Archive for November, 2004

Another draft steal?

Apparently the Wings may have done it again. Ted Kulfan of the Detroit News says in today’s edition that they may have stolen another player in the draft like they did in the past with players such as Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. This time it’s Evan McGrath, an 18-year-old center for the Kitchener Rangers of the CHL. The Wings took him in the fourth round, 128th overall as their second pick in the 2004 NHL Entry Draft.

In 2002-2003, he had a great rookie year with the Rangers, scoring 16 goals and 31 assits over 64 games during the regular season and then helping Kitchener win the Memorial Cup. He had eight points in the 21 playoff games, including two goals and one assist in the title game. After that season, he was considered a lock for the first round of the draft and some even had him going in the first ten picks.

His 2003-2004 season was not as good (68-15-36-51) and he was ranked the just the 36th best player in North America going into the draft after being #15 at midseason.

It appears that being drafted by the Wings has given McGrath a jump, however, and he has rebounded with a huge season to this point. In only 23 games, he has scored 15 goals and notched 25 assists for 40 points and is fifth in CHL scoring.

The front office in Detroit is obviously very interested in seeing whether he keeps up that pace or not. I don’t think it’s all that likely he’ll be in a Red Wings jersey any time soon, though, since the Wings are very cautious in bringing up new prospects. He’s still very young and they’ll likely continue to let him develope, unless he really starts lighting it up.

Hockey’s Future has a scouting report on him here.

Also, if you can read Portuguese, head over to OtW: Brazil. Humberto and the guys over there have really been active during the lockout and are posting up a storm. They are serious enough about hockey to put all but the most rabid fans to shame, which is amazing, considering they live all they way down there in Brazil.

11/29 Notes

… Un-signed Red Wings defenseman Chris Chelios participated in his first official bobsled race on Sunday in Calgary and it wasn’t pretty. His team crashed on their first run, losing control on the seventh turn. Fortunately, no one was hurt and they were able to make a second run but finished 20 seconds behind the American sled driven by John Napier. They placed dead last.

The Jamaicans finished 3rd and a team from Guadalajara, Mexico finished 7th. The Mexicans got to Calgary by towing their sled with a 70s El Camino. (via. DetNews)

Better luck next time, Cheli.

Update: For more from Chelios on his bobsledding career, read this piece from the Baltimore Sun. (login info.)

… Ansar Khan of mLive.com has a piece published yesterday explaining why the Wings apparently are in support of a salary cap. Team senior Vice President Jimmy Devellano is Khan’s main source of information in the article as well as the recent report by Forbes magazine that gave the Wings’ 2003-2004 losses as $16.2 million. He points out that the Wings are dependent on making it deep into the playoffs in order to make a profit (which isn’t much of a revelation) and that under a salary cap system, “teams like the Wings would be assured of making money regardless of how far they advance in the playoffs.” Wow, that’s some kinda deal. I wish I could be guaranteed a profit on the investments I make in the future!

Wings fans, don’t necessarily expect ticket prices to go down if a salary cap is implemented. Jimmy Devallano told Mr. Khan that while ticket prices won’t increase under a salary cap system, it’s not likely that they will decrease either.
“That (reduce prices) is something we would probably want to do. It’s hard to give a definitive answer because we have to know the payroll and what kind of product we’ll have. We’ll leave things the way they are for now but down the road that’s something we can look at. It’s fair to say you won’t see hikes for some time.”

Gee, thanks, Jimmy. As a fan for whom tickets are already way out of reach, my confidence has not been bolstered.

The Wings apparently “strongly disagree” with the NHLPA’s assertion that ticket prices are based more on supply-and-demand than on team salary. Then, why, I ask, won’t they reduce the prices when a salary cap is in place? If they aren’t spending as much on players, they should be able to reduce ticket prices, if those prices truly are based on player salaries. Devellano does mention that they need to know what the cap will be first but they have to know it will be significantly lower than their current payroll and because of that, lower ticket prices should already be in the plans. Saying they’ll keep the prices the same “for now” seems to me to be a verification of the NHLPA’s position.

…. Update: Darren McCarty is touring with his band Grinder to pass the time during the lockout. They’re headed to the Upper Penninsula this week and will play in Marquette on Saturday after playing in Sault Ste. Marie and Hancock on Thursday and Friday. The Mining Journal of the UP had an article about the band in their Sunday edition. Check it out.

