I always have a hard time figuring out what to say on DetroitHockey.Net’s birthday.
I have the tendency to pledge to do something in the coming year and then not actually do it. Two years ago I mentioned building a new DH.N store, which I’m just now finally getting around to. To be fair, last year I mentioned rebuilding the site’s multimedia section, which I did last month. Call it progress.
So tonight marks 21 years since I started this site. I don’t have a whole lot to say about it but I think that’s worth commemorating anyway. Thanks for taking some time out of your day to celebrate with us.
At some point recently the Griffins’ updated the roster on their website to include new jersey numbers.
Vili Saarijarvi is currently assigned the #9 that Axel Holmstrom wore through last season’s run to the Calder Cup Championship. Saarijarvi wore #9 with the Flint Firebirds and the Toledo Walleye but had been assigned #48 in Grand Rapids.
New goalie Matej Machovsky is assigned #34 while the returning McCollum gets his #30 back.
Elson has #15 while AHL free agents Pat Nagel, Patrick McCarron, and Corey Elkins have #35, #12, and #47, respectively.
Having had two hours to wander around the Red Wings’ new home earlier today, I’ve finally gotten an opportunity to put together some actual thoughts on Little Caesars Arena.
A new arena won’t save the Red Wings from the issues they face on the ice and the ticket prices at said new arena won’t win them any favors with the fanbase, either. I’m not excited about this season and Little Caesars Arena doesn’t change that. That said, it’s pretty easy to be excited about the venue itself.
I came in through the southwest entrance and the first thing I noticed is the ridiculous amount of natural light in the much-promoted Via concourse. I’m curious how that space will look at night but in the day it’s unlike any NHL arena I’ve been in.
The concourse doesn’t feel like an arena. It feels more like a mall. A large, open hallway with shops and food vendors on either side. Maybe during an actual event the “portals” leading to the arena bowl itself would be more prominent but during the tour that wasn’t the case.
The portals are significantly more prominent on the upper concourse, which is more sparsely-populated in general.
The Production Line statues from Joe Louis Arena have made their way to Little Caesars Arena but are no longer grouped together. I don’t love that but each statue now has a photo of the player with his jersey number as a backdrop, which does look really good.
The Via concourse includes custom manhole covers honoring people important to Red Wings and Pistons history. It’s a nice feature but not one that really impacts anything.
My favorite feature is probably the “Olympia” signage from Olympia Stadium having been re-mounted in the east concourse, right next to a giant mural of Gordie Howe.
In the arena bowl itself, the scoreboard is probably the biggest change. It’s just huge. I’m not sure if it’ll be overpowering or not but that’s my concern. I would have loved to see the arena bowl lit up like it would be during a game.
The lower bowl feels pretty standard. It’s clean. There are cupholders. I’m not sure that’s going to feel very different.
The upper bowl is going to take some getting used to. Accessing it from its own concourse should make traffic in the arena much more tolerable. The upper bowl is steep. There are actually handrails and I imagine they’ll get some use.
There are no bad seats in the arena. The last row of the upper bowl has a great view. The gondolas block the scoreboard but not the ice. The gondolas have a great view as well. You really do feel on top of the ice.
The thing that struck me most after the fact is that I was looking at the concourse and saying “This reminds me of Nationwide Arena.” and I was looking at the seating thinking “This is better than Amalie Arena.” At no point did I compare it to Joe Louis Arena. In all honesty, there really is no comparison.
As I noted on Twitter, “Mr. I” appears behind the nets on both the main sheet and the practice rink, so I wonder if that will be a permanent tribute.
Speaking of the practice rink, the team’s Stanley Cup banners from the Joe are hung there. There are new banners hanging over the ice at Little Caesars Arena, in some kind of box that makes them retractable for different events. They were retracted during today’s tour.
I overheard someone say that the Red Wings’ banners would be retracted for Pistons’ games and vice-versa but that seems a bit weird to me given their placement in the arena. The Red Wings’ banners are all on one side and the Pistons’ are on the other. If only one set was going to be displayed at a time, why not spread them out over the entire arena?
