Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Melissa of the Las Vegas Sun,
While the Palms is setting the stage and rolling out the red carpet for Thursday’s NHL Awards, Caesars Palace is rolling out the rink.
The casino has created a skating rink in advance of the annual awards, which are visiting Vegas for the first time this year.
The league has committed to handing out hockey’s highest honors here in Las Vegas for the next three years. What’s more, the NHL Players Association is also holding their annual meetings here this week.
In response, the city and some of its major casino operators are rolling out the welcome mat for the league’s players, managers and fans.
At Caesars Palace, however, the so-called welcome mat is actually a giant skating rink.
OK, technically it’s a synthetic ice surface built with sheets of special plastic, but it skates the same as the real stuff and won’t melt under the desert sun.
Temperatures are, after all, expected to hit the mid-80s today.
Washington Capitals star Alex Ovechkin will lace ‘em up and go for a skate tonight as part of the demonstration outside the casino’s main entrance.
Vancouver Canucks center Ryan Kesler will also take part.
from Cam Cole of the Vancouver Sun,
NHL Players Association head Paul Kelly says the fight to eliminate blows to the head isn’t over, just because NHL general managers expressed “no appetite” to change the rules when they met Tuesday prior to Game 3 of the Stanley Cup final.
“I respect the general managers’ views, but that’s not the end of the dialogue,” Kelly told reporters. “This issue will come up again in the competition committee meeting.
“The rule that our players have proposed … No. 1, it has to be a player who’s in a vulnerable position. No. 2, in the judgment of the official, the attacking player has to target the head of that vulnerable player, and No. 3, he has to make contact with that head with any part of his body, including the shoulder. So there’s elements of intent, targeting and vulnerability.
from Steve Milton of the Hamilton Spectator,
The leader of the National Hockey League Players’ Association may not overtly support a league franchise in Hamilton, but he’s very blunt about what should happen to the one in Phoenix.
“From a players’ perspective, it’s time to pull the plug,” NHLPA executive-director Paul Kelly told The Spectator last night.
Kelly says that NHL owners should not only be doubting that the Coyotes should remain in Phoenix, but that those doubts should have arisen long before now.
Earlier in the day, speaking on Toronto radio station The Fan, Kelly wondered: “How much money must (a franchise) lose before someone says “perhaps they ought not to be there?”
from Liz Mullen of SportsBusiness Journal,
NHL Players’ Association Executive Director Paul Kelly is calling for league TV partners Versus and NBC to do more to promote the NHL and NHL players, citing players’ growing frustration over hockey coverage.
“We have to push our two partners to do a better job of covering our sport … or we have to go in a different direction when that contract comes to an end,” Kelly told the Sports Lawyers Association on May 16. Kelly has called in the past for the NHL to return to ESPN.
Kelly said the fact that people in the U.S. could not watch most of the Boston-Carolina playoff Game 7 earlier this month because Versus was airing Anaheim-Detroit Game 7 “is a source of great frustration” to NHL players as well as the union.
continued & thanks to SBJ for releasing the normally paid subscription link…
from Dave Feschuk of the Toronto Star,
When the Red Wings, Canucks and Bruins swept first-round playoff series, their fans were presumably thrilled. Paul Kelly, the executive director of the NHL players’ union, was not.
“We were a little bit troubled to see three sweeps,” Kelly told the FAN 590 last week. “From our standpoint, from a business perspective ... we like to see six- and seven-game series.”
These ears, and call them overly sensitive, were troubled to hear one of the game’s most influential power brokers advertising his wish for longer post-season series. Yet there was Kelly in Washington last Monday, before Game 2 of the second-round beauty between the Capitals and Penguins, making no bones about his wish to see the Penguins tie the series 1-1, no matter what his cheerleading might suggest.
“If the suggestion is somehow you’re telling players to blow games to extend series, number one we would never say that, we’re not saying that, and even if we did say that, players would ignore us. I mean, these guys are out to win,” Kelly said the other day. “I’m stating the obvious, which is, when we have large-market clubs in the playoffs and we have six- and seven-game series, it generates more revenue for us and particularly in a year like this one, that’s a good thing. I don’t think there’s anything controversial about it.”
continued with a ‘conspirecy theory’...
from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,
Based on what has happened with Phoenix, the NHL should have learned three key lessons:
1. There is no benefit to be derived by intentionally shielding public eyes from the economic troubles of individual teams.
Bettman and his lieutenants are by nature either secretive or very protective. But it eats at the credibility of NHL leadership when, after months of blunt denials, the Coyotes prove to be swimming in precisely the overflowing pool of red ink that many reports suggested….
2. Treating the players’ union as a minor irritant rather than a true partner isn’t a productive strategy.
NHLPA head Paul Kelly can deny it all he wants, but the union knew what Balsillie was up to and was supportive. The last straw for Kelly was probably going to the GMs meetings in Naples, Fla., in March and having his presentation summarily dismissed.
“I think anytime you have someone who is a passionate hockey guy who loves the sport and plays the sport, who is a true fan of the sport, as an owner, is a great thing. If it happens that that person has deep pockets, that would be a better thing. Jim obviously has all of those attributes.
“I sensed his passion for the game [in conversations with Balsillie] and I do think it would be somebody worth considering. But there is a lot of politics and history here [between Balsillie and the NHL] that I am not in a position to comment on.”
-Paul Kelly, Director of the NHLPA on Jim Balsillie. More from Kelly from Alam Adams of CBC.
from Tim Wharnsby of the Globe and Mail,
With a handful of Sun Belt teams struggling to sell hockey, NHLPA director of player affairs Glenn Healy believes the timing could not be better for the NHL to seriously look at transferring a second team to the Toronto area.
He also stated that, in addition to Canadian billionaire Jim Balsillie and a group that wants to bring a team to Vaughn, Ont., there are at least two other factions interested in landing another NHL team for Southwestern Ontario.
“They have been trying to fit a square peg into a round hole for a lot of years,” Healy said yesterday, in reference to the failure of the Sun Belt teams in the NHL. “They have tried everything in the world to sell the game, market the game, put fans in the seats and it doesn’t work for a lot of reasons.
“You can go down a laundry list of why it hasn’t worked — it doesn’t have the corporate backing, management has been ineffective in putting a winning team on the ice, and so on.”
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
A gap in the NHL’s drug-testing policy may not be closed because the league and the National Hockey League Players’ Association cannot agree on how to deal with it.
According to the league’s policy on performance-enhancing drugs, players are not tested during the playoffs and the off-season, which leaves five months — April through August — during which the players do not have to worry about passing a drug test. The league says it is in favour of year-round testing, but the union has reservations due to privacy concerns.
from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,
• Speaking of making sense, there is nothing more absurd in sports than the NHL’s revenue-sharing system, under which the Maple Leafs, the league’s wealthiest and most profitable franchise, get a rebate check worth between $4-4.5 million because the rest of the teams’ combined payrolls created an excess of escrow money.
The Maple Leafs did not come close to spending at the $56.7M cap, coming in at an approximate $49M. They invested, what, maybe 40 percent of their hockey-related revenue on payroll, yet they will get a refund because other teams invested up to 65 percent of their income on players?
That would be tantamount to the Yankees getting revenue-share money from MLB because the Royals, Pirates, Marlins and Rockies went on a spending spree.
• Understand this: The NHLPA will decide whether the cap remains flat, goes down slightly or increases again through its decision on whether to trigger the automatic 5-percent bump. The decision will be made by a vote of the 30 player reps, presumably at the conclusion of the playoffs.
more NHL talk…
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.
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