Friday, July 31, 2009

Moscow or Bust

So Hudler is off to Russia. All that remains to be seen is, if he comes back to the NHL, will he be considered property of the Red Wings.

I’ve been surprised to hear a lot of Wings fans giving Hudler a hard time. So, lets put ourselves in Hudler’s skates and see how we would react. (Remember, Hudler was offered a about half of what the KHL offered him.)

There’s a knock at your door. You go answer the door and find a guy with a funny accent and a contract in his hand. He knows that you make $20 an hour at Company A, but he’s there to offer you $40 an hour, tax free, to work at Company B. You know you’d take the money.

Rather than get all angry at someone for making the most logical decision of their lives, I decided to take a look back at the good times of Jiri. Here are my top 5 Jiri Hudler moments:

The clucking idea kind of sounded funny but I did find another video that actually showed it happening and it was a bit weird... anyways, on to my second favorite Jiri moment:

That was the game winner that gave Detroit a 3-1 lead in the 2008 finals.

By far my most favorite Jiri Hudler moment. "Let's go Red Vings! Let's go Red Vings!"

Good luck in Russia, Huds. Hope we see you in two years.

Wednesday, July 15, 2009

Minor League Jerseys Gone Wrong II

I would love to say that I had such a huge response over the last set of Minor League Jerseys Gone Wrong that I had to do another one, but I'd be a liar since my 'readers' tend to consist of immediate family with nothing better to do. Besides, it's the middle of July and there's not much else to write about. So here is yet another collection of jerseys that prove that maybe, just maybe, Capitalism doesn't ALWAYS work.

This is amazing to me. The Muskegon Lumberjacks (then the Fury) had pink ice for valentines day before but, having been raised in Michigan, I know that yellow snow is a bad thing. Yellow ice is no different! This is what happens when McDonald's sponsors your local team. This was just a one time thing, thankfully, but I hope that the McDonald's in that area were boycotted.

Speaking of Valentines Day:

How intimidating it must be to square off with a toothless guy in pink and hearts. This is the type of jersey I'd expect to see if San Fransisco had a hockey team. At least the second one left out the pink. Still, I hope Hallmark is happy.
Welcome to da hockey game, mon! Who are the five best hockey players of all time? Think about it... Dylan. Dylan. Dylan, Dylan and Dylan because I shoot hot fire!

Even the Refs aren't safe. I'm guessing this is Amsterdam? Kidding!
Finally, if anyone suddenly found that their tablecloth had gone missing:

Look no further than the Milwaukee Admirals. I actually like these, but not on players during an actual game. Was this "Country Kitchen Night" or "Salvation Army Appreciation Night"? I think I would buy one if it was in red, blue or green so it was more of a flannel jersey, but I still hate to see things like this worn by Pros.

Know of a jersey I should mention next time? Let me know in a comment and I'll put it in with the next batch.

Friday, July 10, 2009

This just in: The Detroit Red Wings are Finished!

Or are they? After Juri Hudler announced that he would be signing with Dynamo of the Russian KHL, talk has sprung up all over the league about the Wings being done for. It's not just that the Wings lost players, it's who they lost and where they went. True, Hossa went to Chicago and Samuelsson is off to Vancouver, but lets take a look at the numbers and see if that really hurts. Hossa scored 40 goals last season and added 31 assists for 71 points. In signing Hossa, the Hawks had to unload their other top Right Winger, Martin Havlat, who scored 29 goals and added 48 helpers for 77 points. So Chicago is more formidable now that they have a guy who is older than Havlat and scores less points than him? Now let's take a peak at the playoff stats from last season. Havlat, 5 goals, 10 assists in 16 games. Hossa, 6 goals, 9 assists in 23 games. Havlat was the leading scorer for the Hawks in the playoffs while Hossa fell apart like a game of Jenga in an earthquake. As for Sammy, it all depends on where he gets put in Vancouver. I don't think they'll put him on the power play like Detroit did, which has a lot to do with how he got the numbers he had last season. Also a no-show in the playoffs. And Hudler? Have a good time in Russia. I don't care if he scores 100 goals over there since it has no affect on the Wings. The only actual question mark I see is our goaltending. Losing Conklin to St Louis, has the potential to be bad if and only if Osgood stumbles again and Howard proves to be a liability. I don't see either being the case, but anything is possible.

