Report: Zetterberg to be Named Red Wings’ Captain

According to MLive’s Ansar Khan, Henrik Zetterberg will be named captain of the Detroit Red Wings sometime before the start of the 2013 NHL season.

Zetterberg would replace Nicklas Lidstrom, who retired over the summer.

A report early into the now-ending NHL lockout stated that the team had been prepared to name the Swede as captain late in the summer but held off on the announcement due to the labor uncertainty.

Zetterberg was named an alternate captain in 2006 along with Kris Draper, at the same time as Lidstrom replaced longtime captain Steve Yzerman wearing the C. He has continued wearing the A since then, sharing it with Pavel Datsyuk and Niklas Kronwall last season in a rotation.

It is unknown whether the team would add another alternate captain to continue that rotation. Around the time of Lidstrom’s retirement, Valtteri Filppula had been mentioned as taking on more of a leadership role with the team.

On the Red Wings’ Glut of Forwards

With the Detroit Red Wings set to return to the ice as soon as Wednesday, and games set to begin as early as January 15, questions about the team’s lineup will soon be answered.

On defense, things are pretty well set. Brendan Smith will make the jump from the Grand Rapids and newcomer Carlo Colaiacovo, will battle with Jakub Kindl for a spot on the third pairing when he returns from an injury suffered while playing for Canada in the Spengler Cup. Brian Lashoff may get a look as the seventh defenseman while Colaiacovo is out but that’s really the only question mark.

In the crease, Jimmy Howard is the established starter and Jonas Gustavsson will be his backup. Joey MacDonald is on a one-way contract and not likely bound for Grand Rapids as Petr Mrazek and Tom McCollum have things locked down there. In all likelihood, Ken Holland will look to deal MacDonald in what little time he has before the start of the season.

Up front, however, things are much less certain.

The Red Wings will likely carry 14 forwards for the season, though they could go with 15 while Colaiacovo is injured. Patrick Eaves remains sidelined by post-concussion symptoms but even without him, the team has 16 NHL-ready forwards signed.

You can assume that everyone who had a job last year will be back, minus the likely-to-retire Tomas Holmstrom. This means that Justin Abdelkader, Todd Bertuzzi, Daniel Cleary, Pavel Datsyuk, Cory Emmerton, Valtteri Filppula, Johan Franzen, Darren Helm, Drew Miller, Jan Mursak, Mikael Samuelsson, Jordin Tootoo and Henrik Zetterberg have the inside track. That’s 13 skaters right there.

Then you’ve got Damien Brunner, who’s never played in North America but developed remarkable chemistry with Zetterberg while the pair played in Switzerland during the lockout. Based on that chemistry alone, you’d have to think he gets a shot in Detroit, which puts the team at the 14 they’re likely to carry but doesn’t account for the possibility of Eaves’ return.

On top of that is Gustav Nyquist, who showed he was NHL-ready last season and currently leads the Griffins in scoring.

My guess, and I hate to say it, is that Nyquist ends up staying in Grand Rapids. Jan Mursak will be the expendable forward if Eaves comes back, waived or traded to make room. We’ll see what happens in the next week.

Why the Season Isn’t Saved

The news that NHL fans have been waiting for since September finally came early this morning: There will be NHL hockey this season.

Make no mistake, however. The 2012-13 NHL season was not saved. A new 2013 season will be created, and I count myself among those grateful for that, but it’s hard to ignore what this lockout has cost.

There will be no Winter Classic. The matchup between Detroit and Toronto that should have set an unbreakable world record for attendance at Michigan Stadium will occur in the future but should have already happened.

There will be no All-Star Game in Columbus. The league may return there in the future but it may not, as happened to Glendale and the Phoenix Coyotes in the last lockout.

There will be no inter-conference play. Barring matchups in the Stanley Cup Finals, the Red Wings will not face their Original Six rivals in Montreal, Toronto, Boston or New York.

We’ve got the NHL back, and that’s good, but no one should pretend we haven’t lost anything to get to this point.

League, Union Reach Verbal Deal on New CBA

The National Hockey League’s lockout of its Players’ Association is not over, but it could be in a matter of days as the league and the union have reached a verbal agreement on a new collective bargaining agreement.

The agreement was announced at 5:30 AM on Sunday after a marathon negotiating session that began early Saturday.

While key points have been agreed to, the final draft of the new CBA still needs to be written and both sides need to vote on it. Because of that, it’s unknown when the 2013 season will actually begin. Reportedly, the league has prepared both a 50-game schedule and a 48-game schedule.

