According to Kevin Allen of USA Today, the Atlanta Thrashers have begun talks with defenseman Pavel Kubina and forward Maxim Afinogenov regarding keeping the two in Thrasherville next season.
Allen also indicates that they have no chance of re-signing forward Colby Armstrong.
Last season… after signing a one-year, $800,000 contract with the Thrashers… Afinogenov scored a career high 24 goals and finished with 61 points. Six goals and 12 assists came while on the power play and three times he scored the game-winner.
Kubina came by way of a trade with Toronto and is coming off a contract that paid him $5-million per season. He was a solid presence on the blueline and chipped in with 6 goals and 32 assists last year, finishing with an EVEN +/- rating.
Kubina turned 33 last April 15 while Max will be 31 on September 4.
Allen surmises that both Kubina and Afinogenov may still opt to test the free agent waters. However, he also stated that they are looking to sign prospect Swedish prospect Carl Klingberg, believing that the 34th overall draft pick in 2009 could play on the second line as soon as this season.
NHL playoff ratings up 19 percent
Is NHL hockey finally starting to show some recovery from the lockout five years ago? Well according to the TV numbers, it just very well may be.
As AP sportswriter Rachel Cohen points out in this piece found on Yahoo Sports, “The good vibes have rolled on for hockey through the Stanley Cup playoffs. The first two rounds have averaged 886,000 viewers per game in the U.S., up 19 percent from last year and the most since 1997 – in other words, since before the lockout”.
Cohen contributes some of the low rating right after the work stoppage to that made their way to the Stanley Cup Finals in the years following the work stoppage that wiped away the 2004-05 season…Caroline-Edmonton and Ottawa-Anaheim.
However, some very exciting postseason matchups from teams in big television markets…right on the heels of last February’s Olympics…have helped draw viewers back to NHL action.
“But as fortunes have shifted so have TV ratings”, Cohen’s write up continues. “The league is coming off two straight Red Wings-Penguins showdowns and that dramatic Olympic tournament capped by the thrilling final between the two North American teams. The second round of this year’s playoffs was full of large-market, tradition-rich, star-laden franchises—and it doesn’t hurt that 10 of the 12 series so far this postseason have gone at least six games at playoff series this spring.”
Having the Los Angeles Kings return to the postseason after so many years certainly has to help matters as well given that the greater L.A. area is second only to New York in TV markets.
And as we look forward to the Stanley Cup Finals, the league official have to be thrilled at the notion that regardless who comes out victorious in the Western Conference Finals, they are going to have either the third-highest TV market or fifth-highest represented by Chicago or San Jose, (considered a part of the greater San Francisco-Oakland-San Jose market).
If Philadelphia is successful in the Eastern Conference Finals…and they lead it 2 games to 1 at this time…then the NHL will be blessed with the fourth-highest market as well.
And Now, A Programming Note From Your Blog Host
As many of you already know, this Saturday my oldest tax exemption is scheduled to graduate from high school. His grades are in…finals have been taken and passed…and he is spending his last two days of secondary education practicing with his schoolmates for Saturday’s ceremonies.
However, until I actually see them hand him the diploma…and allow him to leave the building with it…in my mind, anything can happen. I just have too much history with this boy over the last twelve years to be able to breathe comfortably just yet. Anything can happen with him, I tell you.
But assuming all goes off without a hitch, Matt will be a high school graduate in a couple days and will be preparing for his days as a college student.
After that, the Divine Mrs. R and I will be wheeling our way down to the beaches of Florida with both boys to take a weeklong vacation…a long-awaited R&R before we begin a very busy month of June in which the younger tax exemption will spend each week of that month away at various JROTC camps and events.
Given all of that, over the course of the next several weeks, do not be surprised if a few days pass between blog posts. I’ll have internet access wherever I roam, but I’m sure you’ll all understand why my attention will be focused in other directions for just a while.