Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Budd Lynch Soundbites

Today has been a terrible day for hockey, especially if you're a Red Wings fan.

We were threatened with the Winter Classic being canceled all too soon. Then, we hear that Dominik Hasek has officially retired (which may be a relief to many fans who hated him and all the heart attacks he gave us during games). And to top it all off, one of the most iconic voices in Detroit, Budd Lynch, passed away this morning at the young age of 95.

Of course, Red Wings fans are devastated. I know I shed a few tears when I found out. And rather than reminiscing and discussing what a terrible loss this is for everyone, why not remember him by listening to his voice?

I have two soundbites for your downloading/listening pleasure (they are .m4a files since they are from my phone, FYI).

"Last minute of play in this period."

"Thank you, and...goodnight." (Feel free to agree and/or ignore my brother's comment after)

(*** If more are necessary, I have two videos I can add as well, one announcing the starting lineup, another announcing the three stars of the game.)

Rest peacefully, Budd Lynch. We know you're announcing games wherever you are.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Transposed Hockey Thoughts

I don't quite know where this is going to go. But let's just start writing and see where it takes us.

I'm not the only hockey fan pissed off beyond belief at what's going on right now. I'm not the only one who has threatened to leave the sport altogether, not buy any merchandise, not go to any games, because owners' greed has prevented yet another season. I'm not the only hockey fan that's known my threats are a bluff.

And I know I cannot be the only one who, upon the first two weeks of the season being canceled, said, "F#$k it, my threat is real. I will not support them."

Because I will not support a league that bullies its players by canceling their games and their seasons, and throws their fans out with the rest of the garbage and does not take into consideration the fact that this time around, with information more privy in this social media-centric age, fans are not as gullible as last time. They are taking away a large part of my life, something that feels like it's my only livelihood at times, and this is the third time in twenty years. I'm fed up.

Or am I? Is my assertion that my bluff isn't actually a bluff really just another bluff*? If they reached a deal tomorrow or even in December, and some of the season was salvaged, would I really stand by my word and not go to games, not buy merchandise?


Out to lunch with my coworkers today, I happened to glance over at the bar and froze when I saw Jimmy Howard. Seeing hockey players both out of uniform and in person always takes me by surprise...mostly because I never have encounters with anyone famous. They simply live on my television or computer screen.

Howard was there, taking it easy, having just finished the morning practice at the Troy Sports Center down the street. And Abdelkader sat down next to him.

And I had a slight spaz attack, which should embarrass me more than it did. After all, my coworkers have only known me for five months and do not know how serious my love for all things hockey and Red Wings is.

I'm not one of those fans that will bother players and ask for pictures or autographs if I see them out and about. They have their own lives and I certainly do not plan on being rude and interrupting whatever they're doing. Had they not left so quickly after I noticed them, I would have at least passed by, smiled, and told them, "I wish you guys were playing hockey."

As I watched them leave and meet up with two guys standing out front (which turned out to be Johan Franzen and Niklas Kronwall, whom had been sitting six feet away from me and probably heard every word I said to my coworkers about Abdelkader and Howard), I realized just how much I miss the sport.

I love it too much. I cannot live without the sport, without my Hockey Night In Canada, without my Detroit Red Wings. Just catching a glimpse of Red Wings players made my heart ache - and they weren't even playing hockey!

And when the four men left my sight and went on their way, I realized that no, my empty threats are not empty.

This team, this sport means far too much to me. I won't go so far as to say that I won't watch games on television. But I refuse to buy new merchandise, I refuse to buy tickets to games. Perhaps I should support what I love...

I've put up with enough work stoppages in this league to forgive them so readily this time around.

But here's hoping something happens soon. Or the NHL may have a lot more fans like me not supporting them and may not be able to recover from a canceled season as well as they did last time.

*If you're not a Simpsons fan, the book pictured is Don't Do What Donny Dont Does, which is just as clear as my sentence.

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Lockout Comics!

We need some form of entertainment during what will probably turn into a lengthy lockout. And since my "let's make up what would happen during the season" idea did not catch fire (and would be a hell of a lot of work), I came up with another idea.

