Kukla's Korner

Category: NHL

General NHL posts

Unlucky 13

In ten years, I’m guessing that NHL inflation wouldn’t have accelerated to a point where $5 million is an average salary. In other words, it’s still going to be a premium price for a premium player.

Knowing that, the Chicago Blackhawks, the king of the bizarre long-term contract, are poised on signing Duncan Keith for a lucky 13 years. He’ll be 39 at the end of the deal.

Maybe they figure 40 is the magic number, or maybe this was the only way the could re-sign Keith at a cap hit that fit ($5.5 million). Of course, if they never put forward the insane Brian Campbell contract, none of this would have happened.

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Filed in: NHL, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: chicago+blackhawks, duncan+keith, salary+cap

Fun With Google Image Search

They say a picture is worth a thousand words, but what does that mean in the age of today’s Google Image Search? Well, it probably means that you’ll find a hodge-podge of randomness when you type a player’s name in and hit “Search”—most of it good (action shots or media photos), some of it not, and some it just downright bizarre. Join me on a journey through search-engine fun as we take a look at how Google views your favorite hockey heroes. All of the following pictures are on the first page of Google Image Search when you typed a player’s name in.

We have to start with Ed Belfour, whose photo isn’t worth a thousand words; instead, it’s currently valued at a billion dollars. This lovely photo (which I’m sure we’ve all seen before but who can get sick of this one?) was number two in search results. I’m sure The Eagle’s glad that’s what he’s known for.

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Filed in: NHL, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: barry+melrose, brian+engblom, chris+pronger, ed+belfour, jonathan+cheechoo, olli+jokinen, patrick+marleau, stephen+weiss, todd+bertuzzi

Putting Rules On The “Intent” Rule

I might be in the minority here, but I support the idea behind the “intent to blow the whistle” rule. Refs are human and that means that they need to take time, however minuscule it is, to comprehend what they’re seeing, grab the whistle, and blow it. That part makes sense.

That being said, I think last night’s Brad May no-goal was a pretty spectacular job of backpedaling by the league. The problem with a rule based around something intangible like intent is that there’s no real way to quantify it. When you take intent and interpretation and third-party input, there’s no way it can come out clean. Because of that, close (or in May’s case, not so close) calls get tossed into this gray area where nothing good comes out of it.

But maybe there’s a way to add a little black-and-white to that gray area. Cue up your Thomas Dolby LP here.

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Filed in: NHL, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: brad+may, officiating

Triple-Dipping On Ticket Prices

We all know that the NHL is a gate-driven league, and that depending on which market you’re in, tickets can be extraordinarily high. It’s all supply and demand, and what many North American pro teams have done is partner with TicketMaster to create what is in essence a legalized scalping system. It’s generally known as TeamExchange, though some teams have branded it something different, like the Sharks and their Power Play Ticket Trader.

How does TeamExchange work? While much of it is driven by supply and demand (you’re not going to find many, if any, of these tickets for teams that aren’t regularly sold out), there is a model to help the rich teams get richer. It’s important to note that this isn’t necessarily a club-specific way to gouge the fan; it’s just the way tickets are going in pro sports and live events in general. In other words, this isn’t something to blame a certain team or a certain league or a certain commissioner about (but feel free to if you want.)

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Filed in: NHL, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: ticket+prices

Should The Sharks Re-Sign Patrick Marleau?

He’s been their best player so far this season, and was the team’s MVP from last year. He’s the all-time leader in franchise points, a consistent short-handed threat, and one of the team’s faceoff leaders. Tally that all together and it makes sense for the Sharks to re-sign Patrick Marleau before he hits unrestricted free agency status this July. Of course, logic doesn’t always come into play in the salary cap world; more importantly, does Marleau even want to stay in San Jose?

Since the beginning of his NHL career, Marleau’s been in and out of the Sharks doghouse, either with the fans or his coaches. Both Darryl Sutter and Ron Wilson had their moments with Marleau, though Wilson at least recognized how to properly develop Marleau to his full potential. Fans and media have slagged him off and on throughout his career, usually for either being too soft or too quiet. The bulk of the blame from last year’s first-round defeat against Anaheim was shared between Marleau and Joe Thornton, despite most objective pundits’ views that the series was far from the usual 1 vs. 8, and that Marleau was playing with a bad MCL.

That being said, Marleau didn’t talk publicly about his no-trade clause or contract status this summer other than telling season ticket holders that he wanted a chance to “prove the naysayers wrong” in San Jose. He’s lived up to his end of the bargain, but is he simply driving up his asking price this off season?

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Filed in: NHL, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: patrick+marleau, san+jose+sharks

25 or 30?

Joe Starkey, columnist for the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, recently stated something that we’ve heard off and on over the years: that the NHL needs to contract. Now, I’m guessing Starkey is saying this from a talent perspective instead of looking at economics, because he’s not saying “These troubled markets need to be addressed.” Rather, he states that five teams should go, then states which ones he’d cut off.

