Smith gets 8 games

"I'm going to make someone's head bleed for super fan #99 over here."

It was judgment day for defenseman Brendan Smith today. Following a devastating hit to the head of Chicago’s Ben Smith on Wednesday, the Red Wings prospect has been anxiously awaiting his sentence from new dean of discipline Brendan Shanahan.

After reviewing the video and meeting with Smith (who opted out of an in-person meeting, instead having a hearing over the phone on Thursday), Shanahan has handed down his punishment. Brendan Smith has been suspended for the remainder of the pre-season (three games) and five regular season games.

Under the collective bargaining agreement, Smith will have to serve his suspension at the NHL level — meaning, even if he’s sent down to the Griffins (which, as we learned, is very likely given his play in the pre-season), he won’t be eligible to play for the Red Wings until his games have been served. The AHL will likely independently review the play and decide if he faces additional discipline in the form of suspension from the Griffins.

But, the Red Wings have options. Thanks to the big cap space they have after a summer of retirements, they’re able to keep Brendan Smith up in the NHL until his punishment is served. The problem had been roster spots, but with Mike Commodore, Dan Cleary, and Brad Stuart ailing; and Jan Mursak out with a long-term injury, the Wings can likely place one on Short-Term Injury Reserve, allowing Smith to stay on the roster until he’s served his penalty.

Short-Term Injury Reserve opens up a roster spot temporarily — while both the injured player and any call-ups are both counted against the salary cap, unlike Long-Term Injury Reserve, which requires a player to miss 10 games or 30 days and removes the injured player’s cap hit.

Yesterday, Winging it in Motown put the Over/Under at six games. Our Christopher J. Hollis took the over, or — more accurately — a push. But yours truly? I took the under. Looks like I’m doing the company’s taxes next year…

UPDATE — 12:18pm

Brendan Smith will be assigned to the Grand Rapids Griffins, meaning he’ll be forced to serve his suspension at a later date when / if he’s called up to the Red Wings.

Photo Credit: The Canadian Press

Easy… Like Tuesday Evening

YOU TOOK HER WHERE AND SPENT WHAT?!

(The title is the first, but certainly not the last Commodores reference we’ll use this season)

For the first time, the Detroit Red Wings have a player that is active on social media sites like Twitter. It’s an exciting time to  be a fan, since our newbie often takes the time to answer questions or respond to comments. Having access to a player in his own words? What a fantastic world we live in.

Of course, there are downfalls.

Mike Commodore, who was not in the lineup for the Red Wings Red & White Game taking place in Grand Rapids on Tuesday night, spent the hours during which his teammates were in action live-tweeting his walk around Somerset Mall in Troy, highlighting stores that he’d never take a woman into.

Twitter is for inane bullshit. We all indulge. No one can claim my tweets are always coherent and worthy of an audience.

Some people don’t see a problem with Commodore’s behavior, saying that it wasn’t even a pre-season game — it was just a scrimmage among teammates. And that’s a fair argument. It was just a scrimmage, and they weren’t offensive tweets (at least, not to me… a man) and it is the kind of access we’ve been craving for years. Perhaps I’m just bitter that he’s taken the time to answer every single question or comment on his Facebook page except for the ones referring to an appearance on TP:60.

Perhaps.

But maybe it was poorly timed, in even poorer taste, and disrespectful of the guys he’ll be sharing a locker room with all season. Everyone’s entitled to a day off, and to spend it how he or she sees fit. But don’t you think that if you were a newcomer, you might make a bit of effort to be “one of the guys” before taking a sharp left turn off of I-75 during a team event? At the risk of sounding like a fist-shaking old man, it struck me as a tiny bit troubling.

But I’m mostly shocked at how quick people are to defend him. And, worse yet, to think he deserves to play above Jakub Kindl — who has, in short order, proven he belongs in the lineup and has become a very reliable defender on this team.

Maybe it was Commodore’s spectacular play in the AHL last season. No, that can’t be it…

Perhaps it’s the beautiful past relationship he has with Coach Babcock. Probably not…

I can’t help but think it’s simply because he’s active on Twitter and makes an effort to be personable. And, again, there’s nothing wrong with his socializing — frankly, I’m hoping he’s as approachable and open with fans all season as he has been in the early going. I just wish he had waited to share those updates for a time when his teammates weren’t literally on the ice entertaining fans in the old fashioned way: you know, by playing hockey.

