Kukla's Korner Hockey
from Bob DiCesare of the Buffalo News,
The NHL has constantly grappled, and without much success, over how best to sell hockey in the United States. It emerged from the lockout of three seasons ago with a new set of rules and promises of strict enforcement. But enforcement waned and scoring diminished and the sport returned to the stranglehold of coaches with defensive bents, spoiling the game’s natural beauty and attraction.
The league needs to find ways to extract and emphasize the talents of its gifted players and capture the imaginations of its fans. The winning shootout goal scored by Crosby fit the script. But the 65 minutes of rag-tag hockey it took to reach that point did little to enhance the league’s allure.
added 8:10am, from The Good, The Bad and The Duthie,
Heck, NHL iceman Dan Craig got more face-time than Crosby.
At one point, he was out there so long, fixing that nasty hole, I thought he was just going to build a shack and drop a fishing line down.
They really should have mic’d him:
“Who’s M@*&!! F*$*#%!? idea was this?!?!?”
But while it must have been a nightmare for Craig and the ice crew (who, all things considered, did an amazing job), the spectacle was something to behold.
You can watch highlights of the game again or for the first time if you were busy watching football.
from David Shoalts of the Globe and Mail,
The delirious 71,217 fans at Ralph Wilson Stadium, almost all of whom stayed in their seats until the NHL’s brightest star, Sidney Crosby, scored the last goal of the shootout to give the Pittsburgh Penguins a 2-1 win, made it official - the league’s second outdoor game, dubbed the Winter Classic, was a roaring success.
There was snow, which ranged from light to heavy, but it was never heavy enough to present a serious problem. There were winds, but not as strong as the weather forecasters predicted. And the temperatures stayed around freezing, making conditions for the game between the Buffalo Sabres and the Penguins as close to perfect as possible for an outdoor game.
Update 8:16pm ET: From Scott Burnside at ESPN, grading the Winter Classic on the crowd, the weather, the warm ups, and so on.
Update 8:32pm ET: Adam Proteau at The Hockey News, pronounces the Winter Classic a success.
Update 10:33pm ET: The “Perfect Snowstorm” says the NY Times.
note: photo credit belongs to Photo by Dave Sandford/Getty Images
Comments, remarks, questions, or just want to talk about the game today between the Pittsburgh Penguins and Buffalo Sabres.
Enjoy the game and stay warm!
Sam Rosen and Bill Clement bring you the pre-game show from Buffalo. Show starts streaming at 11:00am ET.
update 11:29am, Show is over but the NHL may archive it just like they did the previous show, so you may want to check back later.
from the CP,
The Buffalo Sabres were halfway through their practice on the rink in Ralph Wilson Stadium on Monday afternoon when coach Lindy Ruff canned the monotonous drills and let his players play shinny.
“I wanted them to get back the feeling of playing pond hockey,” Ruff explained. “It felt like the right thing to do, and they had a great time.” Millionaire pros were acting like kids.
“That was awesome, it really was,” Ruff said of the unique outdoor experience. “It kind of gets you back to your roots.”
from Mark Madden at the Beaver County Times,
The Penguins are about $12 million under the cap. With new-arena revenue starting to accrue in 2010, there’s no reason the team can’t spend more to get the right player.
Who is that player? Tough call. Atlanta winger Marian Hossa, 28, has averaged 39 goals over his past five seasons. He’s an unrestricted free agent at season’s end, but will likely be traded before that. The Penguins shouldn’t get a rent-a-player. If you swap for Hossa, hammer out a new contract with him before making the deal.
San Jose is reportedly shopping winger Jonathan Cheechoo, 27. Cheechoo averaged 40 goals over the last three campaigns, including a league-best 56 in 2005-06. He has just four goals this season, but that might lessen what the Penguins would have to surrender. Cheechoo is signed through 2010-11, and makes a reasonable $3 million per.
Here’s something that would be fun to do: Washington mega-scorer Alexander Ovechkin, 22, is a restricted free agent at the end of the season. Offer Ovechkin what Crosby makes, then wait for the Capitals to match the offer. They would, but it would make for a marvelous week of dreaming.
via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
Veteran forward Gary Roberts left the game between the Penguins and Buffalo Sabres at Mellon Arena tonight after a collision with Buffalo forward Tim Connolly during the second period.
Roberts was diagnosed by team doctors with a broken left fibula, and it is unknown how much time he will miss. Roberts will be re-evaluated by team doctors in the coming days.
BUFFALO (Dec. 29, 2007) – To ify any advantages or adversities created by weather conditions at Ralph Wilson Stadium during Tuesday’s AMP Energy NHL Winter Classic, the Buffalo Sabres and Pittsburgh Penguins will switch ends halfway through the third period – ensuring each team would spend the equivalent number of minutes attacking or defending each goal, the National Hockey League announced today.
If necessary, a five-minute overtime period also would be divided in half, with the teams switching ends after 2:30 of play.
Should a shootout be needed, each goaltender would be given the option of determining which goal to defend. Thus it is possible that both teams would shoot at the same goal. Once a goaltender has chosen the goal he wants to defend, he must defend that goal for every round of the shootout.
The League also announced that length of intermissions between – and timeouts during – periods may be subject to modification depending on weather and ice conditions, as may be determined by the Game Officials and/or Commissioner Gary Bettman, in consultation with representatives of the National Hockey League Players’ Association.
from the Toronto Star,
The icemaker is worried. The trainers are worried. The equipment managers are worried.
This business of playing hockey outdoors in the cold piles worry on top of worry for the people behind the scenes, whose job it is to make Tuesday’s Buffalo-Pittsburgh game at Ralph Wilson Stadium seem seamlessly magical.
“You don’t know what’s going to happen,” said Chris Stewart, the Penguins’ head trainer.
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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