August 30, 2010

Red Wings Blogger Roundtable

It is our turn to host the blogger roundtable, which I am thrilled about because it provides another opportunity to post something that I didn't write at all. Hooray summer vacation.

My questions are in italics, and the answers aren't. Most of you can figure that out on your own, while the remainder of you are Jason Williams. That guy is really dumb.


1) Malik had a tremendous piece at Puck Daddy with his Mt. Puckmore of Red Wings. My question is, if you were to go around back of this mountain -- you know, the side covered in bird shit and dead Communists -- what would the Bizarro Mt. Puckmore look like? I'm talking about the 4 Red Wing players of your lifetime who contributed so little that the very thought of a gigantic mountain with their faces on it makes you want to punch a pregnant dinosaur. Like right in the uterus, I'm talking a really angry blow. The only qualification is that these players had to play at least one season in Detroit (trade deadline busts acceptable), so leave out the quick call ups and scrubs we don't remember.

MATT SALER: Boyd "Devoid" Devereaux. The guy technically contributed on the original Two Kids and an Old Goat Line, but was there ever a heavier dead weight? Sure there are guys who contributed less, probably, but none of them stand out in my mind like good old Boyd.

GEORGE MALIK: In my lifetime? Sergei Bautin, Bob Essensa, Uwe Krupp and Jason Williams.

The Tim Cheveldae-and-Dallas Drake for Bautin/Essensa trade as the worst one during my tenure as a Wings fan; while Cheveldae didn't play particularly well or particularly poorly for the Jets, Drake had a very, very solid career and was repeatedly pursued by the Wings as a missing element that they never quite replaced until he returned (I feel the same way about Bob Rouse, whose Swiss Army Knife of defensemen versatility has only met its equal in Brad Stuart), while Essensa was just terrible in the net--when he wasn't hurt--and Sergei Bautin only played in one game for the Wings because he was hurt, too, and was a 6'3," 200-lb. pylon. The man smoked more cigarettes in a week than he played games in the NHL, and unlike Maxim Kuznetsov, he had no redeeming qualities as an international player. Kuznetsov may have stank for the Wings, but he actually played very well and won championships in Europe; Bautin went nowhere.

The fact that Essensa forced the Wings to go with Ozzie in the 94 playoffs against San Jose and was a "Wing killer" when he moved on to Edmonton, Phoenix and Vancouver--because he was peeved at the Wings for banishing him to the IHL for the 94-95 and 95-96 seasons--didn't help, either.

As for Krupp, everybody knows about that disaster. The Wings tossed millions and millions of dollars at a player that wrecked his back, possibly attempted to dogsled race while he rehabbed it, got into a nasty legal battle with the team and then skated out of Detroit with a Cup ring for his trouble and played as at least a marginally effective defenseman for the Thrashers for a couple of seasons...And I hate to say this, but he's a genuinely nice guy, so nobody won in the Krupp imbroglio. He didn't deserve to be followed around by private investigators and the Wings didn't deserve to have to deal with Krupp screwing around with them, either. I really hope that he took the Cup ring out of the situation and looked on the bright side because he's represented Germany with class and poise as their national team's coach at various levels, so...I mean, I feel guilty about giving the guy ill will. Nobody won. Everybody lost, Cup ring aside.

I don't mean to bag on Jason Williams as a person, either, but his second stint with Detroit was like watching somebody go back to their old flame only to realize why they broke up with each other in the first place. He waited a month to take the Wings' offer during the summer of 2009, openly admitting that he would have preferred to stay with Columbus or go to the KHL instead, and after a fantastic exhibition season alongside Ville Leino and Valtteri Filppula, he seemed to cop Leino's attitude when things went south, he got hurt, and when he came back, he was nothing more than a liability, especially in the playoffs. He didn't want to be here and it showed in his play, and I honestly think he's played himself out of an NHL job--the free agent "leftover class of 2010" remains very deep, the KHL's tapped out $-wise, and European leagues are underway, so it's entirely possible that he'll have to settle for either an AHL deal or latch on to a team in Europe as an injury replacement to simply skate for a living this season. To some extent his cap hit played a larger role in Leino's departure than Maltby or Lilja's did, and he just offered the Wings nothing in return.

MICHAEL PETRELLA: I fucking love this question. It's the most well-written and hilarious question I've ever had the honor answering. So I better not screw it up. Since I assume I can't select Todd Bertuzzi's head four times, I'll try to come up with four guys MORE useless than he is (good luck, right?). My lifetime stretches a little further back than some of the other bloggers, so I'll let them do the whole "LOL Jason Woolley / Yuri Butsayev" thing and go a tiny bit older:

Greg Stefan. This story is no bullshit: when I was about seven (and playing at Chuck E. Cheeses, I shit you not), someone's father told my mom the following: "Hey, did you hear Greg Stefan attempted suicide? Yeah... he jumped in front of a bus. But he missed." I may have been a second grader, but I laughed my ass of because even prepubescent me knew that he probably didn't belong in the league.

