Day Two Draft Notes

I’m not going to go too deep on what was a very long second day of the 2020 NHL Entry Draft.  There are prospects sites for that.

My gut feeling is that they reached once they got past the second round.  There were players dropping, players with supposedly high ceilings there for the taking, and they passed for what seems like safer picks.  If you’re treating each draft pick as a lottery ticket, play the Mega Millions, not the Daily Three.

But what do I know?

I like the selections of defenseman William Wallinder (32nd, 2nd round) and forward Theodor Niederbach (51st, 2nd round).

I also liked goalie Jan Bednar (107th, 4th round), but I would have preferred to see them go with Nico Daws at 70th (after trading down from 65th).

In that same range, perhaps 63rd instead of instead of Donovan Sebrango, I also wanted to see the Wings take a flyer on Jean-Luc Foudy.

Cross Hanas at 55th, Eemil Viro at 70th, Sam Stange at 97th…  I’ll admit, none of those guys were particularly on my radar.

After Alex Cotton at 132nd and Kyle Aucoin at 156th, I think the seventh round picks are interesting.

Detroit went with Kienan Draper, son of Kris Draper, at 187th.  At the time, it was their final pick, and I derisively called it “sentimental” on Twitter.  The late rounds are a crap-shoot anyway so if you want to throw your picks at a kid with ties to the organization, go ahead.  What I thought was weird was that they made the “sentimental” pick with their last pick, then went out and flipped a 2021 7th for 203rd overall this year so they could take Chase Bradley.

To me, that feels like there was a battle over how 187 should have been used and the sentimental choice won out.  Then, after Draper was picked, the Wings went out and got another pick to grab their other guy.

Just feels weird to me but I could be overreacting.

In other breaking news today, it was revealed that the Red Wings did not submit qualifying offers to Madison Bowey, Brendan Perlini, or Christoffer Ehn.  The three will become unrestricted free agents on Friday.

As I said on Twitter, I would have qualified Bowey before Perlini or Adam Erne, despite any pending blueline logjam.  I kind of hope that if other offers aren’t there, that Bowey and Ehn get circled back to.  On league-minimum deals, those guys could be useful depth, known-quantities.  In particular, I like Bowey as a seventh or eighth defenseman more than Brian Lashoff or Dylan McIlrathDominic Turgeon could easily take Ehn’s spot so I’m less worried about him.

I’d have let Erne walk but apparently the Wings are going to try to bring him back.  I don’t see him having anything the Wings organization doesn’t already have.  He was brought in to see what he could do with more playing time and the answer is not much.

Perlini is disappointing in general.  I didn’t like giving up Alec Regula to get him and now Perlini is on his way out.  Just a waste.

Yzerman to Replace Holland as Red Wings GM

The Stevening is here: The Detroit Red Wings have announced a press conference to name former captain Steve Yzerman as the team’s general manager.

With Yzerman taking over as GM, Holland will be booted upstairs to a senior vice president role.  That said, it might be a temporary move.

Holland has long been rumored to be in the running for the GM role with expansion Seattle, and they had previously said they wanted to get someone in place this summer, so the timeline for that does fit.

I’ve said before, and I Tweeted it again this morning, that my concern with Yzeman coming in as GM is that he’s already a god in Detroit.  He seemingly has nothing left to accomplish.  I don’t want to see his legacy damaged if the Wings are still a lottery team in five years and he’s forced out.

Part of that fear is based on expectations for Yzerman and what he actually has the ability to do.

This is going to be Ken Holland’s team for a long time.  Holland will, at least until he’s named GM in Seattle, remain with the organization.  AGM Ryan Martin will remain.  Kris Draper will remain.  This is, for the most part, Yzerman stepping into a management team that already exists.  How much impact can he have in that environment?

Similarly, at least for the 2019-20 season, the Red Wings roster is relatively locked in.  The bad contracts to Justin Abdelkader and Darren Helm aren’t going anywhere.  The best move this summer, no matter who the GM is, is to stand pat.

So the earliest Yzerman will be in a position to really shape this team will be at the trade deadline next February.  Even then, it will mostly be selling pending free agents like Mike Green, Trevor Daley, and Jonathan Ericsson.  In all likelihood, those potential trades bring back draft picks, which means the first players acquired via moves Yzerman makes won’t be known until the 2020 Entry Draft, over a year into his tenure as GM.

