Wednesday, December 26, 2007

Lidstrom Re-Signs

Well count on the Wings dynasty lasting at least another two years... no word on the finances though. My score-at-home Wings cap spreadsheet eagerly awaits word on how much. Here's hoping for a discount, less than 7M. Wouldn't blame anybody if Nick got his value though.

Also, looks like Hartigan's been recalled, meaning Homer, Z and Malts are all still out. Not concerned about tonight's game. It's a good night to change the Wings' luck against the Central. Of course, we'll still lose, but I'm optimistic anyway. I like this Fil-Dats-Cleary line.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

Christmas + Hockey = Ahhhhh.

Over at A2Y, I believe the stress train may be boarding, thanks to Hank Zetterberg's back issues. For me the concern isn't losing Zetterberg for this game, but rather, the lingering question of whether Hank can stay healthy.

As for tonight... no Hank, no Homer. Worried? Naah. Datsyuk cowboyed up last year without Hank and carried the Wings to the playoffs. He can do it again. Bruce MacLeod reports Val and Buckets are his wingers, which I like very much. Fil's on a roll and Pavs will get him the puck. Clears meanwhile will get physical. He's no Homer, he definitely lacks that particular net-front berserk attitude, but he doesn't lack for sac. Haha, did you like that rhyme. Anyway Cleary is without a doubt Homer's only equal when it comes to balls. His performance against Calgary in the playoffs was a work of art. (So was his beard.)

Anyhoo, is anyone else watching the FSN pregame? Gotta love Huds reading the Grinch. Oh here's Filppula. Nice. Also good was the Wings Weekly segment that aired just before, with Murph showing ten year olds how to body check.

"Has anyone here body checked before?"
"Ah, well, today you're gonna learn."

Oh here's Kopecky. Nice leather jacket dude. Okay, enough of the running commentary. Heading over to A2Y for the liveblog now.

Prediction: Wings 3, Wild 1 (Datsyuk 2, Gaborik 0)

Thursday, December 20, 2007

ESPN Sucks

Homer hurt... again? Auuugh. Oh God. Pleeeease tell me it's not serious. Euuugh. I'm gonna be sick.

Making me feel slightly better is watching Melrose on ESPN just now. I know, usually ESPN has shit hockey coverage. But between Gaborik tearing it up with five goals (first since Fedorov in '96) and Sid the Kid getting the Gordie Howe hat trick(!), not even Crapcenter (haha... see what I did there?) could ignore hockey tonight. Oh, despite the loss, a nod to the Wings from Melrose:

" line, best defensemen, and the two best goalies in the NHL."

Nice. We'll see how that best-line is doing when the word on Homer drops.

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

So-So Secondary Scoring? Sammy Sucks? Some Say Swedes Seek Sundin, I Say Sign Selanne

Glee! Wings game!
Sadness. It's on NHL Network, so no Center Ice Online.
Glee! There's a Yahoo feed!
Sadness. It doesn't work.
Slightly less sadness. WXYT.

Well in lieu of watching the Wings, how about some wild speculation. The other day I suggested Sammy has not been pulling his weight, and whether you buy that or not there's no doubt the Wings need some scoring help for the playoffs. The Wings are well-suited to load up for the postseason, with ~5M in cap-room or so. At the deadline, that's 20M in July 1 salaries. Wow! The Wings could add a top scorer, a physical d-man, and a goalie if Hasek suffers a groin-catastrophe before then.

(Bah! 2-2.)

But the problem here is that, the Wings don't just need space for these guys, they need to trade for them as well. As amazing as Sundin would be, what do we trade for him? I mean a first, sure, and then... what? Kindl? Would that be enough? A couple more picks and minor prospects? The Wings' cupboard isn't bare when it comes to prospects but we don't have enough to acquire 20M worth of talent.

(Yes! Homer!)

So how do you stock up without blowing the future? How about Teemu Selanne? With the return of Niedermayer, the Ducks have just 1.9M left, my guess is not enough for a guy who scored a ridiculous 48 goals last year, to say nothing of the fact that they traded his former linemate. Wikipedia reports he was waiting for the birth of his fourth kid to announce whether he'd come back, but the same article reports the kid was born on December 7th.

So here's what you do, Kenny: contact Selanne, offer him more than the Ducks can: 2.5M for a half-season, a spot with the Cup favorites, a young Finnish protege for a linemate, and did I mention the best opportunity to win another cup. You let him think it over until after the Christmas-roster freeze. Then of course he says yes to a 5M deal, which is pro-rated to a 2.5M cap hit since he's coming in at the halfway point. By making an acquisition at the halfway point instead of the deadline you eat a lot more salary, but you still leave yourself nearly 3M, and avoid dishing out any prospects, picks, or young players , all the while getting the most potent scorer available on the market, free agent or trade or otherwise.

(Yes! Cleary! And how about Kronwall getting going here. I like it.)

Sure enough as I'm talking about how much the secondary scoring needs a boost, Cleary scores from Kronwall and Sammy. Hudler's got a goal too. Well, the point remains that Selanne would make a badass acquisition. Check out these lines:


Tell me that's not an imposing lineup. And still enough to make one more move... hey, Danny Markov would be another great, for-free acquisition, huh? How about two acquisitions to put us over the top without giving up a thing?

Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Welcome Back Homer

Please, never leave us again.

All three goals from the Flying Circus + Lidstrom. Hmm, secondary scoring strikes (out) again. HockeyTownTodd makes some good points in defense of Sammy in the comments on my last post. Hmm indeed. Tomorrow (today) I'll have something more on the Wings second-line issues. Stay tuned...

Sunday, December 16, 2007

Well, Somebody's Gotta Suck

It can be kind of hard, being a fan of an amazingly awesome team. As dominant as the Wings are, and as much joy as that may bring me, as a blogger my number one priority is to gripe about shit. Well that's hard with the Wings. They're too good. They have no glaring holes. But I have to do what I have to do. Somebody's gotta suck. It's with a heavy heart that I declare Mikael Sammuelsson to suck.

Last couple years, the Wings have found themselves in similar situations. Team just too damn good, no holes, who can we rail on? Well last year we were fortunate enough to find a couple of weak links, namely Jason Williams and Robert Lang. I was never a Williams fan, even during his 20-goal season in 05-06. And when he stopped producing last year my face lit up with glee. The team was doing well and I had someone to rag on.

Well he got traded and I was ecstatic. And I didn't have to look far for my next target, Bobbo Lang, who I hated right up until he joined up with R-Dub in Chicago. Actually I still hate him, but more to the point I can't wish for Ken Holland to trade him anymore. This year there's nobody standing out like Williams or Lang. Hudler started slow but since has become the Wings top scoring threat outside of the Flying Circus. Filppula likewise has been less than stellar offensively but is a long-term project and will undoubtedly get there. Sammuelsson though?

His MO is he's a streaky scorer. Well, he's on a streak alright. After potting 11 points in his first 13 games, Sammy's had 3 since. I know Babcock likes him, because he's a big dude, but it's time to give the guy a little tough love. Not even Hank and Huds as linemates have been able to coax points out of the guy. I'm not calling for the Sammy's trade or anything, but he needs some 4th line time. Worried about who will play the point on the PP? No worries, he can keep that job. Babcock gave Hudler PP time when he was pulling 4th line duty, a good call. But in the meantime, when Homer returns to the Flying Circus on Monday, how about putting Cleary on the second unit with Fil and Huds. Gives you a Grind Line of Draper, Drake, and Franzen, and a fourth unit of Kopecky, Sammy, and Downey/Ellis. When Malts gets back you bump Drake to the fourth line, or you can put Franzen there, and call it the third line.

HockeyTownTodd says the Wings suck right now, despite not having lost in regulation in... a long time. Despite two fluke goals accounting for all of Florida's offense, I have to agree they weren't great last night. The Wings need to shake things up (very slightly) and one move is knocking Sammy down a peg. Combine that with getting Homer and Drapes, leaders each, back on Monday and you have yourself a recipe for a change of momentum. If Sammy starts potting goals on the PP you can reward him with second-line time. But until then, a message to Babcock: size ain't everything, bud. Sammy needs a sit-down.

Friday, December 14, 2007

Blues, Ducks Make Move... Ish

Edit: More thoughts from Nathan over at HockeyTownTodd's (who I've added to the blogroll!)

Andy McDonald, MacDonald's, Golden Arches, St. Louis, that big Arch thing... there's a joke in here somewhere but it probably sucks. So I'll avoid it.

The standings tell me the Blues are 13 points back, but they also tell me the Blues are in second place. And that means I'm keeping an eye out for them. And the Ducks are reigning champs, are getting Niedermayer back, and also their GM is a world-class douchebag. So I'm keeping an eye out for them too.

