Tuesday, June 29, 2010

There's a Reason Modano ends with NO: Go Young!!

Alright, I've been seeing this everywhere for the last 24 hours or so, and I'm finally at the point where I can't not say anything. It seems the rumors are spreading that the Red Wings MAY make a pitch to bring in the geriatric Mike Modano from the Dallas Stars, who have opted to refuse to resign him. Mike has had an excellent career, and will surely go into the Hockey Hall of Fame as a legend in the minds of hockey fans in both Minnesota and Dallas, as well as many other fans worldwide. He's been one of the best, and I think it would be a cool thing to see him wearing the Winged Wheel.

Except I don't think now is the time for it.

Mike Modano, as great a player as he's been, is just too far gone from what he was in his prime. For the amount of production he could bring to the Wings (30 points in 59 games in 2009-2010), we could be bringing up a young buck who could possibly put up comparable numbers while getting MUCH needed NHL experience on the way to becoming a more complete player. Darren Helm pocketed 26 points in 75 games last season, and he's still just starting out in his NHL career. You can also argue that the more physical element Helm can bring to his game and the speed his youthful legs grant him make him a more threatening element on the ice in both aspects of offense and defense. This more than makes up for the slight gap in point production between himself and Modano.

I know it sounds like I'm arguing like I would never EVER want Modano here, but again I will say that I give the man props for what he's accomplished and he would have been a great player to add to the roster. If this same situation had come up last year, I'd have jumped on it and would've been the first one on the pile. We lost Jiri Hudler, we lost Mike Samuelsson, we lost Marian Hossa. Losing all that in one shot, had you told me last year that the exact situation we see with Modano NOW was happening THEN, I would've flown out to knock no Kenny's door and demand he make the deal myself!!

But this is not last year, and we are not facing last year's problems.

This year, we begin what front office has already called a transition period. This is the year where I feel we are obligated to get some of these young guys who are chomping at the bit down in Grand Rapids some quality NHL playing time. Everytime we bring in someone who MIGHT pan out because of what they have accomplished in the past, we risk stunting the growth of a prospect who could come up and have a brilliant, breakout season.

Datsyuk? 3 years in the RSL after being drafted and before coming up to the Red Wings roster, no time in Grand Rapids. Zetterberg? 4 years playing in Sweden after drafting and before making the Wings, also no time spent with the Griffins. Helm? 4 years playing in the WHL and AHL before making the permanent roster in Detroit, only 2 years spent with the Griffins. My point here is not to bash Grand Rapids, contrary to what some of you might be thinking. What I'm saying is the talent that Detroit brings in can't be kept waiting in Grand Rapids because another has-been (and I use that term lightly) has been brought in to hopefully give us a gloriously successful last gasp of a season. A lot of guys that have sat around in the AHL have not been able to grow past a certain point. I believe it's necessary at some time to give those young guys a good dose of NHL hockey to remind them of how they still need to evolve themselves and step it up to a level that will be able to endure NHL play on a full-time basis. The Kindls and the Mursaks waiting in the Wings' wings need that experience, or their potential may, and I believe will, be lost.

If you want to preach transition period, stop resorting to the old tricks that worked in the old NHL. Our old guys are getting older, but more importantly...our young guys aren't getting any younger.

Thursday, June 24, 2010

Dats Steals Another Selke, Jimmy Gets No Love in Las Vegas

The NHL Awards have once again come and gone, and while some things change, many things stayed the same when the names were announced for the winners of the prestigious trophies. Pavel Datsyuk was up for two awards: the Lady Byng for most gentlemanly player, as well as the Frank J. Selke trophy for best defensive forward, a nomination he shared with fellow Red Wing Henrik Zetterberg. Another Detroit player, goaltender Jimmy Howard, was nominated for the Calder trophy for rookie of the year.

And so...on to the results:

Byng: While Dats has reigned over this award for many years, I've found that Pavel has been trying to shake the image that stereotypically haunts winners of the award. He's been much more physical in his game in recent years, and has developed a nice tendency to not take shit from anyone anymore. It was no surprise to me that Datsyuk's Byng-streak was brought to an end this year by Martin St. Louis. All in all: No big loss for me.

Selke: Come on, a Red Wing was winning this award and everyone knew it. Even if Datsyuk, who won the trophy, hadn't been selected then his teammate Hank would have been the shoe-in. These two are the core of Detroit's two-way system: Without Dats' constant puck-thievery and Zetterberg's amazing defensive awareness, the Wings D-Corps would find themselves severely overworked by opposition forces. All in all? I'm glad it was my man Dats, nothing against Hank but that kind of constant robbery deserves the recognition.

