Kukla's Korner Hockey
from the Vancouver Province,
With poker getting high ratings and with the success of all the collegiate sports ESPN has dipped into since dropping hockey, the league would have to beg the network to take the game back. Even then there’s not much likelihood given NBC’s staggeringly poor ratings.
It’s a shame, because at times this spring, the entertainment level during playoffs was high, much better than during the regular season. The pace was sometimes electric and the hitting often spectacular, with the better officials working and some intensity blossoming.
from Bucky Gleason of the Buffalo News,
The commissioner has plenty of work ahead in legitimizing a league that for years was perceived as irrelevant. Hockey’s television ratings, laughable at their height, were down 20 percent in the United States and 18 percent in Canada from last year for the Stanley Cup between the Ducks and the Ottawa Senators.
Bettman spent years trying to sell people on the strength of the league when anybody paying attention knew otherwise. But the opposite is true in this case. The NHL isn’t nearly as weak as TV ratings would suggest. The salary cap is expected to increase again next season, a sign the league has a strong revenue stream.
Take a closer look, and you’ll see Bettman’s vision from the mid-1990s slowly taking form.
from Larry Brooks at the NY Post,
As an over-35-year-old signing a one-year contract, Brendan Shanahan would be eligible to receive signing, games-played and performance bonuses that would allow the Rangers to exceed the cap by 7.5 percent or alternately be applied against the 2008-09 cap if they didn’t have that space. Thus, Shanahan, who played for $4 million last season, could sign a deal for a cap-applied base of $2 million with readily attainable bonuses to allow him to earn another $2 million without jeopardizing the Blueshirts’ position.
Folks around the league who presume Chris Drury will leave Buffalo to play in either L.A. or Colorado are overlooking the Big Moment Kid’s lifelong desire to play the Big Stage on Broadway, and the reciprocal interest the Rangers’ organization has in him.
more from Brooks, including the cap will now be around $48.5M…
from Jim Kelley at Sportsnet,
But today’s NHL is not as simple as the follow-the-leader days of yore.
In today’s NHL, success is often dictated by what the rules are, how long they will be enforced, what the competition committee decides every offseason and what Senior Vice President and Director of Hockey Operations Colin Campbell determines he likes or wants to see in the game.
Never was that more evident than when midway through the regular season the kind of hockey that made fast skating, good puck handling teams gave way to the bigger, badder teams that played a more physical game; and adopted a more punishing approach to attacking the net.
It’s a part of the reason the two best teams in the regular season—Buffalo and Detroit—didn’t make it to the finals. It’s a part of the reason the Ducks beat the Ottawa Senators with ease.
from Terry Frei at ESPN,
But the Southern California media—perhaps self-conscious of all the prattle they are hearing from outsiders and feeling too insecure to question or challenge it, and even buying into it to try to justify decisions that give the Clippers more staffing on the road than the Kings or the Ducks—aren’t into challenging the urban myths.
The Ducks now have had 34 straight sellouts. A bandwagon? Of course it is. But that’s also a lot more consecutive sellouts than Detroit (factoring in the playoffs), Dallas and Colorado have had.
The Kings did some major league papering of the house last season, but come on, their official average of 16,859 was still over 90 percent of capacity, so it’s absurd to portray them as a colossal box-office failure, especially since they were the second-worst team in the Western Conference.
from Dan Wetzel at Yahoo Sports,
Look, if the league wants to further strangle itself with expansion, why not Chicago? It hasn’t had a team since Bill Wirtz disbanded the Blackhawks in the mid-1990s.
Only the NHL could even dream this stuff up. The league needs to contract, not expand. It needs to improve the product, not disperse the talent, dilute rivalries and provide another slap at the game’s tradition.
No offense to Vegas and KC, but we’ve seen this act before. The few million in expansion fees isn’t worth adding a couple more cities that aren’t all that interested in hockey, save the core of 10-15,000 fans who will still be paying attention once the novelty wears off.
As for Commissioner Gary Bettman, well, he hasn’t overseen many good ideas in his first 15 years on the job. At this point our only hope is that his various disasters in leadership were part of a secret 16-year plan and good things are about to happen.
from Kevin Shea at the Hockey Hall of Fame,
The Stanley Cup remained on the ice surface at the Honda Center for almost two hours after the final buzzer sounded. Families and friends of the victors got photographs with the prized trophy. Once all were done, Chris Pronger carried the Cup into the dressing room, which was already in full celebration mode, jammed to the rafters with players and team officials, along with their families, friends, media and other invited guests. A limited edition champagne was equally consumed and sprayed around the room. Scott Niedermayer was there with his wife and children, brother Rob with his fiancée and their proud mother enjoying every moment along with her sons. Teemu Selanne huddled with friends from Finland who had arrived to witness the Stanley Cup Final.
from Al Strachan of Fox Sports,
So now, the next question is this: What impact will the Anaheim triumph have on the National Hockey League?
For starters, because success breeds imitation, the general managers will look at the Ducks’ success and ask if it was a fluke.
They will come to the conclusion that for the most part, it wasn’t. Granted, this should be the first time in history that a referee’s name is engraved on the Stanley Cup because without Don Koharksi’s outrageous interference call on Pavel Datsyuk late in Game 5 of the Detroit series, the Ducks might well have been on the golf course during the finals. But be that as it may, the fact remains that once the Stanley Cup final got under way, the Ducks were by far the better team.
The GMs will ask themselves why that was the case and decide that for all the NHL’s talk about giving the game back to the little man, size is still a crucial factor.
from Pierre Lebrun of the CP via Yahoo,
It’s debatable what kind of impact their Cup win will have on hockey. The NHL is a copycat league and if other clubs try to mimic Anaheim’s defence-first, hard-hitting style, the new NHL won’t quite be what it had hoped coming out of the lockout.
That’s not a shot at the Ducks, who were well-built and whose determination and work ethic was unmatched this season. They deserved the Cup. But from a fan’s perspective, the prospect of other teams adopting the defence-first philosophy won’t be terribly exciting.
The kind of hockey that Buffalo, Ottawa and Pittsburgh play in the Eastern Conference is what the league was hoping to see coming out of the lockout, a breathless offensive-minded style.
more on the Ducks…
Spector has some UFA talk up today and I will be relaxing just a bit.
We have the NHL Awards Show coming up next week, the NHL Draft and the craziness that is the UFA signing period which begins on July 1st.
KK will also be undergoing a major facelift and a few other surprises too.
Kick back a relax a bit today… I will have the results of the KK Stanley Cup Challenge up sometime in the next few days. It will take some work to tabulate the TOI (time-on-ice) and match them up to all the predictions.
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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