Tick Tock: Time to Change Course?

At the beginning of this offseason, the normally reserved Ken Holland said something that many of us had been waiting to hear for a long, long time: “We’ve going to be active and aggressive in free agency.” Really, he had no choice. Nick Lidstrom’s retirement and Brad Stuart’s need to be with his family meant Holland was down two top-pairing D-men, with a third becoming a RFA in Kyle Quincey. The answer, of course, was supposed to be Ryan Suter. Ken Holland would march right in there, lay down the most compelling offer the Wings had ever thrown at a defenseman not named Lidstrom, bring him back to Motown and sit him at a table where he could declare to everyone that he was a Red Wing and the best was yet to come. And of course, let’s not forget Zach Parise. Sure, the Wings didn’t really need him, but if Ken Holland was feeling lucky, perhaps he could just flip the switch and convince him to tag along in Motown. That’s what big time players do, right? They work their way up through the ranks of the “lowly” teams in the NHL, just to eventually sign with the mystique-laden and history-rich Detroit Red Wings.

We already know how this story ends. Ryan Suter and Zach Parise both spurned Detroit to go to the Minnesota Wild, with one player returning to his hometown and another getting the quiet lifestyle he craves. If it feels like a slap in the face, well, it’s because you’ve been living under the same rock that Ken Holland has been under since 2002. To be fair, there’s plenty of things that Holland did right in this process. They secured the elusive in-person meeting with Suter, they made the competitive offer and they bent over backwards sending coaches and former players to ensure that the Wings organization was represented well at all times. But at some point during this process – especially after the in-person meeting with Suter – how did Ken Holland not realize that this thing wasn’t coming together and that Suter and Parise were a package deal with only one real destination in mind? I mean, Ken, if you’re REALLY reading Twitter, it only took one pass through Michael Russo’s feed last night to get the educated idea that maybe you’ve done all you can on these guys and it’s time to get to work elsewhere.

The fact is, though, that the Wings find themselves at a crossroads in terms of how they promote this team to the outside world, and especially to free agents. I’ve beaten this horse dead a number of times, but the shtick about this being an elite destination for the elite talent of the hockey world is now old and dead. The Wings haven’t been truly elite since 2002, and found their way to a Stanley Cup in 2008 and the Final in 2009 with very, very good squads. Not elite squads, but very good ones. So why, then, does Holland continue down this path? He lowballed Ryan Suter, frankly, with 13 years at $80 million, and had to come up to $90 million just to stay in the conversation. Except Suter ended up signing for 13 years at $98 million. How the hell is that being aggressive in free agency? No, we’ve seen this before. That’s the move where Holland throws out a number but reminds you that “Hey, we’re Detroit, remember?” No, Ken, nobody remembers. These kids don’t care about that.

What Zach Parise and Ryan Suter care about are the following: their lifestyles, their family, being the top dogs on the team and making some money. But when Ken Holland’s “increased” offer falls $8 million short of a defenseman they “desperately” need – and one they’ve probably tried to sell the whole “mystique” argument to – there’s a real big problem in the room, and quite frankly it’s not Suter or Parise. Call me crazy, but when you lose out to both of these guys after supposedly being in it – and then lose out to your protege in Tampa for the enigmatic Sami Salo – perhaps it’s time to take a look in the mirror and figure out if you really understand how this thing works anymore. Sure, you’ll always have those guys – Jaromir Jagr – that go where the money is. Some guys will also want to go to a market rich with history and play for an organization that is steeped in tradition and prestige. But others, well, others just want to be made to feel that they are important and that a life-changing decision for them is a life-changing decision for the organization too. Minnesota afforded that opportunity to Zach Parise and Ryan Suter. Detroit? I’m not so sure. My gut tells me the Wings made their pitch, sold Suter on playing for the “premiere” organization in the NHL, and probably didn’t really read between the lines on his needs.

Maybe I’m just sour grapes over this whole thing. Heck, that’s probably a really logical explanation. Maybe this thing was over before it even started and Parise and Suter were just taking us all on a huge joyride. But the fact is that free agency has become an instrument of torture for Red Wings fans over the past few years and this year is no different. Ken and Co. are now scrambling to piece together a free-agency period that includes more than just Jonas Gustavsson, Mikael Samuelsson and Jordin Tootoo, but now that the big fish are off the line, everything feels small. And instead of scooping up the big talent for alot of money, the only way that big talent ends up in Detroit is if we ship out some of our own in return.

