Mainstream Media Fail!

There’s a nifty little screenshot for you from Sportsnet, one of Canada’s leading sporting news providers, falsely declaring that Jiri Hudler is staying with the Red Wings for this upcoming season. Even Scuttles looks surprised they ran with the story…

Solidifying his place at the top of the Wings beat writers rankings, Ansar Khan of MLive got an IMMEDIATE denial from Ken Holland. Turns out he’s still awaiting the arbitrator’s ruling:

Red Wings general manager Ken Holland said this morning that he hasn’t yet received the arbiter’s decision, but made it clear that this ship has sailed. Hudler is playing in Russia next season.

“The story’s over. He’s going to play in Russia,” Holland said. “We’re waiting on the terms (of the salary arbitration case) he has to (honor) if and when he returns to the NHL.”

Do I have to bring back the trombone sound effect for Sportsnet?

Because I’m sure the article will be taken down soon, here’s a screenshot of the whole article:

TPL Profiles :: Jonathan Ericsson

52 Jonathan ERICSSON
Defenseman / Karlskrona, Sweden

AGE :: 25
SIZE :: 6-5 / 218
ACQUIRED :: 2002 Draft [9 / 291]
CONTRACT :: Entering the second year of a 3-year, $2.7M one-way contract
CAP HIT :: $900,000
EXPERIENCE :: 2009-10 will be his first full NHL season
LIKELY ROLE :: Full-time bottom pairing defenseman

DEFINING MOMENT :: Beating the ever-loving crap out of snively little Corey Perry.

1. He’s huge
2. His shot has been clocked at 100+ mph
3. He’ll throw hands if you wanna throw hands!

ONE REASON TO HATE HIM :: Doesn’t use that shot enough…

RANDOM FACT :: Was the very last player selected in the 2002 draft, making him the lowest drafted player to ever play in the NHL.

1. Size
2. Agility
3. Great hands and stickhandling
4. Cannon from the blueline
5. Good breakout pass

1. Did not start career as a defenseman, so he’s got some learning to do
2. Decision-making on the fly
3. He was a turnover machine in the playoffs

ONE-LINER :: “I can’t believe we don’t dress him” – Mike Babcock

HE’S A FAVORITE OF :: Mr. Irrelevant, the Green Giant, and my mother – who on more than one occasion has called him my “new daddy.”

BIO :: In what I’m sure is a shocking revelation, Ericsson was discovered by Red Wings uber-scout Hakan Andersson. The then-center was playing in the depths of the Swedish system, for a team coached by his father. It was by chance that Andersson saw Big Rig play D (the team was short a defenseman that night), and after a little convincing, Ericsson switched to the blue-line full-time.

In 2006, Detroit signed the final pick of the 2002 Draft, and brought him over the pond. He had a very good AHL career, including an All-Star selection, and was the top defenseman call-up for the Wings for two seasons.

A casualty of the defense surplus, Ericsson has yet to appear in the NHL as a full-timer. Wait no more…

FUTURE :: Much to the dismay of Coach Babcock, Jonathan Ericsson hadn’t had the chance to be a mainstay in the lineup. That all changed with this past post-season. Taking advantage of Andreas Lilja’s untimely injury, Ericsson found himself a regular at the most important part of the year.

Expect more of that. Even though he’ll be a quote-unquote rookie, he will begin the season in the top six, and that’s where he’ll stay. He’s the reason a defenseman is going to be traded after training camp. If everyone were to be healthy at the same time, both Brett Lebda and Derek Meech would be healthy scratches before Babcock’s favorite.


Let's squash some hopes and dreams, shall we?

Malik has an article up this morning that chronicles the remaining free agent targets as they apply to the Red Wings (it’s wayyyyy at the bottom of that article). I know a ton of fans are pining (wrongly) for Todd Bertuzzi and others are all aboard the Taylor Pyatt Hype Train.

Allow me to take a few minutes and end those fantasies now.

Todd Bertuzzi — talking to three teams, all of them in the Eastern Conference and the United States, which not only rules out the Wings, but also the Maple Leafs who were supposedly the front-runners. My money is on Philadelphia who is one goon short of a prison riot.

Taylor Pyatt — his agent, Todd Christie, has had no contact with anyone in the Detroit organization.

