Red Wings Decline Option to Renew Joe Louis Arena Lease

Olympia Entertainment, parent company of the Detroit Red Wings, has declined its option to renew the lease on Joe Louis Arena. The lease expires on June 30, 2010, and would have to have been renewed one year in advance.

The move is tied into plans to expand adjacent Cobo Hall by annexing Cobo Arena. Part of the Joe Louis Arena lease gives Olympia Entertainment control of Cobo Arena. By not renewing that lease Cobo Arena will return to the City of Detroit, making it available for Cobo Hall expansion plans.

“The existing lease was crafted more than three decades ago by individuals no longer associated with either Olympia Entertainment or the City,” said Christopher Ilitch, president and CEO of Ilitch Holdings, Inc. “It does not fully contemplate one: the evolution of the sports and entertainment industry; two: the current economic environment in which both the City and Olympia Entertainment are operating and; three: the infrastructure replacement and repair needs of a 30-year-old building in order to meet the competitive industry standards of today.

“Furthermore, we have been and continue to be very supportive of keeping the Auto Show in Detroit and this is one way we think our organization can help meet that objective. We believe that any economic benefit to Olympia Entertainment by continuing to operate Cobo Arena in the future is outweighed by the potential that a positive resolution on the Cobo issue will have for the region and state.

“Due to these very important factors, we have been working constructively with the City over the course of the past year on a new lease specifically for Joe Louis Arena. To date, an agreement has not been finalized and today’s action is simply a necessary step in the process as we continue to work together to develop a new lease.

“Detroit is our hometown and we have a strong desire to stay here. We remain confident that we can reach a satisfactory agreement that should not only enhance the sporting and entertainment experience for patrons of the facility, but will lead to additional economic benefit for the region and the potential for additional job creation as the facility attracts more events and performances.”

It has long been rumored that Olympia Entertainment would essentially trade Cobo Arena to the City of Detroit in return for some form of help in building a new home for the Red Wings or renovating Joe Louis Arena.

Red Wings’ Babcock Officially Named Canadian Olympic Coach

Detroit Red Wings head coach Mike Babcock was officially announced as the head coach for the 2010 Canadian Olympic men’s ice hockey team Thursday.

Reports that Babcock would be given the job surfaced Tuesday but the choice seemed inevitable after Wings’ vice president Steve Yzerman was named executive director of the Canadian team.

“To have the opportunity to be an Olympian is something I’ve thought about lots as a kid growing up, something very special,” Babcock said during a press conference in Montreal. “As much as the Stanley Cup is unbelievably exciting, any chance you have to be involved in something for your country, there’s a whole new level of special.”

Babcock will be joined behind the bench by Buffalo Sabres head coach Lindy Ruff, Columbus Blue Jackets head coach Ken Hitchcock, and former Minnesota Wild head coach Jacques Lemaire.

Babcock has had success at the international level with Canada, coaching their 1997 World Junior Championship and 2004 World Championship teams to gold medals.

Yzerman Named to Hall of Fame

Long-time Detroit Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman headlines the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Class of 2009, it was announced Tuesday.

Jim Gregory, co-chairman of the board for the Hockey Hall of Fame, made the announcement on a conference call.

Yzerman will be joined by two former teammates, Brett Hull and Luc Robitaille, as well as former New York Rangers defenseman Brian Leetch.

“It is a tremendous honour to receive this news,” Yzerman said. “I want to thank the Selection Committee for recognizing my contributions – I truly had chills down my spine when I got the news.”

Yzerman was drafted fourth overall in the 1983 NHL Entry Draft by Detroit and spent his entire 22-season career with the Red Wings. He was named team captain as a 21-year-old, at the time the youngest captain in NHL history and the longest-serving captain by the time of his retirement.

Hull joined the Red Wings in during the summer of 2001 and was with the team for their 2002 Stanley Cup Championship, his second time claiming the trophy. He broke into the league with the Calgary Flames before making a name for himself with the St. Louis Blues. He moved on to the Dallas Stars, winning the Cup there before coming to Detroit and ending his career with a short stint for the Phoenix Coyotes.

