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 OrdoƱez 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.