Blues get McDonald, who is having a shitty season. Ducks get Doug Weight, who is having a shitty season. A couple of crappy players get swapped. (Question though? Ducks take on salary in the Weight (3.5M) for MacDonald (3.33M) deal. I thought the point was to make room for Niedermayer...) But I could see either, or both, being rejuvenated by new surroundings. This move can only lead to bad things. Good to see the Ducks give up young player though. Niedermayer's great and everything, but my only memory of him in the semis last playoffs was him getting burned over and over again by Val Filppula. I look forward to that again.

The Blues have no goaltending so I'm not concerned about them, at least not in the playoffs. The Ducks though? They have all the pieces. And despite a bad season so far, they're just 4 points out of the #2 seed. They're not catching us if Doug Weight lights spontaneously on fire and scores 50 goals, but they will still be scary in the playoffs.

Thursday, December 13, 2007


[Note: Thanks for the comments on the last post. GMail saw fit to send the email notifications I got to the spam filter so I never saw them until now.]

There are important things, and then there are unimportant things. At least, where I'm sitting. Some things are debating and discussing, but not by me. These include:

-Who should get the "Hockeytown" moniker

Yes "hockeytown" is in the name of my blog. But it's just a name. It's just a really stupid name. It was a PR stunt. When did they debut that? As I recall, although I was in grade school at the time, it was debuted before we even won our first Yzerman Era cup. I mean, it certainly didn't belong to us then. Is Detroit the hockey capital of the US these days? Arguably, yes. Which of course implies, arguably no. It's arguable. Personally, I won't argue though. To me it's just a fucking name. (Which isn't to say there aren't good Wings bloggers out there making a commendable defense of the title.)

As for attendance... ahh... I really don't care. I can't even summon the first word. I just don't care.

Now! Here's some things I do care about:

-Tomas Holmstrom's knee
-Kris Draper's knee
-Kirk Maltby's shoulder/back/hindregion

Aha! Now we're talking about players, of the game of hockey, and their ability to play said game. Now I'm excited. And by excited I mean utterly terrified. The standings tell me the Oil are dead last in their division, but the standings also tell me they have as many points as Nashville, who nearly beat us. Also, Edmonton is 6-3-1 in their last ten. And we will be without our top two defensive specialists, and our top offensive specialist.

Which of course may mean nothing if the Eurotwins go out and do their thing, prolly with Sammuelsson on the wing. As Matt at On the Wings suggests, playing with Pavs and Hank should be a great opportunity for Sammy to get going. I'm not too concerned about Homer missing a game. More? I don't want to think about it. I also don't want to think about Draper and Maltby simultaneously going down with injuries, both of which are lasting longer than originally forcasted, both having just signed contract extensions, both being old and causing me to wonder when they'd finally slow down.

The plus side is that the current Grind Line of Cleary, Franzen, and Drake is doing quite well. Reminds me of the Wings' fourth (and best) line during the Punch in the Face: Cleary-Franzen-Maltby. They brought energy and hustle, and outside of Hank and the Captain, were the only guys bringing it.

Tonight? A win of course, even if only provided by outstanding individual efforts from Hasek and Datsyuk. Interested as well to see what Kopecky can do on the second line (if he indeed plays there as Bruce MacLeod reported). He and Fil are both coming off goals, and Hudler is still playing very well. Could be a good night for the second unit.

Sunday, December 9, 2007

Return of the Crazy

I like ambiguous titles - see, I could be talking about Dominik Hasek's return to starterdom (or rather, 1A-dom) or I could be talking about my own return, as if a phoenix from the ashes, only instead of a phoenix I'm a geeky Wings fan, and instead of ashes, the first semester of grad school. No promises starting January 7th, when I go back - but at least for the next month, I should be on top of every little scrap of Wings news. Starting with the games against Carolina and Minnesota.

I only saw bits of each game, but of course, when you don't have access to the actual product, any blogger worth his salt can bullshit some analysis based on statistics! So here we go:

Dominik Hasek
Last 3 games: 1.00 GAA, .942 SV%, 100 IR

"IR" is a statistic I made up called "Insanity Rating". It's a scale from 0-100 and the most desirable for a goalie is 100. Patrick Roy is known to have a lifetime average of 97, Hasek's average is 99, which explains why those two are hall-of-famers. (Ed Belfour, however, had a 137 lifetime. ) Anyway, Hasek's game is on: he's healthy, confident, and willing as ever to throw himself out of the crease at lightning pace.

By the way, re: Wild fans' uproar over Hasek's move on Gaborik, the save was legal. Gaborik shouldn't have his head down. Hasek has done that a million times, and 999,999 of those times the forward has gone flying over top, albeit not in such dramatic fashion. Could Gaborik have gotten hurt? Yeah he could have. So could Jiri Hudler have gotten hurt when Phaneuf laid him out. Who's to blame? Hudler and Gaborik. Both of them need to have their heads up. Phaneuf and Hasek are playing by the rules, and doing what they should do to help their team.

Also by the way, I love this video of the save, which I assume is Czech in origin, which has the captions: "Hasek trammels like young. DOMINATOR flying instructor." Anyway, moving on.

Andreas Lilja
This Season: 100% GWGTGR

Another made-up statistical category: Game-Winning-Goal to Total Goals Ratio. As Ken Daniels said during the game, Lilja has scored twice, both game winners. Statisticians may argue about the sample size, but a 100% GWGTGR is a clutch goal-scorer in my book.

Jiri Hudler
Last 16 Games: 1.06 PPG

Another stat pointed out by Ken Daniels, this one actually meaningful. Thanks to Pavel Datsyuk's recent tear, Hudler hasn't even been the Wings' best forward of late. But his contribution is as important - with Datsyuk and Hank rolling the Wings are among the best in the league. Throw in secondary scoring, ie, Hudler? The Wings are unstoppable. That's what distinguishes them now from the earlier streak - both had dominant goaltending, both had suffocating team defense, both had a Eurotwin on fire. The difference now is Hudler.

By the way, here's a real stat: Hudler leads the team in points by a player not on a line with a Eurotwin. When you consider Sammy, Franzen, and Flip have underperformed thus far, Hudler picking up his game is huge.

Johan Franzen
3 PTs last 2 GMs

Franzen looks like he is starting to go the way of Hudler. If this isn't just a blip (given the way he was going in the preseason, I don't think it is) he's going to give the team a huge boost. I'd love to see a Cleary-Franzen-Hudler line, a Draper-Maltby-Drake line, and a Sammy-Fil-Kopecky line, once everyone's healthy. To me Cleary, Mule, and Huds are the top 4 5 and 6 scorers on this team, as far as what they've shown. But just as easily Sammy and Val could turn it up and replace the more grinderly Cleary and Franzen. How that fivesome progresses over the course of the year is going to affect the team more than anything, methinks. As long as three of them are going at any one time, the Wings have will have all the secondary scoring they need to win the Cup. If all five of them get going? Throw in a deadline acquisition forward, and you have three potent scoring lines, and assuming the two-headed goaltending monster is still in form, you have one of the best teams ever assembled, and a lock to win the Stanley Cup. Mind you that's a lot ifs, but none of them is unreasonable.

The European Union
Six-foot twenty, fuckin' killing for fun

Even though both goals were gravy, you knew the Flying Circus wasn't going to get left off the scoresheet. Holmstrom (6:03) had more PPTOI than Nick Lidstrom (6:01). But he's no PP specialist - notice he only scored his goal against the Canes because he was on for a clutch defensive situation. As for Datsyuk, his dominance is hardly quantifiable. You could start with his goals, assists, takeaways, and +/-, but none of that fully demonstrates how much he absolutely owns the ice. Zetterberg, with an assist Sunday, the hat trick against Minnesota; he's continuing a monster season. But I'll go out on a limb: not that it matters because they're always together, but Dastyuk is the better Eurotwin. It occurs to me that I haven't seen anyone ask that question. Well there's my answer, at least for now.

Friday, November 9, 2007

Hank Zetterberg Can Do Anything He Puts His Mind To

Truly beautiful: watching the Wings' PP unit stay on the ice for what seemed like forever, refusing to relent (even after the power play expired) to make damn sure Hank extended his point streak. Despite Ken and Mick's adamant insistence upon jinxing the shit out of Z, he, Pavs, Homer, Nick, Rafalski, and a rather out of place Kirk Maltby got the job done in phenomenal fashion. I don't know what says more about Hank and this team - that he's registered a point in 16 straight, or that he and the rest of the guys on the ice basically just willed him to get a goal. Successfully.

What's that BJs? You want the puck back? Yeah, sure, just one sec, I gotta take care of this point-streak thing. Hey, hold still... there we go. Okay, all yours.

