Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Darren Eliot at Sports Illustrated,
August means getting on the rink for the first time in months for many players, as dry land training merges with on-ice exercises. Many times that means relocating from summer homes to one’s city of employment, as players congregate for informal ice sessions prior to camp. For veterans, that may also mean getting their kids situated in schools, and for those who are arriving in a city for the first time, it means getting acclimated to new living accommodations is also a part of the process.
The driving force, however, remains the pull of the game during that last lull before it all begins in earnest. It’s a time for clarity when goals and expectations can be set and measured from the relative calm of summer…
from Pat Connolly of the Daily News,
The National Hockey League’s recent second rejection of Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie’s bid to purchase an ailing American franchise in Nashville and move it to Canada has revived a familiar alarm in this country - we’re losing top-level control of our national game to the southern neighbours.
Spare the hand-wringing, folks. That was lost nearly nine decades ago and we won’t be getting it back in the present NHL that is structured around 24 American and six Canadian teams. Simple arithmetic dictates that the torch carriers from the north won’t win many votes on important issues, such as expansion to Canada. Not even when that makes perfect business sense, as in Balsillie’s proposal to move the terminally ill Predators to Hamilton….
For now and the immediate future, it’s Bettman’s ABC plan: Anywhere But Canada.
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
General managers who employ the Group II offer sheet approach are not, “poachers.” They are not creating inflationary spirals in the NHL’s salary structure. They are, rather, simply doing their jobs.
Brian Burke makes me laugh, and not with him. Burke’s all about huffing and puffing about integrity. He’s all about lecturing. He’s all about telling us that Penner is going to be playing for a “grossly inflated salary” when he himself is going to be paying Vancouver lug Todd Bertuzzi $4M a year for the next two seasons.
read on... and some hockey related revenue talk too…
Peter Forsberg skated in a charity game in Finland a few days ago…
via the Denver Post,
Afterward, he briefly talked to local reporters, saying his surgically repaired right ankle felt good.
There has been speculation that the Detroit Red Wings would be interested in Forsberg if he decides to play in the NHL this season. But the Swedish star said he hasn’t been in contact with any NHL clubs and still isn’t sure if he will play in the NHL this season.
He said the foot, which has given him numerous problems in recent years, still needs to be proven healthy enough to withstand the rigors of an NHL season.
from Evan Grossman of NHL.com,
The gems may have all been claimed in the first few days of the summer, but that doesn’t mean the shelves are completely bare. It might be bargain-basement outlet shopping at this point and not Rodeo Drive, but there are still plenty of guys out there that can help your favorite team.
In this edition of Gross Misconduct, we break down the best of what remains, and exactly what these leftovers bring to the table. In some cases, there’s still a lot these guys can bring, provided there are teams still interested in their services.
As you’ll see, clubs would be crazy to let some of these guys sit around much longer.
from the Edmonton Journal,
“If the Ducks called today to negotiate an extension for Ryan Getzlaf, we would definitely return that phone call. When you see (fellow Group II players) Zach Parise just sign an extension a year before his contract is up and Sidney Crosby in Pittsburgh do the same, I see teams trying to take care of their restricted players earlier. I see that happening more (than offer sheets),” said Johannson.
“Most players want to sign with their current team, but in the old days, the team had leverage over a Group II restricted free agent. The variable now is the offer sheet, and I see teams revising their ideas about what’s fair to keep their own players.”
from the Ottawa Citizen,
No doubt arbitration is a gamble for both sides and in more than just salary. If Avery’s play falters in the upcoming season, the Rangers will be kicking themselves, especially as they’ll be paying him almost $2 million.
Perhaps the Rangers should suggest to the NHL and its Players’ Association that the arbitration system needs to be revamped in order to make it a less painful process - one in which the clubs don’t come out swinging at their own players and then try to kiss and make up when it’s over. That never helps team spirit, especially when word leaks out as it did in Avery’s case.
from Bob DiCesare of the Buffalo News,
...two seasons after its historymaking and image-fracturing lockout, the NHL is in some ways right back where it started. The average salary will top $2 million this coming season, compared to $1.8 million pre-lockout, even though salaries were reduced by 24 percent at the start of the new collective bargaining agreement. Small-market franchises are still struggling with financial issues and feeling like they’re being bullied by their mightier brethren. In-fighting has arisen among front offices with differing outlooks on running their clubs. The business model has changed but the gripes remain the same.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
Each GM had access to the same nasty little weapon, a sheet of paper that would allow him to steal away another team’s restricted free agents for a handful of draft picks, depending on how much money the offer sheet represented.
For years, GMs kept those papers under lock, in part because the few offer sheets that were presented were invariably matched, including offers presented to established stars like Joe Sakic, Keith Tkachuk and Sergei Fedorov.
There was also the notion that the offer sheet was somehow dirty pool—by using the tool a GM could expect to suffer a similar fate somewhere down the road. Plus, GMs who might have pulled the stunt wouldn’t have been invited to any of the good GM parties.
from Adam Proteau of the Hockey News,
Imagine, if you will, a press conference with the current NHLPA leadership assembled near the podium. Then imagine one of the players – say, Eric Lindros or Robyn Regehr – stepping to the microphone and making a speech like this:
Beginning today, the NHLPA is rededicating its commitment to the sport of hockey and to the fans who support the game. In doing so, we’re taking measures no professional athlete union has taken before.
Firstly, we’re instituting our own program to test for steroids, human growth hormone and other performance-enhancing drugs. Our members have agreed to random, multiple blood and urine tests; the program will be implemented by an independent firm, and testing will occur throughout the regular season, playoffs, and off-season.
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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