Thursday, April 11, 2013

Six! More! Years!

                In case you missed it, and I’m not entirely sure you could have, the Great and Mighty Twitter has erupted. A minor eruption, but an eruption all the same. According to Aaron Ward of TSN (and other secondary sources too numerous to list) the Wings are close to or have re-signed Jimmy Howard to 6 years/5.3 mil per. (And then they weren’t close and then they were. As of this writing it seemed a done deal.)

                For some reason this made the Twitter angry. “We shouldn’t spend that much on a goalie, we have other guys to re-sign! He’s not elite! That's not the Red Wings' way!” said the Twitter, and for some reason people thought it made sense. People who must surely realize hallmarks of the "Red Wings' way," impenetrable defense and Homer in the net offense, have passed. People who have watched this team night in, night out and commented on innumerable occasions that Jimmy was the only thing keeping us in it. The only Wing who showed up. The only Wing worth mentioning.

                And thus I think a fitting place to start with a rebuttal to the anti-Jimmy-Contract Twitter storm is the unmentionables. We are a team that signed Samuelsson and Quincey to $3 million contracts EACH (nearly 4mil for Quincey). And while everyone and their mother agrees this was an idiotic thing to do, it doesn’t change that we threw over $6 million at two of the least useful players to pull on a Red Wings’ sweater in recent memory. Another guy, Colaiacovo, is getting $2.5 million to exist on the very edges of the collective memory of our fandom . If you’re Jimmy Howard, and you play your heart and soul out nightly to keep this team in games they often have no business being in, what do you do if that goes unrequited? What do you do if the team you give your all for doesn’t think you’re worth at least double Carlo Colaiacovo?

                First I would take a minute to feel properly insulted. Then, I would look at a goalie roster that includes Jonas “I think flopping around like a scared puppet is a sound goaltending strategy” Gustavsson and the inexperienced young guy Mrazek and say, simply: “Well, maybe you can trade for Luongo. I’m sure you can justify *that* cap hit, right?” And I’d walk away. I wouldn’t even look back.

                The scenario is a nightmare and we all know it. There’s no one who is going to replace what Jimmy does for us for the price Jimmy is willing to accept. Not right now, at least. End of. And while I still have major doubts about Jimmy in the postseason, this is the first season in a while that we finally see what it’s like not to assume the postseason is a given. This season began a new era, where we can’t coast by on an incredible defense or solid offense. We need a regular season goalie before we can even dream of the playoffs. That’s Jimmy, and in my mind that’s the end of the argument. This contract, should it come with that number, is a necessity.

                Which brings us to the “What Now?” portion of our day. According to everyone’s favorite bearer of bad news,, Jimmy’s potential deal would leave us with about $12 million (we could add several million more if we buy out some…*ahem* less than ideal signings). $12 million to sign a fair few people (here’s the link if you want to see for yourself The issue is more specific than what now, it’s: Who’s the odd man (men) out? This is my dream, folks:

                Not re-signing Filppula is a given (in my mind at least). Maybe he’ll fly off to a place we dare not mention, and maybe there he’ll win a trophy that breaks our hearts. Maybe afterward he’ll end up on Florida, or Phoenix, or some other team who is so firmly embedded in NHL obscurity we’re not even sure if they’re real anymore. Yes, maybe he’ll pull a Kopecky (who is getting paid $3 million a year, for anyone keeping score of bad deals at home.) In any event, it’s Filppula’s business. For the good of the Red Wings, it can no longer be our business.

                Another given is buyouts (compliance buyouts for EVERYONE! Or…two guys). This is the fun part, where we get to imagine we’ve never heard of certain guys
                Quincey who? ($3.775 million)

                Samuelsson who? ($3 million)

                Carlo I can't spell his last name to save my life who? (Ordinary buyout, $2.5 million)

Which brings us to a fairly delicious roughly $21 million available if the Howie deal is signed.

Remind me again why you were so worried about $5.3 million for Howard, Twitter. Remind me.

                It’s good to have our goalie locked for a bit. And if we concentrate on signing our young guys with bright futures, ending this horrible emergency vet signing strategy that saw us bring in Sammy and Cola etc., and picking up one or two above average guys in the offseason then I think next year we have a lot less to fear. And we’re not even going to think about that whole “Pavel’s probably going back to Russia when his contract ends” thing. We are going to crawl back into our safe little “Jimmy for six more years!” bunkers and not think about it even once. Not. Once. Oh god.