Renaming the Whalers

Now that it has been announced that the OHL’s Plymouth Whalers are heading to Flint for next season (pending OHL Board of Governor approval next month) talk as turned to what will the new team be called?

Those not in the Flint area find themselves to be hilarious with names like the Flint Tropics and Flint Stones. Yes, because the team wants to start off as a joke. There are enough jokes about Flint the team will have to deal with, why go further down that road.

Now, Ken Campbell from The Hockey News did suggest Flint Hurricanes and his reasoning behind it would make any hockey fan giggle:

There have been a lot of proposed names bandied about for Flint’s new Ontario League team that will hit the ice next season. I’m kind of partial to Hurricanes. After all, that’s what the team was named the last time Peter Karmanos played a key role in a city losing its Whalers.

Well played.

Again, someone not from the Flint area and it is a joke.

Being a Flint native and still living in the Flint area myself I took up the discussion on Twitter with two others Adam Biggers (@AdamBiggers81) whom writes for Bleacher Report and hockey lifer Savi Sr. (@SavMoney1point0).

Here are some of the names we came up with:

Flint Phoenix
Flint Toxic Walleye
Flint Assembly
Vehicle City Assembly
Flint Arrows
Flint Hatchet men
Flint Union Jacks
Flint Masons
Flint Transmission
Flint Union
Flint Vikings
Flint Fuel
Flint Fire
Flint Fight
Flint Turbo
Flint Diesel
Flint Firebirds
Flint Bishops
Flint Oilers
Flint Grizzlies
Flint Timber
Flint Bandits
Flint War Machines
Flint Freedom
Flint Twisters
Flint Barons
Flint Ignition
Flint Bucks
Flint Tradesmen
Flint Flyers
Flint Strikers
Flint Railroaders
Flint Horsepower
Flint Revolution

And of course keeping it as the Flint Whalers.

Most of these names have to do with the history of Flint itself. While Detroit to the south is the Motor City Flint is the Vehicle City. General Motors was headquartered in Flint before Detroit; and at one point all Buicks and Chevrolets were built in Flint (during WW2 the factories made tanks). The Sit-Down Strike took place in Flint from 1936-37 leading to the era of labor unions.

Flint started as a settlement along the Saginaw Trail that connected Detroit to Saginaw and just like the bookend cities for the trail fell upon hard times, especially with the recent recession which started in the 1980’s here at factories started to close up and were demolished after NAFTA was signed, hitting the Michigan manufacturing base hard.

Flint’s motto is “Strong, Proud” and while many are knocking the move from Plymouth and many find any reason to crack a joke about Michigan’s hard times those here will keep going. This area was built on strength and pride; and that will keep it pushing towards recovery.

Plymouth Whalers To Start 2015-16 Season In Flint

Announced today was the sale of the Plymouth Whalers (OHL) to Rolf Nilsen and IMS Hockey Corp. pending OHL Board of Governors approval (set to meet February 2nd). IMS Hockey Corp. recently purchased the Perani Arena in Flint, Michigan and is set to put millions into the revitalization of the arena which was once a hot spot for sports and entertainment for Flint and Genesee County.

A few years back I had an experience at the Pernai Arena that I wrote about here.

The move of the Whalers to Flint give the Flint and surrounding communities what they have been missing since the fold of the IHL and the beloved Flint Generals. A high level hockey team to rally around and an organization that that has pride in their product and community.

After the IHL and the Generals vacated Flint the Michigan Warriors (NAHL) were brought to town from the Upper Peninsula; however, the Flint hockey fans were used to higher level players like: Doug Shedden, Bobby Reynold and Darren McCarty.

If you were to sit down and talk hockey with those in the Flint area and you will hear stories about the Championships, the loss of the team, the return of the team, and how every once in a while you could catch some of the Detroit Red Wings players on the ice there.

Sadly, Flint has not been the hockeytown that their neighbor to the south Detroit has become in quiet some time. That doesn’t mean the fans are not still there. When the economy took a downturn Michigan was hit hard when the Big Three and other manufacturing companies started laying off thousands. Flint is slowly on the mend, just as hockey is returning to the area.

Recently, the Crystal Fieldhouse Ice Arena reopened (two exits down on I-69 from the Perani Arena). University of Michigan – Flint campus is using it as their home rink and area youth are returning to the ice rinks to learn to skate. Atwood Stadium in Flint has been installing ice rinks that are free to the public – just one catch, you have to have your own skates.