I don’t like the placement of the banners in general, but that’s a rant for another time.
Speaking of rants, a couple negatives…
Unless I missed it, Larry Aurie does not have a commemorative manhole cover. That’s the least the team could have done if they’re not going to give him a banner in the rafters.
Also, while the Via concourse is pretty incredible, the north and west sides of the arena are a bit more standard.
Nonetheless, I look forward to seeing a game played there to see how some of this works out in actual use.
Summer numbers can be somewhat volatile, so who knows what of these will stick for main camp.
Evgeny Svechnikov, who’s been wearing #37 with the Red Wings, is now shown wearing #77. This matches the switch that he made with the Grand Rapids Griffins last season. Dan Renouf had been assigned that number last season and is not appearing in the prospect tournament so we don’t know what change he might be making.
Dominic Turgeon has gone from #78 to #23. This is somewhat interesting as veteran Brian Lashoff is still with the Red Wings’ organization and that number had been assigned to him. Turgeon has traditionally worn #23 in honor of his sister.
Axel Holmstrom, who had previously (and humorously) worn the #96 that formerly belong to Tomas Holmstrom, is now assigned #49. Eric Tangradi had been assigned #49 so, like Lashoff, we’ll see if there’s a coming change there.
Dennis Cholowski is wearing #53 after wearing #2 at this summer’s development camp and #95 at last summer’s. Jordan Sambrook, who had been wearing #95 after Cholowski, switches to #63.
Six 2017 draft picks will be appearing on the Red Wings’ tournament roster, with none of them keeping the numbers that they wore in July. Michael Rasmussen switches from #37 to #27, taking the number that Joe Hicketts had been assigned. Combined with Cholowski’s switch, I wonder if Hicketts will be assigned #2 in the main camp. Lane Zablocki goes from #67 to the #46 worn in camp last year by Ben Street. Reilly Webb switches from #84 to #50. Zach Gallant goes from #73 to #64. Brady Gilmour inverts #76 to #67. Cole Fraser gets #74 instead of #85.
The Grand Rapids Griffins have been running their annual jersey design contest this month over at Uni-Watch. Over the last week, 119 entrants were voted on in four polls to produce twelve finalists, from which the Griffins staff will select at least one winner.
This year there was a twist to the contest, as submissions were required to be in the form of an “80s fauxback” – a design the Griffins might have worn had the team existed a decade earlier.
I’ve given far too much thought to that twist – what exactly makes an 80s jersey? – and tweeted the following from my personal account earlier this morning:
The finalists for the @griffinshockey fauxback jersey design contest are an interesting group. I’d love to hear what the team has to say.
Since I’ve done reviews of the contest in previous years and I already mentally pared this year’s finalists down, I figured I’d run through my thoughts on them.
Keep in mind that this is an unofficial list of finalists. I went back and checked the voting but it’s possible that votes were cast after the deadline, skewing the results.
I’ll start with the ones that I think are easy to eliminate and why. I should note that I’m focusing on flaws because I’m looking at why I think they might not win, not why they’re bad designs.
Last year’s winner is probably prohibited from winning again this year but I’m not sure. If not, while the GRG-meets-Van Halen logo certainly has an 80s look, it’s not an 80s hockey look, as no team would have worn that logo on the ice.
Between the number font and the gold trim, I get an art deco vibe from this. The chest stripes were not an 80s thing and the lowercase wordmark across the chest feels more 70s than 80s, though I admit that much of 80s hockey design began in the 70s.
This design is so close to not being cut. The stripes work for me and the logo is good but it’s too complicated for the 80s. There wouldn’t be stitching details, for one. The split number doesn’t feel particularly 80s to me. Another issue is that I see an eagle a lot more than a griffin in that logo. Finally, I don’t get what the swords on the shoulder logos (which probably wouldn’t have been used in the 80s) have to do with Grand Rapids or the Griffins. Too many small issues but it doesn’t stop me from liking it in general.