Manny Malhotra — a pitch was made to Detroit by agent Paul Krepelka, but apparently the Wings didn’t bite.

Mike Grier — apparently the player is more interested in the team, than the team is in the player because of his “limited offensive ability,” but if he’s still available in September and willing to play for less than $1M, the Wings would consider it.

Robert Lang — the club has — thank God — no desire in bringing him back.

The remaining free agents that are being kicked around as possibilities are as follows:
Jason Williams, who has been offered a one-year deal.
Petr Sykora, who we also addressed in this article.
Maxim Afinogenov, who my Sabres fan friends tell me is useless.
Vinny Prospal, who was bought out by the Lightning this week.
Patrick Eaves, who was bought out by Boston after a trade from Carolina.
Alex Tanguay, but the Wings likely can’t afford the top remaining free agent.
Mats Sundin, who made a fortune last year and likely won’t decide until March if he wants to play again.
Mike Comrie, who went to U of M.
Mike Peca, who can’t stay healthy.
Mark Bell, who can’t stay out of trouble.
Marcel Goc, who I addressed way back when.
Blair Betts, likewise.
Dominic Moore.
Dan Fritsche, one of the younger UFAs this season.
Rob Niedermayer.
Jiri Novotny.
Peter Schaefer.

By the Numbers :: 21 – 30

Here’s your third installment of By the Numbers. 1-10 can be found here, and 11-20 can be found here.

This may be the last section of numbers with deep history, since there haven’t been many Hall of Famers wearing 51 and such… yet…


First Wearer :: Ken Kilrea, 1938
Current Wearer :: Ville Leino
Other Notables :: Marcel Pronovost, Andy Bathgate, Pete Mahovlich, Ron Stackhouse, Danny Grant, Adam Oates, Borje Salming, Bob Errey, Boyd Devereaux
The story of #21 :: It could have been Igor Grigorenko’s if he hadn’t limped back to Russia with his tail between his legs.


First Wearer :: Don Deacon, 1938
Current Wearer :: Brett Lebda
Other Notables :: Stu McNeill, Dennis Polonich, Dennis Hextall, Murray Craven, Brad Park, Dave Barr, Dino Ciccarelli, Mike Knuble, Yuri Butsayev
The story of #22 :: Nice run in 22 from Hextall to Knuble.


First Wearer :: Eddie Nicholson, 1947
Current Wearer :: Brad Stuart
Other Notables :: Johnny Wilson, Guy Charron, Robbie Ftorek, Basil McRae, Lee Norwood, Kevin Miller, Greg Johnson, Stacy Roest, Mathieu Schneider
The story of #23 :: Always seems like the number that’s just kind of GIVEN, ya know?


First Wearer :: Calum McKay, 1948
Most Recent Wearer :: Chris Chelios, 2009
Other Notables :: Bart Crashley, Gary Doak, Pete Mahovlich, Bob McCord, Randy Manery, Greg Joly, Bob Probert
The story of #24 :: Clearly reserved for badasses.


First Wearer :: Ed Stankiewicz, 1953
Most Recent Wearer :: Darren McCarty, 2009
Other Notables :: Hank Bassen, John Ogrodnick, Dave Lewis, Troy Crowder
The story of #25 :: Did you know John Ogrodnick is one of only six Red Wings to score 50 goals in a season?


First Wearer :: Doug Roberts, 1963
Most Recent Wearer :: Jiri Hudler, 2009
Other Notables :: Al Cameron, Steve Short, Jim Korn, Barry Melrose, Joey Kocur, Ray Sheppard, Wes Walz
The story of #26 :: What do you remember most: Barry Melrose’s mullet, Joe Kocur’s fists or Ray Sheppard’s hands?


First Wearer :: Frank Mahovlich, 1967
Most Recent Wearer :: Darryl Bootland, 2007
Other Notables :: Denis Dejordy, Buster Harvey, Bob Ritchie, Brent Peterson, Brad Smith, Reggie Leach, Darryl Sittler, Harold Snepsts, Doug Houda, Jim Cummins, Micah Aivazoff, Marc Bergevin, Aaron Ward, Fredrik Olausson, Patrick Boileau
The story of #27 :: Haaaaaaa-roooooold. Haaaaaa-roooooooold.


