Retire Osgood’s Number?

The jersey number retirement debate is back on thanks to a blog post by Greg Eno.

Eno suggests that the Wings should retire #30 for Chris Osgood. Over at A2Y, the Chief agrees.

Chris Osgood is my all-time favorite goalie. I wouldn’t complain if his number were raised. I just don’t believe in the idea enough to push for it.

Raising Osgood’s number starts the Wings on a slippery slope. If #30 goes up, why not #18 and #25 and #33 and #96? Igor Larionov‘s #8? #14 and #91 and #24?

I’m wondering if a semi-retired state needs to exist. Something less than retired but more than the “honored” status that the Toronto Maple Leafs use. The Leafs have strict rules for retiring a player’s number but they will hang banners to honor a player while leaving his number in circulation.

My version of an honored number would be one mostly kept out of circulation by the Wings not assigning it to any of their prospects as they come onto the team. It would technically be available if the Wings wanted to give it to someone but the player would have to have earned the number first.

I just see this as one way of respecting the team’s history without lowering the standard required to have a number retired. Osgood and the rest of the core of this dynasty deserve recognition but not one reserved for players that are among the best of all time.

Red Wings – Canucks Pregame Notes

The Red Wings will keep the same lineup they beat the Anaheim Ducks with on Monday as the Vancouver Canucks visit the Joe tonight.

Tomas Holmstrom says he could play tonight but is being kept out of the lineup as a precaution.

The Canucks, having lost their past three games, will start Curtis Sanford in net.

Hall-of-Famer Igor Larionov will be honored before the game. The Canucks were Larionov’s first NHL team and the Red Wings were the team he won three Stanley Cups with.

Locked-out Wings Help Honor Larionov

When former Red Wing Igor Larionov retired from the NHL last spring, he knew he had one game left in him. For a year, Larionov had been planning one final game in Moscow, where is Russian fans could see him skate for the last time.

With the NHL locked out and games put on hold, many of Larionov’s former teammates were able to make the trip to Russia with him, to honor the player who last year was the oldest in the NHL.

Larionov assembled a team of Russian All-Stars to take on a team representing the rest of the world, comprised mostly of his former teammates. Retired Hall of Fame coach Scotty Bowman returned to the bench along side former associate coaches Dave Lewis and Barry Smith to lead the world team while Larionov’s former linemates from the Soviet Red Army team, Sergei Makarov and Vladimir Krutov, coached the Russian team.

New Jersey Devils Martin Brodeur, Patrick Elias, Scott Gomez and Jay Pandolfo joined Red Wings Steve Yzerman, Chris Chelios, Mathieu Dandenault, Kris Draper, Jiri Fischer, Tomas Holmstrom, Nicklas Lidstrom, Kirk Maltby, Darren McCarty, Brendan Shanahan, Ray Whitney and Henrik Zetterberg on the World team. Former Red Wings Steve Duchesne, Martin Lapointe, Chris Osgood and Luc Robitaille also played.

The Russian squad was made up of Pavel Datsyuk, Sergei Fedorov, Viacheslav Fetisov, Sergei Gonchar, Valeri Kamensky, Nikolai Khabibulin, Ilya Kovalchuk, Vyacheslav Kozlov, Larionov, Danny Markov, Evgeni Nabokov, Andrei Nikolishin, Sergei Samsonov and Oleg Tverdovsky.

The World team, most of whom hadn’t played competitively since last season, got off to a slow start and Brodeur allowed early goals to Nikolishin and Samsonov. McCarty responded later in the period and the Russians had a 2-1 lead after one period.

Osgood replaced Brodeur between the pipes for the second period but couldn’t stop Larionov from scoring on a quick shot from the slot, as Larionov capped his career with a goal in his final game in front of his home crowd.

For the third period, Larionov and Yzerman switched teams, complete with Yzerman donning a Russian jersey with his name in Cyrillic on the back. Yzerman, possibly playing in his final game as well, scored twice for the Russians as they held off the World team for a 6-5 win.

Home Sweet Home: Wings Bounce Back from Bad Trip with Win at Home

The Detroit Red Wings bounced back from a five-game road trip in which they won only one game and earned only four of a possible ten points with a 5-3 win over the defending Stanley Cup Champion New Jersey Devils. The win lifted the Wings’ record to 19-4-2 at home this season.

