Kukla's Korner Hockey
from William Houston/David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
The NHL is aiming to have teams based in Europe within the next 10 years, the league’s deputy commissioner said yesterday.
“As time goes on, you’ll see us making increasing movement into Europe,” Bill Daly said in an interview. “Certainly, it’s a possibility that within 10 years time we will be playing games there.”
Asked whether he viewed European expansion within 10 years as a good possibility, he said: “I hope so. But again, I think it’s a long way between here and there. And I think all the pieces have to continue to line up in order for that to happen.
“So, certainly, we would hope that would be the case. But I can’t say with any degree of certainty at this point.”
Update 11:09am ET (alanah): From Pierre LeBrun at ESPN—
There remain hurdles, to be sure, serious ones. For starters, there’s the issue of travel. That’s obvious. But I believe the one issue that worries the NHL even more is European sports fans generally aren’t used to paying the same kind of money for tickets as North Americans. Getting fans in Sweden, Finland, Switzerland, Russia, Germany, the Czech Republic, etc., to pay out bigger amounts for NHL games will be the real test if and when this ever comes to fruition.
The NHL Players’ Association hopes to see a pension dispute with the league solved in court.
The NHLPA announced Thursday that it had filed an application in the Ontario Superior Court of Justice regarding an interpretation of the league’s pension plan.
The issue relates to the calculation of the death benefit for players with NHL service prior to July 1, 1986. The NHLPA believes widows and other beneficiaries of players who passed away before taking their pension were paid less than is required by law.
The NHL disagrees.
from Jim Kelley at Sports Illustrated,
Protection is the most oft-stated reason for the overall lack of change. That’s valid, but only to a point. There is new equipment on the market that is so good that serious goalie injuries, once the bane of the game, are virtually non-existent. Slimming down the equipment without threatening the health and well- being of the players is known to be a doable deed.
What seems to be the obstruction here is that no one has or is willing to exert the necessary authority to make change happen. The goalies have power on the ice, with the players’ association, and with a strong, powerful voice in the media.
From Lyle Richardson at FoxSports:
The Hurricanes are following a league-wide trend which began in the summer of 2007 of re-signing potential restricted and unrestricted free-agent stars well before they become eligible to entertain other offers.
Since July, the notable re-signing was Vincent Lecavalier—who was eligible for UFA status next summer—inking a staggering 11-year, $85 million deal with the Tampa Bay Lightning. The most recent such deal was the Florida Panthers re-upping defenseman Keith Ballard to a six-year extension believed worth over $4 million per season.
read on for more on this trend and a look at the names that may sign some big offers before next summer
*Article references the news of Eric Staal’s new contract, announced earlier today
From Risto Pakarinen at NHL.com,
Hockey circles sure are small. They’re small in countries like Finland and Sweden, or the Czech Republic, and they’re small in the wide world of the NHL. All you have to do is take a look at the front offices in the NHL organizations to see how the pieces go together.
That’s just the way the world seems to be working regardless of the industry.
I was thinking about this today, after an event organized by the Swedish Elite League…
From Paul Kukla at NHL.com:
I have had enough of preview, reviews, I want to express my views and the only way to do that is to see how the players look - on the ice. Will new players mesh with new line mates, will new coaches gain the attention of his players, will the players respond to new coaching techniques?
You can read all about it, but until the players hit the ice, all we have is one big question mark. Sure, I can tell you the Detroit Red Wings, San Jose Sharks, Pittsburgh Penguins and Montreal Canadiens will be good, but I want to know about the unknown.
from Ken Campbell of the Hockey News,
When Semin returned to the NHL in 2006-07, he should have been forced to comply with the final year of his entry-level contract because he never fulfilled it and was suspended by the team for the two seasons he was in Russia. But somehow, that final season was ignored and the Capitals, knowing Semin wouldn’t have returned for entry-level money, managed to sign him to a new two-year deal despite the fact he had not fulfilled the terms of his first contract.
When you see things like that happening, can you blame Radulov – who was contractually in exactly the same boat as Semin – for bolting back home at the first opportunity? If the NHL isn’t going to respect its own contracts, how can it expect anyone else to do the same?
And this is the kind of attitude both the leaders of the NHL and IIHF find themselves up against these days. NHL owners talk a good game, but are happy to circumvent their own rules and try to do business on their own terms if it means they can get a star player.
from Terry Frei at ESPN,
This year, when NHL teams informed season-ticket holders about the terms of their potential renewals for the 2008-09 season, the letters often broke news of price increases—but with so much spin control between the lines, fans could get dizzy as they read.
Granted, ticket-price increases are right up there on the shock meter with another young movie star entering rehab.
But wasn’t it supposed to be different under the salary-cap system that commissioner Gary Bettman and league owners shut down the league for a year to get? Citing the outrageous ticket prices, didn’t the league at least imply that it also was fighting for the fans, too, as it took on the NHLPA?
from Adam Proteau of the Hockey News,
...I’d like to focus on the politics of hockey itself – and specifically, the oft-repeated criticisms of people who enjoy debating the pros and cons of all aspects of the game.
Said criticisms usually come in the form of the following argument: “The game is great as it is. We’ve already made enough changes to it, so why can’t people just enjoy it and leave it be?”
On some levels, I understand and agree with that sentiment. But I also believe there’s an inherent, significant danger to the notion of being satisfied with the status quo.
from Mark Moore at the Hockey News,
Drained by a yearlong lockout, fan support for hockey in the U.S. has waned. After three full seasons back, the effect has lingered to a point where one must wonder if it’s permanent.
In places such as Nashville, Phoenix, Atlanta and South Florida that were among the latest to get franchises, enough time has passed for the novelty of a new game in town to have worn off. Meanwhile, for a variety of reasons that are identifiable, but are a separate story for another day, hockey has not penetrated very deeply into those populations.
In the broader picture, the U.S. economy has been suffering. The war in Iraq, the sub-prime mortgage debacle and political conflict have all put a drag on things. Maybe those issues can be fixed quick, maybe they can’t.
Other problems such as the decline of the American manufacturing industry, a growing scarcity of key natural resources such as oil and water, and an aging population certainly will not.
What is of note in terms of NHL franchise location is that none of these troubles have equivalent parallels north of the 49th parallel.
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.
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