Apr 042011

Over the weekend the Red Wings clinched their tenth consecutive 100 point season, ninth Central division title in ten years, and 20th consecutive trip to the playoffs — the active record in North American professional team sports. Despite all those proud achievements I remain profoundly skeptical about the team’s chances in the upcoming playoffs.

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Dec 282010

Last night Chris Osgood won his 400th game. That makes him only the tenth player in the history of the league to hit that milestone. I won’t lie, I’ve always had a soft spot for Ozzie. I’ve followed his career from the very beginning when he was a promising solution to the perpetual mediocrity in goal that was a staple of the 1980’s Red Wings. Through all the up and downs of his career: scoring a goal, blowing the 1994 playoffs, letting in that shot from the redline against the Stars in 1998, following that game up with a Game Seven shutout, etc, I’ve remained a fan for the man wearing the throwback helmet and cage combo, and who only now, at nearly forty, looks like he’s old enough to drink.

The real question though, is will reaching the 400 win mark be enough to get Osgood into the Hall of Fame? All of the other goalies with 400 plus wins are in, or are sure-fire locks like Ed Belfour. However, despite the two Stanley Cups won as a starter, and the 400 wins, I suspect there will be resistance to Osgood’s induction. He never won a Vezina trophy — arguably he should’ve won in 1996, his numbers were on the whole better than Carey’s, though he did play in 20 fewer games — made very few All-Star teams, only was named to the All-NHL team once, never won 40 or more games in a season, never won a Conn Smythe Trophy — though his numbers in 08 and 09 were deserving, etc. But then again, he played in an era where Dominic Hasek sucked all the air out of the room when it came to goalies — how nuts is it that Brodeur didn’t win a Vezina until 2002? So sure, compared to Hasek Osgood doesn’t stack up — and didn’t for Detroit in the 2001 off-season, natch — but then again, who does? In the end with Chris Osgood it will come down to how much weight voters place on his year to year consistency, always putting up good, not great numbers, behind some very excellent teams. Personally, I think the Cups and wins put him over the top — certainly if Detroit had hung on to win in 2009 he would be a slam dunk. But I am also highly biased and my hunch is that most voters will say that Ozzie’s success was due more to playing for the best franchise of his era than his own ability, and he will become the first goaltender with 400 wins to not make the Hockey Hall of Fame. I hope I’m wrong, but flying just a bit under the radar seems to be the way for the man in the boring mask.

Jun 022010

Given the news that Nick Lidstrom is coming back for next season, and that the NHL is raising the salary cap by another two million dollars. The end result is that Ken Holland has about nine million dollars left to spend. Holland says he intends to spend the bulk of that money on resigning players like Holmstrom, Bertuzzi and a raft of their restricted free agents. To a large degree I can see the wisdom in this. The team, as constructed, suffered a host of disastrous injuries last season, and yet still managed to break the 100 point mark. However, I remain vastly skeptical of the team’s ability to generate secondary scoring. It just seems like management is in danger of falling into the trap of being overly enamoured of their own talent. I’m not advocating that they rush out and spend money on Ilya Kovalchuk, but I do feel Holland needs to add some new, proven talent to the mix. Now who knows, perhaps Filppula and Cleary will get hot next year and produce on a higher level, which would eliminate the need for that second line scorer, however I’m not sure if Filppula will ever live up to the team’s hype. Hopefully a full season with a minimum of injuries will see the team perform up to it’s expectations — not neccesarily running away from the league, but mixing it up with the elite. If they scuffle through another season though, then heading into the 2011-2012 season Holland will have to make more significant changes.

May 052010

Ok, so it is a little premature to call the Red Wings season over, but after crapping the bed last night the fat lady is definitely getting her obituary ready. And really that shouldn’t be all that shocking given how up and down the team has played all season. However, given how weirdly disjointed their peformance has been in this series it smarts. That is not to say the miracle couldn’t happen, it’s just the comeback would be historic.

Given that the season is on life support, my thoughts are more focused on the offseason, which now becomes the most important in Holland’s tenure. At this moment Detroit has approximately 16 million in cap space. However, ten million of that is from the expiring contracts of Holmstrom and Lidstrom. Oddly enough if you asked me which player saw the bigger dip this season I’d say Lidstrom. Don’t get me wrong, Nick still played at a high level, but not at his typical Lidstrom level. Homer meanwhile played his role and got his twenty goals. If I was to be totally objective, I would offer Homer a one year deal worth about the same, or a little less, to his current deal — so around $2mil — Lidstrom I would tell “we’ll pay you what you want because you’re the best defenseman in team history, but please consider asking for less for the good of the team.” Ideally he will feel the same and take a deal in the 4-5 million range. That still won’t give the team much wiggle room with the cap since they have to pay the returning Jiri Hudler 2.5 mil, but it gets them closer. The team should also look long and hard at signing Jimmy Howard to a long-term extension. His current deal expires after next season at which point he’ll be an unrestricted free agent.

The problem Detroit faces is that they are so close to the cap they lack the flexibility to get what they desperately need, secondary scoring. Hopefully next season Franzen will stay healthy and produce. Maybe the light has clicked with Filpulla and he can be a strong 2nd line player. And most importantly, one or more of the young players Detroit has stashed away in Grand Rapids will blossom at the NHL level. If any of those happen then the Wings will be legit contenders next year. If not, it looks like another year of scuffling for a playoff spot.

May 182009

So Game One of the Western Conference Finals is in the books. Good game by the Wings, even if the goals they did give up were on the sloppy side. Osgood continues the greatest case of stepping up for playoffs that I can remember, and Datsuyk continues to not score. While one game does not make a series I was glad to see that Khabibulin is not in a domination mode. Sure, he made some mind boggling saves, but the goalies he did let in were by and large a bunch of softies. Therefore all Detroit needs to do for the remainder of the series is keep up the barrage of rubber and they should be able to advance. I still don’t feel a streak in the works, but six games still feel about right.

Dec 222008

It’s been a running tradition of mine to write down the top five “Things I learned” on my whiteboard at work the last week of the year. Well this year my whiteboard is being used for other things (conversion QQ) so I am forced to use alternative measures. Therefore, without further ado, the top five Things I Learned in 2008:

5) The iPhone really is that great.
4) Super-majorities are over-rated
3) One Cup > 0-16
2) Huge, under-supervised bailouts for mismanaged financial giants = appropriate use of taxpayer funds. Huge under-supervised bailouts for mismanaged manufacturing giants = wasteful spending.