DH.N Turns Twenty-four

Today marks the 24th birthday of the site that is now DetroitHockey.Net.

Normally, that would mean the start of the site’s 25th season.  The NHL’s 2019-20 season is still going but the Red Wings haven’t played since March so is this actually the start of a new season?  I don’t know.

Often I use the site’s birthday as an opportunity to muse on what’s next for the site.  Specifically, I focus on what the site will become, in the context of what more there is to do.  Coming up to this anniversary, though, I’ve realized I look at it from the wrong direction.  I shouldn’t be focusing on what more DH.N could be, I should be focusing on what DH.N is now.

Twenty-four years in, DH.N has a lot of baggage.  I’ve fought with the idea of the site not “just” being a blog but, to use The Hockey Rodent‘s insistent terminology, a full service web site.  The thing is, a full service web site had very different meaning in, say, 2003, than it does today.

When I started this site, and continuing for a long time after that, it was meant to be an archive.  I collected photos and videos and historical tidbits.  I wrote what I now call soul-less game recaps because newspapers weren’t putting their archives online and I wanted visitors to be able to go back to a specific game and see what had happened.

For awhile, that made sense.  In 2007, ESPN ran a story on the 10th anniversary of the Detroit-Colorado brawl and linked to DH.N’s videos because, even in the early days of YouTube, we had the best collection of them.  It crashed the site, actually.

For a long time, I felt obligated to keep doing that because it was what I started doing.  Even after YouTube became omnipresent and provided a home for every highlight imaginable.  Even after NHL.com added recaps to every game.  Even after Wikipedia housed every list of captains, award winners, and coaches.

What took me too long to realize is that no one needs that anymore.  I was trying to figure out what the next steps were for a site that was already very much a relic of the past.  What will DetroitHockey.Net become?  Now I can answer: Smaller.

I removed the archive of NHL award winners awhile ago.  The lists of Red Wings coaches and captains and such were recently removed.  I’ll be re-working the Multimedia Archive to just be a collection of my own photos, as I still enjoy taking those at games.  I kept the list of Red Wings draft picks because I want to have that data for myself so I might as well display it.  I kept the diagram of the banners in the Joe Louis Arena rafters because I’m a geek about those things and the JLA rafters were way better than the ones at LCA.

And, of course, the fantasy hockey section of the site was spun off into FantasyHockeySim.com back in 2016.

I’m going to start by recognizing what DH.N is now, rather than what it was or what I once wanted it to be.  Then maybe I can see where it goes from there.


Being a jersey number geek, I also like to use site birthdays to look at the corresponding jersey number.  It turns out that 24 is a pretty quiet number over the lifespan of DH.N.

Bob Probert had left the team in 1994 so when the site was founded in 1996, #24 was vacant.  It wouldn’t be until the Red Wings traded for Chris Chelios in 1999 that it was put back in use, with Probert’s blessing.

Chelios wore #24 for a decade in Detroit but there wasn’t much of a gap once the Red Wings declined to bring him back in 2009.  Brad May signed with Detroit two games into the 2009-10 season and, after one game wearing #20 (which he had also worn in training camp on a pro tryout), he asked Chelios for permission to wear #24.

May wore #24 in Detroit for 39 games that season, then closed out his career with 17 games in Grand Rapids wearing #29 with the Griffins.

For the 2010-11 campaign, newly-signed defenseman Ruslan Salei would be assigned #24 for his lone season with the Red Wings.  Fatefully, Salei left Detroit for Lokomotiv Yaroslavl of the KHL, along with assistant coach Brad McCrimmon, both of whom were killed with the rest of the team in a plane crash on September 7, 2011.  The next player to wear #24 for Detroit would be Pavel Datsyuk, who wore it for the 2011 preseason in Salei’s honor.

Damien Brunner was assigned #24 for the lockout-shortened 2013 season, his only year with the Red Wings.

It is currently assigned to prospect Antti Tuomisto.

Red Wings Bring Back Forward Fabbri

The Detroit Red Wings announced on Monday the signing of pending restricted free agent forward Robby Fabbri to a two-year contract extension.

Of course, financial terms were not officially announced, but Craig Custance of The Athletic reports that the new contact carries a $2.95 million salary cap hit.

