Posts by Megan Saler

Mourning What Could Have Been

It was September. Training Camp. The future was bright, rainbows and unicorns were abundant. Coach Fraser had assured that we were going to love this year’s team. Watching the likes of Cory Emmerton, Jan Mursak, Tomas Tatar, Brendan Smith, etc. practice and scrimmage with the Wings, we couldn’t help but believe him. Most exciting was the return of Joey MacDonald, the Griffins hero goaltender. He holds every goaltending record for the Griffins. Many days had we longed for the return of JoeyMac. We watched and started to think, this is the year. This is the year the Griffins finally live up to our dreams, make the playoffs, and possibly even win the Calder Cup!

Oh how naive we were. We’ve seen it before. A very promising team that has no excuse to lose somehow manages to…constantly. I remember the year of Donald MacLean. He was a star in the AHL. The Griffins had an awesome supporting cast. We were out in the first round. But at least they made it to the playoffs.

For the first time we can recall, the Griffins got to start the season at home. The home opener was October 8, and the building was electric. Every season ticket holder was filled with great expectations. I can hardly remember it, but I know we expected nothing less than a commanding win. After everything we had seen up in TC, after everything Coach Fraser had promised us, we were bound to win that one and continue winning. A shoot-out loss isn’t the worst thing, but not the start we were hoping for. The Griffins went 5-2-1 in the month of October, with only one of those wins coming at home. Memories of the past season, when they could not win at home, began to surface but were quickly pushed aside.

It just never got better. Horrible performances at home. An admission from Ilari Filppula that the home fans deserved better. Yet the losses kept piling up. And then the worst happened. Chris Osgood went down, and Joey MacDonald was called up. And not for a game or two, for what turned out to be the rest of the season. McCollum was forced into a starting position that in hindsight he probably wasn’t ready for. Pearce was called up from Toledo to back up. McCollum faltered and was sent down to Toledo for a confidence booster, which apparently took a while. The Griffins then began going through a whole list of random signings to sit on the bench behind Pearce.

To be fair to Pearce, he played as well as we could expect or desire. But he isn’t as consistent as a losing team needs, and when he has a bad night it is often in the range of 6 or 7 goals. For a team that often struggles to put up even 2 goals, this became a huge problem.

And now it is April 9. Before last night, the last time we had seen the Griffins had been the March 23 contest against the Toronto Marlies. The last Wednesday game of the year. They had won every single home Wednesday game this season. They dropped this last one 5-1. At that point, the Griffins were in second in their division, a miracle only possible because the division is that bad. We were in the playoffs, we just had to hang on. They then proceeded to lose the next 4 games, dropping them to 6th in the division. Playoff hopes were decimated, though technically still alive. They won on Wednesday, which technically kept them in it. They needed 3 other teams to lose their remaining 3 games and the Griffins needed to win 3 in a row to make the playoffs. Unlikely, but possible.

Last night was the Griffins final home game. No one told them. On the brink of losing all hope for the playoffs, the players already had. One of the teams ahead of them that they needed to beat was Abbotsford, who they played last night. The Griffins graciously handed them a 6-0 win and a playoff berth. How generous. Pearce was pulled after 3, McCollum (who we saw lose all confidence when thrown into the Wings embarrassing loss to the Blues before he was even really AHL ready) let in another 3. A sad and pathetic ending to a sad and pathetic season. Technically they have 2 games left on the road, but who cares?

The tragedy of this season is more than the missed playoffs in a year where it should have been a gimme. To me, the tragedy is represented by Thomas McCollum. Considered at the start of the season as the next Jimmy Howard, a mere few seasons from backing up in Detroit, I don’t even know where he stands now. In training camp, we talked about how he exuded confidence from the net, directing traffic and facing every shot like he just knew he was going to stop it. Somewhere in the midst of the Griffins terrible defense (led by none other than Doug Janik), McCollum lost himself. And he lost all confidence.