Detroit goaltender Curtis Joseph was spectacular early on as the Red Wings killed off a New Jersey 5-on-3 in the opening minutes of the game. The Wings gained momentum with the successful penalty kill and struck first, scoring the game’s first goal with 8:59 remaining in the period.

Henrik Zetterberg won an offensive zone faceoff against former Red Wing Igor Larionov and got the puck back to Jamie Rivers. Rivers fired a hard shot from the blue line that surprised Devils’ netminder Martin Brodeur and found its way into the net.

Just 2:47 later, the Devils responded. Erik Rasmussen picked up the puck in the New Jersey zone and outraced Jason Woolley down the left side of the ice. He gained the Detroit blue line and fired a shot through Joseph’s pads. The goal was a soft one for Joseph to give up, but his teammates would bail him out.

Mathieu Schneider scored his fifth goal in five games 2:16 after the Rasmussen goal as Detroit was on the power play. Tomas Holmstrom carried the puck over the New Jersey blue line and fed it off to Brendan Shanahan at the right-side half-boards. Shanahan sent a pass to the streaking Schneider who one-timed a shot by Brodeur to put the Red Wings back out in front.

Brett Hull put the Wings up by two early in the second. Just 46 seconds in to the period, he took a pass at the right faceoff circle from Steve Thomas, spun around a defender, and deflected a shot off Brodeur’s shoulder, off the crossbar, and into the net.

Within three minutes, Turner Stevenson had the Devils back within one. At 3:31, Stevenson took at pass from Jeff Friesen and put a one-timer from the middle of the Wings’ zone past Joseph.

Detroit didn’t regain their two-goal lead until almost midway through the third period. At 8:30 of the period, Holmstrom scored on just the Wings’ second power play attempt of the game. Schneider fired a shot from the point and the Brodeur let the rebound slip away from him. Holmstrom picked up the puck with his back to the crease and spun around, flipping a shot past Brodeur’s outstretched pad.

Kris Draper added a shorthanded, empty-net insurance goal with 1:02 remaining in the game. Draper picked up a loose puck in the high slot in the Detroit zone, skated with it to the blue line, and fired a long shot into the vacant New Jersey net.

Detroit’s special teams were perfect for the game, with the power play converting on both opportunities and the penalty kill successfully defending against seven New Jersey attempts with the extra attacker.

Joseph stopped 31 of the 33 shots he faced in net for the Red Wings, a far cry from his last appearance in net, where he allowed four goals on eight shots in two periods against the Phoenix Coyotes. Brodeur made 15 saves on 19 shots against for the Devils.

The Red Wings are back in action on Saturday night when the Carolina Hurricanes visit Joe Louis Arena. Detroit defeated the Hurricanes, 4-1, in their previous meeting this season.

Detroit forward Steve Thomas left the game in the second period with an undisclosed injury. He did not return.

Losing Streak Ends In Tie With Oilers

Four quick goals and a good performance by Manny Legace let the Red Wings hang on against a late rally to tie the Edmonton Oilers, 4-4.

The Red Wings had a good chance to open the scoring early in the game when Oilers goalie Tommy Salo was assessed a penalty shot for throwing his stick while making a save against Brendan Shanahan. Shanahan’s shot didn’t get quite high enough off the ice, and Salo was able to stack his leg pads to make the save.

The Oilers opened the scoring midway through the first. Radek Dvorak cycled the puck behind the net. Raffi Torres was waiting on the left side. Pavel Datsyuk attempted to shove Torres out of the way, but was not able to do so before Dvorak completed the cross-crease pass and Torres put the puck in behind Manny Legace.

Edmonton increased their lead with 2:22 left in the period. Torres shot the puck on net from just behind the goal line. Legace made the save, but the rebound went out to Marc-Andre Bergeron on the right wing side. Bergeron took a wrist shot which went into the net.

Detroit played a more focused game in the second period, and were rewarded by scoring four goals in the space of 5:17. First they successfully weathered two penalties assessed to Jiri Hudler. Legace made some impressive saves, and Nicklas Lidstrom was right at the net to block the one save Legace wouldn’t have been able to make. Then Darren McCarty got the goals going.