Firstly, I need to get back into drawing Red Wings comics. Secondly, I have a way to do that. Thirdly, it will be entertaining for you guys!

A few weeks ago, the ever lovely Ally (@TuzzisChinStrap on Twitter) made a comment about line combinations for this season involving Zetterberg and Datsyuk making smores and having sleepovers. So then I drew this doodle while at work (click to make it large):

Naturally, I feel the need to expand on the hilarity (and stupidity) that would follow. Especially since wherever there's a campfire, there's a Murph with hotdogs lurking in the shadows.

Come witness the hilarity of what happens when Datsyuk decides to have a bonfire in his backyard and simply sends out a mass text to his teammates and Red Wings alum. Come see Mickey Redmond confused by the lockout and making color commentary on the bonfire (Example: "Zetterberg finishes assembling his s'more and that's just a tic-tac-toe play.").

This is an easy way to add a little hilarity into our drab lockout.

The comic will be uploaded here (in a better quality than on a legal pad) and will be updated on would-be game days.

Stay tuned! The first one is up Friday October 12, because we all know we're just days away from the first two weeks of the season being canceled.

Monday, September 17, 2012

An Opportunity

We’re all in the same boat right now.

We’re all going through withdrawals of a lack of hockey due to the lockout. And even if there wasn’t a lockout, there wouldn’t be games yet anyway. But it’s the anticipation of countless months without our life, our breath, our faux-religion, our sport that is the very essence of our life sometimes.

And we’re all pissed off beyond belief. For the second time in the past eight years (and third time in Gary Bettman’s reign), we have to endure a work stoppage due to… who the hell even knows or cares at this point. We are fed up, and we want to be treated like we matter in this decision because, after all, we’re the ones who help bolster revenue, fan attendance, all the stuff they seem to argue over, and yet they never seem to count us in.

We bluff like we won’t come back. We lie and say, “We won’t watch games when this is all said and done, we’re done being jerked around!” But we cannot survive without our sport. They are making us suffer, and it isn’t fair.

We really shouldn’t have to suffer. We should be allowed to live in our fictional (or delusional) world where CBA negotiations ended back on July 1st with both sides coming to terms on a new eight year CBA with very little strife between the two sides. We should be allowed to live in our fictional world where the 2012-13 season starts uninterrupted at the beginning of October. So let’s live in that fictional/delusional world!

Here’s what I’m proposing:

The Detroit Red Wings’ Mock 2012 Season
I had this idea last week when I lost all hope during negotiations. I want to mock up the results of games and write reviews of what would have happened, any significant injuries, awesome goals, outstanding players, lousy players, any miraculous returns of retired Swedish defensemen…stuff like that. Just so that we can pretend, at least for a few minute a day, that our team is still around and not spread all over Europe on teams that don’t have winged wheels on their jerseys.

I can’t be the only person to have thought of this option, but let me explain it a little bit first.

What It Is: Writing and posting articles the morning/day after a game would have taken place, giving the brief facts (date, game played, final score, goalie stats, who scored goals) and then launching into a recap of what happened – not necessarily a play-by-play account, but a thorough explanation of goals, saves, fights, penalties…anything you would want to know.

What It Is NOT: An excuse to have the Red Wings go 82-0 like that Verizon commercial with theFlyers’ perfect season where they lose in the first round of the playoffs. As much as we would love to see our team go undefeated in the regular season, that’s a little too farfetched.

I want this to be realistic. I want people to be upset if I have the Red Wings lose 6-2 against the Islanders or the Oilers and drop to third in our division, like they would be upset had it actually happened. I don’t want this to be a joy ride just to get our kicks. I want it to be as similar as possible to an actual 82- game season.

I want to experience a hockey season. And I know you do, too. All the wins, the losses, the heartaches, heart attacks, and the sheer willpower and nerves that goes into it all. I want hearts to break when injuries are announced just as the player was getting on a hot streak.

THE CATCH: I could do this by myself. I could make it extremely in depth and thorough, but I think my real life job would end up firing me for not doing my work. I could accomplish this on my own, but why would I want to do something like that? Why not give other diehard fans a chance to give their input on the outcome of games, or become a blogger for a game or two? Why leave all the creative fun to myself?

