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Paul Kukla

About Paul
Paul Kukla is the man behind the excellent Kukla's Korner blog site. The longtime NHL fan and devoted Red Wings' supporter is joining NHL.com as a regular contributor this season. His blogs are a must read for hockey fans.

Feedback
E-mail your comments at: pk@kuklaskorner.com

Recent Posts
Can we talk hockey?
Mainstream getting with the blog concept
A reason to celebrate!
What a night!
Make room for one more

Season Archive
December 2006
November 2006
October 2006
September 2006
August 2006

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Can we talk hockey?

Maintaining a hockey blog for a living, I run across most hockey-related stories, many causing my head to spin at times. Last night on my blog, a few readers left these comments after I pointed to a few "bashing the NHL stories".

"Why fans should watch ..."

Reason number 1: Hockey has no Terrell Owens. And if it did, all the fans would get the wonderful catharsis of seeing him get run over by (Georges) Laraque for being a mouthy little twerp and become one with a Viagra ad on the boards ... :)

I stick with my original theory. When a sports writer is on deadline, he pulls out an old article from a drawer labeled "bashing hockey". Simple, brainless, and all he has to do is make sure the names are topical. Thinking is hard; recycling the same old concepts is easy. -- Baroque

Is it possible for anyone to go to a hockey game and print a story on the positives? Seems this may be impossible ... Where is a "What's right with the league", or "Why fans should watch" column ... Somehow the Canadian fans find a lot to like, but when the U.S. border is crossed anything positive is turned upside down. -- Can anyone explain why this would seem to be the case? -- canesice

Canesice is on a roll.

Hockey is a year-round whipping boy for poor reasons. Show me a positive article about the MLB All-Star Game (it stinks, remember the game that ended in a tie!) and the same for the NFL. And since when is TNT a prime network, where basketball is relegated a big percentage of the time? And somehow the MLB day games on FOX - which only air part of the year - are just fine - when games airing part of the year on NBC are somehow not as good.

Someone in the NHL needs to seriously figure out why all this non stop negative press keeps occurring, and fix it - fast.

Wake up and revolt hockey fans! (Oh, and by the way, if hockey doesn't sell, then why does the media write these nonstop garbage stories? Who is their target audience?)

These comments from hockey fans like you and me represent the "very" silent majority of fans. We enjoy our game, sure there are problems, but every sport has its problems. The NHL problems seem to get magnified.

* Can't find the game on Versus

What's wrong, is your cable guide broken?

* Why did the All-Star Game go against American Idol?

Huh, what is American Idol?

* There is no hitting in the game!

Wrong! Players are delivering hits, hitting from behind is gone, and that is a good thing.

Are you getting the picture? Hockey is gaining momentum, the race for the playoffs is on. Every point counts and youngsters, headed by Sidney Crosby are beginning to take over the league.

Do remember, writers are paid to attract readers. What they pull out of their hat at times does boggle the mind and that is their objective. Take it with a grain of salt, many of you know the game better than those part-time hockey experts. You are passionate, they are paid!

We love this game of hockey and we all have opinions, but let the players play, the coaches coach and the managers manage. If you want to let off some steam, tune into American Idol and yell at the non-talented, off-key singer.

The next 10 weeks will deliver the greatest hockey of the season -- enjoy, watch, relax and as always, stay faithful to the game.

Posted by Paul @ 9:44 a.m.

Tuesday, January 16, 2007

Mainstream getting with
the blog concept

Most of us turn to the main stream media (MSM) for our hockey news. But with the Internet, many of also turn to non-traditional sites for breaking hockey news and updates.

More and more MSM have started blogging about their specific teams and even general hockey talk. Many of those sites allow comments to be posted (some after being checked for vulgarity, etc.) and are bookmarked by hockey fans, meaning they are providing enough information to us that we check them on a regular basis.

Here are some of the sites I visit on a regular basis. I start of with the Globe and Mail. The Globe on Hockey is a must for hockey fans. Not only do many of the writers from the G&M contribute, they also break hockey news on a regular basis and update many times a day, which brings us back more than one time a day.

A blog growing in popularity is Capitals Insider, written by Caps beat writer Tarik El-Bashir. Tarik updates on a very regular basis and even lets us know when there is a problem with posting- First off, I'd like to apologize for the late posting today. It's been a nightmare of a day from a travel standpoint.

On Frozen Pond, written by the Miami Herald's George Richards, is more than just news about the Panthers. George adds some off the wall comments to his blog, along with some unexpected pictures.

The Spin, from Damien Cox of the Toronto Star, covers other sports too, but hockey talk is the prominent sport. Damien, a well respected columnist, always has a zinger in his posts and shoots from the hip.

Newsday maintains a blog for the Rangers and the Islanders. Blue Notes by Steve Zipay seems to be updated on a regular basis and contains some good inside information about the Rangers. On The Islanders Beat updated two or three times a week and appears to be attracting more fan interest.