With Fabbri signing, two of Detroit’s ten pending RFAs are set to return, as Evgeny Svechnikov signed a one-year deal earlier this month.

Fabbri was acquired by Detroit from the St. Louis Blues for center Jacob de la Rose on November 6, the biggest “win” of GM Steve Yzerman‘s first season with the Red Wings.  He went on to score 14 goals and 17 assists for 31 points, good for fourth on the team over the season.

I think the $2.95 million AAV is solid for the Red Wings.  It won’t hurt too much for too long if it turns out Fabbri’s first season with the club was an outlier and it helps set a baseline for Anthony Mantha and Tyler Bertuzzi, though they may be looking at longer-term deals which will be framed differently anyway.

Red Wings Extend Svechnikov

The Red Wings announced the signing of pending restricted free agent forward Evgeny Svechnikov to a one-year deal on Sunday.

Svechnikov is the first of Detroit’s ten pending restricted free agent forwards to come to terms on a new deal.

Financial terms of the contract were not announced (of course) but it would be hard to see him making much different than the $863,333 he earned last season.

The 2020-21 campaign will be make or break for Svechnikov.  He spent almost all of last season with the Grand Rapids Griffins after missing 2018-19 due to injury.  He will also need to clear waivers to re-join the Griffins so he should be penciled in for a slot on the opening night roster.

Had the Red Wings not thought that was possible, they could have let him sign in Russia (as had been rumored earlier this summer) while retaining his NHL rights as an RFA.  The fact that this deal happened at all seems to show that the Red Wings think he’s ready to make the jump to the NHL.

Final Thoughts on the Seattle Kraken

The National Hockey League’s newest franchise (finally) announced its name today: The Seattle Kraken.

I’m not going to lie, I don’t like the name.  The logos and jersey are fantastic.  Much like Minnesota Wild, it’s a name saved by the imagery created for it.

And with it announced, my 30-month search for the team’s identity is done.

The idea that the team might be called the Seattle Kraken first came to light in January 2018, when I reported that Oak View Group had registered 38 domain names related to 13 team names.  In the time since then I went from nearly certain the team would be the Sockeyes to absolutely certain it would be the Kraken, and that their American Hockey League affiliate would be the Palm Springs Firebirds.

Which is why a some comments from the team today are interesting to me.

ESPN’s Emily Kaplan noted the following in her deep-dive into the Kraken identity:

Seattle NHL filed three trademarks — Kraken, Sockeyes and Breakers — and registered five domain names — Kraken Hockey, Sockeyes Hockey, Evergreen Hockey, Renegades and Seattle Renegades.com — so they could use some as decoys. The team also worked with a company in Hawai’i to do some registration and consulted with a firm in London to deflect attention.

The final trademark was approved exactly a week ago, at which point they were ready to go full steam ahead.

Except, as noted above, there were at least 38 initial domains for 13 team names.  Additionally, there are no trademark registrations currently visible in the USPTO database.

The Athletic’s Ryan S. Clark also looked into “how did Seattle keep the secret?

Nic Corbett, the director of NHL relations for Adidas, said the entire design process took almost two years. The Portland-based company would travel by car, plane or rail to the team’s offices in Seattle, while also traveling to Los Angeles where the Kraken’s ownership group is based, being extremely mindful of their circumstances and surroundings. It meant looking around to make sure nobody could hear what was said or waiting until they were in a more private place to go into more details. They were checking their airplane and train seats as a way of ensuring nothing was left behind in order to keep the Kraken’s secret.

I buy this level of operational security a lot more than I accept the cloak and dagger domain and trademark registration efforts as a reason for the lack of a concrete leak.

The reason I look at domains and trademarks when trying to determine possible team names is because they’re the areas outside of the team’s control.  There are, of course, ways to hide them, some of which are better than others.  It’s odd to me to see the Seattle organization patting themselves on the back for the subterfuge around domains and trademarks when that had no impact on keeping the secret.

The initial Seattle Kraken-related domain was registered with Oak View Group’s name attached to it.  There was no secrecy.  Filings from Hawai’i didn’t detract from that.  Trademarks meant to distract weren’t even made public, defeating the purpose entirely.

Even if those trademarks had become public, it only would have served to narrow down the name to Kraken or Sockeyes, as those are the only names that appear on both the domain and trademark lists.