Maybe he’ll surprise me.  I don’t see it, though.

Red Wings Name Abdelkader Alternate Captain

Justin Abdelkader will make his first appearance of the preseason in Chicago tonight and the Red Wings didn’t wait any longer than they had to before naming him as the team’s new alternate captain.

Yeah, they used the word “assistant.”  Whatever.

Abdelkader takes on the ‘A’ left behind by Pavel Datsyuk‘s trade to the Arizona Coyotes and subsequent departure for his native Russia.

It’s the first time the Red Wings have named a new alternate since Niklas Kronwall replaced Kris Draper in the three-man rotation for the 2011-12 season.  When Henrik Zetterberg ascended to the captaincy in 2014, the team simply went back to two alternates instead of replacing him.

The Red Wings did not assign an extra ‘A’ in cases of injury throughout the 2015-16 season.  The only players on the active roster to have previously worn a letter for Detroit in a regular season game were Jonathan Ericsson (three games) and Darren Helm (one game) during the 2014-15 campaign.

I don’t think this comes as a surprise to anyone.  The buzz surrounding the ‘A’ had been focused on Abdelkader all summer and he’s really the most logical choice, after accepting Dylan Larkin wasn’t going to get it.

Update, 11:30 AM: The Red Wings deleted their original announcement tweet and replaced it with one using the word “alternate” instead.  Small victory.

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.

Guest Post: The Red Wings and the Media

The following is a guest post by Michael Petrella, formerly of The Production Line. It is presented here – as well as at Winging it in Motown and on Kukla’s Korner – unedited save for a trio of typos.

My name is Michael Petrella. I’m not a journalist by trade. As you may know, I had — for several years — a blog called The Production Line, with a pair of partners. We found ourselves being able to spend less and less time writing on the site, or running the podcast, so we’ve let the domain expire, but I’m very grateful that Clark Rasmussen from DetroitHockey.Net has offered to host an archive, so that it lives on.

If you’re familiar with TPL’s work, you’ll know that MOST of it was silly. Perhaps you recall Operation Curly Fries – our efforts working with Fox Sports Detroit and Arby’s to re-ignite the curly fry giveaway when a Red Wing scores a hat trick. We created a phenomenon called the Shirtuzzi. And there were more Whitney Houston-themed posts that I care to count.

But not everything was ridiculous — some of it was conscientious and thoughtful. Please don’t forget the several H2H gatherings, where we raised over $20,000 for Children’s Hospital of Michigan. Or my trip on Red Bird II, joining the team on a weekend home-and-home with the Nashville Predators. Or the series I did about playing collegiate hockey and the prevalence of painkillers and head injuries, and what it’s like to be a role-player compared to the responsibilities of top-end talent.

Once upon a time, I had a good relationship with the Detroit Red Wings. I had a two hour breakfast with Ken Holland, where he was very open and never once asked me NOT to print something. I had an open invitation to sit in the press box if ever I was around for a game (I no longer live in Michigan, and haven’t since I graduated high school). I was briefly credentialed by the NHL, and had the opportunity to interview Red Wings draft picks in Los Angeles at the 2010 Draft. I was even approached by the Red Wings to publish some information about a move that didn’t get a lot of positive publicity, though I was asked not to say where the information came from.

But all of that stopped. I can’t explain why — or what happened. But it was abrupt. I’m pretty sure that it’s based in The Production Line’s increasingly critical tone about Red Wings management and on-ice product. All I know is that one day e-mails stopped being responded to, the press releases stopped coming into my inbox, and things I’d discussed doing with the Red Wings were being done by other people.

This summer has been a bad one for Detroit Red Wings fans. It’s become obvious that it’s no longer a destination for free agents, and another July full of panic moves has been underway for a few weeks now. But this piece isn’t about that. At least not directly. It’s about the local media’s handling of the organization — and vice versa.

When news breaks — like the Dan Cleary signing, for example — it’s announced practically verbatim by several writers. Every article is nearly identical, but not identical enough to just be the press release, and is published at precisely the same time. It’s the hockey equivalent of state-run media. It seems as though the only information that’s released by the allegedly-independent media is the information that the organization wants to be released. Is it that anyone that isn’t willing to toe that line — bloggers, included — are excluded from access to the team, its players, or members of the front office?

No one seems to have a problem with that. No one has the guts to question it. No one is willing to rock the boat or burn whatever bridges they perceive they may have.

