Scratch another one off the list

This morning, it’s being reported that PJ Axelsson has signed with Frolunda of the SEL for four years.

I don’t want to give the impression that I’m heartbroken Axelsson won’t be joining the Red Wings, but he was a guy on the list we put together a few weeks back clarifying who might be a good fit. The former Bruin was one of the more expensive options from that article, so it stands to reason that he may have been priced out Detroit’s plans to pursue him.

Perhaps more interesting is whether or not he was receiving decent NHL offers. Not to put down the Elitserien, but it isn’t the NHL – and yet another quality NHL player is headed overseas.

This will, like the Hudler/Radulov conversations and Fedorov conversations, shine a bright light on the salary cap and whether it does more damage to the League than help it (a conversation for another day).

Long story short – cross Axelsson off your wish list.

By the Numbers :: 11 – 20

In a continuation of yesterday’s inaugural By the Numbers segment, here are the teens!


First Wearer :: Hobie Kitchen, 1926
Current Wearer :: Dan Cleary
Other Notables :: Marty Pavelich, Vic Stasiuk, Pete Mahovlich, Walt McKechnie, Rick Bowness, Shawn Burr, Mathieu Dandenault
The story of #11 :: Was also worn by yours truly, in college.
Retired in 1992 :: Sid Abel
First Wearer :: Fred Gordon, 1926
Last Wearer :: Mike Sillinger, 1992
Other Notables :: Larry Aurie (briefly), Red Green (really?), Metro Prystai (again), Bruce MacGregor, Marcel Dionne, Bryan Hextall, Adam Graves, Sheldon Kennedy, Jimmy Carson
The story of #12 :: As mentioned in yesterday’s comments section – Jimmy Carson becomes the only Red Wing to wear two different eventually-retired numbers.
First Wearer :: Gizzy Hart, 1926
Current Wearer :: Pavel Datsyuk
Other Notables :: Vyacheslav Kozlov
The story of #13 :: That’s it. Only three wearers of 13 ever. And there was 65 years in between the first and Slava Kozlov.
First Wearer :: Herb Stuart, 1926
Current Wearer :: Derek Meech
Other Notables :: Bud Bruneteau, Ted Lindsay (for three years), Bep Guidolin, Glen Skov, Nick Libbett, Lane Lambert, Brent Ashton, Randy McKay, Brent Fedyk, Brendan Shanahan
The story of #14 :: If Shanny had retired instead of moving on to the Rangers, Meech wouldn’t have been allowed to switch from #36 to this storied sweater.
First Wearer :: Jack Arbour, 1926
Most Recent Wearer :: Josh Langfeld, 2007
Other Notables :: Reg Noble, Bill Quackenbush, Marty Pavelich, Alex Delvecchio (for FOUR years), Billy Dea, Robbie Ftorek, Paul “Radio Play-by-Play” Woods, Mel Bridgman, Paul MacLean, Sheldon Kennedy, Mike Ramsey, Tomas Holmstrom (‘memba that?), Todd Gill, Dmitri Mironov, Pat Verbeek, Jason Woolley
The story of #15 :: Been passed around more than Elisha Cuthbert. Too soon?
First Wearer :: Leroy Goldsworthy, 1930
Most Recent Wearer :: Vladimir Konstantinov, 1997
Other Notables :: Carl Voss, Bill Jennings, Bill Quackenbush (homeboy’s all over this list), Johnny Wilson, Norm Ullman, Michel Bergeron, Kelly Kisio, John Chabot
The story of #16 :: Unlike Fischer’s #2, which has been re-distributed at camps, no one has put on a #16 Red Wings sweater since Vladdy, and its a safe bet it’ll be a while before someone does.
First Wearer :: Frank Frederickson, 1930
Most Recent Wearer :: Dallas Drake, 2008
Other Notables :: Gordie Howe (as a teenager), Tim Ecclestone, Mike Foligno, Ed Johnstone, Gerard Gallant, Doug Brown, Brett Hull, Kyle Calder, Brad Norton
The story of #17 :: This is the highest number to be worn during the Falcons/Cougars days.
First Wearer :: Bob Davis, 1932
Current Wearer :: Kirk Maltby
Other Notables :: Jim Conacher, Marcel Pronovost, Al Arbour, Gary Bergman, Danny Gare, Kris King, Mike Krushelnyski
The story of #18 :: Worn by the captain before The Captain.
Retired in 2007 :: Steve Yzerman
First Wearer :: Sid Abel, 1938 (how bout them apples?)
Other Notables :: Marty Pavelich (what’s with all these guys switching numbers?), Vic Stasiuk, Murray Costello, Pete Stemkowski, Randy Ladouceur
The story of #19 :: It’s only right that the banner has a “C” on it.
First Wearer :: Red Keating, 1938
Most Recent Wearer :: Aaron Downey, 2008
Other Notables :: Red Kelly, Johnny Bucyk, Len Lunde, Lowell MacDonald, Dean Prentice, Mickey Redmond, Vaclav Nedomansky, Martin Lapointe, Luc Robitaille, Robert Lang
The story of #20 :: BINGO BANGO! The first jersey to score 50-goals for the Red Wings.

