Tuesday, August 24, 2010

The Aftermath

Yes, yes, I know I took a couple of days off: sue me. Some bloggers have taken the entire month off (although they are awesome writers and I miss seeing their daily takes on the Wings). However, I wanted to wrap up the series that I just finished and talk a bit about guys that came close to making the list and address some of the comments that were left on the last post. If you're like me, then you are really wondering what this Abdelkader-Hudler-Delvecchio thing is over at TPL. 2 more days and then we can see what the fuss has all been about. Any guesses?

Before we get into that, some great news yesterday came down the pipe with the re-signing of Justin Abdelkader to a 2 year, $1.57M contract. For those of you that live in Detroit, please let me know if Kenny Holland ever gives a course on how to sign contracts. Part of my professional life involves negotiating, and I would kill to learn how he gets these guys to sign these contracts. Think about what he did this summer:
  • He re-signed every single FA he said he was going to, even if we didn't want them all back (Bertuzzi)
  • He got Mike Modano to sign for $1.25M to play on the third line.
  • He got Tomas Holmstrom - the best net presence player in the NHL - to take a pay cut
  • He got the best defenseman in the NHL today to take a pay cut. Not just any pay cut - a 17% pay cut. Would you take 17% less money in your job, no matter how much you loved it? Me either.
Basically, the man is a negotiating genius. I don't know what he does. Maybe he has incriminating photos of some of them; maybe he hypnotizes them; maybe he is the world's most boring speaker and guys sign just so they can get out of the room. Either way, I don't care how he does it, because he is damn effective. This is a great signing for the team, because he is slated to get some decent minutes on the 4th line. It also means that the Wings are 2 guys over the 23-man roster limit. It was nice seeing you, Derek Meech. At forward, it gets a little tricky. The smart money seems to be on Mattias Ritola getting placed on waivers in the hopes that he clears and gets sent down to Grand Rapids; me, I think the forward that gets released/cut/sent down will be decided after training camp. If Ritola has a good camp, I could see him making the team.

I want to thank everyone for the nice comments about the site, both on here, on Twitter and via email. I can say that I had a ton of fun doing each post, with some being more enjoyable than others. I loved going on to Youtube to find one specific video only to spend an hour there just watching all the great moments. It was a nice way for me to spend a summer re-living the glory days, especially after a disappointing end to this latest season.

I wanted to talk about the list. I'm hoping that the top-6 were no-brainers, and I understand that some of you still hold a grudge against Fedorov. As wingsluver4ever pointed out in the comments, I focused exclusively on players. Had I included coaches and management, I would have had an extremely hard time placing the Illitches, Kenny Holland, Jimmy D, Jim Nill, Scotty Bowman and Hakan Andersson on the list; would they go above guys like Datsyuk and Zetterberg? What about Jacques Demers and Bryan Murray, 2 coaches who were able to make the Wings great in the regular season but could not translate that to playoff success? I just couldn't reconcile their place on the list because their contributions were different from the players. Perhaps I will do another list, although to try and come up with 19 off-ice people will be pretty tough. We'll save that for next year.

I didn't receive a lot of criticism in the guys that made the list. However, one player was mentioned more than anyone: Darren McCarty. Truthfully, he was #20. He scored the prettiest Stanley Cup-winning goal I have ever seen; his hat trick against Colorado was a nice way to deal with a hangover (that's an interesting story - ask me if you want to hear it); and his beat-down of Clau....de.....Le..... (nope, can't type his full name) coupled with scoring the OT winner on March 26 made him an instant fan favourite. Unfortunately, his contributions were too scattered, and he left the team for a time. He did not have great numbers overall, an I just couldn't justify putting him ahead of some of the other players that I got to see, even though I recognize that he was a big part of all of the Cup-winning teams.

Now, on to the comments. I was going to do this in the post itself, but to address everyone would just take too long in one giant comment.

Brandon - thank you for the kind words. While I never did get to meet him, there's still a chance - even if that means cornering him in a men's room at O'Hare.

dorfarm - your story really resonated with me. I could probably have written your story and just substituted "Gordie Howe" for "Steve Yzerman". Thankfully we were able to escape the evil clutches of the Maple Leafs and their fans. As one of the few Wing fans that endured the entire Dead Wings era of the '70s and '80s, I can only imagine how sweet it was for you to experience winning Stanley Cups again.

wingsluver4ever - again, thanks for the kind words. I agree that the Illitches have been and will continue to be instrumental in the Wings' success, and had they been on the list, they would have come in around #3. Like you said, I was only listing players.

Norm - I've read a couple of Yzerman books, and I can't get enough of the man. I think because he's such a private person, our curiosity just expands. That would make a great job: traveling the country talking to Wing fans about their favourite Stevie moment or memory. The different stories that would come out from fans young and old would be really interesting.

Crater - Like I've said before, the Wings have been as important to me as most of the people in my life outside of my family and closest friends. These guys were my heroes growing up and I still continue to look up to them.

Smitty - Awesome story. I am supremely jealous of any person who has had the pleasure of meeting him, even if it was fleeting. Given what I've heard about him and cars, he may very well remember that. I'm a history guy (as you might have guessed) so any time I can talk to someone who saw games at the Olympia and got to see Howe, Abel, Lindsay and Delvecchio play, I consider that a real treat. You seem to have been destined to meet and marry your wife, both for the birthday and for the fact that she yells at idiot Blues fans. I enjoyed all of the personal stories you told. I hope you enjoyed the same.

Well, that's it. We are less than 30 days from training camp, and the start of the season will soon be upon us. We're going to start with some previews soon, both for the team and for the league. Here's a hint: I think the Wings are going to do well this year.


  1. Graham: Thanks for the reply. As I said before, it has been wonderful going down hockey-memory lane through your series. Hats off to you for all your hard work.

    Can't disagree with your reasoning on Ilitches #3. However, a few of the reason the Ilitches would be #1 on my list is because if they had not bought the Red Wings:
    Would Stevie Y ever been there to lead the Wings to become Hockeytown?
    Would the old regime have even drafted him?
    If they had would he have been gone like Mahvolich and Dionne before him?

    I am also a Red Wings fan dating from the Dead Wings era. Since Gordie left '71, my first three Wings including non-players would have been Ilitches, Stevie Y, Gordie. There is no doubt that Gordie is Mr. Hockey, but unfortunately his Wings glory years were before I was born although he is ever present in so many Red Wings discussions.

    My story: Gordie was a big supporter of hockey in Hockeytown North. Years before TC was Wings training camp, we didn't even have a rink - we had a bubble. It was paid for and supported by local hockey and figure skating enthusiasts and parents. It wasn't even a school sponsored sport and the uniforms were paid for by the coaches. Gordie was often there to help with appearances and donations for fund raisers.

    For me, the most special thing Gordie did though was for my dad. One year he presented him with a personally autographed stick for all his hard work. That thoughtful gesture to a man who never sought or wanted recognition for what he did is why Gordie is not just a hockey great, but also a great man.


  2. Graham -

    Thanks for the note - I just now saw it today - I started reading this post a while back but never got all the way through until now.

    Truth - I never saw Sid Abel or Ted Lindsay play. I did get Gordie's autograph after a game against Montreal one day (Saturday afternoon game - and how I remember that, I'll never know). It's somewhere amongst my stuff. Olympia was quite the place - trust me, not a place to hang around at in the dark of night, even then.

    Anyway - thanks again for the comment back and all the memories. Well worth the time.