The new CBA reportedly includes a prorated $70 million cap for the 2013 season and a $64.3 million cap for 2013-14, after which it will be defined by 50% of hockey-related revenue. Two “compliance buyouts” will be allotted to each team during the 2013 offseason to help them get under the new cap.

Two new elements will be put in place to stop the “back-diving” contracts that tack extra years onto a deal at a low rate to lower the overall cap hit of a deal. One is that new contracts will be limited to seven years, unless a player is re-signing with his own team, in which case eight years are allowed. The other is that annual salary in a deal cannot drop more than 35% from year to year, and cannot drop more than 50% from its highest year.

Changes to salary arbitration and revenue sharing are also included, as well as the introduction of a “neutral third-party” to the supplemental discipline process.

The new deal is reportedly for ten years with an optional out after eight years.

Red Wings Winter Classic Jersey Concepts Revisited Again

An image of what some Red Wings and Maple Leafs Winter Classic merchandise would have looked like hit the blogosphere today after being posted at the SportsLogos.Net forums on Wednesday. From it, I think we can get a good idea of what the Red Wings will be wearing whenever they take to the ice in Ann Arbor.

Let me say off the bat that I hate this idea.


From the t-shirt design we can see that the Wings would be using their oversized “fancy” numbers from the 1982-83 season, the only year they did not wear block numbers. Oddly enough, the t-shirt does not feature the vertically-arched lettering introduced that same season (and carried on to this day), instead showing a standard block font.

On the front, the original Winged Wheel appears under “Detroit” in an “old-timey” font similar to the “fancy” numbers.

The shirt is in red with standard white accents but because we’ve heard before that the Wings would be in a “vintage white” sweater, I’m assuming the palette swap is because no one would buy a dirty white t-shirt, so my mock-up is in cream with red accents.

I’m also assuming that the Wings wouldn’t break out the “fancy” numbers without putting them on the sleeves, so I eschewed the 1928-29 striping pattern for one that would leave room for sleeve numbers.

This design actually includes several of my previous design elements. The city name arched over the logo from the 1928-29 sweater is used, as is the original Winged Wheel. The striping pattern, though unconfirmed, is from the 1934 white jersey and a standard block font is used for the nameplate.

The specifics are where it goes wrong, in my opinion.

I have no problem with mixing eras in a fauxback jersey or throwing back to an era as recent as the 1980s. That said, choosing the “fancy” numbers as one of your key design elements is just wrong. This is something that was such a bad idea it only lasted for a season. There is nothing particularly endearing about the Reed Larson-led 1983 lineup that this could be an attempt to evoke the memory of.

On the front of the jersey you have the same problem that the Vancouver Canucks’ current jerseys have: There’s too much going on. A full-sized logo with the city arched over it just looks messy. The Dallas Stars (and many collegiate teams) show that you can use the city name on the front of the sweater just fine if your other design element (be it the player’s number or a logo) is smaller.

Additionally, there’s something needlessly sloppy to me about using the “old-timey” font for “Detroit” on the front. It’s not something that has ever been part of the team’s identity. To me, the text actually looks of the “painted on the side of a Volkswagon bus in the 1970s” style, so I don’t know what era it’s supposed to represent.

Maybe it doesn’t matter and I’m way off on what I’m reading from this t-shirt. As I’ve said before, I have no advance knowledge of what the teams will be wearing, this is my semi-educated guess. As I’ve also said before, I know my template isn’t quite right but I’m too lazy to fix it right now.

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)
Concepts Revisited (August 23)

NHLPA Opts Not to Disclaim

With negotiations between the National Hockey League and the NHL Players’ Association continuing late into Wednesday night, the NHLPA opted not to exercise their option to declare a Disclaimer of Interest.

The players had voted in December to authorize the NHLPA Executive Board to file a Disclaimer of Interest up until midnight on Wednesday if the Board thought it was necessary to resolve the labor strife between the league and the union. That the disclaimer was not filed seems to indicate that the NHLPA believes a resolution can be reached without taking the battle to the courts.

Had the players filed a Disclaimer of Interest, it would have effectively dissolved the union. Players would have had the option of taking the league to court with anti-trust lawsuits challenging the legality of the lockout. This is still an option but the NHLPA membership would likely need to vote on it again.

The two sides met for four hours on Wednesday night, reportedly discussing a player pension plan.

The latest negotiations were sparked by an NHL offer last Thursday. The NHLPA responded with a counter-offer on Monday, which the league countered on Tuesday. The players delivered another counter-offer early on Wednesday.

The league has set a deadline of January 11 for reaching a deal that would salvage a season. Games would begin on January 19.