By the Numbers :: 1 – 10

It’s the middle of July. It’s the weekend. Yup, I’m officially bored.

With hockey news and stories dwindling as free agency approaches Week #4 — and the weekends being notoriously slow in the hockey world anyway — I thought we’d do something fun and totally inconsequentially ’round these parts at the Production Line: take a look at some numbers.

But not statistics or contract details (ya know… numbers that kind of sort of matter), we’re going to look at jersey numbers.

With the help of a couple websites, I read through all the players that wore each sweater number in Detroit – whether it was with the Cougars, Falcons, or the Red Wings. Listed below are the first wearer, the current or most recent wearer (NHL regular/post-season games ONLY), and other notables throughout the years — the Hall-of-Famers, the nostalgic chioces, and the downright ridiculous.


Retired in 1994 :: Terry Sawchuk
First Wearer :: Harry “Hap” Holmes, 1926
Last Wearer :: Glen Hanlon, 1991
Others Notables :: Alec Connell, Cecil “Tiny” Thompson, Johnny Mowers, Harry Lumley, Glenn Hall, Roger Crozier, Jim Rutherford, Corrado Micalef.
The story of #1 :: Plenty of Hall-of-Famers and NHL executives in that list. Oh, and Glen Hanlon.

First Wearer :: Clem Loughlin, 1926
Most Recent Wearer :: Jiri Fischer, 2006
Other Notables :: Jack Stewart, Al Arbour, Jim Schoenfeld, Barry Melrose, Mike O’Connell, Brad McCrimmon, Ulf Samuelsson, Derian Hatcher.
The story of #2 :: While it’s not technically retired (in fact, it’s been used the last two prospect camps), no one has worn number 2 since Jiri Fischer collapsed on the bench in November, 2005.

First Wearer :: Pete Bellefeuille, 1926
Current Wearer :: Andreas Lilja
Other Notables :: Bill Quackenbush, Marcel Pronovost, Steve Chiasson.
The story of #3 :: RIP Steve Chiasson.

First Wearer :: Archie Briden, 1926
Most Recent Wearer :: Kyle Quincey, 2008
Other Notables :: Harry Meeking, George Hay, Sid Abel (briefly), Red Kelly, Bill Gadsby, Bob Baun, Colin Campbell, Rick Zombo, Mark Howe, Uwe Krupp.
The story of #4 :: Red Kelly arguably began drawing the blueprint for the current Red Wings philosophy on the blueline.


