Kukla's Korner

Hartley Is An Embarrassment

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Toronto Sun via Slam,

Bob Hartley is quickly becoming an embarrassment to the new National Hockey League. At a time when hockey is doing its utmost to put on a happy face, Hartley's worst instincts are dragging the game back to its Neanderthal past. Soon, the talented but ridiculously inept Atlanta Thrashers, may have to make a decision on their coach's future. Don't be the least bit surprised if there is league pressure to remove Hartley from the Atlanta bench. Atlanta players are being suspended for actions the coach could easily put an end to.

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‘Special Teams’

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Philadelphia Inquirer,

It's a game of special-teams play. Yes, there is a flood of more skating and more scoring. Games are more exciting. The fans seem to like it. No lead is safe. People stay longer to watch games. Yet there is such a huge emphasis on special teams. And the long-standing tradition of crunching checks is all but gone. Is this a better game than before? That's what a lot of people are asking. Perhaps the more precise question should be: Is this what hockey is going to evolve into? And if so, will the fans, the players, the coaches, and the general managers embrace it as NHL hockey? "It is what it is," said Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock. "It's a new game." Players say they are actually fresher because there is less five-on-five action during games and more time spent on special teams. Once upon a time, Hitchcock prepared two penalty kill units and two play units. These days, he has three power plays and four penalty kill units. He needs that many people on special teams because the game has been tilted in that direction. "The special-teams game now in the NHL has the potential, on every night, to have a bigger bite in the game," he said. "This is uncommon. It's never happened before in the NHL."

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Penguins Are Cheap

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,

Question: What do you get when team ownership is more interested in staying below the cap midpoint of $30.5M in order to qualify for a second round of revenue sharing than in putting the best possible team on the ice? Answer: The Penguins. There's discontent spilling all across the Pittsburgh room, multiple sources have dutifully reported to Slap Shots, and you should know that not all of it is directed toward second-year head coach Ed Olczyk, whose team was winless in seven going into last night's match in Boston. Yes, it's true, a number of big-name veterans have been put off by the way they've been deployed; there's consternation over the blatant lack of work ethic displayed by some of the Penguins' primary athletes — yes, that means you, Greg Malone, and you too, Sergei Gonchar — and there's confusion over why Eddie O seems to have identified the emotional Lyle Odelein as a scapegoat.

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Thrashers Over The Cap

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun

, A lot of people are looking at the sad state of the Atlanta Thrashers and shaking their heads. Not only are the Thrashers getting hammered because of goaltending problems -- prior to last night's 4-3 win over the New Jersey Devils --sources say they've exceeded the NHL's $39-million (all terms US) salary cap and they're closer to the $40-million range. Teams are allowed to go over the cap by 7.5%, however, it will count against them next year.

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Goalies Talk Shootout

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Al Strachan of the Toronto Sun,

Of all the new rules, the one that seems to be creating the most controversy is the shootout. Although it is highly popular among American hockey fans, a lot of Canadians still don't like it. Strangely enough though, a highly unscientific survey -- a series of chats with the players themselves -- would indicate that the players enjoy it. The goalies? Reviews are mixed. They tend to say that they like the shootouts when they win, but for the most part, they accept it as a form of entertainment that is necessary to help the game recapture its fan base.

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“We Will Make Changes”- Kevin Lowe

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Edmonton Sun,

Kevin Lowe has some "mad money.'' But as mad as he is right now and as infuriated as Edmonton Oiler fans may be, Lowe isn't ready to kick his dog and go out and spend it yet. "Last August we knew we'd want to add something,'' said the GM of the money he left himself under the Oilers' budget with the new collective bargaining agreement and the new NHL salary cap. "We knew we'd be able to add something during the season. We didn't know if it would be defence or to add goal scoring.'' The idea, he admits, was to wait a while longer, let the hockey team settle to get a complete and accurate reading, and make the right decisions. "You don't want to make moves based on a game like we just watched,'' he said of the 7-1 debacle against the Colorado Avalanche. "We will make changes,'' said Lowe.

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Old Time Hockey

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Don Cherry on HNIC says the new NHL is just like old-time hockey, then said yea, it is old-timer hockey. Cherry thinks the fans will grow tired of all the scoring, said the players all rush the net now without any fear of being knocked out of the way. Ron MacLean state Ken Hitchcock told him off the record that he wished the Toronto-Philly game tonight could have been played the way ti was two years ago. I have a feeling we are going to hear more and more complaining from coaches and again, the NHL must step in to stop the complaining.

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Coaches Complaining

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

"I don't understand how they called that many power plays against us," he said. "I don't understand how we're that bad. I guess the Detroit Red Wings get those calls in their building."

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Living A Dream In Montreal

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Fox Sports,

It certainly wasn't an easy road Higgins traveled to make his way to the Montreal Canadiens. But it was one well worth the trip. Despite being told time and time again when he was growing up that he was too small to play in the NHL, Higgins soldiered on and battled his way through the hockey ranks to get the right people to notice his abilities. When he was in the eighth-grade a coach tried to discourage him from thinking about playing hockey at the high school varsity level, but the then-5-foot-5 frontliner didn't listen.

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Flyers & Devils Meet The Cap

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Asbury Park Press,

We saw the NHL's new salary cap system at work over the summer when the Flyers bought out the contracts of John LeClair and Tony Amonte and traded Jeremy Roenick to fit Peter Forsberg, Derian Hatcher and Mike Rathje under the $39 million threshold. We're seeing more effects of the cap now that the season is under way. Earlier this month the New Jersey Devils traded Jeff Friesen, a talented left winger who scored the game-winning goal in the seventh game of the 2003 Stanley Cup Finals, to the Washington Capitals for a conditional draft pick. Why? Because Friesen's $2.28 million salary did not fit under the NHL's $39 million cap. "His salary was certainly at a level that was, quite frankly, too high,'' Devils general manager Lou Lamoriello said.

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