Sunday, July 1, 2012

FAF Day 1: Joy and Confusion

We all hoped for a big explosion when 12:01 came. When it didn't, we settled for a couple pops and sparklers. Then something happened. Something that we're still trying to make heads or tails from. Something, dark and sinister.

The Red Wings started off the day well. They made their pitches to Ryan Suter and Zach Parise - rumor has it the offers for Suter were in the ballpark of 80-100+ million dollars over 10-13 years, with Parise attracting similar offers - and gave fans a good jolt of confidence early on with the signing of former Maple Leafs' goaltender Jonas Gustavsson. How does he stack up against other Red Wings goaltenders? 

So he played almost as many games as Jimmy did, with a slightly worse save percentage, a fairly high GAA and a .500 win-loss ratio. He did post 4 shutouts, more than MacDonald and Conklin combined, and did have a better save percentage and GAA than Conklin. Keeping in mind, however, that he did all of this while playing for the Toronto Maple Leafs. The guy has stated he wants to be a starter, but he understands that coming to Detroit, he's going to be a backup. Here is really all you need to know about this guy to understand the value in signing him: While he was getting other offers, as soon as he got one from Detroit, he signed. He knows what we do here and wanted to be a part of it.

Further more, he's 27 and MacDonald is 32. We've got some guys in Grand Rapids I'm sure the Red Wings would love to move up in the system. So we give this guy 2 years, see how he does, see how our prospects are doing. If he's getting the job done and our guys need a bit more time, we sign him for another couple years. If he's done the job well, and even challenged Jimmy to get better, then he hits the market with some even more solid credentials and can maybe land a nice big fat 5 year starting contract, and the Wings can bring up someone from Grand Rapids who is ready to get some NHL games and start preparing to take over for Jimmy Howard, who will then be 31-33 years old. 

Very smart move by Ken Holland and company. A good price for a good back up goaltender. I like it.

We also heard that the Detroit Red Wings had finalized terms with Damien Brunner, who Mike Babcock went so far as to say would crack the top 6 lineup this season. Now, it is entirely possible that this is some Mike Babcock Inception "We Need to Go Deeper" Jedi Mind Shit. He comes out and says that, and then guys like Emmerton, Nyquist, Mursak, and Jurco are busting ass in prospect and training camps to make sure they make the team. Guys like Hudler can be let go to free agency because we've got guys ready to fill the void and in a more consistent way. And if any of your prospects choke under the pressure, then you've got Damien Brunner ready to step up to the plate and help you get it done. Or maybe Brunner just gets the spot because he's just that good. In any event, Red Wings fans rejoiced again and all was well.

Then...something happened. After the break.
I had been cooking dinner, relaxing with my wife and having some down time because it seemed like the free agency frenzy had come to a crawl. Nothing more was to come tonight. Suter and Parise announced they would wait until Monday or later to make their decisions. The Red Wings had been named as a potential home for Rick Nash, and Jiri Hudler hadn't gotten signed anywhere. 

8:21 PM, July 1st 2012. Jiri Hudler is still there. 
That's when it happened. Mikael Samuelsson was given a contract. I wasn't blogging when he was last on the team, but if you ask anyone I ever talked hockey with, they'd tell you of my disdain for Mikael Samuelsson. Every game the guy was good for at least one huge screw up. He wasn't all that good offensively, and putting him on the point during the power play seemed like his only quasi-useful purpose on the team. On top of that, after leaving Detroit he swept Datsyuk's legs from under him and broke Datsyuk's wrist - and wasn't penalized or anything for having done so. So fuck that guy. Why is he back in Detroit?


I mean, 52 games he scored 14 goals and 17 assists and plus/minus rating of +1. That's okay, I guess. He'll cost us 3 million a year for the next two years, which is perhaps less than what Hudler would have cost us. But...why the no trade clause, Kenny? Because you think "he's got a shot". A lot of players have a shot. In fact, you drafted one! This year! I'm willing to bet you 3 million dollars that Martin Frk scores more goals for you in the same number of games that Mikael Samuelsson plays for us, if you played him. Those are minutes that could go to Nyquist or Emmerton or Brunner. Power play minutes Ian White and Brendan Smith could use. You can't even ship him off when you remember just how useless Mikael Samuelsson is. You're stuck with him for two years. 

And then, suddenly as if everything wasn't bad enough. The Detroit Red Wings have signed Jordin Tootoo.

First off, anyone who spells the name Jordan with an "I" is an asshole. That's just a law of the universe and is beyond my powers to change. Second, he ran Ryan Miller because that's the thing to do in the NHL these days I guess. He also handles his own screw ups really well, by assaulting guys who take advantage of his stupidity. He likes to leave his feet to hit his new team mates and shove them after the play is over because...well because that's Jordin Tootoo.

I get it, dude, you're 5'9 and you're really mad because you've had to look up at all of the real hockey players you've played with and against all these years. Both because you're 5'9 and they're not, and because they're good and you're not. Doesn't give you the right to rip around the ice trying to show everyone that you can "play bigger than your size" by being a cheap shotting little bastard. I get it, you suffer from Theo Fluery Syndrome. You know how that ended for him? Theo Fluery left the league a freakin' joke due to drugs, alcohol and anger problems. Oh, and let's not forget that he was actually good at hockey. Which you are not. 