Aggressive in free agency? That begins by getting out of that ivory tower we call Red Wings legacy.

Happy 4th of July everyone. Go drink a beer.

Photo Credit: The Detroit News

How Much Is Too Much?

As #SuterWatch clears Day 3 without any answers, seemingly more questions have begun to arise around the financial factors weighing on the 27 year-old defenseman. We now know that both Detroit and Minnesota sent representatives to Suter Farms in Madison, WI today, and the report from Helene St. James is that the Wings elevated their offer to $90 million over 13 years – a cap hit of roughly $6.9 million per season. At first blush, I thought that number was a bit low, but it appears it’s a $10 million increase from the Wings opening salvo.

There’s no doubt there’s going to be some big numbers flying around over the next day or so, but it’s doubtful that’s the only thing influencing Suter’s decision. That said, one would hope the Wings are willing to up the ante as much as necessary to secure Suter. Which is where you come in.

Simply: How much is too much for Ryan Suter?

Some will argue that there’s mountain (of cash) too high for landing Suter’s talents, while others may be more pragmatic with an eye towards the future. At any rate, there’s bound to be a plethora of opinions. So as you crack open that first beer of Independence, take a second and let us know in the comments how far your wallet would stretch for Mr. Suter.

Hell, I’ll even get the party started: Anything north of $8.5 million per season, and I’m starting to pucker up.

The floor is yours.

Photo Credit: USA Today

Here’s The Plan…

With 18 hours to go before the Detroit Red Wings change the course of a franchise that needs some new direction, there’s only one thing to do.

Drink.

No seriously, start drinking. It’s the only way you’ll get through a night with whoever you decide to hang out with without completely pissing them off. Dinner with the wife/husband? I guarantee they’ll call you out for staring wistfully at that 20 ounce margarita on the menu. First date? They’ll send you packing because it’s really “weird” how often you mention the number 9.

So do yourself a favor. Crack open a can of something good. Pop the cork on the nicest bottle of wine you’ve got. Pour yourself a tall one and let the nerves melt away. Me? 21st Amendment Hell or High Watermelon Wheat. It’s a gorgeous summer day here in San Francisco, so why not drink something light and refreshing, but still manly enough to feel like I could pick up the Brinks truck that the Wings should be backing up to Parise and Suter’s front doors.

And if the night goes well, maybe I’ll find myself in a perfectly tailored suit (who knows why, but hey, does it really matter?), knocking back a Woodford Old Fashioned and puffing on a Lucky Strike.

The OTHER "Drapes"

Here’s the key: I’ll have enough social lubricant coursing through my veins to completely forget about my concerns on the eve of one of the most important days in Red Wings hockey history. That is until I see my buddy Zach, who then introduces me to his friend Ryan.

Garcon, bring me another.

Tomorrow’s gunna be a fucking crazy one. Don’t worry though: we got this.

*Disclaimer: If you’re going to drink away your worries, don’t fucking drive. Also, drink some water and some Gatorade before bed. Gotta be up in time for the TPL Live Free Agent Chat.

Country Grammar: Previewing the Predators

Country Grammar: Two Ways. Take your pick.

WHO’S THIS GUY?
Wait, you don’t remember me? I don’t blame you. It’s been almost three months of Hollis-free TPL and I’m surprised Petrella and Disch even let me back in the front door. Three months of watching the Wings go from on top of the world to staggering into the playoffs with nothing but questions marks and that sick feeling in your gut that only playoff hockey and a glimpse of your happy ex can generate. Three months of injuries. Three months of a woeful power play. You sure you’re ready for this?

That’s right, you have no choice. Let’s go.

WHAT’S ALL THIS THEN?
It’s the first round of the Western Conference playoffs, and the Wings start on the road for the first time since…well, since two years ago. Your TV schedule is below. Familiarize yourself with it and purchase booze accordingly.

