Red Wings Roundtable

Last week, Christy Hammond of Winging it in Motown and Hockeytown Blog sent me an email asking if I’d be so kind as take part in a Red Wings blogger roundtable, and – obviously – I said I’d be honored.

Over the next eleven days, each of the following blogs will host a question that all the others answered. The Production Line’s question – and collection of answers from our contemporaries – will be right here on Sunday.

Rob and I are sincerely appreciative for the opportunity and would like to send an extra special thank you Christy’s way. It’s been a really cool experience already and we’re flattered to be a part of it.

Today’s first edition is courtesy of Winging it in Motown. Tomorrow will be George James Malik’s Snapshots.

Be sure to check in with these guys during the next ten days:

The Triple Deke
Bingo Bango
Snipe Snipe Dangle Dangle
Nightmare on Helm Street
On the Wings
Babcock’s Death Stare
Abel to Yzerman
Motown Wings

Former Wing Mike Sillinger Calls it a Day

Delta stock dropped 38% with the announcement…
I’m a little late with this news, but thought it was worth mentioning nonetheless.

Former Red Wing Mike Sillinger announced his retirement from the NHL yesterday, ending a 17-year career spanning 1049 games, but only 43 post-season games.

He broke into the league with the Red Wings during the 1990-91 season – and I had the great pleasure of meeting him at an event when I was about 9. He was very funny, very friendly, and has been one of my favorite hockey players since.

He’s the answer to two trivia questions: “who has played on more NHL teams than anyone else?” – and “who has been traded the most times?”

Mike played for the Wings, Ducks, Canucks, Flyers, Lightning, Panthers, Senators, Blue Jackets, Coyotes, Blues, Predators and Islanders.

Enjoy retirement. Thanks for the memories.

Nothing Says Greek Like Nashville!

Chris Chelios, pictured here circa 1923.
With rumors that Chris Chelios had hoped to continue his Hall of Fame career with the Rangers or Maple Leafs, it seems that a new suitor has emerged from the fiery depths of hell and country music (redundant): the Nashville Predators.

John Glennon of the Tennessean – who, all jokes aside, is a great hockey writer – has this little nugget to share with bile-swallowing Red Wings fans:
One of the names being tossed around is 47-year-old Chris Chelios, whose abrasive style of play and frequent conversations with referees often made him a target of Predators fans.
Glennon continues along that “Chelios is not well-liked in Nashville” storyline. But, seriously, what else is new? He was arguably the most hated non-Red Wing before his trade to Motown and was instantly cheered at the Joe.
Barry Trotz, neckless head coach of the Predators, shared a conversation he’s had with Chelios, and it sorta sums it all up:
“I said, ‘Chris, are you sure you’d have the interest of playing in Nashville, because you’re not exactly well-liked here?’ ” Trotz said. “He said, ‘Trotzy, trust me, I’m not well-liked anywhere.’ I said ‘Yeah, I guess you’re right.’ ”
So much for that streak of 25 years with only Original Six teams.


Jiri! Jiri! When will we be allowed to move on?!
Don’t say I didn’t warn you. Just when we, as Wings fans, were making peace with the Jiri Hudler fiasco and departure (and moving on to full-blown hatred for Jason Williams / Todd Bertuzzi), The Scuttles Saga rears its ugly head once more.

Yesterday, David Staples of the Cult of Hockey passed along this little nugget – from Peter Adler, who is apparently a Euro hockey “expert,” regarding our dear departed midget:

The International Ice Hockey Federation is refusing to grant Jiri Hudler his transfer card, which means he is not allowed to practice or play for his new team, Moscow Dynamo, reports Sovietski Sport.
Without this card, Hudler can’t play in any IIHF-sanctioned game. The Russian league is under the domain of the IIHF, hence Hudler’s current problem.

At the risk of sounding like the Slap Chop guy…But wait! There’s more! Obviously, with the Wings signing Patrick Eaves, Jason Williams, and Todd Bertuzzi, it was assumed that we’d be without the services of Hudler, and – as the article goes on to say – that was just fine by the Red Wings.

The IIHF’s stance is baffling to Alexander Medvedev, chief of the KHL, because both the Detroit Red Wings, Hudler’s NHL team, and the Czech federation have given permission to Hudler to play for Dynamo, according to Medvedev.

So, as Kyle at Babcock’s Death Stare goes into, there will be quite the cap crunch should Jiri Hudler be forced to play for the Red Wings in 2009-10. They’re already slightly over the cap (thanks, Todd!), but crisis may be averted if Lilja’s gone for an extended period of time. If Hudler’s contract comes back onto the books, there’s a big, big problem.
Granted, the following information hasn’t been confirmed by a quote-unquote reputable source, but knowing how the KHL operates, it wouldn’t surprise me. From @rushockey, via Twitter:
KHL President Medvedev: KHL will allow Hudler to play transfer card or not.
I mean… it’s not TSN, but it does sound an awful lot like something the KHL and Mr. Medvedev would do, does it not?