Although the scope of importance was much, much less, that last push for Z's goal reminded me of the last game against the Ducks last year. Further proof that the Eurotwins' individual ability and drive is such that they can simply will goals. They have the capacity to throw this team on their collective backs and drag them. The difference, of course, between the Wings and the Canucks is that Luongo had to throw the Nucks on his back for the entirety of the playoffs - Hank and Pavs should only be called upon from time to time.

Anyway, the game was altogether great. I missed the first, but Hasek looked solid. And the goal spread was exactly what you want it to be: a couple goals from your high end guys, and a couple goals from your role players. Oh, and again I missed the first so maybe Wings fans just got tired, but I didn't notice any Fedorov booing. Progress? Question mark?

Edit: In fact, says that for the Z goal, the unit was on the ice for 1:37. Just sick. And for the Homer goal, he and Dats were out for about the same amount of time.

Wednesday, November 7, 2007


So I'm finally getting around to seeing games, getting a feel for the team again, enjoying the hell out of watching Z, Dats, and Homer make the rest of the league look stupid, to say nothing of Chris Osgood. And then what? A week off. The fuck? What kind of scheduling is that? Six days between games? Does that normally happen or am I overreacting?

And then of course on that long awaited day, Center Ice decides to black me out. I live in Chicago, not Nashville, you dorks. Word is Kopecky got bumped from the lineup though? Interesting. And ESPN tells me Cleary scored from Filppula and Hudler. Does that mean he's pulling 2nd line duty? And Hudler too?

Not seeing games sucks.

Monday, October 29, 2007

Things I've Learned Lately

1. Grad school is, like, hard.
2. NHL Center Ice Online hates me.
3. Zetterberg is god.

Having finally watched my first Wings game of the season yesterday, I'll hopefully resume more regular posting soon, once I have more time and am able to make intelligent commentary. Sorry about the complete disappearance!

Monday, September 17, 2007

Timing = Everything

I liked Mathieu Schneider when he was here; good guy, played hard, scored a lot of points, and put in, not great, but solid defense. I thought Holland was a bit loony to invest 3.3M of our tiny cap to the aging Schneids after the lockout, but it turned out Ken Holland knows what the fuck he's doing and I don't, generally.

Turns out that's still true. My opinion, and a lot of others' I've seen, has been that the Rafalski signing was a good deal, but that if the Wings were willing to spend that much (6M) on him, why not give Schneider less (~5.6M) on a shorter deal, get arguably more production, and have more flexibility for the future when the Kindls and the Ericssons and the Pyetts show up. Well, here's why.

Now first of all allow me to lawl a little. Not at Schneids, who is a class act, and upon whom I wish nothing bad. But rather at Brian Burke, who is a toolbox, and the decision he made. Okay, lawl over. When Schneids went down this past season for 10 games in February with a knee issue, I remember a quote of his that was something to the effect of "I've never had a knee problem". I also remember him saying he'd had a relatively injury-free career. So these things were good signs to Wings fans who could look upon the knee issue as an freak issue to be disregarded.

But when Schneids hurt his arm on a harmless looking play in the playoffs, Ken Holland, if no one else, probably started considering that while Schneids took great care of himself, and much like Chris Chelios had the ability and the work ethic to keep playing at a high level for a long time, injuries are a whole 'nother ball game. As Steve Yzerman showed, while pure talent and desire to play and win may remain as high as ever as age progresses, the ability of the body to stay injury free and recover from injuries is what deteriorates rapidly with age.

What Holland probably thought after that freak arm injury of Schneider's, was that while Schneids's determination, work ethic, and ability remained high, it might be about to time to sell off in case two health-anomalies in one season for a relatively injury free, but old player meant the beginning of the end. And with another injury, while I'm not saying Schneider's career or production are anywhere near the end of the tunnel, I'm thinking, today Holland deserves credit for another very savvy move.

Catching Up

So I'm in Chicago now, but still don't have internets or TV, so my ability to follow the various news events or update here is still spotty. Which really sucks because apparently I missed an amazing weekend in sports.

The Tigers swept and are just 4.5 back of the Twins. I will reiterate:
Oh yeah, and I've got the Tigers winning the AL Central.
Jair fucking Jurrjens! Give Jurrjens the 5th spot in the rotation next year. Let Miller develop some more pitches in AAA in '08.

The Lions won! Wow. Who could have predicted that? Me:
I also like the Lions to go 8-8 after a 2-0 start. Yeah, I went there.
Oh yeah and all this Red Wings business. Grigorenko sucks, Downey has steel balls, Koko's a killing machine, Jimmy Howard is Skeletor, etc., etc. Draper is on the wing now. Holland says he scored 24 goals that way and putting him with Fil and Cleary will re-ignite his offensive ways. Hmm, you know, Holland is correct here, Draper did put up some sick numbers as a winger. But, based on these last few years, I wonder how. The guy has the offensive creativity of Andreas Lilja. How many times have you seen this wicked maneuver: Draper streaks up the wing. Draper gets to the circle. Draper fires a slapshot directly into the waiting goaltender's pads. If this is what he does, put him back on the grind line. But for now I'll trust Babcock.

Más luego.

Wednesday, September 12, 2007


Watching the Tigers tonight, with men on 1st and 3rd, I wondered "Why is it called 'runners on the corners'?" I mean when you think about it it's pretty stupid. It's a diamond. They're ALL corners.

Tuesday, September 11, 2007


These days, my day pretty much consists of waking up at 1pm and hanging out all day with a toddler. In between watching endless Baby Einstein DVDs, Curious George episodes, coloring, and playing with objects that light up and make noise, sometimes we have to do things the two-year old wants to do. And lately my nephew has taken an interest Jonathan Ericsson, standout converted defenseman, slated to play in Grand Rapids this year.

There appears to be some disagreement about how Ericsson did last night in the Wings' prospects' loss against the Rangers'. Bruce MacLeod calls Ericsson's performance "subpar", but Sarah Lindenau, who has been doing some great work at Red Wings Central, says,
once again impressed with his physical presence and sound defensive game.
Hm. Well regardless of Ericsson's performance last night, few prospects excite me more. And Ericsson's team leading 3 goals (as a d-man!) has Lindenau suggesting he could beat out the likes of Derek Meech and Brent Sopel for the final spot on the D. First of all, that's extremely unlikely since conventional wisdom is that you only let a young prospect on the team if they're playing every day - the exceptions being guys who can no longer be sent down and are on their last chances with the organization, like Meech, Hudler, or Kopecky. Ericsson certainly doesn't qualify.

Now, the question is, if Ericsson really knocks our socks off, does he take the a starting role? Maybe #4 alongside Nik Kronwall? Or perhaps #5, bumping out Brett Lebda? I could imagine Ericsson playing that well; he's clearly very talented and bound to be a top flight d-man for the Wings some day. But I would suggest that the Wings send Ericsson to GR no matter what, given the wall he hit last year. He had 22 points in his first 36 games, but just 7 in his last 31. Ericsson is still getting used to the length and the grind of the North American game, and we can't count on him to go a whole season this year. He needs another year in GR no matter what. Jakub Kindl though? I could see him winning a spot.

And as for Igor Grigor? MacLeod:
Igor Grigorenko needs to do a lot more to make this team. He had a sub-par game against the Rangers. He was above average in a tournament against 18-22 year-olds, a tournament that he could have dominated. He came to camp out of shape. There's still time for Grigorenko, but at the moment, the Red Wings' brass is not impressed.
But Jim Nill, via Lindenau:
The Red Wings are happy with the play of Russian rookie Igor Grigorenko through three games of the prospects tournament.

The 5-foot-10, 209 pound winger has four assists and is a plus-1.

“He’s played pretty well,” Nill said. “He’s really got the head (for the game). He makes plays that guys aren’t ready for, but this has been good just to get him ready for main camp.”
I'm not ready to panic, given Nill's statements. My guess? Grigorenko spends October in Grand Rapids, getting in shape and getting adjusted, then comes up to the big team when his out-clause kicks in on Nov 1. If he's ready at that point he jumps to the second line with Dats, if not he splits time with Hudler or Drake, a la the Hudler/Kopecky arrangement early last season.
If the Wings ate a roster spot and put up with Hudler before he proved himself, they'll do so for Grigorenko.

Monday, September 10, 2007

Sopel, and Reinventing the Power Play

Word on the street is, the Wings want Brent Sopel to come in for a try-out. Dave at Gorilla Crouch suggests he, Lilja, and Kindl will be duking it out for the 4th D position. Over at A2Y the Chief questions why this guy is still available if he's so good, and why he'll settle for a try-out and not a contract. And, as I write, I see Bruce MacLeod confirms Sopel will be in camp. Whatever the circumstances, I don't see why the Wings should sign this guy, at least to the big club.

