Wednesday, June 30, 2010

The NHL Free Agents

The idea of Mike Modano on the Red Wings reminds me of previous moves which really worked out - the off-season signing party of 2001. It sure has the same feeling.

I am thinking about what the Red Wings really need. If a guy like Modano could be the answer to Ken Holland's call for offensive depth, then who else is out there?

Take a look here. Side note: Detroit is paying Todd Bertuzzi more than Tomas Holmstrom. Is that right??

I could go insane looking at the free agents and trying to decide.

As for Modano, maybe Detroit can do better - no offense to Modano.

Mike Modano In Red and White?

Ted Kulfan of The Detroit News wrote a piece Tuesday about Mike Modano and his candidacy for the Red Wings roster. Of course, there is absolutely no reason to believe Ken Holland and company are looking to add Modano. If anything, Kulfan is pitching the idea.

It may seem like a ridiculous idea to most, but Detroit loves stories like the one Modano has. He is a hometown hero at the end of his career. He is returning to the Metro Detroit area. I see where Kulfan is coming from.

But what about Modano? Does he really want to play? If so, why? To fulfill a boyhood dream to wear the winged wheel?

Seems like a long shot. I don't think it is up to Modano anyway. Detroit may not have the room for him. If Modano were a veteran defenseman, this would be an entirely different story.

Personally, I would not mind seeing Modano with the Wings for a year. If the organization can figure out a cost-effective scenario and the team can make room for him, do it. Not a huge deal since the offensive roster is pretty much set. It just takes some ice time away from younger guys on the third and fourth lines. And of course, Modano would have to want to play on the third and fourth lines. He would love it.

If Modano and Holland work something out, Kulfan might want some credit. I think everyone will win in the end. The fans will have another homer to cheer for. Mike Babcock will have a dangerous veteran to work with. The locker room will have more leadership.

Why not. Go for it.

Sunday, June 20, 2010

What Happened to All the Freddy Olaussons?

I am starving for something to write about. Since I am the writer, editor and owner of this blog, I can write about whatever I want. This is free speech at its finest. Read the following if you must.

Detroit Red Wings Defense

My sister met Fredrik Olausson at an Applebee's Restaurant in Northville, Michigan shortly after the 2002 Cup win. He was having dinner with his family. My sister was a waitress at the restaurant. She and her coworkers recognized the Wings defenseman. He happily signed some napkins and other items. She gave a napkin to me. I framed it. The autographed Applebee's napkin still hangs in my parent's basement in Livonia. I think.

Olausson had a dynamic impact in 2002. He was an important part of a well-stacked super team. He was a veteran defenseman focused on ... defense. Olausson represented old-school finesse and simple, straightforward intelligence in his own zone. These qualities lack throughout NHL defenseman - Detroit is no longer an exception.

Seems like everyone wants to be Paul Coffey or Bobby Orr today. The problem: They are not Coffey. They are not Orr. This is 2010. Failed attempts to imitate those legends result in turnovers and utterly abysmal play through the neutral zone.

What happened to the Freddy Olaussons? - conservative, strong, consistent and smart play with the puck. Nicklas Lidstrom's game is based on all of this. Why don't the younger players learn??

I look around this league and I don't see many young, solid stay-at-home defenseman. It really strikes me. Is it the rule changes? I refuse to believe so.

But forget the rest of the league. I am focusing on the Red Wings. Where did all the stay-at-home old-school defensemen go on this team? Why can't they be replaced? If this team is so obsessed with puck-possession play - and it should be - then why is this major component slipping away?

One reason: Players are not living up to franchise and fan expectations. Nicklas Kronwall is a perfect example. When was the last time the Wings drafted or groomed a great defenseman? Jiri Fischer? I don't see it. Kronwall, for instance, is a bust. A huge bust. This guy is a bullshit excuse for "Nick Jr." - that's a blasphemous nick-name.

Holland and company better fill this void fast. When Lidstrom does leave, the team will miss him more than they probably know. Someone has to step up. A franchise defenseman. Jonathan Erriccsson? Possibly.

Right now: Wings need to pick someone up in order to make me feel better.

He doesn't have to be a superstar. He just has to be a Freddy Olausson.

Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Summer Means No Hockey, Endless Baseball

The off-season is upon us. With it is an array of baseball games and overwhelming media coverage of the coming football season. As a hockey fan, one must get outdoors and find something to do in an attempt to fill the giant void which was once hours of hockey.

The World Cup (A.K.A. the time when America realizes how much more the sport of "soccer" matters to the rest of the Earth) is not enough.

I am looking forward to relaxing a bit. I don't want to hear about hockey for a couple weeks. It is difficult to watch another team raise Lord Stanley's Cup. Detroit Red Wings fans will always feel like the Cup is theirs to lose. When another team wins it, the feeling is they stole it from Detroit. Spoiled fans, no doubt.

I want to see Detroit put together a tough, physical defense before the 2010-11 season begins. Since Nicklas Lidstrom decided to stick around for another year, it may be more difficult to recruit some talent for the blue line - and by recruit I mean pay. Of course, I'm happy to see Lidstrom stay an extra season. But something has to change back there. They were questionable this year. Turnovers at their own blue line. Turnovers in the corner. Turnovers in front of their own net. This was a nightmare to watch. It was showcased in the San Jose series.

Alas, I take a sigh of relief. Hockey is over for now, but a lot will have to develop in this off season to make me feel better about this team.

Don't worry my devoted readers. I will have periodic posts throughout the next few months. Mostly, this blog will serve as my reaction to Wings off-season trades, acquisitions and other stuff. Also, it will serve as a place for me to tear the NHL apart - nothing short of a glorious editorial blog about why the NHL is what it is, and what it should be instead.

