We knew that Sammy felt like the odd man out all season long. Nobody talked about re-signing him.
We would've loved to keep Conk, but not at the salary the Blues were offering. He had an excellent season for a backup and has the greatest nickname of any goalie in NHL history. It's impossible to be upset with his decision to leave.
And for 12 months we prepared ourselves to watch Hossa walk. Still, nothing we did could prepare ourselves to watch one of the Wings' best players join the Chicago Blackhawks. It's like if you roomed with a friend for a year, and then he found out that the apartment across the hall was getting free HBO, so he moved. Maybe the rent was cheaper and he had a little extra cash in his pocket than if he had stayed, so you tried to be understanding of his situation (even though his new roomates always forget to pay the electric bill on time). He took his little brother with him too, so now you have some space to yourself. It's not all bad.
But Jiri .... ???
Hudler's agent, Petr Svoboda, confirmed to Red Wings general manager Ken Holland on Wednesday night that the 25-year-old forward has signed a two-year deal with Moscow Dynamo and plans to play in the Kontinental Hockey League. He will earn $5 million a season, tax-free.
This is obviously all Svoboda's doing, as he's clearly still bitter about the 1997 Finals.
It would be difficult to wreck a dude because of his decision to possibly double the money that was being offered to him here. The little guy is far too likeable for either of us to conjure up any serious hate.
Put yourself in that situation. You're an American playing some sport in eastern Europe; you like it there, you like your team and your teammates, and everyone likes you; but then a Canadian team offers you twice the salary and more playing time -- are you going to stay? Seriously? Close to home with double the money?
That's the mature perspective. We acknowledge that it exists, but we're not quite there yet. In fact we just did this half whiny/self-pity thing for about 30 seconds before posting this. It hurts. Jiri should be a Red Wing.
It's not the reasoning for his decision, or where he's going, or money or any of that. All that matters is that we just lost a big 57 points from a third line winger. That's difficult to replace. Between four free agent forwards, the Wings have watched 187 points walk out the door this summer. There aren't a ton of options out their either.
"Detroit city babay -- yyaaAAAYYYyyy"
The undisputed greatest goal of Jiri Hudler's career as a Red Ving.