Compounding the issue a touch was Brendan Smith acknowledging that he and Cory Emmerton had just finished a few games of NHL ’12 on XBOX. No one’s asking these guys to be alter boys, but I can’t be the only one that has an issue with the timing.

And that’s where the NHL’s new social media policy comes in. In short, players will not be allowed to tweet or update their Facebook pages beginning two hours before game time and ending after all of the players have completed their post-game media obligations. I don’t think Mike Commodore will get into any trouble during the real season. I’m nothing if not confident that he’ll be a good soldier, a wonderful teammate and a stand-up social media guy.

He’s already made fans of many of us. I just hope he isn’t cut any slack if and when he makes a boneheaded play on the ice simply because he makes an effort to be approachable in cyberspace.

Photo Credit: Tony Ding, AP Photo

Loss Candy :: We’ve Got Some Work to Do

Used to look good. Now looks like shit. Sound familiar?

Final (Hi Mr. P)

Blues 10 Wings 3

Thoughts

What is there really to say other than the Red Wings just don’t get it. They don’t come to play when the games still count. They don’t look like a team that’s capable of winning a Stanley Cup, let alone a single playoff series. They just don’t look good. Nobody came to play tonight and the result was a humiliating ass kicking that left fans everywhere shaking their heads and an already mentally shaky fourth string goaltender huddled in the corner of the locker room shaking uncontrollably and pleading for the safe confines of Van Andel and Grand Rapids. The best decision of  the night was some combination of Joey MacDonald and Mike Babcock deciding to spare the kid any further humiliation by sticking the newly-returned-to-Earth Joey Mac back in net for the third period. Second best decision of the night? FSD cancelling the Babcock interview after the second period.

Before I lose my shit, I will say this: This was a trap game from the outset whether it looked like it on paper or not. The Wings – comfortably in the playoffs – are looking to stay healthy, while the newly eliminated Blues are banged up and playing a group of younger guys who would love nothing more than to roll into Detroit, make a name for themselves, and lay the lumber on one of the league’s “premiere” teams. One would think Mike Babcock would have seen this one coming from a mile away and would have game-planned for such circumstances or at least tried to make his team aware of what was potentially around the corner. Instead, the Wings got double digits hung on them and looked like unconcerned jackasses the entire time. Fitting, then, that the Wings ran a promotion for playoff tickets at the end of the game with the tagline “Don’t Miss A Moment.” Hell yea, who would want to miss a moment of the shit the Wings put out on the ice and dared call “hockey” tonight??? Buy now, or you might miss a game where they give up 11 goals!

Who knows where this team goes from here. Most of us are wishfully thinking that they will rebound and get their assess in gear to finish out the season, but reality is a cruel mistress and it wouldn’t surprise me to see this group of “professionals” limp their sorry sacks into the playoffs as a 3 or 4 seed at this point. It’s a complete and total embarrassment to see a team play so lethargically, and the bleeding may not stop when Pavel Datsyuk gets back into the lineup. Up and down the roster, the effort just isn’t there (save for Darren Helm, apparently.) If I’m Mike Babcock, I’m sitting Ericsson’s sorry ass in favor of Salei and Kindl the rest of the way out (more from Petrella on this later), and Kris Draper doesn’t sit another game the rest of the regular season. Still, there’s no guarantee that any set of adjustments will spark guys like Valtteri Filppula and Johan Franzen into a meaningful contribution, which is a sad shame indeed.

Five games to go and no one can save the Wings from themselves but themselves. Awesome, eh?

Time to get to work, boys.

Loss Candy

According to Plan

Ed note: In the style of Rob Discher because yes, I’ve been drinking.

The first salvo of the WIIM/TPL All Star Game Extravaganza has been fired, but don’t let the scoreboard fool you. Sure, you may see “WIIM:1, TPL:0” after the conclusion of tonight’s first ever NHL All Star Game Draft, but looks can be deceiving.