So I figured… I’ve already been blackballed, what do I care? The mainstream media — or diggers, as they’re passionately known by the Red Wings community — doesn’t care, presumably because any deviation from the company line will cost them their access. So, instead of doing what they’ve committed to doing — reporting, asking tough questions, and making good on their journalism degrees — they do nothing. They refuse to criticize, and happily post the exact same thing that all of the other writers in the area do. Pretty groundbreaking stuff.

I reached out to quite a few people to talk about it. Former members of the Detroit Red Wings media departments, current and former Detroit Red Wings beat writers, as well as national hockey media. Will there be any effect? Probably not. This seems like it’s become accepted practice, but I couldn’t sit by any longer, only reading what the North Korea of NHL teams wants its citizens to believe. But it’s worth a shot — and if I learned anything from my time running TPL, it was that no one answers if you don’t ask.

And, usually, the only question that needs to be be asked — and no one ever seems to ask — is “why?”

“[John] Hahn was a vindictive man who enforced codes of conduct through threats, intimidation, revoking of credentials, and out-and-out bullying. That’s not just personal dealings, that comes from hearing more than a few similarly-credentialed outlets vent aloud. Before he departed the organization, Hahn taught Todd Beam everything he knows, including simply ignoring those who the team doesn’t want to deal with, and Kyle Kujawa has been a quick study.”

That quote is from an anonymous source with access to the team.

John Hahn was — for sixteen years — the senior director of communications for the Red Wings. He left those responsibilities behind in September of last year, and handed the reigns to Todd Beam, the current director of communications. I found Mr. Beam to be a very kind and engaging man when I traveled with the team in 2011, but he didn’t yet hold that title.

One thing that’s clear is that bloggers still aren’t given access — though that’s not the aim of this article. We’ll touch on that more in a few minutes. More evidence from our unnamed friend, and some more regarding Hahn:

Hahn established the protocol by which the diggers operate during his nearly 20 years with the team, and the concept of a hierarchy of access is always in evidence. Whether it’s seating assignments, who can speak to whom, whether people have to “check” certain stories or subjects with the team before publishing them, which topics are off-limits, and which diggers get more access based upon their preferred status thanks to “playing well with others,” it feels like you’re dealing with high school cliques, and their strata are all but set in stone.

When I dealt with the team, John Hahn had a league-wide reputation as a dictatorial jerk, and according to people I spoke with who were intimate with the team’s situation, they insisted that the Red Wings’ status as an incredible pain in the real to deal with was one of the reasons we kept reading the outside media so gleefully wish to see the Big Red Machine fail (when it was the Big Red Machine).

Personally, I only encountered Mr. Hahn one time — when I was credentialed by the League to cover the 2010 Draft in Los Angeles. I didn’t have to interact with him, since I wasn’t representing the team, nor did I need anything from the Red WIngs to do what I was there to do, but he absolutely was an intimidating man that everyone — and I mean everyone — steered well clear of.

More confirmation, however, that the team’s principals aren’t the responsible parties for the lack of information coming from the team to the people who care about it most:

Talking about getting straight answers, minus the occasional lies that GMs and coaches tell everyone, I have never had any trouble asking questions to Ken Holland, when he was with the team Jim Nill, nor Ryan Martin, Kris Draper, any of the Griffins coaches, or even Mike Babcock.

When they want to talk to you, they’re incredibly accommodating in terms of their time, energy, and honesty. I’ve never had any indication that they’re somehow bad human beings who want to screw over the media or make their jobs harder than they already are (or vice versa).

The coaches and management obviously have an agenda with their information, they have an agenda as to how they want the team to be perceived, but even Babcock, testosterone included, is the most honest coach I’ve met. He spars with you, but he doesn’t screw around with you for the sake of being a more gigantic jerk than he already can be.

Every experience I’ve had suggests that PR or ownership… were the ones who wanted to make dealing with the team something of a shake-down.

So, the team’s media and public relations are to blame? About that…

“It’s a third-world media town. Let’s just say that the organization won’t be winning the Dick Dillman Award anytime soon.”

I asked the above-quoted former DRW media department employee, and everyone else, if the Red Wings threaten — explicitly or implicitly — to revoke their access to the team, its players or staff if they refuse to push the party line… and he makes it sound like the writers are more to blame than the team for pushing narratives:

The verbatim articles are a product of the writers, not the team. They’re all chatty, friendly, with few rivalries amongst them. They are very much ‘Super Friends’ on the beat and are given limited crumbs in media availability, or on conference calls, etc. Unlike many [Original Six] markets, Detroit’s media doesn’t feast off of rumors, off-ice antics, or running players out of town. It is very much old school… this is the story… these are the quotes… this is the narrative I’ve weaved around it.