The “three to five teams should disappear” argument pops up from time to time, but I think if you realistically consider how the talent would actually be redistributed, it’d make much less of a difference than one might think.

Here are some numbers to consider:

-20 players suit up for each NHL game, 18 skaters and two goalies. Three guys sit in the press box.
-If you lopped off five teams, that’s about 16% of the league. To correlate that, that means that theoretically three or four guys could be redistributed throughout the league—could, not would.

So let’s take Starkey’s notion of killing Florida, Tampa Bay, Atlanta, Phoenix, and either LA or Anaheim (we’ll pick Anaheim since I doubt even in this scenario the NHL would allow the Kings to go). How much would NHL rosters actually change? Would the talent level of the league significantly improve?

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Filed in: NHL, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: contraction

Fear The Fehr

Uh oh. The NHLPA’s looking at the one place I don’t think any of us want them to. From The Hockey News:

Donald Fehr, who plans to retire in March 2010 as the executive director of the Major League Baseball Players’ Association, will serve as an advisor on both the search for a new executive director to replace Paul Kelly and to help draft a new constitution for the NHLPA.

If you don’t know who Donald Fehr is, this sentence from Wikipedia is all you really need to hear:

Fehr led the players union through the 1994 Major League Baseball strike and subsequent World Series cancellation.

The sound you just heard was Gary Bettman rushing to the executive bathroom.

Filed in: NHL, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: donald+fehr, gary+bettman, nhlpa

How To Get Kicked Out Of Honda Center

How many times has the drunk guy next to you yelled, “Ref, you suck!” during a game? How many times were you that guy? Did you think the people around you were offended? I doubt it, and I think the majority of readers would agree.

Ok, well, what about carrying a sign that says that? After all, if we can mock Chris Pronger or Sidney Crosby or whoever else is Public Enemy #1, shouldn’t it be ok to mock the refs? This is pro sports we’re talking about here.

Now put something like “Ref, You Suck” on a t-shirt and, well, that’s apparently over the line, at least at Honda Center.

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Filed in: NHL, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: arenas, honda+center, referees

What Tarnishes A Legacy?

A few weeks ago, I heard a debate on XM Home Ice regarding the Hall-of-Fame worthiness of Theo Fleury. The discussion didn’t involve his numbers per se, but rather whether or not his battle with addictions immediately disqualified him from such an honor. The hosts acknowledged that Fleury’s issues were tied into horrible childhood abuses, and he didn’t have the proper outlets for dealing with them. Nonetheless, they generally felt that the Hall of Fame was the type of honor that shouldn’t be bestowed on people who’ve given into their personal demons—even when the context of what caused them is somewhat understandable.

I found this debate in my head revived with this week’s revelation that tennis great Andre Agassi used crystal meth and covered it up during a time when his personal and professional life were spiraling downward. Suddenly, critics were coming out to say that his entire legacy was tarnished, some even saying they couldn’t look at Agassi the same way.

Me? I tried to look at Agassi the same way I look back at Fleury—they’ve made choices that they’re not proud of, but they’re honest about it and they’ve grown from it. They weren’t cheating during their performances, so why should it take away from Agassi’s Grand Slam wins or Fleury’s career goal totals? They’re human, and they made human mistakes in their personal lives. I don’t think that should be terribly shocking. Even if their actions violated a league/association policy, that’s a suspension and a fine at most, not a giant asterisk next to their career accomplishments.

I’m sure this point can be debated and picked apart from every possible angle, but I’m of the mindset that as long as the substances in question don’t enhance performance, then any sort of honor should be based strictly on the person’s career in the sport—not their personal demons. That’s why I view these situations as different compared to something like the Barry Bonds fiasco.

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Filed in: NHL, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: hall+of+fame, theo+fleury

How Will Tavares Compare?

In his first NHL game, John Tavares scored a goal and put up a secondary assist on a Mark Streit goal. For what it’s worth, those two points beat out the first games of Sidney Crosby (one assist), Patrick Kane (scoreless), and Evgeni Malkin (one goal). Of course, those guys turned out to be ok players (though not necessarily the best car passengers), and history has given us plenty of brilliant starts that tailed off into oblivion.

Then there’s the slow starters: Steven Stamkos took a half-season and a mullet-less coach to get going while Eric Staal and Joe Thornton had pretty unspectacular rookie years. Where will Tavares end up? Let’s look at how Crosby, Kane, Malkin, and Alex Ovechkin did in their first ten games.

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Filed in: NHL, | Mike Chen's Hockey Blog | Permalink
  Tags: alexander+ovechkin, evgeni+malkin, john+tavares, patrick+kane, sidney+crosby, steven+stamkos

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