Tag Archives: Wings

The Good Stuff.

denardrobinsoneasterntd rodneypump helmer-again1

Yes, I get it. I’ve been a little quiet over the past couple of weeks. I didn’t get on here and tell you how excited I was that we beat Notre Dame. I didn’t get on here to complain about the Tigers looking like they might have run out of gas on their playoff run. I didn’t get on here and go crazy because the Red Wings are in the middle of preseason hockey.

But just because I didn’t write about it doesn’t mean I’m not enjoying it.

Folks, let me tell you something: right now is the most exciting time in the world to be a fan of Detroit/Michigan sports. There is so much going on that it’s almost unreasonable to expect to keep up with it on a regular basis. But this is our reward, this is our prize at the end of the rainbow. It’s funny that the summer, a time of relaxation, enjoyment and just general “feeling good” is for the most part a blank slate of sports. Summer, one of the most popular times of the year, doesn’t share the same enthusiasm for sports as the rest of us fanatics. Summer is our Sahara Desert. Summer is our barren landscape.

But now we have hit the tropical oasis. We have found the magical spring to quench our sports thirst. Drink up friends. The water is cool and refreshing.

The sweetest taste (for me) is obviously the rebound of Michigan football from last year’s mess of a season. With the right pieces in place, the Wolverines have already matched last season’s win total, scored as many points in three games as they did in six last year and have knocked off major foe Notre Dame. Now, the Maize and Blue head into the real deal: the Big Ten season. Every week will be a battle and there will be NO gimmie games. Have the Wolverines truly bounced back from the depths of despair, or is it just a mirage in a desert of uncertainty? I can’t wait to find out.

The Tigers, one season after finishing last in the division, are back in the thick of a division and playoff race. What a roller coaster ride they have been. Sometimes they offer the sweet taste of victory and the next night the bitter taste of defeat. But again, the ride is amazing. There’s nothing like the chase for the playoffs to stir the deepest echoes of fandom, and that’s exactly what the Motown kitties are doing for us right now. Can they deliver? Will they falter? I’m caught up in the anticipation and I’m letting it sweep me away.

And then there are our beloved Red Wings. Yes, they are only at the beginning of a journey that will hopefully last until June, but this campaign brings with it the need to justify their elite status to all those who have so quickly dismissed them. There’s nothing more fun than proving the doubters wrong and then laughing in their face afterwards, which is exactly what we have planned for this season. I can’t wait.

So sit back and enjoy my friends. This is an exciting time for all of us. One that is sure to be filled with ups and downs, trials and tribulations. But it’s not the destination, it’s the journey and I’m just happy to be walking down that road again.

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Changes, they’re a comin’…

changes

I’ve had a few folks ask me about my slowdown in posting output this summer and if everything is OK on the home front. In short: yes, everything is cool. However, despite a slowdown in posting, I have been super busy putting together some new opportunities, which are far enough along now that I can finally tell you about them.

Changing Locations

As many of you know, I’ve been covering the Red Wings for Winging It In Motown for the past few months. WIM gave me an outlet to focus exclusively on the Wings, and the more I wrote for them, the more I enjoyed being able to cover one of my topic areas with such depth. Well, as we moved through the summer, the folks over at FanBall reached out to me, and told me that they had an opening for a Red Wings blogger on their team and would love for me to come on board. Naturally, I was torn because of my allegiance to WIM, but in the end, the ability to manage my own site while getting paid some cash to do it was enough to convince me to branch out and give it a go.

I’d be completely remiss if I didn’t thank Christy, Casey and Joe over at WIM for the opportunity to work with them. It’s a fantastic blog with a fantastic group of writers, and my support for what they continue to do is absolutely unwavering. Hopefully, I’ll still be invited to the Christmas party.

With that said, I’m proud/excited/insert whatever adjective you like to present my new home for Red Wings content, Motown Wings. The folks over at FanBall have been awesome to work with in getting this set up, and have given me the opportunity to contribute to a larger sports blogging network, which has been a goal of mine since I started writing. I encourage all of you to check out the new site and let me know what you think and how I can make it better. It’s going to be a work in progress for the first couple of months, so bear with me. However, there’s alot of potential to work with, and I’m excited to head down that road. I hope you will join.