You could look at markets like Montreal and Boston, where the media will literally carve up and eat the players alive (Tyler Seguin, Tim Thomas) and say that what happens in Detroit is a good thing (or a bad thing), that’s the way it is.

He even touches on some experiences with the team that I can absolutely confirm — like the aforementioned Ken Holland conversation. That’s evident when he says that “Babs will say no to a lot of things… Kenny won’t turn down a reporter’s phone call… and it’s the only place where the ‘Super Friends’ do well.”

Perhaps things will change if the Wings fail to make the playoffs and are forced to re-brand a bit… and also, start accepting bloggers into the fraternity:

…Two organizations that do it right were once in the Red Wings position (long playoff streaks and a perceived organizational arrogance about opening the gates and fans flying through. But when the Bruins and Blackhawks became non-factors in their city (2006, 2007)… both had to go back to the PR drawing board. When the Red Wings miss the playoffs for two or three seasons and are playing at 50 percent capacity, the media relations strategy will change.

It is impossible to compare Detroit and the five people who cover the team on a regular basis to the other five Original Six markets. The Bruins have six or seven George Malik equivalents who work for online outlets, just churning out content. It is actually pathetic how high quality their work is compared to those on the Detroit beat… yet they’re doing it for $10 an hour, while [the beat writers are likely making] 60K a year. It makes me violently ill.

Of the Detroit media, only Helene [St. James] could survive in another Original Six market. She’s the alpha female. The Regina George. Everyone follows her lead.

I reached out to Ms. St. James, as well as many others listed below, but as of this writing, she had not returned my inquiries.

Continuing down the blogger path, he offers me a very kind compliment and discussing how allowing someone to break through the barrier might have made a difference to the team’s coverage as a whole — even from the professional outlets.

If you were local, it would have been a game changer. So few of the Red Wings bloggers with some credentials [are not in] Michigan. To have someone who knew how to channel the emotion of the fans, to do so in an entertaining way… it would have been a blast to see how it would have played out IF they were ever credentialed.

As some of you grew a spine or two to ask the tough question after a game… and risked pissing off the ‘Super Friends’ in the process, it would have forced them to adapt.

An independent writer points to the team. A (former) team employee points to the writers. What does a mainstream media writer with access to the team think?

“I can only speak for myself. As a beat writer, I report the news and keep opinions to a minimum — with the exception of reader Q and A. Opinion pieces are best left to columnists.”

Ansar Khan, the gentleman who covers the Red Wings for MLive, was kind enough to answer a few questions for me. Most importantly, I tried to find out if the Red Wings threaten — whether explicitly or implicitly — to revoke access to the team if the local writers don’t fall in line. He says, in no uncertain circumstances, that the team does NOT dictate what’s reported, and have never threatened to deny his access.

The reason his gives for the media’s — or, at least, his — reluctance to criticize the team stems from the organization’s relative success the past several decades. You can debate amongst yourselves if just making the playoffs earns the team freedom from criticism. And there are plenty of people out there that defend every move that the Red Wings make (I heard from a bunch of you when I mocked the Quincey signing). There’s no arguing with them — the Red Wings are infallible because of past success (somehow). But sometimes it’s okay to question the team you love, even if you admire a majority of the things they’ve accomplished over history.

If you think the media is not critical enough of the organization, that’s your opinion. I don’t agree with some moves the team has made (Cleary), but I’m not going to destroy them for it. Four Cups since 1997 and 23 consecutive playoff appearances doesn’t earn them a free pass but with that kind of track record I would find it difficult to call for anybody’s head.

Again, to be clear: I’m not hoping to send waves through the front office based on Dan Cleary’s contract (though, that is questionable, particularly following the last three summers). My goal here is to find out if the local media’s unwilling or unable to offer the fans anything worthwhile — or if it’s the team driving the narrative.

So far we’ve learned those with semi-access blame the team… the team blames the writers… the writers seem to blame the fans for expecting more and defend the team because they’ve done so well in the past. Let’s take a step back… what does the national media think of Detroit’s coverage?

