Kukla's Korner

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Praise For Bettman

from the Winnipeg Sun via Slam,

It's about time. About time for me to do something I thought I'd never do. Not in a million years. Give kudos to Gary Bettman (wince!). Often referred to in these pages as a cross between Lord Voldemort, Darth Sidius and Viktor Tikhonov, the diminutive NHL commissioner finally did something that could well keep him out of the villains' hall of fame. Little Man Gary came up big. He promised a salary cap and he delivered. He promised a level playing field for Canadian and small market American teams and he delivered. He used time during the lockout wisely, spearheading rule changes which were destined to make the NHL game stronger.

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Wings Sign Woolley

via the AP,

The Detroit Red Wings signed Jason Woolley to a one-year contract Saturday, adding a solid veteran to bolster a defense that is without Niklas Kronwall. Woolley is in his 15th NHL season and third with the Red Wings. The former Michigan State star had 42 points in 117 games in two seasons in Detroit. "We're very happy to have Jason return to the Red Wings," general manager Ken Holland said. "He's a veteran defenseman who handles the puck very well and should excel with the new rule changes in the NHL." Detroit sent defenseman Brett Lebda down to Grand Rapids of the AHL to make room on the roster.

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Canadians Embrace The Game

from the Ottawa Sun,

It wasn't supposed to be like this, was it? There was so much anger and bitterness during the 16-month NHL lockout. It was spewed in a lot of different directions. Somebody would have to pay, right? Some jilted Canadian fans vowed to stay away from the NHL game when and if it returned. Some fans blamed the greedy players. Some blamed the greedy owners. But now, it turns out here in Canada, the anger and bitterness of fans were not directed at either the owners or the players, but towards not having NHL hockey. It was not what caused the gaping hole in our long winter which made us so angry, apparently, but the hole itself. This is Canada, after all, and the NHL is, for many Canadians, the embodiment of hockey.

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NHL Facing Challenges

from the Globe and Mail,

In the cramped backroom of the Manhattan sports bar Ship of Fools, 70 expatriate Canadians gathered on Wednesday in front of a dozen television screens tuned to a half-dozen hockey games to celebrate the return of their national sport. In the more spacious front two rooms, a small crowd watched the Boston Red Sox drop their second game to the Chicago White Sox while awaiting the New York Yankees' late-night playoff start. As the National Hockey League relaunched its game with the hopes of captivating U.S. fans, Ship of Fools owner Glenn Treacher declared "hockey is dead" as a draw in the highly competitive New York sports market.

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Saskin Fails To Show For Islander Meeting

from the NY Post,

Acting NHLPA chief Ted Saskin infuriated some Islanders yesterday when he did not show up for a scheduled meeting, the Post has learned, adding kerosene to what is becoming an explosive situation. Facing mutiny from within the PA, Saskin didn't make any friends in the Islanders' dressing room and may have intensified the growing protest surrounding his replacement of former union head Bob Goodenow. A group of NHL players recently filed complaints with the NLRB for what they believe was an improper signing of Saskin to a six-year contract that will reportedly pay him $2 million annually, setting off what one source said yesterday may become "a bit of a bloodbath."

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NHL Is A Niche Sport

from Michael Rosenberg, special to Fox Sports,

The NHL recently took some hits for selling its national cable rights to something called OLN. In a case like this, it's hard to tell the bad news from the really bad news. The bad news is that most people had never heard of OLN. The really bad news is that even when the deal was announced, nobody bothered to look it up. Apparently it stands for Outdoor Life Network, which is ironic, because you probably don't watch much hockey on TV if you have an outdoor life. All of which is my way of saying hockey has a long way to go. A really long way to go. As in: If the NHL were entering a triathlon, the sport would be at the stage where it is learning how to walk. Yes, the NHL is a niche sport. But then again, it always was.

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Behind The Scenes At OLN

from the Philadelphia Inquirer,

An hour before Wednesday's first-ever NHL telecast by Comcast-owned cable channel OLN, Jeff Shell dropped by the digital TV production room in the recesses of the Wachovia Center. Comcast's president of programming was just checking in on his company's little $200 million-plus investment in the rights to televise NHL hockey for the next three years. He wanted to ask the producers a few questions about camera angles, and convey his complete confidence in the staff that would deliver Comcast's first national professional sports telecast. "Just don't miss anything," Shell told the crew, only sort of joking.

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The Buzz Around The NHL

Heard around the rinks this week from Phil Coffey of NHL.com.

"I cannot hide. It's my job to score goals. If I'm not going to score on the power play, I?m not doing my job." -- New York Rangers winger Jaromir Jagr after leading the Rangers to a 5-3 season-opening win in Philadelphia. "I felt good in the black and orange, I have to say. I felt comfortable right off the bat. The fans are unbelievable here, so it's going to be a lot of fun playing here. This was a big night, playing in front of new fans and with new teammates, and with new everything. There?s a lot of pressure." -- Peter Forsberg on his debut with the Philadelphia Flyers.

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Kovalchuck Signs Soon

Numerous reports Ilya is about to sign a multi-year contract with the Thrashers.

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Kovalchuk Heading Back to Russia, Maybe

from Sportsnet,

Ilya Kovalchuk is packing his bags and heading home. According to the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, the Thrashers all-star left wing is heading back to Russia and intends to play in the Russian Super League.

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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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