Kukla's Korner

Kukla's Korner Hockey

Rejuvenated Veterans

from the Ottawa Citizen,

The new game, after a year to recuperate, train and prepare, has done wonders for some old legs. Some, like Brett Hull, Scott Stevens and Ron Francis, knew it was time to move on. Other veterans have been born again. 1. Paul Kariya, once the anchor of an Anaheim Mighty Ducks team that reached the Stanley Cup final in 2003, was written off by many when he was injured for much of '03-04 and scored just 36 points for the Colorado Avalanche. 2. Ditto for Kariya's former running mate in Anaheim, Teemu Selanne, who scored 32 points in 78 games for the same Avalanche. Hardly the sort of performance associated with the Finnish Flash of the Winnipeg Jets, a 76-goal scorer in 1992-93. 3. Brendan Shanahan of the Detroit Red Wings hated the style of play so much he formed a committee to help reshape the product. A two-time 50-goal scorer with the St. Louis Blues in the early 1990s, Shanahan muddled through '03-04 with 53 points in 82 games for the Detroit Red Wings.

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Battle For The Calder

from the NY Daily News via the County Times,

The battle for the Calder Trophy, the NHL's top rookie honor, is likely to come down to Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby, who was the first overall draft pick during the summer, and Alexander Ovechkin, who was picked first overall by Washington in 2004. By the most accurate method available to determine the status of any person, place, or thing in North American culture, the Penguins' phenom can be declared the winner. Type in Crosby's name on the virtual marketplace's Web site and you get more than 1,000 hits. Ovechkin? Not so great. A paltry 190 items turned up on his search.

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Piling Up Points

from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,

Is it possible that under the NHL's new accounting system, a team could record 100 points and actually miss the playoffs? One of the more curious byproducts of the new NHL is the illusion that with only a handful of exceptions, just about every team seems to be doing pretty well these days. The reason — or the culprit, if you will — is the latest tweak to the NHL standings, the inclusion of the shootout loss.

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The New NHL Skills Competition?

Reminds me of the diagram Pele drew up in "Victory"! image Actually it is a drill designed by FlexxCoach for the Calgary Flames.

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AO Leading Caps

from the CP via Canada.com,

"I love the youthful exuberance he brings to this team," Caps coach Glen Hanlon said Tuesday before his team faced the Toronto Maple Leafs. "Whether it's a morning skate or a practice, he just loves to be here. "He just loves hockey." That love and enthusiasm was on full display Tuesday while the Capitals went through their morning skate at the Air Canada Centre. Ovechkin, wearing his now-familiar tinted visor and loose-fitting skates, was all over the ice. He practised shooting pucks from the slot into the top of the net - hitting the small area between the front and back crossbars more often than not - and spent time working on some shifty skating manoeuvres. It's preparation the Russian rookie knows he has to put in to become the league's best player. His hard work hasn't gone unnoticed by his coach.

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The Hot Players Next Year

from the CP via Slam,

Offensive explosion in the new NHL may have a real impact on future player contracts, starting with next summer's free-agent market. Will smaller, skilled forwards now get better compensated? And will big, slow defencemen take a pay cut? "For too long, many GMs have minimized the valuations of smaller skilled players even when they had comparable performance to their offensive comparables," said agent J.P. Barry of IMG. "The new style of play has allowed many of these players to flourish and play a larger role than they ever have before.

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NCTC Files Suit Against OLN

In a slap shot directed at Comcast Corp.’s OLN, the National Cable Television Cooperative Monday filed a complaint in a Kansas District State Court against the network, saying that it breached its licensing deal with NCTC members after requiring minimum subscriber-distribution levels for its National Hockey League telecasts. The complaint claimed that OLN, in a letter to NCTC officials this past September, violated its current multiyear deal by forcing NCTC members to distribute OLN to at least 40% of their subscribers in order to receive the network’s NHL package of 50 regular-season games, as well as postseason and Stanley Cup Finals telecasts. Systems not meeting the subscriber-penetration requirements would face a deletion of the games or an undefined surcharge to carry the NHL telecasts, the complaint said. “OLN’s imposition of penetration requirements and OLN’s asserted right to impose surcharges is completely at odds with the certainty our members have bargained for and the members’ ability to serve their customers’ best interests,” NCTC interim president and CEO Tom Gleason said in a statement released Tuesday, adding that the NCTC’s current OLN deals provide members with clearly defined rates and carriage requirements. “Outdoor Life Network has unilaterally imposed new contract terms in connection with its carriage of NHL games, and we maintain that they do not have the right to do so,” he added. But OLN spokeswoman Amy Phillips said in a prepared statement that the network “does not understand NCTC's lawsuit. We have been providing NCTC with the full package of NHL games on OLN at no additional cost to NCTC or its members.”

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More Goals- Less Physical Play

from the CP via TSN,

''There's a lot of feedback that people are unhappy with the lack of hitting and the lack of physical play,'' a GM, who requested anonymity, said Tuesday. ''There's a groundswell developing now. ''I've had a lot of discussion with a lot of general managers and everybody likes the speed through the neutral zone but nobody likes the fact that there's not the one-on-one, spirited, challenging physical play in the end zones that inspires physicality and passion and competition.'' But San Jose Sharks GM Doug Wilson sees it differently. ''If you watched the Calgary-Vancouver games the last couple of days, you saw physical hockey,'' he said. ''I feel strongly that the game is very good and I think you'll see the physical game naturally evolve with the rivalries and with defencemen figuring out the adjustments in how they can play. ''To judge it prematurely, I think, would be incorrect.''

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The Maven Takes Us For A Ride

from The Maven and MSG Network,

-Wooden sticks may be making a comeback after twig-user Jason Spezza undressed the Canadiens’ defense on the most spectacular goal of the season, on his overtime game-winner. “I use the wooden stick for feel,” says Spezza. “You’re starting to see some guys going back to using a wooden stick.” The injured Eric Desjardins is another who swears by the wood. -Sooner Or Later It Had To Happen Dep’t.: A Russian players’ association is in the works, orchestrated by Alex Kharlamov. If the name’s familiar, he’s the son of the late Soviet ace Valeri Kharlamov. -Alex Ovechkin offers a pithy comparison between Russia and the Good, Old USA to St. Petersburg Times’ reporter Damian Cristodero: “Here in the States,” says the Caps’ ace, “you see a traffic sign that says 65 miles per hour and you can go 80. In Russia, you see 65 and you can go 100 or whatever you want. Just give the police some money!”

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Chicago Relying On Rookies

from STATS,

While the Pittsburgh Penguins may have the most glorified rookie since Eric Lindros, one Midwest team is getting even more production from their "North of the Border" rookies. Combined Points by Rookies, 2005-06 Season Chicago Blackhawks 41 Pittsburgh Penguins 31 Toronto Maple Leafs 21

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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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