The Red Wings need to bring Steve Yzerman home

Written by :
Published on : April 24, 2017

 

 

“Come Home Stevie! Come Home Stevie!”

 

That’s what a packed house at Joe Louis Arena was screaming as Steve Yzerman walked away from the podium during the closing ceremony for the Detroit Red Wings home for the last 38 years. Yzerman is a hall of famer who wore the winged wheel across his chest for 22 years. His #19 jersey will hang in the rafters of whatever home the Red Wings have from now until eternity, never to be worn by another player on that team. He was the captain for 19 seasons and he’s still known simply as “The Captain.” He is Hockeytown and it’s time for him to come back home and lead the team he loves.

 

 

This is a scenario that makes too much sense to not happen. Following his retirement from playing in the NHL in 2006, the Red Wings made Yzerman team vice president. In that position and through his stint running team Canada, he was groomed for the position of general manager. Under Ken Holland, the Red Wings current general manager, he learned the tricks of the trade and was part of another Stanley Cup championship. There was even an attempt to make Yzerman the GM before he eventually departed for Tampa Bay, but Ken Holland declined a promotion that would have made room for Stevie Y in the front office.

 

In the time since Holland obstructed Yzerman’s path to his rightful place at the helm of the organization, the Captain’s Lightning have won 1 Stanley Cup and the Wings have none. This isn’t to insinuate that Yzerman is necessarily a better GM than Holland, but after some bad contracts and steadily declining performance of the team in recent years, Holland seems to be on his way out after an illustrious career in Detroit. The time is now to get the band back together. Holland has two years left on his contract and Yzerman only has one, that seems like a deal that is more than doable.

 

 

There are whispers that perhaps Steve Yzerman and Chris Ilitch, son of former owner Mike Ilitch and the guy currently signing the checks, don’t have the same type of relationship. Mike Ilitch only ever cared about giving the people of Detroit a winner and because of that, he will always be remembered fondly by fans in the Motor City. Rumor has it that his son is much more concerned with the bottom line and is not as willing to spend endless amounts of money just for the chance to win big. With a reputation for being tighter with the money, it’s also said that he is a much more hands-on owner and because of that Stevie Y might want to avoid giving up the good thing he has in Tampa Bay. I call bullshit.

 

Steve Yzerman and the Detroit Red Wings go together like peanut butter and jelly. He belongs in Detroit where he made a career and turned the Red Wings into a dynasty. He laid the bricks that built Hockeytown and it’s hard for me believe that he hasn’t simply been waiting for his chance to return. The fans in Detroit should be forever grateful to Ken Holland for the teams that he built but it’s becoming clear that he doesn’t have the same success in the salary cap era as he did before it. Holland’s time is ending and that will leave the door open for Stevie to come home, just like the fans want. Chris Ilitch should make sure he doesn’t let this opportunity slip away. His dad sure wouldn’t have.

 

 


Joe Louis Arena was more than just a building

Written by :
Published on : April 13, 2017

 

 

On Sunday April 9th, 2017 the Detroit Red Wings played their last game at Joe Louis Arena, signaling the end of an era. For 38 years Joe Louis was the heart and soul of Hockeytown, and the list of players who graced the ice in that building is a who’s who of hall of famers. It is one of the most iconic places in hockey, even for those who don’t support the winged wheel. Everyone respects the history but for some of us, Joe Louis Arena is more than just a building where our favorite team played, it’s hallowed ground. It’s like a part of the family, a piece of our sports culture. A piece of Detroit’s culture.

 

JLA is a monument to a time before corporate sponsorship of stadiums. When places that represented a people were named in honor of the greatest champions among those people. The Red Wings new home, Little Caesars Arena, inspires considerably less Motor City pride. Joe Louis Arena was too old, too small, too ill-equipped to handle the needs and desires of today’s sports fan. Because of that, it was time to move on, but damned if it wasn’t a great place to see the game. That place was always rocking and the atmosphere was always electric. Four Stanley Cups were won by the Red Wings during their time in that building. The team was built into a dynasty during that era; they were royalty, and Joe Louis Arena was their castle.

 

 One of 31 octopi that were thrown on to the ice during the Red Wings last game at Joe Louis Arena.

 

The Red Wings are missing the playoffs for the first time in 25 years and it almost seems fitting that in the same year we all said goodbye to beloved owner, Mike Ilitch, and Joe Louis Arena. This is the beginning of a new era for the franchise and all of its fans. What makes this franchise so special is that even though they are planning for the future they know they had to honor their past.

