Kukla's Korner Hockey
Sometime today, the SENShobo will arrive in Montreal and begin providing his coverage of all things All-Star.
This will be his first appearance as an official member of the media and I do hope he enjoys his time in Montreal and takes in the great hockey atmosphere Montreal will provide.
from William Houston of the Globe and Mail,
A few days ago, TSN hockey analyst Bob McKenzie called the NHL all-star weekend a “white elephant” in the sense that it’s dull, cumbersome and, as a spectacle, a liability more than an asset.
McKenzie might have tempered his comment if TSN were airing the all-star events, but he is right. The game is a pitiful representation of hockey, a no-contact snoozer that leaves real fans cold.
Hockey Night in Canada’s Ron MacLean has suggested replacing all-star weekend with an annual hockey festival with activities that perhaps wouldn’t even include an all-star game. Anything would be better than the existing format.
from Stephen Brunt of the Globe and Mail,
How is it the NHLPA, under its newest executive director, Paul Kelly, is expected to announce Friday its membership has declined to reopen its collective agreement with the league, as is its right, and will play on under the current contract until 2011?
That deal, cut under duress, cut after their union was effectively broken, is working just fine for the players, thanks. They’ll say all the right things about not wanting a labour disruption during these trying economic times, but the bottom line is they continue to earn loads of dough in a vigorous market for talent, while league owners are faced with several teams now teetering on the brink of insolvency….
If anything, those clubs are in worse shape now than they were before the lockout, their decline accelerated by the credit crunch and ensuing recession, coupled with shaky ownership.
If they’re still in business come 2011 — and who would like to bet their life on that right now? — the next labour war won’t cure what’s wrong with them, either.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
NHL commissioner Gary Bettman spoke to ESPN.com earlier this week about a wide range of topics, including the economy, the Phoenix Coyotes, the New York Islanders and the future of the league’s participation in the Olympics.
There is a perception Bettman is anti-Olympics or anti-NHL players in the Olympics, but the commissioner likes to point out he was the one who put the NHL and the Olympics together back in 1998 in Nagano. “I’m the guy that made it happen,” he said.
That said, after the 2010 Vancouver Games, there’s going to be time for some soul-searching about whether the NHL and the Olympics are a fit going forward. After three visits to the Olympics (Nagano, Salt Lake City and Torino) and with a fourth on the way, “there are aspects of this endeavor that are problematic,” the commissioner said.
from Damien Cox at ESPN,
Competitively, the fight for the Cup promises to be a fierce one, with defending champion Detroit having all but withdrawn its players from All-Star Game consideration as it prepares its title defense against a horde of tough challengers.
With much left to be unfurled, these have been the attention-grabbing story lines so far:
The game’s hottest new rivalry
It’s the Sharks and the Red Wings, a new rivalry made more intriguing by the fact former Detroit assistant coach Todd McLellan has crossed over to the San Jose side and made the Sharks the Western Conference’s best team so far. The Sharks have won two of three meetings, including a terrific 6-5 home-ice triumph last Saturday in San Jose. The two clubs meet next Feb. 25 at The Joe.
many more story lines…
The Hockey News’ Charlie Teljeur considers those aspects of the All Star Weekend that he’s most looking forward to:
Alex Ovechkin is planning a move so theoretical people are asked to wear protective eyewear and everyone who enters the arena that night will be given a vile of insulin.
And while there are a myriad of these (ahem) events that night, my personal favorites (the ones I’ll stay awake for) are the Martin St-Louis Distance Toss and Drunk Goalie Leap Frog.
From Jennifer Leggio at ZD Net,
Over the last year or so, the NHL has been working diligently to roll out a three-phase digital media program to serve its estimated 20 million avid fans in North America — 13 million in the U.S. and 7 million in Canada. The primary objectives were to personalize content for avid fans, make that content more interactive, and create a more social presence on its NHL site and sub-sites.
“We know a few things about our fans that feed our strategy as a media business, but also support our investments in digital media,” [Michael] DiLorenzo said. “On average, about 50 percent of fans are displaced — meaning they live in a different geographic area than their favorite teams. Inherently they have an access constraint, whether it be missing the games on TV or not being able to buy their team-branded goods at a local sporting goods store.”
What DiLorenzo realized is that the combination of an access constraint and a technically sophisticated audience creates opportunity — for both the league and for the fans. Recognizing that the NHL has “modest” national television distribution (the league owns all of its TV rights) it has the ability to take video online in a way that other leagues cannot.
read on for a very detailed look at the NHL’s digital media initiatives
from Mark Hermann of Newsday,
The idea of holding the first two games of the Stanley Cup Finals at a neutral site is quite interesting. Ludicrous, but interesting.
Red Wings general manager Ken Holland is planning to propose just that at the general managers’ meeting in March, according to broadcaster Pierre McGuire in his Sports Illustrated “In the Crease” feature last week. Holland reportedly was inspired by the Winter Classic at Wrigley Field, where his team beat the Blackhawks.
A crowd of 40,000 and immense national publicity will make a person dream big. The thought in this case is to create a Super Bowl-like atmosphere. Holland and some commentators believe it would be great (and profitable) to make the finals a destination for the intense hockey fan and a magnet for the moderate or non-hockey fan.
from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,
Taking fighting out of the National Hockey League will “rip the fabric out of the game” and empower “the growing rat factor in our league,” Brian Burke says with emotion but not apology.
He is not about to change his view on fighting in hockey.
He believes in it. He welcomes it.
“First off, it’s an important part of our game historically,” said Burke, the president and general manager of the Maple Leafs. “It’s not like I came into the NHL five years ago. I see no reason to change that. That’s No. 1.
“To me, fighting is the mechanism that allows players to regulate the level of violence in the game ... There are already a number of players in our league who flaunt the system. Fighting brings accountability to that ... To me, there is a growing rat factor in our league right now. You know who those players are. I don’t have to name them. But do you want to turn the league over to them?”
The commissioner joins The Game Plan to discuss a variety of topics involving the NHL including the state of the league in spite of the fact that certain teams are in serious financial trouble, the possibility of re-location and the future of fighting in the game.
Listen here, about 17 minutes long.
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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