Robert Picard. It's kind of cheating, because he didn't play a full season in Detroit -- and it was at the end of a very solid NHL career, but when the Wings received Picard from the Quebec Nordiques (for Tony McKegney. Yup. THAT Tony McKegney), you'd think it was a huge deadline acquisition. He went on to score a grand total of zero goals in a Red Wings sweater and was largely invisible before retiring that summer.

Dave Lewis. The coach. And maybe the player. But definitely the coach. If that little shit couldn't win with the 2002-03 Detroit Red Wings, he officially couldn't beat his daughter at HORSE. Note: I have no idea if he has a daughter.

Dmitry Bykov. What was that about?

CASEY RICHEY: Brett Lebda, Jason Williams, Sean Avery and Uwe Krupp. I don't know if I need to do much explaining for Lebda or Avery but Williams was just so freaking plain and unnoticeable (I would keep forgetting him on the list of injured players last year). Krupp I don't exactly hate but he was just the ultimate waste of money.

KRIS FROM SNIPE DANGLE: Can Uwe Krupp take up three spots? I've spent a lot of time thinking about it and I can't come up with any situation in which I'd need to go dog sledding so badly that I'd do it while rehabbing a bad back barring a relocation to Alaska. Derian Hatcher and Ville Leino both earned spots for being gigantic disappointments. I'm going to put Stacey Roest up there in the final spot mostly for being named Stacey. His name did earn him a mention on Burn Notice last summer, though, so I guess that's something. I'm having a pretty good time imagining the Wings faithful flocking to the back of Mt. Puckmore to throw rocks and beer bottles at the faces carved there.

CHRIS HOLLIS: Krupp can go dog-sled his injured back off a cliff for all I care, Stefan never met a GAA over 3.50 that he didn't like, Leino's lacksadasical appraoch to hockey in Detroit only to get traded and blow up in the playoffs will drive me crazy forever and Lebda's inate ability to backhand the game winning goal around the boards and onto the other team's stick will live with me until the day I die. Danny Markov narrowly missed the cut.

Can Dave Lewis carve the mountain?

NOHS STAFF: I kind of already did a piece on something similar:
But if I had to pick my least favorite 4 from that would go like this-
1. Marian Hossa - scored 40 goals in the 08-09 regular in seven games against his former team in the SCF. The jumped ship to Chicago. F**k you.
2. Uwe Krupp - came from the then hated Colorado Avalanche - you know, back when they were good. Signed a giant four year deal with Detroit and played in a total of 30 games of that contract. Sat out due to "back problems" and then was found in Alaska dog-sledding.
3. Wendel Clark - played most of his career with the Toronto Maple Leafs when that rivalry was at his peak. Acquired by Detroit at the '98-'99 trade deadline...never clicked and not re-signed in the off-season.
4. Bob Essensa - played in a total of 13 regular season games for Detroit going 4-7-2. For some reason, we let him play in the play-offs in two games...he lost both of them.


2) Who's going to be the most positive surprise, and who's going to be the biggest disappointment? Last year's champions: Todd Bertuzzi and Ville Leino respectively. Bert narrowly edged Jimmy last season because, frankly, I was convinced that Todd was going to commandeer the team and relocate them from Detroit to his basement.

SALER: Franzen's the biggest surprise because knock on wood everybody he's healthy all season and tears it up for a full year for once. Modano's the biggest disappointment, just to stay consistent on that position. Though I hope I'm wrong on that. My alternate big disappointment is Jimmy. As high as he set the bar last year, I feel like there's going to be a come down in the 'base.

MALIK: I expect Jonathan Ericsson to regain his form and then some. I really do believe that he has the hockey chops to put his difficult season behind him and I think that he and Valtteri Filppula understand that their futures with Detroit depend on their respective performances this year, so I expect both to step it up, but especially given Ericsson's incredibly difficult 09-10 season, I think his resurgence will surprise people, whereas Filppula's simply going to fulfill expectations. I'm not going to try to guess about the disappointments. I would imagine that Kindl could bomb if the Wings rely on him too heavily too early but I also believe in Kindl's potential, big time, if he's broken in slowly and brought up to speed in terms of the NHL's pace of play and fitness levels.

PETRELLA: Most pleasant surprise candidate: Ruslan Salei. He may not be uber-flashy, but he should fill some gaps that people don't know he's able of filling.

Biggest disappointment candidate: Jimmy Howard, just because of where the expectations are right now.

RICHEY: Most positive surprise: Valtteri Filppula. I think this has been a long time coming as Red Wings fans have watched him mature and grow as a player. I think he's still off the radar for some folks so I think he could be a surprise by having a 60 or 70 point season. Biggest disapointment: I actually think this one could go to Mike Modano. He's had a lot of hype and talk regarding his coming to Detroit and although I'm not expecting his 80 point season of old he could just end up being a non-factor. I hope I'm wrong but I wouldn't be surprised, it's a new system for him and a big spotlight as he comes back home.