I do not know how much interest there will be in this; whether the number will be just a handful or whether it will be a staggering amount. I can’t be the first hockey blogger to think of this option.

Depending on how people react will depend on how I go about planning this. If there is a lot of interest and participants, I’ll set up a completely different blog and we’ll coordinate everything. If not, it will remain here at Franzenmuth (or perhaps over at the Red Wings section of The Checking Line. TBD).

If you have any interest at all – whether it be a guest writer for a game or twelve or just to give input on some of the matchups – please either leave a comment here or tweet/DM me on Twitter. I will contact you when I have a good grasp on how this is going to play out.

In the words of Red Green, "I'm pulling for you. We're all in this together."

Twitter: @franzenmuth

Thursday, August 9, 2012

How Will You Survive?

Gary Bettman came out (of hiding) today to announce that if a deal is not struck between the two sides by September 15, there will be a lockout. No ifs, ands, or buts.

Naturally, panic is rising within all of us. I can feel my throat closing in anger and rage and my eyes starting to burn with tears - all at the mere thought of surviving another year without hockey. We've done it once before, and that was enough.

So how do we survive? There are options out there. And I could sit here and tell you what I personally plan to do, but that may not work for you.

So you tell me your ideas for surviving a lockout. They can be silly, serious, ridiculous, and anything in between.

Take up watching basketball? Sit in protest outside your team's arena and wait for tickets to go on sale? Start playing hockey in a recreation league? Make your basement into a bomb shelter and hide from the world for 365 days until hockey (hopefully) returns and act like nothing happened?

Tell me! Leave a comment on this article, or tweet me on Twitter (@franzenmuth). Because, in the words of Red Green, "I'm pulling for you - we're all in this together."

Thursday, June 14, 2012

How to Solve the Lidstrom Problem?

If I had an actual answer to that headline, I wouldn't be sitting here right now writing this article; I'd be stalking down Ken Holland and telling him how to relieve all of our worries.

The fact that the Red Wings have lost two of their top defensemen already this off-season is weighing heavily on the minds of fans. We are all relying on the fact that for the first time in three off-seasons, this team has more money to play around with than ever.

But there are some shoes to fill.

Holland has to work his magic. There's the insane possibility that someone he'll be able to snag both Suter and Weber, but it's not very plausible. This team needs at least one of those two defensemen, and I do not believe Weber is going anywhere. When push comes to shove with that team, they would probably rather keep their captain over Suter.

And Red Wings fans haven't forgotten what Weber pulled in Game One.

A backup solution is needed for the worst-case scenario of getting neither Suter nor Weber.

My insane fear is that the backup idea is Mike Green, a player whom I am not very fond of. Yes, he actually played solid defense these playoffs, but he's more of a forward than a defenseman, and the Red Wings need a defensive-minded person on the blue line. Green is a RFA anyway, although I could see the prospect we received from San Jose for Brad Stuart being some kind of leverage if/when it comes down to it.

If that is the case, why not push for John Carlson? While he's like Green in the fact that he's a little more offensive than the average defenseman, he has been the Capitals' shut-down man this past season. And he's young. Best case scenario for the Red Wings is finding an up-and-coming young player who has already proved himself and wants to stick around for a good amount of time. There are our own prospects, yes, but until they are completely ready for NHL-level games, the Red Wings need someone else.

The Capitals also have Dennis Wideman. He's a UFA, 29 years old, and his cap hit is just under $4 million. This past season, Wideman had 46 points in 82 games. He's not as young as Carlson, but he doesn't come at as much of a risk as the RFA. Plus, Carlson has proved with his output and play that he can demand a higher salary than the $850,000 or so he has made the past few seasons.

My backup solutions really only seem to be coming from the Washington Capitals.

Regardless, this is going to be a rather expensive off-season, especially with the limited market. Of course, unless Holland works his "Take a discount to come be on a Cup-contending team" magic. But will that still work with no Lidstrom (and even no Stuart) on the roster list? Even with our big guns like Datsyuk and Zetterberg, and defensemen like White and Kronwall, does our team still look the same in opponents' eyes?

The wait for July 1 is always a tough one. And with so many question marks on Red Wings fans' minds, seventeen days seems like an eternity.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Back in the Saddle!