As a Wings fan, I have had four great summers of celebrating a championship and the rest being told that my team is done. After losing in the first round to the Kings in 2001, all I heard about was that the Wings were done, too old, too slow... So they signed Hasek, Hull and Robitaille and steamrolled their way to the Stanley Cup the next year. The introduction of the salary cap in 2005 was supposed to be their undoing, yet somehow they emerged as the model team under the cap. Then, in the 2006 off season, Detroit had another exodus. After an embarrassing first round loss to the Oilers, the Wings lost Stevie Y to retirement, starting goalie Manny Legace to the Blues and Shanahan to the Rangers. They had the best record in the NHL that year and were expected to plummet in the standings. Well, they dropped a little, I guess, and finished tied for the best record in the NHL. Wow, what a fall from grace!

This is what everyone forgets: The teams management and coaching staff are just as important as the players. Mike Babcock is still one of the top coaches in the league and only gets better as the years come and go. Ken Holland? Best GM in sports. And he's ours! I'm not going to say that the Red Wings are guaranteed to be a contender for the Cup again, or even the playoffs because you never know what an injury or plain bad luck can do to a team during a year, but I do know that Detroit's management will do what it has to do to stay on top year after year.

The way I see it, Detroit got younger. This should be an exciting year with Helm, Abdelkader, Leino, Ericsson and Howard all playing in Detroit full time. So much for the team being old. I believe that those four skaters from Grand Rapids will be able to put a dent in the 80-something goals they lost from Hossa, Hudler and Samuelsson.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

Saku Koivu is the Worst Goalie of all Time...

Browsing ESPN today for free agency signings, I decided to read the details of the Saku Koivu signing with the Ducks when I noticed that, according to ESPN, he had a terrible record as a goalie? Amazingly, he started in 64 games but only won 16 of them. The stat that stood out the most was that he only gave up 44 goals in 65 games, yet only had a save% of 4. That means that he rarely ever faced a shot in a game and when he did, it would go in. I guess he only stopped one or two shots all year? In case you didn't know, the 16 wins are actually his 16 goals. Losses=Assists, Ties=Points, SV% = +/- and his 44GAA are really his 44 penalty minutes.The point of all this is Saku Koivu is actually a FORWARD, a very good one, and the article has been up for a couple of days now, which means that ESPN has had this unbelievable error posted on their website for well over 24 hours and have not fixed it. Oops.

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Who wants to Buy a Spoiled Brat?

Because the Ottawa Senators have one they're trying to unload. Dany Heatley has requested a trade, and while this is old news to some people, I finally decided to put in my two cents on the situation. First and foremost, this is not the first time Heatley has requested a trade. It's not exactly uncommon for professional athletes to ask for a trade if things are not going the way they had hoped with a certain team, but most would give the team more than a season or two to decide weather or not they were worthy of their efforts. Before I get ahead of myself, let me bring you up to speed on Heatley's past and why he's in Ottawa in the first place.

In late September 2003, Dany Heatley, then of the Atlanta Thrashers, was driving his Ferrari with his teammate Dan Snyder. Mix millions of dollars with a little bit of alcohol, add a fast car and you get disaster. Heatley's car split in half after crashing into a wall. Both were ejected. Healtey survived despite a broken jaw, a minor concussion, a bruised lung, bruised kidney, and torn ligaments in his knee. Snyder died six days later due to a fractured skull. Amazingly, the Snyder family and the Atlanta Thrashers were supportive of Heatley. After his recovery, he finished the 2003-04 season with Atlanta, but requested a trade. He wanted to get away from the painful reminders of the crash. The Thrashers traded him for Marian Hossa and Greg de Vries.

Heatley had great success in Ottawa, even breaking some of Marian Hossa's team records. Things seemed to be going well for Heatley as the Sens climbed up the standings over the next couple seasons. He played on the top line with Jason Spezza and Daniel Alfredsson, the famed 'CASH Line' (team Captain Alfredsson, Spezza, Heatley). After making it to the Stanley Cup Finals in 2007, Healtey signed a new 6-year contract extension with the Senators worth $45 million. This is where it starts to get ugly. After his lowest production since his rookie season and the Senators finishing 11th in the Eastern Conference, Heatley suddenly wants out and he's only one year into his new contract extension. When first reading this, you may think that Heatley is a competitor who just wants to win and since Ottawa isn't winning right now, he wants out. Problem is, his reason for wanting out all stem from the hiring of Senators Head Coach Cory Clouston who is nicknamed the 'baby-faced drill sergeant' because he actually makes his players hustle during practice. Clouston coached just 34 games in 2008-09, but his record of 19-11-4 was very respectable, especially in the middle of a losing season. This record was achieved with some sacrifice, however, as Heatley was moved to the second power play unit.