KRIS: I think the biggest positive surprise will be Ruslan Salei. Assuming he stays healthy, he should have a pretty good year down on the third pairing. He should bring a solid veteran presence to hopefully steady Jonathan Ericsson and I expect him to be a little more physical than Andreas Lilja was. for the biggest disappointment, I'm going to go out on a limb and say Mike Modano. I was in the Pro-dano camp from the beginning, but I feel like a lot of people (Mike Ilitch included) are looking at him as the final piece to the puzzle that's going to guarantee the Wings a Cup this season. I don't think he's going to have a bad year; I expect him to provide a steady presence on the third line and chip in some secondary scoring. I just envision a lot of these people disappointed at the end of the year when they realize the Wings didn't sign the 2000 edition of Mike Modano.

HOLLIS: I think Jimmy Howard will be the biggest surprise this season, because nobody knows if he can replicate his play from last year over an entire season. he's got alot to prove and I think he will. As for biggest disappointment, I'll go with Niklas Kronwall. I still don't think the man is completely healed from his injury last year and I get the feeling he may spend a bunch of time on the IR this season. I hope I'm wrong, but we'll see.

NOHS STAFF: Going off of my gut - I'm saying that Johnny Ericsson is the biggest surprise of the season. After a horrible (by our standards) first full season in Detroit, I'm hoping the kid gets his footing in the league and re-establishes himself as that "future NHL All-Star" as he was being touted in the 2009 Play-offs. Biggest dissapointment is a toss-up between Jiri Hudler and Mike Modano. I doubt Modano will be able to live up to a lot of people's hype unless he goes out and has 60 points next season while playing in all 82 games. But Hudler has a lot of expectations too. Babbles says he gets 70 points...I want nothing less than the 57 points he got before he jumped ship to make his tax free dollars in Russia.


3) Simply put: Are the Detroit Red Wings the #1 team in the NHL right now?

SALER: Right now, yes. But only because they're healthy now. If they stay healthy, I see them as juggernauts again.

MALIK: No, because they didn't win the Cup. You only start the season as the best team in the league if you win the Cup, and after that, you've got to re-earn your reputation. I do think that the Wings are one of the best teams in the league, definitely among the best in the West alongside the Sharks, Hawks and Canucks, more than on par with the Pens, Caps and Bruins, and I do believe that the Wings will at least win the Central Division this year, but the Hawks, cap casualties and all, start the year as the league's best team because they finished first where it counts most.

PETRELLA: In my eyes, the Red Wings are ALWAYS the #1 team in the league, but without being over-confident I'd say that the Wings are certainly near the top of the food chain again heading into 10-11. But -- they don't play games on paper, and the very solid lineup will have to gel, stay healthy, and prove that they can improve upon the tumultuous season from a year ago.

Adding Hudler, Modano, Salei, and -- tangentially -- Kindl and losing only Jason Williams and Brett Lebda? Sold.

RICHEY: At first I wanted to answer this question as no but then I thought about it more. I think the Red Wings have gotten better by virtually staying the same. The amount the Blackhawks have lost is ridiculous, the Sharks lost a high-quality (regular season) goalie, the Pens lost Sergei Gonchar and Bill Guerin while playing in a very tough division and although Washington is loaded with talent, let's face it they play in the Southeast division, the Oilers would have a 100 point season in that division. I think the Wings have gotten better by adding Jiri Hudler and eliminating some problem areas (Williams, Lebda) and are returning an already incredible line-up. So, yes.

KRIS: That's a silly question. The Wings have been the #1 team in the NHL since 1926. In all seriousness, though, I can't think of another team that can roll four lines like the Wings can. I don't think they'll place first in the league this season--Washington is going to run away with the Least again because there's nobody to compete with them--but they should be challenging San Jose for first in the West. Chicago might give them a run for their money, but their roster has too many mountain-sized question marks to look horribly threatening at this point.

HOLLIS: Not until they win the Cup.

NOHS STAFF: Simply put - yes. Line up our first line with anyone's first line. How about our second line? Third line? Fourth? Goaltending? Yeah - I'd put these team in a seven game series with anyone when they're healthy.


J.J. from Kansas said...

You said "Todd Bertuzzi". That's weird seeing his name here.

Love the roundtable and the back of Rushmore question. Great job, everybody.

Chris said...

Why does Drew not have a name?

Chris said...

Nice work though.

Triple Deke Staff said...

Why does Drew not have a name?

He sent his in as "NOHS Staff". I pictured you and him getting together, turning on a flashlight and hiding under the covers while filling out the answers. If this didn't actually happen I will be very disappointed.

- Tyler

Sullyosis said...

As a new member to the NOHS staff I can attest that Tyler is almost exactly right, except for the additional fact that I brought rice krispies treats to the party and sat outside the fort reading comics.

Peter said...

just got back from vacation and red this. have none of you heard of Bernie Federko? we traded Adam Oates to St. Louis for this over the hill gasbag!

Anonymous said...

I was going to say Federko, too. He was a great player who was heartbroken to be traded and had no will to play the game when he got here and retired after 1 season.
But what keeps him off the list is that he actually contributed. If Modano puts up 57 points (as Federko did) it will be considered a success, although we didn't have to trade away an assist wizard to get him.