May Asks for Chelios’ Sweater Number, Sparks Jersey Retirement Talk

Brad May could be switching to a new sweater number.

The enforcer was given #20 when he joined the team on a pro tryout at the end of the preseason and kept that number for his first regular season game after signing a one-year deal on Thursday. Ansar Khan reports that May has asked Chris Chelios for permission to switch to #24.

“(Chelios) was really cool,” May said. “I just figured it’s his (number). He’s such an icon, I figured I’d call him.”

“I like the number – Chris Chelios, Bob Probert. But I’m not sure what’s going to happen. I may ask, but now that I’m 20, who knows?”

May had previously worn #24 during his stint with the Anaheim Ducks.

Like May, Chelios also asked permission to wear #24. When he came to Detroit in 1999 he called the number’s previous owner – Probert – to run it by him.

George Malik asks whether or not the Wings should retire #24 for Chelios.

He mentions Brendan Shanahan‘s #14 being put back into use but Sergei Fedorov‘s #91 remaining out of circulation, as well as the #16 of Vladimir Konstantinov.

Personally, I think it’s a travesty that the #6 of Larry Aurie is not represented in the Joe Louis Arena rafters and would not raise any of those numbers before Detroit’s first real star was recognized. The Ilitch family’s refusal to honor Aurie is confusing and downright ridiculous.

At this point the only numbers I’d even think about retiring are #6 and (when the time comes) Nicklas Lidstrom‘s #5. After Aurie’s number is retired we can talk about another old-timer in Red Kelly‘s #4.

Chelios should have his number retired, just not here. Though he won two Cups and ended his career with the Red Wings (and one more Cup with Montreal) I believe he’ll always be remembered as a Blackhawk and his #7 should hang at United Center.

Shanahan and Fedorov should wait, we shouldn’t even be talking about them until they retire from playing. And as I said above, they don’t get consideration until Aurie is taken care of.

Konstantinov, as much as it pains me to say it, should not have his number permanently retired. It should remain out of circulation until all of his former teammates have left the Red Wings. Only then should it be brought back.

Yzerman’s Jersey to be Retired After New Year

The Red Wings made official on Wednesday what has been known for years: No Detroit player will ever again wear Steve Yzerman‘s No. 19 jersey.

The team announced that Yzerman’s number will be raised to the rafters of Joe Louis Arena on January 2, 2007, when the Red Wings host the Anaheim Ducks.

It will be the Red Wings’ sixth officially retired number. Terry Sawchuck’s No. 1, Ted Lindsay‘s No. 7, Gordie Howe‘s No. 9, Alex Delvecchio‘s No. 10 and Sid Abel’s No. 12 are all honored by banners at the Joe. As well, Larry Aurie’s No. 6 and Vladimir Konstantinov‘s No. 16 are no longer used by the team but do not hang from the arena’s rafters.

“For a long time, there was no doubt in ownership’s mind that Steve Yzerman would play his entire career with the Detroit Red Wings and that his sweater would fittingly go up into the rafters along with the other all-time greatest Red Wing players – Abel, Delvecchio, Howe, Lindsay and Sawchuk,” Red Wings senior vice-president Jim Devellano said in a statement.

Wings Focus on Forwards at Entry Draft

Centers and wings made up six of the Detroit Red Wings’ eight selections at the NHL Entry Draft this weekend. Detroit also selected two defensemen and no goalies after picking University of Maine standout goaltender Jimmy Howard with their first pick in last year’s draft.

The Red Wings’ first selection came with the second-to-last pick of the first day of the draft, 97th overall at the end of the third round. Detroit selected 24-year-old center Johan Franzen of Linkoping in the Swedish Elite League. The 6-foot-2, 207 pound role player could contribute for the Grand Rapids Griffins, Detroit’s AHL affiliate, immediately and earn a roster spot with the Red Wings later.

In the fourth round, the Red Wings picked 18-year-old center Evan McGrath from Kitchener of the Ontario Hockey League. The 6-foot, 181-pounder has all the tools to be a star in the NHL but didn’t put up the numbers expected of him last season in Kitchener. The Wings hope he will get back on track in the OHL next season.

