Kukla's Korner Hockey
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Competitively, the fight for the Cup promises to be a fierce one, with defending champion Detroit having all but withdrawn its players from All-Star Game consideration as it prepares its title defense against a horde of tough challengers.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.
from Bob McKenzie of TSN,
TSN conducted a flash survey of NHL general managers to get a sense where they currently stand on the issue - and it’s clear that change will not come easily.
Asked if they favoured “stiffer punishment” for any player who fights, only two of the 18 executives who responded to the survey said yes. And of those two, neither said they would be in favor of automatically ejecting any player who fights in an NHL game.
from Allan Maki of the Globe and Mail,
So when it comes to the topic of the day — what to do about fighting in hockey — the general manager of the Stanley Cup defending champions will admit two things: Personally, he’s not opposed to two equally matched players dropping the gloves and pitching knuckles in the heat of a moment. (Fans enjoy it, he said.) But it’s time.
Time for the NHL to open its mind and ask tough questions because things have changed. They changed the moment 21-year-old Senior A defenceman Don Sanderson died as a result of a hockey fight. Even before that tragic incident, there were shifts and nagging trends that caught the eye.
Update 1:58pm ET (alanah): From Jeff Marek at CBC,
One side has been labeled “dinosaurs” and the other, “pansies”.
Both labels are inaccurate and do nothing more than shut down debate and polarize opinion even further. When I start to hear name-calling I tend to feel the debate has run its course don’t you? Which is probably where we’re at once again with the fighting discussion.
*original post time was 8:15am ET
According to La Presse, former NHL head coach Pat Burns has been diagnosed with cancer for a third time.
The report indicates Burns was told of the news earlier this month when he returned from the World Junior Hockey Championship in Ottawa.
from Paul Hunter of the Toronto Star,
The NHL is experimenting with different-shaped posts and crossbars to see if more shots that normally clang off the iron might instead be directed into the net.
It’s a way the league might be able to increase scoring without changing the size of the nets.
Mike Murphy, the league’s vice-president of hockey operations, described the new post as a “teardrop” shape, like the rim of a paper coffee cup that has been squeezed.
The league did its first testing of the new nets at the Air Canada Centre during yesterday’s Leaf practice, filming the workout to see how pucks reacted when they hit the posts. A DVD of the experiment will be studied internally and then passed on to the league’s general managers.
“It’s a little bit of research and development to see if, without changing the size of the nets, we can make the nets more rewarding offensively,” said Murphy.
from Jim Kelley of Sportsnet,
Obama said that the challenges for America are many, but that “those values upon which our success depends - honesty and hard work, courage and fair play, tolerance and curiosity, loyalty and patriotism - these things are old. These things are true. They have been the quiet force of progress throughout our history. What is demanded then is a return to these truths.”
It takes both leadership and co-operation, but the hockey world could also live by those words.
If it did both we and the game would be better for it.
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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