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.

Yzerman Named to Hall of Fame

Long-time Detroit Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman headlines the Hockey Hall of Fame’s Class of 2009, it was announced Tuesday.

Jim Gregory, co-chairman of the board for the Hockey Hall of Fame, made the announcement on a conference call.

Yzerman will be joined by two former teammates, Brett Hull and Luc Robitaille, as well as former New York Rangers defenseman Brian Leetch.

“It is a tremendous honour to receive this news,” Yzerman said. “I want to thank the Selection Committee for recognizing my contributions – I truly had chills down my spine when I got the news.”

Yzerman was drafted fourth overall in the 1983 NHL Entry Draft by Detroit and spent his entire 22-season career with the Red Wings. He was named team captain as a 21-year-old, at the time the youngest captain in NHL history and the longest-serving captain by the time of his retirement.

Hull joined the Red Wings in during the summer of 2001 and was with the team for their 2002 Stanley Cup Championship, his second time claiming the trophy. He broke into the league with the Calgary Flames before making a name for himself with the St. Louis Blues. He moved on to the Dallas Stars, winning the Cup there before coming to Detroit and ending his career with a short stint for the Phoenix Coyotes.

Robitaille also joined the Red Wings in their eventful summer of 2001, part of a trifecta of future Hall-of-Famers to come to Detroit that also included Dominik Hasek. Robitaille won his only career Stanley Cup that year in a career that included three stints with the Los Angeles Kings, a season with the Pittsburgh Penguins, and two years with the Rangers.

Leetch spent nearly his entire career with the Rangers, claiming the Stanley Cup in 1994 with them and remaining with the team until he was moved to Toronto at the 2004 trade deadline. He played one season with the Boston Bruins to close out his career.

This year’s induction ceremony will be November 9.

Team Canada Bounces Back, Defeats Team USA 3-1

After falling to the Americans, 3-1, on Monday night, Team Canada bounced back and turned the tables on Team USA, beating them by an identical score in an exhibition game in Ottawa on Wednesday. All of Canada’s goals came in the second period.

Vincent Lecavalier, Joe Sakic and Brad Richards each scored for the Canadians, who were unable to crack US goalie Robert Esche in the first period. Ty Conklin was in net for all of Canada’s goals.

Lecavalier opened the scoring on a 2-on-1 with Mario Lemeiux on the power play 5:25 into the game’s middle frame.

Just 2:20 later, Sakic scored on another 2-on-1.

“We just made some mistakes, turnovers, that you make in exhibition games,” said U.S. defenseman Brian Leetch. “Halfway through the game we’d allowed only 12 shots but half of them were 2-on-1s against our goaltender.”

Roberto Luongo, who allowed all three Team USA goals on Monday, didn’t allow a goal on Wednesday night. He was replaced by Jose Theodore midway through the second period. Theodore allowed the American’s lone goal of the night when Chris Drury scored 4:10 in to the third period.

NHL Free Agent Scene Finally Roars to Life

After two days of inactivity on the NHL’s free agent front, the silence was finally broken Thursday with four major signings and a three-way trade.

The free agent market opened one minute after midnight on Tuesday morning but the only major move made between then and Thursday was Philadelphia’s signing of goaltender Jeff Hackett from the Boston Bruins.

Thursday, some of the big-name free agents finally found homes as teams finally opened up their checkbooks. The Colorado Avalanche and Detroit Red Wings were the big spenders of the day, both picking up players in an attempt to claim one more Stanley Cup before the NHL lockout expected to begin in the summer of 2004.

Colorado bolstered an already impressive forward corps with the addition of former teammates Teemu Selanne and Paul Kariya.

Kariya, embittered by the fact that Anaheim, the team he captained for many years, failed to make him a qualifying offer, signed with the Avalanche for only $1.2 million for one season. Selanne also signed a one-year deal, reportedly worth $5.8 million. Both players accepted less than their market value for the chance to play together and compete for the Cup.

Detroit began their attempt to shift to a more defense-minded system with the signing of former Dallas captain Derian Hatcher. Hatcher, a native of the Detroit area, did not receive an offer from the Stars before accepting the Red Wings’ five year deal. The contract is reportedly worth $30 million over its lifetime.

The Columbus Blue Jackets made the first foray into big free agency spending in franchise history, signing tough checking forward Todd Marchant away from the Edmonton Oilers. Marchant was coveted by many teams, including the usually-big-spending New York Rangers, but accepted less money from the Blue Jackets than he had demanded from the Broadway Blueshirts.

After the free agent deals of the day were done, a trade shook up the rosters of three NHL teams.

Colorado, desparate to find roster space for Kariya and Selanne, dealt center Steve Reinprect to the Buffalo Sabres for defensive prospect Keith Ballard. The Sabres then packaged Reinprect with blueliner Rhett Warrener in a deal with the Calgary Flames for former Avalanche center Chris Drury and center Steve Begin.

The long summer still has time for the many star free agents available to find a home. Sergei Fedorov, who has announced that he will not return to the Red Wings, is reportedly in talks with several teams. Rangers captain Mark Messier and top defenseman Brian Leetch are both still available. Detroit’s Luc Robitaille and Anaheim’s Adam Oates are also still on the market.