Retired Numbers: Who’s Next?

There’s been buzz over the last couple seasons about Sergei Fedorov‘s #91 being retired by the Red Wings, something that Jim Devellano seemed to put the kibosh on during the somewhat-surprising announcement on Thursday that Red Kelly’s #4 would head to the rafters later this season.

But if not Fedorov, and with the team seemingly looking to its more-distant past for numbers to honor, who might be next?

Devellano tells us that, in order for your number to be retired by the Detroit Red Wings, you have to win a Stanley Cup in Detroit. We’re also told that Larry Aurie’s number is not retired because he’s not in the Hockey Hall of Fame.

Additionally, you have to not have offended the Ilitch family and they don’t have to explain who has offended them, so that’s a bit of a wildcard that I’ll ignore here.

There are 23 players who fit those requirements for Detroit. As of February, eight of them will be in the rafters. That leaves 15 remaining.

Do they all qualify? Well, Luc Robitaille is one of those and I think you can eliminate him, so lets put a couple more limits on it.

No player with a currently-retired number had fewer than three Stanley Cups with Detroit. I think it’s safe to drop that down to two. Sid Abel’s 570 games played with Detroit is the lowest of those whose numbers have already been retired but it was across twelve seasons. As such, I think we can go with a limit of nine seasons or 600 games played, which helps us cover a few different eras.

That eliminates Robitaille, Dominic Hasek, Brett Hull, Igor Larionov, Larry Murphy, and Viacheslav Fetisov from the modern era. Marty Barry, Glenn Hall, and Harry Lumley are also out – though Hall’s only Cup with Detroit was as a spare goalie without playing a game, so he probably should have been eliminated even earlier.

That leaves us with six. Fedorov is out for now, per Jimmy D, but they’re clearly holding his number since Brad Richards couldn’t have it. Brendan Shanahan and Chris Chelios both have had their numbers given out multiple times since they left the team, so I would assume they’re out, or at least not immediately under consideration.

Ebbie Goodfellow won two Cups with the Red Wings in the 1930s while playing 557 games across 14 seasons, so he’s an option. His #5 is now retired for Nicklas Lidstrom, though, so there probably wouldn’t be quite so big of a ceremony to retire a number that’s already in the rafters.

Syd Howe only played 515 games with Detroit but did so across 12 seasons, winning three Stanley Cups while wearing #8.

I think the most likely option of the group, though is Marcel Pronovost and his #3, with 983 games played across 15 seasons and four Stanley Cups. A two-time first team All-Star and two time second-team All-Star, he – along with Kelly – was the a cornerstone of the blueline for the 1950s Stanley Cup teams.

All of that said…  I don’t think we’ll see any of these retired.  What is the one thing that Red Kelly has over the three other old-timers?  He’s still alive.  It looks a lot more like you’re actually honoring the player and not just trying to get people to buy tickets if the player can actually show up to the event.

Of course, we still don’t know why the Red Wings are retiring Kelly’s number after so long, so maybe there’s more here that we don’t know.

Saying Goodbye to the Joe

I don’t know if last night is what I expected from the last game at Joe Louis Arena.  I don’t know what I should have expected, either.

It was always going to be hard.  You want to hold on to every last thing.  You want to hold on to every last thing.

I was taking photos of every third-period faceoff, in case it was the arena’s last faceoff.  Some people I was with made sure to buy beer at the last “last call” at the Joe.  There was the last “Livin’ on a Prayer” and the last “Don’t Stop Believing” and the last goal (Riley Sheahan, because of course) and the last penalty and the last zamboni ride and there were probably lasts that I didn’t even register.  I touched on that a bit on my way out last night.

It’s the lasts that will stick with me.

The atmosphere was fun.  I’ve seen people compare it to a playoff game and I can see why, ’cause the crowd was lively, but it really wasn’t a playoff atmosphere at all.  There was no anxiety.  We knew the game didn’t matter.

I think the post-game ceremony was oddly appropriate.

