Kukla's Korner Hockey
From Matthew Futterman at the Wall Street Journal,
For National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman, rock bottom arrived long before he watched three of his teams go bankrupt and canceled the 2004-2005 season.
It came in 1999, when Mr. Bettman looked at his major moves during his first seven years heading the NHL and saw that they were going to wreck professional hockey in North America. For one thing, the gap was widening between rich and poor teams, especially those in smaller Canadian cities and in the Southern and Western U.S., where Mr. Bettman had pushed the league to expand. Salary growth was also out of control. Worst of all, a once lightning-fast game was slowly turning into a boring grind.
“I watch the game—70, 80 games a year,” Mr. Bettman, now in his 16th year heading the league, said last week. “You could see what was happening.”
continued… a very in-depth article on the mistakes and accomplishments of the NHL over recent years
Update 4:45pm ET: From CBC’s Playoff Blog, an article arguing that the darkest days of the NHL have since passed.
From Ryan Kennedy at The Hockey News,
Now, I know the anti-fun militia won’t like this, but let’s take a cue from the most successful sport in North America – NFL football – and schedule some sort of pre-final Stanley Cup extravaganza. In the days leading up to the Super Bowl, you can’t turn around without hearing about some sort of event hyping up what usually turns out to be a mediocre game (and in Canada, we don’t even get to see the good commercials).
Let’s have a fanfest. Bands will play, the Cup will be there, Mark Messier will sign autographs and give out bags of potato chips – it’ll be fun. This year, an event in Detroit could have featured Kid Rock and Bob Probert. Pittsburgh could counter with Mario Lemieux and a reunion of his buddies from the 1991 and ’92 Cup teams. Bring the kids, we’ll party until at least 9:30.
Note: Perhaps an octopus-taste-test in Detroit counts as a fanfest?
Fish markets in Pittsburgh won’t be selling octopus to just anyone. If your driver’s license reads “Michigan” you’ll have to import your 8-legged splatter bombs from out-of-state. [ESPN]
Sabres coach Lindy Ruff is currently working as a golf caddy this summer. Says PGA golfer and friend Dudley Hart, “He’s trying to stay out of the way.” [Dallas Morning News]
Forget the SCF games… the important question is: Which city has the better arena? Distinguising Mellon Arena and The Joe. (I’ve been told one smells better, but that issue is tastefully not discussed…) [Puck Daddy]
Anaheim Ducks’ Todd Marchant will be appearing as a panelist on the website SheKnows.com, as one member representing the New Faces of Fatherhood. Todd will be sharing his thoughts on topics of parenthood, sex education and more. [press release]
Some NHLers have hot wives. (Who knew?) [Waiting for Stanley]
The Crazy Canucks podcasters talked hockey in a panel discussion in Vancouver a few months ago. (Nothing that fascinating, but yes, that’s me making an ass of myself in public, alongside my much-smarter cohorts.). [YouTube]
From Chuck Gormley at The Sporting News,
But for all of the players who have had their names inscribed on the Cup, an equal number have fallen just short in their quest for Lord Stanley’s coveted mug. So what separates the winners from the losers? What makes the 34 1/2-pound silver chalice so difficult to attain?
For answers, we sought out current and former players who have reached the finals.
continued with memories and opinions from the likes of Mike Knuble, Georges Laraque, Bobby Clarke and others
From Puck Daddy at Yahoo! Sports…
The abridged review of the NHL Powered by Reebok Featuring XM with Special Appearance by Starbucks Store: Cool gear, awesome customer service, but I was promised an ice wall “which serves as a backdrop to feature merchandise as well as the Stanley Cup at select times throughout the year,” and I did not get to see an ice wall “which serves as a backdrop to feature merchandise as well as the Stanley Cup at select times throughout the year.”
But Puck Daddy has fun nonetheless, reviewing the NHL store, accompanied by photos. (Including an ever-so-slightly disturbing image of my fine friend copping a feel off a female mannequin wearing a Blues t-shirt…)
Retired NHLer David Littman tells some tales from his life in hockey, today at The Hockey News:
People may not believe this, but playing in the minors is just as much fun as playing in the NHL. The only difference is there are fewer zeros on your paycheck. Things happen in the minors that would never happen in the NHL.
I was playing for the Atlanta Knights in the IHL, the farm team for the Tampa Bay Lightning, and we were playing the Salt Lake Golden Eagles, Calgary’s farm team.
In the first period, there was a fight in front of my net and I jumped in to help a teammate. I looked up and Andre Trefilov, the opposing goalie, was coming at me full steam. We fought for a bit, got game misconducts and were kicked out of the game.
By the second period, we were both up in the stands sitting with our respective scratched teammates drinking beers. By the third period, we’d all had a few drinks when the Salt Lake backup goalie was hit and went down hard.
From David Newland at The Canoe Dossier,
I want to see the NHL succeed. It’s a grand tradition and was once a great game. But as a lifelong fan, I feel like I’ve never been consulted on what would make the game great again. So I’m offering my two cents’ worth anyway, and I hope you’ll do the same.
1. Management must love the game more than the money.
I think we can call that first idea “unintended humor.” Other ideas on the list might be more feasible, however. Matters for debate, anyway—check it out.
KK member Heaton brings up an interesting subject in the KK Forums…
Are ticket brokers an underlying cause for the “lack” of passion that people are tying to the empty seats at Joe Louis Arena? I’m one of those people who usually buries their head in the sand on this subject, I hate it, I think it’s overblown and makes false pretenses about the Wings and their fans.
read on and although this is his first post at the KK Forums, Heaton is well known within the hockey web world.
From The Sporting News,
Coyotes left winger Daniel Carcillo—5-11, 203 pounds with a crazy-high 324 penalty minutes in his first full season—is learning the hard way that competitiveness and chaos can be tough to tell apart. Here are his 10 tips for surviving and thriving as a middleweight fighter, as told to SN’s Steve Greenberg.
1. You have to want to do it. Unless you’re 6-8, 250 pounds, you should never let a coach force you to fight. I’m a pretty mellow guy off the ice; a lot of people who get to know me say I’m totally different than the guy they see at the arena. But I’ll tell you something my coach, Wayne Gretzky, and my teammates already know: I like to fight.
Get all Carcillo’s tips for the trade. A great piece.
And if you want to think about fights even more this week, Patrick Hruby at ESPN writes about The Men Who Love Goons.
From the Sporting News,
Before the Stanley Cup finals begin, it’s time to hand out Sporting News’ 2008 NHL Awards. Winners were determined by a vote of their peers, and all voting was conducted before the playoffs. Individuals could not vote for themselves, and players could not vote for teammates.
Player of the year: Alex Ovechkin, LW, Capitals
continued with more on AO, plus naming the Coach of the Year, Rookie of the Year and Executive of the Year
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