Manny Legace Spouts Off

The latest NHLPA member to bash NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman is our very own Manny Legace, Red Wings’ backup goaltender and union representative. Like most players and fans, Manny is doubtful that there will be a 2004-2005 NHL season. And once the NHL officially cancels the season, Legace will head to Europe to play hockey. Says Legace:

“There’s not going to be any hockey. It’s a joke. The league doesn’t want to negotiate. It doesn’t look as if we’re going to have a season. We’ve given them [the owners] offers, they’ve said no and they haven’t come back [with any counteroffers]. All he [Bettman] talks about is salary cap, salary cap. He does not want to negotiate…Fans aren’t going to pay to watch the Grand Rapids Griffins and [Chicago] Wolves [of the American Hockey League] play in NHL uniforms.”

I agree with Legace that the fans will reject the notion of using replacement, or scab, players if the lockout extends into the 2005-2006 season. The fans are smart enough to realize that shifting players from the minors to the big leagues and packaging it as NHL hockey is simply fraud.

Kris Draper and the Primus Worldstars Tour

A month ago, it was reported that Kris Draper would be heading to Switzerland to join a Geneva-based team. While this still stands true, Draper has decided to spend the holidays with family, and travel overseas early next year:

“This is a special time of year, and to take my kids away from school and their family and friends, right during the holidays, we just decided against it.”

Draper had planned on bring his family over to Switzerland. And, according to the NHLPA’s website, Draper is set to join the Swiss Nationalliga’s Geneve-Servette. With the NHL likely to cancel the 2004-2005 season sometime in mid-December if negotiations remain broken, we might also see Nicklas Lidstrom and other Wings take to the ice in Europe as early as January.

Primus Worldstars Tour

In the meantime, the IMG agency has formally announced the Primus Worldstars Tour. Similar to the tour Wayne Gretzky and IMG formed during the 1994 NHL lockout, the Primus Worldstars Tour will run December 7-23, taking the show to seven different countries (Riga, Latvia; Moscow and St Petersburg, Russia; Bratislava, Slovakia; Bern, Switzerland; Karlstad, Jonkoping and Linkoping, Sweden; Oslo, Norway; Katowice, Poland) in ten scheduled games. The tour will compete against all-star teams or club teams of each country.

Players billed to participate in the tour include: Sergei Fedorov, Joe Thornton, Rick Nash, Robyn Regehr, Pavel Kubina, Daniel Briere, Tie Domi, Kris Draper, Tony Amonte, Luc Robitaille, Dominik Hasek, Ray Whitney, Rob Blake, Sergei Gonchar, Mats Sundin, Martin Brodeur, John-Michael Liles, Rhett Warrener, Mattias Norstrom, Alexandre Daigle, Glen Murray, Anson Carter, Petr Nedved, Robert Lang, and Petr Sykora. Red Wings in bold.

Mike Milbury Beats a Fan with a Shoe

Here’s the video clip of the December 23, 1979 incident between the Boston Bruins and New York Rangers fans in Madison Square Garden. In the Bruins’ 4-3 win over the Rangers (referenced to in my Pistons/Pacers brawl article), a post-game player scuffle escalated into an all-out player-fan brawl. In this video clip, albeit grainy, you can see Mike Milbury, Terry O’Reilly, Peter McNab, and Al Secord climbing over the glass to get after a few hostile fans. During the ten-minute tussle, Mike Milbury actually beat a fan with a shoe. An assist goes to PuckUpdate for finding this video.

Mike Milbury speaks of the incident

Detroit Red Wings Player Update 11/22

Here’s an update on how the Wings in Europe are doing:

Henrik Zetterberg
Timra (Sweden)

Henrik Zetterberg wears #20 for Timra, and has 10 goals and 11 assists through 20 games played. Henrik is third in SEL scoring, with Peter Forsberg at 26 points (7 goals, 19 assists) and Shawn Horcoff at 24 points (10 goals, 14 assists). He had previously played for Timra from 2000-2002, after being drafted by the Wings in round 7 (210 overall) in the 1999 NHL Entry Draft. Timra is 13-4-3 and second in the Swedish Elite League. Powerhouse Team Modo is currently fourth at 8-6-6. Tomas Holmstrom’s Lulea is eighth at 8-12-1. Click here if you want detailed game summaries (in Swedish) for Timra.