It was awkward.  There was a 45-minute gap between the game and the ceremony, leaving the crowd wondering what was going on.  Microphones didn’t work.  The whole thing took place on seemingly-dingy red carpets.

The alumni present were an eclectic mix.  Sergei Fedorov and Brendan Shanahan and Pavel Datsyuk were absent; the Grind Line and Steve Yzerman and Nicklas Lidstrom were there; and then there were Andreas Lilja and Fredrik Olausson and Boyd Devereaux.

Then everyone raised their sticks to the air and there were fireworks and it just kind of ended.  If fireworks can ever be anti-climatic, that was it.

As I said, oddly appropriate.

Then it was time to leave for the last time.  The last of the lasts.  And that was the hardest.

Circling the concourse, we took one last look in from several sections.  Stared up at the banners.  Thought about where we were sitting for different games we’d been to.

Then it was time to go.

Spring 1990. Spring 2017.

I remember talking to my dad one morning while I was getting ready for school in what must have been early spring of 1990.  Just a kid, unaware of the schedule or the standings, I asked him if the Red Wings won the night before and if it was the playoffs yet.

He laughed a bit and said, “Clark, the Red Wings aren’t going to make the playoffs.”

I understand that laugh now.  The “Playoffs?  This team?” laugh.

This season’s been a disaster.  The Red Wings weren’t mathematically eliminated until tonight but we knew it was coming months ago.  This team wasn’t going to make the playoffs.

Perhaps it’s better that way.  No heartbreak in the 82nd game, just a disappointing grind through the entire season.  The longer you stay in contention, the more you find excuses for hope.  But this team wasn’t going to make the playoffs.

Hope?  I’ve been calling for a tank all season.  My hope isn’t for this year.  It’s not even for next year.  My hope is that the new streak, the losing streak, is short.

There is opportunity in this disappointment.  The Red Wings’ playoff miss in 1990 netted them Keith Primeau in the draft, who was flipped for Brendan Shanahan.  We’ll see what their loss in 2017 brings.

Rosters for Red Wings – Maple Leafs Centennial Classic Alumni Game Announced

The rosters for the Centennial Classic Alumni Game were announced on Tuesday, as tickets for the game went on sale.

The Toronto Maple Leafs alumni team will host the Detroit Red Wings alumni at BMO Field on December 31, a day before the Leafs host the Wings in the Centennial Classic.

The rosters are as follows:

Detroit Red Wings

Name Pos.
Kris Draper F
Dino Ciccarelli F
Martin Lapointe F
Doug Brown F
Sergei Fedorov F
Vyacheslav Kozlov F
Brendan Shanahan F
Tomas Holmstrom F
Mickey Redmond F
Darren McCarty F
Igor Larionov F
Kirk Maltby F
Joe Kocur F
Nicklas Lidstrom D
Larry Murphy D
Chris Chelios D
Jiri Fischer D
Paul Coffey D
Manny Legace G
Kevin Hodson G

Toronto Maple Leafs

Name Pos.
Darryl Sittler F
Doug Gilmour F
Rick Vaive F
Darcy Tucker F
Wendel Clark F
Lanny McDonald F
Gary Roberts F
Dave Andreychuk F
Tiger Williams F
Tie Domi F
Steve Thomas F
Gary Leeman F
Mats Sundin F
Tomas Kaberle D
Dave Ellett D
Bryan McCabe D
Borje Salming D
Dmitri Yushkevich D
Al Iafrate D
Bob McGill D
Curtis Joseph G
Felix Potvin G
Mike Palmateer G

Every player from the Detroit roster played in one of the two Alumni Showdown games at Comerica Park in 2013.  Lapointe, Fischer, Dandenault, and Hodson played in the first game while the rest played in the second game, which mostly featured the bigger names.

Former Red Wings who appeared in that second game but won’t be in Toronto include Steve Yzerman, Chris Osgood, Viacheslav Fetisov, and Mark Howe.  Of those, only Yzerman played at the Stadium Series Alumni Game in Denver last February.