 

The Illitch family has always had a deep love for the city of Detroit and they know what that building and the team mean to the city. The organization recognized the meaning of that moment, and they knew that the fans in Detroit needed a chance to pay their respect to a place that means so much to them. In a ceremony that involved over 90 current and former players and coaches, the city and the team had a chance to process the moment and reflect on everything that had happened under that roof.

 

 Current and former players salute the crowd following the closing ceremony at Joe Louis Arena.

 

Steve Yzerman was in the house and was greeted by adoring fans who begged him to come back home to Detroit. Bob Probert’s widow spread his ashes in the penalty box, a place where he spent a considerable amount of time during his career. Guys that couldn’t attend, like Sergei Fedorov and Brendan Shanahan, sent in video messages. Hell, Wayne Gretzky did a video message, and he didn’t even play for the team but he wanted to be part of saying goodbye to a piece of history.

 

Joe Louis Arena was more than just a building. For some people, it was their earliest memory of going to a game. For some people, it was where they fell in love with the game. For some people, it was where they saw champions made. For some people, it was sports Mecca. For some people, it was home. As for me, it is the place where some of my fondest memories happened, and the best place to watch a hockey game on the entire planet.

 

 

 


Quest for the Stanley Cup: The Final Four

Written by :
Published on : May 14, 2016

 

 

Then there were four. Only four bands of bearded warriors left in this epic quest for Lord Stanley’s Cup. In case you just woke up from a hundred year slumber, here is the situation. First, out of the West we have St Louis Blues battling the San Jose Sharks and out of the East we have the Tampa Bay Lightning clashing with the Pittsburgh Penguins. Winners of these series will meet for a chance at historic greatness. Let’s meet each team and get caught up as we speed toward the Stanley Cup Finals.

 

St Louis Blues

 

If the Blues do finally capture their first Stanley Cup, the opening chapter of that story is how they overcame the Blackhawks in the first round. That was a herculean feat. Seems like every solid Blues team in the past is always bounced out of the playoffs by Chicago, Detroit (before the conference shift) or whoever had the hot hand. Not this team. Vladimir Tarasenko, David Backes and Troy Brouwer are scoring. Plus goaltender, Brian Elliott, looked excellent against Dallas. St Louis will be singing at the end of the year, but it might not be the usual blues. Look out.

 

San Jose Sharks

 

I really don’t like these guys. They are loaded with firepower and seem to score goals at will. The tv tells me this is Joe Pavelski’s team now and it’s different. Maybe that’s true. But I still don’t like him, Logan Couture, Patrick Marleau or Joe Thornton. Though, I do like Joe Thornton’s beard. This offense is scary. If you play them, you better play clean because you don’t want to give them an extra skater. Their power play is killer.

 

Tampa Bay Lightning

 

Those uniforms make them look very superhero-esque and they have been playing like it. GM Steve Yzerman has built a wicked team that is young and talented. Last season, the Lightning lost to the Blackhawks in the finals. Now they are looking to rebound and take that next step. If Tampa Bay does win its second Stanley Cup (first was 2004) it will be on the back of goalie Ben Bishop and the stick of Nikita Kucherov.

 

Pittsburgh Penguins

 

Pittsburgh is the only franchise of the four that has won a championship (2009) in the last decade, so they seem like the de facto favorites. It’s Crosby, Kessel, and Malkin doing work as usual. They only needed six games to get past a very complete Washington Capitals crew that looked primed for a deep playoff run. Tampa Bay will have their hands full. Sounds dumb, but stop sleeping on the Pittsburgh Penguins. I feel like most hockey fans outside of Pennsylvania aren’t ready to see Sid the Kid lift another Cup. Yuck.

 

So which crew will be drinking champagne out of Stanley’s Mug? It’s a tough call. I don’t want the Penguins to win again. I hate the Sharks. Tampa Bay has Red Wings legend Steve Yzerman running the team but they’ve knocked the Wings out of the playoffs the last two years and I don’t want a hockey trophy to live anywhere in Florida. So, by process of elimination, the St Louis Blues will hoist the Cup. It’s cosmic sports retribution for the Rams leaving (too soon?). The city loses a football team but gains a Stanley Cup to help cushion the blow. Makes sense to me.

 

 

Go Blues.

 

 


Jonathan Drouin Goes AWOL; Suspended Without Pay

Written by :
Published on : January 24, 2016

 

 

So the Tampa Bay Lighting have suspended Jonathan Drouin, the No. 3 overall pick in the 2013 Draft, without pay for failing to report to a game with the Syracuse Crunch of the AHL. This is just another odd turn of events in the whole Drouin situation.

