Kukla's Korner Hockey
from the Kansas City Star,
When Columbus was awarded an NHL franchise in 1997, critics howled that the city had no business getting a team. Bob Kravitz sarcastically wrote in the Rocky Mountain News: “It’s like I always tell my hockey-loving friends, ‘If there’s one thing I’ve always believed, it’s that Columbus, Ohio, deserves a hockey franchise.’ ”
As the NHL ponders expansion, many of the same things are being written about Kansas City.
Of all the people to bang the “let’s pick on the goalies because we only need to pick on thirty guys to increase goal scoring” drum, Eric Duhatschek certainly went on the attack last Tuesday afternoon:
Two years after the NHL introduced rule changes in order to spur offence - limits to obstruction, no more centre red line for offside, a trapezoid behind the net to limit goalies handling the puck — it appears as if goaltenders are in the ascendancy again.
Scoring is down almost a goal per game since the early post-lockout days. The rule changes — and rule enforcements — may have changed the game for the better, but it did nothing to help the bottom line. For anyone who wanted to see an up-tick in scoring, it just hasn’t happened.
Brendan Shanahan speaking to Darren Eliot at Sports Illustrated,
“The referees seem to be letting a little more go in the way of physical battles in the corners and in front of the net,” he noted. “So it is tough to score goals.”
These weren’t gripes. “Look, every night is a tough game,” he said. “If you’re off just a little, you won’t win. That’s why you can’t press in tight situations. Detroit is so experienced that they have patience to play their style no matter what the score is. When you get away from that, teams capitalize.”
from Ken Campbell of the Hockey News,
A little R&D would help in a number of areas. For example, people are talking about the possibility of creating offense by going to 3-on-3 in overtime after five minutes of 4-on-4. Well, the league created 3-on-3 in overtime last year by decreeing that all coincidental penalties that either stretched into or occurred in overtime would result in 3-on-3 play. Since then, 29 minutes and 20 seconds of 3-on-3 has been played and there have been just two goals scored. If you extrapolate that over 60 minutes, you get an average of 4.1 goals per game, which is lower than the per-game average for 5-on-5 scoring.
Colorado Avalanche right wing Milan Hejduk, Detroit Red Wings goaltender Dominik Hasek and Los Angeles Kings center Anze Kopitar have been named the NHL’s ‘Three Stars’ for the week ending December 9.
One of many complaints that casual sports fans have about hockey is that there are too many “foreigners” in our league. Which, by the way, is utter bunk because they support the NBA’s European and Asian outreach, and the Major Leagues are now making Hispanic players the norm.
But, they do have a point. The NFL, a league with 99.9999999% Americans in it, is the man in the United States right now. The NHL needs some new and talented red, white and blue blood.
from Jason Kay of the Hockey News,
While I don’t believe hockey is in dire straits or in need of an overhaul, there are areas of concern that shouldn’t be glossed over.
Let’s start with what’s transpiring on the ice. The entertainment value this season is, on the whole, OK. I’ll give it a C+....
From this vantage point, it would seem there are more dud games now than during the season after the lockout ended and longer stretches within contests when not enough is happening to captivate the audience….
This doesn’t mean the NHL is on its deathbed; the product is still relatively solid and the bottom line isn’t brutal. But erosion is taking place, the U.S. market is still apathetic and it would be foolish for the game’s guardians to ignore the warning signs.
from Pat Connolly of the Daily News,
On the one hand are the hockey purists and more learned observers found mostly in Canada who like the game played hard and clean at high speeds.
On the other hand is the vastly larger number of American fans less enthused about game quality than physical violence, with insatiable appetites for bare-knuckle brawling.
With only six Canadian governors out of 30 sitting at the NHL board making decisions concerning the direction of the league, guess which side wins?
A prime example of how influential one governor can be is Bettman confidante and boardroom bully Ed Snider, owner of the Philadelphia Flyers, the team that has reinvented itself as the 1970s’ Broad Street Bullies.
But No trades!!!
Spector breaks down the latest trade talk. More denials than actual trades these days.
from Devon O’Neil of the Boston Globe,
By 1996, most of the sports world - and, for that matter, the rest of the world - had forgotten about Willie O’Ree. Which explains how he found himself working in San Diego at the historic Hotel del Coronado as a security guard, making about $9 an hour, a soft-spoken black man with gray wisps of hair from the Canadian province of New Brunswick, creeping through his 60s politely and privately.
Every so often, O’Ree would bump into someone who knew who he was. Like the time before he took the job at the hotel, when he was assigned to work security for Michael Jordan at a pro-am golf tournament. Jordan grinned when he saw O’Ree. He knew he’d been the first black man ever to take the ice in an NHL game, that he was, as it’s said, the “Jackie Robinson of hockey.”
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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.
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