Kukla's Korner

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Tidbits from The Maven

from The Maven of MSG Network,

Best quote summing up the NHL-NHLPA Civil War comes from Jimmy Devellano. The Red Wings exec v.p. puts it thusly: “The NHL owners took Bob Goodenow’s eyes out and put grapes in!” And if you want a more legal version, consider what labor lawyer Jeffery Kessler has to say. Kessler calls the NHL deal, “The largest setback for players that I’ve seen in collective bargaining.” One of the most vivid - and brilliant - bits of upstaging was Gary Bettman’s decision to speak at the NHLPA dais in Toronto, following the player ratification. The Associated Press photo shown ‘round the world was worth 1,000 words. It clearly depicted a winner and loser. Bettman is standing over the seated Goodenow, extending his hand in obvious triumph. Goodenow looks as if he had just stepped out of a Madame Troussaud’s Wax Museum.

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Satan Moving On

from the Buffalo News,

"I'm just trying to wait and see what happens." Miroslav Satan almost certainly has played his last game for the Buffalo Sabres. Speculation of the streaky sniper's departure has swirled for much of his past few seasons. Now it appears he just costs too much to keep around. The Buffalo News has learned Satan's tenure in Buffalo - sometimes prolific, sometimes tumultuous - will end either with a discharge or a trade, maybe within a few days.

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Issues not Addressed

from the Vancouver Province (reg. req.),

The NHL cold war is not over. Yes there is a ceasefire, but the new collective bargaining agreement should only be viewed in the same light as the Treaty of Versailles. Not the end of a war but instead the foundation for the next. The league threw away an entire season and somehow did not even bother to address any of its three major problems: - Bad ownership - Bad markets - Bad leadership This new deal is actually designed to protect this unholy trinity. The top 10 revenue teams will split their profits with the bottom 15. That's not revenue sharing, that's communism. It rewards owners such as Bill Wirtz in Chicago, and justifies expansion into places like Nashville, while punishing fans in cities such as Vancouver.

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Bad Impression

from Slam,

Fans should have been ready for this. The owners got their salary cap and their "cost certainty" for at least the next four years. There is no such certainty for fans. Team payroll budgets have been cut in half in some cases, but fans should not have expected the cost of going to games to be reduced. That simply wasn't going to happen. The lockout was never about giving fans a break on ticket prices. The owners need your money. With their television revenue non-existent and many corporations probably not coming back, the owners can't afford to cut ticket prices by much.

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Paying for the Past

from the NAtional Post,

We interrupt the utter joy emanating from all those Canadian small market NHL cities -- where fans are licking their chops over the prospects of finally going toe to toe with the filthy rich Maple Leafs, Red Wings, Flyers, et al -- with this announcement: The NHL will begin with the parity, just as soon as the rich clubs bail themselves out by throwing a few million dollars at their problems.

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Have the Players Learned

from the Edmonton Sun,

Have the NHL players really learned? Really figured out how damaging high salaries were before the lockout and the slashing? The answer won't be found for a few weeks. Now that the signing season has begun, it'll be an interesting study to see if all those players who agreed to a 24% rollback on existing contracts believe the change in market applies to those without contracts. There's no shortage of players who undoubtedly believe they deserve the maximum allowable this season - $7.8 million US - but how many of them are really worth it? Cases can be made for the likes of Tampa Bay goaltender Nikolai Khabibulin and forward Martin St. Louis, St. Louis defenceman Chris Pronger, Anaheim centre Peter Forsberg, Vancouver forward Markus Naslund, New Jersey defenceman Scott Niedermayer and even Calgary's Jarome Iginla, just to name a few. However, with the impact contracts like that will have on the rest of the team, it will be prudent for clubs to balk at handing out the max like parents giving their children candy. Even more important for teams will be holding back from hitting the $39 million US team cap, or even the decided budget, until we're well into the season. For the sake of their teams and the league, players may have to learn to swallow some more pride for another year or two until everyone understands how the new CBA will really work.

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Hockey Will Bounce Back

from the Philadelphia Daily News,

With his employer, ESPN, declining to pick up its television contract to cover the NHL, analyst and former Flyer Bill Clement has no games to call right now. He understands the situation, though. "The NHL had to cut a deal with NBC [which will show seven regular-season games, six playoff games, and up to five Stanley Cup Finals games], I understand that," he said. "Does this mean ESPN won't have hockey at some time? I don't think so. But the NHL is coming back from as close to Armageddon as can be. They don't have 10 networks knocking on their door, trying to get a deal. Hopefully, I'll be back calling games. But until then, I have other things lined up." We caught up with Clement yesterday to find out his take on the state of the NHL:

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Obstruction is the Key

from the Chicago Tribune,

It has become a "Rite of Fall" in the NHL. Every year, the league announces it will crack down on the holding, clutching and grabbing that takes place off the puck, reducing what should be a game of speed and skill into a taffy-pull. The announcement invariably sets off this chain of events: - Games in October and early November feature a parade to the penalty box with up to 20 power plays per game. Players, coaches and general managers start complaining that referees--doing only what they have been told to do--are ruining the game. - By Thanksgiving, the referees tire of the constant criticism and turn the other way on the holding, clutching and grabbing off the puck. The league, also tired of all the complaints, looks the other way. - By January, players, coaches and general managers are complaining referees are not calling the holding, clutching and grabbing off the puck enough and are ruining the game. It's a cycle that has been repeating itself for the last five years or so. "That has been the problem--enforcing [the rules] and then maintaining it," NHL operations chief Colin Campbell said Friday. "One of the problems in our game is accepting a penalty when it's called." So, in yet another attempt to open up the game and let speed and skill flourish, the NHL announced a "zero-tolerance" policy on obstruction off the puck and in the neutral zone. This time, the league says, things will be different.

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Datsyuk May Stay in Russia

from Mlive,

The Detroit Red Wings appear to have some serious competition in their bid to retain star center Pavel Datysuk. According to Datsyuk's agent, Gary Greenstin, the talented 27-year-old is pondering a lucrative offer from Russian Superleague team, Moscow Dynamo, the club Datsyuk played for during the canceled 2004-05 NHL season. "We have a great offer," Greenstin said Sunday. "It's huge, big."

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Jagr Undecided

from Reuters via Metronews,

Czech winger Jaromir Jagr is weighing his options for next season after the NHL's new labor agreement limited his earning potential with the New York Rangers. A strong critic of the deal -- which outlines that no player can earn more than 20 percent of the $39 million salary cap set for each of the NHL's 30 teams -- Jagr is considering playing in Russia instead. "The situation changes by the hour," Jagr's personal trainer Marian Jelinek was quoted as saying in the daily Blesk. The 33-year-old was due to be the NHL's highest paid player this season at $11 million. But under the arrangement, Jagr can earn no more than $7.8 million. The Rangers could buy out his contract and make him a free agent, in which case Jagr is likely to make less than the maximum allowed given most teams are struggling to deal with a new economic landscape. On the other hand Jagr could move to Russian team Avangard Omsk, where he played part of last year with the NHL in a lockout. The club is owned by Russian billionaire Roman Abramovich, who also owns English soccer club Chelsea. Avangard lavished millions -- all tax free -- on Jagr to play half a season and is pursuing him again. "It's complicated. I want to hear the opinions of both clubs. It should be solved within three weeks," Jagr told the daily Mlada Fronta Dnes adding money was not the main factor in making a decision. "My heart is pulling me toward Omsk but reason is making me lean toward (New York) ... I really liked it in both places."

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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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