While I freely admit that I'm angry and passionate about things right now, and that I will probably calm down a bit, I am not going to turn into an apologist like J.J. over at Winging it in Motown. I'm not going to try to justify or rationalize this signing, try to turn it into a positive thing. The only positive is that Tootoo could be packaged up and sent off to another team. That's it.

I likened this signing to the Red Wings signing Claude Lemieux in the late 90's, early 2000's. I'm not saying Jordin Tootoo is as horrible a human being as Lemieux is, because he's not. Lemieux is 10 times worse than Tootoo, but that doesn't validate Tootoo or him being on this team. That doesn't make signing him any better than signing guys like Bertuzzi or Lemieux. The Red Wings should be winning games and playoff series and Stanley Cups, not rehabilitating people with anger issues.

Maybe I'm too against that kind of thing, because I admit I never watched the days of Probert and Kocur. I did watch Maltby, Draper and McCarty - but those guys had intangible qualities that made them far more valuable to the team. Tootoo is just a goon. I don't want goons on my Red Wings.

I have a great deal of love and respect and admiration for Ken Holland and the people within the organization. I have to believe that they know what they're doing because otherwise all of this has been luck and happenstance and that's just scary to consider.

So here's lookin' at Free Agency Frenzy Day #2. Maybe it make more sense and bring more comfort than Day #1. With a heavy heart, a deep sigh and a prayer to the heavens, Let's Go Red Wings


  1. I understand hating this guy as an opponent. I understand the fear of him taking bad penaltys but he is a Wing now. The Wings are badly in need of a more Maltby or McCarty type player. We get shoved around way too much. Bert has to be goaded into a tussle and Abdelkader just doesn't seem to get under people's skin enough. Tootoo had 30 pts last season. That would be 9th on TE Wings. More than anyone on our 3rd or 4th lines. He's not just a goon. He can play and that's why the Wings signed him. I would rather have payed Prust $2.5m but he was the next best option.

    1. I completely agree with your assessment of the Red Wings' need. I've said in previous posts, on Twitter, comments elsewhere that the Red Wings need a better physical presence. The need size and grit to do a better job of wearing on other teams. Guys like Maltby, Draper and McCarty were excellent at it.

      My object to Tootoo is he's a dirty player. I don't like that Bertuzzi is on the team. Because of what he did to Steve Moore, the guy shouldn't be playing in the NHL. While Tootoo hasn't done anything that severe (yet), he's targeted the head. He's taken a run at a goalie. He cheap shots people. I don't want that kind of player filling the role of hard working, gritty, physical 3rd/4th line forward.

      Thanks for your comment.

  2. Hard to believe that Samuelson is back and with a fucking NTC to boot! Boy that really pissed me off and hopefully I'll get past it since we're stuck with his stanking ass for two years. Tootoo was the right price keeping an eye ahead to signing either Suter or Parise or both. Honestly if I were any of the following current Wings (Abdelkader, Emmerton, Eaves, Miller, Quincey, Sheehan, Mursak, Nyquist) I would be wondering if I'm soon to become trade bait. I'm sure there's a few players I left off but you can figure it out. Perhaps Cleary, Bertuzzi, Holmstrom (if he doesn't retire first) might also be packaged up. The Wings can't get younger by keeping guys well past their prime right?

    Keeping in mind that this is really no one's team right now and depending who they give the "C" to, the team will take on a new persona during training camp. I don't want someone to receive the "C" because they're popular on the team. I would hope and pray that it is given to someone who works their ass off at both ends of the ice, someone who leads by example both on and off the ice, and someone who the team will respond to when necessary. Whoever winds up wearing the "C" is yet to be named and at this point it doesn't really matter. Still have to sort things out once free agency ends and our roster issues have either been resolved or not. Still hoping the latter portion of today's action is part of a bigger plan to upgrade the team and make it the most competitive team in the NHL.

    Worse yet I feel like Chevy Chase in "Christmas Vacation" after his rant towards the end of the film. Holy shit where's the Tylenol!?

    1. That's an issue I've been struggling with. And putting it out to some of the other RWB people basically got my head chomped off but: are Red Wings fans going to have to tolerate a couple of sub-par years to bring our prospects into fruition?

      I think you're dead on with the names you mentioned as people who have to be wondering about their spot. I guess I feel like if you aren't going to use these guys, then do as you suggest and use them as trade bait. Package them up to bring in people you are going to use.

      The only flip side to that is that Grand Rapids is a hockey team, too, and not just a talent incubator for the Red Wings. They need guys too.

      Although I think it's safe to say it's a foregone conclusion Zetterberg is getting the C. But who knows. Maybe it'll be Franzen *derisive snort*

      In any event, thanks for your comment.

  3. I'm mad I gave this site a hit.

    1. And I appreciate your visit and comment