The timing with the OHL moving to town as the arena is being updated, ice rinks are making their come back, and the people are ready for high quality hockey could not have been better.

Red Wings go from being the Dead Things to seeing what the East brings

This season has seen it all. Another lockout. The first post-Lidstrom era season. No chemistry to players disappearing after not being able to shut their mouths to the media. About 3 dozen defensemen and nearly as many rookies.

Zetterberg’s era dawning…

Wings fans should be proud.

Yeah those that don the winged wheel are done until fall and some won’t be back, others not yet with the crest upon their chest will come to be.

Griffins will come up, hopefully players like Damien Brunner and Gustav Nyquist will return.

Mike Babcock will return – sorry Rangers fans I know you think for some bizarre reason that he is going to just jump ship and try to right your sinking one.

Detroit entered their biggest rebuild in the past two decades and came out far better than any expert predicted.

Before break up day hits take a moment to really look at what this team pulled off this year and get some distance from losing to the Chicago Blackhawks not only once but twice in a Game Seven.

Next year is new. New for all. Realignment is coming and though people want to say it is the end of Chicago and Detroit the fans know it isn’t. It’s been going on since the start of the NHL, it won’t be the same, but it won’t go away.

Chicago will now be that annoying “only team in the West that ever gets games on national coverage.”

Little Brother. Your time has come.

As Big Brother has been too old for too long the Wings are now young again – almost Phoenix like (no not the Coyotes that is another issue for another day) but from the ashes the Red Wings have been reborn.

A young team is going to take this team to the East.

A young team is now going to renew rivalries with old friends… old Canadia(/e)n friends. The battles with the Habs and the Leafs are around the bend. The Winter Classic is finally coming.

Detroit leaves Chicago to dominate the west while they forge forward to invade the east.

Get ready. Detroit is ready to bring their game.

If A Red Wing Rookie Makes History Will Anyone Know?: Boobs Take Over Red Wing Social Media Coverage

I was going to write a post today about how great it is to see the youth movement in Detroit coming up big in the playoffs. The new era is shifting well though its growing pains. Gustav Nyquist made NHL history when he became the first rookie to record his first two playoff points both in overtime (goal, assist – two different games for those that were all “huh?”)

Then came the internet. Twitter today has been busy with Red Wings banter. Too bad it’s all been about boob jiggles and some writer over at MLive that no one has ever heard of before.

This moron; whom I wont name or post a link to his piece of crap article to give him more attention, has now been named the “flag bearer” for the Red Wings fan base.

Congratulations Red Wings fans you now know nothing about the sport according to everyone with a Twitter account.

Can you name five players not on the Red Wings roster? In my experience most hockey fans can; but because one not even halfassed writer decided to claim no one can (also claims Detroit has no national coverage – which I thought was the big drawback to the Wings moving is it that the West will have less coverage?

Two rookies score last night against the Ducks and all that is being discussed is moronic statements within piss poor writing and boob jiggles. I’d make a pun about who is the bigger boob but that would be too easy.

Detroit Makes It 22 On Quest To Make It 12

April in the D is almost over; but hopefully that does not mean Johan Franzen is done playing.

April is when the Mule finally decides to wake up and play some hockey and he did not disappoint in that fashion yet again.

Captain Henrik Zetterberg was not about to allow the Red Wings to miss their 22nd straight trip the NHL post season on his watch. The Red Wings captain scored two of the three goals in the final regular season game.

After 21 years of successful playoff bidding, it was a change for Hockeytown for it to come down to the wire to clinch a playoff spot. It was fun, it was exciting, it was great in those aspects but how about going back to the knowing for two weeks so that half of the fan base isn’t staring a heart attack in the face?

Wings are in. 22 straight. What a ride in the post Lidstrom Era.

We have roughly 36 more hours of celebrating left in Hockeytown before puck drops in Anaheim and the quest for the Cup begins.

Here are my predictions for the first round:

Starting with the East Coast Bias:

Penguins in six.

Canadiens in five.

Capitals in seven.

Bruins in five.

Late night forgotten on TV Western Conference:

Hawks in four.

Wings in six.

Sharks in five.

Kings in seven.

