help, as without anybody on hand to cheer or boo, the day took on the flavour of a book fair.

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Like Father, Like Son

from the CP via TSN,

The already improbable story of hockey's fabled Sutter family took a twist that moved it into the realm of surreal coincidences Saturday. Calgary Flames general manager Darryl Sutter was aware long ago that there was something special about having six brothers who played in the NHL. He was aware that drafting his own son on Saturday would be a high point of his life as a hockey dad. But he was visibly flabbergasted when informed later of a coincidence of which he swears he was completely unaware: Both father and son were drafted 179th overall, 27 years apart.

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1st Round Analysis

from Fox Sports,

With Sidney Crosby firmly entrenched as the Penguins' top pick in the NHL Entry Draft on Saturday, the intrigue when the day began centered on the No. 2 pick, belonging to the Mighty Ducks. Rumors of a trade for the No. 2 pick ran rampant throughout the league as teams talked back and forth in hopes of jockeying up to a higher position. As the draft began, a collective hush came across the floor, but it appeared that the big trade that was looming was not to be. It was an interesting first round as there were more players taken from the state of Minnesota (five) than the entire country of Russia (zero). We also saw four separate trades as teams moved up and down to find the players that fit them best.

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Recap of Wings Picks

Of interest to Wings fans. from the CP via Slam,

Defenceman Jakub Kindl of the Kitchener Rangers was the Detroit Red Wings' first pick in the NHL entry draft Saturday. Using the 19th pick, the highest for Detroit since it selected Martin Lapointe 10th overall in 1991, GM Ken Holland opted for Kindl, an excellent skater who moves the puck well but who had only a so-so season with the Rangers. Born in the Czech Republic, the six-foot-two, 199-pound defenceman had three goals, 11 assists and 92 penalty minutes in 62 OHL games.

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Rest Up for 12 More Hours

per Scott Burnside of ESPN, The NHL has decided to change the deadline for the official start of the free-agency period from midnight ET on Sunday to noon ET on Monday.

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Media Coverage of the Draft

I'd be interested to know your views on the coverage of the NHL Entry Draft. I watched the TV coverage on Comcast Local here in the Detroit area. They picked up the TSN feed and as usual, was well done. But the show ended before the draft was completed. I hoped there would have been more trade talk, but that was not to be. Website coverage was just ok. Both Sportsnet and TSN had the first round covered well, but after that, it became a crap shoot of what website to hit. I believe nhl.com provided the most thorough coverage. As I mentioned earlier, I visited many of the team websites and most were updating their team status on a regular basis. I am still shocked the Wings official site did not have anything on the draft. As a matter of fact, the last story is "Wings add McLellan to staff". I do hope they were having technical issues instead of just not updating the site.

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Quiet Draft Day

from the CP via TSN,

What ever happened to the old days when the NHL entry draft hadn't even begun yet and Mike Milbury had already traded half his roster? "This is the deadest it's ever been in the history of this," observed Anaheim Mighty Ducks GM Brian Burke. The eerie silence of an NHL draft without spectators essentially mirrored the action on the trade front Saturday as GMs focused their efforts on the upcoming free-agent market instead of trying to deal. That's because there are very few assets to trade. There are more players hitting free agency Monday at noon EDT than there are players under contract. "Nobody has extra players to move," said Philadelphia Flyers GM Bob Clarke, himself a veteran draft-day dealer. "In the past, there was always extra players in each organization. But now, at least this year, the extra players you had you tried to buy out or didn't qualify to get the payroll down.

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The Last Pick of the Draft

Patrick Hornquist(sp) by Nashville. By the way, in the last 20 years, 5 of these last pick in the draft, have played in the NHL.

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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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