Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Red Fisher of the Montreal Gazette,
It’s a charade of what hockey is all about. No hits. No blocked shots. No penalties. No emotion.
Once, when the All-Star format called for the reigning Stanley Cup champions to face the best of the rest, the competition was there. Pride in winning was there. Competition was there. Now, it’s mostly a party for players and an opportunity for the NHL to show its major sponsors how much they appreciate the millions they pour into the game each year….
The NHL has made it abundantly clear it likes what it has now: sellouts year after year in arenas charging sky-high prices. It likes the skills competition and loves the outpouring of goals that have become the rule rather than the exception.
from Terry Frei of the Denver Post,
Obstruction and trapping slowly are creeping back into the game, with referees being less vigilant and coaching strategies and player mind-sets retreating to the dark days.
Yet there is a new and perhaps even bigger threat to the NHL’s entertainment value.
That’s the approach of backing up and erecting what isn’t quite like the human wall in front of a soccer free kick, but is at least reminiscent of it in intent. The goal is to block or tip shots, preventing the puck from getting through to the goaltender.
The NHL needs to take a look at legislating the strategy out of the game, whether with imaginative uses of additional lines and what could amount to defensive offsides standards, or something else.
Don Waddell during the coaches roundtable at the ASG…
DON WADDELL: No, we’re always looking for new avenues to get our word out. We’re in a market and we compete with a lot of things in this marketplace. The only thing that bothers me about media is when you deal with all the speculations of the rumors, you know. Let’s deal with facts. We spend probably half our time, and I know these guys do, coaches, and I know the GM’s answering calls about these fake trade rumors that these guys in Ottawa make up. Not John (paddock), but…
THE MODERATOR: I thought John made a few of them up himself.
DON WADDELL: But that’s what happens in the world. We’re in that world where somebody blogs something, and we dealt with a big issue last week. Somebody blogs something, it becomes the Bible, and then you have to deal with it. You spend a whole day putting out all the fires of where there is no truth. That’s the frustrating part
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
Sixth Avenue wanted to create a system in which all 30 franchises would somehow have an equal chance at winning; er, at not losing in regulation. And so the bar has been lowered. Essentially everybody is in it, but at the cost of quality. The NHL is now about the pursuit of mediocrity, not excellence. Do you see who’s on defense for the division-leading Devils New Jersey Devils?
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
ATLANTA – There are some wrinkles that need to be worked out for the NHL’s skills competition.
The event was revamped for this year’s all-star game, which led to some confusion for the spectators and media. At first, no one was sure if the contest started and then it was a little difficult sorting out who was winning in the fastest-skater event.
A new addition was the obstacle course, where players from each team tried to score on a tiny net after shooting the puck over a ramp, hit a target in the net from the blueline and then the goaltenders had to try and score on the net at the opposite end of the ice.
This one needs work. The most interesting part was watching the goalies try and score. Yep, as exciting as it sounds.
Bottom line: hockey needs a transcendent African-American star, a Tiger Woods, to market the game to a black audience. “If you had somebody of that caliber who was African-American, then, yeah, I think that would break the barrier,” says James Jemison, a black hockey fan from Atlanta. Iginla is great, but as a Canadian who grew up in hockey-mad Alberta, his backstory isn’t that surprising.
How long might we have to wait for such a player? “I’d say 10-15 years,” says veteran San Jose Sharks forward Mike Grier, an African-American from the Boston area.
from the LA Times,
Scott Gomez of the Rangers and the East All-Stars acknowledged the appeal of international play but wondered if the NHL should solve problems at home before venturing to Europe.
“There are some cities that maybe we can do more as a league,” he said. “I think the main thing about the league is that the product on the ice is just outstanding. The speed is at a new level. It doesn’t do justice on TV. That’s the first thing we have to do, get the game better on TV.”
Bettman seemed to diminish speculation the NHL might return to ESPN in even a limited presence. He said the league has a “cordial and cooperative relationship” with ESPN, which ended their association by declining an option for 2005-06. He added, “We talk about things all the time but nothing more specific than that.”
read on (reg. req.)... Some of the topics have been covered today, but I thought pointing out the ESPN situation was important.
from Ken Campbell of the Hockey News,
The NHL and the European federations – minus the Russians – came to a one-year deal earlier this month that would have seen more players going back to their European teams instead of going to the minors. But after some surprising opposition from GMs around the league and the Swedish decision to pull out, the agreement now would appear to be in serious jeopardy.
The major issue, Loob said, is a provision in the new collective bargaining agreement that forces teams to sign European players within two years of drafting them, which brings them in line with major junior players. Prior to that, teams held the rights or European players in perpetuity after drafting them.
With All-Star weekend upon us, we here at hockeyfights.com thought it would be pretty sweet if we took a glance at some of the notable scraps this seasons’s participants have been in. We know that not every All-Star has been in a fight over the course of their career so we’ve done our homework and singled out the players that have received a fighting major.
Today we take a look at some of those representing the Western Conference. Each player is listed in alphabetical order.
check it out… with links to video of their All Star Scraps. The Eastern Conference will be posted Sunday.
From David Shoalts in the Globe & Mail blog,
“The game itself is the most fun,” he said on Friday. “Skills competition, I can’t say that I enjoy too much because I’m not really good at anything. The game is the most fun.”
Even more fun, Alfredsson said on Saturday, is just being at the game.
“It’s an ego trip, to be honest” he said. “Everyone tells you how great you are.”
more… on the skills event and thoughts on showboating.
note: a reminder that Steve will be hosting a LiveChat when the skills competition starts.
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