Wednesday, July 30, 2008

Wally Won't Wander

God I love alliteration. A little too much perhaps.

Anyway, you've all seen it, and I'm a little late getting to this story. I was worried about this right up until Holland said he had two- and five-year deals on the table and was confident it would get done before arbitration. That was all I needed. And Holland is a man of his word, not only reeling in Wally, but for the preferred long-term deal.

3M is a little much and the Wings will definitely make moves to shed salary, and A2Y's got Kenny confirming it (Lilja? Samuelsson? Plz?) and you have to wonder about Chelios who is still unsigned. (It will probably get done, I'm guessing.) But for Wally the term is far more important than the value right now. By the end of this contract (hell, possibly by the end of this year) Fil will be underpaid.

Yes he only netted 36 points this year, below a lot of the other RFA forwards, but remember this guy is a monster defensively (which is what earned him a role on the team in the first place) and also note that his offensive totals are diminished by the fact that he gets zero PP time behind the Circus, and the #2 unit of Buckets/Mule/Huds. Wally is a beast and I would take him over any Wings' forward except the Eurotwins (yes, even Hossa, due to the age factor).

Which wingers will Wally wind up with as winter waxes? There's a strong possibility he'll be on the wing if the Babcock split up the Circus, and if not very likely he'll be centering the #2 line with Mule and Hossa. However, if the Wings do split the Circus I'd love to see him center the #3 line. The Wings have the offensive depth to roll three lines and Wally should be playing at center where he belongs. I could see Hossa/Dats/Homer, Mule/Z/Huds, Cleary/Fil/Leino? Depends on how Leino turns out, but you've got the Finnish connection there. Potentially lethal offense. Like I said before, take those nine guys, throw in Kopecky and Samuelsson if he's still here, jumble them in a big bag before every game, and pick your lines at random. We will still win the West.

WWWD? Win with the Wings. Wbitches.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

Why So Serious?

I don't really understand the consternation coming out of les Montagnards over at A2Y over the now official January 1 game between the Hawks and Wings at Wrigley. Granted I live in Chicago and am going to the game, so I may be a bit biased. But. I don't really see why this is such a bad thing.

Chicago is a team on the rise. They have our number, or at least they did last season. They're the underdogs and there's a good chance they'll win. We're the defending champs. It's a good storyline. I keep reading about the conflict with bowl games on Jan 1. Uh, yes, that's what we all said last year. And then, uh, it turned out pretty well. Even ESPN, whom I despise to an unfathomable degree, covered the game pretty well despite the deluge of football. People are saying, well, now the game is in Big Ten country. Mmm, don't worry Wolverine fans, you're not going to be playing on January 1, or any similar date. If at all, your date will be in mid-December, likely at the Bowl. I think we're safe.

And Chicago? No problems there. Northwestern? Haha. Perhaps my own proud institution, the University of Chicago, will being playing on New Year's? It's true, we helped found the Big 10 and the inaugural Heisman trophy was won by one of our boys, but we're not much of a threat these days in Div III. People in Chicago like hockey, actually. They just, for so long, toiled under an awful owner. Those days are gone. They will be out in force, as well as rooting hard in their homes.

Yes I would have liked Wings and Leafs at the Big House. And I'm guessing it will happen, some day down the road, when the league decides it wants to smash the NHL attendance record forever and ever. But if they're smart the NHL will wait until they're on the ropes to play that card. When Bettman's taken a serious beating and the salary cap goes down and Scott Van Pelt is ignoring hockey as hard as he possibly goddamn can, then they'll announce it.

In the meantime I'm happy with Wings at Wrigley. Yes there's no New Year's Eve game. Last New Years Eve I missed it because I was getting trashed and sick at the same time. In 1996 there was no New Years Eve game because there was a rock concert at the Joe. I would say this is a slightly better reason to skip it.

Plus I'm going. Bitches.

Monday, July 7, 2008

Roster Coming into Focus

Every once and a while, when I'm alone with my thoughts or zoning out during an exam, I just smile. He's ours, I think to myself. Holy fucking shit.

Wally's all but assured to return. There's that little matter of agreeing on an amount, and I suppose we're not out of the woods yet since the arbitrator could give him some ridiculously unreasonable award. But Holland sounds confident in getting to an agreement beforehand. (God I've gotten lackadaisical about linking sources. I read it somewhere. Trust me.) And we can at least be sure no dumbassed GM throws an offer sheet at him.

Speaking of which, it's a good frigging thing I was on vacation when the rumors surfaced of Mike Gillis "preparing" a sheet for Wally. I don't know what I would have done with myself between hearing about that and the news that Fil filed for arbitration coming down. It likely would have involved keeping matches nearby at all times, however.

There's not much left. Chelios, Mac, Downey. Official word on Drake, the number for Fil. Nothing else til TC, we can be pretty sure. But when Traverse City rolls around? Oh, I'll probably be looking like a genius, on two, well, one and a half counts. First of all Babcock talks here about Jonathon Ericsson as if he's a lock to make the club next season. Well color me excited. I'll pretend I was going on knowledge of Babcock's inner mind and not wanton speculation based on my own excitable imagination.

And an even juicier tidbit, this time from Holland? We may have indeed seen the last of Andreas Lilja, just as we hoped as he lifted the Cup in June. Dave at GC mentioned this one, and with Babcock himself saying that Ericsson is basically assured a spot, Lilja is basically assured to be gone (and even then, the Wings will still have nine and need to deal/waive another D, so Lebda may yet be traded as I suggested).

I didn't expect Lilja to be dealt because the Wings just signed him, but on the other hand, if Lilja knew the score, as you have to think he did, he knows his chances of winning a Top 6 job in Detroit is going to be very tough. He watched Meech and Ericsson excel with big minutes during the injury shitstorm, and he watched them get bigger minutes than him as well. So he signs with Detroit on the hope he can win himself a job, and worst case scenario he gets dealt. Likely to a contender - I doubt a rebuilding team is going to spend draft picks to get a 30 something veteran who doesn't provide offense. More likely an EC contender looking to add a cheap, experienced minute eater. And as much shit as we give Lilja, I can't think of a team in the hunt who wouldn't mind adding him for a 4th rounder.

I'm pretty much going to be winding things down for the summer once I run out of things to say, which should be, I donno, tomorrow or so. Not ruling out random thoughts over the summer, but things should be pretty quiet pretty soon.

Wednesday, July 2, 2008

Fiesta Redwingcana Continues: Onomastics, Numerology, and More

First of all, Matt at On The Wings has a frigging dissertation up on Hossa and the impact on the roster. He nails it and I agree with almost everything he says (except for a slight Kopecky dig - I love Kopy). His quote of the day is also spot on. Was going to do that myself but he beat me to it. Strong work Matt. Gorilla Crouch, Behind the Jersey, and Abel to Yzerman are all over this shit. The A2Y 19 are buzzing and coming up with some real gems.

So much time, so little to discuss! Strike that, reverse it.

First things first: I'm reading a lot about how much of a genius Holland is. Make no mistake, I think Holland is a genius and I will never say a bad thing about him (maybe I shouldn't say that kind of thing in the Google era...). But let's be real about who made this entire thing happen: it was Marian Hossa. Holland thought Hossa was too rich for the Wings' blood and went to bed. Hossa called him the next morning and offered a one year deal.

Hossa wanted a certain number. Holland was uncomfortable with giving him more than Nick. Hossa bent over backwards to get to Nick's salary. Hossa wanted to come here. That's why I love him. That's why before ever seeing him lace it up, I love him to death. He wanted to be here so bad he practically had to convince Holland to let him come. Undoubtedly he had to put a gun to Rich Winter's head with the amount of money he left on the table.

Moving on. I'm a number afficionado. I love them. I love discussing them. Couldn't tell you why. But I do. Hossa's likely going to be #81, as many around the blogodrome have supposed. Could be some other possibilities - #8, #78, #17, #36. Ugh, though - I hate goalie numbers for skaters. I'm looking at you Samuelsson. (Gotten too used to Draper's #33 to care.) But I would love #81. That's a great number for Hossa. Big numbers can be sort of blocky looking, but big numbers ending in 1 are sleeker and more fitting for skilled players. #91, #71, #61, #51... good company. As Malik said somewhere, it would also be cool to see Slovaks with consecutive numbers. (btw, I also love #82 for Kopecky - big numbers are great for big/physical players. Holmstrom and Franzen are further examples.)

Moving on to onomastics - the study of names and nomenclature. God, the Wings blogotron is dorky and I love that. BehindTheName is a great resource and I'm astounded to find others enjoy it as much as me. Baroque's onomastic etymological research must be credited with two fantastic nicknames for Hossa: Mars, and God of War. "Mars Hossa" just rolls of the tongue. I love it as much as Wally (which is catching on, as Baroque notes! Strong work, YIG commenters!) Certainly better than Fiesta Redwingcana, which is a mouthful and also stolen (or shall we say, adapted).

Back to Holland. While we can't credit him too much for signing Hossa, we can credit him for fitting everyone under the cap... once it happens. On his radio interview at The Fan 590, he sounded confident and at ease about Wally, though he just mentioned him briefly. Bruce MacLeod (who btw also has a great bit about Hossa as a person) has made it seem like Wally's no big deal. Maybe I've been overestimating his dollar-value. But then again I'm a respected GM in the NHL. I successfully piloted the Red Wings to consecutive Stanley Cup Championships in NHL 95 for the Sega Genesis. Also, look at this goalie I drew!

Moving on. Sundin. Make no mistake about it: Hossa's better. I was talking about Sundin as the ideal for the Wings because I, like many, didn't even think of Hossa as a remote possibility. Hossa, if he's at his very best, is a bigger offensive contributor than Sundin, and is better defensively, less likely to break down or have an injury, and he can possibly come back long term. That's maybe the best thing about it. Holland wants to try to keep Hossa long term. At first I thought this was just a full year rental (I was still very happy) but Holland has said he's going to try to make it happen. Now let's not get our hopes up because even before Hossa it was looking tough for the Wings to keep it together in 09-10. But now Hossa gives you a bargaining chip when you go to Z and Mule. Dynasty indeed. Shit, my hopes are already up. Dammit.

Lines. Some people are happy because Hossa's a winger and that lets you keep Fil at center. Personally, I would have preferred a center, because the Wings have the offensive depth to roll three lines. I was dreaming of Z, Sundin, and Fil down the middle. But I'll live. Here's my first guess, with Samulesson on the team:


Kopy's a natural center and Babcock likes him there. He started last year centering the fourth line. He had a bad start but his confidence grew, with injuries he saw time at net-front on the Wings' PP and acquitted himself well. So I like him there. If you trade Sammy then maybe you put Kopy on the 4th line and put Leino at center there. Not sure if he's ready, but you can try. Cleary is actually a natural center so you could do that too. See why I wanted a center? Kopy and Cleary maybe aren't thought of as offensive players but they've got it in them.

Okay, how about this craziness:


I don't mean to say the Wally line is the third line, that's just the order I wrote them in. Hossa + Kopy gives you the Slovak connection. Hudler is Czech, so it's like old school Czechoslovakia. Czech and Slovak are mutually intelligible languages, so it works. Also the line has a good mix - playmaker, banger, scorer. Then the Wally-Mule line is a big physical line, very solid defensively. And then you have the Circus. It's like you have a #1 line, a #1a line, and a #1b line. Spread the wealth. Okay, okay, maybe you spread the wealth too thin with that one. But actually I really like that lineup.

Line possibilities are endless. Basically write down the nine names up there, throw in Sammy and Leino, jumble them in bag. Babcock could do that 15 minutes before every game and we'll run away with the west.

-I am freaking out
-since this is better than Sundin... do I have to light myself on fire?
-all the credit for this must go to Hossa. He wanted to be a Wing, and bad.
-I like #81 for Mars.
-it's time to man up, pete. light yourself on fire, dammit.
-golly, the consternation at PensBlog is hilarious.
-there's a word i'm looking for, starts with an 's' ends with 'tunned'. it's on the tip of my tongue.
-it's not every day you win two cups in one summer.

Fiesta Redwingcana!?!?

I don't know what to say. Whoa. I'm resisting the urge to type in all caps.

Sources tell TSN that free agent Hossa has signed a one-year, $7.4 million deal with the Red Wings.

The $7.4 million that Hossa will earn next season, is the most Detroit would pay anyone - even an unrestricted free agent. The Red Wings were insistent that no one earn more money than six-time Norris Trophy winner Nicklas Lidstrom.

The biggest question is, what does this do to Wally. But that shit is depressing. Let's focus on the lines the Wings can roll right now.

Franzen-Filppula-Hossa (!!!)

Trade Samuelsson. 1.2M off the cap. Trading Lebda drops another .6. There's 2M in breathing room right there. Before I wanted to trade these guys to make way for the kids. Now I'm thinking only about keeping Wally. Waive or trade Quincey if it comes to it.

But holy shit.

Holy shit.

We got Hossa.

Who's got matches?

Tuesday, July 1, 2008

Okay, So, Maybe Not

Sources tell TSN as many as four teams have tablde offers for the 37 year old, including one undisclosed team - believed to be the Vancouver Canucks - that has offered a whopping $10 million per year on a multi-year contract.
Uh. So, Rolston, yeah?

Except that now with Stuart's 3.75 over the next four years, probably somewhere around 3 million over the next couple for Filppula... I can't see how the Wings can give Rolston more than a year. Not that a one-year deal is outside the realm of possibility. But at 35 he could easily get a two or three year deal, especially for a guy as injury-free and dependable as him. Check out MacLeod:
It's interesting that general manager Ken Holland specified that he's looking for a forward to sign "short-term." I'm wondering if that means that someone like Brian Rolston isn't coming to Detroit then because he'd be someone who signs for multiple years.


Reports are that Rolston had narrowed his choices to Detroit and the Rangers, but it's likely he's looking for and will get a multiple-year deal.
Seems more and more like the Wings are basically done with FA. I'll turn my attention now to Naslund. But the Wings have plenty of forwards stomping at the bit, not really any different from their blueline.

And what I said about trading Lebda earlier goes double now. Even after assigning Ericsson, the Wings have nine D:


I don't think Lilja or Chelios get moved - why sign them? Quincey neither, he could develop into a very solid defensive d-man. I think Lebda is the easiest to trade and the least valuable at this point. Meech can potentially be a PP specialist for them, Lebda will never be an offensive producer. Yes he is fast, I understand that. Kris Draper is also fast, despite which he is an offensive black hole (chin notwithstanding). MacLeod is talking about Quincey being in GR next year but Quincey needs to clear waivers and the Wings aren't a team that likes to give talent away. Yes they lost Matt Ellis on waivers but that was only after giving him a shot in the NHL.

If I come across as disappointed with the Stuart signing, I'm not - rather, I've been assuming we wouldn't sign him, and now that we have, I wonder - why Lilja? Chelios gives you the veteran stopgap and you can go with Ericsson and Meech on a rotation. I guess I shouldn't be surprised, though. The Wings strategy is and always has been: bring them back, bring them all back, forever, until they die. We've seen it with Maltby, Draper, Osgood, Hasek, Chelios, now Lilja. The Wings like their veteran depth and I must say I feel a bit silly for thinking they'd go in a different direction.

The biggest question now is: Where's Wally!?

Stunned: Stuart Back... with NTC

Wow. I did not expect this at all.

3.75M, 4 years.

Okay, so, have fun in Grand Rapids next year, Jonathon Ericsson.

Edit: If my mental math is correct this leaves the Wings with about 5.5M to play with. May be too little for Sundin, but then again he made 5.5 last year, so maybe not. Also surprised that Kenny thinks 3.75 over 4 years won't make life difficult when it comes to re-signing Hank and Mule. But then again, he's the best GM in the NHL, and who the fuck am I.

Edit: Wow, and this:
The deal also included a no-trade clause in the first two season and a limited no-trade clause in the last two years of the contract.
Did not see that coming.