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NHL Short Notes

* After the NHL’s all-time leading goal scorer, Wayne Gretzkywelcomed hockey fans to the NHL on TNT and NBA legend Charles Barkley appeared as a special guest on the broadcast, Capitals captain Alex Ovechkin scored twice to surpass Marcel Dionne for fifth on the NHL’s all-time goals list.

* Ducks rookie Mason McTavish and Capitals rookie Hendrix Lapierre each scored in their NHL debuts, marking memorable nights for the teenagers.

* A total of 18 teams are in action during Thursday’s slate, highlighted by a pair of NHL veterans set to make their debut with new clubs.

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Video- Chatting With Charles Barkley And Jon Cooper

via Sportsnet,

6 years ago, Jon Cooper walked into a bar in LA and by chance happened to meet Charles Barkley. The two chatted hockey and basketball for 3 hours. On Monday, Christine Simpson sat down with them on the Big Picture.

 

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Watching ESPN

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The NHL Debuts On TNT Tonight

via the NHL PR department,

Naismith Memorial Basketball Hall of Famer and Sports Emmy Award winning broadcaster Charles Barkley will join tonight’s NHL on TNT Face Off Presented by Verizon pre-game show. Barkley, a passionate NHL fan, will help to usher in TNT’s inaugural NHL telecasts alongside “The Great One” Wayne Gretzky and fellow studio analysts Anson Carter, a10-year NHL veteran, Rick Tocchet, a three-time Stanley Cup Champion, hockey personality and former AHL & NHL veteran Paul Bissonnette, and host Liam McHugh.

Tonight’s pregame coverage will also be commercial-free, starting at 7 p.m. ET, live from the TNT’s brand-new, state-of-the-art NHL studio in Atlanta.

TNT will drop the puck on its inaugural NHL regular season of live coverage at 7:30 p.m., when the New York Rangers, led by Artemi Panarin, Mika Zibanejad and 2021 James Norris Memorial Trophy winner Adam Fox, visit the Washington Capitals and their star-studded lineup highlighted by Alex Ovechkin, John Carlson and Evgeny Kuznetsov.

Later at 10 p.m., the 2021 Presidents’ Trophy winners Colorado Avalanche and Mikko Rantanen will host the Chicago Blackhawks, with the anticipated Chicago debut of 2021-22 Vezina Trophy winner Marc-Andre Fleury.

Use this as an open post and tonight's schedule is below.

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Mattias Ekholm’s New Contract Is Official With The Nashville Predators

Nashville, Tenn. (October 13, 2021) - Nashville Predators President of Hockey Operations/General Manager David Poile announced today the team has signed defenseman Mattias Ekholm to a four-year, $25 million contract that will keep him in Nashville through the 2025-26 season. The contract will begin in the 2022-23 season and carries an annual average value of $6.25 million.

"When you think about foundational pieces on our hockey team, Mattias Ekholm is certainly at the top of the list, and we couldn't be happier to get this deal done with the start of the regular season upon us," Poile said. "An alternate captain who leads both vocally and by example, Mattias brings stability and size to our defense corps and has embraced serving as a mentor to the younger players on our team. We have a group of young, right-shot defensemen that includes Alexandre Carrier, Philippe Myers, Dante Fabbro and Matt Benning who all have the opportunity to learn from and play with Mattias on the side opposite him, and we're excited about the stability that will provide us on the blue line."

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Does The Cup Get Raised In Canada This Season?

from Luke Fox of Sportsnet,

So close. So far away.

Each NHL journey north of the 49th parallel brings with it two pieces of luggage: one labelled “drought” and the other “hope.”

For the first time in a long time, the “hope” carry-on was nearly too big to cram into the overhead compartment during the short-haul pandemic campaign of 2020-21. All flights were domestic, and a Canadian club was guaranteed entry into the Stanley Cup semifinals.

This country had waited 10 years for a Stanley Cup finalist. And although the low-seed, high-effort Montreal Canadiens did their city and their sport proud during what might’ve been the final four rounds of captain Shea Weber’s career, the mighty Tampa Bay Lightning retained the belt by decisive knockout.

The Habs’ brilliant blood-sweat-and-tears run served a hot reminder of just how difficult that climb to summit can be… only to discover that you must wrestle The Revenant bear to plant your flag.

And so, we begin anew up north.

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Review Of ESPN’s First Night

from Ken Fang of Awful Announcing,

Hoping to differentiate itself from NBC which held the main NHL contract dating back to 2005, ESPN assigned Sean McDonough to be its main play caller. Ray Ferraro who had been with TSN in Canada was brought in to be his partner.

Their partnership on Tuesday for the Pittsburgh Penguins-Tampa Bay Lightning season opener showed potential. Ferraro offered the analysis that made him one of the NHL’s top color men over the last ten years. McDonough showed some rust in the beginning. His “goal” call instead of the more familiar “Score!” was lacking, and as Tampa Bay fell behind Pittsburgh early, the crowd at Amalie Arena grew silent. Perhaps that affected McDonough as his energy level was low.

