Kukla's Korner

Kukla's Korner Hockey

Friday is the Day

from the AP via TSN, The action heats up again on the NHL front this week with players and owners set to vote on the agreement reached between the two sides. The ratification vote and news conference has been set for Friday. By the end of the week Sidney Crosby should know his future home, fans will know what rule changes are being brought in to open up the game and a new collective bargaining agreement should be rubber stamped so the league can re-open for business. Colin Campbell, the league's director of hockey operations and executive vice-president, will meet with the newly created competition committee Tuesday to narrow down a final list of recommendations that owners will then vote on at a board of governors' meeting in New York later this week.

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Could it Be

A long time, regular reader of this blog is not going to like this. I happened to find this classic picture and did not do any touch up to it.

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Busy Week

from the Canadian Press via Slam,

The action heats up again on the NHL front this week with players and owners set to vote on the agreement reached between the league and union last Wednesday. By the end of the week Sidney Crosby should know his future home, fans will know what rule changes are being brought in to open up the game and a new collective bargaining agreement should be officially ratified so the league can re-open for business. Colin Campbell, the league's director of hockey operations and executive vice-president, will meet with the newly created competition committee Tuesday to narrow down a final list of recommendations that owners will then vote on at a board of governors' meeting in New York later this week. The NHL Players' Association kicks off a packed week in Toronto with an executive committee meeting Tuesday: president Trevor Linden and the rest of the crew - Vincent Damphousse, Bob Boughner, Bill Guerin, Daniel Alfredsson, Arturs Irbe and Trent Klatt - will get an update and oversee the week ahead.

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NHL Winners and Losers

from MSG Network,

At last, the NHL’s long lockout appears to be over. In the lockout postmortem, the vast consensus amongst commentators is that the players ultimately collapsed and the owners’ have scored a major victory with this new CBA. By the end of this proposed six-year agreement, however, we will learn whether this "New NHL" will be profitable and will allow all involved (players and owners) to make more money. As a lawyer, I can honestly advise that labor negotiations can be a long and difficult process. The key is to strike a balance between resolve and reasonableness. The danger is that your side will crack if you push your side’s agenda too far. This seems to be the case with the NHLPA and its negotiating team. The NHLPA did not properly understand the resolve of the owners. Specifically, the owners were willing to shut down the league without a time limitation. The league, beaten before in prior CBA negotiations, was not giving in this time. Prior to the lockout, the owners had commissioned the Levitt Report concerning the state of the league’s dire finances and it had become the bible of their bargaining position. The owners’ point of view, as set forth in the Levitt Report, depicted a league is serious financial trouble and in need of a complete salary reform. According to the owners, part of a potential NHL rebirth required a hard salary cap.

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Leafs Lunch

Talking with a writer from The Hockey News about the NHL Lottery not being televised. The writer says Bettman is fearful a televised event would not be fully covered by the media. The guys also mentioned this is the main reason why the players did not want to create a partnership with the NHL, they just don't do a good job of marketing the game. The entertainment dollar is up for grabs; the NHL needs to come out with guns blazing and yet they are not. Bettman has been a failure in marketing the game, what happens if Crosby goes to a team like the Blackhawks, they must be prepared to market the game. THN writer thinks Bettman does not have the forward vision to handle all of the major roadblocks the NHL faces.

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Marketing Experts Speak Out

“You can’t rest on those who know what the [NHL] brand is. My view is that with any sports there are hard-core fans, but you’ve got this constituency of fence-line [NHL] fans and a lot of extra work has to be done to bring them back into the fold.” JULIE ROEHM DIRECTOR OF MARKETING COMMUNICATIONS FOR DODGE, A LONGTIME NHL PARTNER “Their image is gone, so this is a very unique window for them to recast the sport with a blank slate. They need to get back to the real concern of hockey and not overkill or overproduce it. I’d invite fans to come to the arena to talk about hockey and have apologies from both the players and the owners. They need to ask fans for input and, most importantly, listen to the fans.” RICHARD LUKER PRESIDENT OF LEISURE INTELLIGENCE GROUP “They are going to have to spend a lot of money to win back fans and they have to make that very visible. For sponsors, it’s like an opportunity to buy a stock in the low.” LARRY NOVENSTERN SENIOR VICE PRESIDENT OF DEUTSCH INC.

