Kukla's Korner Hockey
The commissioner wanted parity in the league and he's got that whole-heartedly. There are 16 teams that get into the playoffs and legitimately any one of them could get out of their conference this year. That's what the league wanted and they did a nice job. But I don't know if they anticipated the parity of the top 8 or 9 top players, how similar and how valuable they all are to their own teams; how valuable a guy like Tavares is to the Islanders, Voracek to the Flyers, Crosby to the Penguins, and so on. I don't know if we've ever seen in hockey so many superstars that are so equally matched at this point in their careers. It's parity in teams, and it's parity with the superstars, that's pretty good for hockey."
-Wayne Gretzky. More from and on Gretzky from Pierre LeBrun of ESPN.
from Darren Dreger of TSN,
"There will be a formal announcement soon," is how prospective NHL owner Bill Foley responded when asked if his group is moving closer to expansion to Las Vegas.
Foley won't divulge specifics, but says he hopes to be in position to make the announcement in a month.
"We're really pleased with how it's going," Foley told TSN. "Now we want to expand our base to ensure the support we have is as widespread as possible."
Sources familiar with this process suggest the corporate sector, including the many casinos in Las Vegas represent the next phase of the ticket drive and overall market study.
Chicago Blackhawks senior advisor Scotty Bowman joins Prime Time Sports to talk about coaches challenges, the lack of scoring and reducing the size of goaltending equipment.
from Katie Strang of ESPN,
While the decision on whether or not to trigger the annual 5 percent growth factor on the salary cap has often been treated like a foregone conclusion, it should not be this season.
The issue on the growth factor, commonly referred to as the "inflator" or "escalator," has become a hot topic of conversation amongst players with growing concerns about increasing escrow rates and the potential implications on revenue with the falling Canadian dollar.
Several sources told ESPN.com that there is a divide between two camps of players: those who are already under contract for next season and those who are pending unrestricted free agents. Those already set on their current deals may be against the idea of increasing the salary cap, deterred by the thought of another season of high escrow (the players were hit with 18 percent this season). Those players up for new deals, however, would ideally like more money in the pot. The current salary cap is at $69 million. At last week's General Managers meetings, the rough projection provided by commissioner Gary Bettman was $71.5 million -- assuming the inflator was triggered.
For players, there is a growing sense of skepticism about areas of potential revenue growth, such as television deals, outdoor games, etc., compounded with concerns about the devaluation of the Canadian dollar.
from Nicholas J. Cotsonika of Yahoo,
Sharks coach Todd McLellan has the numbers on his board in his office in San Jose.
When he broke into the NHL as an assistant coach with the Red Wings, he ran the power play. In three years, the Wings had 461 power-play opportunities, then 398, then 391. That was right after the 2004-05 lockout, when the NHL tightened enforcement of infractions like hooking, holding and interference.
In 2005-06, teams ranged from 541 power-play opportunities to 411. The average team had 480. This season, no one is one pace for more than 297 power-play opportunities. One team is on pace for as few as 211.
Another way to look at it: The average NHL game had 11.7 power plays in 2005-06. The average NHL game has had about 6.2 this season.
But that doesn’t mean hooking, holding and interference have crept back into the game to a large degree and the referees have been swallowing their whistles. It means hooking, holding and interference have left the game to a large degree. The referees have less to call.
more plus other NHL topics...
from Rick Westhead of TSN,
NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman should be forced to be deposed about matters relating to the NHL concussions lawsuit within the next three months, lawyers for a group of former players wrote in a legal filing.
Lawyers for the former players wrote to the NHL on February 23 asking to set up a time and location to depose Bettman.
Three days later, a lawyer for the NHL replied, saying that the league was refusing the request because of a so-called "apex doctrine." That legal doctrine gives the league the ability to refuse the deposition request if the information Bettman might offer could also be obtained through other means, the league's lawyer wrote, adding that without the doctrine, "high level executives would be 'vulnerable to numerous, repetitive, harassing, and abusive depositions.'"
In newly filed court documents obtained by TSN, lawyers for the former players write that the NHL has been stonewalling their effort to obtain information. They want Bettman deposed by July 1.
