Kukla's Korner

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Forsberg Could Flourish

from Philly Burbs,

The greater curiosity, though, is the promise of what Forsberg will do. Under these new rules, in what presumably will be a freer-flowing style of play, he might have himself a season beyond even what the Flyers had hoped for when they signed him last month. "If they take away the 20 minutes of wrestling, yeah," Forsberg said Friday, after skating for the first time since the surgery. "There's a lot of penalties right now, but we have to stick to it. It's disrupting games right now, but the final result, we won't see until a couple of months into it, when the players learn the rules and what you can do. Then, we'll have a good game. ... "I've talked to the guys, and they said it's not that hard to play right now, not as physical, not as much grabbing and holding like it was before. They get back to the bench, and they're not that tired. Definitely, it's going to help."

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Is Kansas City An Option For The NHL

St. Louis and Nashville played an exhibition game last night in Kansas City: from the Kansas City Star,

They announced Saturday’s crowd at 12,686, and you can take that two ways: 1. a flaming failure, because it’s 23 percent below the league’s average attendance in 2003-04 and better than the typical draw of just two teams that year; or 2. a resounding success, because organizers had just 59 days after the end of the lockout to sell tickets. Paul McGannon is president of NHL 21, organizer of this and previous exhibition games at Kemper Arena. The ultimate goal is to land an NHL franchise, with Carolina, Pittsburgh and Nashville being the most likely possibilities. “Our job is to cultivate the sport in Kansas City so that we don’t look at this as a regional sport,” McGannon says. “We’re one of the last places in the country that hasn’t really been exposed to a high level of hockey.” Asked how much “cultivation” is needed here, McGannon says, “a lot.” He figures hockey made a thousand new fans Saturday night, and that a hockey fan base can be built in two or three years, perfect timing for the opening of the Sprint Center. If it takes longer, that’s fine, too.

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The Talk

• A major Toronto daily newspaper has rented an apartment in Pittsburgh for the duration of the NHL season to cover Penguins rookie center Sidney Crosby. A Crosby "beat" writer has been assigned to cover every game. (Detroit News) • Flyers defenseman Derian Hatcher, who will miss most if not all of training camp while rehabbing partially torn ligaments in his left knee, will start the 2005-06 season out of the lineup for adroitly placing an elbow into the jaw of the Flames' Matthew Lombardi in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals in May 2004. A week after his Red Wings were bounced from the playoffs, he was suspended. Hatcher said he was stunned to hear, upon his signing as a free agent in Philadelphia, that the suspension was still in force. Flyers general manager Bob Clarke talked to the league and was told Hatcher's suspension would not be lifted. (Boston Globe) • Other than Ilya Kovalchuk, whose situation with Atlanta remains as much a stalemate as ever, 26-year-old Boston defenseman Nick Boynton remains the most attractive Group II free agent on the restricted market. With the B's facing serious cap issues and therefore holding on their $1.33M qualifier after earlier passing on their $1.9M option, the opportunity is wide open for a competing club to come in with an offer sheet to Boynton, an emerging difference maker. "I've had a number of conversations with GMs who have expressed interest, but I don't think we're at the point yet where it's advantageous to pull the trigger," Anton Thun, Boynton's agent, told Slap Shots on Friday. "Until Oct. 1, teams have a $3.9M cushion on the $39M cap, so that if an offer sheet were made now, the Bruins would have time and that extra space in which to maneuver. "But once Oct. 1 hits, there's no give in that number. That's when I think both teams and Nick and I will become more aggressive in pursuing that offer-heet option. That's the time when there will be urgency." An offer sheet of up to $2M would entail compensation of a second-round pick for Boynton, who would be a steal at both those prices. (NY Post)

