Numbers Game 2010

Red Wings Central has published Detroit’s training camp roster, meaning I moved too slowly getting my annual sweater number predictions made. It turns out I was right on a couple of my unpublished guesses and wrong on some others.

Mike Modano, as widely-reported, will wear #90 rather than switching to #89 with his usual #9 unavailable.

Free agent signee Ruslan Salei will keep his usual #24, inheriting it from Brad May.

Jiri Hudler will be making no change upon his return from the KHL, picking up the #26 he left behind a year ago.

This will not be the year that Justin Abdelkader takes the #87 he reportedly asked for last year. He’s back with #8.

Like Derek Meech and Kyle Quincey before him, Jakub Kindl is changing his number for his full-time jump to the big club. The #5 he wore in Grand Rapids is – of course – in use with the Red Wings so he’s switching from #46 to #4. This was one of my predictions.

Griffin Tomas Tatar has a somewhat expected switch. With his star rising in the organization, his jersey number drops from #72 to #21. I had expected him to get the #27 he wore last season in Grand Rapids. That number went to Travis Ehrhardt, who previously wore #45.

Given his status as a high-risk, high-reward European free agent signing, I’d expected Ilari Filppula to get the cursed #21 of Igor Grigorenko and Ville Leino. He gets neither that nor the #81 he wore in Finland, instead taking his brother’s original #41.

Rookie Brendan Smith will make his first appearance at Detroit’s camp wearing the #2 formerly belonging to Jiri Fischer.

Making their second runs with the Red Wings, Joey MacDonald returns to his #31 while try-out Aaron Downey will wear #32 with his previous #20 and #44 now taken.

The following are the remaining number changes for Red Wings prospects:

Mitchell Callahan, from #73 to #65
Jan Mursak, from #39
Andrej Nestrasil, from #56 to #49
Brent Raedeke, from #62 to #47
Jamie Tardif, from #67 to #29
Gleason Fornier, from #54 to #67
Brian Lashoff, from #49 to #25
Sebastian Piche, from #58 to #54
Logan Pyett, from #60 to #22

Red Wings Sign Abdelkader for Two Years

The Detroit Red Wings announced on Monday the signing of restricted free agent forward Justin Abdelkader to a two-year deal.

Financial terms of the contract were not officially announced but the Detroit Free Press reports that Abdelkader will make $750,000 this season and $825,000 in 2011-12 for an annual cap hit of $787,500.

Abdelkader was the last of the Red Wings’ crop of restricted free agents to sign with the team. Drew Miller, Patrick Eaves, Helm and Derek Meech had all previously signed. Daniel Larsson and Ole-Kristian Tollefsen remain RFAs but have signed in Europe for the coming season.

Great Calls in (Recent) Red Wings History

Jamie Samuelsen has a piece in the Freep today about the lack of great sports calls in Detroit history, relative to the great announcers.

Nowadays, and Samuelsen touches on this, the availability of video highlights kind of negates the effect of the related call. As he puts it, “We still listen to the games, but when the big moments come up, we make sure that we’re sitting at the game or sitting in front of the TV.”

Nothing against Ken Kal and Paul Woods but when I think of the Red Wings announcers, I think of Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond. That’s just how it is. I watch the games on TV, I don’t listen on the radio unless I have to.

That said, just because the TV guys have the benefit of video to accompany them doesn’t mean their words are any less powerful. There are still plays that I saw on TV, I know the video of, but just the sound is enough to bring back memories.

As a counter to Samuelsen suggesting that Detroit sports doesn’t have any great calls, I’m posting my top three for the Wings. Unfortunately, none of them come from Detroit’s own broadcasters, all coming from ESPN/ABC’s Gary Thorne. In no particular order…

“Here’s Holmstrom. Dropped it, Larionov in, Larionov for the game-winner, Larionov shot, score! Igor Larionov! The Detroit Red Wings, three; the Hurricanes, two.

Larionov’s triple-overtime game-winner to put the Red Wings up 2-1 on the Hurricanes in the 2002 Stanley Cup Finals. The way it all runs together, puncuated by Larionov’s name and the final score… Just fun to listen to.

“And a great save… The goal counts! The goal counts! The goal counts!

The “Statue of Liberty” goal by Brendan Shanahan in Game Six of the 2002 Western Conference Finals. This call sums up the confusion of the time. Patrick Roy had just made a tremendous save (two, in fact), and suddenly, somehow, the puck was in the back of the net.

“Gretzky had it, lost it, Yzerman picks it up. Yzerman moving, blueline chance, SCORE! STEVE YZERMAN! DETROIT WINS!”

Okay, I’ve said time and time again that this is my all-time favorite goal. Of course it’s on this list. I actually think Thorne’s call is better than the radio version from Kal. The eruption is just so sudden, it fits with the crowd and the scene on the ice. And Bill Clement’s later addition of “That is everything Steve Yzerman had in the bag” is about as good of a description as you can get.

