Kukla's Korner

Fans Happy Game Is Backl

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Toronto Star,

Hockey is back and, apparently, all is forgiven. It is as if the Maple Leafs, frozen out of the Air Canada Centre for 16 months in a bitter NHL labour dispute, never went away. Nor did the affection of Toronto hockey fans for all things blue and white. An exhibition game against Ottawa — 5-2 for the Senators — turned into an exhibition of love last night as the Leafs went from being on ice to on the ice. And a standing-room-only crowd showed up to welcome their heroes home. Those fans, starved for shinny entertainment, stood and cheered every goal by the locals. They also stood in lengthy lines for concessions and souvenirs. And, more telling, they stood in lines at the ATMs, getting more cash to feed the money-making beast that is the Leafs. Back with the team is the $12.50 draft beer (28-ounce domestic), the $4.40 pizza slice and the $25 parking space. If there was resentment at having the game yanked away for a season, it was almost invisible here last night. "Are you kidding? It's Toronto. They could go away for five years and everyone would come running back just as strong," said 21-year-old Will Mauro, whose family has season tickets in the golds "I can't wait to get to my seat again."

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Kovalchuk & Datsyuk News

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

A story from the Russina paper Sports-Express just hit and it involves both Datsyuk and Kovalchuk. The partial translation is in the comments of this section, but if anyone can do better, please pass it on. What I get from the story and I am not even 50% sure of this, is both Datsyuk and Kovalchuk will be back with their respective NHL teams in the future. Again, a better translation would be appreciated.

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Much More On Tkachuk

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Oh My!!!

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Better Now Than Later

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

I like the idea the rules seem more cut and dried for the refs. Consistency will be the key! from the Calgary Sun via Slam,

The key changes brought forth for hockey's rebirth were prominently on display during last night's 5-4 Chicago Blackhawks win over the Calgary Flames in pre-season action at the United Center. A goalie -- Philippe Sauve -- was penalized for playing the puck outside the trapezoid area behind the net. A now-allowable two-line pass resulted in a breakaway. And lots of obstruction penalties were called. Lots and lots and lots of penalties. A grand total of 28 powerplays worth nearly 43 minutes resulted from the steady parade of players headed for the sin bin. Yet Jarome Iginla said he and his teammates were fine with the game's direction. "It seemed a little more cut and dried for the refs," said the Calgary captain, who played his first pre-season clash. "It was a tough game as far as penalty killing and powerplay but I think we'll be able to adjust.

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Fischler Pays Tribute To McMullen

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Stan Fischler of MSG Network,

Dr. John J. McMullen, one of the best friends hockey -- and the state of New Jersey -- ever had, died at his home in Montclair, NJ, Friday night at the age of 87. McMullen, who also once owned the Houston Astros, brought the Devils to New Jersey from Denver in 1982. A New Jersey native, McMullen served heroically in the Navy during World War II and resigned with the rank of Commander in 1954. Throughout his life, McMullen remained an avid sports fan and bought the Devils on May 27, 1982, convinced that the state of New Jersey could support an NHL team at the Meadowlands. "The response was wonderful," said McMullen at the time of the purchase, although he'd have to pay an unprecedented NHL transfer fee. "The alternative was no team," said McMullen.

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Yashin’s Team

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from MSG Network,

When the season previews start, if you hear it once you'll hear it a thousand times, the Islanders have been built to succeed in the new era. And, oh, by the way, this is Alexei Yashin's team now. Yashin understands that this will be a popular theme for everyone -- fans, the NY media, even the national media. Not to mention, his GM mentioned it 10 or 11 times in the offseason. In any event, Yashin insists "that it's not really his team any more than it used to be." But that shouldn't be interpreted as a deflection of his responsibility; rather, more of an admission that he was probably trying as hard as he could to make it his team in years past, but it just didn't happen.

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Playing For Hitchcock

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Philadelphia Inquirer,

Just a week into training camp and it already had become a question: "Are you feeling the love right now, Derian Hatcher?" as in love for Flyers coach Ken Hitchcock? It is easy to ask the injured defenseman such a question these days because he has yet to step onto the ice while rehabbing partially torn ligaments in his left knee. Hatcher's idleness has allowed for a comfortable distance between him and the tough taskmaster he came to know in Dallas. So when he was asked if he was or was not feeling the love, a big smile crossed the face of the 6-foot-5, 235-pound defenseman. "I'm lovin' him now [because I'm not in camp]," Hatcher said, laughing. "Are you supposed to love a coach? I don't know. I heard guys never loved Scotty Bowman."

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The Makings Of A Superstar

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the St. Peterburg Times,

He doesn't look any different. Same hair. Same face. Same broad shoulders and thick legs. He hasn't gotten any taller or more handsome. He still talks about himself the same - long silences, humble shrugs, a smile that's awkward, not arrogant. Yet there's a feeling that Lighting center Vinny Lecavalier has changed. Maybe the word is transformed. Or evolved. Yes, that's it. Evolved. That the kid who struggled to kick-start his career, that the kid who felt the undue pressure of being called the "Michael Jordan of hockey" before he even played a game, that the rebel who played the oil to coach John Tortorella's water is stepping up to a higher plain. Superstar.

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Commitment & Professionalism

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Palm Beach Post,

Joe Nieuwendyk and Gary Roberts began their hockey careers as birds. Nieuwendyk was an Owl. Roberts was a Wren. "We were little kids, 5 years old, playing in the same league" in Whitby, Ontario, Nieuwendyk said. "Every team was named after birds," Roberts said. More than three decades later, Nieuwendyk and Roberts have evolved into snowbirds. As the Panthers' first two post-lockout free-agent signees, they flocked to Florida for the winter, bringing shared leadership skills and complementary playing styles. Panthers coach Jacques Martin, who had Roberts in junior hockey and Nieuwendyk in the Olympics, talks about the "commitment" and "professionalism" they bring. Nieuwendyk and Roberts, both 39, talk about the intelligence and teaching ability of Martin and his staff. "If everybody buys into the system and is disciplined, then that's going to give us much more chance of winning some hockey games," Roberts said.

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Gimmick

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Larry Brooks of the NY Post,

The pulled groin suffered by Phoenix goaltender Brian Boucher Friday night on the first shot of the opening exhibition's post-game exhibition shootout is a vivid reminder of why the players need a strong union looking out for their own interests. Yes, there's risk in hockey, but a meaningless post-game skills display isn't hockey. It's distressing and depressing that the NHL hierarchy would choose to promote and feature a gimmick — and make no mistake, that's what the shootout is — as the primary focus of the league's return to the ice. The people running the league don't have enough faith or belief in the game to allow it to stand on its own as an entertainment vehicle, not even with all the rules changes that have been implemented for this season. Rather, the geniuses on Sixth Avenue — or the ones in their marketing and advertising agencies, who knows? — decided that the fans would be provided with "a special preview" of the shootout following every single exhibition game, regardless of the score after 60 or 65 minutes.

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