First Wearer :: Barry Salovaara, 1975
Current Wearer :: Brian Rafalski
Other Notables :: Reed Larson, Dallas Drake, Tomas Sandstrom, Yan Golubovsky, Steve Duchesne, Tomas Kopecky
The story of #28 :: Kopecky switched from 32 to 28, just in time for the Red Wings to acquire long-time 28 wearer Brian Rafalski.


First Wearer :: Terry Sawchuk, 1968
Most Recent Wearer :: Ty Conklin, 2009
Other Notables :: Brian McCutcheon, Tim Sheehy, Ted Nolan, Randy Ladouceur, Gilbert Delorme, Randy McKay, Dennis Vial, Mike Vernon, Jason Williams
The story of #29 :: All good memories of Mike Vernon were wiped away by Jason Williams.


First Wearer :: Hank Bassen, 1965
Current Wearer :: Chris Osgood
Other Notables :: Roger Crozier, Roy Edwards, Rogie Vachon, Greg Stefan
The story of #30 :: Of the 18 players to wear #30, only Ozzie, Stefan, and Edwards lasted more than a season in it.

It's Almost August!

Today is Jiri Hudler Arbitration Day — which means that, within 48 hours, we’ll all know exactly how much the Red Wings will be NOT paying him as he plays in Russia. As that story has caused more tummy aches than a box of Timbits (you’re welcome, Rob), the conclusion seems to be that there’s nothing the NHL can do to prevent Scuttles from playing in the KHL — which is just fine by the Red Wings, because they couldn’t afford to keep him anyway. Smart estimates have his arbitration award coming in between $3M and $4M for two-years.

The good news is that the Red Wings will maintain Hudler’s NHL rights – should he choose to return to North America after freezing his little ass off in Moscow. In a few years, $4M might seem like a bargain (commmmme onnnnn, economy!).

Over the last couple of days, we’ve become aware that the Red Wings have made a formal offer to former Wing Jason Williams (no, not that one….or that one… yeah, that one).

First of all, I’d like to point out that Chris Hollis called it. While there may be – as he called it – a line drawn in the sand among Red Wings fans, I’m going to go ahead and say that 90% of Red Wings fans are on the DO NOT WANT! side – and I’m one of them.

Not that Williams is a bad hockey player, but I have a feeling we could promote someone from within to fill the role of goat. Someone is always the weak link, but Jason Williams has already been that guy – and, as I said examining the trade – dumping his salary on Chicago was a very street smart move by Ken Holland.

Oh, and there’s also the little matter of the mutual disdain between Uncle Mike and J-Will.

There was a report that the offer Williams received was a one-year, $2.5 million deal – but it seems to have originated from a totally bogus rumor site that I won’t bother linking to. I find that number impossible to believe because I’m pretty sure Ken Holland didn’t turn retarded amid the roster turnover. Let’s put it this way – if the Red Wings sign Jason Williams for $2.5M, I’ll drop my pants and run a lap around the Empire State Building.

Williams is also considering an offer from the KHL. GET IT DONE, KREMLIN!

Revealed this morning by Malik, the Red Wings have inquired about former Penguin Petr Sykora. Apparently, there hasn’t been a formal offer, but some due dilligence is being done. And yes, I refuse to use the term “kick the tires.” Mostly because it’s been used overused by a handful of bloggers. You know who you are.

Anyway, Sykora had a very decent regular season but found himself a healthy scratch on occasion during the Penguins run to the Championship. For the right price, he finds himself in SORT OF WANT territory, as he may be able to fill a bit of the 90 goals the Red Wings lost this July.

Detroit native Mike Grier has expressed an interest in playing for the Wings, so sayeth another report from Winging it in Motown. After an injury-plagued season in San Jose, Grier finds himself without an employer for 2009-10, and the Wings would be wise to be in on that action.

Imagine Grier signing for under $1M to play in his hometown (which would be a cut from the $1.775M he made this past season)…the ability to pot a few, the willingness to mix it up should the need arise, the balls to say something derogatory to Chris Simon (allegedly)…

I think he’d be a good fit for the Wings. A hell of a lot better than Williams, anyway.