He doesn't put up lots of offense. The guy had ten more points than Brett Lebda last season, for a total of 28. TSN's player profile says:
Owns a booming point shot and solid offensive potential. Is a great student of the game and willing to play any style necessary.

Must make better use of his 6-1, 205-pound frame. Can at times make a mental blunder in the defensive zone.
He has offensive potential? At least Kronwall and Lebda are young for all we hear that phrase. And he doesn't look like a defensive stud either. You replace him with Lilja and what do you get? No better on defense, less physicality, oh yeah, and the almighty slapper. Let's talk about that.

The slapshot has been a highly prized tool for the Wings, driving their power play all through the Mathieu Schneider era. When Schneider was hurt, the Wings' PP suffered terribly. The Wings' whole strategy involved getting Schneids the puck, him drilling it at Homer, and the Wings forwards cleaning up down low.

Unfortunately, this strategy does not work in the playoffs. In the playoffs, guys are suddenly willing to sacrifice their body time and time again to block shots, even from the fearsome Schneider. While the slapper is a valuable commodity in the regular season, in the playoffs it becomes dramatically less valuable. The Wings must develop a powerplay that focuses on cycling down low, using the creativity of Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Hudler, and Fil, and crashing the net hard with Homer, Cleary, Franzen, and Grigorenko. As for blueliners, we need guys who can make good passes, move quickly along the line, and can release an accurate shot. The only times Detroit successfully got pucks through was when they had a lot of movement at the blueline. So, Lidstrom, Kronwall, Rafalski, maybe Lebda (given his speed) ... oh yeah, and Meech. Red Wings Central:
Smooth, fluid skater ... great poise with puck ... carries puck up the ice efficiently ... crisp breakout passer ... excellent vision ... good point shot including strong one-timer ... intelligent on power play ...
Sounds like an ideal candidate when it comes to getting quick shots on the move from the blueline. I'm not saying he'll get lots of time, but if the Wings' PP is struggling Babcock would be crazy not to insert this guy, even if as basically a PP specialist. Sopel? HockeyinHD comments on the A2Y post that the Wings might carry him, keep everyone else, and end up with 8 d-men, possible since I don't believe the Wings are carrying a 3rd goalie this year. I could get behind that, especially when you consider this quote via MacLeod:
"We've got six NHL defensemen under contract now," said Holland. "We want to carry seven."
Given that Meech is under contract, that tells me Holland is not counting him when he tallies the seven NHL D-men. Which means, he may be simply getting a roster spot by default, and will be the Wings' eighth D. I'm fine with Sopel or Cullimore filling bench space. But making Sopel the 4th D? He doesn't make sense, and neither does centering your whole PP strategy on a big shot from the point, even if it does bring success in the regular season.

Wings Promo Contest: Fire In... Places

So I said I would post my second (and very late) entry to A2Y's Fake Promo Contest (you know, the one to replace the Wings' shitty "Fire on Ice" campaign), and that was supposed to happen yesterday. I got a couple of images together, started my photoshop magicks, came up with a few designs, and picked my favorite. Then I realized the picture it was based on is (barely) NSFW.

Well, A2Y is a family site, commonly read by churchgoing schoolchildren, old ladies, and infants. Ergo I don't know whether the Chief will allow it into the contest. But I couldn't let it go to waste so I'll post it anyway (linked of course). Again, all due warning: NSFW (barely).

Fire on Ice! Fire in... Places

Sunday, September 9, 2007

GRIGORENKOWATCH: Prospects Tourney

Introducing a new feature here at YIG, GRIGORENKOWATCH. It's basically where I talk about Igor Grigorenko. I don't know if that qualifies as a feature, so much as something I'm gonna talk about a lot over the course of the upcoming year, but you know. Shutup.

I'll start by doing what any good blogger does, quoting theirself. Here I talked about Igor in what might be considered the first installment of GRIGORENKOWATCH:
There are a lot of open questions about the guy, though. How healed is that leg? How will he transition to the North American game? What will his nickname be? What number will he wear? To me the latter two are the most important.
Hmm, indeed. The number? Looks like it's 21, something I boldly and clearly predicted:
[He] seems to have worn 21 for the WJC U20 team in 2002, and that number has been available for a while now.
Hah, well played, Pete. You left nothing to doubt with that ballsy assertion. As for the nickname? Here's what I had to say back then:
[There are] the following possibilities for Igor: Iggy, Griggy, Grigs, Iggs, Grigger, Igg, and, uh... Gregory. Grigs seems the most likely, but my vote is Gregory. That's just amusing. And let's stay away from Grigger, please.
Hahaha. Who the hell would call him Grigger. Iggy or Grigs are so obvious, I mean... what's that, Bruce MacLeod of Red Wings Corner?
After one power play, Coach Mike Stothers hollered on the bench "Not one f-ing shot on the power play. Grigger, shoot the puck."
Aww, sonuvabitch. Grigger? Seriously? Let's hope this is an invention of Stothers's and won't be adopted by Babcock and the Wings lockerroom.

So where is all this information on Gregory coming from? Well that's the Traverse City Prospect Tournament, currently underway. For the best coverage, go check out one of the RWCs: Red Wings Central or Red Wings Corner. Both sources are covering the crap out of the tourney and it's great. Both sources are also reporting that Grigs has looked strong, with MacLeod calling him "the best offensive forward in the game".

Dallas Drake looks like the 12th forward at this point, and Matt Ellis is as of now probably the 13th. So as of now, Grigorenko is going to have to upend some people to make it, as discussed by the Chief. Later today I'll post my last-minute, second entry to the A2Y Promo Contest.

Saturday, September 8, 2007


It may be bad sportsmanship (or, as Neil Patrick Harris says, a dick move) to delight in another team's misery; perhaps the true fan should only revel in his team's success and commend the other side for a game well played. Well, fuck that shit. UM's latest loss has me giddy with... giddiness, I guess. I'm not even that into MSU Football, I mean I follow it but it doesn't really get me going as much as Detroit pro hockey, baseball, or football. I don't really have any analysis (you can read all about it at Gorilla Crouch or TWFE edit: or Quo Vadimus) to offer,but it seems to me that every last Wings blogger is a UM fan, and as such I need to, as the French say, "represent". (To be truly fair, I should also mention my delight in Notre Dame's shitty season thus far... "Charlie Weis" rhymes with "douchebag".)

In other news, I'm, uh, coming around to this Timo Pérez character. Left-handed bat, solid at the plate, solid on defense (although I've noticed he can be slow getting to balls that get past him), with two diving grabs made today (so far...). He and Ryan Raburn might be able to hold down the LF spot pretty well the rest of the year. Plus Inge (HOMERUN!) and Pudge turning it on? Oh yeah, and I've got the Tigers winning the AL Central. CAN YOU HANDLE MY OPTIMISM!? I also like the Lions to go 8-8 after a 2-0 start. Yeah, I went there.

Tomorrow I'll get back on the Red Wings beat with some discussion of the prospects tournament and various other bits.

Tuesday, September 4, 2007

Breaking News!!!

What could rouse me from my vacation? With a dearth of hockey and me being in moving-limbo until I settle in my new place in Chicago on the 14th, I've taken some time off from the ol' blagoblag.

Could it be U of M's delightfully soul crushing defeat at the hands of the mighty Appalachians? Would I come back just to frolic and dance in the misery of the Wolverines? Would I come back to ask whether Lloyd Carr will be fired at the end of the season or at the end of the week? Would I come back to expound upon the fact that MSU easily handled their powderpuff? Nah, I wouldn't do any of those things.

No, I came back to discuss, with great excitement, the huge news out of the bay area, of the SJ Sharks' signing of none other than Jeremy Roenick! After questions about the Sharks' post-season production and lack of leadership that led to their ouster in the second round, how about this deft move, bringing in a 28-point scorer and lockerroom distraction! I, for one, am excited about the increased challenge the Sharks will pose to the Red Wings this upcoming year with JR in the lineup.

Back mid-month. In the meantime, looking forward to the Central Division preview, and glad to see Gloveside back in action with a nifty new layout.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

The Blueline, the Banner, and the Babe

Good discussion going on over in the comments of the Chief's latest, on the Wings' D, specifically in regard to the unlikelihood of Danny Markov's return and the value of Brett Lebda. I argue over there that Lebda is a solid 3rd-pair guy but not to get hopes up much higher than that. If the Wings give him a lot of PP time I think he could get 2nd-pair offensive numbers, but with the Wings being as stacked as they are I don't see it really happening. Also at some point the Wings are going to have to choose between Lebda and Meech - they are the same player, and the Wings can't afford to have both these guys on an already very small backcourt.