Siarhei Kolasau was the Wings’ first defensive selection, made in the fifth round with the 151st overall pick. At 6-foot-4 and 187 pounds, he is a punishing blueliner in the mold of former Red Wing Vladimir Konstantinov. Unfortunately, the 18-year-old’s game is still undeveloped and he needs to spend more time in Europe before the Red Wings will bring him to North America.

Smallish center Tyler Haskins of the OHL’s St. Michaels Majors was Detroit’s second pick of the fifth round at 162nd overall. The 18-year-old has everything but size, at 6-foot-1 and only 177 pounds, he will need to bulk up if he hopes to put his skills to use.

Role players Anton Axelsson and Steven Covington were selected in the fifth and sixth rounds, respectively. Both have shown an inability to finish that left them overlooked through the early rounds of the draft. If they can bulk up in the next several years, they may get a shot at making the AHL or the NHL.

The Red Wings’ selected Gennady Stolyarov in the eighth round at 257th overall. The 17-year-old is projected to be a long-term project for the Red Wings. He has decent offensive skills and at 6-foot-4, 187 pounds, he has some size, but how he matures will determine how far he goes in the Detroit organization.

Detroit’s final pick in the draft, 290th overall in the ninth round, was long-shot defenseman Nils Backstrom. Backstrom celebrates his 18th birthday this week and has plenty of time to develop but only time will tell what chance he has of ever coming to North America from Europe.

Larionov Signs with New Jersey

Veteran center Igor Larionov signed a one-year deal with the Stanley Cup Champion New Jersey Devils today, ESPN.com 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.

Hatcher Signs With Wings

Detroit general manager Ken Holland announced Thursday that the Red Wings had signed free agent defenseman Derian Hatcher to a five-year deal. Following club policy, the financial terms were not announced but the contract is reportedly worth $6 million per season.

The former Dallas captain spent his entire carrer in the Stars organization. He was drafted in the first round of the 1991 NHL Entry Draft by Minnesota and followed the team to Dallas in 1993. He later led the Stars to claiming the Stanley Cup in 1999. Hatcher has scored 71 goals and added 223 assists in 827 career games. He has racked up 1380 penalty minutes. He has scored six goals and 21 assists in 27 playoff games, accumulating 35 penalty minutes.

A native of the Detroit area, Hatcher acknowledged he was excited to have the opportunity to play for his hometown team.

“I’m just ecstatic to be here,” he said. “It would be really special to win a Stanley Cup in the town I grew up in.”

“Obviously growing up, I was a Red Wing fan.”

Hatcher was a Norris Trophy finalist last season for best defenseman in the NHL. Detroit’s Nicklas Lidstrom claimed the award for the third consecutive year.

“He has such a tremendous presence as a defenseman,” Detroit associate coach Barry Smith said. “He competes at such a high level every game and is so hard to play against.

“We haven’t had a defenseman like that since … Vlady.”

Since the 1997 limo accident that ended the career of Vladimir Konstantinov, the Red Wings have been looking for a hard-hitting blueliner.

“I think it’s going to be a great addition to our team,” Lidstrom said. “That’s the kind of defenseman that we need that can play hard and tough like that.”

Detroit had been courting Hatcher since the NHL’s free agency period began on Tuesday. His signing was only the fourth major move made this summer, after the Philadelphia Flyers signed goaltender Jeff Hackett and the Colorado Avalanche agreed to terms with forwards Teemu Selanne and Paul Kariya.

Habs Spoil the Home Opener

Before the game, the 2001-2002 Stanley Cup Championship banner was raised to the rafters of Joe Louis Arena with all due ceremony. Scotty Bowman, Dominik Hasek, Steve Duchesne, and Vladimir Konstantinov all were on hand to salute the Stanley Cup one last time before it was taken back to its home in Toronto’s Hockey Hall of Fame. It was one last chance for fans, players, coaches, and staff to revel in last season’s glorious ending before settling down to the regular season grind and hopeful road to the 2003 playoffs.

Detroit’s Original Six rivals, the Montreal Canadiens, were on hand to be the first home opponent of the young season. The Canadiens got a slow start in the game, but their excellent goaltending bought them the time they needed to find their rhythm, and they wound up beating the Red Wings by a score of 3-2.