In anticipation of what is undeniably the most boring month of the year for hockey fans, I thought we’d take a moment to say goodbye to what was often a painful July:

July 1st was – as always – a gluttonous display of spending by the league’s general managers. Former Red Wings Marian Hossa, Tomas Kopecky, Ty Conklin, and Mikael Samuelsson found paydays around the Western Conference, and they were replaced with… well, nobody really. Detroit signed depth forwards Kris Newbury and Jeremy Williams and defensemen Doug Janik and Andy Delmore — all of whom seem destined for Grand Rapids.

Christy Hammond has a nice quote from the Windsor Star where Delmore indicates his admiration for the organization.

On the re-signing front, the Wings extended Jakub Kindl (a year before his contract came up), as well Ryan Oulahen and Evan McGrath. Kindl is slated to be the top defenseman call-up this season to prepare for a full-time slot in ’10-11. Oulahen and McGrath are likely going to be the veterans of the Griffins, but – given the roster situation in Detroit – are going to be given outside chances to fill out the fourth line.

38 days.

End to End Rush – The Pro's are a No-Go

I hope you’ve got HBO…because that’s the only place you’ll see something like this again.

I can already hear the objections to my argument. “B-b-b-but…the 20 best Americans will never play the 20 best Canadians who never play the 20 best Swedes who never play the 20 best Russians!”

And while that may be true, there are a handful of very good reasons to have NHL players abstain from the Olympics after the 2014 Sochi Games.

It’d be unfair to pull the players back now. Alexander Ovechkin has already been named an ambassador for the Games in Russia; and it would be less-than-cool to take the players away from the Sochi committee that have been counting on this kind of competition.

But since we’re over a year away from an announcement regarding the host city for the 2018 Games – and since the NHL’s role in the Olympics has become a hot-button issue lately – it’s a good time for this discussion.

And, hey, just to make it fair…I won’t even mention the injury risk that’s posed by playing high-energy championship-style games. Dominik Hasek took care of that argument in Torino.

Make no mistake, I understand the rationale that fans and viewers of an international hockey event want to see the best players on the planet. That makes total sense – but we already have a chance to see the greatest players on Earth collected in one place. It’s called the National Hockey League.

Let’s start with the most obvious reason, shall we? The Olympic Games themselves are built upon the ideal of competition among the best amateur athletes in the world. And while the Olympics have been slowly phasing out amateurism (the only true example of amateurs left in the Games is in the boxing competition), I still hold on to the romantic ideal that there’s something very exciting about seeing “the next wave” on that grand stage.

It’s very true that you may never see another Miracle on Ice – but that’s precisely what made 1980 so special: the long odds of a ragtag collection of kids beating what was correctly considered to be the strongest and most skilled group of players anywhere.

Under no other circumstances would you have known Mike Eruzione’s name.

For the next couple of minutes, please keep in mind that the NHL will still be the pinnacle of hockey achievement – regardless of your country of origin. Therefore, the best Swedes, Russians, and Finns will still be playing in it. If professionals were removed from the Olympics, it wouldn’t become NHL-level Euros against kids that play in Cedar Rapids, North Dakota, and in the OHL.

With the Olympics restricted to non-NHLers, we’ll have an opportunity to become familiar with the Ovechkins, Zetterbergs, and Crosbys of tomorrow, instead of seeing the same ones we’re graced with every day – just in different jerseys.

I hate to agree with anything the NBA or NFL does, but a small part of me believes they may be onto something delaying draft eligibility. While forcing a year or two of college wouldn’t work exactly the same for hockey (because of the prevalence of European players and those from junior) – and it’s not something I would ever, in a million years suggest – it does introduce an interesting situation.

Would 18- and 19-year old players hold off on pressing forward to the pro ranks if the possibility of representing their country in the Olympics existed?

It’s almost not worth bringing up because so few teenagers actually make the jump to the NHL, but it does raise an interesting conversation – at least internally – for the kids who hope to one day play for their nation.

Evgeni Malkin would have gone pro in 2006-07 no matter what. He was three years removed from an Olympic Games, and asking someone of that magnitude to hold off on going pro for three years is asking a lot.

But would Sidney Crosby and Dion Phaneuf have gone pro the year before – or is there a possibility that could have been enticed to remain in junior leagues knowing that they won’t get the chance to represent their country in the future (at the Olympic level, anyway)?