“For all of them publish ‘Hey, cool, Cleary is back’ at the same time with no real critical look at A) how bad he is, B) what it means for younger, better players, and C) whatever the fuck Holland was talking about is borderline dereliction of duty as a journalist and supposed hockey analysis. It was a move that deserves to be criticized on at least a superficial level.”

The problem is obvious not only to local Red Wings fans, who are more knowledgeable about the game and their team than they’re given credit for by the media. The above quote, and the following section are from a national hockey writer, who has asked to remain anonymous.

He points to a trend — that no one in the local, Detroit media questioned or criticized the move, but that nearly everyone else in the hockey media world did. There are plenty of articles that ask “why” and zero of them originate from Detroit.

It is either absurdly, embarrassingly lazy, or the team is swinging the hammer. Best case scenario is that all of them tried to get away with mulligans at the same time. It’s up to readers and whoever else to judge if that’s feasible. And if that is indeed what happened, it’s a pretty sad commentary on the state of things.

It honestly probably isn’t the team calling them up and saying ‘if you rip the Cleary deal, you’re out.’ It sounds to me more that they continue to buy into Holland’s justification for the deal, which is… not good. For whatever reason, they are not critical of that team.

The relationship between beat writers and teams is really complicated, and I’m glad I don’t have to deal with it. It’s incestuous and weird by necessity. You’re going to have different writers approach it in different ways. The fact that zero turning anything approaching a critical eye toward it is a problem, though. Maybe that is none of their jobs. For some people, that is actually the case. They’re just conduits without any responsibility to do next-level shit. Maybe it’s not their job, but it should be. Every beat writer should provide actual analysis, not just act as a conduit for the team’s decision-making process.

As noted, his interaction with the team differs from those with daily access, and from those who have to live nearby and rely upon the team for the entirety of their content. He admits that he has “next-to-no experience with them,” that he’s “never heard anything terrible about” about dealing with the Wings, and that the one time he was in the locker room, “everything went fine” but agrees that, as a consumer of information, something’s not quite right.

Near the end of our conversation, I sighed and lamented that Red Wings fans deserve better. He succinctly answered “I would say so.”

“Some of the best journalism advice I ever received was ‘don’t stand with everybody. People don’t want the same story, they want different perspectives.’”

If you’ve been a Red Wings fan for some time, you’ll remember Bruce MacLeod. Formerly of the Macomb Daily, he was the one beat writer we could always rely on to get a different angle and present something that was engaging and insightful and he wasn’t afraid to ask difficult questions. He was kind enough to answer a few questions of mine and explain what it’s like on the beat, and share his experiences, as well as a few clues as to why things are the way that they are.

The best writers, professionally, don’t want to miss anything. They don’t want to be one piece out of four. One way to make sure you don’t miss anything is to stand together. Not to mention, players don’t want to do five interviews — they’d rather do it all at once.

Imagine life as a beat writer. You’re traveling with the team, interacting with them every day. That’s what they do. This is their office. You don’t want to piss off someone in your office.

But there’s a definite need for people who are skeptical and agitating to a degree. New media, digital journalism would open everything up.

For the third time, I hear that the hockey operations people aren’t to blame, and that the general manager and former assistant GM are wonderful and never back down from a conversation, even if it’s a difficult one to have. And while Mr. MacLeod tells me that John Hahn isn’t as intimidating as we all may have felt, the team obviously wants to put the best foot forward and try to maintain that face.

From a club perspective, Ken Holland and Jim Nill give you everything you want.

The Red Wings really don’t control the media, other than who they credential. They’re one of the few teams that’s still a little backwards on new media. They view print and broadcast as the only things that really matter and are way behind on the other.

Once the team gives you contact, you’re on your own. There are no threats, but the team does control the message in that way.

So that’s where we’re left. The team has a vested interest in the information that’s exiting the locker room (obviously), but that they don’t rule with an iron fist — straight from the horse’s mouths. Could the team benefit from someone who questions and agitates and is skeptical of the things they’re doing? Of course. Will it be one of the beat writers we currently have? It doesn’t appear to be, nor does the team seem willing to allow someone different to have the kind of access that would require.

Like I mentioned at the very top, I’m not a journalist. It is not my intention to become a journalist. My goal with this project was to shed some light on what is very obviously a problem for Red Wings — and hockey — fans.