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Market the Stars

via SportsBusiness Journal (paid sub.),

“Right now, I can name more soccer players than I can NHL players,” said Larry Novenstern, senior vice president of media buying agency Deutsch Inc. “They need to get [player-name] recognition back and be very aggressive about getting a television deal in place as soon as possible. Fans don’t care about labor issues, and [teams] need creative deals to bring them back into the arenas.” Before the lockout began, the NHL put together a detailed relaunch plan that included a new logo and other marketing initiatives. A league spokesperson said the NHL will wait several weeks before unleashing a major marketing push, but that when it does, it will focus heavily on players, an outgrowth of a labor deal that gives clubs a direct incentive to grow league-wide revenue. “The NHL will see a lot of season-ticket holders stepping down just to see what the new product looks like, and only when their confidence is regained can you get them to step up in ticket plans.” Dodge, one of the NHL’s longtime sponsors, wants to see the resurfacing league develop some star power. “The NBA has its key players, and that’s been lacking in the NHL for a long time,” said Julie Roehm, marketing communications director for Dodge. “The league has to make players more accessible, identifiable and create more personality. It’s essential to know that they will bring players to the forefront and that there is not a rift between the players and owners anymore.” “You learn from the other leagues, and the lesson first and foremost is you sincerely apologize,” said Bernie Mullin, president and CEO of Atlanta Spirit LLC, which owns the Thrashers. “A central element of our marketing plan will include more player interaction than ever before. Hockey fans aren’t as broad-based compared to other sports, but they are incredibly loyal. We need to have creative marketing that broadens our reach. “The biggest mistake we can make is to take our fans’ support for granted.”

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Bad Fight for Bob

from SportsBusiness Journal (paid sub.),

In military terms, it was the Persian Gulf War — a long standoff followed by a complete and overwhelming victory by one side. The league’s labor future has been decided, but Goodenow’s is unclear. The only question left is whether there’ll be regime change. The NHL and NHLPA did not reveal details of the new six-year collective-bargaining agreement they announced last week, holding off on any comment until the deal is ratified. But it was no secret the league got virtually everything it sought — a salary cap, salary rollback, limits on entry-level salaries and arbitration and, most important, a direct link between revenue and total player compensation set at 54 percent. The 600-page agreement is a soaring victory for NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and an equally bitter defeat for NHLPA Executive Director Bob Goodenow. “It’s a deal that, until recently, the players never anticipated they’d be playing under,” said Bob Murray, the agent for Bill Guerin, a member of the NHLPA executive committee. “I think at some point the owners realized the players were willing to accept a cap and the players might not be prepared, as a group, to sit out another six months or a year. At that point, the leverage went to the owners.”

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Jagr still in Siberia

I have always wanted to find a story from the Prague Daily Monitor,

Russia still does not want to take leave of Czech forward Jaromir Jagr, the greatest star of the past Russian Super League, where he played for Avangard Omsk. However, after the end of the lockout in the NHL, he is supposed to go to New York Rangers, for which he had played. Jagr recently flew to Omsk to join the training and is still staying in Siberia. Avangard's head Konstantin Potapov has refused the notion that the club would lose its most shining star. "It is clear that the lock-out is over. But as long as the players do not sign new collective agreements and do not learn the sums of the new contract, I cannot say whether Jagr will leave," Potapov was quoted by the paper Sport-Express as having said. Jagr, too, spoke diplomatically for the Russian press. "I cannot say whether I will leave Avangard in the days to come. First, I want to examine everything carefully," Jagr said. Sport-Express said that the best paid NHL player was not elated over the outcome of the bargaining over the new collective agreement.

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Stanley Cup Magic

from the Montreal Gazette,

The invited guest, 34 1/2 pounds and 35 1/4 inches tall from head to toe, was rolled into the Pointe Claire seniors' residence yesterday noon in a travel-scarred case covered with baggage tags, security labels, even a skull-and-crossbones sticker. A nondescript crate, it seemed, until it was unlocked and out came a priceless piece of sterling silver that is about much more than a game. Four days after the National Hockey League and its players announced a tentative end to a season-long labour dispute, the Stanley Cup paid a visit to former Canadiens centreman Ken Mosdell. And for nearly four hours, you realized how much this trophy means to people.

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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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