An Alternate NHL (Revisited)

Way back in 2006 I posted an alternate history timeline to the now-defunct DH.N forums.  The idea was a world where the Quebec Nordiques never relocated to Denver and looking at what relocation and expansion might have taken place after that.

I was going to pull that out of the archives and re-post it, but, after giving it another look, I think there was a different direction to take.  This is my re-visit to that idea.


Spring 1995
A possible deal involving COMSAT Entertainment Group purchasing the Quebec Nordiques falls through when a small, eleventh-hour financial bailout is granted to the Nordiques by the government of Quebec. The Nordiques pledge to remain in Quebec for at least three more seasons, continuing to ask for a new arena.

December 3, 1995
Patrick Roy demands a trade from the Montreal Canadiens. The Nordiques inquire but Montreal refuses to trade Roy to a division- and province-rival. Roy eventually goes to the Dallas Stars with Mike Keane for Manny Fernandez, Guy Carbonneau and Joe Nieuwendyk.

Spring 1996
The Stars just miss the playoffs after surging since picking up Roy.

Quebec endures a seven-game Eastern Conference Finals series with Philadelphia to advance to face Detroit in the Stanley Cup Finals.

Detroit wins the series in six close games. Goalie Chris Osgood is the Conn Smythe Trophy winner.

Summer 1996
The Winnipeg Jets are sold to COMSAT Entertainment Group and relocated to Denver, Colorado. They become the Colorado Avalanche.

The Quebec Nordiques look to upgrade their goaltending, trading Stephane Fiset and Andrei Kovalenko to the Chicago Blackhawks for Ed Belfour. Belfour had previously demanded a trade, ripping into his teammates and insulting fan-favorite backup goaltender Jeff Hackett after his team’s second-straight loss to Detroit in the Western Conference Finals.

The Hartford Whalers trade the disgruntled Brendan Shanahan to Detroit for Mike Vernon and Keith Primeau. Vernon was deemed expendable by the Red Wings with the younger Chris Osgood in net.

Spring 1997
The Quebec Nordiques best the Hartford Whalers in an Eastern Conference Finals goaltending duel. Mike Vernon and Ed Belfour combine for five shutouts in the series, won by a Joe Sakic goal in the final moments of Game Seven.

The defending champions lack the motivation they had the previous season and the Dallas Stars take advantage of that in the Western Conference Finals, eliminating Detroit in five games, including three shutouts by Roy. Osgood is unspectacular, leading Red Wings fans to complain about the trade of Vernon and making Shanahan a scapegoat.

After few thought the goalie matchup in the Eastern Conference Finals could be matched, Belfour and Roy create a series for the ages. The Nordiques defeat the Stars in six games, all decided by one goal and four in overtime. Belfour is the Conn Smythe Trophy winner.

June 25, 1997
With the Hartford Whalers and the defending champion Quebec Nordiques still looking for new arena deals, the NHL announces that they will put off expansion at this time.  This leaves several markets on the table for those two teams to use as leverage against their current homes.

Quite a bit of backroom dealing is required to pacify the prospective owners who feel like they’ve been led on a wild goose chase.  For some, just being unofficially notified that they were a near-shoo-in is enough.  St. Paul, Minnesota, for example, is so certain that they’ll be awarded a team that they move forward with plans to demolish the St. Paul Civic Center and replace it with a new arena.  On the other hand, lack of a decision essentially kills both public- and private-sector support for an arena in Columbus, Ohio.

August 7, 1997
After losing Mark Messier to the Vancouver Canucks via free agency, the New York Rangers make the bold move of signing Quebec captain Joe Sakic to a offer sheet as a restricted free agent.  The deal includes a $15 million signing bonus, intended to dissuade the cash-strapped Nordiques from exercising their right to match the contract.

It’s a plan that works.  The defending champions have leverage in arranging a new arena but they’ve lost their captain.

Spring 1998
Defending champion Quebec Nordiques are led into the playoffs by new captain Peter Forsberg and a dominant season in goal by Ed Belfour.  The Nordiques’ reward?  A first-round matchup with Joe Sakic and the New York Rangers.  Sakic and Wayne Gretzky prove too much for Quebec to handle as the Rangers advance in a four-game sweep.  Particularly bitter for Quebec fans is Sakic scoring the game-winning goal at Le Colisee late in Game Four.

