Kukla's Korner

The Razzle Dazzle Lne

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Alameda Times-Star,

If you're a part of hockey history, a Stanley Cup champion, your name should be spelled correctly on the coveted Cup, especially when the NHL has had 61 years to make that correction. That's all Gerry Heffernan is asking, and it's not such a tall request even for a short hockey career, which happened to be his puck luck. Two years is all he had in the NHL, but he is satisfied. For two years and one Stanley Cup is better than 22 years and no Stanley Cup. However, did the NHL idiots have to make him suffer for his 1943-44 season in the sun with the Montreal Canadiens by botching his name on the Cup? He is Gerry Heffernan, not "Jerry Hefferman." Can't the league spell? "Does it bother me? Not really," Heffernan said a few days ago. "It was a means to an end. To get to the top of your sport, the apex, it's not only an honor but a privilege."

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Philly Fans Can’t Wait

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Philadelphia Business Journal,

After speaking to about 60 team sponsor representatives at a private luncheon last week, Philadelphia Flyers head coach Ken Hitchcock was asked if he is worried about any kind of fan backlash following the labor contract dispute that canceled last year's National Hockey League season. He isn't. "In hockey, you're either a hard-core fan or nothing," said Hitchcock, speaking outside the Wachovia Center's Victors Club. "There's no such thing as a casual hockey fan. ... We have a fanatical following, it's almost a spiritual kind of following." The loyalty of the Flyers' fans has shown itself at the box office, where the team has received more than 83,000 phone calls from people inquiring about season tickets.

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Prove It

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Tampa Tribune,

"We are going to crack down on all the clutching and grabbing that is slowing down our game. We have instructed the referees to call penalties on any type of obstruction infraction in order to showcase the skill of our game." That mantra has been repeated many times in the past five years of the National Hockey League. We've heard it so many times, in fact, that not a lot of people of put much credence into the statement when it was repeated again at the conclusion of the lockout. Not coaches. Not general managers. Not players. Not fans.

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Wings Closing In On Datsyuk Decision

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

I happen to be in the Traverse city area this weekend and while in downtown T.C, I happened to run into a Wings management type. I introduced myself, told him about the blog and talked hockey a bit. Conversation turned to Datsyuk and Zetterberg and I was basically told Wings want a decision tomorrow from Datsyuk and then will direct their efforts into signing Zetterberg on Tuesday. Wings have made numerous offers to Datsyuk, with different lengths of contract, but the only stumbling point seems to be the dollar amount. Datsyuk is shooting for the moon, and feels he is worth more than the Wings think he is. Wings will not budge on the money part and the decision is in the hands of Pavel. They have not received any trade offers but of course will listen but they hold the cards. No RFA offers either, teams do not want to lose the draft choices on Datsyuk just yet, other players with more talent are or will be available next year, and besides, no other teams feel Datsyuk is worth what he is asking.

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NHLPA Morale Low

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from alan Hahn of Newsday,

During NHLPA members' heated five-hour conference call Wednesday involving the debate over Ted Saskin's promotion to executive director, many players were against not Saskin, but the process by which he was appointed. The NHLPA constitution says the executive committee can only nominate a person for the lead position and that it must go to a vote to approve it. The response from the executive committee, which includes the likes of Trevor Linden and Bob Boughner? "How can we be governed by a constitution that's 40 years old?" To which one infuriated player shot back, "I don't know, the U.S. seems to be doing all right." The players' union continues to crumble in the wake of the lockout, and morale is as low as it was back in the Alan Eagleson days. Many players are upset with how quickly Saskin was moved into Bob Goodenow's seat without a search or consideration of other candidates.