The Slow Death of Hockey in Flint

About an hour north of Hockeytown Flint, Michigan sits as a slowly dying hockey area.

Born in Flint and raised in a small town, and by small I mean one stop light at the time small town, outside of Flint I can remember as a kid the excitement of going to what was then the Flint IMA to see the … again THEN Flint Generals.

The lights outside the area, the noisy busy Lobby area, the crowded concourse and fans cheering. That is how I remember hockey in Flint. I remember going with my mom and dad and running into people they went to high school with and co workers. The community loved it’s hockey.

Darren McCarty’s return to the NHL came via the Flint Generals and as he made his last run so did the team.

Once the IHL closed up and left Flint with a vacant arena; however, hockey didn’t abandon Flint – it abandoned hockey.

The NAHL came to town.

In fact they actually ousted the Generals in a lease agreement summer. Wouldn’t that have been something after the CBA expired to see NHL teams come back with no arenas? It happened in Flint. The city decided it wanted to go a new direction and opted for the younger players hoping that it would catch on.

OHL caught on in Saginaw why wouldn’t NAHL catch on in Flint?

To paraphrase Roberto Luongo: “Because it sucks.”

Not the NAHL; but the team, well more to the point the management of the Michigan Warriors.

This new team has failed to gain any hold with the community and in fact has given it a cold shoulder by pulling gimmicks like bringing in The Situation for autograph sessions during intermissions.

The team now run by the arena is in as sad a state as the arena itself.

I took a walk around the lobby area of the now Perani Arena and it is depressing.

Banners from the Warriors first season still hang high; because that was their highlight. One spectacular season – now they are at the bottom of their division. No pictures of the current team, nothing in the lobby. Looking at pamphlets on the box office window for learn to skate classes for a different local link are even dated for 2011. I wish I had taken pictures with my phone with how barren it was.

I realize their season is over. You can use that as an excuse and claim they took it down but I doubt it as the outdated stuff was still up.

There are pictures in the lobby sure… for peewee teams from 2011 and 2012 seasons.

Where is the pride?

The same people that run this arena are now running this team and they can’t figure out why their attendance is so low?

I took my kids to a game this year. Every one got in free. Even that didn’t sell out. Tickets are $5-$7 it’s not that they cost a lot it is the fact that people go to games to have fun, have a good time, not feel depressed.

To those that grew up in the Flint area of my generation and those of older generations don’t want to go to the arena that is being run by people that don’t care; by people that don’t care about the team. When you don’t care it shows.

I know people that have gone and preformed anthems for the Michigan Warriors and I was floored when I found out that they had to pay for a ticket to stay and watch.

ARE YOU KIDDING ME.

I use to be a performer.

We are pretty use to having to pay for parking to perform at events, that isn’t really a big deal; however, telling the performers if they wish to stay for the game they need to purchase a ticket is completely mind boggling.

You do realize performers like to socialize and have a good time right? You know they talk with other performers’ right? You would have made your money up from the free tickets in the concessions sales that night but I know that many refused to order any concessions because of having to buy a ticket to an event they were asked to perform for. It’s not like the Warriors paid them for their time either.

Disgusting.

It might cost more in gas and in tickets but I will be taking my kids to either Saginaw and watch the Spirit or to Plymouth to watch the Whalers for now on.

Why would we give you our money? The people getting hurt in this are the players who are just trying to develop and get into the USHL, the OHL or play for college, and hope to get drafted one day.

GM died in Flint and you can see it is decaying corpse all over the city – the stench is all over hockey and the way things are going they wont be alive in Flint much longer.

Winter Classic 2014: Red Wings, Maple Leafs Division Rivals Once Again

Officially Official once again.

WinterClassic2014

That’s right once again the NHL has announced that the Detroit Red Wings will play host to the Toronto Maple Leafs for the next Winter Classic.

2013 has become the new 2014.

During the 2012 Winter Classic there was almost as much if not more hype for the 2013 game as the in action game.

Now we are sitting here after yet another NHL lockout and fans are not as excited as they once were.

A feeling of complacent among the fan bases. Bloggers have already written about the game and that new hype and excitement is gone.

NBC has been posting record or near record viewership for its national broadcast games since the lockout; however, will what was suppose to the NHL’s finest hour be all that is was originally hyped to be? Or will it now fall flat?