Robitaille also joined the Red Wings in their eventful summer of 2001, part of a trifecta of future Hall-of-Famers to come to Detroit that also included Dominik Hasek. Robitaille won his only career Stanley Cup that year in a career that included three stints with the Los Angeles Kings, a season with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and two years with the Rangers.

Leetch spent nearly his entire career with the Rangers, claiming the Stanley Cup in 1994 with them and remaining with the team until he was moved to Toronto at the 2004 trade deadline. He played one season with the Boston Bruins to close out his career.

This year’s induction ceremony will be November 9.

Red Wings Confirm Chelios Won’t Return

The Detroit Red Wings officially announced on Monday that defenseman Chris Chelios will not return to the team next season.

“It was kind of understood last summer, after Cheli signed, that the 2008-09 season would be the last one for Cheli as a Red Wing,” said Red Wings GM Ken Holland. “He wants to play another season and I believe he can still play.”

Chelios, 47, played ten seasons for the Red Wings, joining the team from the Chicago Blackhawks at the 1999 trade deadline. The three-time Norris Trophy winner as the NHL’s best defenseman is the second-oldest active player in NHL history behind Gordie Howe. His 25 seasons played are tied for most in NHL history with Howe and Mark Messier.

Lidstrom is Superhuman and Other End of Season Ramblings

Yesterday I thought I was ready to dive back into NHL news and see what the rest of the hockey world was thinking. Turns out, I was wrong.

I don’t know why I never learn my lesson. Every time I try to read what people think about happenings around the league I feel stupider and angrier for trying.

Examples of what I’ve read in the last day or so:

  • The announcement of Nicklas Lidstrom‘s injury was just the Wings organization making excuses for their loss.
  • Sidney Crosby snubbed the Red Wings by refusing to shake hands, with the counterpoint being that the Wings snubbed Crosby by leaving the ice too soon.
  • Wings fans are horrible for booing during the Cup presentation.

So, yeah, the season is over but the name-calling and general hate isn’t and in all honesty I can’t handle that hate.

I don’t understand the people that troll blogs and forums, hiding behind the anonymity of the Internet to make immature comments in an attempt to start fights. There’s this lack of logic out there in the world that just bothers me, so for the most part I’m just staying away and not getting into it anymore.

Instead, I’m hoping to look at each of those points with a bit of logic.

You’ll notice that I’m not linking to much of anything in this post. It’s because I don’t want to send traffic to the places where these comments have been made.

Lidstrom’s Injury
Nicklas Lidstrom missed the last two games of the Western Conference Finals after being speared between the legs by Chicago’s Patrick Sharp. The testicle injury required surgery that would have kept Lidstrom out of the lineup for two more weeks had it been the regular season.

The details of the injury were announced leading up to Game Seven with the rest of the Wings’ injuries announced after the game. Similarly, the Penguins made note of Crosby having been injured shortly after their elimination in the 2008 Finals.

There’s no excuse here. Several Wings were hurt and that’s a fact of the playoffs. Sergei Gonchar was hurt, too.

Once the games are done, there’s just no need for secrecy anymore.

You could even spin this into a complaint about the refs, asking why Sharp wasn’t penalized for the spear. It wouldn’t have helped the Wings in the Finals but it is one sign of the inconsistent officiating that was commented on throughout the playoffs.

Crosby’s Handshake Snub
Lidstrom led the Red Wings through the traditional handshake line only to discover that he made it through the line without seeing Crosby.

Some of the Wings, who feel that Lidstrom was snubbed, say that Crosby was too busy celebrating to take part in the tradition. Crosby did eventually make his way over but it was after Lidstrom had left the ice.

The Penguins contend that Lidstrom quickly left the ice, not giving Crosby the chance to shake his hand.

My opinion is that Crosby should have been in that line, if not leading it. If Lidstrom left the ice too quickly, how long was he supposed to wait?

I don’t have the video to do this but I’d love to see someone check the tapes from 2008 and compare to 2009 to find out how long the winning team celebrated for before joining the handshake line.

For the record, I don’t think that Chris Chelios skipping the handshakes in 2007 excuses anyone. He was wrong then, anyone else who does it is also wrong.

