What makes Hockeytown Hockeytown?: Evil scheming conniving greatness.

Once again the masterminds that are behind one of the greatest sports dynasties of all times is at it again; and no one saw it coming.

Fans, even Red Wing fans, were angry, disheartened and frustrated this summer as they watched their team lose their captain (who just happens to be the best defenseman to ever play the game) to retirement and then have a General Manager do nothing with the teams large cap space.

By nothing I mean nothing. Detroit’s General Manger failed to bring Zach Parise and Ryan Suter to Hockeytown. The two biggest free agency is what is probably the history of the NHL. They were only missing an hour long tv special on ESPN 2 to become the most over hyped signings in sports history. Kenny instead brought in a back up goaltender with a bad heart.

No I don’t mean he doesn’t have love or passion for the game – he literally has a bad heart (medical test have proven he is fine – so says The Monster).

So, Ken Holland brought in a Monster to back up Jimmy Howard – then he brought back Mikael Samuelsson and followed that up 60 seconds later with the signing of Jordin Tootoo.

The announcement of one Jordin Tootoo becoming a Red Wing set off a mass hysteria with Detroit fans on Twitter that can only be compared to the Vancouver riot for utter over reacting. Alright, Ken Holland did something; but according to Wings fans the dawning for the Dead Wing 2.0 Era was upon us all.

Forget the fact that Red Wings owner Mike Ilitch had helped land not only the 2013 Winter Classic to be hosted by Detroit – well, Ann Arbor – in what is to be the largest hockey audience of all time. What Mr. Ilitch could not do was twist the arm of the NHL to get the game in Detroit at Comerica Park where his baseball team plays.

fail there Mr. Ilitch.

Guess you will have to settle for having that Alumni game there. Oh and the AHL game between the Wings’ and Leafs’ affiliate teams, and the Great Lakes Invitational, oh and those OHL teams that are going to play.

Still though, the Hockeytown Hockey Festival is NOT the Winter Classic.

In listing all the major fails of the Detroit Red Wings organization this summer is where we fail to see the devious, conniving, scheming plan that was well played on all of us mere mortals.

Let’s go back to GM Holland:

In the massive failure in bringing the two highest contracts in the NHL it has left the Red Wings being one of 14 teams sitting below what is being speculated at the new cap under the pending CBA agreement. Sixteen teams are going to have a massive trading frenzy to get under the $58 million cap if the latest proposal from the NHL is accepted by the NHLPA; and lets face it, it really is not a horrible team. Pavel Datsyuk is still Pavel Datsyuk, even if he wasn’t rated as a top fantasy hockey pick – but look at who they picked for one of the top wingers … James Neal.

Alright Kenny Holland. We may have freaked out about your lack of inactivity; but you have proven once again why you are the greatest GM in hockey.

Now Mr. Ilitch. You Sir are one amazing man.

You bought half the city of Detroit; two sports teams, and much more that those out of the Detroit area have no idea – and all because of pizza.

PIZZA! PIZZA!

You “gave up” the Winter Classic to Ann Arbor for a door price that you tried to re-brand as some special. Something that did not have to be re-branded as special because it is special.It is the special loop hole that has been greatly overlooked.  On the day that the NHL U.S. national television appearances were released; when fans and media alike are doubting if the season will take place; or if the Winter Classic will even happen – you had a plan to save Hockeytown from going without hockey.

Not only is the Hockeytown Hockey Festival going to be a savior for hockey fans during a probable/possible lockout it could in fact be the Phoenix (not the Coyotes they are a lost cause) of the winter.Rising from the ashes of what could be another lost NHL season the Hockeytown Hockey Festival in Downtown Detroit left the biggest loop hole in history that no one could see. Almost like the Chicago Blackhawks sending Cristobal Huet to the Swiss league to get out of the contract.

With an NHL lockout the players are not allowed to work for the NHL; however, they are allowed to sign contracts and play for other leagues. Including the American Hockey League. Both the Toronto Maple Leafs and the Detroit Red Wings have their AHL affiliate teams within a greatly reasonable distance (Toronto and Grand Rapids respectively).

What is stopping the NHL players from signing with their AHL affiliates? You know those same teams that are playing an outdoor game at Comerica Park already?

The NHL cannot stop these players from playing with those teams, and they cannot stop the AHL outdoor game becoming what could have/should have been the NHL Winter Classic.

Just the NHL Winter Classic would not take place; and NBC would have to scramble to get a contract with the AHL to start setting up for the AHL Winter Classic, but HBO’s 24/7 could be produced, the same players could still don the blue and white and the red and white and fight it out in Original Six glory – just with different names.And now it would ALL be at Comerica Park.

Mike Ilitch.

Ken Holland.

You two are frickin’ geniuses’.

