Kukla's Korner Hockey
From Ray Slover at the Sporting News,
Young talent is, like cream, rising to the top. And like cream, it’s pretty sweet. They may struggle a bit with English, but Alexander Ovechkin, Ilya Kovalchuk, Evgeni Malkin, Anze Kopitar and other 20-something foreign-born players have a language all their own. Better yet, it’s a common language, one shared by Eric Staal, Rick Nash and the cast of characters who have something to say. And it comes across loud and clear, even without poster-boy Sidney Crosby on the scene.
We saw plenty of the NHL’s future here and it, like the Georgia morning sun, is bright.
From Ken Campbell at The Hockey News,
It has been very easy and convenient to rip the NHL All-Star Game for, oh, the past 20 years or so, but for at least one night, the league and its players seemed to grasp the importance of showcasing its stars by actually staging a competitive game.
Update 9:04pm ET: The THN story above was changed since I originally linked it. An important feature near the top of the piece was Campbell’s concern about access to Eric Staal after the game. There has been some suggestion that the original article was altered. Perhaps not a big deal, but it’s worth mentioning now because the allegations prompted this official response from Mike Sundheim of the Carolina Hurricanes later in the day.
Finally, below is a transcript from post-game Q&A’s with All Star MVP Eric Staal and goalie Tim Thomas.
from Ed Willes of the Vancouver Province,
Every year the game is played and every year the same questions are asked. What can be done to make it more competitive? What can be done to make it more relevant? What can be done to make it more like a real NHL game?
And here’s the answer. Nothing. There’s nothing that can be done; nothing that will turn the all-star game into a showcase event that captures hockey’s best qualities.
You can hope for some speed and skill and a close, competitive affair, but you can’t replicate those things that make the sport attractive.
Once you accept this, you are free to appreciate this affair for what it is and even revel in its unique qualities.
from the Globe and Mail,
The stick, jointly owned by Brown and siblings Brydon and Sheila, was left by their late father, Charles, with nary a word as to its significance.
“Dad never talked about it,” said Brown, who as a youth played against a number of future pros.
The surprisingly well-preserved stick, which lay idle in Brown’s basement for years, bears the signatures of many hockey greats. Brown and his brother began to research the names and made an amazing discovery — all of them had participated in the first unofficial NHL all-star game in February of 1934.
The game took place in Toronto and served as a benefit for Ace Bailey of the Toronto Maple Leafs. Bailey was felled by Eddie Shore of the Boston Bruins in a game at Boston Garden in December of 1933 and never played again.
from Bucky Gleason of the Buffalo News,
Bettman deserves a good share of praise for fixing the game, whether it was his own doing or hiring the right people around him to get it right. It’s half the battle. Bill Daly, second in command, has given him a major boost. Both are intelligent visionaries who have become better peer listeners.
The league has done a much better job marketing its players, which is to say it’s making a concerted effort….
By now, you must be wondering if Bettman bought me a beer or bailed me out of jail over the weekend. Over the past decade, there were times I couldn’t imagine giving him credit for being 5-foot-6, let alone leading hockey from the ruins.
For all of his flaws, Bettman’s biggest over the years has been connecting with the people. He has a way of alienating fans with selfrighteous speeches, legalese and stretched truths that made people question whether he had a genuine bone on his body. Predictably, he was booed after the game Sunday.
Rock band The Hives will open the game with a performance of their hit single, “Tick Tick Boom.” The Atlanta Boy Choir will perform the U.S. national anthem and singer/songwriter Kathleen Edwards will perform the Canadian national anthem. R&B singer/songwriter and five-time Grammy nominee Ne-Yo will perform his hit single “Because of You” with Halftime Live, a 75-piece marching band, during the second intermission.
In addition to tonight’s performers, the celebrities in attendance include actors David Boreanaz (“Bones”), Taylor Kitsch (“Friday Night Lights”), Matthew Modine (“Weeds”) and Thorsten Kate (“All My Children”); actress Alyssa Milano (“Charmed”), rock band Mastodon, country superstar Garth Brooks and Atlanta Braves pitcher Tom Glavine.
Atlanta Mayor Shirley Franklin also will be in attendance as the special guest of NHL legend Willie O’Ree. The first intermission will feature a special tribute to Willie O’Ree and the 50th anniversary of his NHL debut.
Spector covers all the current trade and rumor talk today.
On a side note, most teams have a meeting scheduled in late January where they will discuss many different trade scenarios. Are they buyers, what players could help and who may be considered movable.
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?
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