So, perhaps we’re
out of the woods once again… if Hudler is to play in the NHL next season, what do the Wings do? Attempt to trade him? Attempt to waive/trade another veteran of the team (the interweb’s favorite choices seem to be Maltby and Holmstrom)? I’ll address the numbers when it becomes apparent he’s coming back, but for now – I’ll trust Ken Holland’s “he’s playing in Russia – end of story” declaration.
Photo Credit: Carlos Osorio, AP

Meet Your New/Old Red Wings

Alright, numberphiles. Get your inhalers.

With Red Wings Central’s announcement of the Training Camp Roster, we learn what numbers the new additions will be wearing this upcoming season. Jason Williams and Todd Bertuzzi take over their old digs in #29 and #44. Newcomer Patrick Eaves will be in Dougie Brown, Brett Hull, and Dallas Drake’s #17.

As of right now, Darren Helm is staying in 43, and Jonathan Ericsson kept 52.

A handful of notable call-ups and their reasonably-low jersey numbers:

4 Andy Delmore
8 Justin Abdelkader
15 Jeremy Williams
27 Ryan Oulahen
31 Daniel Larsson
32 Kris Newbury
37 Doug Janik
38 Thomas McCollum

At the moment, only five free agents have been accepted invitations. We’ve already mentioned goaltender Chris Whitley and forwards Willie Coetzee and Austin Fyten. No sign of Randy Cameron on that list, although we mentioned a few weeks ago that he would be in attendance.

The two new names are Francis Lemieux, a Grand Rapids Griffin, and local boy John Vigilante. Kyle at Babcock’s Death Stare has a nice write-up on the two of them – we suggest you give it a read.

Capology :: The Sky Is Falling Edition

With the addition of Todd Bertuzzi to the Red Wings, it’s fair to say they’re done signing folks. As it stands right now, there are 13 forwards, 8 defensemen, and 2 goaltenders. These figures include Darren Helm, but not include Justin Abdelkader (who is CERTAINLY bound for Grand Rapids now). And now to the numbers…

G – Osgood (1.416)
G – Howard (0.716)

D – Lidstrom (7.45)
D – Rafalski (6)
D – Stuart (3.75)
D – Kronwall (3)
D – Lilja (1.25)
D – Ericsson (0.9)
D – Lebda (0.65)
D – Meech (0.483)

F – Datsyuk (6.7)
F – Zetterberg (6.083)
F – Franzen (3.954)
F – Filppula (3)
F – Cleary (2.8)
F – Holmstrom (2.25)
F – Draper (1.583)
F – Bertuzzi (1.5)
F – Williams (1.5)
F – Maltby (0.883)
F – Leino (0.777)
F – Helm (0.599)
F – Eaves (0.5)

If all of those players were healthy, the total cap hit is $57,747,980 which is $947,980 OVER the cap.

Andreas Lilja is all but guaranteed to start the season on Long-Term Injury Reserve, freeing up $1.25M, and leaving the team $302,020 under, which is a nice bit of wiggle room to guarantee a goaltender call-up or Abdelkader to shuttle back and forth from Grand Rapids to Detroit.

Now it becomes tricky.

If at any point Lilja is healthy enough to re-join the active roster, there’s a problem. Ken Holland has said numerous times that he’s interested in keeping 7 defensemen (not 8, like last year), so someone WILL be moved upon Lilja’s return. I’ve long thought it would be Lebda (as opposed to Meech). However, if Lilja’s number comes back on and Lebda’s goes off, the team will find itself $297,980 over the cap again.

Clearly, Lilja’s return will necessitate other roster moves. Patrick Eaves is on a 2-way contract, so he’ll be paid less money in Grand Rapids, but he will have to clear waivers to be sent down. Could he clear? Maybe. Maybe not.

Are there any players on that list that are waiver exempt, you ask? Why yes there is… Darren Helm. I can’t imagine that they’d send Helm back to Grand Rapids – not after two stellar post-seasons. If he hasn’t earned himself a roster spot by now, I can’t imagine what he has to do to make it permanent. However, if they find themselves in a bind (i.e., needing to shed salary to make a bigger move), don’t be surprised to see Helm be demoted — even if its in name only.

But, we’d be naive to assume that there will be no other injuries during the season. After all, Todd Bertuzzi is joining the team. So, no further moves may be necessary if the injury bug bites at the right time.

I’m not one for predicting lines, but I’ll give it a go and see where it takes us…

Zetterberg — Datsyuk — Holmstrom [Flying Circus]
Leino — Filppula — Franzen [2 Finns and a Mule]
Bertuzzi — Helm — Cleary [Crash/Bang/Felon]
Maltby — Draper — Eaves/Williams

I can’t see Williams playing on the fourth line because of his salary, so perhaps he takes Helm’s spot on the third line, with Helm dropping down to share centermen duties with Draper? I have no idea… it’s never what we all expect anyway.