Wednesday, April 11, 2012 8 p.m. Detroit at Nashville CNBC, CBC
Friday, April 13, 2012 7:30 p.m. Detroit at Nashville CNBC, CBC
Sunday, April 15, 2012 Noon Nashville at Detroit NBC, CBC
Tuesday, April 17, 2012 7:30 p.m. Nashville at Detroit NBC Sports Network, CBC

  • Friday, April 20, 2012 8 p.m. Detroit at Nashville CNBC, CBC
  • Sunday, April 22, 2012 TBD Nashville at Detroit TBD
  • Tuesday, April 24, 2012 TBD Detroit at Nashville TBD
    • If necessary

WHERE WERE WE?
:: Detroit fell to the Blackhawks in the shootout on Saturday, giving them a finishing mark of 48-28-6, good for 102 points and the fifth seed in the West.
:: Nashvegas smoked the Avs on Saturday, securing the fourth seed in the West with a 48-26-8 record and 104 points.
:: The Wings and Preds split the season series this year, each taking three wins from the other. Looking for a trend? Both teams took two of three at home and one on the road. The Wings controlled the early portion of the series, while Nashville rallied to take two of the last three, including a 4-1 whoopin’ in Motown on March 30th.

BEST NAME NOMINEE
Brandon Yip. Yip. Yip. Yip. Yip.

‘MEMBA ME?
No former Wings on the Preds.

OH, HI AGAIN
According to , no former Preds on the Wings.

FIVE TO WATCH – NASHVILLE
:: Pekka Rinne – He’s received more press this week than Mike Fisher did after he latched on to wife Carrie Underwood, and there’s no doubt the pressure is on Rinne’s 6’5″ frame. He played in all six regular season games against the Wings, garnering three wins and three losses while posting a GAA of 2.67 and save percentage of .920. If he gets hot, this series gets tiresome in a hurry.
:: Shea Weber – Duh. Dude is one of the best D-men in the game right now, and his slapshot was good for a team high three goals against the Wings this season. That said, Weber did post a team worst -4 against Detroit in only five games, so there’s points to be had.
:: Alexander Radulov – Remember three weeks ago when nobody would shut up about this guy? Yeah, that makes me nervous. The spotlight is off of him and he can settle in and play his game, which is a good one. If this guy gets on the ice across from Dan Cleary, it’s time to hit the panic button repeatedly.
:: David Legwand – The former pride of the Plymouth Whalers, Legwand has a team best six points against the Wings this year (so does Jordin Tootoo for that matter.)
:: Andrei/Sergei Kostitsyn – Mark my words: One of these two will have a crushing goal against Detroit late in the third period of one of these games. They may not have lived up to their much-hyped potential, but they are still damn good players.

FIVE TO WATCH – DETROIT
:: Jimmy Howard – No surprises here. Howard’s regular season was the giant leap forward we’ve all been waiting for, only to come back down to Earth with a pair of injuries on the back half of the schedule. Babcock thinks he’s rounding into form as he heads into the playoffs, but only time will tell which Jimmah is between the pipes against Nashville. If the Wings want to win this series, it better be the pre-injury Jimmy.
:: Johan Franzen – Perhaps the most frustrating player on this Wings roster, Franzen says he lives for the playoffs and some of his best games have come in the postseason. If the Wings continue to be cold on the goal-scoring front, Mule will have to find a way to strap the 捷凯金融 team on his back and make something happen on the scoresheet. He looked good in his final regular season tune-ups, so here’s hoping he continues to produce when it counts. That said, he was only good for a goal and an assist in six games against the Preds this year.
:: Valtteri Filppula – Coming off arguably his best season as a Wing, Filppula will need to continue to score points against the Predators to add some balance to the scoresheet. He led the team with four goals against the Preds this year, and his five points trails only that of Henrik Zetterberg.
:: Tomas Holmstrom – His ass in Rinne’s face will be a key component to scoring some goals this series, but don’t forget that Homer was a team worst -5 against Nashville during the regular season.
:: Darren Helm/Dan Cleary/Gustav Nyquist – Helm will find his way back into the lineup at some point in Nashville, which likely means the hyper-talented Nyquist will likely head to the Leino Lounge. That’s a tough pill to swallow, given Dan Cleary’s injury woes and corresponding limitations of late, yet Babcock is confident Cleary will be ready for the lineup. If Cleary looks terrible, expect the Nyquist rumblings to kick into high gear.


