Thursday, June 24, 2010

Food for Thought

On the Red Wings Twitter or Facebook page, you can do a survey for a chance to win a signed poster. The survey is all about promotions for the upcoming season. One of the last questions is what stirs your emotions as a fan of the Red Wings. It lists off all the facts we all know: 11 Stanley Cups, 19 consecutive postseasons, the usual.

I clicked "other." It prompted me to explain myself. Obviously, I went on a bit of a tangent, and I liked where I went with it. So I'm going to post it here and hope you readers agree with me. [Hey, it's hockey-related, at least.]

My reason may apply to everything that was an option in the question, so here it goes:

The sheer fact that after almost every postseason where we didn't win the Cup (or even when we do), the media and sports writers continually throw up the "DYNASTY OVER?!" banners and claim that the end is nigh; our core players are getting older, getting slower, getting less reliable, etc.

But every season following the "failure" of a postseason, we play strong. We play hard. We play charismatically. We play overall like our core players are barely into their mid-twenties. Even when we have off seasons, we still finish in the top of the rankings. We still make it into the playoffs. We still have the opposing team shaking in their skates waiting to see what we'll come up with to stump them to give us four victories.

We don't give up, despite the adversity we face. Do we disappoint from time to time? Of course, but what team doesn't? We can have our dull moments. We don't always have to be sparkling. We just have to play when it counts and 95% of the time, we do this. It's why we've been so successful these past nineteen years.

After every "bad" season, we always find a way to bounce back. We silence our critics, at least for a little while. And because of this, we always seem to have a good shot at winning another Stanley Cup to cement our team as a Dynasty in sports. And that is what stirs my emotions, not just as a Red Wings fan, but as a fan of hockey. To see a team be so successful for so long is inspiring.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

NHL Awards!

It's the evening before the NHL Awards, one of the last highlights of the summer on the hockey-front of things. I got to see them two years ago when they had that one kid wearing a Lindstrom jersey when Lidstrom won his sixth Norris, but I missed it last year.

This year, however, I have made sure that I'm not working so I can enjoy one last look at all the hockey players before I try to shut them out of my mind for the majority of July and attempt to suffer through the four long months without hockey. Every year, I wonder how I make it through and every year, it seems to get longer. Ugh. At least the weather's nice so I'm not stuck inside.

Anyway, this is my prediction post about who I think will win the awards tonight. you can tell me I'm crazy, that's fine. I'm pretty sure I'm crazy anyway.

Ryan Miller, Martin Brodeur, Ilya Bryzgalov
Who I think will win: Ilya Bryzgalov. He's one of the main reasons why Phoenix was so good this year.
Who I want to win: Ryan Miller. He's a strong, key player for Buffalo. And he's awesome.
If Brodeur wins, that would really surprise me, but I wouldn't be super upset. I don't mind Brodeur.

Pavel Datsyuk, Ryan Kesler, Jordan Staal.
Who I think will win: Pavel Datsyuk. Look at his competition. In my mind, they don't pose big threats. He should have this one in the bag.
Who I want to win: I'd be an idiot if I didn't say Datsyuk. Why wouldn't I?

Pavel Datsyuk, Brad Richards, Martin St Louis
Who I think will win: Honestly? I don't know. I don't think Datsyuk's play was as Lady Byng-like as he usually is this year, so I can see him missing out.
Who I want to win: Datsyuk. Five Lady Byngs in a row would be freaking sweet. And a record. He's currently tied with Frank Boucher, who won it four times in a row from 1927 to 1931.

Candidates: Jimmy Howard, Matt Duchene, Tyler Myers
Who I think will win: Tyler Myers. He was another big reason why Buffalo was a force to be reckoned with.
Who I want to win: Jimmy Howard. That would be amazing if he won. I would be shocked, honestly. I might even cry. The one thing keeping him from winning this? Shutouts. Look at the past goaltenders who have won this and the amount of shutouts they had their rookie season: Nabokov had six when he won in 2001, Mason had ten. Jimmy has two.
But you can argue the other way: when Brodeur won it back in 1864, he only had three shutouts. We'll see, eh?