A group of former NHL players including Joe Murphy, Bernie Nicholls and Gary Leeman charge that the NHL did not do enough to protect them from head injuries before it created a committee to study head trauma in 1997. Even after that, the players charge the committee's findings were not adequately shared with players.
from Elliotte Friedman of Sportsnet,
At the recent GM meetings, there was some discussion about All-Star Weekend.
“It’s a good event,” one of them said. “Until the game starts.”
There’s an understanding it is never going to be competitive. And, after polling several of the GMs, they don’t want it to be. The season is taxing enough on the players, so no one wants to see them injured when it doesn’t matter.
Chicago’s Stan Bowman was one of those who suggested a small March-Madness like tournament. After thinking further about it, here’s how it could work.
Currently, the NHL invites 40-ish players to the event, six of whom are goalies.
Increase the total to 48 skaters and keep the same number of goalies, bringing the total to 54. You can still do the draft, picking six teams of nine. We go four-on-four. The NHL and NHLPA determine the length of each game (it should be no problem getting them to agree on things, right?), creating a 15-match round-robin, with each group facing the others once.
The top two teams get a bye to the semis. The next four go head-to-head in the quarters in single-elimination until we have a winner. There would be ties in the round-robin and shootouts in the “playoffs.”
more plus 30 Thoughts...
from Larry Brooks of the New York Post,
It wasn’t until 1965-66 — ancient history to most of you, but well within my frame of reference and experience watching from the side balcony at the old Garden — that the league allowed teams to replace skaters on coincidental majors.
So there was a fair amount of three-on-three hockey following brawls. Obviously it was a different time and the game wasn’t immediately on the line, but most teams played very conservatively.
As I remember it, there was little breakneck, end-to-end action. Games seemed to be in holding patterns.
And I think a half-century later, that will be the case as often as not, and surely if we’re talking the final three minutes of a potential seven-minute OT.
If the league is committed to gimmickry to produce a guaranteed winner (and partial loser), then let’s get straight to three-on-three.
Chances are it will be more difficult under that scenario for coaches to reign in their top talent. But you can be sure, some will try.
more plus addtional hockey topics...
from Dave Hodge of TSN,
Thumbs down to half measures, which is the best way to describe most of the decisions made when NHL general managers gather.
The move to add coaches' challenges is hardly a bold one.
A goal can be wiped out because of goalie interference but a penalty can't be assessed. Shooting the puck over the glass is subject to review, but only to determine if a delay of game penalty should stand, not if one should be called.
Coaches aren't allowed to challenge a goal preceded by an offside, a hand pass, a puck touched by a high stick, or too many men on the ice.
Video review should be simple when it comes to a coach's challenge. If a coach believes his team has been victimized by an incorrect call of any sort, he should be allowed to try to prove it with the help of video evidence. He should have one or two opportunities per game to do so, but no more.
In the sophisticated age of video technology, there is no reason to hear that a call is not reviewable.
There is every reason to write a rule that says anything can be reviewed.
read on for another Thumbs Down from Hodge, this time regarding the Vancouver Canucks...
from Mark Spector of Sportsnet,
BILL DALY ON THE DOLLAR, TANKING AND MORE
On the falling Canadian dollar: “The Canadian clubs have all prepared themselves for this … eventuality,” he said. “I’m not saying it isn’t a hardship. It is a hardship. But, it’s not as if the sky is falling.”
Our take: Canadian teams will survive, but they make up nearly half of the Top 15 revenue teams in the league. Fifteen to 20 per cent off of their bottom lines will have a tangible effect on the cap, and league revenues overall.
On Tanking: “I certainly agree that there has been a higher focus than I have ever seen it. Having said that, I don’t think it’s an overriding concern for the league. I don’t think any of the teams are actively tanking, and we have new rules. The odds of the lowest finishers have been reduced dramatically to win a top pick, and beginning next year you could finish last and still pick fourth. We’ve taken steps to address the perception.”
Our take: Depleted rosters in Arizona, where its top centre is Mark Arcobello, and Toronto suggest tanking on an organizational level. But Buffalo’s win over Boston, Edmonton’s 47-shot night versus Columbus, and the Jackets’ win at Vancouver Thursday reaffirm that the players and coaches are never part of any tanking process.
more including Las Vegas...
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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