How about Patrick Kane? Steve Mason? Giving up a year or two of entry-level money for the chance to be an Olympic medalist? What about the non-Calder winners? Zach Bogosian? Josh Bailey? Zach Parise?

Fans of the Red Wings understand the importance of developing prospects slowly, and Holland & Co would have no issue with their players putting off their professional careers while competing against the world’s best amateurs – like a very select few get to do in the World Juniors Championship.

One thing that would definitely need to be changed – given my scenario – is the signing deadlines conundrum. Pro teams only get two years to sign their North American draft picks, and that’s potentially not enough time to have players keep their “amateur” status, depending on the draft year. Perhaps the “professional” tag is designated for those in the NHL only? But that would cause the stir of NHL vs. the KHL vs. other European leagues. Eh…That’s a debate for another day.

With the way things are right now, the NHL must cease operations for two weeks in the winter to allow select members to participate in the Games. And while I’m sure everyone that’s selected is beyond honored for the opportunity to play for their flag, there are hundreds of others who come to a jolting standstill in the middle of the season.

I only mildly believe in momentum throughout a season, but something should be said about the dead stop the regular season comes to at one of the more important parts of the season. Can the NHL – which is already teetering on second-class citizenship – afford to void February for the sake of a glorified tournament? Is enough interest in hockey generated by the Olympic Games to make it worth the League’s while?

If you can tell me the exposure is beneficial to the NHL and to hockey as a whole, then – yeah – I would keep the pros in the Olympics. But you can’t.

The best professional athletes belong in the NHL, the NBA, and at Soccer’s World Cup – but not at the Olympics. It was recently brought up, perhaps ironically, that hockey would be better at the Summer Games – as it wouldn’t interrupt the NHL season and the threat of season-ending injury would be less worrisome. As ridiculous as it sounds – hockey wedged between Track & Field and Swimming – it makes a bit more sense than the way things are right now.

Photo Credit: AP

Wings sign Andy Delmore

***THE CHART has been updated***

Kevin Allen of USA Today is reporting via Twitter that the Red Wings have signed defenseman Andy Delmore.

Delmore – you may recall – was a free agent training camp invitee of the Red Wings a few years back, was signed to a contract, but was claimed on waivers by the Blue Jackets before playing a game for Detroit.

After playing 08-09 in Germany, it appears Delmore is heading back to North America. Since it’s clear he won’t be competing for a spot on the Red Wings blueline, this is likely a Griffins signing.

He has played with the Flyers, Predators, Sabres, and Blue Jackets in his seven NHL seasons.

Babcock’s Death Stare has a nice write-up on the signing.

TPL Profiles :: Jimmy Howard

35 Jimmy HOWARD
Goaltender / Ogdensburg, New York
AGE :: 25
SIZE :: 6-0 / 215
ACQUIRED :: 2003 Draft [2 / 64]
CONTRACT :: Enter the second year of a 3-year deal [2011], which has become a one-way contract
CAP HIT :: $716,667
EXPERIENCE :: 2009-10 will be his first full NHL season
LIKELY ROLE :: Backup goaltender

ACCOMPLISHMENTS :: 2002 IIHF U-18 Champion

1. Exciting home-grown goaltending prospect
2. He’s a big guy who plays even bigger
3. Is semi-famous for coming up the opportune save

ONE REASON TO HATE HIM :: De-facto backup who was unable to piece together a dominating AHL season, despite getting four chances.

RANDOM FACT :: Is the most recent Red Wing to wear #35. The first? Ken Holland. I guess that’s more of a Ken Holland fact. Shut up – he’s still a rookie.

1. Big body
2. Big-time potential
3. Clutch at all the other levels

1. Inconsistency
2. Focus
3. Occasional rebound control

ONE-LINER :: “He keeps us in every game.” – Griffins GM Bob McNamara

HE’S A FAVORITE OF :: Stewie, Peter, Brian, Black bears, late bloomers.