The TPL Name Game

PETRELLA: Jiri “Street Sweeper Baby, Cocked, Ready to Let It Go” Hudler
STEVIE: Todd “I Hang With Hannibal Lector So Feel Me When I Bring It” Bertuzzi
HOLLIS: Jiri “Let’s Show These Cats How to Make These Millions” Hudler
DISCH: Nik “Mean Mugs and Shoulder Shrugs” Kronwall

The Good Part: Predictions
PETRELLA:
Detroit in six.
STEVIE: Detroit in seven.
HOLLIS: Nashville in six.
DISCH: Nashville in six.

Rapid Fire: injury updates, Fedorov and Hasek to retire?

Thanks to the excellent work done by MLive’s and The Detroit News’ at today’s morning skate, we have a clearer picture of the injury situation as the season very quickly winds down.

First, the good news. It sounds like Jakub Kindl is ready to return to active duty tomorrow night against Carolina. He practiced on a pairing with Brendan Smith. Doug Janik was returned to Grand Rapids, so the team was confident that one of Kindl or Nicklas Lidstrom would be ready to play against the Hurricanes. Coach Mike Babcock was “under the impression” that Lidstrom would be playing, but seem to indicate that Nick is unsure and still wary of the pain.

Jimmy Howard won’t play the next two games, as he’s yet to take pucks in practice. On Wednesday, the goaltender said that he would have been able to backup Jordan Pearce if Ty Conklin was claimed on re-entry waivers, but now it sounds like he’s going to take his time getting back into the lineup, choosing instead to rehab slowly rather than rush back and risk another tweaking of the groin.

Joey MacDonald has a “slightly bulging disc” that he doesn’t think will need surgery (and he would know — having had that surgery once before). Nevertheless, it sounds like he may be shut down for the remainder of the regular season, but he remains hopeful that he’d be able to return for the playoffs. The playoffs, of course, where we would hope not to need a backup goaltender.

So for the next few days, it looks like your goaltending tandem is Ty Conklin and Jordan Pearce — a pair of guys who, three short weeks ago, were the tandem for the Griffins.

Johan Franzen missed practice again, but took a spin on his own prior to drills. Each day that goes by delays his return since he’ll have to get back into “game shape” after missing all of this practice time. Jonathan Ericsson is scheduled to return next week, as well — perhaps he and Howard will both be ready for next Wednesday’s Columbus game or next Friday’s Nashville game.

Former Red Wing great Sergei Fedorov . The 42-year-old Russian has played the last two seasons in the KHL after an NHL career spanning 1,248 regular season games and three Stanley Cup championships. While he may have had a tumultuous exit from 福汇 Detroit, there’s no denying how special a player he was for the Red Wings and it’ll be a sad day to see such a dominant player from your youth ride off into the sunset. In a few short years, he’s a shoo-in for the Hall of Fame.

Likewise, former Wings goaltender . The 47-YEAR-OLD netminder told a Czech newspaper that if he doesn’t receive a contract offer by June, it’ll likely officially spell the end of an unbelievable hockey career that spanned four different decades and includes several retirements, a stint overseas, and a pair of Cups won with Detroit.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

Conklin clears, Lidstrom nears

Ty Conklin has cleared re-entry waivers and will start tonight in New York. That’s good news. Approximately.

A handful of injured Red Wings to returning to action. The gist:

  • Nicklas Lidstrom could return Saturday vs. Carolina. There’s still some pain when he turns, so I bet he holds off another game or two, but he’s a gamer.
  • Jakub Kindl could return Saturday as well.
  • Jonathan Ericsson is aiming for one week from tonight vs. Columbus.
  • Jimmy Howard said he could have backed up tonight if he needed to. That’s encouraging.
  • Johan Franzen is receiving treatment but hasn’t started skating. Hopefully he won’t lose 影梭 too much conditioning so that it won’t take the requisite two weeks to get his legs under him.
  • Joey MacDonald is not on the trip, instead saying behind to see a back specialist in Detroit. Joy.
  • Darren Helm is shut down until at least the first week of the playoffs.
  • Patrick Eaves hasn’t begun skating and I would be shocked if we see him at all again this season.

