Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Oh Captain, My Captain...Yzerman Set to Sail New Waters as Bolts GM

He entered the franchise in 1983. He has three Stanley Cup rings as a player and one in management. But most importantly of all, he came to a team down on its luck and brought about a miracle. That miracle was called 'Hockeytown', and now it is with a sad-but-grudgingly-hopeful heart that I write here today on the confirmation of Steve Yzerman as the new General Manager of the Tampa Bay Lightning. It is official: Stevie Y is saying goodbye to Hockeytown.

For Now.

In the previous days, there were many reports that Yzerman had turned down the offer to GM for the Bolts, but nothing concrete had ever surfaced to say that Steve was ever truly out of the picture. Tampa is scheduled to formally announce Yzerman's hiring at a press conference to be held just three hours from now, at 3PM EST. More recent reports that have come out since the confirmation are hinting at the idea that Steve could end up becoming the highest paid GM in the NHL. If that's the case, let's look at just some of what the Lightning are buying into:

- Steve had a brilliant career marked with success, both individually and with the Red Wings as a team, bringing Detroit to the postseason year after year, and leading them to 3 Stanley Cups.
- He has sat in the front office with Detroit since his hanging up of the skates, and has had the opportunity to watch the best GM in the league, Ken Holland, work his magic and likely pick up a few of Kenny's tricks as well as some of his savvy.
- Steve is an icon of the game, who will bring a lot of credibility to Tampa in a very short amount of time. This is something the Bolts fanbase should be going crazy over with excitement.
- Most recently Yzerman GM'd the Gold Medal-winning Canadian Olympic team in Vancouver, proving in no uncertain terms that he's ready for a spot like this.

As much as it hurts, and trust me it does, I obviously wish Steve nothing but happiness and success in his venture with Tampa. I only hope that our paths are meant to cross again, because the Red Wings will just not be the same without Steve Yzerman somewhere in the mix.

I will miss you Captain, and we all will always love you and what you did for us here in Detroit.

Thank you.

Friday, May 21, 2010

WANTED: Backbone for IIHF, Sorely Needed

See this? This is Dats. This is Dats fishing. If Dats is fishing, he's not playing hockey. Know how I know this pic isn't recent? Because Dats is playing hockey. But WAIT, weren't the Red Wings eliminated from the NHL Playoffs? Why yes they were. So what black-market, underground illicit organization is Dats playing in if not the NHL? Oh right, there IS that whole, y'know, WORLD HOCKEY CHAMPIONSHIP thing going on.

That's right, Pavel Datsyuk hasn't had enough hockey yet this year, and is currently heading into the semifinals with his Russian comrades after eliminating Team Canada from the tournament. But HOW can that BE? How could they beat good ol' Sid the K-oh wait, he declined to go. Right.

Now I'm as loathe as any Wings fan to give Sidney Crosby credit for...well, anything; however, it's hard for me to believe that a YOUNG MAN who is paid to play hockey year in and year out is suddenly too tired to play. What happens to poor Cindy if the Pens happened to win Game 7 against Montreal? Is Crybaby too tired to play against Philly in round 3? No, Sidney Crosby declined the invite to the WHC because going there, even winning there, would do nothing for him. It's not worth his time to go and even attempt to aid his fellow countrymen on the international stage, which now could be considered one of the key factors in why Canada has taken an early exit from the IIHF tourney.

And speaking of the IIHF, I had been ready to write a blog post congratulating them on calling the little snot out. Unfortunately, I can not post anything from the letter that was issued calling out many players who opted out of the tournament, as the IIHF has stripped their site of the letter and has now gone from scolding these young players for having better things to do than represent their countries, to getting down on their knees and begging for forgiveness!! Just recently, the IIHF President Rene Fasel issued a statement that he has apologized directly to Sidney Crosby's agent and also produced a blanket I-sort-of-apologize statement to the other players.

My question is: WHY?