TGTW Winter Classic: The Tweets

On Twitter today I pseudo-live-tweeted a Winter Classic that didn’t happen. Obviously we didn’t have an actual Winter Classic to work from but I’ve been running a simulated season over at The Games That Weren’t. Using the boxscore from there, I had already written a game recap for here when I was goaded into turning it into a series of tweets, scheduled to occur when the related event would have occurred for a game that started at 1:00 PM in Ann Arbor (with an assumed actual puck drop of 1:20 PM).

For the sake of completeness, I wanted to archive those tweets here.

TGTW: Red Wings Earn 3-1 Win over Maple Leafs in Winter Classic

The Games That Weren’t is one of many projects simulating the games lost by the NHL lockout. In the absence of actual games to write about, I’ll be checking in periodically on the fictional Red Wings’ season.

It was a cold, sunny day in Ann Arbor Tuesday afternoon, great weather for the Detroit Red Wings to host the Toronto Maple Leafs in the 2013 Winter Classic at Michigan Stadium. The sixth iteration of the NHL’s annual outdoor event made the Wings the first team in league history to go 2-0 outdoors, adding to their 2009 win in Chicago with a 3-1 victory over the Leafs.

The Red Wings came into the game reeling, having dropped out of first place in the Central Division with a pair of road losses in the week after Christmas. The Maple Leafs were even further down, three points out of the Eastern Conference playoff picture despite a shootout win in Ottawa on Friday, where Detroit would lose on Saturday night.

The game would start out chippy and remain physical throughout. Dion Phaneuf and Mikael Samuelsson got tangled up just 13 seconds in, with Phaneuf being sent off for high sticking and Samuelsson for unsportsmanlike conduct. At 3:25, Mike Komisarek was caught elbowing Pavel Datsyuk in the ribs and at 6:43 Johan Franzen added another unsportsmanlike conduct minor.

Franzen’s penalty would lead to the game’s first goal, scored as he exited the penalty box thanks to a tic-tac-toe passing play by Valtteri Filppula and Datsyuk

Datsyuk sent the puck to Filppula on the left wing to gain the Toronto zone, then jumped into the high slot around defender John-Michael Liles to get the puck back before sending it back to the still-moving Filppula. With Liles shifting to Filppula and Mike Komisarek moving to cover Datsyuk, Franzen came out of the penalty box and drove down the right wing, cutting to the side of the crease just in time to take a pass from Filppula and roof it over Toronto netminder James Reimer.

The Red Wings carried the play for much of the opening period but after Henrik Zetterberg went off for charging Phaneuf with with 4:44 left in the period, Toronto picked up the pace. Detroit killed the penalty but the Leafs kept the pressure up and were rewarded for it with 1:29 left, when Wings’ goalie Jimmy Howard stopped a blue line blast from Phaneuf but seemingly got lost in the goalmouth scramble for the rebound, with James van Riemsdyk finding the puck and poking it into the net to tie things up.

Detroit regained the lead on a great individual play by Samuelsson at 4:26 of the second period. Samuelsson – often blamed for Detroit’s offensive woes dispite having twelve goals on the season – poked the puck away from Clarke MacArthur at the Toronto blue line, stepped unchallenged into the high slot, and rifled a shot over Reimer’s glove.

The physicality would resume late in the middle period with Detroit defenseman Jakub Kindl boarding Toronto’s Tim Connolly, then Nikolai Kulemin roughing Kindl up a few shifts later. To start the third, Matt Frattin and Daniel Cleary went off for high-sticking and charging, respectively, at 4:43.

Kindl and Cleary would appear on the scoresheet again midway through the final period, combining to put the game out of reach for the Maple Leafs. After a shot from the left point by Kindl was blocked in front, Drew Miller poked the loose puck from the top of the crease to Cleary in the slot. Cleary shuffled it back to Kindl for another drive that found its way through Miller’s screen and past Reimer to make it 3-1 with 9:09 left.

Down by two and running out of time, Toronto’s patience disappeared. van Riemsdyk tried to start a fight with Cleary with 6:06 remaining, resulting in a roughing call to the Maple Leafs forward. Frattin went off for a second high-sticking double minor with 53 seconds left after getting his stick under Carlo Colaiacovo‘s visor. With just two seconds left, Tyler Bozak went off after catching Justin Abdelkader in the nose with his stick.

With the late penalties, the Red Wings finished the afternoon scoreless on seven power play tries. The Maple Leafs did not score on their three attempts with the extra skater.

Howard made 18 saves on 19 shots. Reimer stopped 22 of the 25 shots he faced.

The announced attendance of 113,411 would be a new world record for attendance at a hockey game. It is the same announced attendance as the 2010 “Big Chill at the Big House,” which was later certified as only 104,173. The official attendance will be announced at a later date.

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