 

For those of you that didn’t know, Drouin and his agent, Allan Walsh, went public two weeks ago with his trade request out of Tampa that was initially made back in November.

Screen Shot 2016-01-23 at 7.06.17 PM

 

However, the Lighting front office has yet to deal with that request with any sense of urgency. Instead, Drouin was sent down to Tampa Bay’s AHL affiliate, the Syracuse Crunch, early this month to give him more ice time. Drouin has since appeared in 7 games with Syracuse, scoring twice, but his AHL assignment has apparently lasted longer then Drouin and his agent had expected.

 

 

In a separate statement made Wednesday, Walsh said he believed that Drouin’s AHL assignment was only for conditioning.

Screen Shot 2016-01-23 at 7.10.26 PM

 

Pretty bold move from a 20-year-old on an entry-level contract who has 40 points (6G, 34A) in 89 NHL games and is unproven at this point. But maybe that is not entirely his fault, as he is yet to have a solid opportunity while playing with the Lightning.

 

 

Drouin’s actions have put pressure on the Lightning but at what cost? With every distasteful action, fewer and fewer teams will show interest in trading for him. And whatever teams are interested in him, will want him at a heavy discount, something the Lighting will hardly be able to stomach.

 

Drouin clearly wants nothing to do with the Lightning and Yzerman definitely wants the same. There’s no doubt that there are teams out there that could benefit from what Drouin brings to the ice (Toronto, Nashville, Vancouver to name a few). The challenge facing both parties now is finding a team that is willing to take a chance on a holdout.

 

 


Dylan Larkin seems destined to be the Captain of the Red Wings

Written by :
Published on : January 19, 2016

 

 

 

I’m here to talk about the next big thing in Hockeytown and his name is Dylan Larkin. By now, the rest of the NHL has taken note of the talented rookie, but many of us Red Wings fans have been on the hype train since very early this season. This kid optimizes the term “local boy makes good.” That should be the front page headline on the Detroit Free Press and Detroit News when this young man inevitably becomes the one wearing that coveted ‘C’ on his jersey in the coming years.

 

This story is just too good for it not to happen. I’m not sure many casual fans in Detroit were familiar with the 19 year old Larkin when he became the first teenager to play in a Red Wings uniform in 15 years. Fans in the Motor City are well aware of him now and he is the first rookie All Star for the Red Wings since Steve Yzerman. That’s pretty good company for a kid from Waterford, Michigan who grew up rooting for the team and probably dreamed of one day donning that red and white uniform. Well his dream is now a reality and he has grabbed the bull by the balls, so to speak, and is making the most of this opportunity.

 

 Celebrating with the boys after setting up Danny DeKeyser for the game-winning goal in overtime against the Coyotes.

 

He is currently tied for first on the team in points (30) and goals (14), and tied for second in assists (16). This is a team with the likes of Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk still playing on it. Not to mention he has a plus-minus of 22, which is far ahead of the number two player on the team (Datsyuk with 9) and good for third in the entire NHL. He also has 4 game winning goals which leads the Red Wings and all rookies in the league. Dylan Larkin can do it all and in my opinion has been the Wings most valuable player this year. That’s why he is the only Red Wings in the All Star Game. While he may not be able to catch up to Artemi Panarin for in points (43) and assists (27), I still think his goals and plus-minus make him a strong candidate to win the Calder Trophy.

 

Some people think there are other players on the team that deserve to be named Captain before Larkin, and I respect that but I think this makes too much sense. In such short time he has already become so valuable to the team and that value will only increase as he develops as a player. Henrik Zetterberg’s contract runs until 2o21 but most people believe that with the wear and tear his body has endured throughout the years that he will likely retire before the end of that contract. When that fateful day finally comes and our Swedish Prince hangs the skates up for good, I think it is Dylan Larkin who should be handed the torch to lead his team into it’s next era of greatness.

 

 The look of a captain, the eye of the tiger.

 

He has received heaps of praise from coaches and fellow players alike for his natural athletic talent, as well as his desire to improve every day and be the best player he can. He’s got speed and grace. He can handle the puck, pass it, and shoot it as well as anyone on the team right now. He can play all over the ice and if he continues to develop at this rate, he could be one of the best players in the league by the time he is old enough to have a legal drink at a bar in the States.

 

Barring any major injury or other career derailing incident, Dylan Larkin is the future for the Detroit Red Wings. The team is on the verge of a major roster shift as its aging stars continue to decline and eventually retire or leave the team. Dylan Larkin should be the centerpiece of the new Red Wings as their Captain and lead them to the playoffs for another 24 years.

 

 

 


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