McDonough is a very good nuts and bolts announcer, and he can rise to the occasion as evidenced by his college football calls, but on this night, there were times when he was behind the action and was trying to catch up, but as he went further into the game, he was able to get into a rhythm and pace.

Emily Kaplan was the rinkside reporter inside the glass and she did offer some good tidbits...

In the second game, John Buccigross joined former NHL on NBC analysts Brian Boucher and A.J. Mleczko. As Boucher and Mleczko are fresh from working for the Peacock, they had a good chemistry working off one another. Buccigross’s energy level was high throughout the game. His play-by-play has improved through the years as he has called the World Cup of Hockey in 2016 as well as the NCAA Frozen Four. Buccigross is not on the level of Doc Emrick or ESPN’s previous number hockey play-by-play man Gary Thorne, but he doesn’t have to be. He was on top of the action and had a good game to call as Seattle came back from a 3-0 deficit to tie before falling 4-3 to Vegas.

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Waiting On Brady Tkachuk

from Kelly Egan of the Ottawa Citizen,

The Ottawa Senators start a brand new season Thursday, so we enjoy our last spell of magical thinking, when anything is possible and the beer is always cold.

We’re building toward a Stanley Cup — repeat, ye of little faith. Is this not the message we’ve been hearing from owner Eugene Melnyk and general manager Pierre Dorion, lo these many years?

But, before reaching heaven, there was the stretch in purgatory, as we patiently endured the loss of Karlsson and Stone and Pageau and Ryan and Boro and Duchene and Dzingel, lots of others, because “we had a plan.”

And that plan was “the rebuild” and the rebuild, as Dorion said at the start of training camp in September, is pretty much over. In fact, he was emphatic about that.

“We’re at a stage where, for us, I think the  rebuild is over ,” he told reporters. “I don’t want to hear the word anymore.”

All well and grand. Except for one problem: Brady Tkachuk, our prized left-winger, our grit and our passion, one of the faces of the franchise, a curly-haired kid who made hockey in Ottawa fun again.

As everyone knows, he remains unsigned on the eve of the first regular-season game and, by accounts, isn’t even in the country. And the “word” he doesn’t want to hear anymore, we read regularly, is eight, as in eight (years) for eight (million dollars).

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A New Look For Sportsnet

from Kevin McGran of the Toronto Star,

The first intermission of “Hockey Night” will feature a “players panel” with MacLean, Kevin Bieksa Kelly Hrudey and Jennifer Botterill. “We’re going to shoot it differently. We’re gonna shoot it in a 360 degree style. It’s going to be very personality driven, very opinion driven,” Corte says.

The second intermission will be a new “32 Thoughts” segment with Elliotte Friedman, joined by Jeff Marek. “It’s been a fantastic brand and a fantastic piece of content for us on a regular basis,” Corte says of Friedman’s brainchild that started as a column, then became a podcast. “We’re all really excited about what that is going to be.”

“Hometown Hockey” moves to Monday night, from Sunday, with MacLean and Tara Slone as hosts....

For technology nerds, it’s more than just green screen. But, yes, green-screen technology will be a part of the show. Imagine taking the host and placing her anywhere in the world, exploring arenas, stadiums or cities like a character in a video game. Or at a desk in a studio that doesn’t exist in reality.

And, yes, ads for sponsors will pop up on screen for viewers at home, though they will be more seamless than clunkier earlier versions of virtual reality.

But what has Sportsnet really excited is “augmented” reality. If “virtual” reality makes it appear a person is somewhere other than the set, “augmented” reality makes something that doesn’t exist necessarily to appear real and on the set, three dimensionally, beside the hosts.

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Morning Line- Pierre LeBrun

If I were in charge of the NHL schedule, preseason would be shortened, the regular season would start around Sept. 20, and the Stanley Cup would be awarded by May 31. No June hockey in my dream world.

That would allow for the draft to go mid-June at the latest and the opening of free agency around June 20-23 or so. No more July 1-4 free agency fireworks, it’s always been ridiculous that’s been the case on national holidays three days apart on each side of the border.

That would be the perfect schedule.

Instead, there are some owners in non-traditional hockey markets who actually would prefer not to have any games in October at all, they want a later starting season so as not to compete as much with U.S. college football, baseball playoffs and the NFL. It’s why some of those clubs have light October schedules as it is.

Ridiculous.

Drop the puck in September!

-Pierre LeBrun of The Athletic, where you can read ($) more hockey topics.

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About Kukla's Korner Hockey

Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

From breaking news to in-depth stories around the league, KK Hockey is updated with fresh stories all day long and will bring you the latest news as quickly as possible.

Email Paul anytime at pk@kuklaskorner.com

 

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