Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Richard Sandomir and Ken Belson of the NY Times,
The N.H.L.’s Winter Classic, which began with snow-globe quaintness on New Year’s Day in 2008 in the home stadium of the Buffalo Bills, has turned into a profit center for a league that strives to be different.
The third Classic, between the Boston Bruins and the Philadelphia Flyers on Friday afternoon, is expected to generate $8 million in ticket sales at Fenway Park and $3 million in ad revenue at NBC, triple the total of two years ago.
Thanks largely to the midseason game, the league says that its sponsorship sales are growing at a 66 percent annual pace and its merchandise revenue, led by the throwback jerseys inspired by the first classic, is soaring.
from Ian MacIntyre of the Vancouver Sun,
“I went to put pressure on it to skate back to the net and my ankle kind of gave out,” Bieksa said. “I thought maybe my skate blade was broken, but I kind of figured it out from there. It’s not my Achilles at all.”
Bieksa said he didn’t want to discuss any details about the injury until he knows more. But he leaned heavily on a crutch as he left the dressing room and will be going back to Vancouver today. The injury will probably be measured in weeks, possibly many of them, not days.
Asked the extent of it, coach Alain Vigneault said: “We’re not quite sure yet. He got a skate cut and we’re not sure of the severity of it, so we’ll know tomorrow after a MRI.”
from Erik Erlendsson of Bolts Report,
Lecavalier and long-time girlfriend Caroline Portelance are expecting the couple’s first child in May. It’s something Lecavalier will discuss when the time is right, but that time is not right now.
So, the focus of what is in the paper is Lecavalier’s play of late, which has been on the rise since a a two-month long slump. And it’s not just the three goals and eight assists in the past seven games. It’s been the whole package, driving the net, being physical, playing good defense, backchecking, winning faceoffs.
from Cassie Campbell of CBC,
Mike Babcock has to be a candidate for coach of the year!
I know his team, the Detroit Red Wings, is full of talent and is expected to be vying for a Stanley Cup every year, but right now they’re in ninth spot, out of the playoffs in the Western Conference. The Wings are a team that has both the Chicago Blackhawks and the San Jose Sharks thinking, ‘Please get a lot better and move way up the standings or please get a lot worse and move way down the standings - just as long as we don’t have to face them in the first round!’
If the Wings make the playoffs this year, Mike Babcock and his staff will have done one heck of a job. I mean, the injuries alone would probably decimate any other team, but he has found a way to keep his team competing while dealing with 180-plus man games lost.
from Adrian Dater of the Denver Post,
Since it’s nearly the end of the year and no newspaper columnist can ever resist the lure of an easy “A look back” or “A look ahead” column, here’s my New Year’s wishes for various people, places and things of the NHL:
To commissioner Gary Bettman: May you be granted a single one-minute uninterrupted stretch of nobody booing you when you grab a microphone at an NHL arena.
To Peter Forsberg: May your one last uninjured body part stay that way.
To hockey rumor blogs: May you increase the accuracy rate of your trade rumors from the current 1/2 percent to 1 percent.
“I’m trying personally to eliminate pre-game skates,. For lack of a better word, they are retarded. They are from the dark ages. Physiologists will tell you, you can’t get that energy back if you waste it in a pre-game skate.”
-Leafs coach Ron Wilson. More on this topic from Rob Longley of the Toronto Sun.
GLENDALE, ARIZONA—- The Phoenix Coyotes defeated the Vancouver Canucks at Jobing.com Arena tonight 3-2 in a shootout to win their 10th consecutive home game. With 10 straight home wins, the Coyotes have set a new franchise record for longest home winning streak.
The previous record for longest home winning streak in Coyotes/Winnipeg Jets franchise history was nine games, accomplished during the 1992-93 season by the Winnipeg Jets (the franchise relocated to Phoenix prior to the 1996-97 season.). The Jets won nine consecutive home games from Dec. 27, 1992 to Jan. 23, 1993.
The current 10-game home winning streak began with a 3-1 home victory over the Philadelphia Flyers on Nov. 21. With tonight’s win, the Coyotes moved to 16-5-0 through 21 home games this season at Jobing.com Arena.
from Mike Ulmer of TorontoMapleLeafs.com,
Imagine you are Ron Wilson. Your team is three points out of the playoffs after being left for dead. You want to develop Gustavsson at the right pace. His talent, and his shortcomings, jump out. But do you ride Toskala in consecutive days, easing the load on your rookie while pinning your playoff chances on a veteran often trying to rebound from ineffective play and injuries?
Or do you throw Gustavsson in and hope he negotiates the dangerous ground between becoming less active and more poised?
In professional sports, fairness isn’t a frequently used word. Maybe that’s because no matter what you do, it seems impossible to reckon who you are being fair to.
from Pierre LeBrun or ESPN,
Murray and Alfredsson have a tremendous relationship and will need to draw on that in four to six weeks when the veteran star winger is scheduled to return from a shoulder injury. If it’s six weeks, it will be right on the eve of the Olympic Games, and that makes the Sens nervous.
“That’s the whole thing, it’s right on the bubble,” Murray told ESPN.com from the world junior championships in Saskatchewan.
So Murray and Alfredsson had a chat a few days ago to make sure everybody is on the same wavelength.
“You know full well that we’re not going to hold Alfredsson back if he is healthy and ready to go. That’s not our intent,” Murray said. “In talking to Alfie, I just wanted to make sure that he’s back playing and somewhat healthy before he makes a commitment to go to there and have any further possible aggravation or whatever it may be. He’s a very caring guy. He’s a great team guy. He wouldn’t do it to jeopardize anything with our franchise, I know that. But he does want to play in the Olympics. He cares greatly, and he knows it’s probably his last kick at it.”
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