Kukla's Korner

Players May Take Saskin To Court

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Toronto Star,

Los Angeles Kings veteran Trent Klatt and a growing group of disgruntled NHL players are considering going to court to challenge the recent hiring of players association executive director Ted Saskin, sources say. In the days since the union's 35-member executive board last Wednesday ratified Saskin's hiring during a five-hour conference call, controversy has percolated over the way the 46-year-old Saskin was hired. The chief complaints about Saskin's $2 million (U.S.) annual contract, according to executive board members who participated in last week's conference call, were that the union didn't hire a search committee to find other potential candidates to replace Bob Goodenow and that Saskin's deal was ratified over the phone and without a secret ballot, as required by the union's constitution. "Ted should put his hat in the ring, but we do need to have a search committee," Maple Leafs forward Tie Domi said.

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Babcock Sees Datsyuk In Detroit

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Detroit Free Press,

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock is four days away from taking his new team to the ice for the first time since being hired in early July, and he is steadfastly refusing to accept that center Pavel Datsyuk will stay and play in his native Russia. "I don't believe that," Babcock said Friday. "I believe he'll be a Red Wing. Basically, the way it sounds, I don't think anybody knows the whole story. I think he wants to play here."

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Symth Mulling Over Offer

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Edmonton Sun,

"We submitted another offer and we'll see where it goes," said Oilers assistant GM Scott Howson, who declined to comment on whether the sides narrowed the financial gap during talks yesterday. The Oilers and Smyth have a one-year deal on the table that is worth slightly more than his qualifying offer of $2.698 million, so there's no chance the veteran left-winger will miss the start of camp. "I'll be there because we've got the one-year deal in place," Smyth said."If we can't agree on the long-term, I'll take my qualifying offer and be ready to go. It's one year or whatever we settle on." Smyth and Meehan will spend the weekend digesting the latest offer and are expected to respond by Monday. If Smyth opts for the one-year contract, he'll be an unrestricted free agent next summer.

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Why The Changes

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,

Muckler still believed an overhaul was in order, and he decided to change the face of this club. "I could have done nothing and maybe we would have had another 100-point season, but we wouldn't have been successful in the playoffs," said Muckler. "The fans here aren't going to settle for that and we're not going to settle for that either. We're all about winning a Stanley Cup here. That's our only goal.

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Coaches Chime In

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Andy Murray, Ken Hitchcock and Peter Laviolette express their views of the changes to the game in the Globe and Mail. But be patient, Hitchcock said.

"The first time there are 10 or 12 penalties for each team, we can't have a collective heart attack," he said. "It's going to happen, so let's learn how to adjust." As the head coach of the American entry for the Turin hockey tournament in February, Laviolette made a quick assessment: puck control means everything. "For me, it's all about the puck now. If you've got it, it's going to be tough to stop it. So you better figure out a way to get it and hang onto it. I [also] think there will be some reteaching of defence and how to defend." Murray, the Kings' head coach, said on the eve of training camp for the 30 NHL clubs. "At the end of the night, if you try those long passes, 15 per cent will work and 85 per cent you just give the puck away to the other team. "We don't think there are going to be as many changes in the game as most people think."

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Enforcing The Rules

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star,

If you analyze exactly what the NHL is promising this season in terms of rule enforcement, it is without question the most ambitious initiative ever embarked upon by the league. It's not change. It's a revolution. For that reason alone, it's hard to see how the NHL will succeed. Then again, the same was said about the salary cap, and here we all are today taking Cap-ology 101. This is not the shootout we're talking about, or the streamlining of goalie equipment, or taking out the red line for the purpose of dialing long distance through the neutral zone. Many of those flashy items have attracted the focus over the past few months, mostly because they are straightforward and easy to visualize. But this isn't where the true revolution is taking place, the part of the NHL game that the league is promising will change the most and, by osmosis, could change the sport on a world-wide basis. You have to understand going into exhibition play next week that the NHL is proposing a totally new standard of rule enforcement on players in possession of the puck.

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Messier Done

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

The New York Post (reg.req.) and the New York Daily News report Messier will retire. Looks like the Hall of Fame will be welcoming a class of Mark Messier, Scott Stevens and Al MacInnis soon.

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Hockeytown South & Kovalchuk Problems

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Atlanta Journal-Constitution,

Out of sight and pretty much out of mind for a year, the Thrashers would like your attention again. They're in the process of rolling out an advertising campaign that signals their relaunch from the NHL lockout and unveils some pretty heady ambitions. "We want to create our own nation of true-blue fans — a la 'Bulldog Nation' or, in hockey terms, 'Hockeytown' in Detroit," said Jim Pfeifer, Thrashers vice president of marketing, advertising and branding. "So 'Blueland' is born . . . a hockey utopia where true blue fans can congregate." The Thrashers, who open training camp this week and their home season Oct. 8, will introduce the concept of "Blueland" on billboards and in print, TV, radio and online advertising. It's an evolution of the team's former "true blue" campaign.

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Talking Pacific Division

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

This is the final installment of the teleconferences conducted by the NHL. The Pacific Division was represented by Scott Niedermayer, Marty Turco, Jeremy Roenick, Shane Doan and Patrick Marleau. The transcript of the conference is in the comment section of this post. For all other divisions, check the post below this one.

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Talking Southeast Division

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

Dave Keon of the NHL Public Relations Department, conducted six teleconferences this week. The Southeast Division conference call included Bobby Holik, Rod Brind'Amour, Joe Nieuwendyk, Martin St. Louis and Dainus Zubrus. The transcript of the conference can be found in the comment section of this post. Also, all divisions have been added except the Pacific, which will be added later tonight. Northeast Atlantic Central Northwest

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