McCarty received a pass from Kirk Maltby just inside the Oiler’s blue line. He shot the puck, using big defenseman Eric Brewer as a screen, and the puck reached the net at just the right height to sail over Salo’s shoulder.

A mistake cost the Oilers their lead. Alexei Semenov turned the puck over in front of his own net. To make matters worse, he gave it up to the NHL’s leading active goal scorer. Brett Hull skated the puck a little way towards the right boards before firing. Salo was sliding over, but he was being screened by Tomas Holmstrom, and the puck slid in underneath Salo’s left leg.

The Oilers, understandably, wanted their lead back. Legace had to make a huge save against Marty Reasoner at point blank range to keep Detroit’s momentum going.
Kris Draper moved Detroit into the lead. He carried the puck across Edmonton’s blue line, then made a back pass to Maltby. Maltby shot the puck from the left side, and Draper tipped it into the net.

Datsyuk increased the lead with a power play goal. The Oilers almost cleared the puck out of their zone, but Hull held it in at the blue line and made a pass to Datsyuk in the high slot. Datsyuk put a perfectly placed wrist shot just underneath the crossbar.

Both teams committed defensive turnovers in the third period, but the Oilers were the ones able to capitalize and score. Ales Hemsky added a power play goal with Mathieu Schneider in the penalty box for slashing. Chris Chelios cleared the puck away from the front of the net, but it took a strange bounce right back to Hemsky, who stuffed it in from behind the goal line.

Ethan Moreau tied the game up with only 3:57 left in regulation. Fernando Pisani squeezed past Shanahan to create a two-on-one rush. Schneider wasn’t able to take the passing lane away, so Pisani got the puck across for Moreau to scoop into the net.

Legace was the hero of the overtime period. The Oilers came out on the attack, but Legace made all five saves he needed to make so that the game would end in a tie.
Edmonton outshot Detroit by a count of 33 to 31. The Red Wings will continue their road trip when they face the Canucks Monday night in Vancouver.

Curtis Joseph slightly injured his groin during morning practice, which is why Legace got the start. Joseph played backup, and Dominik Hasek is still day-to-day with his own groin injury…. The last Red Wing to score on a penalty shot was Igor Larionov in 1995.

Larionov Signs with New Jersey

Veteran center Igor Larionov signed a one-year deal with the Stanley Cup Champion New Jersey Devils today, reports. Terms of the deal were not announced.

Larionov had turned down a $1 million offer from the Red Wings earlier this summer.

After Joe Nieuwendyk signed with the Toronto Maple Leafs on Tuesday, the Devils were left weak at the center position. Larionov, the league’s oldest active player, will help fill that gap.

“I decided I want another year so I can have another chance to win the Cup,” Larionov said Wednesday. “This is my last year.”

Larionov said he would have retired at the end of last season had the Red Wings not been swept in the first round by the Mighty Ducks of Anaheim.

Following the departure of Sergei Fedorov to Anaheim, Larionov was the final member of the famed “Russian Five” unit on the Red Wings roster. The line, featuring Larionov, Fedorov, Vyacheslav Kozlov (now with Atlanta), Vladimir Konstantinov, and Viacheslav Fetisov, was the first all-Russian five-man unit to play together in the NHL when they were brought together with the Red Wings during the 1995-1996 season.

The Red Wings were hesitant to sign Larionov, as they believe that Jason Williams or Jiri Hudler might be able to make the jump to the NHL this season and take the fourth-line spot that was Larionov’s.

Wings Resign McCarty, Woolley

As the 2003 free agent season approached, the Red Wings avoided allowing grinder Darren McCarty and defenseman Jason Woolley to hit the open market.

McCarty, who has played his entire career for Detroit, signed a four-year, $8.75 million deal late Monday.

“I’m happy,” said McCarty. “The most important thing to me was term. Maybe I could have gotten more on the open market, but I’m happy with what I’ve got.”

Woolley was signed to a two-year deal that is believed to be worth less than the $1.3 million per season he earned last year. The defenseman joined the Red Wings in December in a trade from the Buffalo Sabres. He played college hockey in East Lansing at Michigan State.