Booing the Cup
This one’s an easy one because I was there. There was plenty of booing but there was also a chant going that clearly points out what the booing was directed at. That chant?

“Bettman Sucks.”

In fact, the Penguins fan in front of me turned around and said, “I think that’s something we can all agree on.”

Amazing what context does for a person’s opinion.

Now there is a twist on this one, and that would be that Wings fans not only booed during the Cup presentation but also cheered when Crosby limped off the ice midway through the game.

That one’s true. There were plenty of people cheering that, and cheering for long enough that they can’t hide behind the idea of cheering a good hit.

I wasn’t one of those people but I can tell you why I would have done it: Turnabout is fair play.

In Game Five we saw Max Talbot slash Pavel Datsyuk‘s injured foot. Talbot later said he was going for the puck, which video replay showed was nowhere near Datsyuk’s feet.

Talbot tried to take out Datsyuk and then Crosby got taken out two games later. It’s not right but there’s no denying a feeling of satisfaction from it.

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Blind homerism annoys the hell out of me. I don’t like it from anyone, including Wings fans. There are no conspriacies, just idiocy.

Anyone who can’t back up their arguments with facts is just spouting off. I don’t get what the point of that is.

I feel like I should yell at someone to get off my lawn. Maybe I am getting too old for this, if not physically then mentally.

I’ve seen these Red Wings make the Finals six times and win the Stanley Cup four of them. That makes me cocky and it might make me arrogant but it doesn’t mean I have to be blind.

No team does everything right. No player does everything right. No fan does everything right. It’s ridiculous to think otherwise. That doesn’t mean, however, that we need to make a big deal about every little thing.

Game Seven Not What I Paid For

It’s the morning after and you know what p*sses me off most? Not that the Red Wings lost. It’s sports, you can’t win every year, it absolutely sucks but it happens.

The thing that p*sses me off is that I paid premium dollars for a game that the Wings treated like a regular season game in January. They showed absolutely no urgency. They played the game as if they could lose and say, “Eh, we’ll get ’em next time.”

After all the talk from Mike Babcock and Kris Draper about winning one for the people of Michigan because we need something to feel good about it, the team showed that it was just talk. While we may need something to feel good about, they didn’t feel the need to put in any effort.

Okay, that’s a bit of hyperbole. The first 20 minutes were fine and the last six minutes were impressive but by my math that adds up to 26 minutes of a 60 minute game.

The funny thing is I didn’t think the Penguins played that great of a game. They didn’t get a lot of really good chances but they did get to pucks along the boards and do the little things. With Detroit unwilling to fight for those pucks, all they had to do was get to them.

The Wings lost those battles, they dumped the puck in from the blue line on power plays and then didn’t go get it, they didn’t hold the puck in the Pittsburgh zone when they finally did get in there. It’s hard to win a game with a puck control offense when you’re not controlling the puck.

All year they had success playing their game but then when it came down to the last game of the year they didn’t bother to play it. They switched from something that had won all season to something entirely different and somehow expected a good result?

I haven’t seen any press on the game yet. Haven’t watched any news, listened to any radio or read any articles, but I see a headline quoting Nicklas Lidstrom as saying, “It’s hard losing the way we did tonight.”

I’m sorry, Nick, but you’re dead wrong. As proven, it’s really damned easy to lose the way you did. Maybe you guys should have realized that a bit sooner.

Game Seven Pregame Notes

We’re inside twelve hours to the opening faceoff of tonight’s Game Seven and I think this is the last time I’ll have a clear thought until this thing is over.

Quick updates…

Pittsburgh’s Petr Sykora is expected to miss Game Seven with a broken bone in his foot. Officially he’s a game-time decision but the team would have to be pretty low on Miroslav Satan to go with a broken-footed Sykora over him.

For Detroit, Dan Cleary and Brian Rafalski skipped Thursday’s practice but will play tonight. There are no expected lineup changes from Game Six.

I’ll be posting from my phone again tonight so there won’t be a lot of updates from me. If any big news comes up before I head out for Detroit, I’ll post it.