The Rangers move on to make quick work of the Philadelphia Flyers, then Mike Richter outduels Olaf Kolzig and the Washington Capitals in the Eastern Conference Finals as New York advances to face the Dallas Stars.

Patrick Roy dominates the Western Conference for the Stars, getting through the first three rounds of the playoffs with a 1.78 goals-against average.  The Rangers, particularly Gretzky, are able to get to him in the Stanley Cup Finals, but Richter’s spectacular run ends as well.

Mike Modano scores seven goals in the six-game series, leading the Stars to their first Stanley Cup Championship and claiming the Conn Smythe Trophy as MVP.

Late June 1998
A series of announcements shake up the structure of the NHL.

On June 19, just days after the close of the Stanley Cup Finals, the Hartford Whalers announce their intent to relocate to St. Paul, Minnesota.  For two seasons they will call Minneapolis’ Target Center home until the new arena in St. Paul is complete.  Team owner Peter Karmanos had intended to move a year earlier but the Whalers’ run to the Eastern Conference Finals in 1997 led him to hold off.  In the end, an agreement to keep the team in Connecticut couldn’t be reached, though Hartford fans and officials accused him of negotiating in bad faith.

“Proof” of that bad faith is demonstrated three days later, with the NHL announcing it’s delayed expansion plan.  Though no one formally submitted an expansion application on its behalf, Raleigh, North Carolina, is named as one of the league’s new cities, to be owned by Detroit Pistons owner Bill Davidson.  Raleigh had attempted to woo Karmanos and the Whalers and many view their expansion franchise as a consolation prize.  Phoenix, Arizona; Portland, Oregon; and Houston, Texas; are also granted expansion franchises.  Portland and Houston will begin play for the 1999-2000 season while Phoenix and Raleigh will join for 2000-2001.  A new league alignment is not announced, fostering theories that another shoe is yet to drop.

On June 26, rumors begin to swirl that the Quebec Nordiques will join the Whalers in relocating.  No arena plan has been announced for the team and Nashville, Tennessee, had been conspicuously left out of the league’s expansion plans.  The next morning, hours before the start of the NHL Entry Draft in Buffalo, the rumors are confirmed: The Nordiques will be sold and moved to Nashville.  This leads to an awkward position where the team drafts as Quebec while everyone knows the players will never wear a Nordiques sweater again.

July 20, 1998
The NHL belatedly announces new divisional alignments that feature three five-team divisions in each conference.

In the Eastern Conference, the Boston Bruins, Buffalo Sabres, Montreal Canadiens, Ottawa Senators, and Toronto Maple Leafs will make up the Northeast Division; the New Jersey Devils, New York Islanders, New York Rangers, Philadelphia Flyers, and Pittsburgh Penguins will play in the Atlantic Division; the Southeast Division will be made up of the Carolina Hurricanes (entering 2000-2001), Florida Panthers, Nashville Predators, Tampa Bay Lightning, and Washington Capitals.

In the Western Conference, the Midwest Division will be the Chicago Blackhawks, Dallas Stars, Detroit Red Wings, Houston Aeros (entering 1999-2000), and St. Louis Blues. The Calgary Flames, Edmonton Oilers, Minnesota Northmen, Portland Navigators (entering 1999-2000), and Vancouver Canucks will make up the Northwest Division while the Pacific Division will consist of the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim, Arizona Scorpions (entering 2000-2001), Colorado Avalanche, Los Angeles Kings, and San Jose Sharks.

For the first season under the new alignment, the Toronto Maple Leafs will play in the Midwest Division to help even out the conferences until expansion evens out the number of teams.

Spring 1999
The Detroit Red Wings head back to the top of the NHL, with the strong defensive triumvirate of Nicklas Lidstrom, Vladimir Konstantinov, and a resurgent Paul Coffey helping make up for the average play of goalie Chris Osgood in a relatively weak Midwest Division.

The defending conference champion Dallas Stars claim the third seed for the playoffs (behind Detroit and the Colorado Avalanche, who won their division for the first time) and sweep the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim in the first round. Unfortunately, Patrick Roy suffers a hand injury and is unavailable as the Stars fall to the Avalanche in the second round.

Game Six of the New York Rangers’ second-round series with the Buffalo Sabres is the last of Wayne Gretzky‘s legendary career.  The Rangers are shutdown by Buffalo goalie Dominik Hasek while Sabres captain Pat LaFontaine and free-agent signee Brett Hull carry their team past the defending conference champions.