For casual hockey fans, who only read one of the local papers, the coverage is “good enough.” They get the facts, they get a quote here and there, and they can keep up with what the current roster looks like. For the bulk of us, who are rabid hockey fans and consider ourselves to be relatively knowledgeable when it comes to things like this, it’s shabby. Whether it’s because the team’s media department is strict and intimidating, or the writers are lazy and unwilling to ask tough questions and be critical of anything the organization does, we all lose.

What we’re left with is people who would be willing rock the boat being frozen out, people with access unwilling to deliver anything of value to those who consume it, and a team that doesn’t seem to care to rectify that — or change the way information is disseminated to the public based on some perceived sense of untouchability.

What it boils down to is a team that limits access to those that don’t care very much… and those that don’t care very much, don’t care very much. Everyone has a little bit of blame in this matter.

Whoever you feel is most to blame, one thing is clear: we deserve better.

Full Disclosure: I reached out to the Free Press’ Helene St. James, the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness, MLive’s Ansar Khan, and the Detroit News’ Ted Kulfan. Mr. Kulfan responded, saying that he was on vacation and that he’d get back to me but hasn’t yet. Mr. Khan is quoted above. The others have not responded to my requests.

I also reached out to multiple people who could speak about the environment within the media department at the Red Wings. Some respectfully declined to talk, and I won’t name them here.

A very special thank you to Bruce MacLeod, Ansar Khan, and a trio of people who requested anonymity. That will be honored. I would also like to thank George Malik, of the Malik Report, JJ from Kansas, of Winging it in Motown, and Clark Rasmussen, of DetroitHockey.Net, for agreeing to post this piece sight unseen. You’re a nice gang of fellas.

You can follow me on Twitter @TPLhockey, or e-mail me at

Update, 7/16/2014: Petrella adds the following addendum via Twitter:

One quick thing I’d like to add to yesterday’s post, and it’s regarding @Kyle_Kujawa. He’s mentioned very briefly, but at the end of a very powerful quote. I wasn’t expecting it, but he’s being viewed as a bit of a villain in this whole thing. I consider Kyle to be a friend, and owe him a great deal of gratitude, particularly for his help when he was with the Griffins. He was ALWAYS helpful when we asked to get a Griffin on the podcast, and NEVER asked to censor anything. I haven’t had to interact with him professionally since he’s joined the Wings, so I can’t speak to the quote’s validity — but if there’s one thing I regret, it’s that I didn’t reach out to him for comment. I’d certainly welcome his thoughts, and hope he accepts this apology for not offering to include him.

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.

Report: Zetterberg to be Named Red Wings’ Captain

According to MLive’s Ansar Khan, Henrik Zetterberg will be named captain of the Detroit Red Wings sometime before the start of the 2013 NHL season.

Zetterberg would replace Nicklas Lidstrom, who retired over the summer.

A report early into the now-ending NHL lockout stated that the team had been prepared to name the Swede as captain late in the summer but held off on the announcement due to the labor uncertainty.

Zetterberg was named an alternate captain in 2006 along with Kris Draper, at the same time as Lidstrom replaced longtime captain Steve Yzerman wearing the C. He has continued wearing the A since then, sharing it with Pavel Datsyuk and Niklas Kronwall last season in a rotation.

It is unknown whether the team would add another alternate captain to continue that rotation. Around the time of Lidstrom’s retirement, Valtteri Filppula had been mentioned as taking on more of a leadership role with the team.

On Dr. Jack Finley’s Hockeytown Doc

I was recently asked to take a look at Dr. John Finley’s new book, Hockeytown Doc – A Half-Century of Red Wings Stories from Howe to Yzerman.  By coincidence, the request came on the heels of posting my thoughts on Tal Pinchevsky’s Breakaway: From Behind the Iron Curtain to the NHL – The Untold Story of Hockey’s Great Escapes.  I’m not looking to get into the business of book reviews but with no NHL games, I’m already reading more.

Over at Winging it in Motown, J.J. posted his thoughts on Friday but I’ve deliberately not read what he wrote, so our opinions may have some overlap.

Dr. Finley has assembled 23 chapters of anecdotes and personal thoughts formed over fifty years on the Red Wings’ medical staff.  His viewpoint from three rows behind the bench and inside the dressing room is unique.

It’s that perspective that makes the book worthwhile.  Some of these stories are things we’ve heard before.  His chapter on the Russian Five, for example, has a lot of overlap with Breakaway.  However, there were parts of those familiar stories that were new, things that only he could tell.