A New Endeavor

As if moving to a new blog wasn’t enough, I’ve also been busy working with my buddy Brian (@pioneerhall on twitter) to get an idea of his up and running. Later this week, we will be launching MGoTalk, a new Michigan football podcast where Brian and I chat all things Wolverines with former U of M players Jeff Del Verne and Jeremy Miller. We are currently in the process of getting the final logistics up and running, and we should have the first show ready to hit your ears sometime soon. I’m REALLY excited about this, and can’t wait to get some different POV’s on the football team, especially from a couple of guys who have been privileged enough to wear the winged helmet. Be sure to bookmark the site, as well as follow @MGoTalk on twitter, so that you can stay up-to-date on when a new show goes up as well as offer up ideas for all of us to talk about each week.

So yea, I’m staying busy and am really looking forward to these new opportunities. As always, your feedback is appreciated, so let it rip.

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The Truth about Hossa’s Shoulder “Injury”

kronwallhossa

In case you couldn’t tell from the above picture, Niklas Kronwall has added another victim to his hit parade. Yes, I know this looks like a harmless celebration between two teammates. However, I doubt you are aware of  what Kron was actually saying to former teammate Marian Hossa. Fret not, oh faithful readers. A full transcript is below:

  • Kron: Nice shot.
  • Hossa: MONEY!!!
  • Kron: Listen d-bag, I know you think you are something special, but if you decide to cut and run after this season, there will be hell to pay.
  • Hossa: MORE SUITS!!!
  • Kron: Dude, are you even listening to me? You don’t mess around with Detroit fans. This is a proud hockey town and these fans expect you to stand by your statement that you want to come back next year. Got that?
  • Hossa: MORE TRASHY BLONDES!!!
  • Kron: You are such an ass. I am totally onto your game and I know what you are going to do. You are going to hold out on us, stringing us along with false promises of “loyalty”, and then dash off to a division rival like Chicago or something, lugging your life partner Kopecky with you. I can see it in your eyes. I am Kronwall and I see your soul…
  • Hossa: Don’t talk about Tomas like that! You don’t know what we have together! He stood up for me after Francois Beauchemin called me a weak piece of euro-trash who couldn’t deliver in the playoffs! I am indebted to him eternally for his valor!
  • Kron: He got KTFO out dude. He’s a pansy. Just like you. You know what happens to pansies? Especially ones that ditch for more money? No? Here, let the Kronwall enlighten you…

Next shift:

kronwalled

  • Kron: KRONWALLED!!!
  • Hossa: *Gulp* Is he dead?
  • Kron: No, Havlat is simply a pawn in the greater mission of educating you of the fate that awaits a traitor. Therefore, I have spared his life. However, he will be relegated to the fields of Minnesota, never to set foot in this city as a Blackhawk again. His spot is likely to be filled by someone just as cowardly and meek, someone who will also surely feel the wrath of the Kronwall.
  • Hossa: How could you possibly know that?
  • Kron: Because I am the Kronwall. I feed on the fear of men. My destruction is legendary. And should you be the one chosen to fill that weakling’s spot in the Chicago lineup, your destiny will align with those who have faced my wrath before you.
  • Hossa: But what about all of that money? I have to support Tomas…er, my family!
  • Kron: Do what you must, Marian. In parting, I give you these words of wisdom: Don’t f**k with me.
  • Hossa: Oh I don’t know what to do!!!
  • Kron: The lords of hockey have already made it known to the Kronwall that we will open JLA next season against the ‘Hawks. Might I suggest a shoulder injury? Perhaps a rotator cuff “tear”? It would require surgery, you would still get paid, and you could avoid the wrath of the Kron.
  • Hossa: Now that you mention it, my shoulder has been a little sore recently…
  • Kron: Exactly.