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The Buzz Is Back

from the LA Daily News,

It's the unforeseen benefit, the surprisingly positive result emerging from the depths of the worst player-management dispute in professional sports history. The National Hockey League lost its entire 2004-2005 season. Locked out its players, kept arenas dark, inspired derision. There was finger-pointing galore, frustrated fans, players, owners and media. It was all so ugly, so ominous, some wondered if the NHL would ever recover. Only now as the league prepares to resume this season, the most extraordinary outcome seems in play - there has never been more interest in the NHL. It's all backward. It makes almost no sense. The disheartened were expected, the casual fan lost, the game scarred and left with only its most fanatical followers. Instead, there is a buzz about the NHL

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Chara Hampered By Rule Changes

from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,

Big Zdeno Chara says he's getting the short end of the stick. The towering Senators defenceman told the Sun yesterday the NHL's new rules will lead to too much scoring ... and hamper his physical style of play. "The way the game is right now I could take off my shoulder pads because I don't even need shoulder pads," said Chara. "They've made the rules so tough you can't do anything out there. Guys hit me and fall down and I get a penalty. It's really tough to play."

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Don’t Call ‘Soupy’

I do wonder if the NHL has come down on those coaches and GMs who have been complaining in the last week. I say fine them and let if be known too. from the St. Petersburg Times,

When someone had a problem, he called NHL executive vice president Colin Campbell to complain. Campbell used to listen patiently. Not anymore. "It's going to be like: "Enough is enough. Shut up,' " Campbell told the Star-Tribune of Minneapolis. "We've been directed to do this by everybody, and a lot of those everybodys are the same people who have complained before when too many penalties were called.

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Wake Up Martha Burk

"The woman is dressed provocatively, and when she asks the player if he's ready, it's a double-entendre in my view. She's in the ad as a groomer, a sex object." Martha Burk should have seen the first cut of the 'My NHL' commercial. Keith Tkachuk took the place of the NHL gladiator, and when asked if he is ready, they quickly cut to the next scene and Keith and the provocatively dressed woman are seated at a Dunkin Donuts. The NHL Marketeers really blew it though. As Erin Hicks points out in the Ottawa Sun, the commercial should have gone like this:

Carol Alt: "Ready?" Alexei Yashin: "That depends ... am I in the final year of my contract?"

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Rangers Skate Around NYC

from Newsday,

The Rangers, never ones to miss an opportunity to boost their public image, haven't hesitated to join the action. They dispatched 26 groups of current and former players across the New York area yesterday to participate in free skating sessions in hopes of reconnecting with fans. At Long Beach Ice Arena, newly signed Czech forward Martin Straka and former Ranger Pete Stemkowski mingled with approximately 500 fans, signing autographs and distributing tickets.

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Cable Questions

According to a blurb in the Buffalo News, OLN plans on asking cable companies to fork over forty cents per subscriber for the added value of televising the NHL. Now, hockey fans will pay that in an instant, but what about the majority of subscribers who don't even know what NHL stands for? A buzz around the Saginaw/Flint area is Charter Cable has dropped Center Ice this year because they feel they lost money during the lockout. Hockey fans are protesting, forcing Charter to re-examine their decision and some other fans have dropped Charter and have gone the dish route.

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Where’s The Icing

The few Wings games I have watched, the number of icings in a game seem to be way down. This fact may be the reason why the games have been much quicker and have some flow to them. from Slam,

It's a tiny part of sweeping National Hockey League rules changes but coaches already see it as having the potential for an incredible impact on the game. Icing. It's innocuous enough. A team under pressure relieves it by firing the puck the length of the ice to get some breathing room. The puck is brought back for a faceoff in the icing team's zone while the besieged team regroups. No big deal. But wait a minute. That team can't bring on fresh troops while the other team can substitute freely. Suddenly, the defending team is under even more pressure. "The icing rule can place you at an unbelievable disadvantage," Detroit Red Wings new coach Mike Babcock said after his team knocked off the Colorado Avalanche 3-1 in overtime in an exhibition game this week. "It's like a power play for the other team.

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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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