Kukla's Korner

NHL Must Cultivate Truly Constructive Criticism

Blog: KK Hockey By George Malik

By George James Malik

Last weekend, Brett Hull reignited the cry for bigger nets. On Tuesday, Mark Cuban discussed combining U.S. and Canadian TV ratings to promote the league. Wednesday and Thursday, the hype about the NHL’s “Uniform System” gave way to a “first look. At the All-Star game, the GM’s and Board of Governors will probably agree to disagree on scheduling adjustments—and they’ll talk about a few topics that will undoubtedly be “leaked” to the press to gauge public opinion.

Wednesday, Bettman will deliver his once-traditional All-Star break “State of the Game” speech, and all, undoubtedly, will be well in the commissioner’s opinion. The league will be declared healthy, though Bettman will grouse about so many teams pushing the upper limit of the salary cap.  He’ll claim that the dismal TV ratings both north and south of the 49th parallel aren’t worrisome, and we’ll hear a classic case of denial; Bettman will claim that he never told fans that ticket prices and salaries were irrevocably intertwined before the lockout. Bettman’s a believer in pushing the game forward; empty seats, horrible TV ratings, and a league-wide malaise are just “details.”

With all due respect to the NHL’s more fan-friendly policies, Chairman Mao seems to forget that you can’t make a Great Leap Forward when your foundation’s sagging.

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It’s Not Working Gary

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Mark Spector of the National Post via Canada.com,

What really tips the scales, though, is what Bettman set out to acquire right from the start. Under his guidance, the NHL has gone through Fox, ABC, and ESPN, and now NBC and Versus in ever-decreasing rights deals. Hockey has reached rock bottom on the television front: a network deal that is worth nothing until NBC sees a highly unlikely profit; a cable deal with a channel that is carried scarcely throughout the States, and has returned national numbers in the 195,000-viewers range.
It was a helluva try, Gary. But it’s just not working.

more

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Forsberg Watch

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from John Buccigross of ESPN,

Other than the Flyers, let’s assume that that Columbus, Chicago and Los Angeles have no shot at the postseason. Let’s look at the other teams’ chances of landing Forsberg, starting with the highest points total.
1. Nashville Predators
This is intriguing. In a market that is teetering on failing, a name like Forsberg clearly would break through some of the hockey ignorance and sell tickets. Paul Kariya was a similar sign, but Forsberg takes it to another level.

read on

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On The Right Track

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Eric Duhatschek of the Globe and Mail,

This has been Brendan Shanahan’s baby, ever since its conception a year-and-a-half ago. He has seen it wobble and toddle and stumble over some issues, such as officiating and diving.
He has also seen it straighten up and make small, but decisive steps forward, as speed and flow were restored to the game.
It was Shanahan’s efforts, in the darkest days of the National Hockey League lockout that, for better or worse, gave us a competition committee and a raft of changes that put the new in the new NHL.

continued

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Player & Trade Talk

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

via Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,

Edmonton W Ryan Smyth said he’s had no discussions with the Oilers on a new contract since before the season. It’s believed Smyth, who can become an unrestricted free agent this summer, is seeking a deal worth more than $5.25 million US a season. “Nothing has come about,” said Smyth. “I’m going to leave that up to (agent Don Meehan) to discuss. I’m out of it. I just hope that Donnie and (Oilers GM) Kevin (Lowe) can work something out.”

What are they waiting for?

Spector has all the latest player movement talk…

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Hockey Heaven

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Don’t forget to check out the NHL.com writers at NHL Connect…

For the hockey nut, it is a scene that rivals what heaven must be like, minus the golf courses and endless sushi buffet. Where else can you stand in one spot, and in a matter of 30 seconds, have legends like Mario Limoux, Brett Hull, Gordie Howe, Mark Messier, Paul Coffey and Ray Bourque breeze past you.

read on

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At Least Nobody Pulled The YouTube

Blog: KK Hockey By George Malik

from ZDNet’s Garett Rogers:

When the partnership between Google and the NHL was first announced, there was much fanfare — people were excited about the prospect of watching their games any time they wanted.  These videos were planned to be “free for two weeks”, however it ended up being “free until the partnership died”, if that’s what actually happened.
For about two months, the NHL was uploading videos frequently and promptly — now it looks like fans shouldn’t be holding their breath too long for anything new.  The last video was uploaded two weeks ago on January 8th, and the “videos of the week” are still from January 7th.

continue

 

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Putting The Wood Back In Composites

Blog: KK Hockey By George Malik

from the Canadian Press:

Will Denis Flaro’s new hockey stick turn you into the next coming of Wayne Gretzky?
Probably not. But the president of Flarrow Hockey Sticks, based in Martintown, northeast of Cornwall, says owning the 9000 Turbine—with its one-of-a-kind design—will put you on the cutting edge of hockey equipment technology.
“We’re in the midst of testing it right now,” said Flaro. “I think it’ll capture a lot of the market.”
The 9000 Turbine, which takes its powerful-sounding name from a graphite model the company used to produce, is modelled on a standard one-piece hockey stick.
But unlike most one-piece graphite or fibreglass sticks—called composites—the core of the 9000 Turbine is filled with wood rather than left hollow. That gives it the lightness of a composite, said Flaro, with the feel and durability of a traditional stick.

continued

 

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NHL Aching With Apathy

Blog: KK Hockey By George Malik

from Brian Millner of the Globe and Mail:

The National Hockey League has stopped playing games that matter this week while it puts many of its star players in the spotlight during its annual all-star game, the first in three years. In many ways, the non-contest, which is being held in Dallas Wednesday, is a microcosm of the league itself in its struggles to attract wider audiences to the sport.
Commissioner Gary Bettman typically delivers a state-of-the-game assessment during this break, and as always, it will be a rosy one. But all is not rosy. Attendance is down, TV ratings are abysmal and the league still can’t seem to figure out how to market its assets to non-core fans. And it’s not only the owners. The players, too, have paid scant attention to the sport’s marketing woes.
“It’s a bit like pulling teeth during the season,” said Calgary defenceman Andrew Ference, one of half-a-dozen player business representatives who are in Dallas to kick around some marketing ideas. “We have to convince guys that it’s worth doing.”.

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The Two Sides Of Shanny

Blog: Abel to Yzerman By IwoCPO

Perhaps we know better than most that Brendan Shanahan’s a complex dude.  In the eleven years we watched him play in Detroit we saw the combative Shanny, the compassionate Shanny, the outspoken and sometimes silent Shanny.  This week, Ranger fans are getting a taste of two distinct aspects of his personality: the “ambassador”, and the petulant.

First, two of our deep diggers mind melded and brought us nearly word-for-word identical stories on Shanahan’s age, status as league statesman and all star.

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