In the two years that the identity was being worked on, the only thing that drew attention away from the name possibly being Seattle Kraken was that Geoff Baker of the Seattle Times went on the radio and said he was told Kraken was out of the running.

So, sure, give the organization credit for locking things down between them and adidas.  Just remember that the only thing that actually took attention away from their chosen name was someone lying to a beat writer about it.

Wings to Pick Fourth After Draft Lottery

For the fourth straight season, the Detroit Red Wings fell back in the NHL Entry Draft due to the Draft Lottery.

Despite having the best odds at picking first-overall in the 2020 NHL Entry Draft by virtue of their 31st-place finish during the 2019-20 season, the Red Wings were passed by three teams to drop to the fourth spot.  The Ottawa Senators will pick third, the Los Angeles Kings will pick second, and a placeholder team representing one of the losers of the league’s qualifying playoff round won the right to pick first.


What do you want me to say? The odds were always on the Wings picking fourth. Of course, the odds were also such that only Ottawa could be expected to pass Detroit, yet here we are. Again.

There will be good players available at fourth overall. But the Wings really need one of these to hit eventually.

AHL Palm Springs Update: Firebirds Back in Play

With the American Hockey League’s Henderson Silver Knights officially unveiling their name and logo last week and no announcement in sight for the National Hockey League’s Seattle expansion franchise (though I’d be shocked if it wasn’t some form of “Seattle Kraken” at this point), I decided to dig a little further into Seattle’s farm team in Palm Springs, CA, and see if there was anything new.

Somewhat surprisingly, there was, with “Palm Springs Firebirds” having been saved from the trademark trash heap.

After a flurry of domain registrations and trademark filings last August, Firebirds seemed like the front-runner for the new AHL team’s name, over options such as Eagles, Hawks, Sun, Dragons, and Falcons.  The team’s temporary web site ran with the slogan “We’ve got the fire, now bring on the ice.”

However, on November 12, 2019, the trademark filing for Palm Springs Firebirds was rejected by the US Patent and Trademark Office, due to the name’s similarity to that of the Ontario Hockey League’s Flint Firebirds.  Overnight, the slogan became “We’ve got the heat, now bring on the ice,” and the team’s direction seemed to have changed.  The trademark for Palm Springs Hawks was abandoned but the remaining four all made it through the registration process (though, in a league with the Colorado Eagles, Palm Springs Eagles would never actually be an option).

On May 11, 2020, one day before the six month limit on responding to the rejection of their Firebirds application, the Palm Springs organization did file a response.  Included was permission from the Flint Firebirds to use the name.  This update was accepted by the USPTO a day later and approved to be published for opposition (the final step in a trademark filing and likely a rubber stamp with the Flint Firebirds on board) on June 2.

With Firebirds an option once again, and given the effort that went into making it such, I think we might just be seeing the Palm Springs Firebirds in the AHL’s 2021-22 season.

On A June Draft and Draft Lottery Changes

The National Hockey League is apparently making a push for holding its Entry Draft sometime in June, while still intending to finish the 2019-2020 season sometime later in the year.

Obviously there would be a lot of logistical issues to sort out with such a plan, and one of the proposals would come as a pretty big benefit to the Red Wings (and Ottawa Senators).

As a Wings fan, obviously, the idea of picking no lower than second is fantastic, especially after having dropped three spots in each of the last two drafts due to the lottery.

That said, this plan makes me feel uneasy for several reasons.

Most importantly, I really dislike the optics of changing the rules mid-season.  Teams went into the season expecting the draft lottery to look one way and now they’re being told it might not actually play out like that.  Changing things on the fly is a breeding ground for conspiracy theories, which I’ll circle back to momentarily.

Of course, we’re in unprecedented times where every option needs to be on the table, so maybe a change like this is palatable.  But a midseason draft wouldn’t just be about a change to the draft lottery, it would also essentially mean a draft without trades, as no playoff-eligible team is going to want to move assets for draft picks.  This is another case where teams may have planned for a scenario that will be taken from them, as there are certainly general managers who would look to package a plethora of picks for a different form of help.