Game Six: Morning After Thoughts

I was trying to figure out where I recognized the feeling of last night’s game from and I think I’ve finally got it: Game Six of the 2007 Western Conference Finals.

It’s that same kind of feeling of “if only X had happened.” It’s the feeling of a game that could have gone differently had there just been five more minutes on the clock.

The Wings took too long to get going. They had their chances but needed more and they didn’t get it.

If Henrik Zetterberg scores in the first period, Dan Cleary puts the puck five hole in the last two minutes, or Johan Franzen roofs the puck in the closing seconds, we’re talking about something completely different. But none of that happened.

It doesn’t make sense but I feel both terrified and confident going into Game Seven. Terrified because anything can happen, confident because the only times the Wings have lost are when they haven’t played a full game.

Penguins Might Turn to Sykora in Game Six

The Red Wings look to claim their fifth Stanley Cup Championship since 1997 tonight in Game Six of Detroit’s series with the Pittsburgh Penguins.

The Wings, coming off of a 5-0 win in Game Five on Saturday, have a 3-2 series lead and see no need to make any lineup changes. They’ll stick with the same players that won that game, including Pavel Datsyuk, who had missed the first four games of the Finals.

Pittsburgh is expected to make one lineup change, bringing in Petr Sykora. Sykora has been held out of every game of the Finals as a healthy scratch but the Penguins are looking to add his scoring after being shutout on Saturday. There is no word on who he would replace in the lineup.

Datsyuk Tallies Two Assists in Return as Red Wings Trounce Penguins

Pavel Datsyuk returned to the Detroit lineup Saturday night, notching two assists in his first appearance in this year’s Stanley Cup Finals as his Red Wings lit up the Pittsburgh Penguins in a 5-0 win.

The Red Wings now lead the series 3-2 with a chance to claim their second consecutive Stanley Cup on Mellon Arena ice in Pittsburgh on Tuesday.

Chris Osgood made 22 saves en route to the shutout, his second of these playoffs and third against Pittsburgh in the last two Finals.

Detroit had to survive an early push by the Penguins. Pittsburgh got the game’s first power play and outshot the Red Wings 10-8 in the first period but it was the Wings with a 1-0 lead after 20 minutes.

Dan Cleary opened the game’s scoring with 6:28 left in the period. Datsyuk carried the puck into the Pittsburgh zone, drawing defenders to him before pushing the puck off to Cleary for heavy wrister past Penguins goalie Marc-Andre Fleury from near the top of the right faceoff circle.

The Red Wings opened the game up in the second period, scoring four more goals including three on the power play, tying an NHL playoff record for most power play goals in a single period.

Valtteri Filppula put Detroit up by a pair just 1:44 into the period, five seconds after Chris Kunitz got out of the penalty box for goalie interference.

Osgood sent a long outlet pass to Marian Hossa, catching the Penguins in a line change. Hossa gained the offensive zone and centered the puck on to Filppula, who drove to the net and lifted a backhander over Fleury.

Niklas Kronwall scored the first of Detroit’s power play goals at 6:11 of the second. Kronwall gained the Pittsburgh zone and passed the puck off to Johan Franzen at the right point before driving to the net. With no play, Kronwall went down to the corner, getting the puck back from Franzen then jumping back out to the top of the crease, lifting a shot over Fleury.

Just 2:15 later, Brian Rafalski snapped a shot from the high slot past a screened Fleury to make it 4-0.

Henrik Zetterberg ended the game’s scoring with 4:20 left in the period. Jiri Hudler sent a hard pass from the left point down to Zetterberg in the left faceoff circle and Zetterberg roofed a shot that saw Fleury chased from the crease, replaced by backup Mathieu Garon.

The five Detroit goals came on 21 shots against Fleury. Garon would go on to stop all eight shots he faced in 24:20 of playing time.

The Red Wings finished the night with three goals on nine power play chances after having scored just once with the extra attacker in the previous four games of the series. The Penguins were held without a goal on two power play tries.

Game Six of the Stanley Cup Finals will take place Tuesday.


With Datsyuk’s return, rookie Ville Leino was scratched.