Calder: ...I have trouble finding words to say about how this went down. Jimmy Howard, the rookie EVERYONE--not just Wings fans--talked about, the rookie who stepped in when we had no other options left in the crease, the ROOKIE who CARRIED DETROIT TO THE PLAYOFFS with a phenomenal statline...was beaten by a shot-blocking defenseman on a team that may as well have missed the playoffs. Yes, Tyler Myers of the Sabres took the Calder from Jimmy, and much to everyone's surprise (I'm sure), I'm a bit miffed about it!! How do you snub the efforts of a rookie goaltender who had to put his whole team on his shoulders while putting out such good numbers so as to turn doubts about even MAKING post-season into a belief that the Wings could make something of these Playoffs?
I can't fathom it. Regardless of the accomplishments, neither Duchene or Myers acted as the lynch-pin for their team's playoff appearance. Take away either player and both their respective teams still have a shot at the Cup. Without Jimmy, I'm convinced that our fears would've been realized: Detroit would not have made the playoffs.
But I think there's an underlying reason as to why Jimmy didn't win the Calder that no one in the NHL will want to talk about: Dig out the tinfoil hats, but I don't believe that the league was ready to give the Calder to a player who just barely met the requirements of a rookie. If memory serves, this was the last year in which Jimmy Howard could be considered a rookie due to his age. I feel the NHL wanted to give the award to one of the other rookies based on the fact that they're younger and fit the rookie description better than Howard in their eyes. All in all? Disgusted. Jimmy put together what will be one of his best seasons on the last year he can qualify for the ONLY trophy you get just one chance at winning...and we got shafted again by a Jackman-knockoff.

Makes me glad I didn't stay home to watch it live.

Monday, June 21, 2010

NHL Wants Wings at ChiTown Banner-Raising? Fine By Me!

So it seems from what I've seen hearing across the internets that Detroit is going to be playing Chicago in the Hawks' home opener. The Red Wings will be subjected to the ungodly amounts of lingering bandwagoners squealing their lungs out for the remaining 5 players from the actual Stanley Cup Champion team who will still be on the roster come time for the game. Detroit will also watch the raising of the banner into the rafters and wonder why the hell it looks so barren and sparse up there, then remember that it's a road game and they aren't playing in the JLA.

Some Wings fans seem distressed/annoyed/violently ill about the fact that we have to be there for the Blackhawks' banner-raising game. Me? I love it. We get to beat the piss out of a team whose fanbase can't get over their obsession with the Wings (Really...that stupid chant even went off during your Cup parade? Somebody's missing the poooint...). In the midst of this, we get to ruin Chicago's big party for having done what everyone bitched that the Wings do: buy their Cup win.

My ideal scenario at the end of this game? An 11-4 Wings victory. Just sayin'.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Flyers Can't Take Punishment, Kane Beats Philly for Cup Win

The world of taxi driving can rest easy this summer: Patrick Kane has won the Chicago Blackhawks the Stanley Cup.

Kane pocketed a goal past goaltender Michael Leighton like loose change in the early stages of overtime to clinch the Cup victory for the Hawks, allowing the cabbie world a nationwide sigh of relief: what the hell could possibly get him so riled up to punch an unawares chauffeur now?

On a much brighter note, Jonathan Toews was awarded the Conn Smythe trophy, an accomplishment that even the high and mighty Sidney Crosby has not attained, giving the young Chicago captain more achievements in his just-beginning career than the Pittsburgh poster-boy. If there is any consolation for a Blackhawks Cup win for me, this is it right here.

Further, it should be noted that the Hossa curse has been lifted. Marion Hossa finally whored himself to the right team at the right time and proved that selling yourself all over the place can eventually bring you success. Look for there to be an increase in NTC's league-wide dissolving and a 100% jump in players looking to join some other team where they can be admired more. Fellow Blackhawk AND Detroit defector, Tomas Kopecky, will also have his name added to the Cup this year.

So now that this year of hockey has finally come to a close, Wings fans can stop worrying about irrelevant games that really have no effect on us, and get pumped to make a brand new run for the Cup next season.

Enjoy the Cup, Chicago. Only 20% of your team'll be back for next year, so have fun with that.

The Brett Lebda Departure Watch

It's only a matter of time now. After numerous seasons of what I felt were mediocre play, it looks like Detroit defenseman Brett Lebda has seen his last run with Hockeytown, and the suitors have already started lining up.

Reports already confirm that Lebs has turned down an offer handed him by Dynamo Minsk of the KHL, sources claim that talks broke down with the club after "the American" asked for too much money. We'll have to wait and see if any other Eurpoean teams have a deeper pocket and a thicker skull and offer Brett something more to his liking.

Or perhaps it'll be a team back here, in the NHL, who comes knocking for Lebda' There always seems to be someone looking to add a piece of the Red Wings to themselves in hopes to better their own team. Heck, by next season maybe we'll see Lebs in Chicago, since that seems to be the place all reject Red Wings go nowadays. Or maybe he'll hook up for some binge parties in Philly with Ville.

