Hockeytown Shifts Gears To Watch Worlds: Americans Discover Yearly Hockey Tournament

Five games into the post season (one game short of my playoff tickets) and the Detroit Red Wings have done the unthinkable.

Started their golf season early – just not as early as the Leafs, Blue Jackets, etc.

The Detroit Red Wings have become the first team to be eliminated from the playoffs; which means no more hockey for Detroit fans to enjoy (well other than if the Flyers beat the Penguins).

All of the Detroit stars and done, gone, no more hockey until the fall right. Well maybe, but adds are that is not true either.

You see there is this “little” known hockey tournaments every year (well not on Winter Olympic years) called the IIHF World Championship; and guess what. NHL players are allowed to play.

HOLY CRAP.

Now that the Red Wings have been eliminated early there is a chance that some of them will be asked to join their native country in the tournament that is taking place split between Stockholm, Sweden and Helsinki, Finland.

Currently none of the Red Wings have agreed to join their teams; however, other than for injury reasons I am sure a few may. Especially the Swedes and the Finn.

Team Sweden has gained Henrik Zetterberg, Niklas Kronwall, Johan Franzen, Jonathan Ericsson, Gustav Nyquist, Joakim Andersson, Fabian Brunnstrom and Tomas Holmstrom to their potential player pool. I know Nicklas Lidstrom is a Swede, he was captain for Tre Kronor in the Vancouver Olympics; but The Perfect Human is still injured and I do not see him joining the team.

Event co-host Finland now has Valtteri Filppula available. Last year Finland won gold without Filppula; however with Mikko Koivu‘s injury during the NHL regular season and the loss of goaltender Niklas Backstrom to surgery Filppula is probably already receiving calls.

Russia has been lackluster in the international tournaments as of late and could use the help of Pavel Datsyuk; however, injury may keep the Magician off the ice.

Justin Abdelkader, Chris Conner, Doug Janik, Drew Miller, Jimmy Howard and Ty Conklin have become available for Team USA. With the horrible finish in last years tournament the USA needs a strong push this time around and hopefully Miller, Howard and Abdelkader can have a better ending to their season by helping out the national team.

Hockey Canada… Detroit gives to you Todd Bertuzzi, Danny Cleary, Riley Sheahan, Garnet Exelby, Kyle Quincey, Brendan Smith, Corey Emmerton, Brad Stuart, and Ian White… if you shall choose.

To the Czech Republic Jiri Hudler and Jakub Kindl would be good additions to your team.

Tomas Tatar has seen two season end thus far but could still be a big part for Slovakia.

And Slovenia The Red Wings have given you Jan Mursak.

Now Detroit fans and National Team fans sit and wait to see who will be joining as the Red Wings clear out their lockers and scatter for what is the longest off-season they have had since before winning the cup in 2008.

Rosters Released for Red & White Game in Grand Rapids

The Red Wings announced the rosters for their Red & White game in Grand Rapids on Tuesday.

The White Team, featuring Nicklas Lidstrom, Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk clearly has the star power but the Red Team seems to have more depth, not that it matters much in an intra-squad scrimmage.

White Team
Henrik Zetterberg
Pavel Datsyuk
Tomas Holmstrom
Tomas Tatar
Justin Abdelkader
Gustav Nyquist
Andrej Nestrasil
Jamie Johnson
Willie Coetzee
Mitch Callahan
Brent Raedeke
Nick Oslund

Nicklas Lidstrom
Ian White
Garnet Exelby
Logan Pyett
Sebastien Piche
Gleason Fournier

Jimmy Howard
Thomas McCollum

Red Team
Johan Franzen
Valtteri Filppula
Danny Cleary
Jiri Hudler
Joakim Andersson
Todd Bertuzzi
Chris Conner
Louis-Marc Aubry
Francis Pare
Adam Estoclet
Landon Ferraro
Trevor Parkes

Niklas Kronwall
Brad Stuart
Travis Ehrhardt
Bryan Rufenach
Greg Amadio
Brian Lashoff

Ty Conklin
Jordan Pearce

Ansar Khan points out that a number of players are sitting out the match, which has me disappointed. Khan’s list is as follows: Darren Helm, Patrick Eaves, Drew Miller, Fabian Brunnstrom, Ryan Johnson, Jonathan Ericsson, Mike Commodore, Brendan Smith, Jakub Kindl, Doug Janik, Joey MacDonald.

For a game that has been billed as a chance for West Michigan fans to see the Red Wings close to home, it’s odd to me that so many of those Wings are sitting in place of players the fans in GR will see all season.

Red Wings Announce Lineups for Opening Preseason Games

Per Ansar Khan, the Red Wings have revealed their rosters for the first two games of the 2011 exhibition season.

The Red Wings will visit the Pittsburgh Penguins on Wednesday night with the following lines:

Jiri HudlerPavel DatsyukDanny Cleary
Fabian BrunnstromCory EmmertonPatrick Eaves
Drew MillerRyan JohnsonJan Mursak
Tomas TatarChris ConnerTomas Holmstrom

Niklas KronwallBrad Stuart
Brendan SmithMike Commodore
Garnet ExelbyLogan Pyett

Jimmy Howard
Joey MacDonald

On Thursday Detroit will be in London, Ontario, to play the Philadelphia Flyers. Their lineup for that game will be as follows:

Valtteri FilppulaHenrik ZetterbergJohan Franzen
Justin AbdelkaderDarren HelmTodd Bertuzzi
Gustav NyquistJoakim AnderssonWillie Coetzee
Tomas JurcoBrent RaedekeFrancis Pare

Nicklas LidstromIan White
Jonathan EricssonJakub Kindl
Brian LashoffDoug Janik

Ty Conklin
Jordan Pearce

No lineup has been announced for the Wings’ preseason home opener on Friday, where Detroit will host the Flyers.

