Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
For the third time in 14 years, the final stage of the Tour de Stanley Cup brings us back to the sprawling streets of California.
What seemed a madcap notion back in 1967, when the NHL guessed two California franchises might work as part of a doubling of the old six-team league, has survived through four decades of tumultuous change for both the league and the state.
Today, there are more teams in the most populous U.S. state than in Ontario, and in comparison to the other major professional team sports, the NHL hasn’t done half-bad.
from the Dallas Morning News,
Walkom is well-respected and well-liked by his colleagues, and he has indeed run a tight ship. He has consistently rewarded officials who call the most penalties, and he has supported them steadfastly when they’ve made tough calls near the end of games or in overtime. His decision to sit veteran Kerry Fraser for the playoffs this season sent a clear message.
The problem is that many of these referees have taken the message to mean that every call is a good call, and that’s just not true.
Larry Brooks of the NY Post does a great job with a Brian Leetch column and then submits this…
Let the debates begin. Slap Shots’ post-Bobby Orr first-and-second All-Star defense squads. First team: Larry Robinson, Chelios, Denis Potvin, Ray Bourque, Stevens, Paul Coffey. Second Team: Leetch, Niedermayer, Brad Park, Al MacInnis, Nicklas Lidstrom, Mark Howe.
from the New York Times,
While clean and skillful play has become the prevailing style among most of the N.H.L.’s best teams, the Ducks, who will start the Stanley Cup finals against Ottawa tomorrow night, earned more penalty minutes (1,457) and engaged in far more fights (71) than any other club this season. And if the opinions available on fan-generated Web sites and blogs are any indication, Anaheim has become the team fans love to hate.
The Ducks have not toned down their act, and have been responsible for some of the postseason’s most unpleasant incidents. There have been 13 fights in the first three playoff rounds, and Anaheim has been involved in four.
more on the NHL and the NYT needs to take a better look at the UFAs they have mentioned…
from Mark Sutcliffe of the Ottawa Citizen,
This week’s events should cause the NHL to take stock and review its long-term goals. Evidence is mounting that the dream of a lucrative U.S. TV contract will never be realized. The league should abandon its singular focus on that unachievable goal and reposition itself in pursuit of a better opportunity: To thrive in markets where there is demand for hockey.
Hockey will never be a national game in the United States. There are too many regions where hockey ranks behind not just the big three American sports, but a dozen others as well. But that doesn’t mean the NHL doesn’t have an opportunity to grow.
from Phil Coffey of NHL.com,
As sure as the sun rises in the East and sets in the West, you’re going to hear a tale of woe about the 2007 Stanley Cup Final because “big market” teams aren’t competing.
Hockey fans will be watching and we’re going to see some of the NHL’s best players vying for the Cup. The excellence of competition goes well beyond the name of the city a team calls home. It’s too bad that elementary lesson is lost so quickly.
from the Star-Ledger,
Tocchet, who took a leave of absence from his job as associate coach of the Phoenix Coyotes after the State Police busted the ring in February 2006, is expected to plead guilty to third-degree conspiracy and third-degree promoting gambling, according to two people with knowledge of the case. The presumption in third-degree crimes is no prison time for first offenders.
update 11:41am, from the CP and TSN via TSN,
Former NHL star Rick Tocchet has pleaded guilty to running a sports gambling ring.
from Greg Johnson of the LA Times,
The Stanley Cup finals are approaching and hockey couldn’t be in better shape.
A late-season NHL television broadcast drew almost 10% of the country’s residents, no matter that neither team was playoff-bound. First-round playoff TV ratings dipped but rebounded nicely for subsequent rounds. And Sidney Crosby, who’s been touted by the nation’s media since he was a boy, was named NHL rookie of the year.
Wait a minute, that’s the hockey story in Canada….
South of the border, where 24 of 30 NHL teams are based, hockey remains mired in problems.
read on (reg. req.)
from Al Strachan at Fox Sports,
This is a league that does not share its attendance revenues. So a Canadian team might draw well at home, but an American owner couldn’t care less. He’s not going to see any of it. What he does know is that Canadian teams are traditionaly the NHL’s worst road draws. An owner in a major American city doesn’t want to try to sell tickets for games against teams from places like Winnipeg, Quebec and Waterloo — or even Calgary and Edmonton for that matter. He wants visits from New York, Boston, Los Angeles and so on.
Now, once Balsillie purchases the Predators, the battle will be on. He will want to move that team out of Nashville and into Canada. Perhaps, down the road, some other entrepeneur will try to follow a similar pattern with the Atlanta Thrashers or the Florida Panthers, and some of the other cities that Bettman brought into the NHL.
And while Canada is a nice place, it’s not the place to be if you’re trying to establish your sports league as a major league in the United States.
This is what Bettman has wrought.
Mike Stone of WDFN in Detroit wants the Predators to move to Windsor!
Mike thinks it would be cool and can just imagine the rivalry that would be created.
What do you think? Be kind to Stoney, a good guy and the best radio sports guy in Detroit.
Wojo, his sidekick says the only way for this to happen is to call the team the Windsor Ballets (Detroit area residents can explain if it comes up).
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 email@example.com