Let me get this part straight with all of you first: Of the players that were named, unfortunately Henrik Zetterberg was among them. Now I love Hank as much as any Red Wings fan living, but I still have to say I'm disappointed that Z would turn his country down. I will, however, note that Henrik's decision to sit was so lacking fanfare that for the longest time I didn't even know he'd been invited yet, let alone had a chance to decline!! To me, any of these players refusing to at least go and be part of the team sends a horrible message to kids that they don't have to worry about international play, that it's insignificant in the grand spectrum. One thing Fasel said that I agree with is that for these young men to turn down this offer is not only turning your back on the team and its players, but turning your back on the hockey programs that made you into what you are. That is why I'm disappointed in Hank's decision to sit. That is why I have no remorse for Sidney Crosby and anything ill said of him. That is why I love my man Dats for simply putting the game before the fame.

Too bad Dats won't get the respect deserved for his choice, because Sidney Crosby has just proved to the world that if you cry hard enough, you can make anyone apologize to you.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Ritola Signs Extension (UPDATE: Larsson Defects Back to Sweden)

Just got word last night that Mattias Ritola has signed a 3-year contract extension with the Detroit Red Wings. The extension includes a 2-way deal for the 2010-2011 season.

As reported by George Malik:

"The first year thereof (2010-2011) is a two-day deal paying $500,000 at the NHL level and $105,000 at the AHL level, with the NHL-only portion of his contract kicking in during the second and third years at $525,000 per year (for a cap hit of a very affordable $515,000), so the Wings may very well plan on risking losing Ritola through waivers and sending him down to Grand Rapids to maximize his developmental time--and as it's a two-way contract, the Wings don't have to re-waive him to bring him back up."

This does seem to make it clear that Detroit has not lost hope in getting Ritola into the lineup no a regular basis, but as Malik also mentions in his report, it gives the Wings a chance to gamble and send Mattias down to the AHL, a move which leaves him open for poaching via the waiver wire. If the Wings gamble and win, they get to give Ritola another conditioning year to further develop before being thrust into a full-time role in Motown.

I'm still uncertain as to whether or not I actually want Detroit to try and send him back down another year at this point, though. I understand and agree with the idea of long tenures in the minors to get ready to play in the NHL, but I'm not sure how much longer we can continue to give guys the time we gave Jimmy Howard and expect to get the same results. I almost feel as though he should be given a spot on the 3rd or 4th line with regular playing time in Detroit (supposing he does well in training camp), and if he doesn't pan out now, THEN try sending him back down when other teams have less promising looks going his way.

UPDATE: I just got more word through Twitter that Daniel Larsson, who would have been Detroit's #3 goalie this year, just signed for 2 years in the S.E.L. Wow...see, this is my concern. did Daniel feel he would never get his chance on the Wings? Maybe we need to evaluate the length of time we incubate our prospects before bringing them up. It seems the kids these days are getting more and more impatient for their time to shine...

Saturday, May 15, 2010

Meet The New Kid: Mitchell Callahan

Well, with little else to report as of late, I thought I'd take a look at the newest prospect to sign with the Red Wings: RW Mitchell Callahan from the Kelowna Rockets of the WHL. Callahan signed a 3-year entry-level contract with Detroit the other day and I took a little time to check on his past seasons to see just what we're buying into.

Here's the statline for Callahan the last two WHL seasons:

2008-2009: 70GP, 14G, 13A, 27PTS, +11, 188PIM
2009-2010: 72GP, 20G, 27A, 47PTS, -1, 165PIM

So there it is: almost 50 points in his most recent season, and placed 9th in the WHL for PIM. I think his role is obvious: Detroit/Grand Rapids will likely try to mold him into a Darren Helm/Justin Abdelkader type player. He will not immediately move to the Griffins however, as it has been stated Callahan will be returning to Kelowna for at least another year. A profile of Callahan from the people at HF (Hockey's Future) suggest that "At 5'11", he won't be a fighter in the NHL, but rather get under one's skin from the fourth line." There's a saying from where I grew up that goes, "It's not the size of the dog in the fight, it's the size of the fight in the dog." Callahan racked up 20 fights in 2008-2009, which ranked 2nd in the WHL. We'll see how he progresses over the next couple seasons.