Just when he was getting back on track, playing really well in Toledo, the Wings had to call him up in an emergency to back up Joey McDonald (interestingly, the tandem that started the Griffins season). He was then thrown into a situation where the team in front of him was…well, we don’t need to get into that. In his first NHL appearance, he did not come close to shining. No one can blame him…except for him. I watched from my couch knowing that I was watching all the progress be flushed down the toilet.

This season was full of disappointments. Every player on that team knows they did not get the job done. Each person went home last night knowing that they could have done more. Every single one of them…except Tomas Tatar.

The brightest point of the season: Tomas Tatar. He never stopped working, he never stopped caring, he never stopped skating. After he was called up and returned, he worked just as hard as he ever had, which is not the norm.

On defense, Logan Pyett, Travis Ehrhardt, Brendan Smith, Sergei Kolosov and Doug Janik fall into the disappointing category. Greg Amadio was great, and got better as the season went on. Brian Lashoff I actually thought out-performed what was expected of him. Meech somehow managed 10 goals, 37 points and +18, all while making me think he was one of our biggest problems. That’s some real talent. Brendan Smith was the most disappointing, mostly because expectations were so high. Ehrhardt has plenty of time. Kolosov is likely done with the organization. Though once promising, he will never be a Red Wing and I would be surprised to see him in the NHL anywhere. I don’t know for sure if Pyett has another year or not, but if he doesn’t I wouldn’t expect to see him next year.

Janik…please just leave.

On offense, Cory Emmerton, Francis Pare, Jamie Johnson, Adam Keefe, Chris Minard, Joakim Andersson, Brandon Straub, and Jordon Owens were sub-par. Johnson, Keefe, Minard and Straub don’t matter, they are not in the system (though I disliked every one of them this season and secretly blame them…).

Emmerton being disappointing is a problem for him, as next year he either needs to make the big club or clear waivers. He was +2, which is something on a team full of minuses. I would not be surprised to see him playing for another AHL team next year, which is very disappointing.

Francis Pare seems lost. He was the guy that the Wings signed a year and a half or so ago because he was so impressive with GR. Those days are gone, apparently leaving with Francis Lemieux, his former linemate. (Disclaimer: Pare had 23 goals and 53 points this season, 4th on the team, but he had the second worst +/- and had a tendency to lose the puck and give up or ruin many opportunities, which is why I placed him in the disappointing column.)

Joakim Andersson was just horrible this year. Beyond horrible. I dreaded seeing his huge, awkward frame on the ice.

Jordon Owens was one in training camp that we were super excited about because of his great speed and scoring touch. He used that up in TC, apparently, as he only scored 6 this season.

Tomas Tatar, Ilari Filppula, Jan Mursak, and Jamie Tardif were the top offensive players this year. Tardif, the current captain of the team, is not expected to score a lot of goals, yet he led the team with 27 goals. Still a tough guy, he was never afraid to step up and defend his teammates either.

Mursak had a seemingly disappointing 13 goals and 35 points, but he only played in 54 games, thanks to the Wings.

Filppula shows some of the stick skill of his brother, but Valterri is definitely the more naturally skilled of the two. Ilari works harder, though, and topped the team with 63 points, including 20 goals. His status after this season is up in the air, but I’d love to see him with the Griffins again next year and I think he has what it takes to make it to the NHL, even to Detroit. I doubt he’ll ever be Val-caliber, but he is good in his own right.

In goal, Pearce did well with what he was presented, He played 42 games with a GAA of 2.88 and a SV% of .908. Sadly, he will be leaving us this offseason (according to a booster club source), as his self-proclaimed 3-year window has closed. Despite passing McCollum in the depth chart and earning the Griffins starting position, he will soon become Dr. Pearce.

Joey McDonald only played in 20 games before being hauled up to Detroit, and only managed an .894 SV%, but did have a 2.78 GAA. McCollum played 22 games, having the worst numbers of the three, GAA of 3.33 and SV% of .879. MacDonald will be our starter next season, if he’s not still backing up Howard, and in all probability, McCollum will be backing up. The plan this season was to have MacDonald mentor McCollum, and hopefully, if they can do that next season, Thomas will once again become the promising goalie prospect that he was last year.