There you have it, folks. Hey Chicago: Enjoy watching that multi-million dollar investment start the season sitting  in the stands in an ugly ass suit with some blonde that serves about as much purpose as Tomas Kopecky in a fight (or on the ice, for that matter.) Hey, if Kopecky doesn’t pan out in the lineup for you guys, at least you know Hossa will have someone to spoon with keep him company while he recovers.

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Centennial Celebration.

100th post

So I’ve been MIA for the past few days trying to find the right way to commemorate the 100th post for SIM. I’ve kicked around a ton of ideas. I thought about pulling in some friends to comment on the miserable predictions I’ve made over the last 99 posts. I debated tossing out some more ridiculous predictions that will fail miserably and only serve to further damage my sports writing credibility. I even thought about using the 100th post to call it quits and spare each and every one of you from the endless drivel of Michigan sports that (of late, rarely) graces this site.

But then I started thinking about all of the times we have had together. Yes, things got off to a rough start as Michigan football bumbled their way to the worst record in school history. Michigan hockey looked to carry the banner for the maize and blue, but a disappointing NCAA loss to Air Force ended the season on an incredibly sour note. You hung with me as I divorced that joke of a team that marauded as the Pistons. And you bravely hung with me as I watched my beloved Red Wings come within a game of raising their 12th Stanley Cup, only to be denied on home ice.

Yes, it wasn’t pretty at times. But let’s not forget that, despite some rough patches, there were also quite a few highs. For the first time in over a decade, Michigan basketball made it back to the NCAA tournament, even giving us a first round win. The Tigers, a middle-of-the-pack pick by most experts at the start of the season, currently lead the AL Central. Justin Verlander, Edwin Jackson, Curtis Granderson and Brandon Inge all made it to the All Star game. And, despite not bringing home the Cup, the Wings gave us a heck of a fun run through the Stanley Cup playoffs.

We’ve had our good and we’ve had our bad. And while it’s true that no championships have come home to Michigan since the inception of this blog, that doesn’t mean we won’t see any in the future. Winning a championship is an incredible feat and it never comes easy. If anything, the losses and shortcomings make you cherish those championship moments even more. They will come. And we will celebrate.

But in the meantime, I’m committed to enjoying the ride with all of you. These writings have forged new friendships and facilitated endless discussions. They have opened the doors to new opportunities and helped me embrace the passion of sports fans outside of the state of Michigan. But mostly, they have given me the chance to share something that I strongly believe in with a group of folks that share the same ideology: that sport can unite us, bring us together and provide us with incredible experiences and memories.

To each and every one of you that read this: Thank you. For all of those who I’ve had the pleasure of meeting through SIM and Winging It: Thank you. And for those of you that have passed my little corner of the blogosphere along to others: a HUGE thank you. The first 100 posts have been great and have led to wonderful experiences. Here’s hoping to even better over the next 100.

OK. Enough of the sappy shit. Let’s celebrate!

dave-chapelle-as-rick-james

**Apparently, the Chicago Blackhawks couldn’t wait to give us our first present! According to Wyshynski over at “Puck Daddy”, our good friend Marian Hossa could be out until December with a shoulder injury. Which they knew about when they signed him. So basically, the ‘Hawks drop an injury risk in Martin Havlat to sign damaged goods in Hossa, all while shelling out more cash for him in the process.

*Slow Clap*

He’s the gift that just keeps on giving, ‘Hawks fans. Until you get to the playoffs, that is. ENJOY!

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Mail Time! (Sorta.)

mailcat

In an effort to become more “in touch” with the community that follow along here at SIM, I have decided to go ahead and start up the ol’ mailbag feature, where you, the readers, send in questions about anything at all, and I answer them in a slightly amusing, yet informative way. There will be no set timeframe for when I will answer these questions, but if it’s important to me, then it will get answered more quickly than someone who wants to know “Why is the sky blue?” or “Is Greg Robinson’s hair real?” (The answer is yes…for both.)

For today’s inaugural edition, it’ll be all questions that I have been asked in person or via twitter (@chollis), as opposed to the e-mail stuff. However, if YOU have a question you want me to ponder and subsequently address, shoot me an e-mail at sleeplessinmichigan@gmail.com. Now then, on to your questions.

