Kukla's Korner Hockey
From the hockey bloggers of The New York Times,
Despite the five-day wait for them to start, this year’s Stanley Cup finals have fans more excited than they have been in a long time: a dream matchup between two electrifying, star-studded teams from cities steeped in hockey culture.
No matter what happens, the Detroit-Pittsburgh Cup series stands as perhaps the biggest success for the N.H.L. in a season with many positive developments.
Below, the writers and editors of The Times’s Slap Shot blog look back at 10 key issues, good and bad, that defined the 2007-8 hockey season:
from Paul Hunter of the Toronto Star,
Of the NHL’s 52 top all-time, regular-season point producers, 17 have never sipped champagne from Lord Stanley’s mug. More than 40 of the players inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame – including the likes of Mike Gartner, Darryl Sittler, Brad Park, Rod Gilbert and Pat LaFontaine – are not on the game’s most famous trophy.
They could skate rings around lesser players but have no rings to prove it.
Ullman made it to five Stanley Cup finals but never won. It was his team that was at the wrong end of Bobby Baun’s famous overtime goal on a broken ankle, his Red Wings were just a foil in some of hockey’s greatest lore.
From Page 2 at ESPN,
1. Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin: The most exciting tandem since Gretzky and Messier, these franchise cornerstones are a combined 41 years old, which is still five years younger than …
2. Chris Chelios: A first-ballot lock for the Badass Hall of Fame, he’s one of the fittest athletes you’ll see in any sport. He might be the only one to have actually threatened his commissioner with physical violence.
3. Not one word about Spygate.
4. Not one word about Roger Clemens.
From Ken Campbell at The Hockey News,
If the player who is under contract decides he simply doesn’t feel like playing – the way Niedermayer did last fall – he can simply kick up his heels and sit out for as long as he wants. The team has no recourse except to suspend the player. But here’s where it gets really silly.
The moment the player decides he wants to come back and play, the team must lift the suspension, reactivate him and start paying him according to the terms of his contract – as long as he decides to return before the trade deadline when rosters must be set.
It’s another classic example of how the players, who were supposedly clobbered in the last round of CBA negotiations, continue to hold an inordinate amount of power. After holding a team to a commitment by signing a contract, the player then decides if and when he wants to come back.
From Matthew Futterman at the Wall Street Journal,
For National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman, rock bottom arrived long before he watched three of his teams go bankrupt and canceled the 2004-2005 season.
It came in 1999, when Mr. Bettman looked at his major moves during his first seven years heading the NHL and saw that they were going to wreck professional hockey in North America. For one thing, the gap was widening between rich and poor teams, especially those in smaller Canadian cities and in the Southern and Western U.S., where Mr. Bettman had pushed the league to expand. Salary growth was also out of control. Worst of all, a once lightning-fast game was slowly turning into a boring grind.
“I watch the game—70, 80 games a year,” Mr. Bettman, now in his 16th year heading the league, said last week. “You could see what was happening.”
continued… a very in-depth article on the mistakes and accomplishments of the NHL over recent years
Update 4:45pm ET: From CBC’s Playoff Blog, an article arguing that the darkest days of the NHL have since passed.
From Ryan Kennedy at The Hockey News,
Now, I know the anti-fun militia won’t like this, but let’s take a cue from the most successful sport in North America – NFL football – and schedule some sort of pre-final Stanley Cup extravaganza. In the days leading up to the Super Bowl, you can’t turn around without hearing about some sort of event hyping up what usually turns out to be a mediocre game (and in Canada, we don’t even get to see the good commercials).
Let’s have a fanfest. Bands will play, the Cup will be there, Mark Messier will sign autographs and give out bags of potato chips – it’ll be fun. This year, an event in Detroit could have featured Kid Rock and Bob Probert. Pittsburgh could counter with Mario Lemieux and a reunion of his buddies from the 1991 and ’92 Cup teams. Bring the kids, we’ll party until at least 9:30.
Note: Perhaps an octopus-taste-test in Detroit counts as a fanfest?
Fish markets in Pittsburgh won’t be selling octopus to just anyone. If your driver’s license reads “Michigan” you’ll have to import your 8-legged splatter bombs from out-of-state. [ESPN]
Sabres coach Lindy Ruff is currently working as a golf caddy this summer. Says PGA golfer and friend Dudley Hart, “He’s trying to stay out of the way.” [Dallas Morning News]
Forget the SCF games… the important question is: Which city has the better arena? Distinguising Mellon Arena and The Joe. (I’ve been told one smells better, but that issue is tastefully not discussed…) [Puck Daddy]
Anaheim Ducks’ Todd Marchant will be appearing as a panelist on the website SheKnows.com, as one member representing the New Faces of Fatherhood. Todd will be sharing his thoughts on topics of parenthood, sex education and more. [press release]
Some NHLers have hot wives. (Who knew?) [Waiting for Stanley]
The Crazy Canucks podcasters talked hockey in a panel discussion in Vancouver a few months ago. (Nothing that fascinating, but yes, that’s me making an ass of myself in public, alongside my much-smarter cohorts.). [YouTube]
From Chuck Gormley at The Sporting News,
But for all of the players who have had their names inscribed on the Cup, an equal number have fallen just short in their quest for Lord Stanley’s coveted mug. So what separates the winners from the losers? What makes the 34 1/2-pound silver chalice so difficult to attain?
For answers, we sought out current and former players who have reached the finals.
continued with memories and opinions from the likes of Mike Knuble, Georges Laraque, Bobby Clarke and others
From Puck Daddy at Yahoo! Sports…
The abridged review of the NHL Powered by Reebok Featuring XM with Special Appearance by Starbucks Store: Cool gear, awesome customer service, but I was promised an ice wall “which serves as a backdrop to feature merchandise as well as the Stanley Cup at select times throughout the year,” and I did not get to see an ice wall “which serves as a backdrop to feature merchandise as well as the Stanley Cup at select times throughout the year.”
But Puck Daddy has fun nonetheless, reviewing the NHL store, accompanied by photos. (Including an ever-so-slightly disturbing image of my fine friend copping a feel off a female mannequin wearing a Blues t-shirt…)
Retired NHLer David Littman tells some tales from his life in hockey, today at The Hockey News:
People may not believe this, but playing in the minors is just as much fun as playing in the NHL. The only difference is there are fewer zeros on your paycheck. Things happen in the minors that would never happen in the NHL.
I was playing for the Atlanta Knights in the IHL, the farm team for the Tampa Bay Lightning, and we were playing the Salt Lake Golden Eagles, Calgary’s farm team.
In the first period, there was a fight in front of my net and I jumped in to help a teammate. I looked up and Andre Trefilov, the opposing goalie, was coming at me full steam. We fought for a bit, got game misconducts and were kicked out of the game.
By the second period, we were both up in the stands sitting with our respective scratched teammates drinking beers. By the third period, we’d all had a few drinks when the Salt Lake backup goalie was hit and went down hard.
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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