So with Holland basically saying Meech has the 7th D spot wrapped up, here's my guess for the Wings' D pairings:

Lids - Kronner
Rafalski - Lilja
Lebs - Cheli

To me Kronner with Nick makes sense because a) Nik Jr. needs to show he's a top d-man, and b) who better to teach him to temper his physical ways. Rafalski/Lilja then is a pretty obvious second pair - one offensive guy, one stay at homer. This makes for a dramatically improved second-unit, defensively speaking, over last year's Schneids/Nik combo. And finally, Lebs goes with the immortal Chris Chelios, and anytime Meech plays, he'd go with the Highlander as well.

Really, Lids, Rafalski, Lebs, and Cheli are all locks to be where they are - Kronner and Lilja are the only question marks. Lils needs to build off of a good postseason, Kronner needs to stay fucking healthy.

In other news I updated my banner. Spiffy, no? Emma Andersson was this close to getting into the banner, right where Dom is currently sprawling. Hey, this gives me a reason to post a picture (specifically, the one I was going to use in the banner:)

Unfortunately her pink bikini and sunny seaside scenery (if I may alliterate) sort of broke up the color scheme with banner so it didn't work out. Damn.

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Tata Is God

The Tigers are saved. Jordan Tata threw a good, and more importantly, long game last night to give the Tigers a much needed win, and the bullpen a much needed break. Of course, Tata's arrival means the Tigers can finally afford to unload Verlander for that power-hitting first baseman. I also expect the playoff rotation to look like this:


In, um, real news, word on the street is that the Tigers are looking at a shortstop from Pittsburgh? Good move I guess. I wonder if, with Raburn doing what he's doing, this means Omar Infante is approaching the end? Maybe he'll go in the trade?

Versus sucks. But they're apparently (via BTJ) not the network the NHL is thinking about dumping to go back to ESPN. My guess is, if the NHL is replacing NBC, and not Versus, with the Every Sport Possible Network, it's not to get the games themselves out to wider audiences, but rather in the hopes that Sportscenter coverage will pick up and NHL Tonight will make a comeback.

The Wings are on to us. A few weeks into the Chief's scathing indictment, via Photoshop contest, of the Wings PR machine , it seems they've hired some fellows to help out and sell tickets. Wait. Let me get this straight. The Wings are... spending money... in order to... sell more tickets. Hold on. I have a plan.

Take the money you would spend on an ad agency. Use that money to reduce the cost of tickets. Tell people what you have done, and it will make the front pages of every sports section. Here's my guess for the Freep's front page, in huge, world-end sized font:


(For the less educated of you, zomg is a completely technical term that you'll learn all about if you spend a few more years in college like I'm doing.) But of course, that's not what they're doing. Instead, they're hiring somebody to try and sell the Wings. How do you do that? I mean, how do you sell the idea of going to a Wings game? The most consistently dominant hockey team in the world in the past decade? And we're not talking Spurs/Patriots/Pistons/Devils dominant, we're talking good and also entertaining to watch. To say nothing of Hasek. The Wings sell themselves. You don't need to advertise the Wings. If people are not going to Wings games it's because they CAN'T FUCKING AFFORD IT AND A NEW AD CAMPAIGN WON'T CHANGE THAT.

It's time for the Captain to get in there, and bust some fucking skulls.

Wednesday, July 25, 2007

Ten Coolest Names In Baseball

This is completely random.

Here are my picks for the ten coolest names in baseball (possibly the ten coolest names in all of sport), along with some themed awards: Grandest, Most Confused, Most Badass, Just Plain Ridiculous, Old Timiest, and the prestigious Are You Serious?

Without further ado:

10.Curtis Granderson (Winner, Grandest)
9. Melky Cabrera (Runner-Up, Most Confused)
8. Boof Bonser (Winner, Just Plain Ridiculous)
7. Milton Bradley (Runner-Up, Are You Serious?)
6. Nook Logan (Runner-Up, Old-Timiest)
5. Coco Crisp (Winner, Are You Serious?)
4. Yuniesky Betancourt (Winner, Most Confused)
3. Vladimir Guerrero (Runner-Up, Most Badass)
2. Lastings Milledge (Winner, Old-Timiest)
1. Fausto Carmona (Winner, Most Badass)

Hon. Mention: Kenny Rogers, Pudge Rodriguez, Hanley Ramirez, Bengie Molina,

A lot of people would not have gone with Fausto Carmona. But I think it is one of the most badass names ever. I can't explain it. It is just a fucking cool name. Think you know some cooler names? Feel free to add to my list.

As for hockey, a lot of people are throwing out their thoughts for line combinations now that the roster is prolly set, so I'll likely do the same pretty soon here. After that, I think I'll start previewing the season. Or something. Is it October yet?

Monday, July 23, 2007

What's that? Blog? Huh?

Behold, the sunny, hot, dreary, winter of Hockey. We wander, all of us true fans, in a daze all day, parched for the smooth speed of the skated players, the dazzling moves of brilliant Europeans, the batshit wanderings of insane goaltenders, the dagger-eyes and confused words of steely coaches. And as we wander in this desert, we seek out little oases, tiny fonts of hockey goodness, there for a moment then gone, to give us life until the season comes again. Such cool respite as a fake promo contest, or this article on Chris "THERE CAN BE ONLY ONE" Chelios.

Me? Where am I in all this? Well I don't know if it's cool to admit this on a sports blog, but for the past week or so I've been hiding, in the deep jungles of Costa Rica, hiding from the internet, so as to avoid being spoiled on the ending of Harry Potter. Yes, that's right. But I have finally read the book, and so emerge from the deeps of Central America, haggard, worn, tired, and malnourished, classes, blogs, and my email inbox completely neglected.

As a feeble show of remorse, I offer this, for Bill's fake promo contest:

When I've had more food, I'll see if I can't come up with something a little better.

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Ballcaps, Sox, Jerseys, and Other Apparel

Bulleted List:
  • That last Tigers post... it got a little silly at the end there. To be totally serious, I think Sean Casey is fine, at least for this year. But if we don't get A-Rod or Texeira, how about Marcus Thames as the 1B of the future? I mean why not? With Maybin, Gorkys Hernandez, Brent Clevlen, the Tigers are going to have to start trading off OF depth or move them to different positions. Thames fits the bill for a power hitter at that position.
  • I don't understand the argument that you shouldn't move Guillen to 1st because he won't be as good at 1st though. If anything he'll be better because the position is less tiring. Obviously you don't move him to 1st unless you have a damn good replacement at short (A-Rod).
  • Okay, enough of the this Tigers talk. This is a Wings blog right? Uhh... as Bill at A2Y suggests, things are a little dry on that front. But here's a question no one (to my knowledge) has asked or had answered: what's the deal with the Wings' new jerseys? Anyone have any idea? I mean at the very least you have to take the old design and stick it on the new jersey, and in fact, that is what I hope they do, and what they probably will do, since the organization has a pretty good understanding of tradition. I would hate to see the jersey all verticalized, although something more or less similar to the practice jersey wouldn't be awful. Actually yes it would. I fear change.
  • Back to baseball really quick: go Sox! Way to take two from the Indians! Nice!
  • Moving on to me news, but also still Tigers, and sort of Red Wings, I got this bad ass hat the other day. I first saw it on Hank Zetterberg at some post-game conference, and then found the link on BTJ. I had been meaning to get it since I first saw Christy link it, but never got around to it. Anyway, I am now a styling Wings/Tigers fan. I just put that hat on, take one look in the mirror and say "Man I'm a badass."
  • I am still considering the Chief's request for homemade Wings promos. I will one day throw my hat in this ring, a calculated strike, after weeks if not months of careful consideration.

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Them Baseballs

I've been pondering them baseballs a lot lately, what with this being the slowest time of the year for a hockey fan, and pretty much the best time for baseball. I'll start by saying that a day hasn't yet gone by that I haven't watched Curtis Granderson's catch (or for that matter, a day hasn't gone by that I haven't googled Emma Andersson... you might be saying to yourself, "Self, that's got to get sort of boring after a while since there are only a small number of pictures of her out there..." to which I respond, one day there will be a new one, and that will be a good day.)

Where the fuck was I? Can you even do a parenthetical that long? Prolly not. It's prolly against the rules.

Anyway, Drew Sharp had a flash of brilliance today, suggesting the Tigers go for A-Rod. Brilliance, or perhaps thievery since I've been thinking quietly to myself that the Tigers should do the same, and just not telling anybody. Despite the fact that I own a blog...

Anyhoo, the reason is because 1) the Tigers supposedly need more production out of first base, and 2) Carlos Guillen commits too many errors at SS. He's really a great athlete, but much like Brandon Inge, I think that athleticism causes him to throw some balls that he should just sit on. But you move Guillen to first, and all of a sudden he's probably a gold glove at that position, since he can make full use of his athleticism, but without ever really having to throw the ball. Perfect!

Then you can have A-Rod at his natural position. Take a look at this lineup!