I love this look but the chest stripes to me scream 1920s, not 1980s. I hope it gets worn at some point but it shouldn’t win this contest.
I like the direction that this one goes as it’s close to one of my initial logo designs, based on the Edmonton Oilers. It’s just too poorly-rendered for me to consider as a winner. The Griffins reserve the right to edit designs, though, so they theoretically could take this, shrink down the numbers, clean up the logo a little, and run with it.
My best guess is that this is trying to emulate the Vancouver Canucks’ V-striped jersey of the 80s but I can’t view it without feeling like a seizure is coming on. It’s just not a good hockey jersey design.
Like Zach Grantham’s design, I like this one quite a bit, it just has nothing that says 1980s to me. The wordmark on the chest looks more like the 1950s. The striping says early 2000s. I’m not against the mish-mash of eras in general, I just don’t think it’s right for this contest.
Lack of a waist stripe is a very Reebok Edge thing. Is the cartoon logo 80s? I don’t know. This feels unfinished, much like Dylan Gray’s. There’s a difference between 80s simplicity and unfinished.
Another that I kind of like. It’s too complicated even as a modern alternate, in my opinion, and it’s not a fauxback in any way.
This leaves three (as opposed to the four that I tweeted) that I think are real competitors but each has flaws as well. With the above, I feel like the flaws are obvious enough to eliminate them from contention. I could be wrong about that, obviously. With the three remaining, I think it comes down more to what the team is looking for.
This is pretty. Traditional striping, simplified colors. I love the use of the wing from the Red Wings’ winged wheel as the Griffins’ wing, which is a design choice I’ve made before. That said, it doesn’t feel 80s to me. It feels like a 50s design that could have been worn into the 80s, though, and it’s rendered well enough that it slides into my final three. One big knock – which is a flaw of the contest so the Griffins will probably ignore it – is that I can’t see that gold being used in the 1980s. It would have been a bright yellow.
My own design of course makes my top three because I’m judging these with the same mindset with which I designed this one. I wrote about the design process on my personal blog. The logo feels too 90s to me, which I think is because of being forced to use red and black instead of blue and red. I came up with a better version after voting already started but that’s not what the Griffins will be looking at. Striping is based on the New Jersey Devils and drop-shadowed numbers were all over the 80s. That logo might be a weak point, though.
I honestly don’t know what to think of this one. Initial-based logos were big in the 80s – Calgary Flames, New Jersey Devils, Hartford Whalers. But the lower-case letters feel too 70s to me. The number font doesn’t feel 80s at all. But overall, I love the look of it.
Update 8/24/2017, 8:10 AM: With the official finalists announced, it turns out that I failed to account for a surprising disqualification. Zach Blackwell was rejected from the contest for modifying a stock griffin image and tacking on the Red Wings’ logo.
As I mentioned, I like the use of the wing from the Winged Wheel, and I think borrowing from a parent club’s identity is appropriate for the 1980s (remember that until the Red Wings affiliated with the Griffins, their farm teams in Hampton and Glens Falls used the Winged Wheel for decades). That said, the use of clip art as a base is hard to ignore. This means that one of my top three is out.
Replacing Blackwell in as a finalist is Roark Boes, so here are my thoughts on that design.
This is another design that uses 80s pop culture elements but not 80s hockey design. As such, I think it’s easy to eliminate immediately, should the Griffins actually be looking for a true fauxback.
The poll below has been updated to account for this change.
To me, it comes back to not knowing how the Griffins staff and ownership will judge this. Will they look at a design and analyze the individual elements? Will they go more by feel? Will the fauxback requirement they set forth even matter? I’d love to hear the discussions.
I’ve been told time and time again that jersey numbers at the Red Wings’ development camp are meaningless but we’ve seen hints of pending changes there in the past. For example, Philippe Hudon being assigned the #63 that had been worn by Joakim Andersson was the first sign of Andersson’s switch to #18 back in 2013.
That said, of late there have been many cases of assigned numbers being handed out for the development camp, especially goalie numbers. A previously-assigned number being given out at camp doesn’t mean the player who had it is switching, it’s just worth looking out for.