Not really a blog, but deserving mention is the recently revamped Detroit Free Press. Each story allows comments from readers and the Wings talk at times receives a large amount of reader feedback.

One thing that is missing from many of these blogs, is a blogroll to other hockey sites. Even though these MSM sites may be sending traffic to other sources, it would be a service the readers would appreciate.

I am sure I have just scratched the surface of the MSM blogs. I must confess, as a good blogger would, I am without power, sitting in the house with a winter coat on, and have my computer hooked up to a generator so I could file this blog post. If you have any favorite MSM sites you visit, please feel free to pass them on here.

Posted by Paul @ 11:38 a.m.

Tuesday, January 9, 2007

A reason to celebrate!

Not only is this Saturday Hockey Day in Canada, but it is also Hockey Heaven for all fans.

Forget the NFL playoffs, re-schedule your normal Saturday routine, you have my go-ahead to do nothing but sit back and watch the greatest day of TV for a hockey fan.

Before you start up with I can't watch it, I don't live in Canada and don't get Center Ice routine... Well, Center Ice is offering a free preview this week, so you have no excuse now.

I have always enjoyed this day like no other. I mentioned in a previous blog post many friends and family members will be visiting that day. But they all know, once they drop in, they can't leave until the final horn sounds. They are all fine with that, it even has a built-in excuse (Paul would not let me leave), and as this once a year day gets closer, our anticipation begins to build.

Maybe it goes back to our roots, the CBC does a great job of taking us all back to our childhood years, and the memories we have are put right in front of us on the TV screen.

What little bit off unknown hockey history will Bob Cole deliver this year, will some other CBC personality surprise us with a feature that will knock our socks off? What former NHL player will show up, playing pond hockey with the kids from the local town? Whoever it is, our minds will flash back to all of the highlights he entertained us with.

I thoroughly enjoy the live shots from the local rinks, the joy on the kids faces who are in the spotlight for the day are never forgotten. The sweaters Ron MacLean debuts have started to grow on me, the hockey fans who surround Don Cherry as he makes his grand entrance, are representative of many hockey fans, who all want to stick out their hand to "The Don" and say, "put 'er 'dare"!

We are preparing our menu for this glorious day -- Tim Horton's for a late breakfast, a buddy from Windsor is picking up the ribs from a famous barbecue there and for dessert, some Maple Mousse along with a fine Canadian Ice Wine will top it off. Others are bringing snacks, all Canadian made and the beverages too, all bottled and yes, brewed in Canada. As you can see, we are doing our part to build up the Canadian economy.

Mmmm, can't wait, nothing is better than Hockey Day in Canada, except for maybe Hockey Day in Canada -- Monthly!

***

Hockey bloggers are starting to get recognized, some by major media outlets.

Alanah McGinley-Downie, Mike Chen, The Forechecker along with long time contributor Spector, are all spreading the hockey news at Fox Sports.

Eric McErlain is writing for NBC Sports on a weekly basis.

Why is this so important? Different views and opinions matter, especially in regards to our game. Even though you may not agree with the idea of bloggers becoming more and more involved, it is a growing trend and one that will continue to flourish.

The hockey blogging community is in its infancy, and the outlook for many of us is very bright. Growing and expanding in a proper fashion is key, and many bloggers are jumping on the bandwagon and are invited to do so, there still is room for you.

Next week, I take a look at the hockey writers from traditional media sources, who have expanded their reach by blogging about hockey. Is it a fad, do they want to write a blog? An in-depth and interesting look from my point of view, stay tuned.

Posted by Paul @ 11:16 a.m.

Wednesday, January 3, 2007

What a night!

"My jersey is going to go up there and I hope as you watch it go up, and when you come back, you look up and you give yourself a pat on the back. I really feel you're a huge reason why that jersey's up there, I just happened to be the person who wore it."

No Steve, we want to give you a pat on the back every time we see you, because YOU are the huge reason we follow the Detroit Red Wings.

Instead of talking to former players, coaches and management types, I decided yesterday to talk to the common fan and get their views on Steve Yzerman. So I headed to a few establishments near the Joe Louis Arena, where fans were beginning to gather to watch the Steve Yzerman retirement ceremony.

Events like this sometimes bring out what I call the "want to be seen fan", those who are more concerned with being seen rather than actually wanting to pay tribute to the honoree, but I was glad I did not run into one person who would fall into that category. The folks I talked to were true hockey fans, some paid up to $2000 for a ticket to the game, just to say they were there when No. 19 went to the rafters. After all, one fan told me, “Steve brought three Stanley Cups to Detroit, it was the least I could do to honor him.”

I talked to a couple women, probably in the mid-30's age range, who drove from Montreal to be at this event. They admitted they were huge Canadiens fans, but wanted to pay tribute to Yzerman, who they felt was the heart of many of the Canadian National teams. I talked to folks from Peterborough, where Steve played two years in juniors, and they came for the simple reason to show respect to a great hockey player.