This was a bad year all around. Many prospects took steps back or stopped moving forward. A few stepped up as the next to make the jump to Hockeytown. And Season Ticket Holders were left to stand in groups in the stands and wonder what went wrong.

Training Camp tickets go on sale at Centre Ice Arena next Saturday. The process will soon start all over again. And no matter what, next year I will not listen to Coach Curt Fraser.

Griffins Team Ready to Go

The team is set (mostly), which is good because they open the season on Friday at the Van. After seeing most of these guys at the prospect tournament, training camp, and during preseason, here are my thoughts. (disclaimer: some thoughts may be influenced by previous experience in previous years)

In Goal

Thomas McCollum

Unless things go terribly wrong, he will be the “starter” in GR. All this means is that he will play the most games. Maybe by 20, maybe by 2. He has not progressed as fast as many would like, but Kenny Holland says that goalies take longer, and I always listen to Ken. I think he’ll have a better season this year. His confidence seems to be back, as he was once again directing traffic in front of his net during training camp.

Joey MacDonald

Um, I remembered him being better. Spending time on Long Island and then in Toronto did not do good things for his development. He looked…holey during training camp. That being said, he’s Joey MacDonald. As a Griffins fan, I know that he is the awesome. He holds every goaltending record in GR. I have complete faith in him.

Jordan Pearce

Will likely end up in Toledo this season. Given his objectives, this could be his last season.

On Defense

Logan Pyett

Shocked. I was shocked. He played WELL!! I didn’t notice a ton of extreme turnovers on his part in preseason (though he had his fair share in the Red and White game). I’m not worried. I’m sure Pyett will be back in form by midseason. But until then, he could prove to be reliable on defense. He will likely be down on the second pairing this year, with Smith likely to take a spot next to Janik on the top pairing.

Travis Ehrhardt

I don’t know what he was doing during the off-season, but it seems to have worked. He looked more than ready for GR. He still could find himself scratched often, depending on the play of the other 7 defenseman, as well as whether or not Meech reports.

Brendan Smith

He had a very slow start in the prospect tourney, but he got better and better as time went on. By the end of preseason, he and Janik were playing really well together. I predict they will be paired in GR, probably as the top pairing. The Red Wings brass had high hopes for him, as do the fans. Hopefully he won’t be slowed down by the grind of AHL hockey.

Sebastien Piche

I love this kid. Why? Because his name is Sebastien Piche. That’s pretty much it. He might split time with Ehrhardt, or may get sent to Toledo for Meech.

Greg Amadio

On the team for toughness. He was here a few years ago, and I enjoyed him then. He beat up on some Wolves and forever endeared himself to me. I hate the Wolves. I don’t care that they are not in the same division as us anymore and we only play them four times, I still hate them. I don’t care that Hamilton, Milwaukee, and Syracuse injured far more players than Chicago in the past two seasons, I still hate them the most. I still hold it against them that they injured Quincey on an incredibly dirty hit behind our net. I could go on and on, but I guess that’s not really the point.

Sergei Kolosov

To me, he looked like a guy who knew he may have missed his chance with the Wings. He didn’t hit, he didn’t make the smooth passing plays that he did in GR last year, and he just plain didn’t awe. He’s solid, and he’ll be good in GR. But motivation could be a problem if he continues to be outplayed by guys like Smith and Lashoff.

Brian Lashoff

Speaking of…I’ve liked him since the first time I saw him. He played 6 games in GR last season, and 6 the season before. Last year I was excited all year for him to get to GR once his junior team was done. I’m excited to see what he can do with a full year in GR.

Doug Janik

Veteran. Dependable. Likes to take the puck dangerously close to his own goal. But he’s a good d-man. With all the young guys on defense this year, I’m glad there’s a veteran.

Forwards

Cory Emmerton

Wow, was he ever impressive in camp and preseason. He certainly made an impression with Babs. If he continues to improve, he could easily be a call-up this year. And just based on what we’ve already seen, he will be a black ace during the Wings Cup run this year (depending on the Griffins…).