In what’s technically a rematch of the 1996 Stanley Cup Final, the Red Wings eliminate the Nashville Predators in five games, then the St. Louis Blues in six games.  They go on to defeat Colorado and advance to face the New Jersey Devils, who knocked out the Sabres in the Eastern Conference Finals.

As it was in the regular season, Detroit’s defense is the difference in the Finals. Even boosted by the trade deadline acquisition of Chris Chelios, the Devils can’t stop the Red Wings, who win the series in six games with captain Steve Yzerman leading the team in scoring and claiming the Conn Smythe Trophy.

Following his team’s championship, Detroit defenseman Nicklas Lidstrom announced his intent to return home to Sweden, ending his NHL career on top.

June 24, 1999
Ted Turner buys the bankrupt Pittsburgh Penguins, beating out an offer by former player Mario Lemieux. The team will play one final season in Pittsburgh before relocating to Atlanta to play alongside Turner’s Atlanta Hawks of the NBA. After some legal trouble, the team is christened the Atlanta Thrashers.  The Thrashers will play in the Southeast Division, swapping places with the Washington Capitals.

June 26, 1999
In a messy and public ordeal, the Red Wings and Paul Coffey part ways as Coffey is traded to the Toronto Maple Leafs. Detroit gets Toronto’s second and third round draft picks in that day’s NHL Entry Draft, using them to select local forwards Adam Hall and Mike Comrie.  With Lidstrom and Coffey gone, alternate captain and Norris Trophy winner Vladimir Konstantinov is left as the leader of the Red Wings’ blue line.

July 1, 1999
Though he was initially hesitant to enter free agency at all, defenseman Chris Chelios is convinced by US Olympic teammates Pat LaFontaine and Brett Hull to sign with the Buffalo Sabres.

March 6, 2000
The Dallas Stars acquire future Hall-of-Famer Ray Bourque from the Boston Bruins for Brendan Morrow and two draft picks.  The longtime Boston captain had requested a trade to a contending team in an effort to end his career with a Stanley Cup Championship.

Spring 2000
The Dallas Stars return to the Stanley Cup Finals, surviving a grueling Western Conference Finals matchup with the Colorado Avalanche.  Dallas’ Patrick Roy and Colorado’s Nikolai Khabibulin deliver a goaltending duel for the ages while the series also showcases a physical matchup between the two teams’ captains: Derian Hatcher of the Stars and Keith Tkachuk of the Avalanche.

While the Western Conference feature an epic goalie showdown in its final series, the Eastern Conference is full of them.  With names such as Curtis Joseph in Toronto, Olaf Kolzig in Washington, Mike Richter with the New York Rangers, Dominik Hasek in Buffalo, and Martin Brodeur in New Jersey, this should have been expected.  Brodeur’s Devils emerge from the East, having shut down the Sabres’ mini-Team USA of Pat LaFontaine, Brett Hull, and Chris Chelios in the conference finals.

For the second consecutive season, the Devils fall short in the Stanley Cup Finals.  Down 3-2 in the series, a double-overtime goal by Jason Arnott forces Game Seven and keeps New Jersey alive, but Roy cements his clutch status with a shutout in the deciding game as Dallas earns a 2-0 win.

As expected, Ray Bourque announces his retirement immediately following the game.  The image of Hatcher handing Bourque the Stanley Cup becomes iconic.

Spring 2001
The Colorado Avalanche knock off the Dallas Stars as Western Conference Champions.  While Dallas’ Patrick Roy generally outplays Colorado’s Nikolai Khabibulin, the depth of the Avalanche is just too much for the Stars to handle.  It’s a team effort from Colorado, with the blue line led by Teppo Numminen and summer free agent signing Gary Roberts easing the load on Keith Tkachuk and Shane Doan up front.

In the Eastern Conference, the Team USA reunion in Buffalo would not be denied.  Pat LaFontaine and Brett Hull combine with Miroslav Satan for a dominant forward unit.  Chris Chelios anchors the Sabres’ blue line.  To say nothing of Dominik Hasek.  The Sabres blow through the first three rounds with hardly a speedbump presented by the defending conference champion Devils in the Eastern Conference Finals.

