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With the current dearth of high-powered name players, the NHL has toddled along nicely enough because the games are closer—if not always better. Says the NHL president, “It used to be you’d have a couple of great teams maybe, a couple of lousy teams and the rest in the middle. You were more likely to see more bad games. Now it seems like almost every game is a one-goal game. And if you look at the (increased revenue)”—the salary cap is a record $64.3 million—“something’s working.”

Yes, it works. Camouflaged by competitiveness, the NHL will keep peddling its events—Winter Classic, openers in Europe, a “national” Thanksgiving game, All-Star Weekend. By the time anyone notices that there might not be a 100-point scorer this season—the playoffs will be upon us, at which point no one cares about anything but red-meat hockey.

But in a world in which sporting star power is pure nectar, the NHL, without Crosby and Ovechkin to rely upon, will have to identify who is worth the price of admission. Soon.

-Michael Farber of Sports Illustrated where you can read more on this topic.

Filed in: NHL Teams, NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink



I’d have to say Datsyuk is worth the price of admission, and then some. Probably Howard too, but I’ve never seen him play live. Last game I went to I think Os was still in net.

Posted by LGRWeh on 01/20/12 at 04:08 PM ET


Malkin, Datsyuk, Toews aren’t guys you’d pay to watch? Giroux, Datsyuk, Kane, Stamkos aren’t exciting? In that case, how many bankable stars have there been in NHL history? Post-Gretzky, probably only Jagr, Crosby, and Ovie because Sakic, Yzerman, Roy, Brodeur, St. Louis, Iginla were just boring old superstars.

It feels like anyone below the standard of Gretzky, Lemieux, and Orr are called boring. I can live with the current crop, who face far greater depth than the post-expansion era greats. NHL stars are only on the ice 20-25 minutes a game. They lead to one or two goals a game if they are truly special. This is not a sport based on single personalities—when this fact is celebrated, in the playoffs, fans do appreciate it.

Posted by Dave on 01/20/12 at 04:42 PM ET


I completely disagree with the premise of this article. The NHL has more elite talent now than at any time in its history. The league is more competitive now than at any time in history, that is why a majority of these games are being played to a draw (or shootout) If anything this supposed lack of star power could be blamed on the NHL not turning Stamkos Giroux or Towes their headline grabbing poster boy.

Posted by Kale on 01/20/12 at 05:08 PM ET

Down River Dan's avatar

....Now it seems like almost every game is a one-goal game........

Yes it does , and that’s just the way the officials are instructed to keep it ...right?

Posted by Down River Dan on 01/20/12 at 05:39 PM ET

SYF's avatar

FFS, it’s Michael friggin’ Farber.  The know-it-all goof.

Posted by SYF from Twerkin' with Anastasia Ashley on 01/20/12 at 06:07 PM ET


The level of talent is better than ever. But who can tell when these stars can barely reach a 100 points in a season. Scoring has been trending down the last three years and so games are close because every game seems to be 2-1. In fact most star players will not even hit 100 points. And before everone goes crazing saying the game is great right now, just remember this, the league is averaging close to dead puck era scoring. And what tradition of Hockey is this? The 1970,s averaged 6.5 goals a game. The 80’s 7.5 and early 90’s around 7.0 goals a game. It wasn’t till 1997 that we saw scoring below 5.5 a game. Funny how this coincided with a decline in popularity. Also I believe we are going to have an all-time low in lead changes per game this season as well. This is a bad trend. Im not asking for a return to the 80’s and 90’s just can we get scoring closer to 6.0 goals a game. No one can say this is wide open free for all type hockey. Good defense will still be an important part of the game. Games will still be close and players like Stamkos and Toews will be even more important and marketable for the league. My solution smaller goalie gear. Both Gretzky and Crosby said the same thing, that you cant score along the ice. Smaller leg pads, the length of them is an absolute joke.

Posted by patrick from yonkers ny on 01/20/12 at 07:06 PM ET

tuxedoTshirt's avatar

Wow.  Jackass.  Some of that talent is defensive.  Remember the old superstars?  Yeah, they scored on goalies that didn’t move and defensemen that didn’t block shots.
God.  This is just the blueprint of the standard gripe article.
Some of us a) actually like hockey (not just looking for a complaint), and b) understand that it’s a team game.
Try watching some Basketball Farber….oh wait, real fans of that sport ALSO like defence.

Posted by tuxedoTshirt from the Home of the 1937 World Champions on 01/20/12 at 07:56 PM ET


I think what he means is the NHL needs standard bearers. Guys you can put on TV and say, Hey, this guy is unbelievable, ya gotta see him!!!

Datsyuk and Malkin both are and then some, but they’re also both ugly guys who speak ridiculously. The Sedins are weird. Hard to sell Toews when, for all his intangibles, he’s visibly and numerically worse than these guys. Kessel has the weaknesses of all the guys I’ve mentioned.

That’s why you were seeing the overhype associated with Claude Giroux. Young, personable, in a big market, better numbers than anyone. He was gonna be the next guy. Problem is Jagr wrecked his groin and it became clear he was a lot, if not most, of what was driving Giroux’s league leading production.

Stamkos fits, but he’s in a nothing market.

I see what Farber’s saying. The league doesn’t need a ‘face’ or ‘representative’ to sell me. I’d happily watch Malkin burning the Staal brothers if he had a fetus growing out of the side of his head and if he answered all interview questions with clicking noises. But it does need one. It’s not about who’s worth watching, it’s about who can be SOLD nationally as worth watching.

For what it’s worth, should Crosby be done, I’ll throw my vote on Tavares. Whatever he did with his skating in this summer really made a difference. He’s my choice for best non-Russian in the NHL at this point (assuming no Sid).

Posted by Larry on 01/20/12 at 09:32 PM ET

tuxedoTshirt's avatar

Wow Larry.  Sounds like it REALLY IS a crisis.

Posted by tuxedoTshirt from the Home of the 1937 World Champions on 01/20/12 at 10:53 PM ET

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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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