Kukla's Korner

Kukla's Korner Hockey

Columbus Wants Respect

from the CP via TSN,

Doug MacLean sighs at the end of the phone when asked how he feels when time and time again his Columbus Blue Jackets get lumped with Florida, Nashville, Carolina, Anaheim and Atlanta as markets that may struggle mightily coming out of the NHL lockout. "It irks me to no end," says the Jackets GM. "And I've said it on more than one occasion to the ones who have said it. It just seems to be an easy name to throw in that mix. It's out of ignorance is what it is. It's a lack of knowledge of what's really going on in our market." If ticket sales are any indication, the Jackets remain a hot item despite the year without hockey. The club is sitting at over 12,000 season tickets, with 70 per cent of the holders keeping their full investment on their account during the lockout. The Jackets averaged 17,376 fans per game at the 18,136-seat Nationwide Arena in 2003-04, including 16 sellouts. They've sold out 95 of their last 138 home games. "People who say they want to get rid of Columbus, that's just frustrating," says Jackets centre Todd Marchant. "They've obviously never seen a game there or else they would never dream of thinking that. "When we get a Pittsburgh coming in on a Wednesday night and we sellout or close to, that says it all."

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Will NHL Players Avoid Boston

from Russ Conway of the Eagle Tribune,

Everybody has heard the old proverb: Be careful of what you wish for. Well, with the National Hockey League finally in its reconstruction mode, those words of wisdom fit the current Bruins situation as snug as one of the new spandex, Spiderman-type uniforms that goaltenders may be required to wear as part of their downsized equipment. Now that team owner Jeremy Jacobs has gotten his wish — a league-wide player salary cap at approximately $39 million and a formula linking 54 percent of NHL team revenues to player costs — his hard-line role in negotiations and the season-wasting lockout may come back to bite his team in the new Ice Age. Hard bargaining is one thing. But insiders repeatedly told yours truly that Jacobs often became condescending when in attendance during ongoing negotiating meetings as one of the owner representatives. His attitude, sprinkling sarcasm as he lectured players and union reps or looked at his watch while others spoke, became a counter-productive irritant.

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Team by Team Analysis

Ted Kulfan, the Red Wings beat writer for the Detroit News, provides a capsule look at each NHL team as the buyout period begins.

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Putting Out the Fire

from the Buffalo News,

National Hockey League Commissioner Gary Bettman is certain to reap high praise in the coming weeks for a job well done. The league is up and running again, mainly because he unloaded so many rights on Bob Goodenow that the Players' Association chief was begging for a left. The NHL should be in better shape now that a new collective bargaining agreement has been reached and the rulebook has been rewritten. The league has regained financial sanity. It appears everything is back in order. It's all true, but this is only faint praise for a league that fell apart under Bettman's watch. Do we honor a man for extinguishing a fire . . . or admonish him for starting the blaze? Bettman did some fine work during the past 10 months, but it was necessary only because he failed during his first 10 years. In fact, he still hasn't led the league to safety. He has merely proved that he owns a compass.

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Rule Changes Impact the Game

from Fox Sports,

With the excitement generated by Friday's "Game On" pronouncement out of New York, who can wait to see how these new rules will develop? Here is one set of opinions on the major revisions introduced to the NHL's on-ice product. Remember, however, that these rules are a package deal, with one change reliant upon several other alterations to succeed. "The changes all run into one another," explained Lou Lamoriello, the general manager of the New Jersey Devils. "They are all interdependent on each other." So, in the end, the package will be judged on its merits as a whole. Until then, however, here is a look at some of the major components of hockey's new look.