Drew Doughty, Mike Green, Duncan Keith
Who I think will win: Duncan Keith. Anyone else hope he's still missing his seven teeth so we can see him struggle to say "Norris"? Or that he'll try to be like GOB and get around it. "One condition and one term!" [/Arrested Development reference].
Who I want to win: Nicklas Lidstrom. I think it would be awesome if they just decided to give it to him since he did have a great second half of the season.

Kurtis Foster, Jed Ortmeyer, Jose Theodore
Who I think will win: Not Theodore. Brought to my attention by a comment from Andy, I somehow missed out on the fact that Theodore lost his kid [apparently I was more focused on the Theodore vs Varlamov aspect of things and was all, "Pff, why is he nominated?" Totally my bad. Feel free to kick me.]. So I retract my statement and say that yeah, he probably will win.
Who I want to win: I don't really care.

Joe Sacco, Barry Trotz, Dave Tippett
Who I think will win: Dave Tippett. Look what he did with Phoenix. You can't tell me he shouldn't win it.
Who I want to win:
Mike Babcock. Look what he did with a half-mutilated Detroit team. you can't tell me he shouldn't win it! ...Wait, he's not a candidate? Damn...

Candidates: Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Henrik Sedin.
Who I think will win: Henrik Sedin.
Who I want to win: Sedin.

Candidates: Alex Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Henrik Sedin.
Who I think will win: Henrik Sedin. Hands down.
Who I want to win: Anyone but Crosby. I just don't think he deserves the award this year. That goes for Ovie, too (but at least I like him).

And there are my predictions for the awards. Let's hope they're halfway on the mark so I don't look too crazy.

Wednesday, June 16, 2010

Two Filppulas

Valtteri Filppula is my #1 favorite player on the Red Wings, up there with Chris Osgood [and Mule's kicking his way up there, too]. So when I heard that the Wings signed his older brother Ilari, I couldn't really believe it.

Then again, that was about ten minutes ago when I found out, and I am extremely drowsy and not exactly comprehensive right now. Maybe this post could have waited until the morning, but I'm far too excited.

Two Fils on the Red Wings? Sounds like my dream come true. Most of you guys may not know a lot of about Other Fil, aka Ilari. I'm Internet BFFs with Val's biggest fan, so she keeps me up to date on the happenings within the Filppula family.

Most of you probably at least saw this goal of his. Those Filppulas like to score sweet-looking goals. Anyway, back to Ilari. Here's some background info in case you want to know how Filppula II will size up on the team [even if he will probably be a Griffin for most of this year]:

-He plays in Europe [obviously] and is, in fact, Finnish. Which is good, since he's Val's brother and that would pose some strange questions otherwise.
-He won the Jari Kurri trophy for 2010. Other players who have won this trophy: Saku Koivu, Olli Jokinen, Miikka Kiprusoff, and Niklas Backstrom (twice) (the Minnesota goalie, not the Capitals forward).
-This past season, he scored 12 goals, 37 assists for a career high of 49 points in 58 games.

So just think of him as a cheaper Ville Leino that may actually do something when he's called upon to do so. Or, you know, the Philly version of Leino. And he's signed for the league minimum, so I don't think there's anything better you could have done (since Kovalchuk would never sign with us for the league minimum just to be Datsyuk's winger. That's a fading daydream of mine.).

And as a PS, I apologize if this post is crazy. Like I said, I'm a little sleepy.

Saturday, June 12, 2010

Meeting Rafalski

No matter how many times I meet hockey players, I'm always surprised by how gracious, humble, and...well...normal they are. I always forget that hockey players are a different breed.

How did I get this picture of me and Rafalski and his silver medal, you ask? Well, it's a fun story...I guess. You see, working at a coffee shop for three years means that people start to know you. I have one close hockey friend who comes in every day and we always talk hockey. His name is Steve and he's a 68-year-old man from Georgia. Steve's son and Rafalski used to play pee wee hockey together, both on the same team and against each other.

