Posts tagged “Brian Rafalski”

Stunned: Rafalski Retiring?

Update (8:14 PM): George has more details, including this brief portrait of what Rafalski meant to the team:

When healthy, the Wings couldn’t replace Rafalski with $8 million—he posts nearly a point per game and provided a fantastic outlet pass, an underrated shot, and supremely veteran savvy…But when he’s hurt, he’s in and out of the lineup and his mobility becomes an issue, to the point that he looks like Slava Fetisov, who got hit every time he made a pass at the end of his career.

Rafalski had his rough points during his time with the team, but I think we’re really going to miss his work on the point on the power play. Nick is the technical quarterback there, but without Rafalski complementing him so well, the Wings’ PP just got a lot less deadly. No one on the market can pick up that slack, I don’t think.

But that “when healthy” caveat obviously becomes more weighted in a situation where Rafalski is considering retirement because of physical issues. Even if it’s not set in stone, as the Wings would like us to think, and Rafalski comes back, this season showed he may not be that player any more. It’s too bad. I can’t shake a feeling like it’s the end of an era: no more slick offensive #2 dealing out breakout passes and playing catch with Nick.

Until the next #2, I guess. Kronwall can fill that role, right? – Matt

Update (6:28 PM): @Lolabythebay (and others) point out that Rafalski has been without an ACL in one knee for a long, long time, so Kypreos’ bit about his playing without an ACL in the playoffs may be kind of a yawner. Or he could be talking about another injury. Who knows. – Matt

Update (6:20 PM): Megan made a good point when we discussed this after I got home: with Kronwall’s playoff, Holland doesn’t need to find a Rafalski replacement so much as a Kronwall replacement. Nik showed himself ready to step into the #2 role and be on deck for #1, which means he can step into Rafalski’s shoes. That leaves a #3/#4 spot open, which lowers the bar a bit for Holland. – Matt

Update (5:54 PM): Helene St. James seems to be behind the eight-ball, though. – Matt

Update (5:50 PM): It’s official. – Matt

Bombshell drops just as I’m about to wrap things up here at work: Rafalski may be retiring. The reports, via Petrella, indicate he’s heading out before his body completely breaks down. The guy apparently played without an ACL in the playoffs, which ought to shut up some of his critics (it won’t).

If this is true, it leaves the Wings’ defense on shaky ground, with Nick Lidstrom’s status for next season up in the air. But it does clear up $6 million in cap space, so there is a plus side. You can start speculating about how Ken Holland will fill the hole with CapGeek’s fancy tool. Don’t get too excited at the prospect of Shea Weber, thanks to his RFA status, though. And the UFA market sucks for defensemen, Bieksa aside. A trade may be necessary, but to replace Rafalski, that’d be expensive. It’s going to be interesting to see how Kenny handles this.

Also, how does Nick handle it? Does he say, “welp, there goes the contending part. I’m out.”? I hope not.

Taking off my Red Wings fan cap for a minute, if Rafalski’s body really is in that kind of shape, he’d be making the right decision to retire. Sucks for the Wings in a lot of ways, but it’s the best thing for him. So good luck, if that’s what you decide, Brian. You’ll be missed.

Rafalski, Osgood Out Verus Kings

Update (2:00 PM): Chuck Pleiness has some more on Rafalski and Osgood, including news that the Wings are hoping Oz will be back this weekend. So there’s some chance he’ll be in Friday night.

Odd mistake on Pleiness’ part to say the Kings game is Thursday, though. – Matt

So reports Jennifer Hammond (@Hamr65), of Fox 2 Detroit. In Rafalski’s case, it’s no surprise given her earlier tweet that he wasn’t on the ice. On the other hand, Osgood did practice, so it’s a little disappointing, if not unexpected. I wonder how close he is and what the odds are we’ll see him for H2H2 on Friday.

Gotta say, it’s pretty cool that Jennifer tweets this stuff. The main beat writers haven’t even posted about this news yet. She covers other sports and not just the Wings, but she’s a great follow for bits like this, if you’re into Twitter (you should be).

New Pairings Planned

Nick/Nik, Brad/Brian, Ruslan/Jonathan, with possible Nick/Jonathan.

Let’s see how long this lasts. I won’t be surprised if this goes the way of every Eurotwin split experiment ever (including this years’, whenever it inevitably happens. Does anyone really think it’ll last?)

Eliminate This Hit? Yes, Please

Kudos to the On the Fly crew for catching that and to Paul for posting it. I definitely didn’t see that last night. They’ve got to take that hit out of the game. And it looks like it will be now that the PA has approved the rule. Correction: League would have gone ahead with the policy change, probably tonight, regardless, but at least now it’s legitimate.

Kindl Recalled

The Grand Rapids Press‘ Michael Zuidema reports that Jakub Kindl has been recalled. The AHL wire doesn’t say anything about it yet, but it doesn’t always get updated quickly.

While Zuidema says Kindl could make his NHL debut tomorrow night, I think we can safely assume this means Rafalski’s sitting and Jakub’s in. They’d just wait to call him up after the morning skate tomorrow if they were going to wait until then to see how Rafi’s feeling. They must have already ruled him out.

So, now the question is who does Jakub play with? I wouldn’t expect him to get real minutes. Effectively, the Wings will probably go with 5 1/2 defensemen in terms of usage tomorrow night.

On Kindl, Meg commented on my earlier post from her perspective as a Griffins season ticket holder:

I’m excited to see Kindl on the Wings roster. I’m not excited to see him off the Griffs roster. He’s been really solid this year so far. Defensibly responsible as well as showing good signs of offense. That’s what I like from my defense. He’s finally started to show why he is so highly thought of by the so-called experts.

Eaves Out, Rafalski Questionable For Thursday; Kindl May Be Recalled

Ansar Khan reports that Patrick Eaves will sit out another night with his sore ankle and that Brian Rafalski might miss the game due to a stiff back.

No real surprise on the first count, but the Rafalski injury sure comes out of nowhere. Apparently, it flared up in practice today. And now the whole world knows for the next time he’s in the lineup. Great.

If Rafalski has to sit out, it looks like Jakub Kindl will get the call from Grand Rapids rather than Janik. Kindl has apparently progressed this season, but still isn’t NHL-ready. By looking at him for a call up and not Janik again, the Wings are obviously interested in how unready he is. Could be interesting.

In better news, Babcock is sticking with the adjusted lines he used during the game against Dallas.

Also, Howard gets the start again tomorrow. Hope that means a motivated Osgood when he gets his next start.

Janik Recalled, Rafalski Out With Flu

The Wings have called up Doug Janik from Grand Rapids to fill in for Brian Rafalski tonight. Rafalski did not skate today after missing yesterday’s practice with the flu.

I’m not that familiar with Janik, but what I do know is he’s a defensive defenseman. My wife says, “I have no complaints about Janik. He seems pretty solid. He’s got 6 points in 10 games, with 1 goal. And he’s +4, which is an achievement on the Griffins. He’s got 15 PIM, but I’m pretty sure they were all fights.”

It’ll be interesting to see how the units shake out with the absence of Rafalski.

Fortunately, Kronwall looks ready to play tonight after missing the skate yesterday due to the flu. Ericsson, however, did not skate, so it’s looking like another night of Meech.