Kukla's Korner

Kukla's Korner Hockey

Sneaking Through the Bertuzzi Ruling

from the Toronto Globe and Mail,

The NHL may be trumpeting this season as a fresh start, but today it looks a lot like the old NHL, which is to say, narrow-minded, manipulative and disappointing. If commissioner Gary Bettman is proud of this work, he should take a look at what former NHL Players' Association executive director Bob Goodenow did and empty his desk before leaving. Until then, here's to the league that continues to be its own worst enemy: go to the penalty box. Go in shame. Anyone who thinks this was a well-handled affair can sit out, too.

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Around the Rinks

The Boston Bruins announced that they have a 92% renewal rate for their Season Ticket Holders and plan to celebrate their most loyal fans by designating October 20th "Fan Appreciation Night" and giving them the game for free. In addition to the free game, the following is a list of other amenities & incentives for Boston Bruins Season Ticket Holders. from the Washington Post (reg. req.), Washington Capitals defenseman Brendan Witt has asked to be traded to a team that can contend for the Stanley Cup next season, Witt said yesterday. Witt, a veteran of nine seasons in Washington, figures to be one of the Capitals' top players on the blueline. But with the team in a rebuilding process that could take years, Witt, 30, said he wants to win now and would like to be moved by the time training camp begins in mid-September. from the Toronto Sun, The desire to play at home, start anew and be re-united with Jason Allison could lead 2003 Team Canada hero Anson Carter to the Maple Leafs. With the acquisition of Eric Lindros up in the air, the Leafs still are looking for a free-agent right winger while Carter's agent, Pat Brisson, says he seeks a one-year deal somewhere for his client to re-establish his career. "(Toronto) makes sense," Brisson said last night. "We've talked to them among six or seven teams, but it's premature to say anything, because I could get a call tonight and he'd be gone elsewhere. from the Detroit News, Ken Holland said season-ticket information will be released in the next day or two. The Wings expect to mail information to season-ticket holders by the end of the week. Note: This is the 3rd such comment like this from the Wings in the last 3 weeks. More signings today and yesterday via Sportsnet. update 10:59am, According to a reader and supplier of information to Kukla's Korner, Val Bure has narrowed his choices to LA Kings and Chicago, with the Blackhawks being the favorite to sign Bure.

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Fischler Chimes In

from The Maven and MSG Network,

-The fact that some NHLPA members are miffed by the manner in which Ted Saskin became the new “union” boss suggests that a change should have been in order. Or, as the Boston Globe’s Kevin Dupont notes, there should have been a complete house-cleaning top to bottom. -Brendan Shanahan, who, overnight, has become the most influential NHL player – after Trevor Linden -- could become the next union president whenever Linden decides to step down. Shanny obviously has a soft spot for NHL coaches. He tells our David Kolb, “Coaches should get three-year guaranteed contracts. To can a coach after one year is ridiculous. They have to get time to do their thing. It’s a real work in progress.”

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TV Decison Near

from the Phildadelphia Inquirer (reg. req.),

Comcast and National Hockey League negotiators have worked out a two-year deal for more than $100 million to televise games beginning this fall, according to sources directly involved in the discussions. The agreement must be approved by the league's Board of Governors. The deal calls for Comcast to televise two games a week nationally. The cable giant plans to put the games on its Outdoor Life Network (OLN). The agreement with Comcast brought to an end 10 days of intense negotiations, some of which were conducted at Comcast's offices in Philadelphia. Participating in the discussions were NHL commissioner Gary Bettman, deputy commissioner Bill Daly, Comcast president of programming Jeff Shell, Comcast Cable president Steve Burke, and Alan Singer, an attorney for the company. Comcast would televise games nationally twice a week. On one of those nights, Comcast would retain exclusivity in U.S. markets as the only game available on TV at that time. The NHL would retain the right to exit the agreement at the end of the two years. The right is contingent upon Comcast's fulfilling certain responsibilities related to advertising-revenue growth and reaching a specific number of homes. If the league opts to stay, then Comcast has a one-year option, followed by a three-year option. An undetermined number of games would be broadcast in high-definition TV. If the NHL approves the deal - and that is considered a formality at this point - the contract will be forwarded to ESPN. In April, ESPN opted to not renew its $70 million option to televise NHL games for 2005-06 and 2006-07, but the network retains the right to match the new offer, according to a source. ESPN has carried NHL games in the United States since 1985. There are two directions Comcast could go from here: an overhaul of OLN or an initial change to accommodate hockey, with a future, stand-alone network that would carry NHL games. The former is the preferred method among Comcast executives.

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Bettman Failed Bertuzzi Decision

from the Toronto Sun, TODD BERTUZZI is free to return to the NHL, but he'll do it while on probation. I can imagine how this must hurt. Suspend him for 13 games if you must, Gary Bettman. Pull him from the playoffs. Leach $500,000 US off his paycheque. But probation. "Mr. Bertuzzi is on notice that he will be held strictly accountable to a higher standard than other NHL players for their on-ice conduct during the 2005-20006 season," the NHL commissioner said yesterday in clearing Bertuzzi to return to the game. Finally, a bar set ankle high.

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Talking Trades and Free Agents

from Spector and Fox Sports,

Heading into the second week of the 2005 NHL unrestricted free agent market, it's obvious the depth of talent remaining has shrunk dramatically. Following last week's signing frenzy, when the top free agents like Scott Niedermayer, Nikolai Khabibulin and Peter Forsberg were snapped up, the pickings are now slim for those clubs seeking affordable veteran talent. Mark Messier, Eric Lindros, Teemu Selanne, Alexander Mogilny and John LeClair are still available, but they're either past their prime or have injury histories that are dragging down their value. Still, there are a few values left to be had.

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Flyers Sign Gagne

Simon Gagne signed for $2 million for the upcoming season.

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Bert Back

from TSN, The NHL has reinstated Todd Bertuzzi. The Vancouver Canucks star, who was suspended indefinitely by the NHL on March 8, 2004, for attacking Colorado Avalanche forward Steve Moore, is "immediately eligible" to return to the ice, the NHL announced Monday. update 6:05pm, Text of Bettman's ruling on Bertuzzi.

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Can’t Tarnish the Great One

from Michael Farber of Sports Illustrated,

There is a spurious notion floating in the NHL ether that if Wayne Gretzky bungles the Phoenix Coyotes coaching job, it will tarnish his legacy. To set things straight: Nothing can tarnish Gretzky's legacy. He is, with only mild argument from the Bobby Orr folks, the best player in the history of his sport. There is nothing on or off the ice he conceivably would do that would make his myriad accomplishments any less sublime, his image any less brilliant. As much as any athlete can be, Gretzky is smudge-proof.

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Ted’s (Leonsis, Caps Owner) Corner

It’s been two weeks since the NHL’s new collective bargaining agreement was ratified and there has been a whirlwind of activity at the Capitals as well as throughout the NHL since. I thought I would make this the first of an ongoing series of communiqués with our fan base. I think you will find these missives to be straight forward and as open as one can be while recognizing that there are some confidential issues that I cannot address until a later date. With that said, I hope this explains and outlines the Capitals’ thinking and rationale on several matters.

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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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