Tomas Holmstrom
Lulea (Sweden)

Tomas Holmstrom wears #96 for Lulea, and has 7 goals and 5 assists through 20 games played. He had previously played for Lulea from 1994-1996, after being drafted by the Wings in round 10 (257 overall) in the 1994 NHL Entry Draft. Click here if you want detailed game summaries (in Swedish) for Lulea.

Pavel Datsyuk (Павел Дацюк)
Dynamo Moscow (Russia)

Pavel Datsyuk wears #13 for Dynamo, and has only 2 goals and 5 assists through 16 games played. Dynamo is currently first in the Russian Super League. Click here if you want detailed game summaries (in Russian) for Dynamo.

Anders Myrvold
Valerenga (Norway)

Anders Myrvold wears #54 for Valerenga, and has 3 goals and 9 assists through 17 games played. Valerenga is currently third in the Norwegian Hockey League.

Jiri Fischer
Liberec (Czech Republic)

Jiri Fischer will wear #2 for Liberec, which is eleventh in the Tipsport Extraliga. Jiri has yet to play for Liberec, after suffering a separated right shoulder in the World Cup of Hockey. Jiri was supposed to have joined his Czech team in early November, but setbacks delayed his return to the rink. He is now healthy and close to full strength, and looking to play in the Czech Republic soon.

Jason Williams
Assat Pori (Finland)

Jason Williams wears #29 for Assat Pori of the Finnish Elite League, and has six goals and ten assists through 11 games played. Assat Pori is currently sixth in the FEL.

Thoughts on Pistons/Pacers Brawl

For a hockey junkie who watches maybe five regular season Piston games before jumping on their playoff bandwagon, I had the “luck” of catching the end of last night’s Pistons/Pacers game.

With less than a minute left, the Pacers had an insurmountable 15-point lead and Ben Wallace took exception to a hard foul he took from Ron Artest as he went for a lay-up. Wallace, still emotional days after the death of his older brother, gave Artest a hard two-handed shove in the face, and a scrum between opposing players ensued. Artest fled the shoving match and mocked Wallace by laying on the scorer’s table. The confrontation should have been over at this point, with players separated and tempers dying down. Unfortunately, a Pistons fan bothered by Artest’s mocking pose threw a drink at Artest, hitting him square in the face. Artest went ballistic and stormed into the stands in search of the fan that threw the drink. Stephen Jackson and Jermaine O’Neal joined their teammate, and the trio took on about a dozen Pistons fans. At this point it was full-blown chaos, fights in the stands and on the court, and the game had to be cancelled. As the Pacers exited through the tunnel, they were showered with drinks and popcorn.

Watching that brawl live was one of the more scarier things I have ever witnessed on live television. It was a disgrace to see the violence escalate from a relatively minor scuffle to a player-fan brawl. The Pacers should’ve never left the court to fight fans in the stands. It’s an unwritten code of professional sports to never cross that boundary. Here’s a list of times when we’ve seen player-fan confrontations in sports.

Hockey’s Worst Player-Fan Incident

Like Matt mentioned in the previous article, during the UM/OSU game, an ABC announcer took a jab at hockey by implying that brawls such as the one at the Pistons game were commonplace in hockey and the NHL. To say that to a football audience who might not know the complete validity of the statement is misleading and typical of the US media’s treatment of hockey. MLB has had far more player-fan incidents in its history than the NHL has had, so why didn’t the smart ass ABC announcer take a pot shot at baseball? Well, because it’s America’s pastime and hockey isn’t. Here’s one of the most famous incidents of player-fan fights in NHL history.

It was December 23, 1979, and the Boston Bruins beat the New York Rangers 4-3 in Madison Square Garden. The Bruins had just secured the win, and they left the bench to celebrate with their goaltender and teammates. Rangers goalie John Davidson initiated the brawl by accusing Bruin Al Secord of dirty play, specifically that he sucker-punched Ranger Ulf Nilsson. A scrum ensued with the Bruins defending their teammate, and frustrated Rangers fans threw objects at the Bruins players, ultimately injuring Stan Jonathan. Bruins Mike Milbury, Terry O’Reilly, Peter McNab, and Al Secord stormed the stands to get after the group of hostile fans. During the ten-minute brawl, Mike Milbury actually beat a fan with a shoe.