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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
Questioning Ovechkin
Shannon to answer TV queries
Dealing with my public
What's your line? Tell me!
You make the call

Season Archive
September 2006
August 2006

Tuesday, Oct. 31, 2006

Questioning Ovechkin

Alexander Ovechkin is all over the place. "AO" has a hole-in-one, plus his visor is too tinted. Ovechkin rolls into Calgary, Edmonton and Vancouver. Why isn't he visiting our NHL city? What kind of curve do you use AO? Do you put your hockey pants on one leg at a time? What side of the bed do you roll out of? How may peas do you eat on a daily basis Alex?

Hope you have the picture. We know the typical questions that gets asked of Ovechkin. We have read or heard the response from Alexander and he must think to himself: "How do I make the answer sound different this time?"

I had enough of the same or typical question syndrome and decided to do something about it. Recently I approached the Washington Capitals with a propostion -- Would AO be able to answer some questions from the hockey fans worldwide? Their response was "certainly", with one stipulation. The questions must be unique, not the "typical" questions we have heard over and over.

So here is your chance to be like a hockey writer. Put on your press credential badge or hat and ask away, but keep the word "unique" in mind when submitting your question. I am not going to give you any guidelines, but questions such as, "Alex, how many goals do you want to have this year?" will not make the cut. Fresh and out-of-the-box are the way to go.

You can submit your question here and you have until Nov. 15th to get your question in. AO will answer eight (get it) questions a week for two weeks and his response wil be posted right here in two different segments during the month of December.

***

While we are on the subject of questions, you still have until the end of this week to submit your broadcast questions to John Shannon, Senior VP of Broadcasting for the NHL. Mr. Shannon will address the questions in the near future and the answers will also be posted in an upcoming blog.

Around the blogs ...

A friendly reminder, don't ask Jagr for some translation tips!

Moving over to the Canucks Corner Forum, a member by the name of Larionov asks, Is it me, or are guys getting hurt more often in hockey fights than they used to? Don Cherry used to love to say that guys never got hurt in hockey fights, and I have to admit that when I was a kid following the game religiously, I don't recall anyone picking up a serious injury in a scrap. Over the last few years, however, they seem to be far more frequent.

The Puck Stops Here wonders if the Sabres are a great team. Buffalo is not the best team in the NHL. In fact, Johnson rates them 12th. His rankings have San Jose as the best team in the NHL. However, in the era of enforced parity it is probably most correct to say that no one team is the best in the NHL. The difference between the 1st and 12th place teams is small. A slump or an injury could change their order. A couple slumps and injuries and the best teams are missing the playoffs. Is this a good thing? Most of the league has a chance at being in first place and winning the cup, but nobody is truly great.

James Mirtle addresses the Atlanta Thrashers -- are they the real deal? ... while Atlanta showed signs of promise last season, few predicted this to be a breakout season. Unlike other clubs that have stormed out of the gates -- Buffalo, San Jose, Dallas, Anaheim and Minnesota -- the Thrashers were seen as a middling team that would be battling tooth and nail for the franchise's first-ever playoff spot.

If you play table hockey, you will completely understand what James Pelletier is talking about. It was the perfect Christmas gift. I remember it being for both my brother and myself, but everyone knew it was for me. He never obsessed about the game where miniature players try to put a miniature puck into a miniature net, at least not to the same degree. I, on the other hand, quickly mastered the game. I was dominant on the right side, where I imagined Gretzky repositioned himself after the faceoff. I could place pin-point passes from the right winger to the slot or either pointman for perfect one timers. I even managed to do the odd saucer pass to the center for a highlight reel goal.

Posted by Paul @ 11:49 a.m.

Wednesday, Oct. 25, 2006

Shannon to answer TV queries

A quick note today-

Do you have an NHL broadcast question that needs to be answered?

Be it a high definition question, the future of NHL broadcasts, maybe a regional issue, perhaps a suggestion, etc.

John Shannon, Senior VP of Broadcast for the NHL will answer as many questions as possible regarding NHL broadcast issues.

Follow this link to submit your question and a special thanks goes out to Mr. Shannon for participating in this.

Posted by Paul @ 11:37 a.m.

Tuesday, Oct. 24, 2006

Dealing with my public

Blogging at NHL.com has turned my life upside down.

Many of you have your favorite coffee shop/diner, you know the one which also serves a killer breakfast, where everyone knows your name, and the waitress can tell you what you want to eat before you can tell her.

I have been a "regular" at my coffee shop for over 10 years, but since I started blogging at NHL.com, I have become the "answer man" too.

Sammy the truck driver wants to know what happened to long retired Red Wing Lee Norwood (he is coaching at Eastern Michigan Univ.). Nancy the school teacher asks if I can arrange for Gary Bettman to speak at the "Meet the Parents Night" at her school. Gus, the owner of the coffee shop tells me he has been thinking of draping the walls with hockey jerseys, and asks if I can get him a deal on them.