The Stanley Cup Finals games are close but not many of them are needed.  The Avs simply can’t solve Hasek and the Sabres end the series in five games, claiming their first Stanley Cup Championship.

July 19, 2001
After months of rumors, Hall of Famer Mario Lemieux returns from retirement, signing with his hometown Montreal Canadiens.  Two months later, Saku Koivu relinquishes the team captaincy to Lemieux while announcing that he would miss the season recovering from non-Hodgkins lymphoma.


Some notes…

As I said when I originally posted this, it’s pretty general and has some faults but I still think it’s interesting.

I had to cut it off in 2001 because it’s just too hard to see what players would be where by then.  It’s easy to assume that each team would mostly have it’s core intact six years after the point of departure but what draft picks would they have made?  I originally had a comment about Jiri Fischer learning from Vladimir Konstantinov but would the Red Wings have even picked Fischer in a 1998 where they have a higher draft pick?  Can I count on Maxim Afinogenov being part of the 2001 Stanley Cup Champion Sabres?

Additionally, by delaying expansion the entire 1998 draft is thrown into flux.  How would things look without a 27th team in 1998 impacting trades and free agency?  How would it look without that year’s expansion draft?  Do we have Vincent Lecavalier of the San Jose Sharks and David Legwand of the Tampa Bay Lightning?

With completely different organizations joining the fold in 1999 and 2000, who can say who they would pick?

We start seeing “butterflies” pretty quickly.  With no Roy-led Avalanche in 1996, there’s no one to stop the Red Wings.  With Osgood leading the Wings, Vernon becomes expendable and Coffey isn’t needed in the Shanahan trade (which, I admit, I mostly included because I still want Shanahan on the Red Wings).  Having won in 1996, the Red Wings have less motivation in 1997, and because they’re not celebrating a Cup that spring there’s no limo accident for Vladimir Konstantinov.

I don’t think you can prevent the Jets or the Whalers or the Nordiques from moving.  The original version of this timeline did but I don’t think the butterflies are that strong.  Karmanos wanted out of Hartford, one winning season on the back of Mike Vernon isn’t going to change that.  Meanwhile, losing Joe Sakic just proves to emphasize that there’s not enough money in Quebec to support the Nordiques.

Would the NHL actually delay expansion?  I think that might be the second-biggest stretch in this.  I imagine a lot of back-room handshake deals.  The delay enables Houston and Portland to improve their positions while Columbus drops out.

The biggest stretch is Raleigh getting an expansion team without bidding, especially with Turner in Atlanta denied.  This is akin to St. Louis getting the Blues in the Great Expansion.  My thought is that with no Raleigh-based bid, the league recruits Bill Davidson to own the team, preempting his efforts to buy the Tampa Bay Lightning.  Would he want to do that without controlling the arena, though?

With butterflies to the schedule, Pat LaFontaine never suffers his concussions, leading him to continue as a dominant force.  The Rangers get Sakic so they don’t trade for him and the Sabres build around him with his Olympic teammates.

Another player who might be profoundly impacted by butterflies in this timeline is Steve Chiasson.  He won’t be playing for the Carolina Hurricanes in 1999, so the accident that killed him doesn’t happen.  That said, given his actions prior to that incident, it’s entirely possible some other event comes along.

The rise of the Jets/Avalanche comes on the back of Nikolai Khabibulin, who doesn’t hold out and get traded to Tampa Bay.  In fact, the Lightning are probably in a bad place since Bill Davidson owns the Hurricanes in this scenario.  Or maybe at some point Davidson pulls a Craig Leipold (who’s probably a co-owner of the Minnesota Northmen in this universe) and swaps the Hurricanes for the Lightning since he really wanted that arena.

Other teams in a bad place?  Without local ownership, the Hurricanes will probably have difficulty.  Assuming Atlanta’s ownership takes the same path it did in real life, the Thrashers won’t last long.  I see two of Winnipeg, Quebec, and Pittsburgh getting teams back, eventually.

One thing that could save the Thrashers: Captain Jaromir Jagr.  Theoretically these Thrashers don’t have to sell off their players like the Penguins did, so they should be able to rebound more quickly.  Would a better team in Atlanta have gotten more support?

The Scorpions?  Someone submitting an expansion bid for Phoenix with the Jets having gone to Denver.  Their future is tied to whoever that new owner is.  But they’re “Arizona” from the start because by the time they come into existence, the Arizona Diamondbacks are around and “Arizona” has become the place-name for Phoenix teams.