Malmstrom wore #88 in camp last season, which is assigned to free agent signee Libor Sulak this time around. Sulak’s usual number is #88 so it would appear that he wanted that number and would wear it if he makes the Wings’ roster.
Somewhat unexpectedly, 2017 first-rounder Michael Rasmussen is wearing the #37 that had been assigned to Evgeny Svechnikov. Svechnikov also wore #37 in his first full season with the Grand Rapids Griffins before switching to #77. Dan Renouf had been assigned #77 but is not in camp, so we don’t know if Rasmussen getting #37 while #77 is unassigned means Svechnikov is switching to #77 again.
Also somewhat oddly, Dylan Sadowy kept the #44 he got after Steve Ott took his usual #29 rather than switching back, with #29 going unassigned.
Aside from that, there are some relatively normal number shifts.
Dennis Cholowski switched from #95 to the #2 vacated by Brendan Smith, with Jordan Sambrook going from #94 to #95 (which he wore for the prospects tournament last fall). Patrick Holway went from #4 to #24. Mattias Elfstrom went from #82 to #56. Chase Pearson took Tomas Jurco‘s #26 instead of #92 while David Pope got Daniel Cleary‘s #11 instead of #90 (which went to goalie Keith Petruzelli).
As I mentioned, the goalie numbers almost never matter, but there were changes there, too. Filip Larsson went from #31 to #68, with Chase Perry going from #68 to #30 and Matej Machovsky going from #30 to #31, which is still assigned to Jared Coreau. Meanwhile Joren van Pottelberghe went from #50 to #38, which will probably be assigned to Tom McCollum by the time the main camp comes around, as he wore it in his initial stint with Detroit.
What’s all that mean? Probably not much. I still think Sproul is changing and now I wouldn’t be surprised if Svechnikov is as well. Numbers for Trevor Daley and Luke Witkowski probably aren’t reflected here as the roster was set before they signed (although I have a second prediction of Witkowski taking #28 and Vili Saarijarvi switching to #17).
Evgeny Svechnikov, Axel Holmstrom, and Joe Hicketts (among others) were all expected to attend development camp until the Grand Rapids Griffins made their Calder Cup run. The players wearing their numbers were all late additions to the development camp roster. I’d be willing to bet the jerseys were already made up so they just swapped the names.
Day One of the 2017 Free Agent Season is in the books (or at least as far as the Red Wings are considered). Detroit general manager Ken Holland called it “a great day for the Red Wings.” Lets take a look at what the team did and didn’t do.
The big – and most-expected – signing for Detroit was veteran defenseman Trevor Daley. It’s a three-year deal for $9.5 million with a no-trade clause that scales back in the third year.
I don’t love it. I wish the Wings were just going with the kids for a bit and seeing where it takes them. That said, I don’t hate it, either. By all accounts, Daley will be a great mentor for some of those kids and, assuming Mike Green is dealt at the deadline next year, the lost roster spot will only be for half a season. The contract is much better than I was expecting.
It says something when a resounding “meh” is the most you can say for the best signing of the day.
The other deal the Wings closed immediately upon the opening of free agency was to bring in Tampa Bay defenseman Luke Witkowski.
This is the guy who broke Anthony Mantha‘s hand in a stupid fight near the end of the season. I see no reason to bring a guy like him in.
The deal is for $750,000, which can be completely buried in the AHL. But we said that about Steve Ott‘s deal at this time last summer and he saw zero minutes in Grand Rapids so don’t count on it.
If the Wings were looking for a big, tough, young defenseman, they had Dylan McIlrath in Grand Rapids already. If they wanted that from a forward, where they supposedly are ready to shift Witkowski, then they had Tyler Bertuzzi. This signing was completely unnecessary.
I feel like this is also part of a “grass is greener” issue with the Wings’ front office. Too many times of late they’ve brought in someone else’s marginal player rather than give their own marginal player a shot. Which is funny because if someone lasts long enough to become a veteran in the Detroit system, Holland will bring them back repeatedly. See Darren Helm, Daniel Cleary, Kyle Quincey.
