Kukla's Korner

Kukla's Korner Hockey

Welcome To LA

from Terry Frei at ESPN,

Kings center Anze Kopitar is acting as a tour guide this week. His mother, Mataja, and his 14-year-old brother, Gasper, have traveled from Slovenia to Southern California for their first trip to the United States, and will spend Christmas with Anze. Anze Kopitar has impressed his coaches and teammates with his wisdom-beyond-his-years attitude. Oh, and he can score, too. Over the weekend, before their arrival, Kopitar was already talking about what he would show them. "The beaches, Universal Studios, Disneyland," he said in the Kings' Staples Center dressing room, sounding a bit excited and -- just for a moment, and for once -- like a teenager.

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Before The Goalie Mask

from the Las Vegas Sun,

Mike McKenna, who has been outstanding for the Wranglers this season, owes plenty to former netminders such as Clint Benedict, Jacques Plante and Gerry Cheevers. Otherwise, McKenna might look like Glenn Hall. A few years ago, McKenna met Hall, known as "Mr. Goalie" during a professional hockey career that spanned from 1952 to 1971. In 1998, Hall was listed at No. 16 on a Hockey News list of the game's 100 greatest players. Hall, now 75, mostly played between the pipes without a mask. "His face was just mangled," McKenna said of his meeting Hall. "Without a mask, your face ends up looking like hamburger."

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Bringing Hockey to the People

By Alanah D McGinley When veteran Edmonton Oilers broadcaster Morley Scott met me for a Tim Horton's coffee on Vancouver's waterfront on a recent Monday morning, he looked like he'd been up for hours. Casually well-dressed, relaxed and easygoing, he patiently waited for me to catch up and grab my first coffee of the day. Morley, like many who make their living in front of a camera or behind a microphone, is one of those people that is effortless to talk to, making it easy to understand the success he's had. But how many of us really know what his job is all about, and what it's like to work from the inside of an NHL team? On December 4th -- the day of the most recent Vancouver Canucks/ Edmonton Oilers game -- I had a chance to interview Morley and follow him around for 'a day in the life' of an NHL hockey team broadcaster.

Continue Reading »

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Leave It To The Experts

from the Calgary Sun,

If the Internet-based attempt to get write-in Rory Fitzpatrick into the starting lineup of the NHL All-Star Game isn't enough proof -- the injured journeyman Vancouver Canucks defenceman may even leapfrog Calgary Flames phenom Dion Phaneuf into fourth or higher among blueliners when the updated numbers come out in a couple of days -- take a look at how far defending Vezina Trophy winner Miikka Kiprusoff is behind the Dallas Stars' Marty Turco.... "Fan voting is a dumb way to do it," said Flames defenceman Andrew Ference yesterday on picking starters. "The All-Star Game is about having the best players showcased. The people who know that best are the people involved in the business. "Really, it can be so skewed with fan voting, it's silly. The last people who should have the final word are hometown fans."
read on

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JLA Gets Knocked Down

from the Detroit Free Press,

Talk about a sucker punch. Bet Joe Louis -- the arena -- didn't see that one coming. Maxim magazine posted a list of the 10 worst sports arenas on its Web site, "buildings that are practically begging to be condemned." And the Joe was ranked No. 1. Said Maxim: "We're on board with anything named after the great Joe Louis ... But his name/legacy, as well as the Red Wings, deserve better than a crumbling facility in a scary ... neighborhood.

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Problems In Vancouver

from the Globe and Mail,

The biggest story in British Columbia these days isn't treaties or private health-care clinics, it's hockey. Interest in the Vancouver Canucks seems to be evaporating. The signs are everywhere. Sports bars that used to be packed on game nights are half empty. The team's television ratings are down a significant 14 per cent from this time last year. You now see pockets of empty seats at Canucks games that are supposed to be sold out. People can't give their tickets away. It's beginning to smell like the bad old days.

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The Teams Compete

from Scott Burnside of ESPN,

With Alexander Ovechkin and Sidney Crosby meeting for the first time this season and with Crosby's Pittsburgh Penguins and Ovechkin's Washington Capitals both defying observers by staying in the playoff hunt, one would have imagined that the lure of such a spectacle would have been strong enough to give the Capitals their first sellout of the season. Instead, great gaping rows of empty purple Verizon Center seats greeted the two young stars as they conspired to produce a compelling, seesaw tilt that saw the Penguins fall behind 4-0 before stealing a 5-4 shootout victory. Compelling? My goodness yes, despite the announced crowd of 14,793.... By the end, the buzz in the Verizon Center was electric. As it should be when the game's elite gather and turn in a performance worthy of the term. Even if there were thousands of empty seats that didn't bear witness to the event.

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Leafs Crumbling

from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,

Strangled by their own economic mismanagement, the Maple Leafs plod on, unable to make changes, perhaps incapable of change. The very premise of this Leafs season -- a team built around an ultra-expensive defence, apparently emerging goaltenders and strong special teams -- is crumbling nightly.

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Personality Removed From The Game

from Eric Francis of the Calgary Sun,

"I don't miss hockey at all," said Fleury, whose last three teams have been the Horse Lake Thunder, Belfast Giants and a Calgary summer- league squad. "I haven't really thought about it a whole lot. I've just been having fun with this." This is a family business he started with new wife Jennifer and brother Travis after reading Entrepreneur magazine on his honeymoon this summer.... "I don't see the game as being fun -- you don't have to get your nose dirty any more," said Fleury. "You can't be a (jerk) on the ice because there are two officials and 12 guys in Toronto watching every move you make. For a guy like me, I needed that aspect of my game to be effective. The craziness, the intimidation, the unpredictability -- there's no more of that in the game. They've taken personality right out."

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Fan Base Not Increasing

from Brian Milner of the Globe and Mail,

Higher ticket prices in 25 of the 30 NHL markets were only possible in the wake of last season's deep discounts, and the cost increases are largely being absorbed by corporate customers. But it's not the smartest of business moves, considering that the league held out the promise of lower prices as one of the consumer benefits of getting its salary costs under control. The average price of an NHL ducat has climbed 3.7 per cent. But it is an exorbitant 29.1 per cent higher in Florida Panthers country, where the team isn't exactly a crowd magnet to begin with, and a ridiculous 45 per cent more in Carolina, whose brain trust must think that one Stanley Cup victory was enough to convert the state's fickle, basketball-loving sports fans to puck aficionados.

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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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