After several different writing gigs at various NHL blogging websites, I will be making a return to Franzenmuth!

It's been quite a while since I've updated on a consistent basis here, let alone work on any sort of hilarious hockey comics. And with so much changing this off-season, there's going to be a lot that needs to be covered.

So keep your eyes peeled! If you need something to tide you over until an actual Franzenmuth update, feel free to read any of my previous articles over at RLD Hockey (some of them are not so timely anymore):

Will Detroit Find Their Playoff Groove?
Could Nicklas Lidstrom Be Done With Hockey?
What Do The Red Wings Need To Fix?
Wings Could Use Defensive Help
On The Possibility Of A New Red Wings Arena
What Lidstrom's Leaving Behind
Wings Have A Need At Forward Position

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Everybody Panic...?!

It may be time to start a full-fledged panic.

I'm that fan that tries to keep my panicking concentrated on playoff time and nothing else, but I can't deny that there are some extremely concerning issues right now.

And it's like The Production Line said yesterday, if we're freaking out over Ty Conklin clearing re-entry waivers and how much that might screw us over if he doesn't, we know we're boned.

Let's just list them out here for some sort of order:

-Home Ice Advantage

Well, how many more people can we lose? Remember that stint in '09 when we had fifteen-thousand injuries and our whole team was the Grand Rapids Griffins? Oh wait, that's right now.

But seriously, Lidstrom's out (more on that later), Howard's out (again), Helm's newly out for at least six weeks (I wouldn't hold my breath for the four they're estimating), Ericsson's out, Kindl's out, MacDonald's out, The Mule's out, and who knows when Eaves will return.

Our goalies right now are Jordan Pearce and Ty Conklin. My response to this is the picture up top. The injuries are concerning, and it used to be a lot more people on the sidelines, but thank goodness Bertuzzi and Datsyuk have cracked the lineup again. Even if they aren't back to playing 100%, Datsyuk's got those moves going and holy shit, if Nyquist can get some NHL games under his belt and look less like an AHLer, I cannot wait for him and Datsyuk to be on the same line. They had some flow going in the Caps game.

But that's only a glimmer of hope that's still far off. And now there's something even more concerning than the injuries...

The people sitting behind me at the Red Wings/Capitals game on Monday night - aside from being ridiculously obnoxious and annoying as hell - loudly voiced their concern about the possibility of missing the playoffs. And how we are absolutely going to miss them.

Hold the phone, idiots. One thing you need to remember is that despite the way the team has played in the last ten games, this is a team that will legitimately murder other teams if they don't make the playoffs. It's been twenty years since that last happened. I doubt they're going to just give up and roll over now.

But you would think that the possibility of missing the playoffs would ignite something in them. You would think the veterans on this team that have won Stanley Cups, or have gotten damn close, or have put up with San Jose in the second round of the playoffs the past two years would want to be playing their hearts out to get a shot at that Cup again. And that's not what we're seeing.

And then there's that magic, non-existent switch that somehow the Red Wings have found in the past. You know, where they play really crappy up until playoffs and then all of a sudden, they're an unstoppable machine. Will they activate it in these last handful of games to make everyone else shake in their boots or will they come in as the "underdog?" Will they flip on that switch to keep home-ice advantage for the playoffs?

Home Ice Advantage
Ahh, yes. The one thing we haven't had the past few postseasons and something we should desperately want with our stellar home record this season. That right there should be incentive enough to play better. Twenty-three straight home wins.

Which kind of leads me into the next topic...

Specifically assistant coaches, since we can assume Mike Babcock's job is relatively safe since he's proved himself in the past.

The idiots behind me at the game brought up a point I've seen on Twitter from a few people: Are these assistant coaches working?

This is a point that I both do and do not understand (mostly do not). I can see it because, naturally, there's that worry that the coaches aren't reaching the players, especially in a struggling stretch like this.

But what about the first sixty games about the season? What about the record-breaking twenty-three straight wins at home? What about what they were doing during that stretch? How much really has changed behind the scenes? I don't think coaching is the problem, but then again your guess is as good as mine.