1 - He's No Anderson
2 - Polly
3 - A-Rod
4 - Maggs
5 - Sheff
6 - Guillen
7 - Pudge
8 - C-Money
9 - Binge

But the idea that we should wait until the offseason is crazy. Fuck that! Get him at the deadline! The Yanks suck and they'll want to cut their losses. We trade them Thames, um, Infante, uh, and a bunch of prospects. But don't stop there!

Then you get Miguel Tejada for a bunch more pitching prospects, and you move him to 3rd. Then put Inge in the bullpen. Also put Inge in any time you know that you're about to need an amazing play at 3rd.

Then you go out and get Texeira. You may now be saying to yourself, "Self, at this point the Tigers would be out of tradeable assets." Not so! Send them C-Mo and the Upper Peninsula. Think about it! The Tigers could put him in LF, or put him at first, move Guillen to DH, and have Sheff in left! And Texas gets even bigger, you know they couldn't pass that up! Plus they can watch both borders! Crafty fucking Canadians! Stay outta North Texas!

Mr. Dombrowski, you can hold on to my AL Exec of the Year award for me. Just keep it nice and shiny.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Re: Ice Bowl

A lot of discussion has gone on lately with regard to the possibility of an outdoor game this upcoming season, most of it focusing a lot of negative attention on the league. First of all it sucks that the Wings don't play the Pens this season, because anyone could tell you the best possible match-up would be of the Wings and Pens. The being said Buffalo is in the mix, probably because they are the American team with the most dependably cold weather, i.e., no risk of a thaw. While it gets plenty cold in Detroit, our weather is pretty wonky, so, there is that.

This having been said, though, I'm surprised by the discussion of the possible venue for a hypothetical outdoor Wings game. Football fields are the optimal choice, but obviously Ford Field is a no-go since it's not outdoors. Comerica Park? Too small, and also, is it even shaped right? I mean, would that work? The lack of a viable downtown venue might be the reason that Kenny H says the Wings are for the moment not interested in playing an outdoors game. Someone recently suggested (I believe I saw it at Snapshots) that the Wings do it at Spartan Stadium, where the MSU-UM Ice Bowl was held. This notion is ridiculous. It should be in Ann Arbor.

Now wait a minute. I go to MSU. I'm about to be an MSU alumnus. And as such I have a healthy dislike, nay, hatred for UM. Like my fellow students, I despise everything that pretentious university stands for. Like any good Spartan, I would delight to see Ann Arbor and environs burn to the ground, and every smart-ass, elitist student there die in that horrible conflagration*.

But I'm man enough to say that if the Wings host an outdoor game, the ONLY logical option for a venue is the Large Place. Or, Big Thing. The House that... some guy built. Think about it: the League's most iconic (in America) and successful team taking on the League's most iconic and successful player, all in possibly the WORLD's most iconic and celebrated sports venue? And reasonably close to the Detroit area? Are you crazy? That place can fit nearly 110,000 sniveling, self-important, blowhard fans of an underperforming football team, does any other location make sense if you want to cram as many die-hard hockey fans in to see a great game?

And as for a date, I would pick the Saturday Night of the weekend preceding the Super Bowl. There is basically nothing going on that weekend. Or I guess you could do it the Saturday night OF the Super Bowl, in a sort of coattails-grabbing kind of thing, I mean I don't know if that would even work or not, but it's sort of like, you know in NASCAR when you drive behind the guy, and then you go real fast because you're behind him, and... I don't what I'm trying to say here, I don't fucking watch NASCAR. All I know is what Ricky Bobby and Maggy tell me from Talladega Nights and Herbie: Fully Loaded.

*-Obviously, I'm kidding here. I know plenty of people at UM, including friends, a brother, his girlfriend, at least one Red Wings blogger... actually, no, I'm not kidding at all. They're all collateral damage.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Get it. 87.

So, I just got it. Sidney Crosby wears 87. His contract is for 8.7M a year.

I think I speak for the entire internets when I say, "roffle."

Does this mean Zetterberg will go for a 4.0M deal?

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Drake, Hank, Emma, The Tigers' Outfielders, et al

Various odds and ends:

  • Dave at GC provides the sole dissenting opinion on the Drake signing. More on that in a bit.
  • First though, via Christy at BTJ, a great interview (in Swedish!) with Hank Zetterberg in which he says he wants to be a lifer Red Wing and doesn't care about money. Good news on both fronts. I will say this: no single thing is more important to the Red Wings' near and distant future than locking up Zatta. Even more important than re-signing Lidstrom.
  • The most important thing to come out of the Zetterberg interview (and I think the commenters at A2Y agree) however was the news (to me) that his girlfriend is Emma Andersson. Nice.
  • Darryl Bootland has bolted for Isles. Too bad, since he had about as much chance of making this roster as Valtteri Filppula does not making it. Maybe this is what prompted the Drake signing? Who knows.
  • Tigers: Was anyone as excited as I was that Magglio Ordoñez got bounced immediately from the Home Run Derby? It would have been cool to see him win I guess. You know what else would be cool? If he didn't fuck up his swing for the second half. That would be really cool.
  • Speaking of outfielders, Curtis Granderson (he's no Anderson) is a minor deity at worst. If you're unsure of why it's such a great play, I'll tell you: it wasn't the mile he ran to get there, or the fact that he had the coordination to make the grab or the presence of mind to hold on. It was the fact that on that play, 99 times out of 100, the outfielder will get up against the wall and jump straight up, or plant a foot against the wall and climb; Curtis simply jumped, from his feet, midstride, over the wall. Watch the video again, and consider whether, at any point in your life, you were or will be capable of such a physical feat, forgetting the part about running, and catching the ball and holding on and doing it all with a huge game on the line. Simply fucking ridiculous. (And as always, the only way to watch these things is with the original commentary by Mario and Rod. ESPN does a disservice to not play the original call.)
  • Okay, now back to Drake. Dave makes some good points, and one of his best is in a comment on Bill's post at A2Y:
    The one difference I’d point out with the Hasek analogy was that Dom was amongst the best netminders in the NHL before he was injured. He’s also a proven playoff performer. Does that really describe Drake? I just don’t think so.
    That's a good point by Dave. Drake has never really been one of the top netminders in the league. Top 15 maybe at his peak. Seriously though, I think the thing about Drake is that, at worst, he's irrelevant. I don't think there's any way that this actually a *bad* signing. Babcock is not one to give a veteran IT over a kid (see: Jason Woolley, Cory Cross, Brad Norton, Andreas Lilja) so Drake won't stifle anyone's development. If he is in GR then he's a great insurance policy; when injuries start piling up (they will at some point) I'd rather have Drake than Josh Langfeld or Matt Hussey. That goes triple in the playoffs. That being said I may jumped the gun by assuming he'd be on the roster. After hearing everyone talk about it a bit more, maybe he will be a GR fixture. In which case, it is a good move, for the Griffins and for the Wings.
  • Here's what Dave said in a comment on my last post:
    The Wings can field a very solid grind line consisting of any combination of Franzen, Kopecky, Draper, Cleary and Maltby. Where exactly does Drake fit in?
    Another good point. My thought was, if you have Drake on the grind line, it frees up Cleary and Franzen to both play in the Top 6 - both guys have offensive potential that would certainly be lost on the grind line. I hadn't thought about Kopecky though and he might be a logical choice to play the wings on that line this upcoming year. So like I said, maybe it is the case that this is simply a depth move and we won't see Drake until the injuries hit.
  • Bill at A2Y doesn't like it when I say "et al". Well, I don't like all his pop culture references that go over my head. So there. Who the hell is Delma Huddle anyway? I was born in 1986, man. Gimme a break.

Monday, July 9, 2007

Roster Set? Pt. 2

Per TSN, Wings re-sign Dallas Drake. Sounds like a great move to me, essentially identical to what KH tried to do last year with Greg Johnson, i.e., sign a former Wing to a cheap-o contract to shore up the fourth line with an experienced grinder. Here's hoping Drake actually suits up for the Wings. Bill at A2Y had been hoping for this deal for a while, so his reaction is obviously positive.

I could definitely get behind going to camp with this lineup, and yet Ansar Khan still thinks Holland has his eyes on another blueliner and/or another Top 6 forward. While you can never have enough depth and experience, I do think that making any more moves would start to stifle the youth movement in Hockeytown. I think it's important that every single year the Wings work on bringing along a few youngsters, and this year those youngsters should be Igor Grigorenko and one of Meech/Quincey. Add more players and those guys are potentially going to get bumped off the roster.

Khan does suggest (ibid), however, that the Wings may be stashing considerable cap space for grabbing Peter Forsberg. Dave at GC threw it out there on Saturday, and I do have to say I like the idea. Forsberg is supposed to be ready in December, so it's really more like an early deadline move. With much of the season gone it'll be a diminished contract hit, and no loss of picks/prospects. But it's also early enough that if he flops, you have time to figure it out and make a move at the deadline.