Chris,

What do you think about Hossa/Kopecky/Samuelsson/Conklin/Hudler all leaving the Red Wings this off season? Who’s the biggest surprise in your mind?

-Steve

Seattle, WA

If you’re surprised about this being the first question, you obviously don’t A) read the blog enough or B) follow Detroit sports. The Red Wings off season has been dissected more carefully than a frog in a freshman biology class. Opinions range from “extreme anger” to “they deserve this” to “they could lose everyone except Zetterberg and Franzen and STILL win the Cup.”

I’d say I am somewhere in the middle. I never had any doubt that Tomas Kopecky  and Mikael Samuelsson were out the door. Initially, I really thought we would keep Ty Conklin, but as the numbers situation kept developing, it quickly became obvious that we had nowhere to stash both him and Jimmy Howard, so losing Conks isn’t a huge surprise in the end. Which leaves us with the two head-cases: Marian Hossa and Jiri Hudler.

marian-hossa jiri-hudler-26

Quite frankly, we should have seen this coming with Hossa. He’s been a mercenary pretty much his whole career, and with the Wings inking Zetterberg and Franzen to long term deals, the writing was pretty much on the wall for Hossa. Except he started talking about wanting to stay. And we got greedy. Then, like a bad one night stand, Hossa rolled to our division rival, and the media claimed we were taking the “walk of shame.” Spare me.

Look, I can admit guilt and say I wanted Hossa to stay around. But as this mess dragged on, I quickly lost respect for him and realized that he wasn’t sticking around. Ken Holland and the Wings organ-i-zation did everything they could to keep him, and he just wasn’t willing to take the hometown discount. So be it. Happy trails.

Now, about Hudler…

MC,

Hudler? WTF?

David P.

Westland, MI

Look, WTF is right. Yes, I said I thought he was gone when the season ended, but that was under the assumption that we would get Hossa to stay. When Hossa jumped ship, Hudler seemed to be a pretty sure bet to stick around. Then Sammy bolted, and Hudler looked even better. Next thing ya know, we have arbitration on our hands. OK, it could be worse. Then, BOOM! Here comes the KHL throwing around boatloads of tax free money to a kid like Hudler, and he is outtie 5000. But before Wings fans can even be pissed, the NHL and USA Hockey are claiming foul and a hearing is in the works with the IIHF. Meanwhile, the Wings can’t sign any free agents because we still have to go to arbitration with Huds to determine his future contract, since he is still our property, plus the stink the NHL and USA Hockey are raising could wind up bringing “Happy” back this season. A bonafide “Hockey Cold War” is underway and the Wings are stuck watching the free agent market deplete.

To get to the point: let Hudler go. He wants the jingle, so let him make his jingle. I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: If a guy doesn’t want to be here, show him the door. We have so much talent waiting in line, and I guarantee you those guys will work for every friggin’ inch on the ice. Get Hudler out of town, sign a free agent like Mike Grier or P.J. Axelsson and get back to work.

Chris,

Are the Tigers the real deal this season? Is this the year we finally win the division? And what do you think our chances are of doing some damage in the playoffs (if we make it)?

Ace

Toledo, OH

So we are at the All Star break and are hanging on to a 3.5 game lead in the division right now. 75 games to play. I’m not convinced we win the division.

The Tigers have the talent to do it this year, and they very well may take the Central, but they have been plagued by inconsistency this entire season. Some nights, this team looks like world beaters. Other nights, they couldn’t fight their way out of a wet paper bag. I think the starting pitching gives them a shot to win on any given night (except Armando Galarraga, who is so up and down that I am getting whiplash), but the bats still aren’t instilling alot of confidence in me. Here’s the good thing, though: Leyland has had plenty of time to get a good look at some of the younger guys, and he knows he has options as we head into the division race.

As far as the division goes, it’s all about who gets hot at the right time. The White Sox made a steady push heading into the break and we know the Twins will be lurking the entire rest of the season. But is it ours to take? Absolutely. Solid pitching and some consistent hitting should give us as good a chance as anyone else at winning the Central.