Shanahan in The Players Tribune

Malik and WIIM already shared former Red Wing Brendan Shanahan‘s mailbag in The Players’ Tribune today but neither touched on the final note of the piece, which I think is absolutely fantastic.

What is the worst attempt at chirping/trash talking you’ve seen on the ice? — u/DrCoconutsss

I remember when I was in Detroit, Sean Avery stood up as Joe Sakic was skating by our bench. Sean was a young, enthusiastic hockey player who was well liked by us old guys, and as you might know, was known for trash talking. But when he stood up and yelled, “Hey Sakic!” Brett Hull grabbed him by the back of his sweater and yanked him down on the bench. Then he said, and I’ll never forget this, “You are not allowed to speak to Mr. Sakic.” And then Sean looked down the bench at the rest of the boys and we all just sort of nodded.

On the Red Wings’ Next Alternate Captain

With Pavel Datsyuk having departed, the Red Wings are left with an open spot among their contingent of captains.  I brought this up on Twitter a month ago and WiiM did a post on it a couple weeks ago.  I went back through the team’s recent history to see if anything can be gleaned from it to show us who might be picked.

The 2015-16 season was unique for the Red Wings in that captain Henrik Zetterberg and alternates Datsyuk and Niklas Kronwall were the only players to wear letters for the team all year.  That doesn’t mean there wasn’t opportunity – both Datsyuk and Kronwall missed significant time due to injury – it means that there were 34 games where Detroit didn’t even bother sewing an “A” on anyone else’s sweater.

Captains are the only players who can speak to on-ice officials but the Red Wings’ going with fewer than the allowed number of captains shows how unimportant that rule.  Of note: Teams may have no more than three lettered players on the roster but there is nothing saying that they have to have that number.

We have to go back to the 2015 season to find replacement captains used by the Red Wings.  Despite ten games with only two captains dressed, seven players still managed to wear a letter throughout the year.  The injured Johan Franzen wore it for ten games, Jonathan Ericsson and Daniel Cleary each wore it for three, and Darren Helm wore it for one.

If he were healthy, I think Franzen would get the A, but he’ll never play again.  Cleary may very well return to the organization and get a letter in Grand Rapids, but I think he can be ruled out in Detroit.  That leaves Ericsson and the recently-re-signed Helm.

Going back one more season to 2014 adds no new names to the list, as the now-retired Daniel Alfredsson was the most-frequent extra alternate, wearing an A for 36 games to Franzen’s 31 and Cleary’s 8.  Five games were spent with only two captains.

The lockout-shortened 2013 – Zetterberg’s first as captain – featured three games with only two captains but no replacement alternates.  It was also the first season since the 2007-08 campaign, when Datsyuk was given an A along with Zetterberg and Kris Draper, that the team had only three captains.

Even with four captains on the books in 2012, Tomas Holmstrom wore the A for eight games.  The team dressed three captains for every game.

Going back further, we see the names of long-departed defensemen Brian Rafalski and Chris Chelios…  Clearly players who won’t be options now.

In the last seven years there have been ten players to wear the C or A with the Red Wings.  Two of them – Zetterberg and Kronwall – still do.  Only two of the remaining eight are still with the team: Ericsson and Helm.

At three games to one, Ericsson has more experience wearing the letter than Helm.  Maybe that gives him an edge.

So can anything be pulled from these numbers?  I think the only thing they show is that it’s time for someone new.  The old standbys are gone.

While newcomers Frans Nielsen, Thomas Vanek, and Steve Ott have all worn letters elsewhere in their career – Nielsen had an A with the Islanders last season while Vanek and Ott co-captained the Sabres back in the 2013-14 season – the Red Wings haven’t given the alternate captaincy directly to a newcomer since trading for Brendan Shanahan in 1996.

By my count, the Wings haven’t had two defenseman with letters since before the Steve Yzerman era, which would seemingly rule out Ericsson or any of the other blueliners, so long as Kronwall wears the A.

