Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Jeff Z. Klein of Slap Shot at the NYT,
But there is a way for the NHL to make all games meaningful again: more competitions, beyond just the Stanley Cup. It’s not a new idea — soccer was going through a similar crisis of fan and media interest 25 years ago. But after it developed this concept, interest in soccer boomed, clubs became enormously wealthy and the sport prospered as it never had before.
Here’s how the NHL can invest the hockey season with meaning for fans and media, not just at playoff time, but throughout the entire calendar.
1. Commit fully to the Victoria Cup.
2. Make the Presidents’ Trophy a one-off championship game.
3. Create a new season-long cup competition, open to all pro clubs in North America.
from “The Scout” at Globe and Mail,
One of my contacts in the business is a Russian insider who grew up under the old Communist regime, who played for the Soviet Wings and worked for NHL teams . On the eve of the world juniors, I spoke with him to help us understand the Russian mentality these days….
Where do you see Russian hockey in five years? What has to be done to restore the glory?
Good coaches. There is a big change of coaches coming. Most of the coaches in the Elite league are over 60 years old. New guys will come. With their desire to create something, with their willingness to win, Russian hockey will step up and forward. It won’t take a long time and I am sure new Tarasovs and Tikhonovs are coming.
NHL Network, the first national network dedicated entirely to hockey, today announced it has secured the exclusive U.S. rights to the International Ice Hockey Federation World Junior Championship in Pardubice and Liberec, Czech Republic, Dec. 26, 2007 – Jan. 5, 2008. The upcoming tournament marks the first time the World Junior Championship will be telecast live on NHL Network in the United States.
NHL Network in the U.S. will televise live coverage of the entire medal round of the 2008 World Junior Championship, including both quarterfinal games, both semifinal contests, the bronze-medal game and the gold-medal game. All games will be televised in HD and will receive at least one primetime re-air on the network.
from Kevin Allen of USA TODAY,
Looking at how players are performing this season and projecting where they will be in 2009-10, the highly likely Olympians at forward would appear to be Paul Stastny (Colorado Avalanche), Zach Parise and Brian Gionta (New Jersey Devils), Dustin Brown (Los Angeles Kings), Chris Drury (New York Rangers), Erik Cole (Carolina Hurricanes), Chris Higgins (Montreal Canadiens) and Kane.
Brian Rolston (Minnesota Wild) will be 36 in 2010, but my hunch is he will be on the team playing the role of the smart, skilled veteran who can handle a variety of roles.
The International Ice Hockey Federation announced Thursday that its member associations and leagues will exercise the option to re-open the player transfer agreement with the National Hockey League.
According to a statement released by the Federation, representatives from the Czech Republic, Germany, Finland, Slovakia, Sweden and Switzerland made the decision unanimous.
The NHL informed the IIHF on Tuesday that the league decided to exercise the same right. Sources tell TSN a meeting has been scheduled in New York for Jan. 16 with the IIHF and its members. NHL Players’ Association Executive Director Paul Kelly will also be in attendance.
From Dan Rosen at NHL.com,
“All the stories I heard about (Russia) weren’t true,” Smith told NHL.com. “I guess back 10 to 15 years ago I remember some of the guys that played on those Canada Cup teams were saying the food was no good, this and that. Even the interpreter that was with us was saying if you were in Russia three years ago you would not believe it was the same place. The people couldn’t believe how much it had changed.
“I went there and was like, ‘Holy Geez, why did everyone lie to me?’ ”
Like the country itself, the game played in Red Square on Dec. 9, 2006 was a must-see-it-to-believe-it spectacle.
Conceived by former CSKA Moscow and Soviet national team stars Slava Fetisov and Igor Larionov, the outdoor game—the first of its kind in Russia’s most spectacular setting—was put on to benefit for former Russian players who have fallen on hard times.
more reflections from Billy Smith and Scotty Bowman
from Slap Shot at the New York Times,
Here are more excerpts from the interview SKA St. Petersburg coach Barry Smith gave the Russian TV network Sportelekanal.
Q: If we recognize that the Superliga lags considerably behind the NHL, then is it right to say that your coming to Russia is a step backward?
A: No. If this was true, then I never would have come. Russia is a test, an adventure. Before coming to SKA I worked in Phoenix with Wayne Gretzky. And I will not say that it was the best time in my career. We didn’t have a good roster of players, and the organization was not at the proper level. And it was time-consuming just getting everything with the club into synch.
more from Barry…
From Ken Campbell at THN,
European federations have no problem losing their best young players to the NHL; they’ve grown to accept that as a fact of life. But what they’re finally fed up with is losing top young players and seeing them play in the American Leauge. This season, for example, 64 European players signed their first NHL contracts, but only seven of them are playing in the NHL.
That’s why the Swedish Ice Hockey Federation recently reported it is likely going to pull out of the IIHF’s agreement with the NHL and the Finnish Ice Hockey Federation will probably follow suit. Under the terms of the four-year agreement reached last spring, individual European federations have the right to terminate their portions of the agreement prior to Dec. 31 of this year.
Should the Swedes and Finns pull out of the agreement, it will leave it in shambles. The Russian federation has already opted out of the deal and losing two more federations would make it worthless.
from Rick Westhead of the Toronto Star,
Sweden’s hockey federation voted last night to formally sever ties to the IIHF agreement. Finnish Ice Hockey Federation managing director Heikki Hietanen says a similar discussion will take place Wednesday in Helsinki. Hietanen says Finnish teams are similarly vexed over losing young players to North American junior teams. He says Finnish teams also aren’t pleased the agreement sees them receive U.S. dollars as compensation. Euros would be a more appropriate currency, Hietanen says.
It’s troubling news for the NHL because free agency in countries like Russia, particularly, could prove elusive.
“I wouldn’t be surprised to see every young NHL-calibre player basically forced to sign a long-term contract and never win the right to free agency,” says one NHL player agent with several Russian clients.
The International Ice Hockey Federation (IIHF) has voted to play all upcoming international tournaments scheduled for North America between 2008-2012 – including the 2008 World Championship – on NHL-size rinks.
Generally, IIHF tournaments are played on international-size rinks, which measure 200 feet long by 100 feet wide. The NHL ice surface is 200 feet long by 85 feet wide.
To compensate for the loss in ice width, the IIHF Council, voting in Zurich, will use NHL ice markings. The blue line on an NHL rink is 64 feet from the end boards, while international-size rinks place the blue line just 58 feet out.
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 email@example.com