Red Wings Sign Defenseman Salei

The Detroit Red Wings announced the signing of defenseman Ruslan Salei to a one-year contract on Monday.

Financial terms of the deal were not officially announced but the deal is reportedly worth $750,000.

Salei is coming off of an injury-shortened season with the Colorado Avalanche that saw him appear in only 14 games, though he did captain the Belorussian squad at the Vancouver Olympics.

The Red Wings had been in the market for a defenseman to play on the third pairing with Jonathan Ericsson. With Salei signed and Jakub Kindl moving up from the Grand Rapids Griffins, Derek Meech is expected to be moved.

Stating the Obvious: Number Six Should be in the Rafters

I’ve missed out on a lot of today’s Mike Modano news as I’ve been running around for family events all day but one thing jumped out at me that really has very little to do with him.

As Malik pointed out, Bill Roose has a piece where Modano talks about what number he’ll wear.

With his usual #9 out of circulation, Modano is leaning towards becoming the first Red Wing to wear #90 (in fact, it was on the jersey he donned at today’s press conference). That wasn’t his first choice, however.

“I wanted No. 6, but they told me about Larry Aurie,” said Modano, referring to Aurie, who played between 1927-39, and had his number retired by former Wings owner James Norris. “I thought it would be easy to just flip 9 to 6,” Modano said. “I would have loved 6, but maybe 90.”

If possibly the greatest American hockey player in history can’t have #6, then it’s time to get that number into the rafters.

The Ilitch family doesn’t even make excuses for Larry Aurie to not be recognized with a banner anymore. They used to say it was because he’s not in the Hockey Hall of Fame but then Steve Yzerman‘s number was raised before his HHOF induction, voiding that line of reasoning.

Aurie was the team’s first star, their leader before they were even called the Red Wings. James Norris removed his number from circulation and it’s time that this team gave that honor the same weight as it’s given to the stars of the ’50s and today.

Red Wings Officially Announce Modano Signing

After several days of speculation and text-message confirmations, the Detroit Red Wings officially announced the signing of free agent forward Mike Modano on Thursday.

Though financial terms were not announced, several sources report that he will make $1.25 million on a one-year deal. Reportedly there are performance-based bonuses that could push Modano’s pay up to $1.5 million.

The 40-year-old Modano had played his entire career for the Minnesota / Dallas franchise.

He joins a group of four Red Wings with ties to Michigan, having grown up in Westland. Justin Abdelkader was born in Muskegon, Brian Rafalski is from Dearborn, and Drew Miller grew up in East Lansing.

The Red Wings will hold a press conference at 2:00 PM on Friday to introduce Modano as a member of the team. He is expected to don a winged-wheel jersey with number 90.

Helm Signs Two-Year Deal with Red Wings

The Detroit Red Wings announced on Wednesday that they have signed restricted free agent forward Darren Helm to a two-year deal.

Helm will earn $825,000 in the first year of the contract and an even $1 million in the second year for a cap hit of $912,000. He made $500,000 in 2009-10 and had a cap hit of $599,444.

The signing comes on the heels of the news that Detroit is expected to welcome free agent forward Mike Modano into the fold on Friday, signing a one-year, $1.25 million deal.

With Helm locked up, the only remaining restricted free agent left for the Red Wings to sign is Justin Abdelkader. That deal is expected to happen soon.

Red Wings to Announce Modano Signing on Friday

The Detroit Free Press reports that the Detroit Red Wings will announce the signing of free agent forward Mike Modano on Friday.

The team has called a 2:30 PM press conference at Joe Louis Arena.

“Big announcement Thursday,” Modano had announced via text message on Monday. He is currently on a golf trip to Scotland.

In addition to the Red Wings, he has entertained offers from the Minnesota Wild and San Jose Sharks. Detroit was the only team he actually visited, meeting with general manager Ken Holland and coach Mike Babcock for lunch and a Detroit Tigers game last month.

Modano would center the Red Wings’ third line with Jiri Hudler and Dan Cleary and could play the point on the second power play unit, replacing Justin Williams.

More Modano Updates

Helene St. James of the Freep has been on top of today’s breaking Mike Modano news, having broken the latest update last night and added another today.

The recap as of right now…

Modano will join the Red Wings next season, likely at $1.25 million but the contract is not yet signed.

That part is expected to happen Friday. Modano returns from a golfing trip in Scotland on Thursday night and the Red Wings will have a press conference at the Joe at 2:30 PM the next day.

Malik may have misinterpreted St. James’ note about Modano’s jersey number. He says #90 is set in stone while she says it’s leaning that way. I personally like #90 better than the also-rumored #27 but prefer #91 to both, though it may never have been an option.