Jeff Blashill is not Jacques Demers.  I don’t think Dylan Larkin gets the available letter by virtue of being the team’s best player.

I think – almost from lack of better options – that we’ll see Justin Abdelkader get the A.

Of course, that could change if the mythical “trade for a top defenseman” ever emerges.  We’ll see.

TPL Pregame: October 9 – Loving You Makes Life Worth Living

Editor’s Note: I miss The Production Line. You should, too. Back for one night only (unless you guys convince them otherwise), it’s the TPL Pregame.


WHAT’S ALL THIS THEN?

The Detroit Red Wings begin their 90th season in the National Hockey League, and will face off against their former coach Mike Babcock and the Toronto Maple Leafs. Puck drops at 7:30pm at Joe Louis Arena.

WHAT’S THE BIG IDEA?

The big story will be the changing of the coaching guard. Out with the old (Babcock), and in with the new (Jeff Blashill). The excitement level among the community is higher than it’s been in several years — thanks in part to the new voice behind the bench…as well as the opportunity given to a teenager in Dylan Larkin. If you think a player like Larkin had a chance in hell at making this team with Mike Babcock running the show, you need a CAT scan.

NOW, WHERE WERE WE?

The Wings and Maple Leafs played five times in 2014-15, with the teams splitting the season series 2-2-1. The fifth and final meeting was on December 13th, wherein Detroit lost 4-1 and the Leafs won their fourth in a row. Niklas Kronwall had the first goal of the game — but the 1-0 lead lasted exactly one minute before James van Riemsdyk began the onslaught. The defense took the night off, with Petr Mrazek facing 40 shots (who lost his first contest of the season), and Dan Cleary played in the 600th contest of his career. He would go on to play nine more (and was a healthy scratch for 42 more…but was re-signed anyway).

OH, HI AGAIN

The obvious returnee to the Joe is former head coach Mike Babcock, but he also took former assistant coaches Jim Hiller and Andrew Brewer with him to Toronto, where he joined a front office led by former alternate captain Brendan Shanahan. Forward Shawn Matthias was a second round draft pick of the Red Wings in 2006, but he was traded a year later in exchange for — wait for it — 8 games of Todd Bertuzzi (obviously, Bert would sign with Detroit again a few seasons later). It never came to pass, but if Twitter was to be believed on Trade Deadline Day, Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf was AS GOOD AS a Red Wing for a few hours.

MEMBA ME

There are no former Maple Leafs on the Red Wings, because good teams don’t take leftovers from shitty ones. But if you want to get technical, the Griffins assistant coach Ben Simon once played for (and coached) the Marlies. That’s as close as we’re willing to get. –PETRELLA

BEST NAME NOMINEE

I’m going with Stephane Robidas. I’ve always been a Johnny Cash/Boy Named Sue fan, and I can’t help but see some odd connection between a guy sporting a ladies name and who spent a good chunk of his career in Texas. I feel like there’s a “Call me Caitlyn” moment coming here where, during his retirement speech, he reveals that he’s been tucking and wearing silk t-back lady thongs for the past decade. When that happens, people will call me a genius, and I’ll just sit back in my brass buttoned leather wingback, knowing I’d spotted it long ago. –DISCH

THEIR LAST GAMES

While the Red Wings were bounced by the Lightning in the first round last season (losing Game 7 by a score of 2-0), at least they had a date to the dance. The Maple Leafs’ season ended somewhere around January, but — believe it or not — they played until April 11th. They opened their 2015-16 season on Wednesday and — wait for it! — lost to the Montreal Candiens 3-1. Turns out you CAN’T polish a turd, Babs!