Francis Pare

He still seems to be lacking something since Francis Lemieux left. But he’s still got his speed and agility. Fewer turnovers would be good for everyone. And I will be calling him Frankie for the whole season.

Jamie Johnson

Um…who? I didn’t ever notice him. I think there was one time in training camp where he did something good…He may get sent to Toledo to make room for Maltby.

Kyle Rogers

I have no idea who this is. Seriously, no idea. I saw a picture of some curly haired guy and couldn’t place him, but just attributed it to my bad memory. Then I looked at the roster, saw this name, and was completely stumped. Then I looked at his profile, and he’s the curly haired dude. Literally, that is all I know.

Brent Raedeke

For those of you wondering, it is pronounced RAY-Dick-ee. That information is from his dad. I think he probably knows. Brent has looked great so far. He was another bubble player last year, and has clearly developed and will step into a steady position on the team.

Jan Mursak

I loved him last year, Matt loved him last year, and now everyone can love him. Babs certainly does. He will be one of our top guys this year, when he’s in GR. I say that because he will be one of the first called up if there are injuries in DET. I like his work ethic and his speed.

Chris Minard

He was signed by DET in the off-season for GR. He scored 22 goals in 40 AHL games with Springfield last year. He had one point in five games for Edmonton, which is pretty spectacular for an Oiler. He’s been injured, thus I cannot say anything more about him.

Ilari Filppula

We call him Flip 2. When standing with his hands in his pockets, he looks shockingly like his younger brother. But he doesn’t appear to have to same level of skill as Val does. We’ll see how he does in GR before making any NHL predictions. He was not that impressive during camp.

Willie Coetzee

He’s just a little ball of energy, isn’t he? He works hard and has no problem grinding in the corners. I’m excited to see him in GR.

Joakim Andersson

He’s big. He wasn’t all that impressive, but didn’t make me want to find a corner and cry either. So that’s good, right?

Jordan Owens

Awesome.

Jamie Tardif

Hopefully he’ll get the C again. He’s a great character guy, and has been one of my favorites since he’s been here. He was one of the only guys last year that actually worked for the whole season. He scored a goal in the Red and White game, but other than that didn’t do much offensively. He’s really more of a defensive forward. Mostly he’s a veteran character guy, along the lines of McCarty, but not quite as rough.

Tomas Tatar

Tots is awesome. I can’t say enough about him. He will be a Red Wing. But until then, we will enjoy him fully in GR. Hopefully his ice time will improve, with a lot of guys lower than him on the depth chart.

Fraser said to our Griffins ladies (ask George if you don’t know who they are) before camp that we were gonna like the team this year. After seeing our roster and seeing these guys play for almost a month, I do. I think Emmerton, Mursak, Owens and Tatar will be the big guns on offense. The D will be led by Janik and Smith, with Lashoff not far behind. I think McCollum will have a much better season, with Joey there to show him how to handle the AHL.

Looking at both the Wings roster and the Griffins roster, I’d say this is the best chance we’ve had for a double Cup win. Wings take home #12, and the Griffins get their first Calder Cup since joining the AHL. It’s gonna be a great year for hockey in Michigan!! The puck drops on Friday at 7:00 in GR and 7:30 in DET.

Griffins Ponderings

Training camp is only weeks away, and as it gets closer, I’m starting to think about the Griffins roster. We pretty much know what the Wings are gonna look like, even what the lines will be, but I haven’t spent a lot of time thinking about GR. All of these guys will be at Red Wings training camp, including those on AHL contracts, as the Wings generally invite all Griffins to camp.

Goal

Thomas McCollum

He is very important to Detroit, and highly regarded. This means nothing. He will have to earn his spot as a starter if he wants it. He started last season at full force and was very impressive, but struggled through the grind of an AHL season. He was even sent to Toledo for a confidence booster (proven to work with other players in the past, but less effective for Thomas). He never fully regained his early season form, but he did improve toward the end. He will need to have an impressive camp to assure the number one spot and to get his career back on track.