Friday, June 11, 2010

Chicago's First Cup Since 1961

As promised, here is a photo of Marian Hossa with the Stanley Cup.

While I watched the Chicago Blackhawks skate around the ice, kissing the Cup and basically shoving it in the face of Philadelphia, I could not believe what I was seeing. I definitely never imagined the Hawks actually winning the Stanley Cup in my lifetime. It is weird.

When the Philadelphia Flyer's third goal came due to a wild bounce in front of the Chicago net which involved Hossa, I thought: "That's it, he's cursed, they can't win."

Clearly, I was wrong. By all means I am OK with being wrong about Hossa's curse. I was really worried for the guy.

Patrick Kane's overtime winner put a lot of demons to rest. Of course, nothing goes without review these days. I think the OT Cup winner sums up the officiating throughout the 2010 playoffs. It goes something like this: "Uhhh, we're not sure what's going on."

Highlights from Wednesday:

Marian Hossa hoisting the Cup on his third trip to the finals in three years, and with his third team.

Patrick Kane's feeling after it was over: "I can't believe this just happened... Holy crap..."

Jeremy Roenick crying because he never won.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Ridiculous: Pierre Does It Again

I get home from work Wednesday. I turn the game on. It is the start of the second period. First thing I hear out of Pierre McGuire's mouth is a Sidney Crosby reference.

I almost puked right in the middle of my kitchen floor.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Chicago vs. Philadelphia Game 6

Marian Hossa was in this exact position last year. It was game six of the Cup final in Pittsburgh. The Detroit Red Wings had just captured game five in Detroit, with authority. Sounds familiar?

Chicago put up goals at home in game five. Now they must try to clinch the Cup on the road in Philadelphia. Last year, after game five, everything went to hell for the Red Wings. Hossa was no help.

Am I just a bitter fan? Nah, not really. Shit happens. But for Hossa this goes beyond bitterness. If he doesn't have a ring on his finger by Wednesday night or the end of the week, I ... wow.

Yeah, this isn't fair. I shouldn't be singling out one guy like this. Well, screw that. I don't care. I actually find this terrifically interesting.

I will do Hossa a favor and place a picture of him holding the Cup. For now, the curse lives on.

My prediction:

Philly forces a game seven. Goaltending will be the story. One of those guys between the pipes has to start stopping something.

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Chicago's Push

It is difficult to imagine the Chicago Blackhawks giving this series away. But it is exactly what is happening right now. For a team with such a divine roster and so much to lose, the Blackhawks are definitely letting a history of poor Stanley Cup final appearances repeat itself. The Philadelphia Flyers, on the other hand, are keeping true to the NHL's 2010 captain obvious catchphrase - they are making history, no doubt.

Like I mentioned, I'm struggling to see Chicago actually giving this away. If they do, the city of Chicago, Marian Hossa and I will all have to go on professional hockey hiatus for a while. This is not something one recovers from by crawling around golf courses. It takes more than just fresh air and wide open fairways.

Philadelphia is doing what many believe is the NHL's worst enemy: They are re-writing Cinderella, yet again. For me, calling any team in the Stanley Cup playoffs a "Cinderella Story" is just not enough anymore. It is no longer uncommon to see a bottom-seeded team get hot and make a run. After studying the league in-depth for quite some time (I'm only 23, but I have devoted a good portion of my years to the NHL) I have concluded there is no such thing as a Cinderella team in the NHL. There are teams which perform well in the playoffs, and teams which perform poorly. Forget about the names on the sweaters. Dismiss the seeds. Sixteen teams make the playoffs. Sixteen teams have a shot at the Cup.

I have exhausted myself all season arguing for why this type of NHL is good for the game of hockey. Basically, I am tired. I am tired of sticking up for the facts. I spent the past couple weeks just watching it unfold. Here it is: Philadelphia vs. Chicago. The series is tied 2-2.

Game five is the series. Win it and win the Cup. However, the Detroit Red Wings proved this not to be such a definite win-win. The Wings won game five of the 2009 finals, only to drop game six and seven to Pittsburgh - maybe one of the most heartbreaking finals performances in NHL history.

Heartbreak sums up the past 49 years for the Chicago Blackhawks. Their previous visit to the finals was ruined, of course, by the Pittsburgh Penguins in 1992 - there is something about the state Pennsylvania.

No one needs to remind Chicago how long ago 1961 is.

Side note:

NBC ruined the NHL playoffs for me. I find myself cringing while listening to the amateur editorial and commentary on this sport. It is unfortunate. For me, if the United States is not going to try to do the sport justice, the country (NBC) should just forget about it. I don't want hockey to be dragged through the mud in front of a national audience. I would rather see it cherished among its niche fan base. Forget about trying to sell this sport. It's trivial and excruciating for the real fans to watch. I feel like I'm just repeating myself a lot.

If I have to watch Jeremy Roenick and Pierre McGuire reproduce goals and never shut their idiotic mouths next year, I'm turning it off. The radio please.

I am dead serious. It is disgusting.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Crisis Averted: Lidstrom Stays

So we're aware at this point: Nick Lidstrom is staying.

Lidstrom StaysWell, as I said before, his departure would probably totally screw the Wings at first. When the quarterback leaves, well, it sucks. He definitely has an undeniable impact on every game he plays in.

I'm Still Here, Chicago Leading 2-0

I can't claim to be paying the closest attention to this series. This is probably not something I want to admit to. However, life gets in the way. Hockey, interrupted.

Marian Hossa decides to make a difference. Bravo. Third time is a charm, or something to that effect.

I believe this series is over. It's about damn time. There are plenty of other things to pay attention to. I swore I would remain interested regardless of the Red Wings' fate. I failed.

Here's to the end of a long, toiling season. Chicago should be able to wrap this bullshit up in five.