So to recap, Heatley is mad for being expected to EARN his millions of dollars and can't believe he is being punished after failing to do so. I guess someone forgot to tell him that you don't get paid for what you did in the past, you get paid for what you're expected to do now.

Amazingly, a team actually answered the call for Heatley's trade request, however, that team was not good enough for Heatley who insists on having his cake and eating it to. That team was the Edmonton Oilers, who insist that the trade is still possible despite Heatley refusing to waive his 'no trade clause' to go there. The other few teams that were reported to have been high on Heatley's priority list have since aquired the services of more dedicated players and are no longer in the market for a half-hearted Left Wing. Ron Hextall of the LA Kings, one of the teams Heatley approved of, had this to say of the possibility of acquiring Heatley: "I'm going to spell it out to you as nicely I can. He was in Atlanta, had an unfortunate accident there and asked to be traded. OK, given the circumstances -- there was a young man killed -- I can live with that. He goes to Ottawa, he's on a pretty good team, they go to the finals, signs a big contract ... bang, all of the sudden now he's got to be traded again. 'Not only do I have to be traded, I have a no-trade clause. I want to pick where I'm going to go.' Well, there are some issues there. That raises huge red flags for us." Well said.

This is the problem Heatley has created for himself. He is a very talented player, but his attitude and sudden changes of heart make him an unwanted asset to a team that is trying to contend for a Cup. Only a rebuilding team would be interested in taking a chance on him now, but he is obviously not interested in rebuilding. On the Senator's side, they have mega bucks going towards a guy that does not want to be there. What a happy locker room that will be. I expect one of three things to happen in the next year:

1. Heatley accepts the Edmonton offer and goes to play in front of the fans that he has already disrespected.

2. Healtey stays in Ottawa and plays the best hockey he can play in order to attract a better team for next year when he can try to request a trade in a more mature manner. This is the most viable option for him at this point.

3. Clouston puts Heatley on the fourth line until he breaks and decides to be a team player. This is unlikely because it's in Clouston's best interest to play Heatley to the maximum of his abilities since his job actually depends on it, but as a regular Joe Blow, it would be great to see the spoiled brat squirm just a bit. Agree? Disagree? Leave me a comment.

Monday, July 6, 2009

The Best Player Ever and the Best Player Now

One of the most annoying debates on hockey threads these days is: 'Who was the best player of all time?' The reason it's so annoying is the blatant Homerisms used by the fans in order to claim that their hero is the best. Like, 'Lemieux was better than Gretzky, because Gretzky had Mark Messier. Who did Lemieux have?' Jaromir Jagr, anyone? Sure, Jagr came later in Lemieux's career, but even when Lemieux had Jagr, he was regularly getting outscored by Gretzky. There's only one way to fairly make this argument. It's time to look at numbers.

Goals, Assists, Points: The Great One, The Great One, The Great One. 894 goals, 1,963 assists, 2,857 points. All NHL records. In fact, Gretzky had more assists than Lemieux had total points (1,723). That statement alone is pretty damaging to Lemieux's case. Of course, this is exactly the point where Mario's supporters get angry and say, 'Gretzky played more games! Of course he scored more points!' True, Mario only played 915 NHL games because of injury while Gretzky played 1,487.

Points per Game: Guess what... Gretzky! Lemieux supporters swear up and down that Mario averaged over 2 points per game for his career and Gretzky didn't. Well, they're half right. Gretzky did NOT average 2 points per game. Then again, neither did Lemieux. Mario's 1.88 points per game is amazing, but not quite as amazing as Gretzky's 1.92. So even if Mario Lemieux had played as many games as Gretzky, he would not have had the same point totals. Then comes, 'Um, hello? Cancer!?' True, Lemieux battled cancer and still played.

Durability: Mario Lemieux. With all his back troubles and cancer, the fact that he was still tops in the league year after year shows just how awesome he was. However, you still have to look at the points per games played and Gretzky edged him out, anyways.

Records: I'm not going to list every record Gretzky owns, because it's too many. However, the main ones, most goals, assists and points ever and most goals, assists and points in one season all belong to Gretzky. He had four seasons where he scored over 200 points. Lemieux had none.