As far as the playoffs go, I think it’s too early to tell. If they started today, I don’t know that we make it out of the ALDS. The Red Sox, Yankees and Angels could all easily take us down, and the aforementioned inconsistent play would do us no favors. That said, there are 75 games to go and alot could happen. Let’s see how the division shakes out first.

Let’s wrap it up on a fun note…

Dude,

Worse GM: Glen Sather or Dale Tallon?

J

Scoreless tie.

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Who’s Staying and Who’s Going In Motown?

*I’m reposting this from over at “Winging It”, as this is a topic I have been bugged about like crazy today and I want to give all readers a chance to weigh in…even those without memberships at SB Nation (GET ONE!!!).

hossasocks

(Photo courtesy of Julian H. Gonzalez/Detroit Free Press)

Before we move forward and look at who might not be around, let’s take a look at who is already locked up. Up front, Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, Johan Franzen, Valtteri Filppula, Dan Cleary, Tomas Holmstrom, Kirk Maltby, Kris Draper, Darren Helm and Justin Abdelkader are all taken care fo for next season. Defensively, the Wings have already secured the services of Nicklas Lidstrom, Brian Rafalski, Niklas Kronwall, Brad Stuart, Jonathan Ericsson, Andreas Lilja, Derek Meech and Brett Lebda. In net, Chris Osgood will be back as the starter and Jimmy Howard is signed for the next two years.

Which leaves us with the following question marks and probable results (which of course are all IMO):

Marian Hossa

  • Hossa is an unrestricted free agent entering the off-season, but it is widely believed that he will be back in the winged wheel next season, and for quite a few seasons after that. Despite all but disappearing in this postseason, Hossa is still a superstar in the NHL and the Wings are a better team with him in the lineup. However, his price tag is guaranteed to be high, as he garnered 7.45 million this past season. Even if Ken Holland can work his magic and get Hossa to take less money over a long-term deal, his presence bodes pretty unfavorably for some of the other free agents on the Wings roster.
  • Staying or going? Staying.

Jiri Hudler

  • Here’s where things begin to get complicated. Hudler is a restricted free agent, so all the Wings have to do is offer him, and he stays with the team. However, as Hossa is widely expected to sign a long term deal with the Wings, Hudler becomes one of the players on the outside looking in. Normally, this wouldn’t be a major issue, as Hudler has enough NHL experience to receive a crop of offer sheets from other clubs. However, and unproductive playoff – three assists and zero goal in his last 12 playoff games – could lead some clubs to reconsider Hudler. In the end, though, someone should take a chance on him, and Hudler will be playing for someone else when the fall rolls around.
  • Staying or going? Going.

Mikael Samuelsson

  • Samuelsson, an unrestricted free agent, is expected to be another victim of a Marian Hossa re-signing. Despite being productive for the Wings early in the playoffs, Sammy fell of the map in the last 10 games, netting zero points. His contract is just over one million dollars, which is completely reasonable for a 20 goal scorer, so someone will scoop up Samuelsson off the market.
  • Staying or going? Very much gone.

Tomas Kopecky

  • Kopecky is another major question mark, as the Wings will likely need to shed one more salary, in addition to Hudler’s and Samuelsson’s, to keep Hossa in a Red Wings uniform for the foreseeable future. The likely answer appears to be Kopecky, who has been out since Game 5 of the Anaheim series after suffering a broken orbital bone. But it won’t be easy to cut ties with him, as Kopecky played 79 regular season games and is only 27 years old. But the reality is that Kopecky only put up 19 points over those 79 games, and with younger players like Leino, Abdelkader and Helm gaining experience and playing time, Kopecky’s lack of production might help to show him the door in Detroit. 
  • Staying or going? Probably going.

Ville Leino

  • No drama here. Leino is a restricted free agent, who hasn’t played in enough NHL games to really warrant an offer sheet from another team. Leino will be back and will probably get increased time with the big club, especially if Kopecky doesn’t get re-signed.
  • Staying or going. Staying.

