Kukla's Korner

What Lockout?

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Jeff Z. Klein and Stu Hackel a the New York Times,

From September to January, while the lockout wore on, some predicted the league’s fans would punish the owners and players by staying home and not tuning in. But as basketball fans did after the N.B.A.’s 2011 lockout, N.H.L. fans came back immediately and in droves. To wit:

■ N.H.L. teams played to 97.5 percent capacity, and average attendance was 17,768, up 2.6 percent compared to last year’s full-season figure. Average attendance for 25 of 30 teams was up or equal to their full season 2011-12 attendance average.

■ There were healthy leaps in regular-season network television audiences on both sides of the border. NBC’s viewership increased 15 percent (compared with a 2011-12 figure that omits the Winter Classic, which was canceled this season because of the lockout), and NBC Sports Network posted an 18 percent jump, for the N.H.L.’s strongest national cable audience since 1993-94. On local television, 22 clubs had double- or triple-digit percentage increases in viewership.

■ Stanley Cup finals viewership is also up in both the United States and Canada, with NBC and NBC Sports Network averaging 5.356 million viewers over the first four games, the largest network audience in the United States since that figure was first tracked in 1994.

read on

Filed in: NHL Talk, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Stanley Cup Final Now A Best Two Out Of Three Series

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Stu Hackel of Sports Illustrated,

Like two heavyweight boxers who can throw and absorb a big punch, the Boston Bruins and Chicago Blackhawks will answer the bell on Saturday night in what is now a best-of-three for the Stanley Cup. The teams returned to Chicago for Game 5, and don't be surprised if this final continues to look like a Rocky film, with marathon bouts that somehow don't end even though the fighters trade heavy roundhouse blows that in real life would knock out the other guy.

Much of the pre-series speculation held that this Original Six encounter looked like a pick 'em affair that would go the distance, and that increasingly seems like the way it will play out. Plus, with three of the four games having gone into overtime, this final has tied the mark for the second most OTs in a Cup championship series and there's no reason to think we won't see at least one remaining game go an additional frame.

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Just The Facts

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Thanks to the NHL PR department for providing the information below...

DID YOU KNOW?
* Teams have split the first four games of the Stanley Cup Final 22 times since the best-of-seven format was introduced in 1939. The team winning Game 5 has captured the Stanley Cup 15 times (68.2%). However, the team losing Game 5 has rebounded to win the series on four of the past six occasions (all since 2001).
 
* Those four teams: the 2011 Bruins (vs. the Canucks), 2009 Penguins (vs. the Red Wings), 2004 Lightning (vs. the Flames) and 2001 Avalanche (vs. the Devils).
 
* This is fourth time in the last five years that the Stanley Cup Final has been tied 2-2 after four games, with 2012 being the lone exception (3-1 in favor of Los Angeles).

Continue Reading »

Filed in: NHL Teams, Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Focus On The SCF Goalies

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,

So there was Rask, who’d gone a ridiculously long stretch – more than 129 minutes – without surrendering a goal, and then gave up six. So what?

As for Crawford, yes, the Bruins exploited him for a handful of goals on the high glove side, as did the Los Angeles Kings and the Detroit Red Wings before them.

But the fact remains, even after the two gave up a total of 11 goals in that one aberrant match, they still have goals-against averages of less than two per game, which remain stunningly and historically low numbers.

“The scrutiny of goaltending at any stage of the season is at a different level of any other player, and I guess it’s even more out there now that you’re in the final,” correctly assessed Blackhawks head coach Joel Quenneville after practice Friday. “But Corey just seems to move forward whatever the challenge is, the next shot, the next game. He’s excited about the opportunity. We’re excited about what he accomplished. He won a big game for us, and that’s where we’re at.”

read on

Filed in: NHL Teams, Boston Bruins, Chicago Blackhawks, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

A New Attitude In NYC

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,

Don’t let anyone fool you. The Rangers’ transfer of coaching power from John Tortorella to Alain Vigneault is as much about style as substance, as much about personality as advanced metrics.

It is about an easy smile replacing a perpetual scowl as the face of the hockey team, not only in public settings but, much more importantly, behind the closed doors of the locker room.

Glen Sather doesn’t want any coach’s metaphorical blood on his players’ hands, doesn’t want to be perceived as having been pushed into making a change that otherwise would have been avoided. That’s why the general manager has gone out of his way to deny the Rangers’ exit meetings were the motivating force behind the call to dismiss Tortorella.