I stopped in the coffee shop yesterday, after being away for a week, and was bombarded with more questions. Someone had actually left a picture of Steve Yzerman for me, attached a note to it asking if I could get it autographed. A local police officer was on break and enjoying a coffee, came over to my table and sat down. He started by saying he used to play some hockey in his youth and ended by diagramming some set plays the Wings should use to get out of their scoring slump. Maybe I could pass them on to Mike Babcock.

I get about 200 emails a day, a few of them are from long lost friends, which normally start out like this ... "Wow, is that you Paul, I can't believe you are writing at NHL.com. How are things? ... and by the way, can you get me a signed puck, stick, hat, etc. Or how about passing on some tickets to me, I am now married with two kids and they have never been to a hockey game. ..."

Other emails are from total strangers, asking me questions like "Where was the Crosby commercial filmed, can they get on a list to be in the next commercial." Someone asked me if I was related to Dominik Hasek. I have no idea where that came from! I have had pictures sent to me, asking if I could forward them on to players. One person wanted to film me for 24-hours straight for a high school project. Someone asked for the phone number of a hockey player and when I responded I didn't have a phone number, I was promptly sent a virus that was caught by my anti-virus software.

I've been told the NHL is fantastic, people have written hockey passionate notes to me. Others have emailed me, in big block letters, stating they can no longer watch the NHL, Bettman has ruined the game. Then they go on to describe every detail from every game in the last week.

Even the gas station attendant recognizes me. He told me he has been trying to figure out who I was, then put the name to the face after seeing my picture on NHL.com. He wanted to know if I could get him a discount on some hockey skates. I asked him if he could get me a discount on some gas. End of story!!!

***

Two weeks ago, I asked you to come up with some line names. Boy, did you ever! Over 100 responses and about 200 emails later, I came up with my favorites.

"The Hair Line" (lead by Michal Handzus, too bad he is now out for the season).

"The First Date Line" and "The Slovak Pack". I also heard Detroit Red Wings broadcaster Ken Daniels came up with a line name for Jiri Hudler, Thomas Kopecky and Valtteri Filppula; he called them "The Money Line", two Czechs and a Finn.

Bada-boom!

Around the blogs ...

I ran into a nice hockey story at PT's Big Adventure. The blog is not hockey related, but the story is a keeper ...

Last night Miles (our almost 3-year-old son) and I decided to attend our first Atlanta Thrashers (NHL) game together. He's been to Cubs and Braves home baseball games, and also two Gwinnett Gladiators (ECHL) hockey games, but the NHL was likely to show him new decibel levels, and I felt he was ready for it. I was right on both counts.

Sharks Hockey Odyssey is attending every regular season Sharks game and blogging about it.

Hello, and welcome to my blog. My name is Jess Knaster. I am a journalism major at West Valley College in Saratoga, CA and a huge San Jose Sharks fan. This October, I will be embarking on a long, six-month journey, an "odyssey" of sorts, attending each of the Sharks 82 regular-season contests. In order to tie this into my major, I will be blogging all my experiences (travel to and from, off-day activites in each road city, the arenas, and the games themselves).

Thanks to Two for Elbowing for the pointer.

If you are into stats and more stats, just go to The Hockey Recap. Make sure to bring your calculator with you.

The division that claims the last two Stanley Cup winners gets some love at the Southeast Shootout. The folks at the blog promise to bring attention to the passionate fans, the great hockey being played and the phenomenal hockey players plying their wares south of the Mason-Dixon line.

Posted by Paul @ 11:18 a.m.

Tuesday, Oct. 10, 2006

What's your line? Tell me!

Throughout hockey history, the naming of great hockey lines has grabbed the attention of the fans. "The Production Line", "The French Connection", "The GAG (goal a game) Line" are some of my favorites.

Now the question must be asked, "Where are the great line names today?" Has the constant shuffling of lines, due to power plays, shorthanded situations, etc., put the "naming rights" on the back burner?

Do we look at the media for not coming up with a line name?

Heck, a team PR department may create a catchy name, but that is force feeding us, not what I had in mind. The players or coaches are not going to do it, so it leaves only one option -- the hockey fan! Do you want to "tag" a name for your favorite line combination? Does it really matter to you? Maybe I am too old school and still think a great line name adds a little aura to the game.

If you have a thought or opinion on "Line Names", please feel free to comment or submit your suggestions.

First Week Observations

* Speed! Players are flying on the ice. In previous years, a few teams were known as "fast", this year, if you don't have team speed, you better get it, quickly.

* The players and officials have made the adjustment to the enforcement of the rules. The early games have a much better flow to them than the games did at this time last year.