While WIIM sits on their faux high horse and gloats over their one point advantage, TPL headquarters is breaking out the booze – the good shit, no skimping tonight – and preparing to soak in the beautiful strains of our victorious symphony on Sunday night. If you were here, you’d see Disch sipping on a highball of scotch that’s older than Jeff Skinner while watching a leggy blonde with plenty of…”personality”… give him a lapper. Petrella’s in on the action too, tossing a stack of hundreds at some black haired beauty named Charity who, fittingly enough, bears a striking resemblance to Princess Jasmine  stepping away from his pages of spreadsheets to get his lovely wife a drink from the statue that is pissing champagne. Stevie’s off in the corner painting a masterpiece while a perfectly bronzed and barely clothed stud of a man feeds her grapes and poses like the Roman god he’s probably named after would. And me? I’ve got an Opus X perched between my teeth, dressed to the nines in my finest evening wear, gently sipping a fine Stag’s Leap vintage. Somewhere, the strains of Louis Armstrong are being methodically forced into the air, and the night still has plenty in store for everyone.

</end Discher>

So why are we so cavalier and relaxed in the face of a deficit? How can we be so cocksure when you, our loyal readers, have to listen to those fellas over at WIIM tout their “insurmountable” lead?

Because it’s all according to plan.

Go ahead and ask the WIIM boys who suggested the idea of awarding points during the draft? Too slow: Michael Petrella. That’s right, it was a TPL man who offered up the chance at some extra cheese on the board. Why? Because we’re damn confident, that’s why. We knew that we’d dominate the draft. We knew that the shining trophy of Molson Canadian and pushups on the stairs of Joe Louis Arena would be ours. But why should our knowledge and savvy limit the fun for everyone else?

So take solace TPL nation. We saw this coming and we are damn well prepared for it. So well prepared, in fact, that we have a drink waiting right here with your name on it. So come on in. Take a load off. Relax with some Dom P and finger foods that you can’t even pronounce.

The party’s just getting started.

Ward photo courtesy of Dave Sanford/Getty Images

Kessel photo courtesy of Jim McIsaac/Getty Images

Kronwall’s Knee: The Saga Continues (And Ends?)

MONTREAL- NOVEMBER 21:  Niklas Kronwall #55 of the Detroit Red Wings is helped off of the ice after being tripped by Georges Laraque #17 of the Montreal Canadiens during the NHL game on November 21, 2009 at the Bell Centre in Montreal, Quebec, Canada.  (Photo by Richard Wolowicz/Getty Images)

Coming off of a season where injuries were the major story line, it’s no surprise that Wings fans everywhere were holding their breath when defenseman Niklas Kronwall reported that he was having pain in his knee. We all remember Georges Laraque’s kneejob on Kronwall last season up in Montreal, which put Laraque on the suspended list for five games and Kronwall on the shelf for 30 games with a sprained MCL. With the Wings counting on a healthy roster this year, state,emts like these from Ken Holland are not what Wings fans need to hear, especially before the season starts.

Khan (!):

“They suggested we do a minor scope to explore, to look and see what’s going on,” Holland said.

Goodie. At any rate, Kronwall went under the knife today so the doctors could take a peek, and lo-and-behold, the cause of the achy knee was found and remedied:

(More) Khan(!):

Detroit Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall had athroscopic surgery on his left knee Tuesday morning. Doctors discovered a lateral meniscus tear. Kronwall is expected to be idled for two weeks but should be ready to skate at the start of training camp Sept. 18 in Traverse City.

Thank Jeebus.

That said, I’m still hedging my bets on how much contact Kronwall sees at camp this year, especially given the fact that his recovery from the original MCL sprain dragged on well past the initial timeframe that doctors placed on it. If we’ve learned one thing from watching Kronwall over the past year or so, it’s that his knees are one of the most important parts of his entire game, and the slightest tweak can become the ultimate disruptor in his overall mojo. I’d rather have Kronwall log a little extra time in preseason game situations, than get into training camp with the knee not feeling 100% and have Justin Abdelkader blow him and the blue line up with a meaningless check in the corner.