Steve sent me an email on Thursday saying how Rafalski was going to be at a fundraiser for a politician running for Congress and asked if I wanted to go. It was $50 a head, but Steve said he would treat because he hadn't seen Rafalski (aside from watching Wings games, of course) since he left for college.

So we went. We went over to Rafalski and it took Rafs a second to recognize Steve (once he said his name, it clicked). And then I was introduced and shook his hand and said all the usual stuff like, "Oh, I'm a huge fan, blah blah blah." Rafs said that next week he's having the first back surgery he needs to help out the herniated disc. Good luck, Rafs.

After about fifteen minutes of talking one-on-one, we took pictures. He let me hold his silver medal and I made a comment about having to tell my friend interning with Philly, who got to hold Pronger's gold. Rafs laugh and said, "Well, she still one-upped you, though!" It's a sweet medal, not gonna lie. And then Rafs said he was starving and went to get in line for the buffet. Somehow, he was in line behind me, I still don't know how that happened.

Someone made a comment about my Red Wings earrings, so I said, "Yeah, I figured this was good enough. Coming in decked out in red might have been a little intimidating. But the guys at work this morning were surprised by the lack of red on me."
Rafs: "Oh, where do you work?"
Me: "Caribou Coffee. I'm the resident hockey fan there. ...I was Henrik Zetterberg for Halloween.*"
Rafs: "Whaaaat?"
Me: "Yeah. My eyeliner beard threw people off. They thought I was a guy until I spoke."
Rafs: "Well, it was a great costume, then!"

So if anything, he'll remember that one crazy chick that said she was Hank for Halloween. Anyway, continuing on...

The politics of this political fundraiser were actually a little scarce, but I'm not big into politics, so I didn't mind at all. They had a Q&A session with Rafalski and the guy running for Congress. Some lady asked Rafs who she could contact to make the players hold their hands over their heart for the National Anthem. Rafalski handled it totally well (I, however, was all, "WTF, HALF OF THEM AREN'T AMERICAN!" in my mind) and professionally.

The politician asked why the Wings had slumped and then were suddenly good and I facepalmed. Injuries, man. Injuries. Which is what Rafs said, among other things. He also said it's glad to have his defense partner coming back for another season.

At another point, someone asked if there were any hilarious stories about things going on in the locker room. Rafs said there's always something ridiculous going on in there. Keeping everyone anonymous, he said that a player was late to practice once and to make him even later, another player decided to take all of the late guy's equipment and wrap it all up in tape.

I don't know who would have been running late, but I'm banking on it being Draper who did the taping. He seems the type.

Before it was all over, I did manage to get a signed puck and thank Rafs and say it was awesome meeting him, etc etc etc. All in all, it was a sweet experience. I hadn't been expecting much, but going with Steve, who knew Rafalski (and says he still makes the same mistakes he did when he was seven), it gave it more of a personal feel to it.

*Yes, I was Zetterberg this past Halloween. It was awesome. Have a comparison picture.

Wednesday, June 9, 2010

Post-Cup Ramblings

So the Stanley Cup has been won. Red Wings fans have mixed feelings on the outcome. I mean, really. We were stuck with Chicago or Philadelphia. It's a tough call no matter what side you choose.

You all know that I was leaning toward Chicago and I still stand by that. I'm one of those crazy Wings fans that didn't hate Hossa for leaving, and I like a handful of players on Chicago. I knew there was no way we could keep Hossa and he was hurt a lot more than us fans were led to believe. I honestly smiled when Toews was shouting, "Hoss! Where's Hoss?!" and handed the Cup to him [which I called]. And his interview with the CBC...I actually got teary-eyed at how speechless he was. That man wanted to win the Cup so much that he jumped ship from so many talented teams in hopes that he would find the right one. This year, he finally did. Next year, maybe not so much. But this year is all that matters to him right now. Third time's a charm, he'll tell you that.