It seems clear to me that, unless you're just a blind Lemieux homer, Wayne Gretzky was the best hockey player of all time. By far. But what about the best player now? Well, let's take a look:

While no one agrees on the actual best player, most agree on the finalists: Sidney Crosby, Pavel Datsyuk, Alexander Ovechkin and Evgeni Malkin. Of course, Pavel is the oldest so everyone will say that in the end, the other three will over take him in total points and accomplishments. Very possible. However, we're determining the best player NOW. So let's take a look at the different stats that will tell us who the best player is:

Goals, Assists, Points: Ovie, Malkin, Malkin. Surely, Ovechkin is the better goal scorer of the four, and Malkin is a better passer, but he also has better teammates to pass to. Then again, Ovie plays Left Wing. Wingers are not typically setup guys. They shoot. He shoots a lot, actually. Of the 4, Ovechkin has the lowest shooting percentage at 10.6%. Crosby has the highest at 13.9% and Datsyuk was second at 12.9%. Sadly, Pavel's shooting percentage doesn't get mentioned because by this point, the fact that he had the fewest total points between the 4, he tends to be left out of the discussion. I recently read an article written by a Flyers fan who was trying to make the same case that I am now. He had an interesting stat that goes along the lines of the points per game we used to decide the best player ever. TOI (Time On Ice). He writes:

Ovechkin lead all NHL forwards with an average ice time of 23 minutes per game.

Malkin was second in this category with 22:31 minutes per game.

Crosby ranked third in the league with 21:56 minutes per game.

Pavel Datsyuk ranked 46th in the league amongst forwards at 19:12 minutes per game. In fact, teammate Henrik Zetterberg ranked higher at 32nd in the league with an average of 19:52 minutes per game.

What all this means is, if Datsyuk were to see the same amount of TOI that Malkin had, his points would likely go from 97 to 111 based on his points per game. That would move him from 4th to 2nd in total points. If he played the same minutes as Ovechkin, it would be even higher. I hate to use "what if's", though, so let's take a look at their defensive abilities. Since it's a big patch of ice, I think it matters who is better by his own net.

Now, I have actually had to explain +/- to a few Penguins fans before, even though they claimed to be huge hockey fans way before Crosby and Malkin ever came into the league. Just in case there's someone out there that is unfamiliar with the stat, it's meant to show how often a player is on the ice when scored against vs how often they are on the ice when they score. Power Play goals don't count, but shorthanded goals do. Crosby was +3, which means that when he is on the ice at even strength, the apposing team is just as likely to score as his team is. Ovechkin was +8 so not much better. Malkin is the better 2-way forward between him and Crosby at +17, but Pavel Datsyuk takes the cake at +34. When he's on the ice, he can shutdown your best player and still be a threat to score.

Finally, a lot of people dislike that Datsyuk keeps winning the Lady Byng Trophy for 'gentlemanly play'. This doesn't mean he isn't physical, it just means he doesn't commit penalties as often as most players. He only had 22 penalty minutes (while playing defensively against his opponents best player), while the next lowest of the four finalists was Ovechkin with 72.

There is no doubt that Pavel Datsyuk is the best hockey player in the world right now. Think of it this way: A student gets an A+ in math, but a C in Science, C- in English and a D in History. Another student gets an A- in all his classes. Who's the better student?

Saturday, July 4, 2009


Just wanted to put this video of Vlady up so that anyone who wasn't up to date on his status would know.

Friday, July 3, 2009

Red Wings Signing Update and Free Agent Tracker

Mikael Samuelsson signed with the Vancouver Canucks for $7.5 million over 3 years, today. He was really streaky and prone to turn the puck over. The only thing he added, other than depth, was his right-handed shot on the power play. If he was a lefty, he wouldn't have been anywhere near the power play. Then again, I can remember him scoring a few big goals. However, Detroit doesn't spend 2.5 a year for a few big goals. Good luck to him in Vancouver. Now I'll be interested in seeing if the Wings go with two lefties on the point with their second power play unit, or do they try to sign someone just for that purpose? I'm guessing two lefties. That will cripple the power play somewhat, but nothing severe.

Sammy's signing in Vancouver also gives the Red Wings just that much more cap space to sign Hudler, who was the higher priority anyways, in my opinion. Hudler could very well become a 30 goal scorer even though he plays on the third line.

Here's a Free Agent Tracker from ESPN. Quite handy.

