Kukla's Korner Hockey
New York (December 3, 2008) – The Calgary Flames and NHL Winter Classic 2009 host Chicago Blackhawks heat up the Western Conference XM NHL® All-Star Fan Balloting presented by 2K Sports. Meanwhile, Red Wings fans continue to vote in droves to support their Stanley Cup champions.
Detroit captain Nicklas Lidstrom extended his dominance in the balloting among defensemen by gaining over 75,000 votes last week to remain, for the second week in a row, the highest Western Conference vote-getter. Flames defenseman Dion Phaneuf has a stronghold on second place, while Wings’ Brian Rafalski (135,074)is holdingoff Chicago’s Brian Campbell (133,265) for third place among defensemen.
Pierre LeBrun asks readers of his blog at ESPN:
Best GM in the NHL? The ESPN.com puckheads delivered again.
Ken Holland was the most popular answer, followed by Lou Lamoriello (Devils), Doug Wilson (Sharks) and Brian Burke (Toronto), among others. Because there’s been so much focus on Burke over the past week, we needn’t bother going over that again here.
Let’s take a look at other GMs:
from Jesse Campigotto of CBC Sports,
NHL players are working overtime like never before to earn their six-, seven- and eight-figure salaries. Through Friday, 89 of the 333 games (26.7 per cent) played this season required more than 60 minutes to decide a winner.
That’s a notable increase from each of the three seasons following the 2004-05 lockout, when shootouts were introduced to settle contests still knotted through overtime. In those campaigns, the rate of games going to OT hovered between 22.1 and 22.8 per cent.
So what, right? More overtime equals more excitement. More fun. More hockey for your hard-earned (and, given the sickly state of the TSX, increasingly precious) dollars. Plus, you don’t exactly see fans filing for the exits before the start of a shootout.
from Ted Montgomery at USA TODAY,
Many words and phrases have seeped into the hockey lexicon over the years; some of them work well, and some of them are just embarrassing….
The terms “left wing lock” and “the trap” became part of the hockey dictionary in the 1990s, when the New Jersey Devils, and then the Detroit Red Wings, employed a suffocating style of team defense that made it difficult for the opposing team to mount much of an offense. Those terms have pretty much gone out of style as very few teams play that way in today’s NHL. This is evidenced by the increase in scoring this season. I think that makes for a better brand of hockey.
I do like the phrase “power forward,” which started gaining acceptance in the late 1980s and early 1990s. It perfectly describes what Rick Tocchet, Brendan Shanahan, Cam Neely and a host of others brought to the ice.
It’s only been about two years now that the phrase “secondary scoring” has come into play. Apparently, it means getting offense from your third and fourth lines.
from Sean Gordon and Paul Waldie of the Globe and Mail,
Montreal Canadiens owner and Colorado-based debt-financing king George Gillett is engaged in another financial high-wire act that could have an impact on Canada’s most storied hockey franchise.
According to a lien filed in Delaware, Gillett has taken out a high-interest, $75-million (all currency U.S.) personal loan from a U.S.-based private investment fund, putting up his heavily-leveraged share of British soccer giant Liverpool Football Club as collateral….
But it’s clear Gillett is among the many NHL owners facing stormy financial seas because of the economic downturn.
Hockey industry sources say at least three other teams - the Florida Panthers, Tampa Bay Lightning and the Phoenix Coyotes - have recently taken out high-interest loans with distress lenders or private equity funds because of tightening credit in the United States.
From James Duthie in the Ottawa Citizen:
For it seems that to be a true superstar in today’s NHL, you cannot be out of your frat-boy years. Just take at the top look at the scoring race:
1.Evgeni Malkin—39 points (22 years old)
2.Sidney Crosby—34 points (21)
3.Ryan Getzlaf—31 points (23)
6.Aexander Ovechkin—30 points (23)
8.Patrick Kane—28 points (19)
9.Devin Setoguchi—27 points (21)
10. Alexander Semin—27 points (24)
That’s right. Seven of the top ten players still cannot legally drink in New Delhi, India (minimum 25 years old).
Read on. Duthie goes on to compare the current group to the leading scorers of a decade ago, and the age contrast is notable.
from Michael Luchies at Associated Content,
Where has the NHL gone? As I flip through channel after channel on a lazy Sunday I am unable to find one hockey game or highlight unless I go to the NHL channel which I had to purchase on an extra sports package. I have grown up a Detroit Red Wings fan and am still a fan of the game and the Wings, but where has the NHL gone?
Remember the good old days when, on a Sunday, you could see the glowing puck on Fox Sports, then turn to NBC to watch the Red Wings play the Avalanche in a blood bath? There seem to be no more rivalries, unsupported teams, and a lack of North American talent (minus Sidney Crosby). The NHL needs to address issues and attempt to regain popularity in the United States.
New York (December 2, 2008) – Responding to the daunting challenge issued by the devoted fans of the Montreal Canadiens, the citizens of Pittsburgh and Penguins fans around the world are proving just how passionate they are about their heroes.
Pens forwards Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin, the top two scorers in the NHL, have closed the gap considerably on the front-running Montreal threesome of Alexei Kovalev, Saku Koivu and Alex Tanguay in fan balloting to select the starting lineups for the 2009 NHL All-Star Game in Montreal Jan. 25.
As of 7 a.m. ET today, Crosby had received 320,373 votes in XM NHL® All-Star Fan Balloting presented by 2K Sports. With polls still open for another month, that moved Crosby within 65,000 votes of claiming one of the three starting spots up front for the Eastern Conference.
from Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star,
The NHL will likely find itself on financial thin ice if the recession deepens, according to many leading economists and financiers in the sports community.
With no substantial American television contract, teams in questionable, non-traditional markets and a falling Canadian dollar, the National Hockey League will suffer more than North America’s other major sports leagues in a prolonged economic downturn, according to those experts.
The upside for Canadian fans is that those economic woes could mean another team north of the border as owners look to the game’s hotbeds as an economic salve.
“Hockey is the most vulnerable and that’s primarily because of the lack of a TV contract in the United States,” said Richard Powers, associate dean of Rotman School of Business at the University of Toronto. “I really do think we’re going to see some contraction and/or relocation. And it’s very likely we’re going to see another franchise in Canada.
Darren Eliot of Sports Illustrated, on the new book Hockey Stories & Stuff by Don Cherry and Al Strachan:
The pair did make a conscious effort to clean up any profanity so the read would be kid-appropriate, but that doesn’t mean this book is for everyone. English professors might want to avoid it. Same thing for anyone who is offended by violence in sports, or those of you out there who have a dim view of drinking and carousing as a way of life. But for the rest of us, this book is pure joy—a little piece of guilty hockey pleasure.
In that sense, it represents Don Cherry extremely well. He’s not for everyone, but he is hard to ignore.
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