The lockout took the wind out of the sails of the Winter Classic; and NHL hockey in general, for many that I see day-to-day. During the lockout they did turn to other leagues and though many have watched NHL games on tv they are not as quick to make the drive downtown Detroit to catch the game in person.

Just as the lockout was not fair to the cities it affected with negative economic impacts it would not be fair to hurt these areas further.

Ann Arbor, Michigan will see in the influx of hockey fans, media and individuals just looking to be part of something big –
history.

The Big Chill at the Big House on December 11th 2010 (12-11-10) set the current world record for attendance at a hockey game at 104,173 when hosting University of Michigan took on rivals Michigan State University and shut them out in Michigan
Stadium (The Big House).

I can remember sitting in the press box for the game and even then the talk was: The NHL will out do this one day.

Sunday morning sitting on the ice at Joe Louis Arena I got to hear U of M head coach Red Berenson say what we all were thinking then. That the NHL will make it bigger and better and the players, fans and coaches will enjoy themselves being part of history.

Michigan Stadium sits roughly 44 miles from Downtown Detroit (driving distance). Sure the Winter Classic would being in some economic support for the city; however, thanks to the ownership in Detroit the city will see two weeks of events downtown.

Local High school teams, Sledge hockey, the AHL, the OHL, NCAA and the NHL double header alumni game between Maple Leafs and the Red Wings alumni have already 20 Hockey Hall of Fame players signed up to be there.

Two weeks of hockey will be celebrated in downtown Detroit, bars, restaurants, hotels and casinos will hopefully get back all that they have lost; and more.

Fans are still hurt over the lockout. Many said they would not return; many of those still have. It is a process of healing after once again being hurt by a league so many give so much time and pride to be involved with.

Hockeytown will be center stage as two storied Original Six teams once again become division rivals and hockey fans move on with the NHL into another post lockout era.

Team Tootoo Comes To Hockeytown

This past weekend Team Tootoo finally made its presence known in the Detroit area.

Not much talk anymore about impact the lockout had on the communities; but one angle that was not touched on often were charity events. Annually the Detroit Red Wings have the Salvation Army Red Kettle bell ringing competitions with players and staff trying to raise money. This year the Alumni took over; but it just didn’t have the same appeal as in the years past.

Charitable work and humanitarian contributions are highly regarded within the hockey world to the point that the National Hockey League established the King Clancy Memorial Trophy in 1988.

The trophy is awarded annually to the player that best exemplifies leadership qualities on and off the ice and has made a noteworthy humanitarian contribution to the community.

Everyone has their own causes. I have been a volunteer with the American Special Hockey Association (ASHA) since 2009. I am even running my first half marathon this coming October to hopefully bring some awareness and donations to this wonderful non-profit that brings the game we all love to those with developmental disabilities.

One of the newest Red Wings, Jordin Tootoo, has his own way of doing things off the ice.

Tootoo created the Team Tootoo Fund to collect money either by donation, selling items, and even money collected at signing events (like the one coming up this Saturday from 4p.m. – 6p.m. at the Gibraltar Trade Center).

The Team Tootoo Fund collects the money and then writes grants out to suicide prevention and at-risk you charities in need; so when I was asked if I could help out at two events this past weekend I was glad to do so.

Last Friday I left work and drove down I-75 to Troy where Tootoo was signing autographs and taking pictures with fans for a donation of $22 to Team Tootoo. There were 222 wristbands handed out so you can go ahead and do the math on that one. Plus a few customers that stopped in unknowing of the event taking place donated to the cause.

Saturday Tootoo’s former team the Nashville Predators were in town so it was a great opportunity to set up a booth at the game for Team Tootoo.

Heather and I sold items that included Team Tootoo wrist bands, hats, autographed items and even a pair of jerseys to fans at the game.

Met a lot of great people over the weekend, including Jordin himself.

Fan reaction at the game was varied. Many fans are embracing Detroit’s latest tough guy; and some not so much. One couple even showed up to the game with their own t-shirt’s they had screen printed to say “Team Tootoo” on them. Predators fans came up (even it if was only “up” as they came North to Detroit via Windsor on their trip from Toronto – don’t ask me why they were not Leafs fans but at least they were not the group that had that soul shattering Tootoo whistle with them).