First Wearer :: Frank Frederickson, 1926
Current Wearer :: Nicklas Lidstrom
Other Notables :: Ebbie Goodfellow, Leo Reise, Doug Harvey, Serge Lajeunesse, Marcel Dionne, Darren Veitch.
The story of #5 :: When Lidstrom retires, it will never be worn again.
Reserved in 1938 :: Larry Aurie
First Wearer :: Jack Walker, 1926
Most Recent Wearer :: Cummy Burton, 1959
The story of #6 :: There’s a lot of kurfuffle made about Aurie’s number 6 (which I refuse to get into here), but there’s little doubt as to his historic role in Detroit hockey – playing for all three incarnations of the team.
Retired in 1991 :: Ted Lindsay
First Wearer :: Russell Oatman, 1926
Most Recent Wearer :: Tom Bissett, 1991
Other Notables :: George Hay (again), Hec Kilrea, Ken Kilrea, Brian Kilrea, Carl Liscombe, Norm Ullman, Garry Unger, Red Berenson, Tony McKegney.
The story of #7 :: Woo baby, look at that list!
First Wearer :: Art Duncan, 1926
Current Wearer :: Justin Abdelkader
Other Notables :: Syd Howe, Guy Charron, Dennis Polonich, Claude Loiselle, Ted Nolan, Dave Silk, Mark Lamb, Jim Nill, Igor Larionov, Jiri Fischer (during “The Hatcher Years”), Matt Ellis.
The story of #8 :: Handful of coaches, and a professor, on that list.
Retired in 1972 :: Gordie Howe
First Wearer :: John Sheppard, 1926
Most Recent Wearer :: Gordie Howe, 1970
Other Notables :: Sid Abel (again, briefly), Roy Conacher
The story of #9 :: The first banner at the Joe says everything.
Retired in 1991 :: Alex Delvecchio
First Wearer :: Frank Foyston, 1926
Most Recent Wearer :: Jimmy Carson, 1991
Other Notables :: Frank Sheppard, Bobby Connors, Ebbie Goodfellow (briefly), Carson Cooper, Carl Liscombe, Metro Prystai, Dale McCourt, Ron DuGuay, Joe Murphy
The story of #10 :: Is Metro Prystai the coolest name you heard today? Yes. Yes, it is.

TPL Profiles :: Derek Meech

14 Derek MEECH
Defenseman / Winnipeg, Manitoba

AGE :: 25
SIZE :: 5-11 / 197
ACQUIRED :: 2002 Draft [7 / 229]
CONTRACT :: Final Year of a 3-year deal [2010]
CAP HIT :: $483,333
:: 2009-10 will be his 3rd NHL season, all with the Red Wings
LIKELY ROLE :: 7th Defenseman

ACCOMPLISHMENTS :: 2001 Memorial Cup Champion, 2008 Stanley Cup Champion

DEFINING MOMENT :: Fair or not, he is viewed by many to be the guy that cost the Red Wings Kyle Quincey.

1. Willing and able to play both defense and wing
2. Salary is only SLIGHTLY higher than ours at TPL
3. A strong skater that is very efficient with his strides

ONE REASON TO HATE HIM :: Clearly a prodigy, he was able to teach himself how to play the guitar using only the internet. Word?

RANDOM FACT :: He is the only current Red Wing to have a Memorial Cup Championship to go with his Stanley Cup

1. Hockey sense
2. Underrated breakout pass
3. Very talented skater

1. Lack of playing time results in bonehead plays once in a while
2. Size – especially for a defenseman
3. Buried on the depth chart

HE’S A FAVORITE OF ::  Underdog.

BIO :: Meech played five seasons with the Red Deer Rebels of the WHL, where he was the defensive partner of future NHL All-Star Dion Phaneuf, before joining the Griffins for another three. He was an AHL All-Star during his final season on the farm.

By 2007-08, he had joined the Red Wings full-time, working his way into the lineup as an injury replacement – usually as a defenseman, but occasionally as a forward. Despite not playing in enough games to have his name engraved on the Cup, the Wings successfully petitioned the League to make an exception.

In 2008-09, Meech played in exactly half of the regular season games, and also got into two playoff games.