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Comcast and the NHL

via the Philadelphia Inquirer,

Now that there is linkage between revenues and salaries in the NHL in the new collective-bargaining agreement, broadcast rights are more crucial. What would happen if Comcast were to outbid ESPN for the rights to televise nationally? Is the league obligated to accept the higher bid? "There is not a contractual obligation," said Ted Saskin, NHL Players Association senior director. "But you still have to make good business judgment. We have a joint committee who will now consult on marketing and broadcast issues. Hopefully, you don't always take the offer that's the most money, but what is right for the sport. I am sure that is something the league will focus on, and we will have input in those discussions." That certainly means the NHL will likely do all it can to woo ESPN back to the table for 2005-06 and beyond because of its long-standing relationship. Still, you wonder whether the NHL would turn Comcast down if its offer were tens of millions of dollars more than ESPN's.

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Yzerman Expected Back

from Bruce Garrioch of the Ottawa Sun,

The future of Detroit Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman will be decided this week. It's expected the 40-year-old will play one final season with the Wings -- although it has yet to be announced -- and will sit down with GM Ken Holland sometime next week to discuss his future. The Nepean native has kept himself in good shape during the lockout and still has the desire to play. He also received an invite from GM Wayne Gretzky to attend Team Canada's Olympic training camp in Kelowna, so another shot at winning a gold medal in the upcoming Games in Turin, Italy, is also a good motivator to return for another NHL season. It would only make sense for Yzerman to come back. Detroit fans deserve the chance to say a proper goodbye and the vision of Yzerman, laying on the ice with a bloody towel over his face after getting a puck in the eye against Calgary in the 2004 playoffs, is not the way he should be remembered.

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NHL Rules Must be Clarified

from Al Strachan of the Toronto Sun,

Now that the board of governors has approved the National Hockey League's new rules, it's time to take the next step. Figure out how to implement them. To that end, NHL executive vice president Colin Campbell will be convening his competition committee in Toronto this week to work out the whys and wherefores. It's not as easy as it seems. The intent of each new rule is clear, but the way it will be imposed and enforced has to be determined. Take, for example, the shootout. The league confirmed on Friday that it will use that method to settle games that haven't been decided in overtime. It's a popular decision. As Brendan Shanahan, one of the committee members explained, "Nobody said he wanted a shootout, but everybody said he didn't want tie games. This seemed to be the best way to do it." But what shootout format makes the most sense? Each team will use three shooters, but how do you decide which team shoots first? If the score remains tied after those three have taken their shots, the shootout moves to a sudden-death stage. But as recently as Friday, the governors were still debating whether, if a team scored on its fourth shot, the other team, which had shot only three times, would have another chance.

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Brodeur Baffled

from the Toronto Sun,

Martin Brodeur finds it "ridiculous." The National Hockey League's best stick-handling goaltender said yesterday he cannot understand why the league's powers-that-be would strip him of that skill by limiting the areas in which he can play the puck. "I don't want to complain but I really don't understand the logic of taking away a talent that only a handful of goalies around the league really have," Brodeur said during a phone interview yesterday. "All the general managers who didn't have good puck-handling goalies voted this rule in, I'm sure. "I think it's ridiculous. It takes away from the few goalies who do it." Under terms of the rules ratified by the league's board of governors on Friday, goaltenders may play the puck behind the goal line only in a trapezoid-shaped area defined by lines that begin six feet from either goal post and extend diagonally to points 28 feet apart at the end boards.

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Nashville Owner, We Could Win the Cup

Craig Leipold, owner of the Nashville Predators, is right. Any team can win the Cup this year. from theAP via the Daily Times,

Craig Leipold helped negotiate the NHL's new labor agreement, so it shouldn't be any surprise he thinks his Nashville Predators likely will benefit the most. Leipold had been among the most vocal of the small-market owners in wanting to give teams a chance to compete with the league's biggest payrolls. He had a perfect role on the owners' executive committee, which worked out this new six-year deal. NHL commissioner Gary Bettman even thanked Leipold among others for his help at the start of his news conference Friday in New York. ``We're obviously one of the big winners, maybe one of the biggest winners in this new CBA (collective bargaining agreement),'' Leipold told reporters by telephone en route to the airport in New York. ``When we get on the ice in our preseason game ... we're going to feel like we can not only compete for a playoff position, we're going to feel like we could win the Stanley Cup.''

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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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