If the league were to resume in late summer and feature a Stanley Cup Finals series ending in October, for example, we would be looking at a draft occurring in the middle of what would be players’ draft +1 season.  Additionally, just because the NHL might be willing to extend their 2019-2020 season into the fall doesn’t mean the other leagues will, so you could see the Entry Draft taking place after the start of every other league’s 2020-2021 season, which would raise all kinds of questions about how that would even work.

I’m not saying there are any easy answers to this.  I think the reasons for a fall draft are better than those for a June one but I don’t have to worry about the business side of things so it’s easy for me to say that.

Coming back to the draft lottery, though…

The NHL adopted the current lottery system in the wake of the Connor McDavid draft, which saw the Sabres and Coyotes abandon all pretense of putting forth a competitive roster in an effort to get the best odds of drafting McDavid.  The Oilers ended up winning that draft, because of course they did, with Buffalo forced to settle for Jack Eichel at second overall.

To prevent such tanking, the NHL changed the lottery to give every non-playoff team a chance at first-overall, second-overall, and third-overall.  The worst team in the league now has higher odds of picking forth than they do of picking first.

I believe that to be an overreaction.  The league already had rules in place that could have been used to prevent tanking, namely, the ability to reject trades.  My thinking is that, if the league thinks a team is so blatantly tanking, it can stop accepting the team’s trades.  Otherwise, the current rules punish legitimately bad teams for what two kind of bad teams did in an ultimately-futile effort to get a generational talent.

That said, I don’t think restoring the old lottery rules should be done on the fly, as would be the case under the current proposal.

Here’s what happens when you spring unexpected changes on people: They think there’s an ulterior motive.  I say that with full acknowledgement that I still look at the 2009 Stanley Cup Finals and can’t help but think that the league knew that deviating from it’s originally-announced schedule would help the Penguins.  Let me spin you a conspiracy theory…

Going into Game Five of the 2009 Western Conference Finals on May 27, the Red Wings were beat up.  The Stanley Cup Finals had been announced as beginning on June 6, though, so they knew that if they could finish off the Blackhawks in that fifth game, they would have time to rest and heal.  They did win that game, needing overtime to do so.

And then the league announced that the Finals were being rescheduled.  Instead of over a week of rest, the Red Wings were getting two days.

With both the Wings and the Pittsburgh Penguins having finished their series early, it made sense to move the schedule for the Finals up a bit.  The league’s broadcast partner, NBC, was debuting Conan O’Brien as the new host of the Tonight Show the following week, though, so they weren’t comfortable showing games that might push into that timeslot.  Hence, the series had to start on the weekend, and why a break of eight days couldn’t become five but had to become two.  Detroit was expected to accept the change for the greater good of the league and its partner.

Without the rest, Pavel Datsyuk was too hurt to play, but the Red Wings still won the first two games of the series.  The second of which ended with Penguins star Evgeni Malkin given an instigator penalty for fighting Henrik Zetterberg.  According to new rules adopted that season, the late-game instigator meant that Malkin would be suspended for Game Three.

But the league announced that the rule was never intended for cases like that or players like Malkin and reversed the suspension.  Malkin tallied three assists and was the second star of the game as the Penguins won Game Three, continuing on to rally twice to win the series.

Both the rescheduling of the series and the reversal of Malkin’s suspension make sense in the context of extenuating circumstances.  However, the fact that changing the schedule or reversing the suspension weren’t even known to be options leading up to them actually happening provides room for a different narrative to be supplied.

As such, if the league fails to communicate exactly why the draft lottery is changed this year, if it is at all, and what other options were considered, they will be putting themselves in the position of breeding conspiracy theories.

Of course, in 2009 the Red Wings and their fans were told by many to suck it up because those changes, however they were communicated, were for the good of the league.  I’m sure anyone opposed to the proposed draft lottery changes will happily accept that explanation now.

NHL Suspends Season Amidst Coronavirus Concerns

The National Hockey League announced on Thursday that it is suspending play indefinitely in an attempt to combat the growing COVID-19 pandemic.

Coming on the heels of the NBA suspending play after Rudy Gobert of the Utah Jazz was confirmed to have been infected, and with leagues in many sports across the globe either taking a hiatus or outright ending their seasons, the move is a necessary precaution.

The league made sure to note that this is intended to be a temporary suspension.  That said, with so much uncertainty surrounding the situation, it’s hard not to see a possible cancellation of the remainder of the season.