FUTURE :: The writing may be on the wall for Derek Meech, after GM Ken Holland made it known that he had every intention of trading a defenseman during or after training camp (Andreas Lilja’s health permitting). Despite the departure of Chris Chelios, the emergence of Jonathan Ericsson has kept Derek Meech in healthy scratch territory and he may be on the move. However, thanks to his versatility and incredibly cheap price tag, he may again serve as the team’s seventh defenseman.


 Photo Credit: Dave Guralnick, Detroit News

Sad Trombone with a Vengeance


In a continuation of our tangentially-Red Wings-related musings about the former All-World General Manager Dale Tallon, we bring you Due Diligence Part II, Electric Boogaloo.

We all knew Marian Hossa’s shoulder has had some lingering issues – Holland knew before the Wings signed him, and it’s become public knowledge over the last few weeks.

Sean Leahy of Puck Daddy did a bit of digging, and it seems that Marian Hossa was in Slovakia at the time of Free Agency’s opening days (Marian’s vacation timing seems to be as good as his scoring slumps), and therefore was NOT GIVEN A PHYSICAL by the Blackhawks.

Blackhawks’ spokesman Brandon Faber had this to say:

After his contract was approved by the NHL on July 10 we brought him to Chicago to be examined by his doctor.

I mean… I’m no economist (the market’s good right now, right?), but it seems to me that if I’m giving a man $62.8 million dollars, the very least I could do is make sure his arm works. Faber covers his ass with:

We knew about the injury before the physical so once the physical was given, all it did was confirm what we already knew.

That’s some mighty fine police work there, Lou.

I’m pretty sure I can get a nice Production Line-sponsored pool for the over/under on Hossa Games Played this season. Who wants in?

Photo Credit: Phil Velasquez, Chicago Tribune

TPL Profiles :: Kris Draper

 33 Kris DRAPER
Center / Toronto, Ontario
AGE :: 38
SIZE :: 5-10 / 178
ACQUIRED :: 1993 Trade with Winnipeg [One dollar]
CONTRACT :: Entering the second season of 3-year “35 and over” deal [2011] featuring a no-trade clause.
CAP HIT :: $1,583,333
DRAFT :: Selected by Winnipeg in the 1989 draft [3 / 62]
EXPERIENCE :: 2009-10 will be his 19th NHL season – and 16th with the Red Wings
LIKELY ROLE :: Fourth line center

ACCOMPLISHMENTS :: 1997 Stanley Cup Champion, 1998 Stanley Cup Champion, 2002 Stanley Cup Champion, 2008 Stanley Cup Champion, 2004 Selke Trophy Winner

DEFINING MOMENT :: Having his face re-arranged by Claude Lemieux

1. Potentially the most beautiful skater in Red Wings history
2. An example of the value of a dollar
3. Locker-room prankster

ONE REASON TO HATE HIM :: A dookie was blasted into the Cup on his watch…which happened AFTER it was filled with Timbits (you’re welcome, Rob).

RANDOM FACT :: One of only a handful of players to play in the AHL and NHL prior to the OHL. 

1. Arguable Hall of Famer penalty killer
2. Award-winning defensive prowess
3. Annually one of the best faceoff men in the game
4. Ridiculous speed and precision
5. Captain-like leadership
6. Ability to lighten the mood in the room

1. Not the offensive threat he was a few years ago
2. Quasi-reckless style of play can lead to injury
3. Inconsistent scorer

ONE-LINER :: “I got to have my face rearranged to start a rivalry” – Kris Draper

HE’S A FAVORITE OF :: The Flash, pie-lovers, anyone who’s glad someone finally called out Sidney Crosby on his leadership skills.

BIO :: Born in Toronto, Kris Draper was very involved with the Canadian National program – including two goes-around with the World Junior squad. He was drafted in the third round of the 1989 draft by the Winnipeg, but saw very little action with the Jets. In one of the more one-sided trades in NHL history, the Red Wings sent $1 to Winnipeg for the rights to Draper.

