Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Pierre LeBrun at Sportsnet,
The NHL gets hammered for many things, some of them deserved, but let’s applaud it for what’s happening this week in London, England.
The puck drops for the NHL’s 90th season with the Los Angeles Kings and defending Stanley Cup champion Anaheim Ducks playing back-to-back games at the 02 Arena.
I will be on hand and I can’t wait.
A few months ago we mentioned Pierre would be part of the Sportsnet team this season. A welcomed addition I must say.
from Scott Burnside of ESPN,
But let’s look at the bigger picture. This is the third post-lockout NHL season. Would it not be logical to expect the league itself to turn some kind of corner, to make some sort of statement about its future, its health?
Here are some story lines that might answer some of those questions.
The Outdoor Game
Fair or not, the dispute shows the NHL has a winner in terms of marketing. Buffalo was a terrific choice given its proximity to hockey markets in Southern Ontario, New York state and Pennsylvania.
frrom Rich Hammond at Inside the Kings,
I saw a comment about how few NHL goalies had thrived when starting at a young age, and it made me think…how did some of the best start out? So I looked at the top 20 NHL goalies, in terms of regular-season victories.
TONY ESPOSITO—After three years at Michigan Tech and one year in the WHL, called up during 1968-69 season and played 13 games for Montreal at age 25. Played 63 games the next season.
from the National Post,
Nobody doubts Winnipeg is a great hockey town, the only questions that remain to be answered are: (a) will Winnipeggers fork over $100 a night for 41 nights to buy tickets; (b) are there are enough corporate dollars in town to maintain a franchise; (c) is the MTS Centre (at 15,100 seats) big enough; and (d) who will write the cheque for $180-million (or more) to bring an existing franchise or a potential expansion franchise to town?...
Here in the ‘Peg, the NHL debate will continue to rage. As as Gretzky and Laforge both know, compared to Tampa, South Florida, Phoenix, Atlanta or Nashville, Winnipeg isn’t a good hockey town, it’s a great one.
Of course, until someone is ready to write that big cheque, all the talk is meaningless.
from Norman Chad at the Washington Post,
For reasons unclear to anyone not born under a hockey rink, the NHL keeps lengthening its season. One might say the NHL overstays its welcome, except most of us are not even aware it’s in our living rooms.
The season now starts Sept. 29 and the Stanley Cup finals could go until June 9. This means—and I want all of you sitting down when you hear this, so you can fall off the sofa like me—that July and August are the only months the NHL does not play regular season or postseason games….
Anyway, the NHL regular season will open in London. That would be like “Othello” opening in Disneyland.
more (reg. req.)
From Pierre LeBrun, CP via Globe & Mail,
Bettman’s voice fills with emotion has he responds to criticism that the salary cap has risen too high at US$50.3 million and salaries are back to pre-lockout levels.
“I think the agreement has been misconstrued,” Bettman said. “People are saying there’s a $50-million cap and now we’re back to where we were and higher. That statement, when it’s made, indicates a fundamental lack of understanding of how the system works.”
To wit, Bettman points out that in the pre-lockout season of 2003-04, the top payroll was in the $80-million range with other teams in the 70s and 60s. More importantly, he adds, it’s the average payroll that really matters pertaining to dividing up the 55 per cent of the revenue pie to players.
more… (*wide-ranging interview on issues like television coverage, European markets, etc.)
from John Steigerwald at the Observer-Reporter,
At 1 p.m. New Year’s Day, given the choice, of watching two 7-5 teams playing each other in the Papajohns.com Bowl or watching an outdoor hockey game being played in front of 75,000 people in a football stadium, it’s a slam dunk - or maybe an empty netter. I’m watching hockey.
I don’t think there will be many people in Tuscaloosa, Ala., making that same choice, but those people wouldn’t watch the hockey game if it were played on their front porch.
from Scott M. Reid at the OC Register,
As the Ducks and Kings prepare to open the 2007-08 National Hockey League season Saturday in London, coaches, current and former players and doctors who treat them maintain the NHL’s failure to deter headshots and escalation in dangerous play in recent years has placed the league and its players on a potentially catastrophic course.
“Is it going to take a death to make the NHL see the problem?” said Dr. Charles Tator, a professor of neurosurgery at the University of Toronto, who has treated NHL players with concussions.
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
Now we head into the third post-lockout season, uncertain what the NHL will deliver other than a novelty outdoors game in Buffalo on Jan. 1 that it seems to believe will somehow sell the sport.
There’s a plethora of young, exciting sharpshooters around the league, but it’s unclear whether the game will be played and officiated in a manner that will allow them to flourish.
With fighting and defence on the rise, it appears more and more that the thrilling 2005-06 season was just a blip, a brief moment in the long history of the sport with the game played as one imagined it could be before they tightened the screws on it again.
from Kevin Paul Dupont of the Boston Globe,
Further proof of some forward thinking around the NHL emanated last week out of San Jose. Sharks boss Greg Jamison, approached over the summer about a venture in the Asian Ice Hockey League, agreed to back and engineer a plan to send five players and three coaches to join the China Sharks. Yes, that’s China, specifically Beijing, which is part of the six-team AIHL that includes four clubs in Japan and one in Korea.
According to Jamison, there were many good reasons to try to give the game a boost over there. Among them, he said, “Obviously, they have a few people living there.” Some 15 million (about half of Canada’s population) live in Beijing, which actually looks like a couple of pucks in the bottom of the bucket when compared with the country’s overall population of 1.3 billion-plus.
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.
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