The last time an NHL season was interrupted in such a manner was in 1992, when a player strike on the eve of the playoffs caused a ten-day gap in games before play was resumed, with the final thirty games of the season rescheduled.  Owner lockouts caused shortened seasons in 1995 and 2013 and cancelled the entirety of the 2004-05 campaign.

In 1919 the Stanley Cup was not awarded due to an outbreak of Spanish Flu.  With the NHL champion Montreal Canadiens visiting the PCHA’s Seattle Metropolitans, the series was called at 2-2-1.

The Red Wings have 11 games remaining on their schedule, including a visit to the Washington Capitals originally slated for tonight.  While Detroit has already clinched last-place overall, making all of them meaningless to the Wings in the standings, many of their scheduled opponents are fighting for playoff position, making cancelling the games outright problematic, unless the playoffs were also cancelled.

More Seattle Domain Updates: Seattle Kraken HC?

I was talking with a friend about the new NHL Seattle team earlier today, grumbling about how, given how many times the name announcement has been delayed, at this rate the team would launch as “Seattle HC,” short for Hockey Club.

After a minute, though, my friend suggested that the “HC” suffix might not be as ridiculous as it was meant to be.  Seattle’s MLS entry is Seattle Sounders FC, after all, though MLS features many teams with “European-style” names that include “FC” or “SC.”  Nonetheless, it seemed like it was worth a look, and something interesting did come up.

SeattleKrakenHC.com was registered privately on November 26, 2019.  While we can’t see who owns it, we can see that it was updated last week, at 5:47 PM (UTC) on February 20, 2020.

That date stuck out to me because it’s the same time that several of the domains confirmed to be owned by the Seattle NHL ownership group were updated.

Those updates were confusing at the time because the names that were updated didn’t seem to match any kind of pattern.  While there is still no apparent pattern, the timing does seem to imply that SeattleKrakenHC.com is also owned by Seattle Hockey Partners, having been updated in a batch with the others.

Given the existence of this domain and the rumors already present about the Kraken team name, we may be looking at the team’s official name being “Seattle Kraken HC.”

It’s worth noting that, of the 13 team names from their original list of domains in 2018, the only other one represented by a domain in the form of SeattleTeamnameHC.com is the Sockeyes.  However, that domain was registered a week after SeattleKrakenHC.com and was not updated on February 20th.  That doesn’t mean the domain is not owned by Seattle Hockey Partners, just that there’s no visible tie there.

It’s also worth noting that the organization does not seem to currently own SeattleKraken.com, though it’s always possible that they’ve reached a deal to acquire that domain.  Naming the team Seattle Kraken HC could help them get around the need for it.

Red Wings Send Athanasiou to Edmonton

With just under two hours left before the NHL’s trade deadline on Monday, the Detroit Red Wings traded winger Andreas Athanasiou to the Edmonton Oilers, along with Ryan Kuffner, for Sam Gagner and two second round picks.

I know there are a lot of people pointing at Athanasiou and saying “What could you expect for a slumping forward who doesn’t play defense?”  And there’s truth to that.

But what I said last night and what I’ve said year after year is that I’m tired of this team not being able to make strong sales at the deadline.  This is going to be the Red Wings’ big move and it brings back two second round picks, probably in the 45th to 55th overall range.

Are there good players available in that range?  Of course.  Yzerman plucked Nikita Kucherov from there in 2011.  But it’s much less of a sure thing.  And, given Detroit’s draft history rather than Yzerman’s, I don’t think it’s unreasonable to want to pick in a position with a little more confidence than they will be picking.  Because in that same 2011 second round, Detroit had three picks before Yzerman grabbed Kucherov, and the Red Wings came away with Tomas Jurco, Xavier Ouellet, and Ryan Sproul.

In short, I know that two second round picks aren’t a bad return for Athanasiou, but as a fan of the Red Wings, I’ve been burned on the whole idea of picking a bunch of times in the second or third round enough that I don’t trust it.

All that said, two seconds was the price Detroit set, and Edmonton matched it, so I can’t really say the Wings’ got screwed if that was the deal they were always looking for.

As for the rest of the trade…  Kuffner I don’t care about and Gagner is a warm body coming back the other way, clearing some cap space for Edmonton.