The Red Wings got a power play early in the game, when Richard Zednik was sent out for hooking, and that was all they needed to jump out to an early lead. Tomas Holmstrom brought the puck into the zone and made a short pass to Henrik Zetterberg on the left side. Zetterberg headed for the goal, drawing the defensemen to himself. Meanwhile, Brendan Shanahan had quietly maneuvered in behind the two defensemen. Zetterberg passed across the goal crease, and Shanahan’s tap-in goal caught all of the Canadiens by surprise, including goaltender Jeff Hackett.

The bigger surprise for both teams was that Detroit only had a 1-0 lead at the end of the first period. They applied steady offensive pressure to a Montreal team who looked to be not entirely prepared defensively. Perhaps Hackett sensed a chance at becoming the Canadiens’ starting goalie if last year’s star Jose Theodore is unable to break out of his slump soon; the winner of last year’s Hart and Vezina Trophies has allowed twelve goals in Montreal’s past two games. Hackett came up huge for his team, stopping eleven shots in the first period alone.

The Canadiens regained their rhythm in the second period, their confidence aided by scoring a goal in the early going. Andreas Dackell was able to backhand the rebound into the net after Joe Juneau’s shot just barely trickled free from Curtis Joseph‘s catching glove. The Red Wings continued to put the puck on net at every opportunity, but Hackett remained solid, and the game was tied after two periods.

The Red Wings lost their lead a few minutes into the third period. Zednik and Saku Koivu got away on a two on one rush against Dimitri Bykov, with defensive partner Max Kuznetsov held up in the neutral zone. Bykov tried to take the passing lane away, while Pavel Datsyuk tried at top speed to get to Koivu and take him out of the play, but the pass was released and Koivu sent the shot into the net just as Datsyuk got him enough off balance to send them both sliding into the end boards.

Danny Markov scored what would be Montreal’s eventual game-winner just about midway through the period. The teams were four-on-four, resulting from overlapping penalties to Kirk Maltby and Joe Juneau. Yanic Perreault shot the puck towards the Detroit net. The puck deflected off the stick of Nick Lidstrom, but with Joseph out of the net a little way to challenge Perreault’s shot, Markov was able to get the deflection and put it in behind Joseph before Luc Robitaille was able to get himself properly positioned to cover Markov.

Datsyuk brought the Wings back within one with just over six minutes left to play. Robitaille got the puck from a left side scrum and centered it to Datsyuk, who let fly a fast, hard, one-time shot that Hackett didn’t even see until it was behind him and the red goal light was already on.

The Red Wings went on the attack then. Most of their third period shots on net came in these last few minutes. Hackett was ready. Even when Detroit pulled Joseph to send in the extra attacker, Hackett kept the Canadiens in the lead, stopping shots by Holmstrom, Brett Hull, and Sergei Fedorov in quick succession. Eventually time ran down, and the banner celebrating last year’s glory looked down over the reminder that this season still has many, many games left to go.

Shots on net were thirty-two to fourteen in favor of the Red Wings.

The Wings’ next game will be on the road; they travel to Minneapolis to face the as-yet unbeaten Minnesota Wild on Saturday night.


Boyd Devereaux returned to the lineup tonight. His broken thumb healed more quickly than expected, and his “Two Kids and an Old Goat” line with Pavel Datsyuk and Brett Hull was reunited. Stacy Roest was moved to the Grand Rapids Griffins to make room for Devereaux in the lineup.

BELIEVE, One More Time

It was June 13, 2002, about 11:00 pm in Detroit. A buzzer sounded inside Joe Louis Arena, barely audible over the screaming of 20,058 fans. Players in white jerseys streamed onto the ice, hugging, laughing, some of them barely able to believe they’d finally reached their ultimate goal. All over Metro Detroit, in sports bars in Royal Oak, apartments Downriver, parties downtown, whoops of joy and celebration echoed out into the cool early summer night. For the first time ever, Dominik Hasek, Luc Robitaille, Freddy Olausson, and Steve Duchesne, deserving veterans all, hoisted Lord Stanley’s Cup above their heads. And a few moments later, Sergei Fedorov brought the Cup to fallen defenseman Vladimir Konstantinov and helped him lift it above his head, one more time.