My thoughts: It'd be nice to get this kid move to Grand Rapids as soon as he's skilled and conditioned enough to move to the farm team and get used to the style of hockey played in Detroit. I like him as a replacement in GR for Abdelkader who, in my mind, should have a regular spot on the Wings squad for his work last season. He's an average skater, so going the Helm route probably isn't going to happen, but Kelowna GM Bruce Hamilton was quoted as saying that "Daniel Carcillo in Philly is the kind of guy this guy is...", so we could have a potentially great agitator in the making to replace some of the older talkers like Kirk Maltby when their tenure is over. Overall, I'm excited at the idea of another rough, gritty forward that could create chaos on the forecheck, and hope that Callahan works hard and can make the roster one day.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Man, Offseason Sucks...

Well, after seeing what happened during the Tigers/Yankees game yesterday, at least if Lids hangs up the skates we know he can throw on the ball glove and play closer.

Seriously though, it's tough in a way to have all this summer-y stuff going on with no Red Wings playoffs news to report on. It's been a long time since we've seen the Wings on vacation this early, and I don't like it. Yet even as I say that I know that this is, in a weird sense, good for Detroit. The Red Wings have spent a lot of the gas in their tanks over the last four seasons: Conference Finals, two Finals, then 2 rounds deep this season. The extra rest will do wonders for the boys and I'll be excited this fall to see a more refreshed Red Wings squad than I've seen in some time.

Until then we have to do something we've rarely had to do: find a way to get the hell through May! It's only been about a week since Detroit was eliminated and I'm bored out of my tree!! Granted, we do have a couple of points to talk/write/blog/tweet about in Lidstrom's potential retirement and Yzerman's potential migration to GM another team, but in the offseason there is usually no such thing as 'good' news for a team like Detroit. News is usually going to mean someone is leaving or something bad is on the horizon. The only bright light of this summer (and some will argue whether it's bright or not) is the return of Jiri Hudler to the lineup for next season. I'm going to give my personal thoughts on all three matters since we have little concrete facts for most of this:

On Lidstrom: Retire? No way, not with the skill he's shown he still has. Yes, he was not nominated for the Li-I mean Norris trophy, but no one can argue his stats across an injury-plagued season for the Wings. He'll by no means try to pull a Chris Chelios, but I'll be damned if he doesn't have a couple more years of good hockey in him. Even if over the next year or so Babcock can cut his minutes to ease his workload unless needed, we get a spot opened up on the top pairing to give a younger D-Man some great ice-time and experience, and we have the best 3rd defenseman in the NHL.

On Yzerman: Ohh, this topic hurts me, hurts me bad. I want to say I'd be happy to see Steve get his own team to manage, but knowing that it wouldn't be Detroit, the selfish Wingnut in me wants it to not happen. already there were reports yesterday and this morning of Yzerman shooting down Tampa Bay's request for a GM position, but there is still whispers of a team like Calgary knocking on his door and popping the same question. I believe that Steve is capable of the job, for sure. I just feel like it would tear at me inside to see him affiliated with another team, the same way I hated seeing Scotty Bowman leave Detroit: Scotty was the coach when I started following Wings hockey, so even though I knew he worked elsewhere before, I never wanted to see him go anywhere else after.

On Hudler: I'm still waiting for the bleeding to stop from the knife wound of Hudler dragging us through this KHL nonsense in the first place, so I'm a little bitter about him; however, I can't deny that the boy has the ability to produce points: points we sorely could have used last season, but I digress. Mainly it all comes down to one thing: I'm not going on one side of the fence or the other with Hudler till he's back in uniform and playing. I will be watching him like a hawk and he better produce enough to make him worth what he's owed from the arbitration hearing. The KHL is nowhere near the caliber of the NHL, and if Huddles' performance nosedives upon his return, I would suggest shopping him before other unsuspecting teams realize it.

