First, sorry for the delay. I just got back from vacation, and I spent an amazing 3 days up north at my buddy's cottage. Nothing but sun, swimming, and boating. After that, it was back to the folks' house for some golf and relaxing by the pool combined with visiting with family. Unfortunately, I neglected both Twitter and the blog while I was up there, and I've been feeling very disconnected lately. However, when I did check the site and email, I received queries as to when the next entry in the series will be up. I am happy to report that time is now. Presenting #17 of the Greatest Red Wings of My Time.
Pertinent Stats: 254 GP, 107 G, 133 A, 241 P, +48, 292 PIM
Dino was another one of those guys that was picked up by the Wings in the mid-90s to give them some veteran depth and experience. Unfortunately, he was also one of the guys who was shipped out just prior to the Wings winning it all, so he never experienced a Cup win while part of the Wings (or with anyone else, for that matter). Although he was only with the Wings for 4 years, he had a big impact on the team not only because of the goals he scored, but because of how he paved the way for Tomas Holmstrom to become an important part of the team.
Dino was already an established scorer and power play specialist when he was brought in by the Wings in a trade for Kevin Miller. He also had a reputation as a guy who played He immediately became a force for the Wings, racking up 97 points in his first season as a Wing. Unfortunately, in what I call "The Season From Hell", it was not enough as the Wings lost to the Maple Leafs in the 1st round of the playoffs. He never really put up the numbers after that while in a Wing uniform, and he was eventually let go.
His impact for me was understated. Essentially, he was Holmstrom before Homer became what he is now. However, for me, it took a long time to really appreciate what Homer means to the team (more on him soon). It's the same with Dino. I didn't really get what he brought to the team until after he left. He was a good scorer who could put the puck in the net, even if it wasn't always pretty. He played with an edge, and provided some grit during the playoff runs in '95 and '96. Unfortunately, he just didn't have what it took in order to get them over the top, but he was part of the teams that gained the experience necessary to succeed.
One thing that got me about Dino when writing this up was wondering what the reaction was when they brought him in. Obviously, Dino was picked up before the internet and blogs, so the only way to know what other fans' reactions were was to talk to them. Growing up in Toronto, those fans were few and far between, so I didn't have any real opinion on Dino other than that he was a giant pain in the ass and I was glad he was now a teammate and not an enemy. But Dino came with his set of demons from the past, most notably his McSorely-chop on Luke Richardson in 1987. That I remember because he was vilified in the Toronto papers for the cheap shot (as he should have been), and he was even charged with criminal assault. I bring this up because it makes me wonder how we would react to the same signing today when we can all converse and voice our opinions to a broader audience. For me, as I pondered this, I couldn't help but think of Todd Bertuzzi, and I realized there are a lot of parallels there: the Wings took a guy who had talent, but had fucked up at one time and was a major pariah throughout the league. When that player became a Wing, the idiocy stopped and they became a decent contributor to the team and helped them get close to achieving the ultimate goal. I guess that's why I cut Todd a little slack; I've been through this once before. But that's another discussion for another day.
So there you have it. Dino wasn't here long, and ultimately he couldn't get the Wings to a Cup. But without him I don't think the Wings would have let Homer developed the way he did, and that's a big thing in my books. That is why he gets the coveted spot of #17 of the Greatest Red Wings of MY Time.