Jordan Pearce

I love Pearce. I really do. He’s got a great attitude. Last fall at training camp, when we asked for his autograph, he was genuinely surprised and flattered. Of course, in a purely hockey sense, that doesn’t mean squat. Odds are he will not make GR. With Thomas and JoeyMac also at camp, it would take a disaster or an injury. But if either get called up, Jordon will get a chance to play for GR, as they like to have a goalie balance due to the many back to backs.

Joey MacDonald

I can tell you this with full confidence: when Joey makes his first start, the cheers will be deafening in the Van. He was a fan favorite when he played here and set every goaltending record in GR, and we’ve longed for him ever since. No goalie is JoeyMac. Even with Jimmy Howard, we longed for Joey. He’ll likely split starting duties with Thomas McCollum. I would guess he’d be the #1 call-up if Ozzie or Jimmah gets injured, depending on McCollum’s play.

Defense

Brendan Smith

There is talk of him jumping straight to the NHL, but I don’t see it. Probably partially because I don’t want to. We are so excited to finally be able to see him in GR. We’ve been waiting for a defenseman to be what Ericsson was. All that I know about him everybody else knows, so I don’t have much more to say. We’re just so excited to see him.

Logan Pyett

Although he’s on an NHL contract, Pyett is a career AHLer at best. He’s a great guy, and a pretty decent d-man. He has a tendency to give up the puck right in front of our net when pressured, and this seems to get worse as the season goes on. However, he is still a backbone of the GR defense. He has a good first pass (when he doesn’t cough it up) and makes appearances on the pp. He’ll likely be a fixture.

Travis Ehrhardt

Hopefully he’s worked hard this offseason, because he needed it. He was another newbie who struggled with the grind. He spent a lot of time in Toledo, and when he was in GR he was usually scratched. I think he could be a good d-man if he can catch up to the game. I do think he should change his name, because it’s a pain in the butt to type. He’ll likely be on the edge of GR’s lineup again.

Sebastien Piche

He had a great camp last year (I thought) but did not follow that up with a good season. In fact, I don’t remember seeing him much. I don’t see him AHL ready, but who knows.

Sergei Kolosov

One of the best d-men last season, Kolosov will be back and probably on the top pairing. He’s a solid defensive d-man, which an intimidating size when he chooses to use it (which is less often then I’d prefer). He could make the NHL in the semi-near future, but not as a Wing.

Brian Lashoff

Another up and coming d-man I’m fond of. I’ve seen very little of him, a whopping 6 games, but I’ve liked what I’ve seen. He should spend this season in GR.

Doug Janik

Pretty much unliked by Red Wings fans everywhere, he actually makes a pretty good AHL d-man. He does this really annoying thing where he comes out from behind our net with the puck, centimeters from the corner of the net, giving the crowd and his goaltender a heartattack almost every shift. But he will still likely anchor the top pairing.

Center

Chris Minard

I honestly have no idea who this guy is. He’s played 40 NHL games, 35 of which were with Pittsburgh. This makes me sad. But hey, Darryl Bootland was drafted by Colorado, so I won’t write him off. He had 38 points in 40 games with Springfield last year, so he should be good for offense.

Jamie Johnson

He played with Rochester last year and had 71 points in 80 games. He also had 6 points in 7 playoff games. Hopefully he will also inject some offense into GR. Again, I can only give numbers on him.

Cory Emmerton

Cory struggled a little last season, with only 12 goals in 76 games. He was supposed to be a major player last year, so that number was disappointing. Hopefully he can have a better season and not become the next Evan McGrath.

Brent Raedeke

He’s only played 2 games in GR, so again, I can’t say much about him. He’ll likely play at least some of the season in GR.

Joakim Andersson

He did a wonderful Axelsson impression last year, fleeing to Sweden before even playing a game for GR. I have about as much interest in him playing with the Griffins as he does. Not much at all.

Wingers

In GR, the wing positions are pretty much interchangeable, so I’ll do them all together.