Let's ignore last year's SCF for a bit. Seeing the Stanley Cup presented has to give you the chills. It's the hardest trophy to get in all sports and you know the team that wins it works their asses off to get it [again, ignore last year]. Seeing the players' initial reactions when the final buzzer goes, or when the final goal wins it in OT for them, it's heartwarming. Seeing Gary Bettman enter the ice and hearing the boos follow has to make you cackle evilly, especially since you've been practicing said evil laugh in front of the mirror. It's an experience that you can't find in any other sport, and one that I will never take for granted.

My wrist is bare again. Yes, I kept my "playoff beard" bracelets on throughout the entirety of the playoffs. I was going to cut them off after the Wings lost, but I forgot and when I remembered, it was already the end of the Conference Finals. So I will put on my Zetterberg wristband, my black beaded bracelet, and my newly added penny bracelet [bought in Copper Harbor, MI, if you were wonder], and I'll start to count down the days until training camp starts. Which is at 99. Or 98, since it's past midnight.

But look on the bright side - Toews is now the youngest captain to win the Stanley Cup! That means...wait. What? He's sharing that with Crosby? Pardon my french, but fuck that shit! This was why I was rooting for Chicago! This was my justification! [among other reasons, too]. Damn it!

And hey. If you run into any annoying Chicago fans, just point out this little fact: they now have as many Stanley Cups in their 84-year history as Detroit has in their last 13.

And that's all she wrote. Until next season.

What do we look forward to now? We keep our eyes peeled on the Internet horizon for happenings within the Wings and big news around the league. We wait for the NHL Awards at the end of June. We wait for the schedule to be released, which is really early and really weird. And we wait for July 1, when all hell will break loose in the league.

For now, we're stuck with the gorgeous weather that is summer and the monotony of a time without hockey in our lives. I advise you to stay away from Youtube videos of hockey for as long as possible. I made that mistake last year around the end of July, and it was my downfall.

This was a strange year for hockey. Let's hope next year doesn't follow in its footsteps.

Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Off-Season Ramblings

Okay, so I died there for a little bit on the blogging-front. But I was also gone for four days this past weekend and missed out on the celebrating Homer's re-signing festivities. I suppose I should do a bit of an overview on all the rumors and ramblings I've heard since the last time I updated.

1. Nick Lidstrom has re-signed for $6.2 million. It's higher than I wanted it to be, but not as high as I was expecting. He gave us enough money to go out and buy a solid third/fourth line guy to fill in some gaps. And he wasn't about to take a massive salary slash like Yzerman did because Stevie did it to keep Hull and Robitaille, which was the right thing to do.

So we aren't losing both our Captains in this off season. And the day Lidstrom re-signed, I worked a midshift and got into an argument with a customer/friend because he hated the fact that we re-signed Lidstrom. I basically told him to shove off and be a bandwagon Penguins fan [no offense to any knowledgeable Pens fans who may stumble upon this blog]. If you can't enjoy the fact that one of the greatest defensemen of all time is staying another year on your team, you shouldn't be a fan of said team.

2. Homer signed! Two years, $3.75 million. What did I say in that one post of mine way back in the day? That we'd sign Homer for around $2mill. I'm glad to see him return. And because he signed a two-year deal, I think Lidstrom will stay another year after this one, unless he suddenly takes a turn for the worse or we totally tank out.

3. I read that we offered Bertuzzi a two-year deal worth a little less than what he made this year (which was $1.5mill). Honestly, I would be happy if Bert re-signed. I know Wings fans are split on him and I know I was angry when we re-signed him last off-season and was flip-floppy throughout the season. But he came up big when we needed him and played solid hockey.

4. Hey Kovalchuk, want to come be Datsyuk's winger for $2mill? You'll be on a team that has a legitimate chance to win the Cup!

But the important thing is that Lidstrom was re-signed, and Homer, too. Sooner or later, I should have an actual blog post of importance on here. Or at least another comic.