As the midnight deadline passed, Sergei Fedorov, Igor Larionov, Jesse Wallin, Patrick Boileau and Steve Yzerman became unrestricted free agents. Yzerman is the only one of the five not expected to test the market.

Defenseman Dmitri Bykov has decided to return to Russia to play for Ak Bars Kazan next season, rather than playing for the Red Wings.

Grigorenko in Critical Condition Amid Rumors

Detroit Red Wings’ prospect Igor Grigorenko is in critical condition in a Russian hospital after suffering what is rumored to be an adipose embolism in his left lung.

Mark Lapush, Grigorenko’s agent, denies reports that the twenty-year-old forward is in a coma. Lapush also says that the lung is merely infected.

An adipose embolism is similar to a blood clot is that it blocks blood vessels. However, the fatty tissue creating the obstruction cannot be dissolved as most blood clots can. Reports state that Grigorenko is on a ventilator, which is typical in cases of adipose embolisms.

Grigorenko is under heavy medication and has undergone two surgeries. He has been asleep most of the time since the car accident in which he suffered the initial injuries of a broken left hip and a broken left tibia (shin).

“He hurt himself very badly,” Lapush said. “But everything is fixable. It just takes time. In two weeks, he can be in better shape than today. He’s a strong, young guy. He’s going to be all right.”

Red Wings doctors have been in communication with those treating Grigorenko in his hometown of Togliatti. Detroit center Igor Larionov acted as a translator between the two parties on one occasion.

The Red Wings considered sending their own doctors to Russia to observe Grigorenko but decided against it due to the many obstacles they would face.

“In the end, I don’t know how beneficial it would have been,” general manager Ken Holland said. “We’re trying to do everything we can to make sure Igor Grigorenko gets the best treatment. Obviously it’s a difficult situation. I wish we could help more.”

Grigorenko is the Red Wings’ top prospect. He played on a line with Detroit forward Pavel Datsyuk and Atlanta star Ilya Kovalchuk at the World Championships earlier this month in Finland. The Wings had hoped to bring him over to North America next season, but that now seems unlikely.

Early Summer This Year

The Game
Henrik Zetterberg scored the first goal of the game, his first-ever playoff goal, but Steve Rucchin scored the last goal of the game, and that, as it turned out, was the important one. The Mighty Ducks of Anaheim completed their quarterfinal sweep of the Red Wings with a 3-2 overtime win.

The Red Wings looked much better to start Game Four than they had looked previously in the series?not completely up to their potential yet, but certainly better. They were driving to the net and trying harder to put the puck high against Jean-Sebastien Giguere, and that extra effort led directly to Zetterberg’s goal late in the first period. Brett Hull stripped Petr Sykora of the puck in the high slot area of Anaheim’s zone. Hull pushed towards the net, and Zetterberg came with him on the right side. Hull made a quick pass across to his linemate, and Zetterberg lifted a quick wrist shot over Giguere.

Confusion on a call let the Ducks tie the game up just under two minutes later. Mathieu Dandenault knew he was about to get a penalty for high-sticking on a delayed call. He looked to have touched the puck, and the other Wings on the ice slowed in anticipation of the whistle, but that whistle didn’t come because Dandenault never actually had possession of the puck. Adam Oates took the puck away, brought it into the zone, and sent it across to Paul Kariya. Kariya had a clear shot on Curtis Joseph and was able to put the puck into the top corner.

The second period was scoreless, although both teams had their chances. The Grind Line brought havoc to the Ducks’ zone, creating multiple quality scoring chances. Rob Niedermayer was so frustrated by Joseph’s excellent saves during an Anaheim power play that he took an ill-advised cross-checking penalty, negating his team’s man-advantage and giving the Red Wings a shortened power play of their own.

Jason Krog scored early in the third period, and the Ducks promptly shut down. The Red Wings still managed to get through to the Ducks’ zone, but rarely were they able to get the screened shots or deflected shots which seemed to be the best way to defeat Giguere. Mathieu Schneider took an interference penalty with just 5:23 left in regulation, further thwarting the Wings’ chances.