* I have noticed the additional two minutes added to the period breaks. More time for commercials and reviewing the action from the previous period.

* The stick curve may have an influence on the puck handling of a few of the players. I have observed pucks rolling off the sticks of players who have increased the curve to the max. On the other hand, shot velocity has not increased in my opinion.

*Goal scoring. Some teams are making a concentrated effort to keep the goals against down. On the other side, it is an all-out offensive barrage for other teams. Which system will work? Time will tell, but I am leaning towards the defensive minded teams.

Around the blogs ...

What exactly is an Alexanderful Evening?

Bubba is stressing patience when dealing with the Hurricanes slow start this season.

Blue Note Blog wonders about the relationship between St. Louis goalies Manny Legace and Curtis Sanford. As players were heading into the locker room after the first period, Sanford stood on the bench and gave each player a pat to the backside as they passed by. However, when Legace passed him, the gesture was awkwardly withheld, but continued with the very next player in line. Over analysis to an insignificant detail? Perhaps...but, perhaps not.

A lot of people have criticized player contribution for a number of reasons, including the linear approach to equating players to value, which is probably a good reason to explain the high player contribution scores for goaltenders without matching salaries (The extra contribution isn't worth it due to the leveling off of the Pythagorean curve). Of course the simplest and most fundamental error of the player contribution system is that of error. Hockey Numbers explains...

On the Forecheck recently gathered detailed information and broke down the results of over 45,000 non-neutral zone faceoffs that took place across more than 1,200 games ... honestly!

Posted by Paul @ 1:12 p.m.

Tuesday, Oct. 3, 2006

You make the call

Pick up the phone today or tomorrow and invite your non-hockey friends and family members to watch an NHL game this week. Let's become pro-active and start a grassroots campaign.

NHL.com receives millions of hits per day -- imagine the impact we can have if each and every one of you called five of your closest non-fans! The ratings for the NHL games this week would be an unexpected surprise and we would cause panic in the lives of those who measure the TV ratings.

Stop reading now, open up your notepad program and type in five targeted names and phone numbers. Set a reminder to call them and follow up. Note to the hockey fans in the traditional markets: You are not excluded from this exercise, I am sure you know five people who are not hockey friendly and you must make the calls too.

When you make your calls, be prepared, have your "pitch" in hand, put on your best tele-marketing hat and sell the game. You have about two minutes to make a great first impression.

"Hi Dwayne, this is Paul, can you believe the NHL starts this week."

"What are your TV plans for Thursday (insert your team's opening game here) night?"

"Why don't you watch something different -- the Bruins (for example) are on channel (insert channel number and game time) and I suggest you tune in early to take in the pre-game festivities too. Keep your eyes on that Kessel kid, the early word is he will be in the Boston lineup for years to come."

Experience tells me you will have to make a pre-game call too. Call them 10 minutes before the puck drops and point out an unknown fact to them. Maybe a brief mention of a certain player on the opposing team to watch or tease them with a possible shootout taking place. Ask them when was the last time they watched their hometown team. If they pause a bit before responding, you have them right where you want them. Point out the rules are being enforced, the game has changed and they owe it to themselves to watch until the final horn.

You have come this far, now make the post game call. Did the folks on your call list watch the game? What did they think about it, answer some questions they may have, point them to your favorite web resource for the game recap. If they didn't watch and came up with a lame excuse, start the procedure all over for the next game. They will eventually see how passionate you are and they just may realize they are missing out on something big. Persistency will pay off, the NHL is back and it is our job to let the world know about it!

Shout out to the hockey bloggers -- You have the power to reach out to millions in the blogosphere -- Step up now and put out a similar call to your readers, add your suggestions, create the unexpected! Don't think it is goofy or not your style -- make it your style for one day and spread the word: "Hockey is Back"!!!

Around the blogs ...

These Edmonton Oilers had hockey in them from a very early age. ... Do you have a hockey blog? If so, the Ice Block recently interviewed a member of the working media and has timely advice for you. ... The Penalty Killer wonders why hockey players are not in many of the ads we see on a daily basis. ... We interrupt this feature for a commercial break, courtesy of Scarett Ice. ... Many of the hockey bloggers have read and re-read the CBA that was made public a few months ago, but I enjoyed reading Gunner's Web Blog breakdown of a few standard clauses regarding moving expenses. ... Sabre Rattling presents their preview of the SouthLeast Division, or for those who need to be reminded, the home of the Stanley Cup Champions for the last two seasons. ... Not really a blog, but a wonderful website listing current team & player salaries and future projections. Basically, a great reference site which helps when you want to make a "what if" trade. ... You've made a mistake and clicked on the wrong page; certainly much better than the drab 404 error!

Posted by Paul @ 11:48 a.m.





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