A Few Non-Bertuzzi Notes

First, the Red Wings announced – via Red Wings Central – that a third free agent has been invited to prospect camp. Joining Willie Coetzee and Chris Whitley is Austin Fyten. Kyle at Babcock’s Death Stare has – as expected – an article about the three invites, including the little-known Fyten.

Second, Red Wings Central has Detroit’s Prospect Camp roster. The site is having some issues loading, so here’s a quick list of names and numbers:

36 Jordan Pearce
38 Thomas McCollum
45 Travis Ehrhardt
48 Cory Emmerton
49 Brian Lashoff
50 Johan Ryno
53 Dick Axelsson
54 Gleason Fournier
56 Andrej Nestrasil
57 Landon Ferraro
59 Francis Pare
60 Logan Pyett
61 Jan Mursak
62 Brent Raedeke
65 *Austin Fyten
66 *Chris Whitley
68 Sergei Kolosov
70 *Willie Coetzee
71 Stephen Johnston
72 Tomas Tatar
73 Mitchell Callahan
74 Adam Almqvist

Finally, I’ll have a new edition of Capology up tomorrow, with Bertuzzi’s numbers and whatnot. It’ll be a fun talk about scenarios now that we HAVE to do something.

Todd Bertuzzi: What My Contemporaries are Saying

While Chief calls Bertuzzi “the great divider,” it seems like there’s a near-consensus among Red Wings bloggers. For your enjoyment, I’ve linked to their Bertuzzi-related musings here. While only Tyler from The Triple Deke echoes my full-blown beligerent hatred, there are quite a few no thank you’s in there.

From the ABSOLUTELY NOT Brigade
Matt, On the Wings :: “my negative reaction is really too overwhelming…”
Animal Drew, Nightmare on Helm Street :: “no longer welcome.”
Kris, Snipe Snipe Dangle Dangle :: “one player I absolutely do not want signed.”
Tyler, The Triple Deke :: “Bertuzzi rumors bring God’s existence into question.”

The Chief, Abel to Yzerman :: “all other issues aside, if that’s possible, he could be a positive.”
Kyle, Babcock’s Death Stare :: “rather have Bertuzzi than Williams.”
Malik, Snapshots :: “can only hope that [he’s] coming at a smaller salary…”

Christy, Winging it in Motown, remains rather diplomatic.
Michael Zuidema, Grand Rapids Press, just reports the news.

Todd Bertuzzi: My Two Cents

Plotting how he’s going to sneak up behind you and try to end your life…

Well it just got real. And since everyone will be throwing their hat into the ring and giving their opinion about what’s about to transpire, I figured I’d get this out of the way.

After spending the weekend pretending not to hear the Jim Devellano-fueled rumors that the Wings were on the verge of signing Todd Bertuzzi, it became impossible to ignore Monday night – as Twitter nearly caught fire with the news that the Red Wings have an offer on the table of one year and $1.5M.

That news was confirmed by MLive, which quoted Ken Holland as saying: “we’re talking to him.”

Aside from the obvious reasons why this is not at all a good fit (namely, putting the Wings over the salary cap, until Lilja goes onto LTIR or some salary is moved), I have deep, deep reservations about this. And while I trust Ken Holland in all things hockey, I will lose a great deal of respect for him if this comes to pass.

I found it very difficult to root for the Red Wings during Bertuzzi’s brief stint with the Wings in 06-07. And it makes me ill to think that an encore is coming.

Malik at Snapshots has this to say:

He’s not the same player or person that he was before he hit Moore, but that’s not necessarily a bad thing. He’s grown up, and as far as I’m concerned, shown some remorse. Given that he’s going to pay a significant chunk of his accumulated NHL earnings to Moore sometime over the next few years, I’m willing to leave that issue at the locker room door.

I am not. I don’t give a damn if he spends every second that he’s not on the ice reading to blind, terminally ill children. I am not willing to look past the fact that he’s a third rate thug who should be behind bars – a man that shat the bed in his first go-around with the Red Wings – a man that can hardly stand up on skates – a man that bolted for the exit at the sight of a few more dollars.

Every single one of these factors are contrary to what the Red Wings stand for – and have stood for in the past two decades. They are – despite what you might hear through Penguins fans’ tears – a classy organization that treats their players right, treats their fans with great respect, and is very proud of their history.

Signing Todd Bertuzzi would be akin to throwing that ideology out the window. And to all these so-called Wings fans who insist on the team becoming “tougher” and whining that Holland didn’t do anything to add to the “grit” of the team, the same fans that have been calling for Bertuzzi’s return… please yank your head of your behind: it’s hard to see the real world from there.

Feel free to come back to this article and laugh in my face if Todd Bertuzzi scores the game winning goal of Game 7 to reclaim the Stanley Cup.

Likewise – and infinitely more likely, I might add – I will take great, great pleasure in grabbing a bullhorn and shouting “I told you so” as soon as this blows up in all of our faces.

And it will.

Photo Credit: Richard Lam, Canadian Press