The Drake signing means that, Matt Ellis included, the Wings have 14 forwards, and Ellis is likely the odd-man out. Which is too bad, because I think he would do very well in Babcock's system (and, actually, has done well already). Ellis will provide excellent depth, unless of course Igor Grigorenko falters and doesn't make the team. Holland has said it's Iggy Grigs' roster spot to lose, so I don't expect that. But then again, Ellis might Filppula his way onto the roster.

Here are two line-ups the Wings could potentially field with Drake added to the roster:



In the first set, the Wings ice two big, physical top scoring lines, a solid grind line, and an offensively oriented fourth line. In the second set, you have basically again two big scoring lines, but a better (and potentially more offensive) grind line, and a very physical, defensive oriented fourth line. Just two possibilities I'm throwing out there.

So with Ellis likely getting sent to GR, one of the other kids will have considerably reduced ice time. How does that make you feel, Tomas Kopecky?

(Edit: Matt at OTW offers his thoughts on Drake, also noting that it might be Drake, and not one of the kids, who ends up in GR. Interesting, since he's less likely than Hudler or Kopecky to get picked up off waivers, and Grigorenko has the out-clause.)

Friday, July 6, 2007

The New Igor

Igor Grigorenko was interviewed recently, and a transcript has shown up at Russian Hockey Prospects, which I saw via James Jahnke at the Freep. It's a great read. Here's my favorite excerpt:
You probably followed Detroit’s last games against Anaheim during the Stanley Cup Playoffs?
I. Grigorenko: Of course. The games ended up being great! Nobody gave anyone an inch – everyone battled to the end. That is the kind of hockey that I like and that is why I am going to America.

But you are a playmaker?
I. Grigorenko: I am prepared for physical hockey and do not experience any problems with it. Let them be scared of me over there.
This is incredibly exciting. Word on the street is, Grigorenko drinks the blood of the innocent. I fully expect him and Jakub Kindl to be terrorizing the league within a few years, swooping from darkened heights to latch on to opposing players' jugulars before leaving their cold, withered corpses on the ice as they drive to the net. For a more conventional prospectus, I guess you could listen to what RWC has to say:
Sharp stickhandling skills and tricky 1-on-1 moves ... opportunistic scorer with quick, hard and accurate wrist shot ... terrific hockey sense ... intelligent offensively and equally capable of scoring and setting up linemates ... great on power play ... strong in traffic ... drives hard to the net ... stocky with rock-solid balance ... fiery intensity ... natural winger is versatile and also plays center ...

Injuries suffered in car accident have taken a step off his fast, shifty skating and could affect his ability to adjust to the high-tempo NHL game ... reports indicate he still feels pain in injured left leg ... sometimes lacks discipline and can take untimely penalties ... could elevate his defensive play ...
If Grigorenko can step in and score, say, 15 goals, with 4th line ice time, occasional 1st line duty with countryman Pavs, and occasional PP time, I would be delighted. He can go a long way towards replacing Calder and Bertuzzi.

There are a lot of open questions about the guy, though. How healed is that leg? How will he transition to the North American game? What will his nickname be? What number will he wear? To me the latter two are the most important.

First the nickname. There are a few basic ways to derive a hockey player's nickname. They are:
  • Add '-y/-ie' to the first name, or an abbreviated part thereof (e.g., Stevie, Cheli)
  • Add '-y/-ie' to the last name, or an abbreviated part thereof (e.g., Sammy, Ozzie)
  • Add '-s' to the last name, or an abbreviated part thereof (e.g., Drapes, Malts, Lids, Lils, Lebs, Dats)
  • Rarely, add '-s' to the first name (e.g., Pavs)
  • Add '-er' to the last name, etc. (e.g., Homer, Kronner)
  • Simply shorten the first name (e.g., Dom, Val)
  • Americanize some part of the name (e.g., Hank, Frankie)
  • Something completely random (e.g., Mule)
This leaves the following possibilities for Igor: Iggy, Griggy, Grigs, Iggs, Grigger, Igg, and, uh... Gregory. Grigs seems the most likely, but my vote is Gregory. That's just amusing. And let's stay away from Grigger, please.

As for the number? Grigs (see, I'm already doing it) seems to wear 34 in Russia, which is available here. But I'm not a big fan of goalie-numbers for skaters. How about 8, in honor a previous Igor? Matt Ellis currently wears 8, but he could probably be convinced to change (see comments about drinking blood above). Or how about 17. 17 is a badass number, and it's half of 34, so there's, you know, like, a numerological relationship or something. Gregory seems to have worn 21 for the WJC U20 team in 2002, and that number has been available for a while now. 20 would also be nice, as it would cleanse our numerical pallet of Robert Lang. He would undeniably look badass in 14, a power-forward's number. Doubt it's available though.

Alright, I just spent like a paragraph talking about jersey numbers. I'm gonna go read a book or something. Anyone have opinions for nicknames and numbers?

Thursday, July 5, 2007

Roster Set?

Via On The Wings, the News reports Hasek is back for 2M, and 2M in bonuses. The quote from Hasek's agent that he talked Dom down to 2M from 5M for the good of the team is absurdly comical, but whatever. Matt at OTW suggests that had Hasek signed earlier at his 06-07 price, the Wings could have gotten a top-6 forward and essentially blames Hasek for the Wings losing out on a premier power forward. I disagree, because assuming a 2M cushion, this leaves the Wings with 5M in spendy. Not enough to get Smyth, Gomez, Drury, etc., and it was the years, not the cost, that cost us Todd Bertuzzi.

If the Wings really wanted one of the big FAs they would have gone out and grabbed them and used it as a bargaining chip to get Hasek in at whatever price, since they would have literally only had room for said salary.

The Wings I think are basically set, save a low-key veteran forward. And for that they may wait until the current prospect camp ends so they can see where Igor Grigorenko is. Throw in how much Babcock has praised Kopecky, and how Holland has said Jiri Hudler is destined for PP time, and the fact that the Wings have re-signed Matt Ellis, I think they're set.

Until the deadline. If the Wings go to camp with this roster (either Quincey or Meech as the 7th DMan, Ellis as the 13th F, no 3rd G) they will have, by my count, 5.27M in slush money. Figure 1.27M of that is in the proverbial lock-box for injury call-ups, that gives the Wings 4M a the deadline. Since 3/4 of a contract has been paid out by the deadline, that adds up to 16M in July 1 salaries. Certainly enough to add a #1-type offensive defenseman, a top physical D, and/or a power forward or two. Brad Stuart, for example, is on a one year deal and the Kings could potentially suck this year. Don't know of any power forwards but undoubtedly there will be a few. Oh yeah, and plenty in the piggy bank for a goalie if Hasek blows a groin or two, knock wood.

And, if the Wings leave a substantial amount of their cap on the table at the end of the season, it means they can potentially count Hasek's and/or Chelios's bonuses against this year's cap, and avoid having bonus-money carried over onto the 08-09 cap as the Wings have failed to do this year and last year. This could be pretty important if the cap fails to go up again next year.

The Littlest Red Wing Returns

(First things first: VOTE BONDO! Voting ends at 6PM!)

Black Ace Jiri Hudler is back with the Wings for two years at around 1M, which is more than I expected, but also signals that Wings are willing to give Hudler a good shot at being a Top 12 forward and getting decent ice time. With Mike Babcock's obsession with size and grit, there was a danger that the undersized Hudler's scoring ability might be overlooked, but that appears to not be the case.

I would hope that Hudler sees significant time on the PP, even if he is relegated to relatively few even strength minutes on the fourth line. If the roster stays the way it is, he, Tomas Kopecky, and Igor Grigorenko will likely be the fourth line. Yesterday I threw out the suggestion that the Wings get Jason Allison, and there are plenty of other possibilities being tossed out there, including Alexei Yashin. Ted Kulfan suggests the Wings invincible locker room led by Nick Lidstrom and the immortal Chris Chelios can withstand Yashin, but I shiver at the idea of essentially bringing in a new Robert Lang. And his agent, as I recall, said something to the effect of Yashin not playing for cheap this upcoming season.

Here's another suggestion: Matt Ellis? He's already on the Wings roster, and I have to imagine that if the Wings stand pat (I doubt they really will) he's probably the 13th forward. If his competition includes Hudler and the unproven Grigorenko, he'll likely get in a lot of games for the Wings, and could potentially be the power forward they're looking for. He won't put up amazing numbers or anything (leave that to the Eurotwins), but he will be physical and offensively competent.