Winter Classic Logo Revealed

The logo for the 2013 Winter Classic was made public on Friday, having been tweeted out by the Red Wings’ official Twitter account, among other media,

The graphic is in the shape of a classic shield – blue outlined in white and red – featuring the league’s logo and the iconic silouette of host venue Michigan Stadium.  The Winter Classic wordmark appears across the center of the shield with presenting sponsor Bridgestone’s wordmark and the Big House name appearing below.

In a first for the Winter Classic logo, the year is not featured.  This could be a bad omen given the potential for a lockout that could cancel the game.

The logo had made a brief unofficial appearance on Twitter on Thursday night before being taken down leading up to the Friday unveiling.

Red Wings, Maple Leafs Each Add Four to Alumni Showdown Rosters

The Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs announced on Thursday the addition of four players to each of their rosters for the Alumni Showdown at Comerica Park on December 31.

The Red Wings have added Petr Klima, Dallas Drake, Garry Unger and Paul Ysebaert to their alumni roster.

Klima was one of the Red Wings many eastern European draft selections of the 1980s.  He was selected in the fifth round of the 1983 draft and defected from then-Czechoslovakia in 1985.  He played in 293 career games with the Red Wings before being dealt to the Edmonton Oilers in 1989.  After stints in Tampa Bay, Los Angeles, and Pittsburgh, he ended his NHL career with a return to the Red Wings for 13 games in the 1998-99 season.

Drake also started and ended his career with the Red Wings.  Selected by Detroit in the 1989 draft, he made his NHL debut for the 1992-93 season.  Drake was traded to the Winnpeg Jets the following year and moved with the team to Phoenix.  He played six seasons for the St. Louis Blues before returning to the Red Wings to close out his career with a Stanley Cup in 2008.

Like Drake, Unger also played for both the Blues and the Red Wings.  Acquired from the Maple Leafs during his rookie season of 1967-68, Unger would play parts of four season with Detroit before being dealt to St. Louis.  He played nine seasons with the Blues and closed out his career with campaigns for the Los Angeles and Edmonton.

Ysebaert played parts of three seasons with the Red Wings from 1990 to 1993.  He started his career with New Jersey before being traded to Detroit, then moved on to Winnipeg, Chicago and Tampa Bay.

The four players added by the Maple Leafs were Joe Niewendyk, Borje Salming, Frank Mahovlich and Mats Sundin.

The following players are confirmed to appear at the Alumni Showdown:

Red Wings
Red Berenson
Jimmy Carson
Dino Ciccarelli
Alex Delvecchio
Dallas Drake
Kris Draper
Sergei Fedorov
Petr Klima
Joe Kocur
Martin Lapointe
Igor Larionov
Ted Lindsay
Kirk Maltby
Darren McCarty
John Ogrodnick
Dennis Polonich
Mickey Redmond
Garry Unger
Luc Robitaille
Paul Ysebaert

Chris Chelios
Paul Coffey
Mathieu Dandenault
Jiri Fischer
Viacheslav Fetisov
Mark Howe
Vladimir Konstantinov
Larry Murphy
Aaron Ward

Chris Osgood
Mike Vernon

Maple Leafs
Dave Andreychuk
Wendel Clark
Russ Courtnall
Vincent Damphousse
Bill Derlago
Tie Domi
Ron Ellis
Doug Gilmour
Gary Leeman
Kevin Maguire
Frank Mahovlich
Brad May
Lanny McDonald
Joe Nieuwendyk
Gary Roberts
Darryl Sittler
Mats Sundin
Darcy Tucker
Rick Vaive
Tiger Williams

Dave Ellett
Jim McKenny
Bryan McCabe
Bob McGill
Borje Salming

Johnny Bower
Curtis Joseph
Mike Palmateer
Felix Potvin

Red Wings Winter Classic Jersey Concepts Revisited

It seems ridiculous to revisit a series of posts that I only wrapped up two and a half weeks ago but I think it’s valid when one of the assumtpions I had based all of my work on is being questioned.

I published a handful of jersey concepts that looked at what the Red Wings might wear in the 2013 Winter Classic, taking into consideration current trends and the team’s history. Five of the six were based on the assumption that Detroit, as the home team, would wear red.

Last weekend, Howard Berger tweeted that the Red Wings would be wearing a cream-colored jersey for the Winter Classic, which jibed with the earlier assertion that the Maple Leafs would wear blue.

Berger credits his source as the same person who let the Leafs’ alternate jerseys leak last season, so there’s some history to him breaking this kind of news.

I will say that if the Wings are wearing “cream” or “vintage white” at Michigan Stadium, I’ll be disappointed. I think you only have to look at the 2004 Eastern Conference All-Star jersey to see that an off-white jersey just looks dirty. Vintage white can be used well as an accent but it doesn’t work as the primary color.

That said, I think it’s still worth looking at what Detroit could wear on January 1 with this new information in mind.

