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Gimmicks Deciding Games

from the Toronto Sun via Slam,

"All of us are in favour of not having the grappling, the hooking, the holding," Quinn concedes. "Nobody wanted that. Where it is right now, in spite of everybody saying 'Oh, I love the new game,' I don't love the new game. I don't think it's hockey. It's special teams situations and we've got gimmicks to decide games. "It's totally different. You're not going to see the physical playoff style if everybody is afraid of penalties. So far, we've won our games on special teams and we've lost our games on special teams. Five-on-five is like the dodo bird."

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Dominating Dom

from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,

For all the naysayers and worrywarts out there waiting for a part of Hasek to go creak or watch him turn into a washed-up old guy, it simply hasn't happened. "I'm not surprised one bit and I wouldn't call what he has done a surprise," said Senators GM John Muckler. "This is exactly what I expected when I signed (Hasek) to a contract. I know what kind of talent he is and what kind of athlete he is. I know how hard he works. "He's been very good. He's come in here and shown that he wants to get the job done. We're talking about a guy here who is on a mission. He wants to show he's one of the elite-level goalies in the NHL and he wants to win a Stanley Cup. That's why he is here."

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Talking Attendance

from the Philadelphia Inquirer,

Commissioner Gary Bettman has made appearances in which he has declared that sweeping changes in rules, rink dimensions and goalie equipment have resulted in a faster and reinvigorated game, and that attendance across the league is the proof. Suggesting otherwise is just "looking for a negative story that isn't there," Bettman said. "All of our franchises will be fine," he said. "Everybody associated with the game is delighted we're back and things are as positive as they are." Let's examine that for a second. Attendance is down in Washington, St. Louis, Los Angeles, Dallas, Columbus and Chicago. Washington has had three crowds of less than 11,000 in the 18,277-seat MCI Center, with a low of 10,002 vs. Tampa Bay on Oct. 16. And no matter what the teams do, there will be lots of games at Buffalo, New Jersey, Florida and other cities that will be way below capacity.

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Chocolate For Breakfast

from Tarik El-Bashir of the Washington Post,

Alex Ovechkin's mornings used to begin with a cup of hot tea and a ham and egg sandwich prepared by his mother. But that changed Monday when Ovechkin's parents, Tatiana and Mikhail, returned to Russia after a month-long stay in Washington to help their 20-year-old son get accustomed to life in a foreign land. "When I wake up now, I don't have breakfast," Ovechkin joked yesterday. "I try to make something, but it's no good."I just go to Starbucks and eat chocolate." It's probably too early to begin handicapping the Calder Trophy race, which no Capital has ever won. But the rookie of the year award shouldn't be handed to Pittsburgh's Sidney Crosby just yet -- especially if Ovechkin continues to score at, or even near, his current pace.

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Hartley Is An Embarrassment

from the Toronto Sun via Slam,

Bob Hartley is quickly becoming an embarrassment to the new National Hockey League. At a time when hockey is doing its utmost to put on a happy face, Hartley's worst instincts are dragging the game back to its Neanderthal past. Soon, the talented but ridiculously inept Atlanta Thrashers, may have to make a decision on their coach's future. Don't be the least bit surprised if there is league pressure to remove Hartley from the Atlanta bench. Atlanta players are being suspended for actions the coach could easily put an end to.

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‘Special Teams’

from the Philadelphia Inquirer,

It's a game of special-teams play. Yes, there is a flood of more skating and more scoring. Games are more exciting. The fans seem to like it. No lead is safe. People stay longer to watch games. Yet there is such a huge emphasis on special teams. And the long-standing tradition of crunching checks is all but gone. Is this a better game than before? That's what a lot of people are asking. Perhaps the more precise question should be: Is this what hockey is going to evolve into? And if so, will the fans, the players, the coaches, and the general managers embrace it as NHL hockey? "It is what it is," said Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock. "It's a new game." Players say they are actually fresher because there is less five-on-five action during games and more time spent on special teams. Once upon a time, Hitchcock prepared two penalty kill units and two play units. These days, he has three power plays and four penalty kill units. He needs that many people on special teams because the game has been tilted in that direction. "The special-teams game now in the NHL has the potential, on every night, to have a bigger bite in the game," he said. "This is uncommon. It's never happened before in the NHL."

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Penguins Are Cheap

from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,

Question: What do you get when team ownership is more interested in staying below the cap midpoint of $30.5M in order to qualify for a second round of revenue sharing than in putting the best possible team on the ice? Answer: The Penguins. There's discontent spilling all across the Pittsburgh room, multiple sources have dutifully reported to Slap Shots, and you should know that not all of it is directed toward second-year head coach Ed Olczyk, whose team was winless in seven going into last night's match in Boston. Yes, it's true, a number of big-name veterans have been put off by the way they've been deployed; there's consternation over the blatant lack of work ethic displayed by some of the Penguins' primary athletes — yes, that means you, Greg Malone, and you too, Sergei Gonchar — and there's confusion over why Eddie O seems to have identified the emotional Lyle Odelein as a scapegoat.

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Thrashers Over The Cap

from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun

, A lot of people are looking at the sad state of the Atlanta Thrashers and shaking their heads. Not only are the Thrashers getting hammered because of goaltending problems -- prior to last night's 4-3 win over the New Jersey Devils --sources say they've exceeded the NHL's $39-million (all terms US) salary cap and they're closer to the $40-million range. Teams are allowed to go over the cap by 7.5%, however, it will count against them next year.

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Goalies Talk Shootout

from Al Strachan of the Toronto Sun,

Of all the new rules, the one that seems to be creating the most controversy is the shootout. Although it is highly popular among American hockey fans, a lot of Canadians still don't like it. Strangely enough though, a highly unscientific survey -- a series of chats with the players themselves -- would indicate that the players enjoy it. The goalies? Reviews are mixed. They tend to say that they like the shootouts when they win, but for the most part, they accept it as a form of entertainment that is necessary to help the game recapture its fan base.

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“We Will Make Changes”- Kevin Lowe

from the Edmonton Sun,

Kevin Lowe has some "mad money.'' But as mad as he is right now and as infuriated as Edmonton Oiler fans may be, Lowe isn't ready to kick his dog and go out and spend it yet. "Last August we knew we'd want to add something,'' said the GM of the money he left himself under the Oilers' budget with the new collective bargaining agreement and the new NHL salary cap. "We knew we'd be able to add something during the season. We didn't know if it would be defence or to add goal scoring.'' The idea, he admits, was to wait a while longer, let the hockey team settle to get a complete and accurate reading, and make the right decisions. "You don't want to make moves based on a game like we just watched,'' he said of the 7-1 debacle against the Colorado Avalanche. "We will make changes,'' said Lowe.

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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 pk@kuklaskorner.com

 

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