Working on the concourse during the game I saw none of the 4-0 blowout of the Predators; but I wouldn’t have changed that for anything. The experience was great, the opportunity to maybe even convert some fans that were still on the fence about Tootoo to seeing part of the off-ice side of him and becoming fans was great; but the best part was knowing that even if the money raised only helps one youth it was well worth it.

If you are interested in donating to Team Tootoo you can do that on the website.

Autographed Tootoo pucks can be purchased here for $22

Autographed Tootoo Jersesys can be purchased here for $222

Other items for sale include:

Team Tootoo hats $15

Autographed Team Tootoo hats $22

Wristbands $5 or 3 for $10

Darren Helm has also donated autographed pucks and jerseys
that are for sale at the same price as the Tootoo items.

You can order these pieces by contacting TeamTootooFund@gmail.com

Be sure to follow @TeamTootooFund on Twitter and on Facebook.

Stay tuned to Off-Ice Instigating and DetroitHockey.net for Team Tootoo events and news.

Detroit Red Wings Dawning of The New Era

And so it begins…

In just a few hours the NHL will finally drop the puck and start the 2012-2013 season and the Red Wings will officially begin The New Era.

“Sons of Detroit! Of Windsor! My brothers. I see in your eyes the same fear that would take the heart of me. A day may come when the courage of all fails, when we forsake our friends and break all bonds of fellowship, but it is not this day. An hour of blood and shattered sticks when the Age of the Winged Wheel comes crashing down, but it is not this day! This day we fight! By all that you hold dear on this good earth, I bid you stand, Men of the West!”

Okay so maybe I paraphrased Aragorn’s speech in front of the black gate to Mordor but so shall it stand.

The time is now.

Those of us whom have grown up having Yzerman and Lidstrom being synonymous with hockey are having to learn to move past what we’ve always known and take a leap of faith that Ken Holland will keep the Red Wing culture of developing talent that the other 29 teams pasted over not once or twice but three to 7 times; and we will see that the glory days will continue.

If Pavel Datsyuk believes we can to right?

The Dawning of The New Era: Zetterberg to Lead Red Wings

Long past are the days of the Yzerman Era in Detroit. No longer does Steve Yzerman suit up in a winged wheel; rather now he puts on a suit and is developing the Tampa Bay Lightning.

No longer does Nicklas Lidstrom patrol the blue line in Detroit, leading the Red Wings by example of the greatest defenseman to ever play the game.

Past are the days of Hasek, Osgood and Vernon defending the net (and fighting with Roy).

The Grind Line has retired, Shannahan now makes videos and explains why things he use to do are now illegal.

Lidstrom and his family moved back to Sweden over the summer and Fedorov is a GM in Russia.

The Yzerman/Lidstrom Era is over.

Dawning upon us now is the new era of the Red Wings. Gone may be the days of Yzerman and Lidstrom lacing up the skates and doning a Winged Wheel; but before us now is the awakening of something new.

This New Era has yet to crest over the horizon but the beacon is there.

Today the Red Wings will have their Red vs White game and the worst kept secret is history will become truth as Henrik Zetterberg will be announced as the new leader of the historic franchise.

Zetterberg will bring with him everything he’s learned since showing up to find his first locker next to Yzerman, he’s taken a similar path through the NHL becoming the second Swedish Conn Smythe winner only Lidstrom before him. Zetterberg will be more vocal than the previous two captaincy’s that span many Wings fans entire life.

One thing that will stay the same is that though Zetterberg is the captain leadership does not end with him. Pavel Datsyuk and Niklas Kronwall (and possibly another… my guessValtteri Fippula) will wear the A and everyone from Ownership down to the prospects still fighting their way though development to one day skate for the greatest sports franchise.

With this New Era fast approching now that the lockout has ended it is improtant to remember where we has an Original Six fan base have come from. The trouble times as much as the dynasty moments all are part of this team. Now is a transition, now is the time to still be as snarky and demanding of our team, to hold the players to the same standards as the back-to-back cup runs and the parades down Woodward. Now is a time to not sit back and worry about what is to come; it is a time to get in, get excited. For the first time in many Wings fans lives the team is new.

A short season leaves everything in the league up for grabs. Players around the league are not ready, Henrik Lundqvist from the Rangers has even admitted he is not ready. Injuries will be plenty, call ups will be frequent.

The lockout is over and the Zetterberg Era has begun.

to-whom-much-is-given