Ilari Filppula

It’ll be fun to see the name Filppula on a Griffins jersey again, but part of me thinks it will just be a disappointment. He’s the Steffan to Niklas, the Fedor to Sergei. I hope he’s at least as good an imitation as Steffan. Either way, we can just call him Val and pretend.

Jordan Owens

He finished last season with GR, so he’s not new. However, by the last 17 games, I had sorta stopped paying attention. It was too painful, and I was busy punching out the drunk guy who sits behind me on Fridays and spills his beer on us (okay, I never did that, but I thought about it a lot). Anywho, Jordon only had 5 points in those 17 games, but is that really his fault? The team had disintegrated by then.

Willie Coetzee

Another guy I liked in camp last year, if only because it’s a lot of fun to yell his name. Any name with three e’s and a z is pretty much a win. He didn’t play in GR last year, though he did make a brief appearance at the end of the season. I like what I saw then too. I hope he makes the team. He’s a quick player with good hands.

Jan Mursak

Possibly one of the most underrated Griffins last year. He played solidly throughout the season, and was often the best player on the ice for GR. He scored 24 goals and had 48 points. He will be in GR, and probably on the top line.

Francis Pare

Frankie struggled without his other half, Francis Lemieux. He had a great season on an AHL contract in 08-09, which got the attention of the big club. That year, he scored 24 goals and had 48 points. His production fell to 16 goals and 39 points last season in 14 more games. He is still fast and a good puck-handler, but he will need to find another line that works for him.

Tomas Tatar

Tatar, aka Tots, is currently the story of GR. He doesn’t get as much ice time as we feel he should, but he still managed to get 16 goals and 32 points. He’s speedy and surprisingly gritty for his size. He also seemed to get better as the season progressed. If the Wings make it far in the playoffs this year (I should say when) and if the Griffins don’t, he will be a black ace. I could also see him getting some NHL time this year depending on injuries. The best thing about Tots is that he wants to be in GR, and he plays like it every night.

Greg Amadio

He played with GR a few seasons ago, going back and forth between GR and Muskegon. He’s a tough guy, not expected to get a lot of points or ice time. I liked him when he was here because he beat up on the Wolves. Hopefully he’ll do the same this season to the Admirals (Milwaukee) and Bulldogs.

(Let me just take this brief moment to express how idiotic I find it that there are two teams in the AHL with the same name – Norfolk and Milwaukee.)

Others

All of the above are currently on the roster as listed on griffinshockey.com. There are a few other prospects who could be in GR after training camp, or even later in the season.

As we all know, it is possible that Ritola will be back there. I have issues with Ritola. He causes me great amounts of pain. I don’t want to talk about it.

Landon Ferarro could find himself in GR, if he has a good camp and if Detroit allows it. Right now I’m just hoping he can make it through at least one day of camp without getting injured.

Jamie Tardif is not listed as on their roster, but I don’t believe this. He was their captain last season and he is a great leader and character guy. He is signed to a Detroit contract as well, so he will be in GR.

Aaron Downey will be at camp, but I’d be surprised if Detroit gives him a spot in GR at the expense of a prospect that deserves it.

Other guys to consider and watch through camp: Mitchell Callahan and Andrej Nestrasil. Both had a decent prospect tournament last year, and have the potential to crack the lineup, especially if other guys falter.

Bonus

Matt would like me to talk about Kindl a little bit here. I honestly don’t know what he’ll do this season. I dislike him in the same way I dislike Ritola, and have similar feelings as I did with Jimmah. However, I was dead wrong about Jimmah (very glad I was). Kindl has been in GR for what seems like forever. If I think about last season honestly, I can say he had a much better season than the previous two. He was pretty dependable on a horrible team. I’d say he might be NHL ready, but not ready for no supervision. When he plays, he will need to be watched. This is why they brought in Salei.

I would be surprised if Babs ever willingly plays Kindl and Ericsson together. Kindl is not as ripe as he should be after three full seasons in GR, and not nearly as good as Big E when he graduated to the NHL. I’m guessing he’ll have to fight to get into the rotation regularly. When he is in, I’ll still cringe every time he touches the puck, but probably more from habit than from a legitimate concern. I expect him to step up and at least not be a liability, though I’m prepared for the opposite. I’ve seen him do both.