I don’t think the throwbacks worn in 1991-92 or the 2009 Winter Classic jersey will make an appearance because the team will want to introduce something they haven’t already thrown back to (even if this version would use vintage white rather than actual white). As such, I think there are two options left on the table.

wc2013_concept_07a

This is a color-flipped version of my initial concept from last February, based on the 1928-29 sweaters of the Detroit Cougars. I think this design is still possible because it’s something the team has never thrown back to. As I originally stated, it’s different enough from their current design and each of their throwbacks that it makes for a solid merchandising opportunity.

Alternately, we could see the team go with a more familiar look. As I said when I introduced my fourth and fifth concepts, there are a lot of fans calling for the Winged Wheel to appear on the Winter Classic jersey. It would be very easy to do something based on Detroit’s 1934 sweater, only with a vintage white update.

As with my previous concepts, I have no advance knowledge of what the Red Wings or Maple Leafs will be wearing in the Winter Classic. I also know my template is not perfect (Reebok vector instead of wordmark, incorrect collar, etc.).

For the record, here are the links to my previous Winter Classic concepts…
Concept #1 (February)
Concept #2 (May)
Concept #3 (June 4)
Concept #4 (June 25)
Concept #5 (July)
Concept #6 (August 6)

Red Wings Announce Cancellation of Prospect Tournament

The Detroit Red Wings announced on Thursday the cancellation of their annual prospect tournament at Traverse City’s Centre Ice Arena.

The tournament had been scheduled to begin on September 14, but with labor negotiations between the NHL and the NHLPA threatening to trigger a lockout on September 15, the decision was made to cancel the event.

“The Red Wings, the staff at Centre Ice Arena and the countless volunteers throughout the Traverse City area have worked hand-in-hand to develop one of the most popular and professionally operated prospects tournaments in all of hockey,” Detroit general manager Ken Holland said in a statement.

“Due to the uncertainty surrounding the collective bargaining agreement and the advance commitments required from the various parties including hotels, airlines, teams, players and their families, etc. we have determined that it is in everyone’s best interest to cancel this year’s tournament.”

The Red Wings were to be joined by the Buffalo Sabres, Carolina Hurricanes, Columbus Blue Jackets, Dallas Stars, Minnesota Wild, St. Louis Blues and New York Rangers.

The tournament is expected to return next season.

Detroit’s main camp, scheduled to begin on September 22, remains scheduled at this time.

Wings, Leafs Announce More Alumni Showdown Additions

The Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs announced seven more players who will appear in the Alumni Showdown between the two teams in December on Thursday.

The Red Wings added Aaron Ward, Red Berenson, Jimmy Carson and Dennis Polonich.

Ward started his career with the Red Wings in 1993-94 and played seven seasons with the team, winning the Stanley Cup in 1997 and 1998 before being traded to the Carolina Hurricanes in 2001.  He won another Cup with Carolina in 2006.  He closed out his career with four seasons split between the New York Rangers, Boston Bruins, another stint with Carolina, and the Anaheim Ducks.

Berenson, the legendary University of Michigan head coach, spent parts of five seasons with the Red Wings in the 70s.  He also played for the Montreal Canadiens, Rangers, and St. Louis Blues over 987 career NHL games.

Carson played part of four season with the Wings in the early 1990s.  He started his career with the Los Angeles Kings before being traded to the Edmonton Oilers in the Wayne Gretzky deal.  The Oilers traded him to the Red Wings early in the 1989-90 season and the Wings sent him back to LA in 1993.  He closed out his NHL career with stints in Vancouver and Hartford, then retired from hockey after two years with the IHL’s Detroit Vipers.

Polonich played his entire NHL career in Detroit, serving as team captain during the 1976-77 season while Danny Grant was injured.  He was famously injured by Wilf Paiement of the Colorado Rockies in a 1978 game when Paiement smashed him in the face with his stick.  Polonich was sent down to the AHL’s Adirondack Red Wings in 1983 and never made it back into the NHL.  He closed out his career with two season’s with the IHL’s Muskegon Lumberjacks in 1986 and 1987.

The Maple Leafs added Tie Domi, Brad May, and Dave “Tiger” Williams.  May and Williams also spent time with the Red Wings over their careers.