Hockey is a way of life for fans in Detroit. They jot Wings games on their calendar, stop their busy schedules to catch a Wings game, will talk hockey with you all night, stories of the Cup years still highlight the talk when sitting down to talk Detroit sports. That was not the case in the late ‘70's and early ‘80's if you were a Wings fan. Hockey was off the map in Detroit, the team was suffering attendance problems and the players were not of the caliber to compete for a Cup.

That all changed when Steve Yzerman became part of the Detroit organization. Many of you know the Wings wanted to draft Pat LaFontaine, a player from the Detroit area, because the Wings felt Pat would attract some fans to the half-empty Joe Louis Arena. Their plans changed when the Islanders picked LaFontaine, and the Wings ended up with an unknown player at the time, this Steve 'Why"-zerman kid.

A fan I spoke with last night had followed Yzerman in his junior years, and knew the Wings had made the right decision, even though Steve was not a household name at the time. He felt the drive and determination Steve had would bring the Wings out of their "dark" years, and boy was he correct.

While scanning the crowd at the Hockeytown Cafe last night, looking for someone to interview, a few fans approached, telling me they recognized me from my picture on my NHL.com blog. They wanted to share a few thoughts on Steve.

Tommy and Kathy met each other at a Wings game in 1988. Both were wearing Yzerman jerseys, one home and one road version and fell in love that night. They were married a year later, have two children, the first born named Steven, and found some karma that, "19" years later, they were preparing to attend Steve's retirement party.

A group of three guys, Wings season ticket holders for 15 years told me they have not missed a game since Steve became a Wing. They had a message for hockey fans worldwide. They spoke from the heart, telling me they loved the game of hockey because of the players. They have shared their adult years living the game through the players. Players like Steve Yzerman. When you think Detroit Hockey, what comes to your mind first? Not Hockeytown, not the Stanley Cups, not the great players of the past. Only one name comes up- YZERMAN.

They walked away, turned their backs on me, only to stop, take of their coats to display custom-made jerseys. The first fellow had STEVE above the #19, the 2nd jersey had YZERMAN on it, and the 3rd had THANK YOU. They smiled and walked away.

I had pre-arranged with Christy, a fellow blogger, to take some pictures of the Yzerman ceremony, so I could share them with you. Boy, did she go above and beyond the call of duty. Not only some great pictures taken by her and her Dad, Michael Hammond, but a fantastic recap of the whole night. A must read for hockey fans.

In case you missed the ceremony, Fox2 in Detroit, has a nice clip of the night.

One last thing, a great tribute to the Captain at YouTube.

Posted by Paul @ 10:53 a.m.

Tuesday, January 2, 2007

Make room for one more

Today, the numbers of Terry Sawchuk, (1), Ted Lindsay, (7), Gordie Howe (9), Alex Delvecchio (10) and Sid Abel (12) hang from the rafters at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit. All great players and well deserved. Heck, I idolized those players, saw them all play (except Abel) and have the fondest of memories, mostly in black and white, whenever recalling their style of play.

Tonight, Steve Yzerman's No. 19, will be raised to join the all-time Wings greats. The memories of Yzerman are real, Detroit fans can still reach out and touch them. He alone, carried this organization out of the depths of the "Dead Wings" period and put the game of hockey back on the sports map in Detroit. Steve Yzerman, a kid born in British Columbia, raised in Ottawa and trained in Peterborough, now will always be a part of Detroit.

I find myself looking back at Steve's career from a different point of view. All the previous mentioned players are from a different era. Stories about them grow larger and larger the older I get. But when watching Yzerman's play, I was there, following every shift, goal and game. I lived through the many playoff disappointments, shared the Cup victories, and sat stunned, looking at the TV last year, knowing full well, Game 6 in Edmonton might have been the last time I ever saw Steve play.

To modern day Detroit Red Wings fans, Steve Yzerman is the greatest Wings player in their long history. I, on the other hand, still put Gordie Howe at No. 1, with Yzerman now slotted in the No. 2 position. Howe could do everything, dominated the league for almost 20 years and is undoubtedly, one of the top three players of all time. Yzerman, played with sure determination, always pushing himself and his teammates to a higher level. I rank Steve Yzerman as one of the top 20 players of all time.

Tonight, Steve will be in the spotlight, probably a little uncomfortable, but will handle the ceremony with class and dignity -- just as all Wings fans expect and want it to be. It is sure going to be a night to remember, and if you have the chance, tune in. The retirement festivities begin at 6:30 p.m. ET.

I will be doing a special blog tomorrow, recapping the reaction of the fans who are watching and attending Steve Yzerman Night at the Joe. I intend to bring to you, the voice of the fan, the voice of the Steve Yzerman fan.

Posted by Paul @ 11:45 a.m.



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