Is there a lockout in 2004?  I’m sure of it.  Do we get a Las Vegas expansion for 2017?  Probably.

Jaromir Jagr of the Atlanta Thrashers.  Joe Sakic of the New York Rangers.  Keith Tkachuk of the Colorado Avalanche.  Peter Forsberg of the Nashville Predators…  in 1998.  Alternate history is weird.

Anyway, this was fun to revisit.  If you’ve got any thoughts, feel free to post them in the comments.

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.

Thoughts on Goalie Interference

The “crease rule” does not exist.

It’s something that often gets forgotten in oversimplification of goalie interference calls. Shortly after Brett Hull beat Dominik Hasek to give the Dallas Stars the 1999 Stanley Cup Championship, the NHL eliminated the rule that said any time a skater was in his opponent’s crease, any goals scored would be called back (unless they were Cup-winning goals, it seemed).

Thus, when I see people reviewing Pavel Datsyuk‘s waved off goal from last night and saying, “Yeah, Abdelkader’s skate was in the crease.” cringe a little.

Okay, a lot.

Abdelkader could have been tap-dancing on the goal line and if there was no contact between he and Montreal goalie Carey Price, any puck that ends up in the net should have counted.

Rule 69.1, Interference of the Goaltender, is now entirely based on contact. Incidental, non-incidental, or lack of contact.

No contact and it’s a good goal. Non-incidental contact (the attacking player did it on purpose) and there’s a penalty in additon to the goal coming back. Incidental contact gets no penalty but the goal doesn’t count either.

Incidental contact is described as follows:

an attacking player, either by his positioning or by contact, impairs the goalkeeper’s ability to move freely within his crease or defend his goal

It’s further explained as

The overriding rationale of this rule is that a goalkeeper should have the ability to move freely within his goal crease without being hindered by the actions of an attacking player. If an attacking player enters the goal crease and, by his actions, impairs the goalkeeper’s ability to defend his goal, and a goal is scored, the goal will be disallowed.

The problem is that there are two sometimes-competing scenarios here.

The goalie should be allowed to defend his goal. That’s the one we hear a lot, where an attacking player prevented the goalie from making a save.

An entirely different concept is that the goalie should be allowed to move freely within his crease.

I submit a series of scenarios: A goalie, call him Carey Price, is coming out to face a shooter, call him Pavel Datsyuk, wide open in the faceoff circle to his right. At the opposite post, another attacker, call him Justin Abdelkader, is perched in the crease, tap-dancing.

In Scenario 1, Datsyuk’s shot is easily stopped. No interference penalty, no goal.

In Scenario B, Datsyuk rips a shot over Price’s shoulder to the near corner. No contact between Price and Abdelkader, the goal counts.

In Scenario III, Datsyuk rips a shot into the near top corner. Price, inexplicably, dives across the crease and crashes into Abdelkader. Abdelkader has impeded Price’s ability to move about his crease, even though there’s no reason for Price to have gone there in the first place. The goal comes back.

Last night, Price inexplicably moved to his right, where Abdelkader was, causing the incidental contact while Datsyuk’s shot flew past him to his left. If the “overriding rationale” of the rule is to allow the goalie to move wherever he wants in his crease for whatever reason, I concede that he right call was made. If it’s to stop a player from impairing the goalie’s ability to defend his goal, that was the wrong call.

Hasek, Modano Among Hockey Hall Class of 2014

Former Detroit Red Wings Dominik Hasek and Mike Modano were part of the group named as the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Class of 2014 on Monday.

The pair join Peter Forsberg and Rob Blake as player inductees. Late coach Pat Burns was selected as a builder while referee Bill McCreary also got the nod.

Hasek won two Stanley Cups with the Red Wings and played 735 total NHL games split between the Chicago Blackhawks, Buffalo Sabres, Red Wings, and Ottawa Senators. He won the Vezina Trophy as the NHL’s top goalie six times in the 1990s with the Sabres and finished his career with a .922 save percentage and 2.20 goals-against average.

Hasek notably retired twice, only to resume his career. After Detroit’s 2002 Stanley Cup, Hasek called it quits only to return to the Red Wings a season later. He retired again after his second Cup in 2008 but came back for two more seasons in Europe.