The Game Five victory against the Carolina Hurricanes did not come easily. As ever, the Hurricanes played their defensive trap and played it well. Matters were compounded for the Red Wings by the NHL suspension of Jiri Fischer for a hard cross-check laid on Tommy Westlund in Game Four. Trade deadline acquisition Jiri Slegr was brought in to fill the spot on the blue line, in spite of the fact that he had not played a game since the regular season. Slegr was ready, however. “Everybody’s dream is the Stanley Cup, and here I’m playing in it right now,” he said.

The first period was scoreless, although the Grind Line created some scoring chances, and Luc Robitaille rang a strong shot off the goalpost. Sergei Fedorov got in all alone on a breakaway, but his shot thudded into the chest of goaltender Arturs Irbe.

The Red Wings opened the scoring early in the second period. Series star Igor Larionov made a centering pass from the right corner behind the Carolina net, and Tomas Holmstrom lunged forward to poke it in for the goal. He was being shoved down at the time, and as he landed flat on his back against the boards behind the net, Holmstrom raised his arms in celebration.

The Hurricanes had a chance to tie the game when Jiri Slegr was given a penalty for holding up big Erik Cole along the boards, but Dominik Hasek made a phenomenal save, screened on a redirected shot, and the Red Wings kept the lead.

The Wings gained a goal cushion, and the eventual game winning goal, on a power play of their own. Jaroslav Svoboda was in the penalty box for roughing, and Steve Yzerman fired a shot on net. The puck flew high, but Fedorov found it behind the net and passed it out front to Brendan Shanahan, who one-timed it past Irbe.

The Hurricanes scored their only goal of the game late in the period, on the tail end of a shortened penalty on Shanahan. Jeff O’Neill took a hard shot from a bad angle on the left wing side. Hasek was screened by Cole, and did not see the shot until it was too late. The shot was so hard and the puck was in and out of the net so quickly that the officials had to review it to make sure it had actually gone into the net.

Play in the third period went end to end, staying mainly in the neutral zone. Carolina played frantically, trying desperately to create needed scoring chances, but the chances would not come. Finally, with just a minute left to play, they pulled their goaltender in exchange for a sixth skater, but Shanahan got the puck from Yzerman, skated it to just outside the Hurricanes’ blue line, and fired a laser shot which landed solidly in the empty net to clinch the Red Wings’ third Stanley Cup in six years. The players wound down the remaining forty seconds or so. The buzzer sounded, and the celebration began. And Jiri Fischer was the first one to jump off the bench and join his teammates on the ice. In front of the net, Hasek jumped up and down like an excited child. “It’s a fantastic feeling, and I’m so happy!” he said.

NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman presented the awards. The Conn Smythe Trophy for the most valuable player in the playoffs went to the highly deserving Nicklas Lidstrom. And then the Stanley Cup itself, to Steve Yzerman, who took his little daughter Isabella with him to accept the award for the team.

In the middle of the revelry, Scotty Bowman dropped the revelation he’d been holding onto: “This is my last game as a coach.” He had made the decision during the Olympic Break in February, that regardless of this season’s outcome, it was the right time to retire. On top of his coaching game, having broken another of his mentor Toe Blake’s records by winning a ninth Stanley Cup, and ready to go, the winningest coach of all time.

Most of the players have indicated that they wish to return for another season. Chris Chelios and Brett Hull are especially eager to keep their skates for another year. Steve Yzerman, once he recovers from the much needed surgery on his right knee, will return to lead the team again. Dominik Hasek has not yet made a decision. The outcome of the 2002 off-season decisions will be known, eventually.

The outcome of the 2001 off-season decisions was realized tonight, as the Stanley Cup returned home to Hockeytown.

Homer’s Hat Trick Leads Wings Past Sharks

Tomas Holmstrom‘s first career hat trick led Detroit past San Jose in the Shark Tank tonight. The Freep has the recap. Jiri Fischer has played really well since coming back from the minors. I’m willing to see that we’ll see a lot of him in the playoffs while Murphy and Duchesne sit out. Never know though, Bowman loves his veterans.

For any heartless souls who didn’t already know Monday (that’d be today) is Vladimir Konstantinov‘s thirty-fourth birthday. The Freep has an update on his condition and his healing process.

As for the Avs game, anyone who blames Osgood is a moron, you can’t expect your goalie to stop that many odd-man rushes. He held strong and kept the Wings in there and we nearly came back. Of course, Gary Thorne sounded like the happiest man alive when Bourque threw in the empty-netter. I hate national coverage.