Kukla's Korner Hockey
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.
from Bruce Dowbiggin of the Calgary Herald,
In any event, the decline in the loonie is great news if Canadians have a product Americans want (wonder what that might be?) that they can now buy at it lower price. But it is not a good omen for industries that get a bounce from parity between the dollars.
Exhibit A for those businesses that crave a dollar at par would be the National Hockey League. With 31 per cent of league ticket revenues reportedly coming from Canada last season, even a five-cent drop in the dollar is a major issue. As well, NHL teams doing business in Canadian dollars and paying out salaries and benefits in American greenbacks don’t want any decrease in the dollar. Even a drop of five cents on Miikka Kiprusoff’s $8.5 million salary costs Calgary an extra $425,000.
From Allan Muir at Sports Illustrated:
Dallas Stars: Cup contenders or kidding themselves?
Heading into last season, the obvious question was, “Can this team compete for a playoff spot?” At the time, it was touch and go. The core was graying and burdened by a legacy of recent postseason failures that suggested their best days were a decade behind them.
read on for more questions—and answers—on the Pacific Division
From Paul Kukla at NHL.com,
I predict five players will reach the 50-goal plateau [this] season. (How many players do you think will reach 50 goals? Bonus points if you name them.)
Alex Tanguay will find his offensive game again in Montreal and reach 43 goals to lead the Canadiens. (Name a player on a new team that will lead their team in goals scored.)
Jean-Sebastien Giguere will lead the league in shutouts. (Your prediction?)
The Detroit Red Wings will win the Presidents’ Trophy. (Anyone care to go with another team?)
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 firstname.lastname@example.org