Modano was long the face of the Dallas Stars franchise, having been drafted by the Minnesota North Stars and playing twenty seasons with the organization. He won his lone Stanley Cup in 1999 over Hasek’s Sabres on a controversial goal by Brett Hull.

Modano completed his career in 2010-11 with one season playing for his hometown Red Wings. In 1499 career NHL games he had 561 goals and 813 assists for 1374 points, most all-time among Americans.

The Class of 2014 will be inducted on November 17.

Seventeen

I have the tendency to wax nostalgic about the site and/or make grand statements when DetroitHockey.Net’s birthday comes up. Nothing makes me feel quite as old as this date, though I’m told my kid’s birthday will do it as well.

Today DH.N is seventeen years old. I’m not going to do my Old Man Rasmussen spiel, though. Because the biggest news out of the Red Wings for the last couple days has been about jersey numbers, I’m going to talk about seventeen for a bit.

The first Detroit #17 I remember was Gerard Gallant. Like probably any kid who became a Wings fan in the 1980s, for me, his is a name tied closely to Steve Yzerman as the pair helped lead the team out of the “Dead Wings” era.

After Gallant went to the Tampa Bay Lightning, the number went unused until Doug Brown picked it up during the (original) lockout-shortened 1995 season. Brown would go on to become an honorary member of Detroit’s Russian Five. He was integral enough to the 1997 and 1998 Stanley Cup Championship teams that when he was claimed by the Nashville Predators (who talked about naming him their first captain) in the expansion draft, the Wings traded to get him back. Detroit was the only stop in Brown’s career where he wore #17, though it wasn’t the only number he wore in Detroit. During a comeback attempt at training camp in 2002, Brown wore the #71 recently adopted by Daniel Cleary because Brett Hull had claimed #17.

Hull took #17 straight from Brown in 2001, as Brown wasn’t brought back that summer and Hull was brought on. Hull was briefly listed as #16 for the Red Wings, taking the number he’d worn for most of his career. The team’s unofficial retirement of that number for Vladimir Konstantinov held, though, and Hull ended up with #17 instead, another case where Detroit was the only stop where a player wore that number. I disagreed with the Hull signing at the time (what do I know?). Detroit’s Stanley Cup win in 2002 combined with Dallas’ in 1999, while Hull was wearing #22, gives Hull the distinction of winning two Cups while not wearing the jersey number he was famous for. Like Brown, Hull would go on to wear a different number in one training camp, adopting #80 in honor of Herb Brooks in 2003.

Brad Norton would be assigned #17 for his six forgettable games early in the 2006-07 season before trade deadline acquisition Kyle Calder claimed it when his usual #19 was – of course – unavailable. A trend continued, as for both players it was the only time in their careers where they had the number.

Returning to Detroit for the final season of his career that summer, Dallas Drake took on #17 as the #28 he wore in his first go-round with the Red Wings was in use by Brian Rafalski. The #18, #11 and #10 he’d previously worn in his career were also taken, marking yet another time #17 went to a player who had never worn it before and never would again. Drake would close out his career with a Stanley Cup Championship that season.

Number 17 sat dormant for two seasons before being assigned to its current holder, Patrick Eaves, in 2010. Eaves joined the Red Wings after the Boston Bruins (for whom he never played a game) bought out the contract they acquired from the Carolina Hurricanes in return for former Red Wing Aaron Ward. During his stints with the Ottawa Senators and the Hurricanes, Eaves had worn #44 but his arrival in Detroit coincided with Todd Bertuzzi‘s return to the team. Bertuzzi took #44, putting Eaves in need of a new number. Due to the Wings’ glut of forwards, Eaves’ future with the team is currently in doubt. If he doesn’t wear the number again he would be the sixth consecutive player to don #17 in Detroit and nowhere else.

Former Red Wings Chelios, Shanahan Named to Hockey Hall of Fame

Two longtime Red Wings were named as part of the Hockey Hall of Fame’s 2013 class on Tuesday afternoon.

Defenseman Chris Chelios and forward Brendan Shanahan are joined by Scott Niedermayer, Geraldine Heaney and Fred Shero in receiving the honor. Chelios and Niedermayer were selected in their first year of eligibility.

Chelios and Shanahan were both part of Detroit’s 2002 Stanley Cup Championship team that included Hall of Fame players Igor Larionov, Brett Hull, Luc Robitaille and Steve Yzerman, and was coached by the legendary Scotty Bowman in his final season behind the bench.

