Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Richard Sandomir and Ken Belson of the NY Times,
The N.H.L.’s Winter Classic, which began with snow-globe quaintness on New Year’s Day in 2008 in the home stadium of the Buffalo Bills, has turned into a profit center for a league that strives to be different.
The third Classic, between the Boston Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday afternoon, is expected to generate $8 million in ticket sales at Fenway Park and $3 million in ad revenue at NBC, triple the total of two years ago.
Thanks largely to the midseason game, the league says that its sponsorship sales are growing at a 66 percent annual pace and its merchandise revenue, led by the throwback jerseys inspired by the first classic, is soaring.
from Dan Shaughnessy at Sports Illustrated,
The NHL rarely gets it right. Professional hockey is a consensus Number Four (and we don’t mean Bobby Orr 4) whenever we get around to ranking sports that grip the American mind. Like Ringo, hockey is always the caboose, rarely taken seriously and unable to compete with John, Paul and George.
But now hockey owns New Year’s Day the way baseball owns the Fourth of July and football owns Thanksgiving. Sure, there’s still plenty of college grid action on the first day of the year, but many big bowls have been pushed back in the name of ratings and rankings. The NHL has stepped in with the Winter Classic which will be held this year at Fenway Park, featuring the Boston Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers.
Outdoor hockey brings the sport to its roots. Most of the players who make it to the NHL spent time skating on ponds, rivers, or open-air rinks. Putting the world’s best players outdoors is decidedly old school and makes for great television. It’s the Currier & Ives effect. Even the neutral zone trap looks good inside a snow globe.
from John McGourty of NHL.com,
Neither team emphasizes rough stuff these days. The Bruins take the eighth-fewest penalties and while the Flyers lead the league, a coaching change earlier this month was made to enforce team discipline. The Flyers have been winning recently by taking half as many penalties as before.
“It’s going to be interesting what style they play on the 1st,” Johnson said. “The Flyers cast themselves in the Broad Street Bullies image when they acquired Chris Pronger, in the mold of the 1970s teams coached by Fred Shero. But you need Bernie Parent to pull that off. Parent isn’t walking out the door of that dressing room and Kate Smith won’t be singing.”
The Flyers roughed up Orr pretty good in 1974 and Johnson hasn’t forgotten it. He also credits the Bruins’ success in Boston for Philadelphia becoming one of the 1967 expansion teams.
“I didn’t like those Flyers teams and what they did to Orr was a shame, like taking a hammer to the Pieta,” he said. “Orr put food on the table of everyone in hockey. It’s competition, but do it clean and proper, not a mugging.
“It is interesting that they chose the Flyers. (Flyers chairman) Ed Snider saw the success and appeal of the Bruins. In that era, we had the Celtics winning championships and the Bruins usually failing to make the playoffs, but the Celtics averaged 8,000 fans and the Bruins sold out the 13,909-seat Garden every game.
It starts out kind of slow, but gets better…
from Dave Seminara of the New York Times,
When Catherine Kaptain turned on the evening news and saw her son John being struck with his own shoe in a fight with the Boston Bruins, her disdain for the sport her family loved never seemed more justified. “I screamed, ‘They’re beating up my babies!’ ” she said.
Thirty years ago, on Dec. 23, 1979, Bruins defenseman Mike Milbury whacked John Kaptain, a Rangers fan from New Jersey, with a shoe during a bizarre altercation in which all but one Bruins player went over the glass and into the stands at Madison Square Garden. The incident, after a 4-3 Bruins victory, resulted in three players being suspended, lawsuits and the installation of higher glass in the arena. It remains one of the most memorable fan-athlete confrontations in sports.
It all unfolded after Phil Esposito of the Rangers smashed his stick on the ice and skated off to the locker room after failing to convert a breakaway in the waning seconds. When the buzzer sounded, Al Secord, Boston’s rugged left wing, decked the Rangers’ Ulf Nilsson.
via James Gordon of Hockey Capital,
I’ve always found it odd that Senators fans boo Bruins defenceman Zdeno Chara every time he touches the puck in this rink, and apparently Big Z does too. Here’s what he had to say following his current team’s 2-0 win over his former team:
“I don’t know. I can’t really control what the fans are doing, if they’re booing me or not. I played hard when I played for Ottawa, I always did my best and the organization, at that time, chose Wade Redden and I was fine with that and I had to move on. So when they decided to sign Wade instead of me, I had to move on and obviously management back then — John Muckler and company — they made it look like I went for the money, but that wasn’t the case. Basically I liked my chances and options that I had in Boston and that’s why I chose Boston and I still believe in that and it’s just too bad that they made it look, to the fans and to the public, like I went for the money.”
from Jim Matheson of the Edmonton Journal,
• Chances are Carolina Hurricanes UFA Ray Whitney will end up with the Boston Bruins as a trade-deadline deal for a second-round draft pick. The offensively-challenged Bruins will perhaps ask Mark Recchi what he thought of Whitney from the Canes’ 2006 Cup run. If not Boston, then Philadelphia may be a possible destination, as former Hurricanes bench boss Peter Laviolette is currently head coach there.
• Montreal’s Scott Gomez has seriously missed linemate Brian Gionta, who has been our with a broken foot since November. Gomez, at $8 million, is the club’s second-line centre behind Tomas Plekanec. The Habs are seeing what the Rangers saw -not nearly enough offensive production.
No penalty on the hit.
added 10:39pm, better quality video of the hit is below…
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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.
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