Kukla's Korner Hockey
by Paul on 02/07/11 at 11:29 PM ET
from Helene Elliott of the LA Times,
In its eagerness to develop a following in Europe, the NHL overlooked an audience closer to home: its Western Conference.
West teams routinely jump time zones on winding trips and get stuck with less-experienced referees working their games. NHL executives often attend games in the East but rarely venture past the Hudson River. Players feel overlooked by fans, league officials and the media.
Former Kings defenseman Rob Blake, the NHL’s new hockey operations manager, can’t change all of that. But as the first hockey operations executive based outside league headquarters, he hopes to give a voice to players who toil beyond the Eastern power axis.
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“I lived that first-hand. Being a player out here in the West and playing my whole career here you do kind of feel that you’re forgotten,” said Blake, who retired last summer after a 19-season career that included parts of 14 seasons with the Kings, a Norris trophy and a Stanley Cup title with Colorado in 2001.
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