At 1,651 career games, Chelios sits fifth in all-time regular season games played. His 26-season NHL career saw him play for the Montreal Canadians, Chicago Black Hawks, Red Wings and Atlanta Thrashers. Now a part of the Detroit front office, he played in nine NHL All-Star Games and represented the United States in three Olympic Games, two Canada Cups and the inaugural World Cup of Hockey. He won a silver medal in the 2002 Olympics and won the Stanley Cup with Montreal in 1986 and Detroit in 2002 and 2008.

Shanahan won three Stanley Cups with the Detroit – 1997, 1998 and 2002. He played 1524 games across 21 seasons with the New Jersey Devils, St. Louis Blues, Hartford Whalers, Red Wings and New York Rangers. He was a two-time Olympian for Team Canada – claiming the gold medal with them in 2002 – and played in the Canada Cup twice and the World Cup once. Now the NHL’s Director of Player Safety, he scored 656 goals and 698 assists throughout his career.

This year’s class will be inducted into the Hall of Fame on November 11, 2013.

Operation: Bobblehead – The Larry Aurie Write-In Campaign

The Red Wings announced today that, following the success of last year’s fan voting to determine what players would be made available as bobbleheads during the 2011-12 season, they would do it again for the coming year.  The twist this time around is that voting will be for Red Wings alumni, with an impressive list of players on the ballot.

From the press release…

The first bobblehead to be distributed as part of this special Edition will depict former captain and three-time Stanley Cup champion Steve Yzerman. As part of Operation: Bobblehead – Alumni Edition, the remaining five former Wings to be featured in the promotion will be determined by an impending multi-week online voting campaign, which will be conducted through a formspring page accessible via DetroitRedWings.com.

Hockeytown Heroes appearing on the ballot for Operation: Bobblehead – Alumni Edition include Sid Abel, Alex Delvecchio, Terry Sawchuck, Ted Lindsay, Darren McCarty, Kris Draper, Joe Kocur, Kirk Maltby, John Ogrodnick, Luc Robitaille, Dino Ciccarelli, Chris Chelios, Larry Murphy, Mark Howe, Igor Larionov, Brendan Shanahan, Brett Hull, Chris Osgood, Scotty Bowman and more. Write-in candidates are also encouraged. Voting will begin on Tuesday, July 31, at one minute past noon and will be conducted on a week-by-week basis, closing at noon every Sunday. The following day (Tuesday) at 12:01 p.m., voting will begin anew with the winning player being removed form the ballot. No votes cast the previous week will count towards each player’s total. There is no limit on how many votes fans are able to cast each week. Twitter users, meanwhile, are invited to champion their favorite player’s bobblehead by using the hashtag #HockeytownHero throughout the duration of this campaign.

As seemingly always, when it comes to the Detroit organization acknowleding the team’s history, an important name is missing from that list: Larry Aurie.

I’ve ranted about lack of recognition for Aurie before.  It’s a shame that his number isn’t in the rafters and it’s even more of a shame that the Red Wings organization won’t explain why.

That said, the Wings control those rafters and they can do what they want there.  If Operation: Bobblehead really is about letting the fans decide, then this is the opportunity to get the team’s first real star honored.

The Wings say they encourage write-in votes.  When voting opens on Tuesday, cast yours for Larry Aurie.  It won’t get his #6 to the rafters where it belongs but it’s a start.

Update, 7/31: Voting is now open on the Red Wings’ web site.

Red Wings – Blackhawks Exhibition Postgame Notes

Quick thoughts on the Red Wings’ 3-2 win over the Blackhawks tonight, without the benefit of replay…

I’m sure Tomas Holmstrom was in the crease on the goal that was called back. Someone tell me why that matters. He didn’t interfere with Corey Crawford and the crease rule hasn’t existed since Brett Hull, yet the Wings lose goals to it all the time. When is someone going to explain that?

The goal that did count for Holmstrom was a very nice tip out of the air. Seems like he’s in midseason form.

Early on, Crawford had no lateral movement and the Wings used it to burn him. He got better as the game went on.

Both Detroit goalies had trouble with rebound control. The lone goal Jimmy Howard allowed was because he couldn’t cover up a rebound and Joey MacDonald seemed to be fighting the puck as well. Not a bad night for either but they weren’t tested that much.

