Since both of my readers are probably wondering where I have been the last week or so, I decided to weigh in on what's been going down in Red Wing nation the last week or so. It's been a pretty quiet couple of weeks, but in the last few days we've had 2 signings, a courtship, and a tragedy.
Bob Probert passes away at 45 - I really wish I could say this news shocked me. I was shocked that he died so young; anytime someone under the age of 50 passes away due to a heart attack or something health-related that was not overtly known, it's a shock. But when you consider the way that Probert lived his life during his playing career, it's no surprise that he developed heart issues. The man had a known cocaine and alcohol problem during his playing career, and he lived like he played: hard and fast. Being a young lad in Toronto, I remember him and Kocur getting involved with Wendel Clark a lot when they played the Leafs. I also remember him not being able to cross the border into Canada after his arrest, so I didn't get to see him play a lot. What I will remember about him the most was his epic battles with Troy Crowder of the Devils in the early '90s, and his battle with Marty McSorely that was one of the longest fights I've ever seen. RIP Probie.
Patrick Eaves signs 1 year deal for $750K- This hot off the presses, but this is great news for the Wings. I like this deal, although I'm surprised he didn't get a multi-year deal. Perhaps the Wings are making sure last year was no fluke for Eaves. He gets a nice raise, but he was making league-minimum last year and was one of the more consistent Wing players throughout the season. He started off as a 4th line player, but the chemistry he developed with Darren Helm was nice to see, and those two quickly became the Wings' best PK forward unit. I look forward to an entire season with those two playing together.
Drew Miller signs 1 year deal for $650K - It's a little ironic for me that Miller was the first of the RFAs to sign, because in my head I had the priority of signing them in this order: Helm, Abdelkader, Eaves, Miller. So of course Miller signs first. Miller got a nice raise (23%) from what he made last year, when he was a solid waiver-wire pick up while the Wings were in injury Hell. He's a gritty 3rd or 4th line player that can chip in the odd goal here or there, but with the Wings' nucleus in place, they only need to sign depth players. That's exactly what Miller is. I like the money involved, because it leaves ample space to sign the other 2 left, plus a little for cap space. As it stands after the Miller and Eaves signings, the Wings have $3.75M in cap space, which is more than enough for Helm and Abby. Then there's always Mikey Mo.....
The courtship of Mike Modano - This is an interesting scenario brewing. Not being from Detroit, or Michigan, or the US, I don't have any of the "coming home to play" feelings that a lot of people have. Plus, I'm just not that much of a sentimental guy. I had enough of the "guys coming to play for the hometeam because no one else wants them" in the late '90s when the Leafs signed every single player who played in the old MTHL in the 1970s. Personally, I like the idea of Modano in a Wings jersey because I believe he still brings something to the table. It's not like the Wings are trying to get him to be their messiah; they are looking for him to come in and play on the 3rd and/or 4th line, take some heat off of Pavel and Hank, and chip in goals on the PP while bringing veteran leadership to an already awesome dressing room. This is a signing that reminds me of Luc Robitaille in 2002; they are bringing in a veteran for a shot at the Cup. There are some people who feel that bringing in Modano will stunt the growth of someone like Ritola. Let's be honest here: Ritola is not being brought up to the NHL to have an impact. He's being brought up to experience being part of the big club, soak up the experience in the dressing room, and learn what it will take for him to be an important part of this team for years to come. The Wings have the reputation as being one of the most patient organizations in sports; there's no reason for them to deviate from their philosophy now.
It's a shame how Dallas has cast him aside like this. I don't see how you can claim a rebuilding effort and not keep the most important player in the history of the franchise. I understand the need to move forward as a team, but I don't see how not bringing back the face of the franchise helps anywhere; on the ice as a leader, and from a PR standpoint as well. Let's face it: Dallas is not exactly a hockey hotbed, and with Modano gone and the team struggling, will it continue to bring in fans? Hard to say.
I will say this: they better not overpay for him. The Wings' priorities should be to sign Helm and Abby first, then worry about Modano. I would also prefer a 6th defenseman if one is available to replace Lilja, who is all but certain to be gone. But if the money is right and Modano wants to be in Detroit, I say sign him up and let's gun for Number 12.