My personal favorite chapter was “Spring Fling,” in which he tells stories of the team party he and his family hosted every year.  A party so appreciated that, as Dr. Finley says, Bob Probert once asked to be invited back even if he was traded away from the Wings.

Another thing that struck me was how similarly former Red Wings’ czar Jack Adams and current team Vice President Jimmy Devellano were described.  This probably shouldn’t be a surprise, given Adams’ attempts at union-busting and Devellano’s recent “cattle” comment but it wasn’t until reading Dr. Finley’s words that the idea really clicked for me.

I do have some nit-picks about the book.  As a collection of 23 relatively-independent chapters, there’s a decent amount of repetition.  The roles of certain people are described multiple times, for example.  We’re told that Original Six-era dressing rooms were made up of “benches above which were hooks” several times.  Additionally, I caught at least one mistake in a player’s name, with Kris Draper being called Chris Draper.

As I said, those are nit-picks, the only things I could find wrong in an otherwise well-crafted piece of storytelling.

If you missed Dr. Finley’s signing at Hockeytown Authentics on Saturday, he has two more appearances scheduled in the coming weeks.  On October 14 he’ll be at the Kroger in Bloomfield Hills and on October 28 he’ll be at the Kroger in Troy.

Red Wings, Maple Leafs Each Add Four to Alumni Showdown Rosters

The Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs announced on Thursday the addition of four players to each of their rosters for the Alumni Showdown at Comerica Park on December 31.

The Red Wings have added Petr Klima, Dallas Drake, Garry Unger and Paul Ysebaert to their alumni roster.

Klima was one of the Red Wings many eastern European draft selections of the 1980s.  He was selected in the fifth round of the 1983 draft and defected from then-Czechoslovakia in 1985.  He played in 293 career games with the Red Wings before being dealt to the Edmonton Oilers in 1989.  After stints in Tampa Bay, Los Angeles, and Pittsburgh, he ended his NHL career with a return to the Red Wings for 13 games in the 1998-99 season.

Drake also started and ended his career with the Red Wings.  Selected by Detroit in the 1989 draft, he made his NHL debut for the 1992-93 season.  Drake was traded to the Winnpeg Jets the following year and moved with the team to Phoenix.  He played six seasons for the St. Louis Blues before returning to the Red Wings to close out his career with a Stanley Cup in 2008.

Like Drake, Unger also played for both the Blues and the Red Wings.  Acquired from the Maple Leafs during his rookie season of 1967-68, Unger would play parts of four season with Detroit before being dealt to St. Louis.  He played nine seasons with the Blues and closed out his career with campaigns for the Los Angeles and Edmonton.

Ysebaert played parts of three seasons with the Red Wings from 1990 to 1993.  He started his career with New Jersey before being traded to Detroit, then moved on to Winnipeg, Chicago and Tampa Bay.

The four players added by the Maple Leafs were Joe Niewendyk, Borje Salming, Frank Mahovlich and Mats Sundin.

The following players are confirmed to appear at the Alumni Showdown:

Red Wings
Red Berenson
Jimmy Carson
Dino Ciccarelli
Alex Delvecchio
Dallas Drake
Kris Draper
Sergei Fedorov
Petr Klima
Joe Kocur
Martin Lapointe
Igor Larionov
Ted Lindsay
Kirk Maltby
Darren McCarty
John Ogrodnick
Dennis Polonich
Mickey Redmond
Garry Unger
Luc Robitaille
Paul Ysebaert

Chris Chelios
Paul Coffey
Mathieu Dandenault
Jiri Fischer
Viacheslav Fetisov
Mark Howe
Vladimir Konstantinov
Larry Murphy
Aaron Ward

Chris Osgood
Mike Vernon

Maple Leafs
Dave Andreychuk
Wendel Clark
Russ Courtnall
Vincent Damphousse
Bill Derlago
Tie Domi
Ron Ellis
Doug Gilmour
Gary Leeman
Kevin Maguire
Frank Mahovlich
Brad May
Lanny McDonald
Joe Nieuwendyk
Gary Roberts
Darryl Sittler
Mats Sundin
Darcy Tucker
Rick Vaive
Tiger Williams

Dave Ellett
Jim McKenny
Bryan McCabe
Bob McGill
Borje Salming

Johnny Bower
Curtis Joseph
Mike Palmateer
Felix Potvin

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