You’ve got to be kidding me… Howard injured, Conklin recalled

, we explored the seven bodies that were injured in Detroit and hoped for some relief soon. Well, we got the opposite this morning. MLive’s Ansar Khan that Jimmy Howard has re-aggravated his groin injury and the Red Wings have recalled Ty Conklin on an emergency basis, meaning he won’t first need to clear waivers to join the team. Per the CBA, however, he’ll need to be returned to Grand Rapids as soon as Jimmy Howard is medically cleared to play.

FOLLOW-UP: It appears that Ty Conklin has been subjected to re-entry waivers after all. TSN’s Bob McKenzie (who’s never wrong) has him listed on today’s waiver wire, meaning that Detroit must not have invoked their emergency clause. If some other team claims Conklin on re-entry waivers, the Red Wings would be on the hook for half of his salary and they would no longer have the use of Conklin at 左旋肉碱 any level. If he clears waivers, however, he would not need to be sent back down to Grand Rapids once Howard is healthy enough to return. If he was recalled under emergency recall, he would have to have been demoted to Grand Rapids as soon as Howard was cleared. Under traditional recall, he can stick around as long as the Red Wings want to carry three (or more) goaltenders.

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Roster A Go-Go

The rash of injuries to the Detroit Red Wings continues, as Jimmy Howard left last night’s game after the first period with an undisclosed (of course it was) lower body injury that was revealed to not be his finger that kept him out 8 games earlier in the season. Adding insult to (wait for it) injury was Jakub Kindl, who also left the game early with an undisclosed upper body injury. It 港股开户 was later revealed that he was sore prior to the game and Mike Babcock admitted he shouldn’t have been allowed to play. Todd Bertuzzi, who was a game-time decision with a sore groin did play and seemed to do more harm than good as he’s officially been ruled out of tomorrow’s game against Philadelphia.

Got all that?

Jimmy Howard, Jakub Kindl, and Todd Bertuzzi will not play tomorrow — joining Nicklas Lidstrom (ankle), Pavel Datsyuk (knee), Jonathan Ericsson (wrist), and Patrick Eaves (concussion) on the sidelines.

Joining Brendan Smith, who has been recalled for a pair of games already, from Grand Rapids are Doug Janik, Chris Conner, and Jordan Pearce.

Cleary — Zetterberg — Franzen
Filppula — Abdelkader — Hudler
Miller — Helm — Conner
Mursak — Emmerton — Holmstrom

Stuart — White
Quincey — Kronwall
Smith — Janik

MacDonald
Pearce

(lines are not combinations, simply a listing of players available for tomorrow’s game in Philadelphia)

Of the 24 players who began the season on the roster (including Jan Mursak who was on LTIR), the Red Wings are without ten of them. In addition to the seven listed as injured, Ty Conklin and Fabian Brunnstrom have been demoted and are playing in Grand Rapids; and Mike Commodore has been traded to Tampa Bay. The Wings are down to 58% of their opening day roster.

Datsyuk out two weeks, Cleary to return tonight

One's out. One's in.

Here’s an odd, out-of-left-field story for your Tuesday afternoon: Pavel Datsyuk had minor arthroscopic surgery to remove some bone fragments removed in what was dubbed “” by coach Mike Babcock. It was done now to make sure that he’s back to 100% for the playoffs.

Datsyuk comes out of the lineup, and Dan Cleary goes back in. Cleary is expected to play tonight in Chicago after missing the last five. He twice had a cyst in his knee drained to take some pressure out of the joint — a similar situation to the one that essentially removed me from eToro the game altogether. I also had a cyst in my knee joint — but it was wrapped around the tendons and both inside and out of the joint — and had it removed. That he’s back after five games is pretty amazing considering it took me 18 months to walk to the bathroom without pain.

The new lines look a little something like this, per Babcock:

Franzen :: Zetterberg :: Bertuzzi
Cleary :: Filppula :: Hudler
Miller :: Helm :: Abdelkader
Mursak :: Emmerton :: Holmstrom

With twelve healthy forwards, no one will be recalled for now. If it becomes apparent that Cleary isn’t in game shape, or another forward is lost to injury, the top candidates for recall are Gustav Nyquist, Chris Conner, and Tomas Tatar — who has been called up twice, but scratched at the last minute both times.