Kukla's Korner Hockey
From Bob DiCesare at the Buffalo News,
The Buffalo Sabres recently were honored as the NHL’s “Professional Sports Team of the Year” in Sports Business Journal’s annual awards. They were cited for increasing their season ticket base from about 5,800 to 14,800 since the lockout, with a waiting list of 6,000. They were hailed for maintaining reasonable ticket costs, instituting variable single-game pricing and enhancing the attractiveness of their product to sponsors.
Who can quibble with any of those distinctions? Outside of some dubious hockey personnel decisions, the franchise has done right by its fans and given Sabres hockey a local presence unequaled since the team’s nascent years. The recognition is well-deserved.
My gripe is with a stand-alone quote that appears with the SBJ story. Under the headline, “What People Are Saying,” comes this bold-typed snippet from John Cimperman of Cenergy Communications: “The fact that they have turned Buffalo from a football town into a hockey town is well recognized.”
From Ben Leeson at The Sault Star,
Soo Greyhounds coach Craig Hartsburg will be introduced Friday as the head coach of the Ottawa Senators, well-placed and reliable sources have told The Sault Star.
The 48-year-old Hartsburg flew to Ottawa Thursday to meet with Senators owner Eugene Melnyk and will be introduced to the media as the team’s next head coach as early as this morning.
A report Wednesday by the Ottawa Sun had Kitchener Rangers bench boss Peter DeBoer getting the job in Ottawa but that report now appears to have been premature.
“They (media) overreacted yesterday,” a source told The Star. “Everybody assumed that because he (DeBoer) went down there, it was a done deal.”
When reached Thursday, Hartsburg declined comment, limiting his remarks to an assessment of the Senators’ on-ice potential. He would neither confirm or deny whether he was in the Ottawa area.
Update 9:21am ET: Apparent confirmation from TSN—
Former Canadian World Juniors and Sault Ste. Marie Greyhounds head coach Craig Hartsburg will be introduced as the head coach of the Ottawa Senators on Friday. The Senators have called a news conference Friday morning to make the announcement.
*hat-tip to TSN for providing the original source
From Rob Rossi at the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review,
[Evgeni Malkin] said the prize he really covets—a long-term contract extension with the Penguins—is on its way.
“I’m thinking maybe five or six years,” said Malkin, set to enter the final season of his three-year entry-level deal. “I’m an easy guy to deal with. I’d love to stay in Pittsburgh.”
The NHL’s collective bargaining agreement forbids the Penguins from signing Malkin to an extension until July 1. Malkin said he expects the extension will be signed “soon” after that date.
A complete summary from the NHL:
Washington Capitals left wing Alex Ovechkin capped an award-filled season by winning his first career Hart Trophy as the National Hockey League’s Most Valuable Player and Nicklas Lidstrom of the Stanley Cup champion Detroit Red Wings captured his sixth Norris Trophy as the League’s top defenseman at the 2008 NHL Awards Show.
Ovechkin was a runaway choice for the Hart, receiving 128 of 134 first-place votes for 1,313 points in voting by the Professional Hockey Writers’ Association. Evgeni Malkin of the Pittsburgh Penguins, who tallied one first-place vote and was the second choice on 66 ballots, was runner-up with 659 points.
From David Shoalts in the Globe & Mail,
“I want to make speech longer but my English short,” he said, drawing a big laugh.
In his news conference later, [Pavel] Datsyuk had a couple more zingers when he was asked how he enjoyed the Wings’ Stanley Cup party.
“I remember going to the party but I don’t remember coming home,” he said. “I have to ask my wife because I don’t remember.”
It’s being broadcast live online at CBC Sports. This link should open the player in your browser.
It seems to work in both the United States and Canada, though Americans will probably prefer the television broadcast on Versus (*in Canada, there is a tape delay for TV coverage.)
A few updates and the list of winners—with links to stories on their wins—can all be found below:
From the CP via the Sporting News,
As a North Bay Centennials player in the mid-1980s, Bill Houlder attended Chippewa Secondary School, but never graduated. In fact, he obtained three credits in his final three years.
Two decades later, with 16 seasons as an NHL defenseman under his belt, Houlder, 41, stood before a packed gymnasium Tuesday and addressed a graduating class of Nipissing University Bachelor of Education students as the valedictorian.
From Rick Sadowski at the Rocky Mountain News,
The agents for defensemen Adam Foote and Kurt Sauer have had preliminary contract talks with the Avalanche and expect to resume discussions shortly before or during the June 20-21 NHL draft.
Foote and Sauer will be eligible for unrestricted free agency on July 1.
In other not-particularly-fascinating-but-still-suggestive Avalanche news, Adrian Dater mentioned (in his Denver Post blog yesterday) that Joe Sakic has recently been spotted in a local gym. He added this note:
That has to be a good sign, right? If I had said “Joe Sakic has been seen at the all-you-can-eat Pizza Hut lunch buffet for five days straight”, that wouldn’t be such a good thing, right?
From Stan Fischler at Game On,
If I’m Glen Sather, I tell Jaromir [Jagr] that he will be paid something in the range of a 20-25-goal scorer; what the going rate will be for that. Thus, the captain will have to demonstrate that he REALLY wants to stay in New York and is willing to accept a diminished role suitable to his age; otherwise he will not be a good fit on the club. If Jagr is not willing to accept this, then it may be a case of au revoir, old buddy.
And, guess what, it would not be the end of the world for the Blueshirts.
more… plus thoughts on Sean Avery
From Michael Rhode at Nanaimo’s Daily News,
The life of a professional hockey player is pretty routine. Sure, there’s the notoriety of playing at the top level of your sport, and it takes plenty of hard work and determination to get to the level they play at.
But aside from the so-called stardom it’s just a lot of repetition. Their days—from autumn to late spring—usually begin and end at the rink. Their summer months, save for a few weeks away from the rink, are usually spent training, at the gym and on ice, for their next season.
Vancouver Canucks’ forward Trevor Linden’s retirement announcement brings into focus the realization of life after hockey. After going to the rink on a regular basis for more than 20 years of professional and junior hockey, come September he’ll have to try and find something constructive to occupy his time.
continued… with words from a few ex-players
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 firstname.lastname@example.org