Wherever he may go, he will be Lebda, and he will shine. Not brightly, only at about 55-60% efficiency, enough to make you wonder if it's time to change the bulb or not. Then before you know it, he's been there for 5 years. Ah well, time for some other club to walk around in the dim light that is Brett Lebda, Detroit's D-Corp will be looking much brighter next season.

Thursday, June 3, 2010

2010-2011 Roster: Two Scoring Lines or Three?

I'm sitting at a Second Cup cafe sipping on a vanilla bean latte. In the midst of this, the Detroit lineup is very much on my mind. I've done my line making for the Red Wings forwards and have them etched out as best as I can, but looking at the list, I noticed a hole, and wasn't sure why I hadn't noticed it before:

Detroit doesn't have a high-offense 1st line right winger. The top two RW we have currently are Tomas Holmstrom and Todd Bertuzzi, and with all respect to both, neither have the offensive talent to put up numbers like Hank Zetterberg on LW and Pavel Datsyuk at C. In reality, the current lineup only works because Detroit is only running two dedicated scoring lines and has two checking/grit lines. Successful Wings teams of the past have run more of a 3-1 lineup in favor of scoring lines, with that last line chalk full of grit and nastiness, able to really get in a team's face. Sadly, despite their efforts, the bottom two lines for Detroit last season did not really accomplish this.

So, with the prospect of some of the older Wings potentially saying goodbye either through retirement or re-assignment with another team (as well as Ledba and Williams almost assuredly being kicked to the curb), I pose this question: should Detroit try to set up three dedicated scoring lines to add more offensive depth and, more importantly, consistency? And if so, should the Wings make a move to gain a more offensively dangerous right winger?

I understand that Detroit struggled with injuries last year, and I haven't forgotten the March to the Playoffs. I do, however, remember a postseason plagued with inconsistent scoring, and losing key games when the top two lines simply couldn't cash in. I think a 1st line RW could help Detroit spread out their lines enough to create three scoring lines, and add the offensive depth to keep the Wings in the win column more consistently.

Here's a theory I came up with, just to play with: what about Pavol Demitra? Demitra, much like the Red Wings, is coming off a rough season, not even playing in 30 regular season games, but was still averaging around a point every game-and-a-half. His salary last year? $4 Million, which I feel has to come down with his short year last season an his age. If we could pick him up for between $3-3.5 Million, I would consider trying to acquire him. With Demitra, you have a guy to go on your 1st line, then you can bring Holmstrom down to the 2nd line and free up someone like Bertuzzi to bring offensive punch to what could now be a 3rd scoring line with more size and grit (something like Franzen-Helm-Bertuzzi). Then you have a 4th line that can focus on being as nasty as it likes with the opposition with Abdelkader leading it.

This is pure speculation, but the getting tougher shtick in the Playoffs only worked for us when we were also scoring goals. When the scoring touch wasn't there, it just looked like the kid who always got picked on in school trying to fight te playground bully: a lot of posturing, but very little difference in the outcome.

I say if the money's there, Kenny should at least take the time to look into it. Sometimes window shopping can pay off.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Confirmed: Lidstrom Signs 1-Year, $6.2M Deal with Detroit

Booth Newspapers and are now reporting that Nicklas Lidstrom has signed for $6.2 Million with the Detroit Red Wings. This is the lowest number we've heard on the rumor mill thus far today, and sources seem to believe this is the actual confirmed amount that Lidstrom has agreed to. (UPDATE: At this time, it has now been confirmed completely)

If this is the case, the Red Wings captain has agreed to a pay cut of $1.25 Million. This, along with the reported $2 Million Salary Cap increase coming for next season, gives the Wings an extra $3.25 Million to play with for signings. In other words: don't worry about where we'll get the money to pay Jiri Hudler for his return, it's already taken care of.

There were a lot of reports floating around about how much Nick would sign more, and I felt around $6 Million was very reasonable. Some reports were suggesting $7 Million. Really? Would it even have been worth the effort to shave off $450,000? I'm pleased with the $6.2 million and thrilled that Lids is sticking around for at least another year.

Now Red Wings Nation can get back to worrying about the REST of the lineup!

Sources: Lidstrom Slated to Return

Per info that has come down from Booth Newspapers, the Wings Captain Nicklas Lidstrom has decided to return. The 40 year old Lidstrom reportedly will sign a one-year contract; however, the exact amount of the deal has yet to be disclosed. A number that is being tossed around currently is $6 million, but we will have to wait for the official news from the team to know for sure. We will certainly keep you updated throughout the day as information comes in here at The Datsyukian Geek, but the biggest question has been answered: Nick Lidstrom is coming back.