Brendan Smith looks a bit out of his league. I think he got caught flat-footed a couple times where it looked like he didn’t know where he needed to be. He also had a giveaway when he tried too hard to make a play. Not a horrible debut, though.

Horrible? Jonathan Ericsson. He was in full-on pylon mode several times. Highly disappointing.

Also a little disappointing… Mike Modano. We’ve heard he’s been doing this all camp but it was tough to see the chances he gave up to make another pass. Mike Babcock seems to think that’ll fix itself once he gets comfortable and I don’t doubt it but right now it jumps out at you.

Detroit’s other free agent signing, Ruslan Salei, looked pretty solid out there. Nothing amazing, nothing horrible, about perfect for a #5 defenseman.

Jordan Owens stood out most to me. He was all over the place, getting into the corners, moving the puck. I fully expected to see him and Brandon Bollig fight by the end of the night but that didn’t come to pass.

In all, I’d call the game as a whole a little disappointing because the roster that Detroit dressed should have beaten the roster that Chicago dressed a bit more handily. That said, if not for a couple close calls I might be calling it an easy win. If Howard controls that rebound and Detroit’s final goal isn’t called back, it’s 4-1 and looks a lot different. That didn’t happen, though, so what I’ll call it is something to build on.

Hall of Fame Class of 2009 to be Honored in Pregame Ceremony

The Red Wings head to Toronto with a three-game winning streak on the line but with the Maple Leafs having only two wins on the season it’s hard not to look at the pregame ceremony as the more important event tonight.

As part of the annual Hall of Fame Game, the Class of 2009 will be honored prior to tonight’s matchup. Three former Red Wings are included in the class, headlined by longtime captain Steve Yzerman.

Brett Hull and Luc Robitaille round out the Detroit contingent while former New York Ranger Brian Leetch and New Jersey Devils GM Lou Lamoriello will also be honored.

The ceremony will be televised by both FSD and the CBC and is expected to push the game’s start time back to 7:28.

The Wings will honor Yzerman at their first home game after Monday’s Hall of Fame induction ceremony, next Thursday against the Vancouver Canucks.

In actual game news, Detroit will be without Patrick Eaves, who is nursing a sore foot. He suffered the injury while blocking a shot in Thursday’s win over San Jose.

Brad May will return to the lineup to replace Eaves. May will play on the fourth line with Justin Abdelkader and Kirk Maltby while Ville Leino moves up to the third line to take Eaves’ spot alongside Kris Draper and Darren Helm.

No other lineup changes are expected. Chris Osgood will start in goal.

Red Wings Streak Stays Alive with Shootout Win over Sharks

The Detroit Red Wings winning ways continued Thursday night as they picked up a shootout victory over the San Jose Sharks, giving them three wins in a row and points in five consecutive games.

Henrik Zetterberg scored in regulation and in the shootout to lead the Red Wings to the win. Goaltender Chris Osgood made 33 saves on 34 San Jose shots before stopping both Sharks shootout chances.

After a scoreless first period the Sharks got on the board with 5:19 left in the second. Joe Callahan carried the puck into the Detroit zone on a three-on-two.

Defenseman Jonathan Ericsson fell down, leaving Brett Lebda split between Callahan and Logan Couture. Callahan moved the puck to Couture who fired a shot from the right faceoff circle between Osgood’s pads.

Zetterberg evened things up at 5:38 of the third period, poking home the rebound of a shot by Nicklas Lidstrom. San Jose goalie Evgeni Nabokov attempted to cover the puck but Zetterberg streaked in off a line change to get to the crease and knock it from under Nabokov’s pad and into the net.

A frantic final minutes couldn’t break the tie before the shootout was required.

Pavel Datsyuk and Zetterberg both beat Nabokov with fancy fake-outs. Nabokov stopped Jason Williams on Detroit’s second shot while Osgood stopped both Dan Boyle and Ryane Clowe.

Nabokov made 35 saves on 36 Detroit chances before the tiebreaker.

Neither team scored a power play goal on the night. San Jose had three tries with the extra attacker while Detroit had two.

The Red Wings return to action on Saturday when they begin a short road trip in Toronto. The game is the annual Hall of Fame Game, at which longtime Detroit captain Steve Yzerman will be honored along with Brian Leetch and former Red Wings Brett Hull and Luc Robitallie.