Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
Sixth Avenue wanted to create a system in which all 30 franchises would somehow have an equal chance at winning; er, at not losing in regulation. And so the bar has been lowered. Essentially everybody is in it, but at the cost of quality. The NHL is now about the pursuit of mediocrity, not excellence. Do you see who’s on defense for the division-leading Devils New Jersey Devils?
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
ATLANTA – There are some wrinkles that need to be worked out for the NHL’s skills competition.
The event was revamped for this year’s all-star game, which led to some confusion for the spectators and media. At first, no one was sure if the contest started and then it was a little difficult sorting out who was winning in the fastest-skater event.
A new addition was the obstacle course, where players from each team tried to score on a tiny net after shooting the puck over a ramp, hit a target in the net from the blueline and then the goaltenders had to try and score on the net at the opposite end of the ice.
This one needs work. The most interesting part was watching the goalies try and score. Yep, as exciting as it sounds.
Bottom line: hockey needs a transcendent African-American star, a Tiger Woods, to market the game to a black audience. “If you had somebody of that caliber who was African-American, then, yeah, I think that would break the barrier,” says James Jemison, a black hockey fan from Atlanta. Iginla is great, but as a Canadian who grew up in hockey-mad Alberta, his backstory isn’t that surprising.
How long might we have to wait for such a player? “I’d say 10-15 years,” says veteran San Jose Sharks forward Mike Grier, an African-American from the Boston area.
from the LA Times,
Scott Gomez of the Rangers and the East All-Stars acknowledged the appeal of international play but wondered if the NHL should solve problems at home before venturing to Europe.
“There are some cities that maybe we can do more as a league,” he said. “I think the main thing about the league is that the product on the ice is just outstanding. The speed is at a new level. It doesn’t do justice on TV. That’s the first thing we have to do, get the game better on TV.”
Bettman seemed to diminish speculation the NHL might return to ESPN in even a limited presence. He said the league has a “cordial and cooperative relationship” with ESPN, which ended their association by declining an option for 2005-06. He added, “We talk about things all the time but nothing more specific than that.”
read on (reg. req.)... Some of the topics have been covered today, but I thought pointing out the ESPN situation was important.
from Ken Campbell of the Hockey News,
The NHL and the European federations – minus the Russians – came to a one-year deal earlier this month that would have seen more players going back to their European teams instead of going to the minors. But after some surprising opposition from GMs around the league and the Swedish decision to pull out, the agreement now would appear to be in serious jeopardy.
The major issue, Loob said, is a provision in the new collective bargaining agreement that forces teams to sign European players within two years of drafting them, which brings them in line with major junior players. Prior to that, teams held the rights or European players in perpetuity after drafting them.
With All-Star weekend upon us, we here at hockeyfights.com thought it would be pretty sweet if we took a glance at some of the notable scraps this seasons’s participants have been in. We know that not every All-Star has been in a fight over the course of their career so we’ve done our homework and singled out the players that have received a fighting major.
Today we take a look at some of those representing the Western Conference. Each player is listed in alphabetical order.
check it out… with links to video of their All Star Scraps. The Eastern Conference will be posted Sunday.
From David Shoalts in the Globe & Mail blog,
“The game itself is the most fun,” he said on Friday. “Skills competition, I can’t say that I enjoy too much because I’m not really good at anything. The game is the most fun.”
Even more fun, Alfredsson said on Saturday, is just being at the game.
“It’s an ego trip, to be honest” he said. “Everyone tells you how great you are.”
more… on the skills event and thoughts on showboating.
note: a reminder that Steve will be hosting a LiveChat when the skills competition starts.
from Darren Dreger at TSN,
The NHL put the cart before the horse.
That’s how NHLPA Executive Director Paul Kelly responded mere minutes after the National Hockey League announced the Ottawa Senators, Pittsburgh Penguins, Tampa Bay Lightning and New York Rangers will open the 2008 regular season in Prague and Stockholm.
The Players Association hasn’t approved the agreement and Kelly was surprised by the announcement the New York Rangers will also participate in the Victoria Cup. Although unlikely, Kelly says the players may not agree to play, “There is a chance we wouldn’t consent,” Kelly added….
“If they want us to be a true business partner, then they need to include us from the beginning,” Kelly concluded.
Gary Bettman during his press conference from Atlanta said the BOG talked in general terms on the 84 game schedule, but it is way to pre-mature to vote on it. Many issues still need to be discussed and/or resolved.
Update 2:14pm ET—
More from the press conference, from the Vancouver Sun:
“It’s not ready for prime-time consideration,” he said. “Whether or not it works, it’s way too early to say. We have lots of issues to talk about.”
Despite the ratings success of this season’s Winter Classic game outdoors between the Buffalo Sabres and Pittsburgh Penguins - it was the most-watched hockey game in the United States this decade - Bettman said there are no immediate plans for a sequel.
“My anticipation is we’ll do another one, but I can’t tell you where or when,” he said. “I can assure you we will not do too many; we want to keep it special.”
from Brad Holland of NHL.com,
Standing out there on the blue line with the rest of my fellow All-Stars, Dion Phaneuf, Alex Ovechkin and Marion Gaborik, I finally realized that I had made it. I had paid my dues, and earned my reward, and it felt good.
That’s right. Brad Holland, an All-Star for a day.
Let me explain.
Thursday evening, I was part of a crew that put on a mock-up of the NHL Dodge SuperSkills competition.
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