Miller a Wing

No, not Ryan. Sorry. His younger brother, Drew, was claimed by the Wings off waivers today from the Lightning. I expect he’ll be with the big club for a while, at least until the injuries subside. Then he’ll probably be in GR.

Why Do I Love Steve Yzerman?

I was not around to be a fan during the era of the “Dead Things.” I was born after Yzerman was already on the team. I was 15 days shy of 1 year old when he was named captain. I was in Africa when he brought the Cup back in 1997, and had just returned when he handed it to Konstantinov.

I’m embarrassed to say that I grew to love hockey after watching The Mighty Ducks. I played by myself in my concrete front yard in Nairobi, Kenya on roller skates with a broom and a tennis ball. I have no stories of Yzerman’s early years, or him bringing pride back to the Wings.

I started following the Wings during the 2001-02 season. I was a hockey fan looking for a team, and my best friend was a born and bred Wings fan. So, naturally, I picked them up. I didn’t get to enjoy the full glory of that team because I was in high school and did not have cable. I watched very few playoff games. I did not see the Statue of Liberty, or the wonderful Game 7 against Colorado. I did watch the Stanley Cup Finals. I watched Stevie lift that Cup, with his daughter next to him, and I was hooked. It wasn’t just the team that drew me, it was Stevie. It was watching him hand the Cup to Bowman, then the parade of veterans.

Like I said, I didn’t see a lot of the playoffs. But I got the DVD afterwards. And I heard the stories. Vancouver. Stevie’s knee. And from then on, he became my Captain. He’s been put on an untouchable pedestal in my mind. When people ask me who my favorite Wing is or was, I never say Yzerman. He’s above that. It’s just a given, in my mind, that he is the ultimate in the minds of every true Red Wings fan. Our favorite players could be proceeded by, “aside from Steve Yzerman.”

So why do I love Steve Yzerman? He is the best leader professional sports has ever seen. He is always a professional, regardless of the situation. He does not enjoy the spotlight, but tries to deflect it to his teammates and the organization. He is genuinely grateful to the Ilitch family and Jimmy D for giving him a chance. He can motivate an entire team without even saying a word. When the team was struggling, he did not call anyone out but pointed to himself. He never played the media game. He didn’t cry to the reporters when there were trade rumors, he just went out and showed Bowman why he had to keep him. He has the strongest, most intense stare I’ve ever seen.He exudes confidence to this day, but is still so down to earth.  And, oh yeah, he’s one of the greatest all-around players to ever play the game.

And I love him for all the stuff he did before I even knew the Red Wings played hockey. I wasn’t here for his high-flying years, or for the return to glory, but I love him for it. Thanks to Steve Yzerman, and many others, I have never had to suffer the way I do as a Lions fan. Whenever the team is struggling, I still wish The Captain was there to set them straight with one of his short, concise, but powerful speeches.

That’s all I can say. There’re more reasons why I love him, but I cannot put them into words. He has a quality. If you are a Wings fan, you know exactly what I’m talking about. And you cannot put it into words either.

He’s Steve Yzerman, and he’s my captain. He’s The Captain.

Griffins Follow Red Wings’ Example

Via George Malik: The Grand Rapids Griffins, AHL affiliate of the Red Wings, were the least penalized team in the AHL this past season with 963 PIM. This number set the record for lowest number of penalty minutes for an 80-game season in AHL history, breaking the 1976-77 record of 986 minutes by the Rhode Island Reds. This was with Aaron Downey, Justin Abdelkader (Mr. Dumb Penalty) and Darren McCarty (though he only played half the season).

An Unexpected Smile

I’ve been searching the Internet, wondering what I’m gonna read all summer, when I came across something that made me smile.

We will not have to worry about McCreary making dumb calls and no-calls during the finals or even the playoffs next year. Why? Well, that’s the wonderful part. McCreary is retiring after the regular season. The last game of the 2009-2010 season will be the last time we see Bill McCreary.