1,009 games, a Selke, five World Championship appearances with Team Canada, and four Stanley Cups later, Kris Draper finds himself in elite company – joining only Gordie Howe, Alex Delvecchio, Steve Yzerman, and Nicklas Lidstrom – as one of the five players to play 1,000 games with the Red Wings.

Draper was named one of the team’s alternate captains in 2006-07, a role he seems born to fill. You’d be hard-pressed to find a more beloved teammate or anyone who bleeds more – well – red. Maybe his blood cells are red and white? …Damn!
FUTURE :: A handful of fans – and, yes, even a few short-sighted reporters – are beginning to question Kris Draper’s role on the team given the emergence of Darren Helm. While his speed may be declining, there’s no denying his abilities in the faceoff circle and the unquestioned leadership he adds to an already-veteran organization. He will be 40 when his current contract expires, and smart money would be on hearing Drapes call it a career, ending one of the more storied Red Wings careers ever.


Photo Credit: Dave Reginek, NHLI via Getty Images and

Detroit Extends Jakub Kindl

Get used to seeing this

The Red Wings didn’t bother letting Jakub Kindl get to restricted free agency, signing the top blueline prospect to a 3-year, $2.65M extension.

At the NHL level – where Kindl WILL be playing by the 2010-2011 season – his new deal will earn him $750,000 the first year, $850,000 the second, and $1.05M the third. The cap hit for the duration is $883,333. He will remain a restricted free agent upon the contract’s expiration in 2013.

This is an early report, so I haven’t heard any other relevant details yet, but it’s safe to assume that these three years are One-Way, meaning that even if Kindl is demoted to Grand Rapids (unlikely), he’ll still be paid these figures.

This is very clearly a wise signing by the Wings. Many prospect outlets have Kindl listed as the top Wings prospect at any position, and we all know the Wings blueline-centric philosophy. Kindl has yet to get into a regular season game with the Wings (thanks to the surplus of defenseman the last few years), but has made a habit of being one of the final players cut from training camp.

Expect him to be the top call-up for the big squad in 2009-2010.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Red Wings re-sign Oulahen and McGrath, and a note about McCreary

McGrath and Oulahen

The Red Wings announced that they have re-signed restricted free agents Ryan Oulahen and Evan McGrath to one-year two-way deals. There were no financial terms given, but it’s safe to assume they’re worth near-league minimum at the NHL level. For what it’s worth, Oulahen’s contract last season was worth $475,000 in the big leagues, and McGrath’s was worth $633,333.

As Kyle at Babcock’s Death Stare shares, both of these signings are probably for the Griffins – and both will be big-time AHL veterans. However, as Kyle mentions, it wouldn’t be absurd to think that one of them could fill that fourth line role we mentioned last week.
Randall Gelech (the last remaining RFA who isn’t named Jiri Hudler) was not qualified, became an unrestricted free agent, and is unlikely to be re-signed by Detroit. Expect him to become a depth signing in someone’s organization like Jeremy Williams and Kris Newbury were for the Red Wings earlier this month.
Gelech, Hudler, Chelios, Downey, and McCarty are the outstanding free agents, as of July 23rd.
With McGrath and Oulahen signing contracts, the Red Wings now have 43 players under contract, leaving 7 openings. Last year, after training camp, the Red Wings had 47 players counting against their 50-man roster limit.
The NHL announced that Bill McCreary and Greg Kimmerly will referee the NHL Premiere (that aren’t actually Premiere) games between the Detroit Red Wings and St. Louis Blues. McCreary’s presence at this game ensures that EVERYTHING IMAGINABLE will be done make sure the Pittsburgh Penguins win…. I mean….