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, New York Rangers, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Red Wings overnight report: the Wings’ biggest changes will still involve ‘building from within’

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

Nine days removed from the draft and thirteen from the start of free agency, it's easy to read the Free Press's Helene St. James' report about the Wings' desire to move some bodies up front and/or use some cap compliance buy-outs, to think about the progress made by the Grand Rapids Griffins' players during their Calder Cup run, and to start letting our minds wander.

Two buy-outs, three trades, four free agents signed and eleven kids promoted next year! The roster's going to be completely different! (and surely, we can clone TSN Player of the Year finalist Pavel Datsyuk's competitor, Pavel Datsyuk!) Right? The elevendy twelve signed forwards and eight defensemen mean the Wings have to make tons of moves right away!

It's at this time of year, when TSN's Scott Cullen pens his "Off-Season Game Plan" for the Wings (it''s a great read but it doesn't translate well to a blog entry), that Wings fans tend to head over to Capgeek and build radically different Red Wings rosters, ignoring what Ken Holland told the Windsor Star's Bob Duff--that the vast majority of the changes made to the Red Wings' roster this summer will involve the players that the Wings sent down to the Griffins to bolster their ranks (and Tomas Tatar) joining Detroit's lineup on a full-time basis:

Continue Reading »

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Are coaches interchangeable?

Blog: KK Hockey By George Malik

The Toronto Star's Damien Cox finds it less than ironic that the New York Rangers and Vancouver Canucks have essentially traded coaches, with the media-friendly Vigneault facing New York's media horde and John Tortorella all but certain to grumble, grouse and otherwise belittle the ocean of Vancouver scribes, mostly because Cox believes that NHL coaches are all essentially the same:

The fact that the Canucks and New York Rangers essentially swapped coaches — Alain Vigneault to Broadway, Tortorella to B.C. — tells you all you really need to know about the modern NHL coach.

There’s not much difference between them, and supply outstrips demand.

For the most part, they coach about the same way in a league in which offence and imagination is crushed at the altar of parity and keeping every games close.

What really decides the level of success of individual coaches is the players they have at their disposal.

Most specifically, the goalie they have at their disposal.

Cox continues at length, and I disagree with him, but I'm curious as to what you think. Is it the players that make the coach? I'm not so sure about that.

Filed in: | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

St. James reports that the Red Wings may use trades, buy-outs to ease roster crunch

Blog: The Malik Report By George Malik

The Free Press's Helene St. James reports that the Red Wings' management plans on easing its roster crunch by making some pre-draft or pre-free-agency trades (the Wings have $10.6 million in Capgeek-estimated cap space, but they're going to spend $4 million-plus re-signing Joakim Andersson, Jakub Kindl, Gustav Nyquist and Brendan Smith, and they may need to spend up to $3 million to re-sign Damien Brunner), but if the team can't move bodies, it may buy out Mikael Samuelsson, Todd Bertuzzi or Carlo Colaiacovo--and she also reports that each and every one of the NHL's 30 teams can make cap compliance buy-outs at any time from 48 hours after the Stanley Cup Final ends until July 4th, the day before unrestricted free agency begins this summer!

The No. 1 buyout candidate is Mikael Samuelsson, who was a non-factor this past season, felled by one injury after another. He's got a year left at $3 million, money that could be well used towards funding a top-six forward.

Continue Reading »

Filed in: | The Malik Report | Permalink
 

Video- Dreger Talks Four Topics

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Darren Dreger of TSN was on NHL Live today and discussed John Tortorella in Vancouver, Team USA, David Clarkson and possible landing spots for him and trading at the draft.

 

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

Top Buyouts

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Pat Pickens of Sportsnet,

Briere’s buyout of $3.33 million over four years ranks as the eighth-highest buyout in NHL history. Here is a brief look at the 20 priciest of all time.

20. Alexei Zhitnik, Atlanta Thrashers

Zhitnik, who was traded to Atlanta for Braydon Coburn– we all remember that deal– was bought out after just 83 games. The current-Jets franchise combined to pay $2.33 million over two years, and Zhitnik finished his career with Moscow Dynamos

19. Jonathan Cheechoo, Ottawa Senators

The former 50-goal scorer was traded to the Senators for Dany Heatley on Sept. 12, 2009 but only played 61 games in Ottawa before being sent down to the American Hockey League. Cheechoo was bought out for the final two years at $2.33 million and has not played an NHL game since.

read on

Filed in: NHL Teams, | KK Hockey | Permalink
 

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