At the end of the day, Kronwall is still a young-ish guy who showed great resilience in coming back last season and fighting through the pain to play. But at the same time, his game was severely hampered because he rushed himself back, and it was evident to everyone around the league, not just the Red Wings. For a guy who took some scoff this week about “not doing the right thing” in terms of resting the knee and letting it heal properly, I hope Kronwall and the Wings take their time with this one. Otherwise, we’ll be busting out the Kindl before you know it.
CAMPBELLSVILLE, KY - JULY 10:  Amazon's new Kindle DX 9.7' Wireless Reading Device is ready for shipment at the warehouse on June 10, 2009 in Campbellsville, Kentucky.  The reader can hold thousands of books and has text-to-speech capability among other features. (Photo by John Sommers II/Getty Images)

Uh, let’s try that again…
DETROIT - SEPTEMBER 26:   Jakub Kindl #46 of the Detroit Red Wings skates in a pre-season game against the Boston Bruins on September 26, 2008 at the Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan. The Bruins defeated the Red Wings 2-1. (Photo by Claus Andersen/Getty Images)

Better. Just gotta drop that “6”.

At any rate, it’s still pretty discouraging that the NHL hasn’t taken a stronger stance on the kind of plays that originally forced Kronwall to the injured reserve last season. Yes, I know I’m beating on the dead horse here – especially since today’s meniscus repair wasn’t a result of the Laraque hit – but it’s still disenfranchising to watch GM’s battle so hard to get head shots addressed, while these kinds of plays are still up for some debate in some circles about being “dirty.” I remember watching the game when the injury happened, and my buddy sitting next to me remarking about how “it’s a penalty, but that’s a clean play.” If that’s a clean play, then Tonya Harding and Co’s whack job on Nancy Kerrigan should have only fetched them two minutes in the sin bin for tripping (although Kerrigan could have easily served two as well for diving, IMO.) Nonetheless, it still shocks me that Laraque only sat for five games while Kronwall goes out for 30. If you’re scoring at home, that’s just over 16% of Kronwall’s injury time that Laraque missed.

Am I one of those proponents for “eye-for-and-eye/game-for-a-game” punishment? Absolutely not. Injuries happen and they take time to heal, but more often than not they are accidental and undeserving of punishment. Additionally, guys could milk the hell out of an injury for any number of personal reasons, so it makes no real sense to penalize the guy who hit a rut in the ice, tripped and blew up someone’s knee (obviously that’s not the case here.) In fact, I don’t have a ready-made solution for these types of plays. Unfortunately for all of us, it doesn’t seem like the league does either, settling instead on the rudimentary and completely temperamental “Wheel of Justice” that hangs on Colin Campbell’s wall.

Whatever. Laraque has found a new arena for his talents and I, for one, am glad he won’t be out on the ice blowing up people’s knees anymore. Although, if you’re not a member of the Green Party in Canada, I’d watch yourself when you see the “gentle green giant” coming toward you.

May in, Leino back to the Lounge

Ansar Khan (fiinnaallly) got around to telling us the lineup for tonight’s game against the Ducks. It turns out Brad May is coming back into the lineup after a one-game absence thanks to a lower body injury. Someone has to come out. Mattias Ritola, right? WRONG!

Brad May…will replace Ville Leino.

The updated lineup is as follows:

Bertuzzi — Datsyuk — Holmstrom
Ritola — Filppula — Miller
Eaves — Helm — Draper
May — Abdelkader — Maltby
Lidstrom — Rafalski
Stuart — Lebda
Meech — Janik
Howard

Call me crazy, but unless Brad May beats some ass (unlikely), this is mostly a lateral move. However, in the most recent podcast featuring our very own Rob Discher, it was the general consensus that Villain’s goal was accidental, and so he’s once again relegated to the press box.

If you’re looking for some good news, Khan does say that Johan Franzen skated with his teammates for the first time.

Sorry, Ma

The first line is always the hardest to write. Luckily, Ansar Khan took care of it this time:

The initial estimate of Detroit Red Wings defenseman Jonathan Ericsson being out for two weeks appears overly optimistic. 

Thanks, Ansar! Perhaps next time open articles with “so I was kicking some puppies off a cliff…” In the article, with the inauspicious title “Jonathan Ericsson has knee drained”, Ericsson discusses his knee, which is still swollen, and that his timeline is “a guess.”