Then, with 2:15 left to play, the Red Wings finally got a break. Sergei Fedorov eluded the Ducks who had been dogging his steps all series. He went into the right corner, one on one against Keith Carney, and won the battle for the puck. Fedorov threw it out in front of the net, and it hit the skate of Niclas Havelid. It bounced. It bounced right past Giguere and into the net.

Fedorov played like a man possessed for the rest of regulation time, seeking to win before overtime started, but Giguere regained control of himself and sent the game to the extra session.

At 6:53 of overtime, a little after 1:00 am in Detroit, a little after 10:00 pm in Anaheim, Rucchin scored his series-winning goal. Carney was allowed to take the puck behind the net. He centered it out front to Rucchin, coming up the high slot all alone. Rucchin one-timed the shot up and over Joseph for the win.

Now What?
There could be changes in Detroit this summer. Not drastic ones, surely. But there will be financial considerations, with no further playoff revenue coming to the team. Ticket prices may have to be raised for next year. It may be harder to keep free agents like Sergei Fedorov, Igor Larionov, Darren McCarty, Luc Robitaille, and Jason Woolley, and certainly it could be more difficult to lure free agents from other teams.

But these are matters for later. It’s time to rest now, time to carefully roll up the car flags and stow them in the trunk, time to fold the banners and set them gently in the closet for next year. Time to regroup and heal, time for our young rookies to become stronger and time for our veterans to rest their strength.

The 2002-2003 season is over. But Jiri Fischer will be fully healed by fall, and Pavel Datsyuk, Henrik Zetterberg, and Dmitri Bykov show much promise, along with a host of other young prospects who played in the minors or the European leagues this year. The team’s veteran core will remain intact, contributing and teaching. There’s always 2003-2004.

There’s always a next year for Hockeytown.

Home Ice No Benefit in Game One

The wacky 2002-2003 Game One home ice jinx has spread throughout the NHL. The Red Wings succumbed with a 2-1 loss in triple overtime to the Anaheim Mighty Ducks, making the New Jersey Devils the only one of the teams with home ice advantage to win their playoff opener.

The Red Wings started out quite well. They got a power play chance early when Ruslan Salei was sent to the box for holding, and good passing allowed the Wings to capitalize. Igor Larionov sent the puck up to Tomas Holmstrom behind the net. Holmstrom sent it out across the goal crease, and Brendan Shanahan was able to wrist the puck in past goaltender Jean-Sebastien Giguere.

Anaheim was able to get on the scoreboard late in the first period. Kurt Sauer took a shot on net from the right boards. The shot was deflected by Mike Leclerc on its way through. Curtis Joseph was able to make the save, but the rebound slid out at an awkward angle and Adam Oates was able to get to it and flip it into the net.

The Ducks came on strong in the second and third periods. They had a golden opportunity to score late in the second: 29 seconds of 5-on-3 power play time with Mathieu Schneider and Darren McCarty both in the penalty box. Fortunately for Detroit, Steve Yzerman won the faceoff and sent the puck deep into the Ducks’ zone, killing off most of the 5-on-3. Joseph was amazing in net and was the key reason the game went to overtime.

The Red Wings completely dominated the first two overtime periods. Luc Robitaille thought he won the game with 10:39 left in the first overtime, but review showed that his shot deflected off the bottom of the crossbar and never crossed the goal line.

That was the way it went for Detroit in overtime. Shots were blocked. Shots were deflected up and out of play. Shots rebounded in just the right spots that no Red Wings could get to them easily. In the end, though, the game belonged to Giguere, who had a phenomenal game, stopping 63 of the 64 shots he faced and setting a new record for a goaltender in his playoff debut. In the end, Giguere kept the Ducks in the game, knowing that an overtime game is a one shot game.

That one vital shot came early in the third overtime period. The faceoff came to be deep in the Red Wings’ zone. Steve Rucchin won the faceoff back to Paul Kariya, who sent a hard wrist shot over the shoulder of Curtis Joseph. Joseph was accidentally screened by Sergei Fedorov, and couldn’t see the shot coming until it was too late.

The Red Wings will regroup and come back at it on Saturday afternoon to try to even up the series with their second home game.