This is a topic I really hate even thinking about. Like I've seen on Twitter, this losing stretch with Nicklas Lidstrom being out...it makes it seem as though Lidstrom is our whole team.

And it's terrifying to think that this could be what our team looks like whenever he retires.

How bad is his injury? Reports are saying it's nothing more than a bad bone bruise, which at Lidstrom's nearly forty two years of age is a little more serious than if he was in his early thirties. When will he return? When can we see that Lidstrom magnetism at the point on power plays? Because our power play is terribly nonexistent with him out.

We need Lidstrom back. Not just for this season and the playoffs, but for next season, too. If it can be managed. But that's another post entirely.

In Conclusion

If we don't show up in tonight's game against the New York Rangers, I really don't know. But I think playing against a team we could potentially come across in the Stanley Cup Finals, we'll want to show them what we're capable of.

I'm not sure if this post is to get us all down or to give us a little glimmer of hope. I suppose that's for you to take out of it, because even I don't know how to feel right now. Excited for playoffs? Concerned? Panic-attack-ridden?

I will say this: We're not dead and done quite yet. Don't underestimate the Red Wings, because they usually end up surprising everyone.

Monday, January 9, 2012

Realignment: The Bigger Problem

It's probably fair to say that the majority of hockey fans were disappointed last Friday when the NHLPA threw out the realignment plans for next season.

While that definitely is disappointing, there's a bigger problem underlying all of this, and I'm sure it's already hit many hockey fans.

If you watch the CBC Hotstove on Hockey Night in Canada, their whole discussion this past Saturday was on realignment. Elliotte Friedman said it was refused 28-2, the two teams for it being Columbus and Detroit - the two teams that want and kind of really need a move.

And while this refusal is a setback, it really says so much more than that...

The Collective Bargaining Agreement expires this coming September. Eight months from now.

...I'll wait for you to stop spiraling from remembering what happened last time this took place.

I know, I know. We all thought this would come several more years down the road, even with the date set in stone. We thought things wouldn't be so up in the air, and it wouldn't be as hard as last time. Many of us spazzed when Donald Fehr was appointed, too; after all, baseball fans have a few choice words for him.

This realignment refusal business leaves a foreboding taste in my mouth. It feels like this is their way of showing that they're already playing hardball with the NHL. They shouldn't be taken lightly.

Then again, this could all be a total overreaction.

On the more positive front, their reasons for saying no to the realignment are fairly valid, and I can't fault them on it because you do have to look at it from every team's point of view, not just the Red Wings'.

The main problem Friedman said was the playoff format with two seven team and two eight team divisions, ultimately giving a better chance to some teams and not others. Likewise, travel was still an expense issue for nearly every team.

Don't think so? Think about how more often teams would have to cross the border into Canada, playing each team home and home every season. Sure, it works out better for teams like Detroit and Columbus having to only make one big western road trip rather than two or three, but what about the other twenty eight teams?

Okay, maybe you can't complain too much about it to those fans of the easternmost western conference teams, but it's still a big deal for the rest of the league. The NHLPA feels as though their concerns were not answered and this plan was kind of thrown together almost half-assed...at least the playoff format of it.

So what can be done. What will satisfy the NHLPA, NHL, and fans? Will there be an easy solution, or is it going to take months of pounding out every single little detail?

If I had the answer, we'd all be breathing a little easier. Because this realignment problem could just be the beginning of a long, long, long offseason.

And that's the last thing anyone wants.

Tuesday, January 3, 2012

Franzenmuth Lives!

I'm sure you may be wondering what the hell happened to me, and your expression is much like Ericsson's in that picture over there.

Well, I was the Red Wings correspondent over at NHLHotStove.com for a year and a half, which is why things tapered off over here. But that place is closing down now; all of the head dudes are off to bigger and better things.

Me? Well, I'm still here, not as often as before, but I'm still alive. I'm sure I'll find a spot as a Red Wings writer on another site, but until then, I'll be back here, posting my random ramblings.

And in case you haven't already figured it out, this is the year of Valtteri Filppula, the guy I've been screaming at to shoot the puck for the past twenty-seven years (or four years, depending).

More epic things shall be coming in the future! Until then, stay put and keep your sticks on the ice.