Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Jon Jordan on 09/01/10 at 11:22 AM ET
And so it begins…
Sure, I’ve been popping my head in the door sporadically around here since early August but it’s high time we kicked things off in proper fashion.
9/1/2010 officially marks the dawning of the JJ at KK era and the month of September officially means a new hockey season is right around the corner. Players are skating informally, training camps are just a few short weeks away and, before we know it, the puck will drop on the 2010-11 NHL season (returning balance to The Force and bringing puckheads everywhere back down from the ledge).
With this fresh start for me comes a fresh assignment, as I’ve been tasked not only to continue bringing you Tampa Bay Lightning news and opinion but also to chime in on all things happening throughout the Southeast Division.
After several reader suggestions, some intense brainstorming sessions and bouncing ideas off the walls of a few local pubs with trusted companions, the banner under which my work will (quite literally) reside from this point forward finally has a name. I give you…
Special thanks to friend of the blog, “Tricky” Dickey Schmid, for help with the banner images.
And a quick shoutout is also in order for some special reader suggestions that, um, juuuuuuust missed the cut: “Yzerman’s Division” was a gem but I didn’t think the rest of the Southeast teams would appreciate the tribute just yet. “There’s Ice Here?!?!?” made me chuckle but epitomizes the good fight still needing to be fought from time to time here in Southern Country, ya hear? And “Sweaty Pucks”, to me anyway, just sounded like a filthy (and potentially misleading) title.
So, Beasts of the Southeast it is…
(All at once now: Grrrrrrrrrrr…)
I foresee my primary focus remaining here in Tampa, what with certain geographic limitations and all, but it will be nice to have such a large pool of news and information to pull from. (My guess is, eventually, I’ll never be able to say, “I just don’t have anything to write about today!”) This will all certainly be a different twist for me, having only kept an eye on one club (for the most part) the past three seasons, and it will surely provide a unique set of challenges as well. Though I’ve been pretty stationary in the past, my goal is to take in at least one game in each of the other four cities this season and I also have my eye on a special event or two. (A secondary goal would be to sample the local brew in all of these cities once I’m “off the clock” and a bit further down the list would be to get the natives to pick up the tab… So, if you’re looking to make friends out there…)
As I transition to painting this broader picture, I’m sure I’ll take my lumps here and there so, please, bear with me.
Obviously, I have a light-hearted side (read: at least I think I’m entertaining and I guess that counts for something) but I’ll balance that with a heavy dose of serious opinion too. In the past, this has both earned me a certain level of respect in the industry and drawn the ire of those in disagreement. (For example, I’m quite certain I’m not on the Christmas card lists of a couple of members of the former management regime here in Tampa. Drat.)
Now then, what else can you expect?
I’ll be bringing some old favorites with me from days of yore for sure.
The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, introduced last season as a bit of an alternative to the standard Lightning game recaps, will now be a regular feature for select Southeast Division team games (on a rotational basis, depending on who plays who and where I find myself at any given time).
A new spin on News from Norfolk, where I regularly checked in with Tampa Bay’s AHL affiliate, the Norfolk Admirals, will take flight, only now keeping tabs on prospects from all five Southeast clubs as well as the highs and lows of their affiliate AHL franchises.
The infamous JJ Awards will resurface at season’s end and, with a little luck, I’ll be able to present these bad boys to winners from Atlanta, Carolina, Florida and Washington, in addition to bestowing the honors to Lightning players for the third consecutive season. (Not ringing a bell? Not seeing the trademark image of this highly-coveted hardware in your head immediately? Well, here. Have a look below…)
Mmm hmm… Admit it… Now, you’re excited.
The Bolts Beat podcast won’t be changing its name and the focus will remain primarily on the show’s namesake but co-host Mike Corcoran (the man also behind Creative Loafing Tampa’s Lightning coverage) and I are looking to build on the momentum from some solid shows and great guests earlier this summer and have some exciting things planned for the upcoming season. In addition to its home at Hockey Independent, the show will be available weekly right here as well.
I’m a big fan of reader interaction and, accordingly, JJ’s Mailbag will make an occasional appearance, where I answer reader-submitted questions and comments on just about anything. (Once – and only once – I had to publicly shoot down an inquiry on underwear choices from a reader email. Like I said, just about anything…)
And there will be a wealth of new ground to break too.
We’ll start by banging down your door with team-by-team previews (after one last statistical look at the division in the next day or so) early next week, with the Atlanta Thrashers set to go first.
Already in the works and set to run shortly after camps have opened, a peek at the rivalry (or lack thereof, perhaps) between the Lightning and Panthers, from both historical and contemporary perspectives.
As I’ve said a thousand times since coming aboard, I’m very happy to be here and beyond excited for what should be a thrilling season of hockey from way down here in sunny Florida.
The Caps remain the class of the division as reigning champs, Tampa Bay has been rejuvenated off-ice by the stability of new ownership and the instant credibility of a legendary player as GM and, on-ice, appears to be much-improved as well, the Thrasher defense suddenly boasts depth and talent (and, sure, insert obligatory Atlanta Blackhawks reference here) and both Carolina and Florida will be relying on some exciting young firepower as their franchises head in new directions.
Southleast no more. This is truly an up-and-coming division.
And starting now, you can watch its continued evolution alongside yours truly and the Beasts of the Southeast.
Add a Comment
Please limit embedded image or media size to 575 pixels wide.
Most Recent Blog Posts
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 email@example.com