Kukla's Korner

Category: NHL-Commentary

Lower highs leading to higher lows?

The current economic situation presents a challenge for the NHL, in light of the relatively new salary cap and revenue sharing mechanisms that govern the financial flows between teams and players.  An entire generation of sports fans has grown up without having actually experienced a serious recession, so uncertainty has spawned a range of reactions; from apocolyptic visions of multiple teams collapsing to GM’s having to gut their squads as a falling salary cap forces their hand.

Just this week, James and Tom over at The Rink Podcast talk at length about the possibility of contraction in their latest episode, and James Mirtle waxed incredulous over Gary Bettman’s claim that the NHL’s business, for now, remains healthy, and that the storm clouds are still on the horizon.

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Spin the wheel, spin a story

HockeyAnalysis.com provides us with a retrospective of the ongoing saga of Mats Sundin, told through the eyes of everyone’s favorite “insider”, who really, honest-to-goodness this time, has the scoop on where the big Swede will suit up this winter:

There is a good chance that Mats Sundin will make an announcement on his future within the next week or so so lets check out some earlier chatter from the internets most notorious (and hugely inaccurate) rumour monger…

Read on for months and months of wacky hilarity.  Only a few more weeks, and all 30 teams will have been connected to the Sundin rumors.

 

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Goal-scoring record no minor feat

The 2008-9 NHL season isn’t even half over and it’s already shaping up as one of the more enjoyable seasons in recent memory.  Engaging storylines, both positive and negative, are to be found in just about every corner of North America; at opposite ends of the continent the San Jose Sharks and Boston Bruins are off to amazing starts, Sean Avery and Boots Del Biaggio are keeping the scandal sheets filled, and Mats Sundin still has people wondering if and for whom he’ll play.

Amidst all that drama, there is another story worth paying attention to, and it’s in danger of being overlooked until too late.  It highlights the endurance and professional commitment that makes hockey players so endearing to longtime fans, and for anyone looking for a pop culture link to the world of hockey, we have a Hollywood character come to life, except on the ice instead of the baseball diamond.

Dear Readers, I’d like to introduce you to Don Parsons of the IHL’s Bloomington (Illinois) PrairieThunder, who is about to become the all-time leading goal scorer in minor league hockey history.

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The State of the Central Division

Illegal Curve provides insight from team-specific bloggers as to how the Central Division is shaping up so far, with three of them coming from these friendly confines; myself covering the Predators, “William” from A2Y talking about the Red Wings, and Bethany chiming in on the Blue Jackets.  William?  That just sounds too mature…

Enjoy!

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Why Sean Avery dropped the bomb

Amidst the pile of hyperbole that the mainstream media and NHL officials are stacking up over the Sean Avery situation, one point that’s being overlooked is exactly why the Dallas Stars agitator dropped that verbal bomb in Calgary.  The general assumption is that he was attempting to steal the spotlight in a bid for personal attention.

It’s clear to me, however, that instead, Avery looked around the room, saw a last-place team that is the laughing stock of the Western Conference, and asked himself, “What would Reggie Dunlop do?”

Reggie Dunlop
She still calls me, you know…

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Local newspapers taking another hit

Fresh on the heels of yesterday’s profile of a troubled US newspaper industry, comes word that Gannett, the nation’s largest newspaper company, is dishing out massive layoffs today.  While the specific impact on various NHL reporters is uncertain at this time, it’s hard to believe that some markets won’t take a hit given the widespread nature of the carnage, which is being chronicled by a former Gannett editor, city by city:

The current round [of layoffs] would reduce employment 10% in the 30,000-employee community newspaper division by early December. USA Today and (likely) the Detroit Free Press are subject to this layoff, too. The newspaper division has 85 dailies in this round.

The stories are coming in from all over the country, and being newspaper folks, they obviously write up their experiences well.  Jim Hopkin’s Gannett Blog has some very heartfelt and honest reporting going on today.  For hockey fans who worry about the level of attention the NHL gets from the mainstream media, it will be interesting to see how deeply, if at all, this affects the level of hockey coverage in the daily press.

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Where are the NHL’s priorities?

Earlier this month, the NY Islanders’Thomas Pock got a five game suspension for elbowing Ottawa’s Ryan Shannon.  Then the Devils’ Mike Mottau received a two-game suspension for elbowing Frans Nielsen of the Islanders.  Last week, L.A. Kings forward John Zeiler received a 3-game sentence for boarding Colorado’s Adam Foote from behind.

Today, just hours after dropping a verbal bomb that (presumably) referred to his ex-girlfriend Elisha Cuthbert as “sloppy seconds”, Dallas’ Sean Avery has been suspended “indefinitely, pending a hearing with commissioner Gary Bettman,” per TSN.

I’m guessing that NHL commissioner Gary Bettman’s not a big believer in the old saw, “sticks and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

If Avery gets more than a single game suspension out of this, the NHLPA should call the league out on the carpet for prioritizing PR above player safety.

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Ink-stained wretches are an endangered species

PJ Swenson of Sharkspage takes a look at the decline of NHL coverage in mainstream newspapers, and comes to the conclusion that rather than being a verdict on the state of the game, it’s more a consequence of the overall meltdown in the broader print newspaper business.

Both shoes have dropped on the newspaper business, and staffs have been slashed as managment [sic] tries to stem the financial bloodletting…

Interactive maps detail over 13,748 newspaper jobs lost year to date in 2008, and over 2,185 newspaper jobs lost in 2007.


Read on for all the details…

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Nine hockey people you should follow on Twitter

One of the most lively areas in the online world these days is Twitter, the social networking/micro-blogging/discussion forum that’s growing by leaps and bounds.  NHL fans, being the upscale, technically savvy folks that they are, have been taking Twitter by storm, adding a new dimension to how they interact and discuss the game.

Many sites, including Kukla’s Korner (@kuklaskorner), James Mirtle’s From the Rink (@mirtle), HockeyFights.com (@hockeyfights) and the Toronto Globe & Mail (@globehockey) use Twitter as a way to alert followers to new articles as they are posted.  For me at least, these notifications often arrive quicker than waiting on an RSS reader.

But if you’re a hockey fan who wants to check out the fast-paced (and some would say addictive) Twitter experience, where do you start?  Which users should you start following?  This list should help you get rolling, or rather, “tweeting”...

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Black Friday for the NHL?

The Business of Sports makes a good case for sports leagues using “Black Friday”, the shopping extravaganza that follows U.S. Thanksgiving, as an opportunity to drive ticket sales:

Even though many families have cut back on their discretionary spending, there is a good chance that they’ve still put aside money for the holidays.  People are still going to buy gifts for dad, the kids, family, and friends.  The challenge is to communicate to your customers the idea of buying tickets and merchandise for their holiday gifts.

The article refers to general sports merchandising, but includes an NHL.com commercial as an example.  For those teams which are getting creative with ticket sales, jumping on the Black Friday bandwagon sounds like a good idea, it’s the one day of the year you can count on customers running around town with money to spend. 

 

 

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