Numbers Game 2011 – Wrap Up

With Saturday’s release of the Red Wings 2011 Training Camp roster by Sarah Lindenau of the The Left Wing Lock, the final changed jersey number for the upcoming season is known.

As Mike Commodore has taken the #22 that Logan Pyett wore in camp last season, Pyett switches to the vacant #32.

The numbers for Detroit’s newest players have been known for awhile and I covered the prospects on Friday but here are the highlights now that everything is known.

Outgoing
Brian Rafalski – #28 (now assigned to prospect Tomas Jurco)
Chris Osgood – #30
Kris Draper – #33
Derek Meech – #14 (now assigned to prospect Gustav Nyquist)
Ruslan Salei – #24

Incoming
Mike Commodore – #22
Ian White – #18
Chris Connor – #41
Garnet Exelby – #3
Ty Conklin – #29

Switching
Logan Pyett – from #22 to #32
Joakim Andersson – from #62 to #63

New Red Wings Numbers

I’m getting to this a little late, but yesterday Bill Roose tweeted the sweater numbers for the newest Red Wings.

This marks the second year in a row that I didn’t get my number predictions out before the actual news was released. I feel a little bad as a jersey number geek but at least this way I don’t have to deal with the fact that I would have been wrong.

The biggest news is that Mike Commodore will wear #22, not the punny #64 that had been suggested. I’m not one of the people who thought him wearing #64 would have been the end of the world but I do think it brought extra distraction, so I like him going with his usual number.

What I think is the biggest surprise is that Ian White will wear #18. White had previously worn #7, #3 and #9 in his NHL career, and with #3 available in Detroit I thought he’d go with that. As fans, it’s another sign that we’ll have to come to terms with some important numbers being made available for future use.

As Malik points out, Brendan Shanahan‘s #14 and Chris Chelios‘ #24 have already been handed out so Maltby’s number being available is just a fact of life. It’s probably only a matter of time until #33 and #30 are worn again. Brian Lashoff has already worn #25 in camp.

Speaking of #24, I expect Logan Pyett to take it this year, with the #22 he wore at camp last year now belonging to Commodore.

With White not taking #3, it goes to Garnet Exelby, who is likely to spend the entire season in Grand Rapids anyway. Griffins-bound forward Chris Connor with take the #41 abandoned by Ilari Filppula. I’d expected him to go with #15.

Rounding out the new acquisitions, Ty Conklin will return to the #29 he wore in his first stint with the Wings.

No number changes for current Red Wings were mentioned. I don’t expect any this year but I always wonder about Justin Abdelkader switching to the #89 he wore at Mona Shores. I heard a rumor he was set to switch a couple years ago and don’t know what happened to change that.

Red Wings Free Agency Week in Review

We’re one week into the NHL free agency season and the Red Wings have seemingly made all the moves they expected to make, aside from signing a backup goaltender. Let’s take a look at each signing.

Jonathan Ericsson
Ericsson’s three-year term and $3.25 million annual salary rubbed a lot of fans the wrong way when this deal was announced the night before free agency opened. Detroit is clearly paying for potential here, as they have more faith in Ericsson’s continued development than the fanbase does. If Ericsson develops as the team hopes, this is a good deal given the market. If not, this is a rare mistake for Ken Holland.

Patrick Eaves
The Red Wings kept one of their top penalty killing forwards by signing Eaves just before free agency opened. $1.2 million doesn’t break the bank and the three-year term is nothing to be afraid of. It’s a very Kris Draper-like deal for a Draper-like player.

Drew Miller
Miller had said he was intent on testing the free agency waters but re-upped with Detroit a short time into free agency with a two-year deal worth $1.675 million. I have to think he could have gotten more on the open market – at least $1 million per year – so I wonder if the two years is what sold him on returning to the Wings.

Mike Commodore
Commodore hasn’t had good things to say about Mike Babcock in the past so this move seemed like it came out of nowhere to me. Add in the fact that he’s slotted to be a #5 / #6 defenseman, which the Wings already have several of (Ericsson, Jakub Kindl, Brendan Smith, Doug Janik) and it’s that much more of a surprise. That said, Smith could use another season in Grand Rapids playing top-pair minutes and Janik may have never really been an option, even with the one-way contract he’s on this year. Commodore provides size and grit on the blueline and might be able to teach Ericsson a thing or two. After being bought out by the Blue Jackets, he has a chip on his shoulder.

Ian White
I like the White signing. As two years with a cap hit of $2.875, it’s a good deal for a replacement for Niklas Kronwall, who moves up to replace the retired Brian Rafalski. With no real replacement for Rafalski available via free agency, the Wings chose to promote from within and then replace the promoted Kronwall. White’s a solid puck-mover with a right-handed shot who should fit in nicely on the now-complete Detroit blueline.

Garnet Exelby
A big body for Grand Rapids, I liked Exelby when he broke into the NHL with the Atlanta Thrashers but he really hasn’t done much in his career. He should never see time in Detroit but he’s a good depth signing just in case.

Logan Pyett
Pyett seems to be going nowhere in the Detroit system but he fits in Grand Rapids. Another blueliner unlikely to see time with the Wings.

Chris Conner
Brought over from the Penguins, Conner is signed to a two-way deal and expected to push Cory Emmerton for the last forward spot in Detroit. He’s small and fast and works hard in the corners, something the Wings organization likes. He’ll have to clear waivers to go to Grand Rapids, but so will Emmerton so one of those two could be lost.

Jordan Pearce
Nothing has been confirmed but there are reports that Pearce was re-signed for two more years. He outplayed Thomas McCollum at the end of the Griffins’ season last year and was apparently convinced to keep playing hockey rather than pursue his medical degree.