EXPECTED LINEUP

Gator :: Hank :: DYLAN LARKIN (!!!)
Tatar :: Richards :: Nyquist
Franzen :: TinkyWinky :: Pulkkinen
Miller :: Glendening :: Ferraro

Kronwall :: Shitbox
Quincey :: Mike Green
Smith :: Kindl

Howard
Mrazek

Injured
Pavel Datsyuk (ankle, expected back mid-November)
Danny DeKeyser (foot, early November)
Darren Helm (concussion, next weekend)

Scratches
Joakim Andersson
Dan Cleary
Tomas Jurco
Alexey Marchenko

NICKNAMES

Mike “Remember When We Held on in the Rain?” Babcock
Niklas “The Nights We Almost Lost It” Kronwall
Jiri “Once Again We Can Take the Night Into Tomorrow” Hudler
Tomas “Living on Feelings” Tatar
Gustav “Touching You, I Feel It All Again” Nyquist
Johan “Didn’t We Almost Have it All” Franzen
Luke “When Love Was All We Had Worth Giving” Glendening
Marian “The Ride With You Was Worth the Fall, My Friend” Hossa
Pavel “Loving You Makes Life Worth Living” Datsyuk
Steve “The Nights We Held On ‘Til the Morning” Yzerman
Nicklas “You Know You’ll Never Love That Way Again” Lidstrom
Jimmy “The Way You Used to Touch Me Felt So Fine” Howard
Darren “We Kept Our Hearts Together Down the Line” Helm
Henrik “A Moment in the Soul Can Last Forever” Zetterberg
Jonathan “Comfort and Keep Us” Ericsson
Jeff “Help Me Bring the Feeling Back Again” Blashill
Sergei “Didn’t We Have the Best of Times” Fedorov
Petr “When Love Was Young and New” Mrazek
Tomas “Couldn’t We Reach Inside and Find” Jurco
Todd “That World of Me and You? We’ll Never Lose it Again” Bertuzzi
Dan “Cuz Once You Know What Love Is… YOU NEVER LET IT END” Cleary
— PETRELLA

THE FIVE HOLE

  1. GOALIES! Both goaltenders — Jimmy Howard and Petr Mrazek — played very well in the pre-season in what what Coach Blashill called an open competition for the role of starter. Jimmy Howard always had the inside track because he slid out of Mrs. Howard before Pete cartwheeled out of Mrs. Mrazek, but I’d be shocked if three weeks go by before the entire planet realizes that Petr Mrazek is the better goalie.
  2. NEW BODIES! The Red Wings finally got their right handed defenseman in Mike Green. He’s able to contribute some points, and is able to move the puck out of the zone efficiently, which is a prerequisite for the style of play in Detroit. Brad Richards, who either follows success, or whom success follows, adds another option up the middle, and will allow Zetterberg and Datsyuk to be paired together, if the time comes.
  3. TEENAGER! Waterford native Dylan Larkin forced the organization to buck their trends and has made the opening night roster, and it looks like he’ll get a chance to man the first line. That’s very exciting for all involved, included the fans, who get a young local to cheer for, and who has every bit of talent needed to inject some youthful exuberance onto an aging core. And Dan Cleary was waived on Wednesday. Jasper succinctly sums up our feelings on the matter.
  4. HEALTH! Hey, whattaya know, the Red Wing start the season with a bunch of regulars on injured reserve. Pavel Datsyuk will be out until mid-November, Danny DeKeyser is supposed to be out until early November, Darren Helm might be set to return next week, assuming his concussion and shoulder calm down. What, you didn’t think we’d be able to get rid of a drill sergeant coach, a once-useful knee-less veteran, AND Piet Van Zant all at once, did you?
  5. YOUTH! We say it all the time, but the young players really opened some eyes in the pre-season. You’d be hard-pressed to find anyone that wouldn’t agree that Tyler Bertuzzi, Andreas Athanasiou, and even Anthony Mantha did quite a bit to make some other guys expendable in the coming months and years. Obviously Zetterberg and Datsyuk aren’t going anywhere, but there will have to be some decisions made with some of the other guys, thanks to the guys below Larkin on the depth chart.

Pregame: Blackhawks @ Red Wings – 11/14

After what seems like several months off, the Red Wings host the Chicago Blackhawks tonight.

The time off has been good for Pavel Datsyuk, who will return from his groin injury to join a line with Tomas Jurco and Justin Abdelkader.