TPL Profiles :: Kirk Maltby

18 Kirk MALTBY
Left Winger / Guelph, Ontario

AGE :: 36
SIZE :: 6-0 / 185
ACQUIRED :: 1996 Trade with Edmonton [for Daniel McGillis]
CONTRACT :: Final Year of a 3-year deal [2010]
CAP HIT :: $883,333
DRAFT :: Selected by Edmonton in the 1992 draft [3 / 65]
EXPERIENCE :: 2009-10 will be his 16th NHL season – and 13th with the Red Wings
LIKELY ROLE :: Fourth line winger

ACCOMPLISHMENTS :: 1997 Stanley Cup Champion, 1998 Stanley Cup Champion, 2002 Stanley Cup Champion, 2008 Stanley Cup Champion

1. Relentless penalty killer
2. Agitator capable of drawing dumb penalties
3. One of the five guys to win all four Cups with the Wings

ONE REASON TO HATE HIM :: Having to wait two decades for Landon or Leighton to be the next Red Wing Maltby.

RANDOM FACT :: Of the 264 players selected in the 1992 draft, only Roman Hamrlik has played more NHL games than Kirk Maltby.

1. Ability to get under opponents’ skin
2. Penalty killing
3. Poise
4. Unbelievably consistent
5. Ups his game in the post-season
1. Declining speed
2. Occasional untimely penalty

ONE-LINER :: “When you need that extra hit, he’s there.” – Chris Chelios

HE’S A FAVORITE OF :: Hard-working, underappreciated, smallish guys and gals who were probably told they didn’t have the stuff to be a long-time contributor.

BIO :: After very productive junior career, Kirk Maltby was drafted by the Oilers in the third round of the 1992 draft. After two-plus seasons in Edmonton, he was traded to the Red Wings for defenseman Dan McGillis – who went to a respectable career with the Oilers, Flyers, Sharks, Bruins and Devils.
Few could predict what Maltby would mean to the Red Wings during their dynastic ‘90s and ‘00s. As one of two permanent members of the Grind Line, his dedication to hustle paced the energy and grit that were integral parts of the 1997, 1998, 2002, and 2008 Stanley Cup Championships.
Paired with Kris Draper, the two would form one of the greatest penalty killing tandems in recent memory. It’s difficult to remember a shorthanded situation that – at some point during the two minutes – didn’t involve Kirk Maltby. In addition to eating valuable kill time, Maltby can be relied upon to net a goal or 14 (a career-high, attained in 1998, 2003, and 2004). Of his 124 career NHL goals, 20 came shorthanded.

FUTURE :: At 36, Maltby is clearly on the downward side of the mountain, though still a very productive hockey player. His short-handed time-on-ice per game has declined sharply the last few years (as seen below) – probably a result of the emergence of Pavel, Hank, and Mule moreso than Maltby’s play. He’s entering the final year of his contract, and it’s safe to assume that a grinder like Justin Abdelkader or Darren Helm will take his place on the Red Wings in the very near future. If 09-10 is to be Kirk Maltby’s swan song in the Winged Wheel, he deserves 41 home-crowd standing ovations for his 13 full seasons of dedication to the red and white.
Photo Credit: Jamie Squire, Getty Images North America

Hawk Hossa Harboring Hurtful Hinge…Hi-Fives Hindered

Hey, did you hear that? It sounded like every trombone in Michigan – any millions of others around the world – simultaneously playing the same four notes.

Tim Sassone of the Chicago Daily Herald reported late Tuesday night that Marian Hossa has a bum shoulder – or possibly a rotator cuff injury:
The severity of the injury is not known, although it is possible Hossa might need surgery, which could put him out of the Hawks lineup until December. The Hawks are monitoring Hossa while he rehabs the injury, believed to have been suffered during the playoffs.

As a human being and a former hockey player, I wish Marian well and hope for a speedy recovery with as little pain as possible through the rehabilitation process. But as Red Wing fan, I’d like to point and laugh.

Wyshynski snarks that Hossa was probably injured while shouldering the responsibility of picking the wrong team as favorites, but the comment of the day goes to Puck Daddy poster redwings55x, who says:

The article says something about him being injured in the playoffs. That can’t be right, I don’t even remember seeing him in the playoffs.

Pure gold, sir.

Photo Credit: AP