Hopefully there will be some updates on some of these topics in the coming days. I'm confident, but I'm still hoping hard that those updates will be good news. I won't stand for a boring AND depressing offseason!!

Sunday, May 9, 2010

That's it for 09-10: League Finally Eliminates Wings

I said it on Twitter last night and I'll say it again here: in a league that seeks for the better teams to fail for the sake of 'parity', the Red Wings gave us quite a show this season. There have been a lot of ups and downs and unfortunately the ride has come to an end for Detroit this season.

To the Wings I say: Thank you for everything you do and have done. You will always be my boys and I will never abandon Hockeytown, no matter what rough times may be in store. We will weather it together. Get some well-deserved rest and get pumped for next season, because I know I will!!

To the League I say: I hope you're satisfied. You've prevented Detroit from advancing and have made sure there will be a new Western Conference Champion for the first time in two years. You cam talk and go on and deny it, but the fact remains that you're nothing more than a rat's nest full of money-grubbing talking-heads who don't give a shit about the game itself, just the revenue it brings in. We all know you think powerhouse teams are bad for business, that's why I expect *you will allow* Boston or Montreal or San Jose to win the Cup this year. Gotta spread it around, eh Gary...?

To my fellow fans I say: It's been a wonderful season for Red Wings hockey, and you were no small part in that. I've come to know so many great people in not only the Red Wings blogosphere, but in its Twitterverse as well. Drew from NOHS, thanks for putting my name out there from time to time on Winging it, whether my stupid little rants deserve that much attention is still up in the air, but I appreciate your part in making me feel like one of the gang. Herm, if you're reading this I want you to know how ecstatic I was when I first learned H2H had hit target and you were coming to Hockeytown. My only regret is being in a situation that prevented me from being there with all of you during the festivities, but I'm thrilled that everything went so well. And to everyone (far too many to list individually) who has been a friend or reader of my blog or a Twitter commentator when I couldn't catch the game live: very simply and sincerely I say thank you for everything.

Finally to the haters who may or may not read this I say: Talk it up now, but your time is coming. You think we're whiners and tinfoil hat wearing babies? I just hope for your sake your team is still competing, since now that Detroit is out someone else has to fill the void of 'team the league has to shaft through the officials'. I hope it's your team, Mr./Mrs. Hater, because when your team goes down 2 games due to poor calls and reviewed goals, and when it's YOUR team that gets eliminated by a missed headshot to one of your best guys...we will be here. Red Wings Nation will be here when it's you whining about the bias and the unfairness, and we will be sure to tell you "we told you so."

So another year is in the books, and I conclude my first season of blogging. I kind of jumped in partway through but I admit, it's been a lot of fun! I will be around, likely posting 'insight' and my opinions (more like it) on what goes on during the offseason, including the big questions of Lidstrom's potential retirement and the eventual return of Happy Jiri Hudler.

So that's all for this season! This is The Datsyukian Geek, and the class of 2009-2010 is dismissed.

Thursday, May 6, 2010

One last bit of hope...

Well Wingnuts, this could be it. The Red Wings are in a tough spot and we need a lot of luck and a lot of skill to get through this series alive. Because of this, I offer this one last bit of hope for Detroit: I'm not underestimating the Sharks in the least, but look at the position they've put themselves in. San Jose has set itself up for possibly the biggest "Sharks going Sharks" moment in NHL history. Until the win their 4th game, the Sharks are set up for the biggest choke job in recent hockey history and it could be at the hands of the Red Wings.

I dunno about you, but I really want to see that.

Take heart Wingnuts!! It's not over yet!!!

Monday, May 3, 2010

Brief (hopefully) hiatus

Well, until I can get my laptop fixed I won't be able to guarantee any blog posts. I should have it up and running soon though so stay tuned Wingnuts!!!