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Minor League Jerseys Gone Wrong

Everyone loves going to see their local minor league hockey team. If they only care to see a good fight, even someone who does not know the rules of the game can enjoy the minors. The tickets are cheap and you can get a pop and a hot dog for under $5. However, team owners need to make money somehow and since they usually don't have huge TV contracts and big name sponsors, they get creative with their marketing. One of the ways they do this is having the team play a game or two in a special jersey that they then auction off to the highest bidder. Some jerseys are just a subtle change in design or an alternate logo on the chest. Others... well, you'll see.
Disco Night! WooHoo! I don't know who this team is, but I'm sure I could find out. However, out of respect for the brave souls that had to wear this in front of thousands of people, I'll try to keep it a secret.
Shiver me timbers! These be the worst uniforms I be seein in a sea turtles age! This guy looks like he's thinking, "Aaaaar... Where be me agent? I'll be cuttin him down for this and be sendin him to Davy Jones' Locker. Aaar..." Poor team. They will always remember this as the day they ALMOST looked cool during a hockey game.This one is great. It's not everyday you see the players out-dress the coach. Complete with boutineer and all.Amazingly, this is NOT the third jersey of the Seattle Thunderbirds.Ha ha ha. Western Night with the Quad City Mallards. How humiliating. I wish I could have seen the looks on their faces when they were handed these abominations and told, "Hey, they're not that bad..." Just so you know, if you have to say "It's not that bad..." it IS.

Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Free Agency has begun!

Sad day for the Red Wings? Depends on who you ask. I personally think we can win without Hossa, since we did a year ago. Then again, I don't like the idea of a division rival (Blackhawks) getting stronger. I just hope that his contract causes Chicago to have to lose depth. In the end, I have no hard feelings towards Hossa. He was a lot of fun to watch for the year that we had him. Even he said "If there wasn't a salary cap, I would still be in Detroit." I assumed this would happen after we signed Franzen and the cap only increased by $100k. Hey, if the Wings don't win, I have no problem rooting for him, but I hope he finishes second best every year. Should be a lot of fun reading all the "Red Wings are done" articles since we lost a player we have proven we don't really need.

Of course the Wings would have been better with him than without him, but let's take a quick look at the two teams that I think are the biggest losers so far: The Montreal Canadiens and the New York Rangers. These two teams have been in a heated battle all day long to see who can spend their way into mediocrity the fastest. This has been the Rangers cup of tea for years and yesterday it seemed that they had seen the error of their ways when they actually found someone to take Scott Gomez off their hands. That someone was the Montreal Canadiens. Gomez was making $7.5 million a year but only scored 16 goals and 42 assists in 77 games. Montreal saw those numbers, saw that salary and said, "I'll take it!" Then New York made the next move. They signed Marian Gaborik from the Minnesota Wild for 5 years at $37.5 million. That's $7.5 million a year. The same 7.5 million that they just freed up by unloading Gomez. But what's wrong with Gaborik? Injuries. He has played 502 games in his 8 years, which means he misses an average of 20 games a year. He only played 17 last year. He's as injury prone as Eric Lindros, who almost died in the shower of his hotel once. Come to think of it, guess who he signed with a couple years after that... the New York Rangers! Still, Gaborik's numbers are amazing when he's healthy. The issue is, there was another Right Wing available with less risk. Marian Hossa. I have no doubts that New York tried to get their meat-hooks on Hossa, but Hossa wants to win and that won't happen in New York. That's the Ranger's own fault. They have the fan base and the revenue, but their front office is run by chimps. Before the 2005 lockout, it was common to pay too much for talent because there was no salary cap. You could just buy more. Now that there's a limit to how much you can pay your players, every dollar must count and that's why I think the Rangers and Canadiens are falling apart. They buy big names and get small returns. New York picked up Donald Brashear, but at less than $1 million a year, it doesn't matter since he's just an enforcer. Montreal was not to be outdone by New York's gamble and their enforcer. They added Michael Cammalleri from the Calgary Flames for $6 million a year for 5 years, although this actually makes sense since he scored 39 goals 43 assists for 82 points. Just don't expect him to play in his own end since he was -2 last year and -30 for his career. Then they signed Brian Gionta. Remember him? He scored 48 goals once! Not anymore. He racked up 20 this year along with a respectable 40 assists for 60 points and was a +12. He'll be getting $5 million a year for 5 years. Montreal still wasn't done. They also added D-man Jaroslav Spacek for 3 years at $3.8 million a year. Spacek put up respectable numbers for a defenseman on a losing team, but 3.8 a year seems high to me. If Detroit were to request his services, I would expect him to make under 3, but hey, what do I know. Finally, Montreal took the untakable. They signed the unsignable, bought, the unbuyable. The Montreal Canadiens are now the proud owners of their very own Hal Gill. With a salary of $4.5 Million over two years, he is not meant to score goals and he doesn't. He is a Defensive Defenseman. At 6' 7" his greatest strength is his long reach. His greatest weakness is everything else. It is for this reason that the Montreal Canadiens have been awarded the 2009 Twig's Worst of July 1st Award! This less than prestigious award is given to the team that appears to fail the hardest by paying too much for too little.