Kukla's Korner Hockey
from the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,
The NHL routinely uses the American Hockey League as a test site for potential rules changes, and there is an interesting one getting a look-see this season.
It calls for all power plays to start with a faceoff in the defensive zone of the team that is killing the penalty. Previously, the location of the faceoff was determined by where play was blown dead and could have been anywhere on the ice.
The obvious intention of the change is to give the power play a head start on applying pressure that could lead to a goal.
“It’s to create offense, certainly,” Penguins general manager Ray Shero said. “That’s what it’s for. Everything is about creating offense.”
Assistant GM Chuck Fletcher, who serves as GM of the Baby Penguins, has given the rule an unqualified endorsement and clearly would like to see it adopted by the NHL.
more on the Pens…
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
What will the Flames do when Dion Phaneuf remains unsigned long enough to extract either an offer or an offer sheet in the 10-year, $90M neighborhood coming off his Entry Level contract?
How much money will the Penguins have to pay Evgeni Malkin to keep him from becoming a Group II free agent when his current contract expires?
What will the Blackhawks do when Jonathan Toews and Patrick Kane both come up for extensions two summers from now?
And what kind of a league is it, and what kind of a system is it, exactly, under which the NHL operates, where an immense and dramatically increasing percentage of the players’ overall take goes to athletes who have been in the league for three seasons as opposed to those who have played for 10 or 15 years?
from the New York Times,
N.H.L. executives and officials of the International Ice Hockey Federation will meet Wednesday in New York for talks on a new agreement governing international player transfers….
The I.I.H.F. delegation will be led by the federation president, René Fasel, who will arrive from Sunday’s European Club Championship final in St. Petersburg, Russia, between Sparta Prague and Metallurg Magnitogorsk. Fasel said that if a new agreement could not be negotiated, “chaos” could ensue when the current deal expired at the end of the season. He said N.H.L. teams would be free to raid European rosters throughout the year while paying nothing for the signings.
read on and a feature on Caps dman Mike Green.
from Loose Change at the Hockey News,
• Disappointments? Who else? Boston. While their resurgence this year may seem passable, remember where they live. Oh, you’re in third place in your division are you? That’s nice dear. Mr. Brady, you were saying…
• Teams to watch out for? Just one: Philadelphia. Have you seen what they do to guys with their heads down?
• I must also admit I’m pretty upset with the National Hockey League about a couple of things.
What ever happened to the easy accessibility of the old ice-time stat? Where has it gone? It’s harder to get than a cheerleader’s phone number.
From James Deacon at AOL Sports Canada,
Still, most fans agree the pace has quickened and there is more excitement. And the fact is that the current goal-scoring rate, while down, exceeds the 5.14 goals-per-game average from the last pre-rules change season, 2003-04.
So if the game’s moving in the right direction, why are goal totals heading the other way? Some rarely cited stats offer insight: the difference in the last three seasons is entirely made up by a drop in power-play goals. There have been eight fewer penalty minutes per game this season compared to the same period in 2005-06, and the current number of even-strength goals through 637 games is 2,434, exactly the same total as two seasons ago.
To some, that suggests referees have eased up. But players and refs say the big difference is that players’ behaviour has changed. Four years ago you practically had to draw blood to be penalized for hooking, so water-skiing was the defensive technique of choice.
Not any more.
more… on the “new” NHL and its unlikely poster boy, Brendan Shanahan
Gary Bettman’s NHL Hour will have Colin Campbell on the air as a guest at around 4pm ET, or so.
The NHL Hour can be streamed live here.
New York (January 10, 2008) – Sales of NHL-licensed product on Shop.NHL.com for December increased 44% compared to the same period last year, the National Hockey League (NHL) announced today. The holiday sales period experienced an additional boost due to the demand for official Amp Energy / NHL Winter Classic merchandise. The most searched term on Shop.NHL.com was “Winter Classic,” while four of the six top-selling items were of the NHL Winter Classic variety.
Twenty-six NHL teams increased online merchandise sales for December 2007. The Pittsburgh Penguins, winners of the Amp Energy / NHL Winter Classic, led the pack with a sales increase of 164% in comparison to December 2006. Other teams who experienced a significant increase for December sales year-over-year were the Chicago Blackhawks (92%), Washington Capitals (89%), St. Louis Blues (87%), Buffalo Sabres (85%) and the Anaheim Ducks (84%).
From Mike Chen at Fox Sports,
There are a few teams we’ll know for certain to be buyers, though. Let’s look at the cap space situation for the league’s top eight teams. If you’re wondering where the East Coast love is, don’t blame me. Other than the Sens, no Eastern team has cracked 50 points.
1. Detroit: With a cap space of $5.4 million, the Wings have enough room to make probably one major move for a UFA (paying a portion of his salary for this year). However, between their big-name players, much of their cap is tied up for next year, so don’t anticipate the Wings getting someone who may have a year or two left on his contract. Besides, one glance at Detroit on the ice and the only thing they may actually need is a cup of coffee to make sure they keep running at this pace.
From David Amber at ESPN,
10. Maurice “Rocket” Richard, Montreal Canadiens, 1944-45
Richard established an NHL benchmark for greatness during the 1944-45 season when he became the league’s first 50-goal scorer, accomplishing the feat in just a 50-game season. In a season in which Richard didn’t win a Stanley Cup ring or even the scoring title, the significance of 50 in 50 cannot be diminished. It would take another 16 years before anyone else would manage to score as many as 50 goals in a season (Bernie Geoffrion in a 64-game season). Not until Mike Bossy scored twice in the final five minutes of the Islanders’ 50th game in 1980-81 did another player match Richard’s feat of 50 goals in 50 games. For the Rocket, the 1944-45 season blasted him into iconic status, a superstar in the NHL and a living legend in his home province of Quebec. Considering this was the only season Richard would score 50 goals speaks volumes to how important that number was and still is today in hockey lore.
From the CP,
ART ROSS: When Pittsburgh Penguins captain Sidney Crosby picked up his first Art Ross Trophy last season it was widely believed that it would be the first of many consecutive NHL scoring championships for the 20-year-old superstar. And that’s not to say he won’t end up winning it again this season, because he wasn’t that far away when the league hit its official halfway point over the weekend.
But kudos to Tampa Bay Lightning centre Vincent Lecavalier, who led the league in points for much of the first half. He’s en route to a career season and has sparked some healthy debate about whether he, not Crosby, is the top player in the game right now.
more… including storylines to watch for in the 2nd half of the 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.
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