BIO :: Jimmy Howard is accomplished at every level of hockey so far: a veteran of the national program (including a U-18 championsihp), three very impressive seasons of college hockey at Maine (including the aforementioned records), four seasons in the AHL (the first of which saw him join the All-Rookie team).
He saw time in the NHL in three of his four pro seasons – but has yet to impress at the top level. For a guy who has long been the “Future of Wings goaltending,” he’s walking into the jungle with little else besides a flashlight that’s low on batteries. He’ll get tested – and he’ll get tested often, and Wings fans that are notoriously hard on goaltenders. Will he be eaten alive or will he pull a Babcock and become the big game hunter we all hope?

FUTURE :: It’s officially sink or swim time for James. When the Wings told Ty Conklin that they wouldn’t be bringing him back, they were putting a lot of faith in Howard’s ability to be more than a Black Ace. While no one expects him to challenge Osgood for starts, there are grumblings about Jimmy Howard’s ability to even play backup in the League. He’s out of waiver exemption, so if Holland & Co think he’s not playing up to snuff, expect a trade for a goaltender at the deadline.


Photo Credit: Getty Images

Toledo Walleye Tryouts

Newly re-named Red Wings ECHL affiliate, the Toledo Walleye, will apparently be holding tryouts. Unfortunately, spots for this season’s free agent tryout are all filled, but the website has a form to fill out to be contacted for future tryouts.

Red Wings fans may remember the Walleye better as the Storm, as they’ve undergone a re-branding of sorts.

The Red Wings are expected to send one of their goaltending prospects to Toledo for the season, as starts will be limited if all three are kept on the Griffins. Daniel Larsson is a lock to play in Grand Rapids this season, so the battle will come down to Thomas McCollum and Jordan Pearce. One would argue that McCollum is more polished than Pearce, but he’s also three years younger, and would (perhaps) benefit from getting the majority of starts in the ECHL as opposed to playing backup in the AHL.

Thoughts? I know Kyle‘s going to get in on this conversation, and I can’t wait to see who he thinks it’ll be.

My early line? Pearce 3:2.

TPL Profiles :: Brett Lebda

22 Brett LEBDA
Defenseman / Buffalo Grove, Illinois
AGE :: 27
SIZE :: 5-9 / 195
ACQUIRED :: Signed to a contract after a 2004 Tryout
CONTRACT :: Entering the final year of a 4-year deal [2010]
CAP HIT :: $650,000
DRAFT :: Was not drafted
EXPERIENCE :: 2009-10 will be his 5th NHL season – all with the Red Wings
LIKELY ROLE :: Sixth / seventh defenseman
ACCOMPLISHMENTS :: 2008 Stanley Cup Champion
1. Very fast skater
2. Not afraid to pinch I the offensive zone, yet still gets back to play D
3. Has shown a willingness to play wing if it keeps him in the lineup

ONE REASON TO HATE HIM :: Participated in the Detroit Sucks chant growing up in the Chicago area. Bastard.

RANDOM FACT :: Scored his first NHL game on opening night in 2005 – the first Red Wing to do that since Greg Johnson twelve years earlier.
1. Speed
2. Offensive potential
1. Small size
2. Lack of physicality

ONE-LINER :: “We’re glad we don’t have to practice in the morning.” – at a stage we like to call “Professor” Lebda

HE’S A FAVORITE OF :: Leprechauns, Speedy Gonzales, Mrs. O’Leary’s Cow, Charlie Weis.

BIO :: One of a handful of Fighting Irish in the NHL, Brett Lebda joins Brian Rafalski on the Wings’ blueline as every day contributors that had gone undrafted. Invited to camp on a free agent tryout, he impressed the brass with his speed and smart play enough to earn himself a contract.

After spending the lockout season in Grand Rapids, Lebda was in the Wings lineup for the first post-lockout game – scoring his first NHL goal in the second period of his first game. He bounced back and forth between Grand Rapids and Detroit, but was soon a regular for the Red Wings.

FUTURE :: As we’ve mentioned before, the Wings plan on moving a defenseman after training camp if Lilja’s healthy enough to play. The popular choice seemed to be Derek Meech, but I’d argue that Lebda is more likely to be traded. He counts a bit more toward the cap (although still not much), he’s more NHL-polished, and he’ll garner a higher return. If he’s not traded in September, it’s a safe bet this will be his final season in red and white, with guys like Ericsson and Kindl gearing up to take over in 2010-11.


Photo Credit: