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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
+/- (Good and Bad Day)
Preparation Time
Just one of the guys
The clock's winding down!

Season Archive
August 2006

Tuesday, Sept. 26, 2006

+/- (Good and Bad Day)

+ The older Joe Sakic gets, the smoother he looks.

+ I don't look forward to my Wings playing Anaheim this year. The "A" "D" pair of Pronger & Niedermayer is scary.

+ I hope the Rangers will play an "Irish Jig" whenever Shanahan scores at home. By the way, did you know Shanny is now the leading active goal scorer in the NHL, with 598 career goals!

+ There has been a lot less "The NHL is in trouble" articles this year, and that is a good thing.

+ A few NHL teams have begun streaming some of their NHL pre-season games. One question though, why don't all the teams do this?

+ The NHL and the NHLPA seem to be working much more in tandem this year. As a hockey fan, this can only be considered a positive. Watch for more promotions of actual NHL players this year too, and yes, it is about time.

+ Was there ever a better bumper sticker than, "Jesus Saves & Esposito Scores on the Rebound"?

+ A challenge for the American National Anthem singers -- When either Montreal or Ottawa visits your rink, can you sing the second part of the Canadian Anthem in French? Believe me, many a spine will tingle with that rendition.

- Going to a hockey site and still seeing the old, orange and black NHL logo. I immediately click to my next destination. If your site still displays the old logo, it tells me your information may be old too.

- Water bottles on the benches should be clear so I can see what the players are drinking. I want to know if it is just water, maybe a sports drink or a top secret formula the training staff has brewed-up to give their team an advantage.

- The "New NHL". Two words, but enough to turn my stomach. It is the same game, the rules are now being enforced in every situation, every game; and that has made the game what it is today, but not NEW.

- Not enough games in High Definition. Once you see a hockey game in HD, you want to see every game in HD. The time has come for the TV and regional networks to start delivering all of the games in hi-def!

- Attention traditional media sources: The 2006-07 NHL season opens next week, start covering it. The game is "hot" again, don't let it pass you by.

- Why can't groin strains be prevented during the pre-season?

- Ring of Light. Those flashing lights that many hockey rinks now have that travel around and around and around. Wait for a stoppage in play before performing the light show. You see, if you are watching the game on TV, the light reflects off the glass in the corners, making the game difficult to follow.

As always, feel free to email me (pk@kuklaskorner.com) with any questions, concerns or suggestions.

Around the blogs

A must visit for Buffalo fans is BfloBlog. Kevin breaks down the Sabres upcoming season ... now the Sabres must overcome not just the loss of three starters from last year's team, but also the pressure of heightened expectations. Co-Captain Daniel Briere will be making $5 million this year, despite never having posted numbers to justify that. Goaltending sensation Ryan Miller has a brand new three-year contract, as do many of the younger Sabres, making many wonder if they can repeat the chemistry and intensity of last season.

I'm not sure why there are so few hockey blogs for the Minnesota Wild, but Wild Puck Banter is doing a fine job covering the The State Of Hockey team. You have to love the re-creation of a recent Gaborik goal.

Puckhound at Hound Central 2.0 describes his site this way -- Not-so-random thoughts and chiseled commentary about hockey and collecting autographs (primarily on pucks, sticks and memorabilia) for the pure fun of it, not for profit, during the 2006-07 season. Yesterday he received a package in the mail, "A large postage-paid, pre-addressed envelope with a bulky, but soft, item inside". What could it be?

A mixed bag may be the way to describe the season outlook for the Ottawa Senators. No matter how you feel about the Sens, Hockey Country is a great place to start, for both the Sens and the NHL.

Is there a correlation between pre-season records and the success teams have in the regular season? Colby Cash at Battle of Alberta brings you the results of his intense research.

Posted by Paul @ 11:23 a.m.


Tuesday, Sept. 19, 2006

Preparation Time

S.J. Sharkie reminded me recently that the season is nearly upon us when he helped "paint the ice" at the HP Pavilion. I never knew S.J. was so talented and then it hit me, am I prepared for the season?

Do I have all my Ducks in a row? Maybe I will just take a Flyer. But then I would be breaking a tradition I have followed for over 40 years.

I pull a road white Gordie Howe sweater over my head, settle in front of the TV and shut the rest of the world out. I have had to purchase a few Howe jerseys over the years, the gut doesn't shrink, but like some magical wand being waved over my head, this opening night ritual puts me in "hockey mode" for the whole year.

I don't know what it is, but the introduction of the players as they skate onto a clean sheet of white ice, the reception they receive as they stand in the spotlight, moving their skates nervously back and forth, tells me we are about to begin a nine-month marathon.

I have always wondered what opening night is like in other cities? Do the fans in Phoenix wear their jersey in the 90 degree heat, Carolina fans -- will you attend your now famous tailgate party?

Do the fans in Toronto and Montreal still put on their Sunday best -- fedora included?

S.J. Sharkie paints the ice.

Do you get the family involved, pets too, or like me, want to be left alone on this glorious night of hope?

Maybe you'll paint your face, invite a few friends over and take in the game on TV.

Whatever you decide to do on opening night, remember, every team is tied for first, your team has a chance and as last year proved, this once again great game will be full of surprises that will keep us entertained throughout the year.

***

Do you share such a tradition for opening night? I am sure hockey fans would like to read about it. So follow along ... With the blessing from the folks at NHL.com, I have set up an area at my Kukla's Korner blog for you to tell the hockey fans about your ritual. Just follow this link, fill in your name and tell your story to the hockey world. No registration is necessary, and I can, without a doubt, tell you fans will enjoy your personal story. The hundreds of emails I received about the last blog, "Just One of the Guys", lead me to ask NHL.com to allow me to give you the resource to express your personal experiences, stories and just talk about the game of hockey. I do hope you share your opening night ritual with all of the hockey community.

Around the blogs

Follow along with me as I take you on this week's tour of the hockey blogs.

First stop, double d(ion) . As the hockeygirl states, it is from a girl whose flames fan her hockey desire. Desire she has and she rates the Flames, but not by their playing potential.

Did you know hockey refs were artistic? I had no idea until American Hockey Fan pointed it out!

Not only will the NHL soon start up, but pick-up games will begin too. Make sure to read 10 Rules for Pick-up Hockey Players at hockey dirt. Here is a teaser; Give up your dream. You are not going to the show. You will not be discovered by an NHL scout while playing pick-up hockey at 10 pm on a Tuesday night. So true.

If you have ever asked yourself, "Who is Henrik Zetterberg", well you are about to find out.

The answer isn't as easy as; "He is a 25-year-old, Swedish born, professional hockey player." Anyone who is reading this article should already know that. The real question is; what does Henrik Zetterberg mean to the Detroit Red Wings?

So... Who is Henrik Zetterberg? Let's start from the beginning: Henrik Zetterberg is the kid who, as the 41st ranked European skater, wasn't drafted until the 210th pick of the 1999 NHL Entry Draft. As a 5'10", 150 lb, 17 year old, the Red Wings gambled on his size.

Continue reading for everything you ever wanted to know about the Wings future.

Did you know Leafs GM John Ferguson Jr., has a blog? I had no idea until Raking Leafs pointed it out. As ninja writes, cheers to JFJ, and the team in general, for opening up to blogdom, but I do think ninja wants to be the ghost writer.

Posted by Paul @ 2:03 p.m.


Wednesday, Sept. 13, 2006

Just one of the guys

I am sure many of you have had an "up close and personal" encounter with a hockey player. We know more than any other professional athlete, the hockey player is the most like us.

Why is this? Maybe their upbringing, especially the players brought up in the small towns and cites in North America. They have experienced everyday life and have chosen to live in that environment, even though their salaries allow them to live like kings.

When was the last time you saw a hockey player drive up in a tricked-out SUV, with personal DVD and entertainment centers built-in every seat headrest? How about the "I am better than you" look? When some athletes are approached, they are talking at you instead of talking with you. Their eyes and minds are focused on something beyond the horizon -- even though they are standing next to you, they could be a mile away. Not hockey players, they take the time out and actually speak with you and are interested in what you are saying to them.

Do the players realize the hockey fan is their bread and butter? Sure they do, but they are not putting on an act when approached by fans. I have on numerous times spotted an athlete and have approached them, respectfully of course, just to say a few words to them. One such incident comes to mind. A certain tattooed basketball player was walking in a Detroit suburb, doing some window shopping when I decided to say hello. He was a member of the Chicago Bulls at the time, and I wanted to tell him how much I appreciated his hard work while with the Detroit Pistons. As I walked up to him he looked at me, mumbled something out of this world, brushed his hand to move me away -- leaving me standing in a state of "open mouth frozen for a moment state."

In just about the same location as the above scene, I saw a current member of the Detroit Red Wings a few days ago. I approached and was greeted with a handshake and a 10-minute conversation. The talk was a mutual exchange on the game itself. I was asked what did I think could be done to make the game more fan friendly and we exchanged phone numbers. Phone number! The hockey player gave me his number. Hey, MLB player, did you read that!

Now I know not all hockey players are always so open, but in a general sense, when compared to the athletes in other sports, the professional hockey player is most like us, and that is a good thing.

Maybe it is a nickname thing too. We don't have an "A-Rod", or an "I-Rod" or even a "F-Rod." Can you imagine a "B-Shanny" or a "V-Lecavy" or even a "P-Forsy"? We don't need it. Instead give me a Shanny, a Vinny or Foppa anyday.

Whatever makes a hockey player seem like one of us, I say let it continue. We adore and worship them on the ice, but off the ice, it is good to know they are like us in many ways. Now excuse me, I have an important phone call to make.

Around the blogs

Training camps open this week -- finally hockey is back! So now what? Are you making a camp visit this year? If so, the Wicked Bruins Fan has attended eight camps and gives out a few top-secret tips to make your trip more enjoyable.

Training camp is when memories happen and new hockey fan friends are made. Treasure the moments and remember them. Keep in mind that we're all rooting for the same team and support the same players. Help a fellow fan out when you can.

Jon Swenson runs Sharkspage and has been one busy blogger the last week or so. Jon is a great photographer and snapped a huge number of pictures during the Pacific Division Shootout.

If you are a Vancouver fan, J.J at Canucks Hockey Blog attended the prospects camp and made some great observations.

Mike Chen can feel the hockey season is near and now has a few issues to deal with.

Having to figure out who goes to which games with me in my season ticket package. Yes, the eternal battle between die-hard fan dad and Forsberg-hating fiance (whose game-claiming rights went way up in value after she said yes a few weeks ago).

Will the All-Overpaid Team make a comeback this year? My opinion is a few of the players mentioned will, but the others just may be forever known as "unable to trade".

Chisty, a University of Michigan student and future NHL feature writer, keeps us updated on the health of the NHL players.

I have a soft spot for "old school" hockey and encourage fans to remember and study the history of the game. Joe Pelletier is doing the same at Hockey's Greatest Legends. Spend some time there, dig deep into the blog and re-live and learn about the greatest players and teams the game of hockey has known.

Remember to leave a few comments at the blogs you visit. Hockey bloggers want feedback, good or bad, and by doing so, you motivate the blogger to continue on with their great and often unrecognized hard work.

Posted by Paul @ 11:42 a.m.


Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2006

The clock's winding down!

We are almost there folks!

Training camp is approaching, but not fast enough for many of us. I can imagine many of you are surfing the web, searching for any story on your favorite team. Hockey bloggers are picking up on the frequency of their posts. The traditional media has started reporting on players paying for ice time and organizing "unofficial" training sessions. Some teams have or will soon be participating in their first bonding experience -- the team softball game.

The weather in some parts of North America made a quick change, temperatures dropped by 10-15 degrees -- just for us -- to enhance the feeling the hockey season is close. Soon the leaves will be falling and the brisk morning air will hit us in the face. In a few months, we will be thinking of flooding the backyard rink and the stares will be coming from our neighbors. But it is in our blood, we have to have hockey. Without it, the winter is so long and dreary (think back two years ago).

Our team has a chance! Yes, all of the NHL teams have the chance to reach the Stanley Cup Final. Last season was a great example and we will see more of the same this year and in the future. The NHL is playing on a level ice surface. Teams must now build with the same blueprint, find the right mixture of talent and grit and take it from there.

No longer we will see teams with a lineup made up of nine future Hall of Famers, but instead much of the pressure is now on the management team. Can the scouts find one or two players who can take their team over the top? Can the GM sign the go-to player for a fair price and keep him long enough to help establish or maintain a winning attitude? Is our goalie the next unknown to step up and put the team on his back? These questions are about to be answered, but the best thing about them, every team shares many of the same questions, this season we will find out who had the most correct answers.

The puck drops, the games begin!

The test month is gone. Last year the first month of the season was new to all of us. Players, coaches, officials and fans all did not know what to expect. The rules were enforced like never before and we all had a "learning" period. This season, we all know what to expect, therefore I can see the game kicking into high gear the minute the puck drops on October 4th.

It should make for an exciting opening for the NHL and hopefully we won't be reading story after story about the on-ice calls, how they should or shouldn't be made. It is old news, like it or not, the game has moved on, no more re-hashing allowed.

Hockey blogger roll call!

Are you a hockey blogger? If so, I want to know who you are. A new feature will be added here beginning next week, highlighting a few blogs and more importantly, the content in those blogs. Feel free to email me at pk@kuklaskorner.com, and tell me a little bit about your blog. I can't guarantee your blog will be featured, but it will be read and stored in my memory bank.

I leave you with a quote from Alexander Ovechkin this morning on Toronto radio, "I miss hockey." Join the club AO, and we miss you too, but anticipate your return -- SOON!

Posted by Paul @ 11:08 a.m.



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