To make room for Datsyuk and Jurco, Daniel Cleary and Andrej Nestrasil are back out of the lineup. Stephen Weiss remains on IR and Brian Lashoff will be the healthy scratch on the blue line.

Jimmy Howard gets the start in goal with Tom McCollum backing up.

Stupid stat of the day: The last time the Red Wings and Blackhawks played on November 14, Brendan Shanahan scored the overtime game-winner for Detroit.

Game time is 7:30 PM on FSD.

Alumni Showdown Roster Review

I’ve been (finally) going through my photos from the Alumni Showdown at Comerica Park on New Years Eve and my lack of familiarity with some of the Toronto players has been causing some problems. I look at my photos and say “Who is that guy and why don’t I see a #28 listed on the roster?”

Well, it’s because the announced rosters weren’t the final rosters. A couple players were listed for one game and played in the other or were listed with different numbers or were listed and didn’t actually play. I went back through the player introductions to put together a complete list and I figured I’d share it out for posterity.

Game One

Toronto Maple Leafs

# Name Pos.
33 Doug Favell G
1 Mark Laforest G
1 Peter Ing G
4 Mike Pelyk D
4 Cory Cross D
33 Matt Martin D
3 Brad Marsh (A) D
4 Greg Hotham D
24 Dan Daoust F
21 Mark Osborne F
19 Bill Derlago F
9 Stew Gavin F
15 Pat Boutette F
12 Rob Pearson F
15 Claude Loiselle F
10 Brad May (A) F
14 Dave Reid F
19 Tom Fergus (A) F
26 Mike Krushelnyski F
7 Dave McLlwain F
8 Todd Warriner F
20 Mike Johnson F
16 Nikolai Borschevsky F
32 Lou Franceschetti F

On the Toronto side, Doug Favell wasn’t listed on the roster but did play. Jamie Macoun and Shayne Corson were listed but didn’t play. Mike Johnson wore #20 after being listed without a number.

For Detroit, Ken Holland was on the roster but did not play.

Game Two

Toronto Maple Leafs

# Name Pos.
29 Mike Palmateer G
31 Curtis Joseph G
29 Felix Potvin G
24 Bryan McCabe (A) D
34 Jamie Macoun D
4 Dave Ellett D
15 Bob McGill D
33 Al Iafrate D
34 Bryan Berard D
27 Darryl Sittler (C) F
22 Rick Vaive (C) F
17 Wendel Clark (C) F
93 Doug Gilmour (C) F
14 Dave Andreychuk (A) F
16 Darcy Tucker (A) F
18 Kevin Maguire F
4 Gary Leeman (A) F
9 Russ Courtnall F
7 Gary Roberts (A) F
7 Lanny McDonald (A) F
22 Tiger Williams F
16 Mike Walton F
28 Tie Domi (A) F
11 Mike Gartner F
25 Joe Nieuwendyk (A) F
32 Steve Thomas (A) F
11 Steve Sullivan F

For Detroit, the only oddity was that Joe Kocur was introduced in and played the first period wearing Bob Probert‘s #24 jersey.

For the Leafs, several things were different. Macoun played after having been on the Game One roster. Curtis Joseph wore his usual #31 and Felix Potvin wore #29, having been listed with #35 and #36, respectively. Bryan McCabe wore #24 instead of #29. Up front, Gary Leeman wore #4 instead of #11, Tie Domi wore #28 instead of #20, and Mike Gartner wore #11 instead of #22.

As I said, compiling this list is nothing groundbreaking, I just wanted it to be documented somewhere so I figured I’d write it up.

Alumni Showdown Rosters

Possibly lost in the shuffle yesterday between the Griffins/Marlies tilt at Comerica Park, the Red Wings’ visit to Nashville, and other build-up to tomorrow’s Winter Classic in Ann Arbor, Bill Roose had the rosters for Detroit’s two alumni teams for today’s Alumni Showdown.

Kocur was listed as wearing his usual #26 but announced that he would don #24 in honor of Bob Probert.