We figured he was tough, perhaps even Chuck Norris tough, but I think deep down we all knew that when his leg bent backwards, it wasn’t going to be quick. Ericsson continues:

My whole leg from my knee down to my ankle is pretty swollen. I don’t have that much motion right now. Got to work to get the swelling down and go from there. Doctor told me it’s a guess to say when we think you’re going to be back; these things are so different from case to case.

The article concludes by Ericsson’s estimate of two to four weeks, presumably from NOW and not from the time of the injury, which has us looking at mid to late January for a return.

Tempting the Malocchio

Save yourselves. And the Red Wings.

When Johnny Ericsson hit the ice, my phone rang. Twice, in fact. One was my dad, calling to discuss the Joe Theismann-like grossness of the frame-by-frame. A former soccer player, he had some insight to share on lower-body injuries and legs bending that way (hint: they’re not supposed to). After a few minutes, we both agreed that “that… that right there… that don’t look so good.”

The other call was my mother, a big fan of Ericsson because “oh my God he’s so cute.” A huge hockey fan in her own right, she questioned the Wings’ conditioning this season, since they are dropping like flies. Shane Doan’s knee colliding with Jonathan Ericsson’s will ALWAYS make it buckle like that, so I didn’t think conditioning was the issue. I continued to toe the TPL company line and blame Bertuzzi.

Then she says “what about the malocchio?” The malocchio, or evil eye, is effectively the mystical Italian equivalent of the Hockey Gods. It’s believed to curse a person or persons with bad luck, injuries, or other strange occurrences and is usually directed at ones that are envied (and it’s no secret the Red Wings are the envy of the hockey world – particularly over the last dozen years or so).

Now the question becomes… are the Red Wings cursed by someone from the outside (meaning, we should all chip in and buy 23 cornutos to prevent further injury) or by Todd Bertuzzi from within, meaning he brought the malocchio with him? You know what I think.

But in the incredibly unlikely possibility that it is not Bertuzzi’s fault that bad juju has befallen our Red Wings, we must look outside the organization. No, Natalie, you and Brian are not suspects: although one might find it odd that Bertuzzi snapped out of his spiral of suck while you were in town and promptly returned to it after your departure. For now, you get a pass.

So, in an effort to purge the Beast, I offer the most likely candidates and offer up sacrifices, mostly in the form of shame and falsified compliments.

GARY BETTMAN
Perhaps it wasn’t enough to literally hand the Pittsburgh Penguins the Stanley Cup in June. After all, Gary’s a fragile little boy and it’s always been apparent that Bettman hated the Wings. But if getting booed every time you’re in any arena on the planet isn’t enough, let’s not forget the handshake-snubbing incident (no, not Crosby, the one featuring the infinitely badass Mike Ilitch) which is sure to have embarrassed Bettman. It’s entirely possible that moments after slithering into his hole, he unleashed the malocchio onto the Red Wings for 2009-10. Sure, expansion was stupid, the two lockouts were unmitigated disasters, and hockey has become a second-class citizen on your watch, but the Red Wings remain one of the more profitable names in sports and have done plenty to appease Mr. Bettman, namely taking part in the Winter Classic (thus ignoring their own tradition of the New Years Eve game) and opening the season in Sweden (thus forfeiting the gate of a home game).

DENNIS LARUE
In an effort to detract attention from the intent to blow nonsense, maybe LaRue cursed the Red Wings. Looking back, that Brad May no-goal now hardly ranks in the top ten of the most ridiculous shit that’s unfolded in the last two months. But we all know Dennis LaRue is one of the best in the game, evidenced by his invitation to ref the Olympics. Just don’t be surprised when the Dallas Stars somehow take home gold.

CHUCK NORRIS
Threatened by Jonathan Ericsson’s ability to heal himself, Chuck Norris is angry. So, I’ve pre-ordered Walker: Texas Ranger: The Complete Series on Blu-Ray*. I alluded to Norris possibly being related to Ericsson in an earlier post, which also probably angered Norris.
*doesn’t actually exist. Get on that, Paramount.

