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Next Shift

from NHL.com,

Once, they knocked each other down. Now, they're helping each other up. A rapidly growing group of current and former NHL players has banded together to create and finance start-up businesses. They've hired a noted player agent and a former Fortune 500 corporate executive to guide them and several businesses are already up and operating. Next Shift Enterprises, LLC is a multi-business organization owned and operated by current and former professional hockey players for the purpose of assisting other players and people associated with professional hockey with their transition into business.

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OLN A Bad Fit For The NHL

from the Tennessean,

OLN has landed the cable TV rights to the NHL. So who's carrying the Stanley Cup playoffs this season, the Home Shopping Network? Note to OLN programming: See if you can squeeze in a Red Wings-Maple Leafs game on, say, a Monday night. Yeah, just wedge it in there between that pro bull-riding show and the All-Star BBQ Showdown. And make sure your viewers know you may be joining the umpteenth Survivor rerun already in progress if the game goes into overtime. OLN, which stands for Outdoor Life Network, shows the kind of junk ESPN used to air in its formative days. You want rodeo? Check. You want tree-chopping? Got it. You want deer hunting? C'mon down.

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Goalie Shuffle

from USA TODAY,

NHL goaltenders will have to adjust to smaller pads and restrictions on where they can play the puck. Many also will have to adjust to new surroundings. This week's signing of two-time All-Star Curtis Joseph by the Phoenix Coyotes leaves open the possibility that 11 teams could have a different No. 1 goaltender from the end of the 2003-04 season.

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Ambition and Salvation

from the NY Times (reg. req.),

There was a time through the spring and summer when Gary B. Bettman, the commissioner of the National Hockey League, looked like a man without a neutron of leverage to his cable television negotiations. ESPN had just said that the N.H.L.'s rights were not worth much - certainly not $60 million, the sum that ESPN on Wednesday rejected paying for the coming season by not exercising its option to do so. As he looked at what seemed like a bleak, post-lockout terrain, where no network should knock itself by bidding a cent for N.H.L. rights, Bettman said he set a $60 million floor for bidders. How rosy! How outlandish! "I didn't budge," he said yesterday.

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Too Tight

from Al Strachan of the Toronto Sun,

The new look lasted 20 minutes. For one period of running-time scrimmage yesterday, the Team Canada players wore their new Nike Swift sweaters and socks. After that, Team Canada 2006 executive director Wayne Gretzky sent a message down to the bench: That's enough. Go back to the regular sweaters. The Nike sweaters were prototypes of the ones Team Canada will wear in the February Olympics. They are sleek, synthetic and tight. Far too tight. "I didn't even wear it," said Rick Nash who put on a phenomenal display yesterday and snapped home a couple of beautiful goals. "I couldn't get it on. It was way too tight. I didn't bother."

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Playing By The Rules

from the Globe and Mail,

The National Hockey League has laid out specific guidelines for its new standard of enforcement in areas of interference, hooking, holding, tripping, slashing and cross-checking. In a memo sent to league coaches and general managers this week, Mike Murphy, the vice-president of hockey operations, relayed specific rule definitions and promised that each club will receive a DVD before training camp that will demonstrate the ins and outs of the new standards through simulations and game clips.

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OLN Exclusivity

This should clear up some emails I have received today questioning exclusive broadcasts for OLN. The only exclusivity OLN will get this season for the 58 regular-season games it carries every Monday and Tuesday night is with the contests being covered by the network. If OLN has New York vs. Boston, for example, the regional sports networks in those cities will not be allowed to carry the games. But any other non-OLN games being played on Monday and Tuesday will get carriage as usual on the sports regionals.

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Details of the TV Contract

from the Philadelphia Inquirer,

OLN's broadcasts will include technology and gimmicks such as miked players, in-game interviews and net-cams to enhance a game whose rules have already been tweaked for the new season to encourage offense. Comcast and OLN will offer on-demand video highlights and archival programming to digital cable subscribers and produce at least one game weekly in high definition. Comcast and OLN also will work with the NHL to make live game video available this season to broadband Internet users, probably as a pay service. Later they plan to collaborate to create a separate NHL Channel. It will have 24 hours of hockey shows and eventually carry live games, although, Bettman said, "OLN gets first choice in the schedule." OLN and the league want to create a national hockey night. For the 2006-07 season, the league will devise its schedule so that on a certain night each week, probably Monday, only one game will be played in the NHL, and it will be on OLN. The strategy seems to put hockey night against Monday Night Football, which is shifting to ESPN in 2006. There's work to be done. OLN does not have an HD channel. OLN president Gavin Harvey said it will produce games in high definition and "make those available to our affiliates and distributors." Some OLN hockey games may be carried on local sports channels. OLN and Comcast must build a national hockey production team and hire announcers. OLN plans to produce a postgame hockey show that will air after its live games, so it must build a studio.

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Blackhawks On The Way Back

from Terry Frei of ESPN,

Judging from recent events in Chicago, hell has frozen over -- and the Zamboni is making a between-periods circuit. That'll happen when pigs fly! Judging from recent events in Chicago, hogs, boars and swine of all kinds are in the landing patterns at O'Hare, albeit running late because of edicts from air traffic control. With new general manager Dale Tallon -- a former defenseman, golf pro, scout and radio analyst -- wielding the pen and contracts in the wake of the new collective bargaining agreement, the Blackhawks have become heavy hitters, signing Nikolai Khabibulin and Adrian Aucoin, plus less-heralded Martin Lapointe.

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Leafs Sign Aubin

John Ferguson, general manager of the Toronto Maple Leafs, announced Thursday that the club has signed goaltender Jean-Sebastien Aubin to a one year contract. In keeping with club policy, terms of the contract were not disclosed.

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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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