Kukla's Korner Hockey
From Ken Campbell at The Hockey News,
If the player who is under contract decides he simply doesn’t feel like playing – the way Niedermayer did last fall – he can simply kick up his heels and sit out for as long as he wants. The team has no recourse except to suspend the player. But here’s where it gets really silly.
The moment the player decides he wants to come back and play, the team must lift the suspension, reactivate him and start paying him according to the terms of his contract – as long as he decides to return before the trade deadline when rosters must be set.
It’s another classic example of how the players, who were supposedly clobbered in the last round of CBA negotiations, continue to hold an inordinate amount of power. After holding a team to a commitment by signing a contract, the player then decides if and when he wants to come back.
From Matthew Futterman at the Wall Street Journal,
For National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman, rock bottom arrived long before he watched three of his teams go bankrupt and canceled the 2004-2005 season.
It came in 1999, when Mr. Bettman looked at his major moves during his first seven years heading the NHL and saw that they were going to wreck professional hockey in North America. For one thing, the gap was widening between rich and poor teams, especially those in smaller Canadian cities and in the Southern and Western U.S., where Mr. Bettman had pushed the league to expand. Salary growth was also out of control. Worst of all, a once lightning-fast game was slowly turning into a boring grind.
“I watch the game—70, 80 games a year,” Mr. Bettman, now in his 16th year heading the league, said last week. “You could see what was happening.”
continued… a very in-depth article on the mistakes and accomplishments of the NHL over recent years
Update 4:45pm ET: From CBC’s Playoff Blog, an article arguing that the darkest days of the NHL have since passed.
Paul is at the NHL’s media event in Detroit (for which we’re hosting the live video feed on the previous post).
This post will be an open forum from the event, to add photos he sends in and links to audio he’ll be posting on NHL.com later today.
Updates will be added below throughout the day, with Wings stuff coming in first since the Penguins aren’t yet available. To start, I’ve put up a couple screenshots from video he’s shot today so far…
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Tags: chris+chelios, dan+cleary, gary+roberts, jordan+staal, kirk+maltby, marian+hossa, nhl+media+day
As Paul mentioned earlier, today is NHL Media Day in Detroit. The event brings members of both teams together for a variety of televised press conferences and various side interviews with members of the press.
You can watch it on television via the NHL Network. But if you don’t have access to the network via TV, the NHL Network Online is broadcasting it live, from 2pm ET onwards.
So, head over to the NHL Network Online website, or watch it live on the player embedded below, here on KK:
From Paul Egan at the Detroit News,
A federal jury should award former Detroit Red Wings star Vladimir Konstantinov and former team masseur Sergei Mnatsakanov more than $240 million in damages for permanently disabling injuries they received in a 1997 limousine crash, a lawyer for the men argued Friday.
Attorney Richard Goodman told jurors it was ironic he made his closing argument in the lawsuit the day before the Red Wings were to compete in Game One of the Stanley Cup finals. The June 13, 1997, crash in Birmingham happened when Konstantinov and Detroit-area hockey fans were celebrating a fresh Stanley Cup victory that ended a 42-year hockey championship drought in Detroit.
The lawsuit alleges Findlay Ford Lincoln Mercury of Ohio, the company that sold the stretch limousine, is responsible for damages because no working seat belts were easily accessible in the passenger area of the limo.
Update 7pm ET: As per George’s note in the comments of this post, the jury found for the dealership.
From Alan Ryder at the Globe & Mail,
Detroit 53, Pittsburgh 46.
It is not the halftime score of a basketball game but the percentage success rates of the Red Wings and Penguins in the faceoff circle. These numbers might seem close to you, but they are a rink apart. One of these teams led the NHL in faceoff winning percentage and the other was dead last.
It could be that the story of this year’s Stanley Cup final is told by this gap. The faceoff is the first step to puck possession. And control of the puck is the first step to winning. The statistical evidence is that Detroit will own the puck in this series. That does not bode well for the Penguins.
It wasn’t like this in 2002. The internet was certainly in bloom, but the concept of everyone having an instantaneous opinion was confined to message boards and the last vestiges of IRC.
Now, what was the excuse for ten or fifteen hockey writers from the U.S. and almost every one from Canada to take a final trip before the NHL Awards, the draft, and the pre-lockout free agent fireworks that would follow, and TSN and Sportsnet to go nuts…
It’s sixty to eighty people having an opinion within the first five to ten minutes, and another twenty within an hour.
From Ryan Kennedy at The Hockey News,
Now, I know the anti-fun militia won’t like this, but let’s take a cue from the most successful sport in North America – NFL football – and schedule some sort of pre-final Stanley Cup extravaganza. In the days leading up to the Super Bowl, you can’t turn around without hearing about some sort of event hyping up what usually turns out to be a mediocre game (and in Canada, we don’t even get to see the good commercials).
Let’s have a fanfest. Bands will play, the Cup will be there, Mark Messier will sign autographs and give out bags of potato chips – it’ll be fun. This year, an event in Detroit could have featured Kid Rock and Bob Probert. Pittsburgh could counter with Mario Lemieux and a reunion of his buddies from the 1991 and ’92 Cup teams. Bring the kids, we’ll party until at least 9:30.
Note: Perhaps an octopus-taste-test in Detroit counts as a fanfest?
Dallas Drake’s first Stanley Cup Final game is finally going to happen in the 15th year of his career. From Scott Erskine via Yahoo!,
“Last summer, I didn’t know if I was going to play anymore,” said Drake, whose Red Wings host the Pittsburgh Penguins in Game One of the Finals on Saturday. “I was very fortunate the way things worked out with me and Detroit. I didn’t know if my career was over or not (after leaving St. Louis). I knew I still wanted to play, it was just a matter of, I wanted to play for a team that had a chance to win a Stanley Cup.
“So it’s a huge thrill for me. You think about (playing in the Finals). Sometimes you’re laying in bed at night and you can’t get it off our mind. But yeah, I’m not going to lie to you - I thought about never winning it, and it bothered me quite a bit.”
From the Globe & Mail,
How did these teams end up on hockey’s biggest stage? In part, super scouting.
A well-used hockey saying goes like this: “Great players make great coaches.” That’s true.
The corollary: Great scouts make great general managers. (Ask Wings GM Ken Holland.) Take it a step further, and scouts make GMs look good by acquiring the right players either through the draft, trades or signings.
It’s not a secret: Scouting is the life blood of any successful hockey team.
more on the scouting backgrounds of the two finalists
Update 8:11am ET: Dan Rosen at NHL.com has more on team-building on the Pittsburgh side, going back to the Craig Patrick era.
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 firstname.lastname@example.org