KEN HITCHCOCK AND THE BLUE JACKETS
It was widely publicized this off-season that the neckless wonder was outspoken about “wanting to make Detroit bleed,” saying that he was tired of looking up at Detroit in the standings. Well, you’ve got star netminder Steve Mason (oh, he’s not having a Calder-like season this time around?) and you’ve got playoff experience (oh, that didn’t end well?). Fret not, Columbus is one of those teams that has a bright future, like the Chicago Blackhawks only not actually good or in a city that deserves a team.

MARIAN HOSSA (AND, FRACTIONALLY, TOMAS KOPECKY)
It’s believed that with Hossa’s new contract, Chicago is destined to lose in the Final. The send-off he received from the Wings fans (read: kick in the ass and a hip hop hooray when news of the shoulder thing unfolded) is probably enough to make him wish bad things on his former employer. But, he is one of the more talented guys on Earth, and, after nine games, he’s already half-way to the Herculean numbers that Bertuzzi is putting up. Hopefully someone in the Hawks organization told him that the season ends when the last game is played, not in March.

CHRIS CHELIOS
I doubt heavily that he’d ever wish ill on the Red Wings, but maybe he was a little more let down than he let on when the Red Wings declined to offer an extension. He seems happy as a member of the Chicago Wolves, and even hinted that he’d like to return to the Red Wings. One might have thought that losing Lilja, Kronwall, and Ericsson — half of the projected blueline squadron — might be something that would have meant Chelios might have gotten a call. But, he hasn’t, and he’ll continue mentoring young Atlanta Thrashers prospects, something the Thrashers should be really pleased with.

CLAUDE LEMIEUX
Not only was he the whipping boy for the Detroit Red Wings in the 90s, he didn’t win Skating with the Stars – or whatever the hell it was called. I’m sure it’s not because of his top-notch turtling and/or clutch playoff scoring – both of which he was one of the best in the biz.

MONTREAL CANADIENS
Sure it’s their 100th anniversary for the second year in a row, but — math bedamned — NO ONE IS GOING TO RUIN THAT PARTY. Except perhaps 70% turnover from a year ago and inviting Gordie Howe to the centennial ceremony, presumably to show all the Canadien Hall-of-Famers what a real hockey player looks like. You can’t have him, Montreal. NOT YOURS.

TODD MCLELLAN AND THE SAN JOSE SHARKS
Sure, they’re the best team in the NHL again. But you all know what that means. It means they’ll be golfing by the end of April. So much talent, it doesn’t make sense. They’ve been Cup favorites for like 8 years in a row, and under the prowess of McLellan, one would assume this could be their year. Although it wasn’t last year…but the Red Wings didn’t have the Malocchio chasing them around.

KARMA
This one brings us back to Bertuzzi. Do something bad, something bad happens to you. No matter where you go. Even if its Vancouver, Florida, Detroit, Anaheim, Calgary, or Detroit again.

Ericsson has bone bruise, Janik called up

Well, it could have been much worse. In fact, watching the video (and the freeze frame, thanks to @mserven), I would have bet dollars to donuts that it was Kronwall-esque or longer. All this does is add to Ericsson’s lore: first, missing only one game following an emergency appendectomy, followed by many more quick recoveries. Clearly, Jonathan Ericsson is a descendant of Chuck Norris. Anyway, the official word is deep bone bruise on his left knee, reaching to his calf muscle. Tests revealed no structural damage, and the general consensus seems to be 2-3 weeks that Big Rig will be out of action.

In somewhat-related news, former Red Wing Aaron Ward was placed on waivers by the Carolina Hurricanes yesterday. He cleared at noon today, but some out there are questioning whether he’d be a good fit back on this roster. I gotta say no, because at some point these bodies are going to start coming back, and this is why you sign NHL-level guys to play in Grand Rapids.

Speaking of which, Chris McCosky of the Detroit News tells us it’ll be Doug Janik — and not Jakub Kindl — that has been recalled to replace Ericsson on the active roster. It makes sense for a few reasons: Janik plays the penalty kill, like Ericsson. And Johnny isn’t allowed anywhere near the power play, which is Kindl’s forte.

Darren Helm is recovering nicely, and may be back in on Thursday, though I gotta say if he doesn’t score on his first shift, he’ll have to endure comparisons to The Most Fascinating Man on the Planet: Kris Newbury (not really).