Speaking of bringing someone back, the Wings traded for goalie Tom McCollum, one year after letting him walk from the Griffins as a free agent. I guess this makes McCollum and Matej Machovsky the tandem in Grand Rapids after the Wings find a way to unload Petr Mrazek.
In another Grand Rapids move, the Wings signed Turner Elson out of the Colorado organization. He’s a center, so I suppose he somewhat makes up for the loss of Tomas Nosek to the Vegas Golden Knights via expansion. Or he makes up for any of the other minor leaguers getting shuffled around this summer…
… such as the Griffins losing Kyle Criscuolo to the Sabres. It’s always tough to see big pieces of a championship team depart. He had an AHL-only deal with Grand Rapids and now he gets a two-way deal with Buffalo so he’s moving up in the world.
Moving up or moving home is Mitch Callahan. He signed with the Edmonton Oilers and will either get the shot with them that he never really got in Detroit or will get to play closer to home, as the Oilers’ AHL affiliate is the Bakersfield Condors, who play just a couple hours from Callahan’s hometown of Wittier, CA.
Joining Callahan in the Edmonton organization is goalie Eddie Pasquale, who spent only a season with the Griffins. As mentioned above, the Griffins seem to have their tandem set, but that’s a lot of turnover at goaltender through the organization.
The Griffins also lost Matt Caito to the Iowa Wild. Caito spent most of the season with ECHL Toledo so I don’t think we can call this a big loss.
So the Wings got the defenseman they wanted but who might not be able to help them much at a price that was acceptable. They added a guy they definitely didn’t need, and they swapped some players around at the AHL level.
Are they better than they were yesterday? Probably. Are they good enough to make the playoffs? Probably not. And the Griffins are probably worse than they were when they won the Calder Cup.
The Red Wings signed defenseman Luke Witkowski from the Tampa Bay Lightning on Saturday at the opening of NHL free agency.
The move comes paired with the signing of veteran defensemanTrevor Daley from the Pittsburgh Penguins. Assuming Witkowski isn’t bound for the Grand Rapids Griffins, it gives the Red Wings nine defensemen on their roster.
Helene St. James of the Detroit Free Press reports that the team may shift Witkowski to forward.
Red Wings also sign Luke Witkowski for 1 yr, $750K for toughness (ask Anthony Mantha). More likely to play F than D.
Witkowski, a native of Holland, Michigan, captained the Syracuse Crunch team that the Griffins defeated in the Calder Cup Finals for the first half of the season. After being called up to the Tampa Bay Lighting, he could not be returned to the team for the playoffs.
As I wrote earlier today, I don’t dislike the deal but I don’t love it. I would have liked Daley a lot more five years ago but he’s still a steadying presence on a young blue line. The problem is that we know Niklas Kronwall or Jonathan Ericsson isn’t going to sit, so he’s also taking a spot from one of those young players who need steadying.
The $3.178 million cap hit is better than the $4.5 million that had been reported earlier in the day but comes at the cost of being a three-year deal. That’s not awful.
NHL free agency opens in about three hours and, while some signings seem certain thanks to the league’s interview period, some things are still up in the air.
The Red Wings are likely to sign veteran defenseman Trevor Daley. Five years ago, I love this deal. I still like Daley quite a bit. I don’t think he makes Detroit a competitor, though, so I’m not sold on him taking a roster spot from Xavier Ouellet or Ryan Sproul.
The Wings are rumored to be interested in another defenseman or a forward but it looks like the cap hit for Daley – coupled with re-signing Ouellet and forwards Tomas Tatar and Andreas Athanasiou – takes them out of consideration there. I would be completely against bringing in another defenseman but given the loss of Tomas Nosek via expansion, adding a center as a reclamation project wouldn’t be a horrible move.
If you want a grinding center who can play on the fourth line, bring back Landon Ferraro. Worst-case scenario, you can probably get him through waivers to Grand Rapids, as the Blues slid him through last year.