The following players are confirmed to appear at the Alumni Showdown:

Red Wings
Red Berenson
Jimmy Carson
Dino Ciccarelli
Alex Delvecchio
Kris Draper
Sergei Fedorov
Joe Kocur
Martin Lapointe
Igor Larionov
Ted Lindsay
Kirk Maltby
Darren McCarty
John Ogrodnick
Dennis Polonich
Mickey Redmond
Luc Robitaille

Chris Chelios
Paul Coffey
Mathieu Dandenault
Jiri Fischer
Viacheslav Fetisov
Mark Howe
Vladimir Konstantinov
Larry Murphy
Aaron Ward

Chris Osgood
Mike Vernon

Maple Leafs
Dave Andreychuk
Wendel Clark
Russ Courtnall
Vincent Damphousse
Bill Derlago
Tie Domi
Ron Ellis
Doug Gilmour
Gary Leeman
Kevin Maguire
Brad May
Lanny McDonald
Gary Roberts
Darryl Sittler
Darcy Tucker
Rick Vaive
Tiger Williams

Dave Ellett
Jim McKenny
Bryan McCabe
Bob McGill

Johnny Bower
Curtis Joseph
Mike Palmateer
Felix Potvin

Why Bettman Is Commissioner

I responded to a post on G+ earlier today and figured I’d bring that rant over here for the general public.

The question was “Why on earth was Gary Bettman ever given a new contract?”  Numerous examples of the damage done to the game of hockey during Bettman’s tenure as NHL commissioner were given, including the fact that two long lockouts occurred with a third looking likely.

Over at Puck Daddy, Ryan Lambert touched on the same topic earlier today.  I know Wings fans are supposed to hate him but he’s right this time.

Here’s my version of the response…

He hasn’t been canned because what most fans fail to take into consideration is that Gary Bettman is not employed to make hockey better.  Gary Bettman is employed by the owners to act on their behalf.  For the most part, the owners want to make more money.  If they can do that by locking out the players, they will.

We may know that Bettman sucks but he gets the owners what they want (which should tell us that fans shouldn’t be siding with owners).  He doesn’t tell them what to do, they tell him what to do.  If there’s another lockout, it’s because enough of the owners think that will be good for business, and the ones who don’t aren’t willing to fight them on it.

Mike Ilitch has said he hates the salary cap but he has no problem pocketing the money he saves by it having been implemented.  Those savings weren’t passed on to fans by cutting ticket prices, after all.  And he’s one of the owners generally regarded as caring about the sport.

Bettman is a weasel but he’s a weasel who does a very good job.  The fact that so many people complain about him while praising their favorite team’s owner is a sign of that.

Bettman: League Will Lock Out Players With No CBA

NHL commissioner Gary Bettman confirmed on Thursday that the league will lock out the players if a new collective bargaining agreement isn’t reached by September 15.

“We reiterated to the union that the owners will not play another year under the current agreement,” he told reporters after the latest round of negotiations in New York.

“I re-confirmed something that the union has been told multiple times over the last nine to 12 months. Namely, that the time is getting short and the owners are not prepared to operate under this collective bargaining agreement for another season so we need to get to making a deal and doing it soon. And we believe there’s ample time for the parties to get together and make a deal and that’s what we’re going to be working towards.”

As I said yesterday, I don’t think the season will begin until late November.

On Trading for Bouwmeester

It’s a slow news month in the Red Wings world, so the news that the Wings had indeed been talking to the Calgary Flames about trading for Jay Bouwmeester is a big deal.

With only six NHL defensemen on the roster, Bouwmeester would provide some much-needed added depth.  Once a young star, his stock has dropped since joining the Flames from the Florida Panthers in 2009.

It’s hard to argue against Detroit picking up a defenseman.  Depending on the cost, I’m not sure I’d complain about trading for Bouwmeester.

That said, I do wonder why Bouwmeester’s $6.68 million cap hit over two seasons would be deemed acceptable for a reclaimation project while $7 million over one season was too much to risk on Alexander Semin.

Is it simply because the Red Wings need a defenseman more than they need a forward?  Maybe, though I’m not sure how much I agree with that.

It’s doubtful that general manager Ken Holland would make a move before the new CBA is put together, so don’t expect a resolution to this any time soon.

Red Wings Announce Further Alumni Additions

The Detroit Red Wings announced on Thursday the addition of three more former players to the team’s roster for the Alumni Showdown against the Toronto Maple Leafs on December 31 at Comerica Park.

Paul Coffey, Mathieu Dandenault and Martin Lapointe will appear for the Red Wings.

Coffey played 21NHL seasons, including parts of four with the Red Wings.  He won the Norris Trophy as the league’s top defenseman three times, one of which (1995) came during his time in Detroit.

Dandenault was part of the Red Wings’ Stanley Cup teams in 1997, 1998 and 2002.  A speedy forward who was converted to defense early in his career, he signed with his hometown Montreal Canadiens after the 2004-05 NHL lockout and retired in 2010.

Lapointe was also part of the 1997 and 1998 Stanley Cup teams, scoring the Cup-clinching goal in 1998.  After ten seasons with the Wings, he signed with the Boston Bruins in 2001.  He retired in 2008 after stints with the Chicago Blackhawks and Ottawa Senators.

The Maple Leafs also announced three additions to their lineup: Lanny MacDonald, Gary Roberts and Bryan McCabe.