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Panic! At The Joe

A lot of people are pretty concerned about the way things have gone since July 1. I figure the Wings have upgraded at D (Rafalski better than Schneider, Lilja/Quincey cheaper than Markov), and at the forward position they've lost the three forwards who did the least for them in Lang, Calder, and Bert. Bert's loss hurts because he could potentially have been a force next year, but those three will be replaced by (assuming no other moves) Igor Grigorenko, Jiri Hudler, and Tomas Kopecky. If those guys do pretty much anything, the Wings will be fine, and can go out and grab whomever at the deadline. I think people are underestimating how huge a move it was for the Wings to get rid of Robert Lang. We are 1000 times better for it.

But if the Wings really want to go out and grab a FA power forward? How about Jason Allison? He could center the second line if you want to keep Pavs and Hank together, but better yet he could center Huds and Grigorenko. Or you could move him to wing and have him essentially replace Bertuzzi. I mean he's no mauler but he's big. Risky, but likely cheap. Just a thought.

Nervousness is also building about Hasek. I'm still unconcerned, especially cause the Wings have the cap room to overpay if they have to. Just sign him. The Toronto Sun, via George Malik suggests the Wings go after Andrew Raycroft via trade if Hasek doesn't return. Wow. I think I'd rather go for Ed Belfour. And I think I'd rather kill myself than go for Ed Belfour.

Oh yeah, and this.

Tuesday, July 3, 2007

You Can Go Back To Hating Bertuzzi and Smyth

With Bert signing with the Ducks, and Ryan Smyth, once highly coveted by many Wings fans including myself, signing with the Avs, Wings fans can pretty much give up the hope of bringing in a big power forward from the FA market. Oh yeah, and most heartbreaking of all, fan favorite Robert Lang bolted for division rival and Central contender Chicago, only to be reunited with fellow physical goalscorer Jason Williams. Man. Tough day.

Well, balls. What do the Wings do now? Go for a small forward like Slava Kozlov or Danius Zubrus? Blech. Ken Holland says he'll sit back and wait for things to settle. Is it time for another Mikael Samuelsson/Dan Cleary type FA steal? I wouldn't mind one of those.

Dave at Gorilla Crouch suggests that without another Top 6 forward, the Wings best bet for line combos is to keep Zetterberg and Datsyuk together. And you do know that that's always a safe bet, with Tomas Holmstrom (or Mikael Samuelsson) rounding out the line. But I still say let's try to split them up. I love Val Filppula but I would rather take things slow. Here's a guess for line combos:


If Z and Pavs are really superstars they will make other players around them better. I put Sammy with Datsyuk because it's the team's top sniper with the team's top playmaker. Holmstrom with Zetterberg to take advantage of all the shots that will come his way. Franzen and Grigorenko add grit and are nationality-compatible.

Is Grigorenko a Top 6 forward off the bat? Maybe not. Cleary and Filppula are other options for Top 6 wingers. And if it doesn't work, blow it up and put the Eurotwins together. But let's at least try to spread the wealth.

Sunday, July 1, 2007

Thoughts on Rafalski for Schneider

Heard about the deal from my sister via phone, since I'm out camping with the fam. Wow. I'll be brief because I'm in the woods. I think this is a great deal because Rafalski is a Schneider equivalent offensively (maybe better in the Wings puck-moving system), but definitely his defensive superior. I love a #2 pair of Rafalski-Kronner. It has as much ammo as Schneids-Kronner but is way better as far as responsibility.

While I like the move, it is a bit of a shock. Apparently KH thought Schneider was worth no more than "mid-4" but that Rafalski was worth 6M. Was it the defense or the age? Rafalski's contract will take him through the age 39, so my guess is that it was Schneider's iffy defense.

What worries me about this move is that it is quite a big hit for 5 years. We have to worry about Zetterberg in a year (or two years if we want to risk letting him within a mile of UFA - which I wouldn't), to say nothing of guys like Cleary, Franzen, Filppula down the road. Kenny may be planning on Lidstrom's contract getting smaller at the end of next year, and I guess one way to do that is to force Lidstrom to take a cut by filling up your cap on other guys. I can't say I'm concerned about Lidas bolting.

A big surprise, but definitely a welcome move. Repercussions? Assuming no more than 4M for Hasek (and who knows since he's still unsigned) the Wings can get only one of Bertuzzi or Markov. My guess is they'll try to get Bert and if that fails, they'll just go for Markov rather than an FA forward. That being said the Wings have a lot of young depth at D, and not as much at F, so who knows. My guess is still that Hasek will come in at 2.5M and Bert at 3M. I wouldn't mind Bert for 2 years. 3 is pushing it though.

Here's a chart with my expectations.
Rafalski, No Markov, Bert/3M, Hasek/2.5M

Notice it leaves a hefty 3.21M in room. Means we can potentially give Hasek more if he really needs it to come back. Also we could potentially do something crazy, like bring back Markov and Bert, at 3M each, and trade Lilja (would leave 1.21M in cap space).

Oh yeah, and no way we get Ryan Smyth. Sorry Iwo.

Friday, June 29, 2007

Cap Is 50.3M: Hello Ryan Smyth

Well, the cap has been set, and to the delight of Wings fans, it is 50.3M. I would expect some moves in the very near future by the Wings, since they have been planning on a 48M cap. I think this potentially paves the way for the Wings to sign Schneider. From what Holland has been saying it seems like their cap for him was 5M, but when you look at the Timonnen and Markov deals, his value looks like 6M. Now that they've got an extra couple million, they can think about going back and giving him market value instead of hoping for a hometown discount (which I don't think will happen).

Or, the Wings could think a little more seriously about Ryan Smyth. In any case, the opportunities are many, so here are four scenarios that could play out for the Wings. I assume Ansar Khan's numbers of 3M for Todd Bertuzzi, and 2.5M for Dominik Hasek, and I will assume 6M for both Schneider and Smyth, and 3M for Markov. (click the images for full size)

The Current Situation

Here's what the Wings would look like if they went to camp today. As you can see, 13.12M to work with (also figure Jimmy Howard and Kyle Quincey won't be on the roster).

Wings Sign: Schneider, Markov, Bertuzzi; (Trade Lilja)

This is pretty exciting since it keeps essentially the entire team together. Lilja has to be traded to maintain the salary cushion, and even so it is only 1.3M in this scenario, whereas KH likes to have it at 2M. That being said, he said he might dip into it if it means getting everyone he wants. So, not a shabby roster. However...

Wings Sign Smyth, Markov; Keep Lilja; Lose Schneider, Bertuzzi

Here you upgrade team defense by replacing Schneids with Lils. Then you hope Ryan Smyth and Igor Grigorenko can offset Schneider's loss. Looks pretty damn good. And there's a hefty 3.3M cushion for grabbing a puck-moving D-Man at the deadline. Hell, you could grab Chris Pronger at the deadline with that piggy bank. Not that I would. I would rather die in a fire. However, let's dream even bigger...

Sign Smyth, Bertuzzi, AND Markov, Lose Lilja, Schneider, and Hudler

Damn! And still a decent 1.38M in pocket-money. Just humor me for a second. Take a look at these lines.


Holy shit. I think the thing that excites me the most is how good of a 4th line that is. I am literally salivating.

Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Hasek and His Effect

Ansar Khan seems to think the Wings are going to sign Hasek for a base salary of 2.5M. That's about 1M more than I expected, and from the sound of it, about 1M more than Holland expected. Anyway, whatever it takes to get Dom back, so let's look at where it leaves the Wings.

With both salary-cap scenarios I assume Dom gets 2.5/1yr, and that we trade Lilja (my reasoning; in short, saves a little salary, makes room for the kids, his value is high after the playoffs, and he'll leave next summer). The Wings can either keep Schneider and Bert, or keep Markov and grab Smyth. Here's the math:

Bert, Schneids in, Markov out

Holland has said 5.25M is the max for Schneider, but as you can see they can fit him at 6M, which I believe is his value and which I believe he will certainly get on the open market (maybe from the Ducks... blech). The only problem is that Schneider probably wants more than one year, but the Wings must sign him (or Markov) to a 1-yr deal to maintain flexibility for the impending Lidstrom FA and Zetterberg extension in 08.

Schneider out, Markov, Smyth in

If the Wings go with Markov they have room for Smyth, who I estimate at 6M. They must give Markov only a 1-yr deal, however. With Markov's, Draper's, and Hasek's contracts expiring in 08, it frees up 7.63M to extend Zetterberg, potentially give Lidstrom a raise (I doubt it but they have to be ready to do so if needed), and also re-sign Dan Cleary who will be a FA.

This all also assumes a 48.5M cap, so if it is closer to 51M, that's just more emergency money and makes things easier next summer for extending Zetterberg.

If I had to pick one of these, it would be Schneider/Bertuzzi, although I don't know if it will happen because of what Holland has said. If it doesn't, Markov/Smyth doesn't look bad at all.