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Shooting An NHL Commercial

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Chilliwack Progress (B.C. newspaper),

While they didn't exactly arrive in droves, a steady stream of Chilliwack residents dropped by Prospera Centre Wednesday night to be a part of an upcoming NHL commercial shoot. Some were there for the paycheque, while others were looking to fill some idle time. Others still were excited just to be a part of something - anything - hockey related. Hopes were high for most that the commercial will feature real NHL stars, but Tony DiMarco, a talent director from Circle Productions, says it's unlikely any big name hockey players will be on set. "That's just a rumour. It would be cutting it pretty close to the beginning of the hockey season," he says of the Sept. 8 through 14 work schedule. "They are all focused on training, and the Chiefs are busy with their training for the team." What will be needed for the shoot are several six foot guys, ideally over the 200-lb. mark, to sit on the bench during shooting. No hockey skills necessary. "They just need to look like an NHLer," he quips. They were also looking to fill the stands, at least in part, with about 350 hockey fans.

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Wings Heading To Camp With New Faces

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Traverse City Record-Eagle,

The new Collective Bargaining Agreement is quickly changing the landscape in the National Hockey League. "In the past you felt there were six to eight teams that could win the Stanley Cup," Red Wings General Manager Ken Holland said. "There's probably 15 to 20 teams that can win it now. "It's going to be an exciting season." After a one-year absence, National Hockey League teams return to the ice this month. The Wings report to camp at Traverse City's Centre ICE next week. "I can't wait," Holland said. Prior to that, a five-team NHL prospects tournament will be held here, starting Tuesday. Teams will be operating under new rules and new budgets. A $39 million salary cap resulted in unprecedented player movement during the off-season.

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Crosby Taking Off

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

, There is the on-ice side of hockey, which 2005 No. 1 overall draft pick Sidney Crosby proved he had an exceptional handle on even as a 16-year-old. Then there is the business side of hockey, which for Crosby also started around the age of 16. Now, with Penguins training camp opening on Sept. 13, Crosby already has a broad appeal as unique as his talent. At the age of 18, Crosby has three major endorsement deals, including one that's made him the face of Reebok's new Rbk Hockey line. He has his own professionally managed Web site, www.crosby87.com, with a link to the Crosby e-store where fans can pre-order an autographed Penguins jersey (Crosby won't actually sign any Penguins merchandise until he makes the team) for close to $700. Agent Pat Brisson said the site averages 140,000 hits per day.

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Bondra Still Unsigned

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Washington Times,

The Washington Capitals offered forward Peter Bondra, who will be 38 halfway through the season, a one-year contract for $1.5?million with enough incentives to push that figure to almost $2?million. Bondra, it should be pointed out, is jobless. The wing's last employer, the Ottawa Senators, declined to pick up his option for another year of service. The Atlanta Thrashers recently extended an offer but pulled it back when Bondra and his agent, Rich Winter of Edmonton, ignored a deadline for responding. Bondra, according to published reports, made a counterproposal to Washington -- a two-year, $4.5?million contract with incentives and a no-trade clause. Somebody is not getting the message here. The Capitals are in a rebuilding mode, concentrating on young skillful players. They are trying to put together the team of the future because experience has taught them that high-priced, underachieving players are not the way to go, resulting in a mass salary dump. Bondra should know; he was part of it when he was shuffled off to the Senators.

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GMs Can’t Control Themselves

Blog: KK Hockey By Paul

from the Toronto Star,

The hockey landscape was altered beyond recognition by the NHL's nuclear winter and the subsequent new collective bargaining agreement with its players. The constant, however, remains the inability of several teams to completely control themselves, even within the restrictions of a hard $39 million (all figures U.S.) salary cap. A longer contract has become the dealmaker for clubs trying to lure free agents or in convincing their own stars to stay beyond the time when they could hit the open market. Tampa secured both Vinny Lecavalier with a four-year, $27.5 million deal and Martin St. Louis with $31.5 million spread over six seasons. Edmonton gave Chris Pronger a five-year deal for $31.25 million, Sergei Gonchar will get $5 million in each of the next five years from Pittsburgh. It goes on and on. "Has everybody lost their hockey mind?" Carolina Hurricanes owner Peter Karmanos wondered aloud to the Raleigh News-Observer last week. "Some of the GMs have a short attention span."

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