Darren McCarty and Aaron Downey

  • With the young talent making its way up the ladder, I just don’t see both of these guys staying. McCarty played in 13 games this season to Downey’s four. Combine that with McCarty’s status as a fan favorite and someone who is willing to grind it out in the minors to get his shot, and he’s my pick to be back in a Wings uniform next season.
  • Staying or going? McCarty: Staying. Downey: Going.

Chris Chelios

  • Unfortunately, Cheli’s time in Motown is up. With young defensive talent like Jon Ericsson and Niklas Kronwall leading the charge, Chelios’ minutes just aren’t there anymore.
  • Staying or going? Gone.

Ty Conklin

  • So this is one situation that has managed to stay under the radar for the most part, but Conks finds himself as a free agent and the Wings potentially find themselves with an untested backup goaltender in Jimmy Howard. At this point, things get really tricky, and Ken Holland is going to earn his paycheck when this is all said and done. Conklin made $750,000 last season, but happened to turn in 25 wins while Osgood was interested, and will most likely ask for more money. But Jimmy Howard is making $717,000 a season, and also can’t be sent back down to the minors without being waived. And if Howard got claimed off waivers and  called back up from the minors, half of his salary would be on the shoulders of the Red Wings. It’s a predicament, for sure. However, I don’t think that the Wings staff is 100 percent confident in Howard’s ability to succeed in the NHL, and surely don’t consider him a full time backup at this point. Combine that with the fact that there isn’t a huge demand for starting goaltenders this off-season and, in the end, I think it looks something like this: Howard gets a few more chances to prove himself during the regular season, but…
  • Staying or going? Conklin is staying, at least until the trade deadline.

That covers off on all of our free agent action, but there is one more area of concern:

Andreas Lilja

  • Lilja is signed to play this year, but after getting his block knocked off during the regular season last year, he hasn’t been able to return to the ice because of persistent headaches. For awhile, it looked as if he was turning the corner, but now he claims that the pain is worse than ever. I hate to say it (and I hope it’s not true), but Lilja sounds like a player who might possibly have played his last game in the NHL. I may very well be wrong about this, but he doesn’t sound like he is making a ton of improvement here and I, for one, do not expect him to be ready for the start of next season.
  • However, if he does somehow make it back to the lineup, it puts Derek Meech in a really tough position. Meech has had a really tough time cracking the starting lineup over the last two years, and if Lilja can return, Meech finds himself squarely on the trade block. However, if Lilja can’t return, then Meech finds himself on more secure footing, as long as he isn’t passed by another guy from the minors.

All in all, it’s going to be a tricky off-season in terms of roster movement. Without a doubt, there will be changes, but the Wings remain in good shape since their core players have all been taken care of. With young, playoff proven talent ready to step up for anyone who leaves town, the Wings should find themselves in a pretty good position when the playoffs fire up again next season.

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Prepare Thyself: June 8 – June 14

It’s a big week. Period.

Red Wings

  • Tuesday, June 9 at Pittsburgh – 8:00 PM (Game 6) (NBC)
  • Friday, June 12 vs. Pittsburgh – 8:00 PM (Game 7) (If Necessary) (NBC)

Tigers

  • Monday, June 8 at Chicago (DH) – 2:05 PM/8:11 PM (FS Detroit)
  • Tuesday, June 9 at Chicago – 8:11 PM (FS Detroit)
  • Wednesday, June 10 at Chicago – 8:11 PM (FS Detroit)
  • Thursday, June 11 at Chicago – 2:05 PM (FS Detroit)
  • Friday, June 12 at Pittsburgh – 7:05 PM (FS Detroit)
  • Saturday, June 13 at Pittsburgh – 7:05 PM (FS Detroit)
  • Sunday, June 14 at Pittsburgh – 1:35 PM (FS Detroit)

Game of the Week

Red Wings: Tuesday, June 9 at Pittsburgh – 8:00 PM (NBC)

No matter what happens, this is the NHL’s final week for the 2009 season. Lord Stanley will be in the house on Tuesday, as the Wings look to keep his highness in the Motor City for one more year. This is as big as it gets.

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