Kukla's Korner

Franchise Players

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Jeff Gordon at Fox Sports,

Few elite athletes settle into a city and become the true "franchise" player — roster cornerstone, team leader and smiling public face of the entire operation.... Who are the most vital, indispensable athletes in major North American team sports today? Alexandre Ovechkin Sidney Crosby may be the best young player in the NHL, but Ovechkin is the most electrifying young talent. He is an explosive goal scorer on the otherwise out-manned Capitals. When he rushes the puck with a head of steam, he is the best spectacle in the sport.
read on...AO was the only NHL player to make Gordo's list, but others received honorable mention...

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The NHL’s Media Revolution

Blog: KK Hockey By Alanah McGinley

By Alanah Downie I just wanted to add something about this excellent article at Sharkspage which Paul linked to earlier today. Blogger PJ explores some issues of importance to both mainstream and "citizen media" (ie. "hockey bloggers", and a term I stole from Capitals' owner Ted Leonsis when he mentioned it on my own blog a while back). While notable newspapers like the LA Times and others reduce their NHL coverage, there continues to be more hockey coverage online than ever before. Why? Because the demand is greater than ever before. There aren't less fans interested in hockey, just less traditional media interested or (more likely) financially capable of devoting their resources to the sport. But as PJ points out in his piece, "[When] hockey fans do not get the coverage they want from television, radio, or in print, they will move online." And guess who's producing an enormous amount of that online hockey coverage (with an enormous number of readers, I might add) without any support from many NHL teams? That's right: Citizen Media. In my own experience, even the busiest and/or most reputable hockey bloggers and other fan websites continue to face an uphill battle getting even the smallest concessions of support from the teams they cover. The NHL itself appears to be making a sincere effort to rectify that, but many individual teams, left to their own devices, aren't as interested. And what's most important about that isn't the welfare of the hockey blogger, it is the welfare of the NHL team. They have an enormous targeted fanbase reading and sharing material at their favourite blogs, and too many teams are taking that for granted. And if any professional sports league should care about reaching out to a "targeted fanbase" it's certainly the National Hockey League. On the bright side, there are teams that DO reach out to this fan base -- the Washington Capitals is an easy example of a team that faithfully works to build its fanbase and interact with the community of citizen media which helps cover their product. I'm sure there are other teams who deserve credit as well. For those teams and their fans, it is a win-win situation: more hockey coverage. If you have any positive experiences with other NHL teams -- either as a fan or a hockey blogger -- I'd love to hear them. Perhaps those forward-thinking teams will help inspire the rest, who seem oblivious to the media revolution going on around them. Updated: 5:39 p.m. EDT

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Covering The Game

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

P.J. at Sharkspage has a very detailed post on the media coverage of the NHL. Well worth your time to read it.

The Sports Editor of the New York Times, Tom Jolly, is answering questions from readers all this week on nytimes.com. Hockey fan Fred Winters asked Jolly about the lack of New York Ranger coverage in the Grey Lady:... Jolly's response was posted in full because it is important for the league to take notice of his comments. The Los Angeles Times, the New York Times, and the Washington Post, three of the largest papers in the U.S. have all expressed similar concerns about the league. In each instance, editors will cite individual stories that prove that they still keep an eye on the sport. Unfortunately, it takes regular day in and day out coverage to build a fan base.

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Looking At The Central

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Allan Muir of Sports Illustrated breaks down the Central Division. Regarding the Nashville Predators...

The blue line defections included Brendan Witt and Markov, two veterans who are just plain miserable to play against. Although he signed 6-foot-5, 220-pound Alex Henry on Monday, Poile looks ready to go with youngsters Shea Weber, Kevin Klein and Greg Zanon at the bottom end of a potential-packed corps. That's the right move to start the year, but he'll need to buttress that back end at some point if he hopes to see the Preds get past the first round this season. He's also yet to sign defenseman Dan Hamhuis, a critical element of the top four. That should happen soon, but if the stalemate drags on past the start of training camp, Poile's summer looks less impressive.
more on all of the Central...

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KK- Talking Hockey & Wings

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

I appeared on 'Hockey this Morning' via XM radio this morning. Had a great time and was very impressed with the host Cam Stewart. He knows hockey! They were able to record the 15 minute segment and if you wish to listen (mp3), be my guest.

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Busy Summer For Cam Ward

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the News & Observer,

Cam Ward made his way back to Raleigh on Wednesday, the conclusion of a wild summer for the 22-year-old Carolina Hurricanes goalie. Winning the Stanley Cup was only the beginning. After being awarded the Conn Smythe Trophy as postseason MVP, his post-victory tour has taken him from Raleigh to Vancouver to New York to Raleigh to Edmonton to Durham to Edmonton to Los Angeles to Edmonton to Hawaii and finally back to Edmonton -- a two-month odyssey that included a center-stage victory lap at the NHL Award Ceremony, appearances on VH1, NBC and the ESPYs and, somewhere in the middle of all that, his wedding and honeymoon.
continued

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Gagne, Primeau & Hitchcock

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Delco Times,

There are some other circumstances that are directly affecting the eventual Gagne signing, and the Flyers would like for them to work themselves out before inking a new deal with their top goal scorer. When Clarke left for his vacation, the Flyers had used up about $40 million of his team’s $44 million salary cap. So, signing Gagne would put the Flyers above the cap, so other moves need to be made -- or do they? Well, that depends on Keith Primeau. But recently, he has been back on the ice skating and participating in scrimmages with other Flyers. And while Primeau has been relatively hush-hush about the latest reincarnation of his comeback from his concussions, the fact he’s skating and skating hard has to be a positive sign.
more

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Naslund Shoots Down Trade Rumors

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the National Post,

Markus Naslund could have taken the easy way out after a stunning stretch-drive collapse last April cost the Vancouver Canucks an NHL playoff appearance. With 14 players gone from last season's roster in a summer of discontent, the captain could have asked general manager Dave Nonis for a trade to a Stanley Cup contender and escaped the fishbowl of Vancouver. Instead, the face of the franchise put to rest yesterday the ongoing rumours that he could be swapped for unsigned Philadelphia Flyers winger Simon Gagne and join longtime friend and countryman Peter Forsberg. "No, I've been committed," said Naslund. "I like playing here and it's a special place. It's been tough not having the success we expected with a group that had the possibility of having success. And that's how I felt...."
continued

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Year-Round Job

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Montreal Gazette,

Gone are the days of NHLers working second jobs during the summer, then using training camp to get fit. No longer do Canadiens work offseason sales or public-relations jobs for Molson, the brewer that long owned the club, while using 18 holes of golf as a workout. Modern hockey is a year-round occupation for today's hugely salaried player, a fact reflected by the scrupulous attention Livingston pays to keeping the Canadiens healthy and fit. It's why he sent every player into the summer with a lavishly illustrated 166-page offseason training manual, which covers training philosophies, stretching, regeneration, injury prevention, principles of cardiovascular, metabolic, strength, power, agility and quickness training, diet, even yoga.
more

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Stars Preparing For Players Return

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

A good look how the Stars equipment and training staff are preparing for the season... from the Dallas Stars,

"We do our best to pay attention to the minor details that players request for their gear," said Sumner, "and with so many new players, we're learning how each guy wants each piece of equipment. Some of our returning players may also be switching to new sticks or new skates, for example, so we are definitely getting into midseason form early." Representatives from various stick manufacturers have already been in to meet with players and get their custom specifications for the new season. The Stars' equipment staff facilitates the relationships between the players and the stick companies, so Sumner and his assistants, Chris Davidson-Adams and Dennis Soetaert work closely with both sides to make the players happy.
more

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