… Helene St. James has an interesting piece on Jimmy Howard in today’s edition. Howard, who has been out most of January with an ankle injury, is slated to return Wednesday and will be facing high expectations from management in Detroit. He has a 12-12-1 record when healthy, but the Wings are looking to see how he performs down the stretch as the eight-place Griffins fight for a playoff spot.
St. James touches on an issue that I don’t think has gotten a lot of press here in Detroit: the question of the condition of the team’s goaltending after this season. She writes that the Wings have not ruled out extending Dominik Hasek’s 1-year contract, noting that it depends on his health, his interest in playing, and the team’s performance in the playoffs. However, there’s a good chance Hasek won’t be back next season, and, pending Howard’s performance in the coming months, the Wings may decide he’s ready for the NHL.
Chris Osgood has one year remaining on his contract and would be a good mentor for Howard, so it’s at least possible that the Wings will go with a two-goalie system, with neither goalie having the declared starting job. They would probably like to get a bona fide starter, but given the fact that much of their cap space will be taken up by signing skaters this off-season, that may not be possible.
… Funny story: Chris Chelios badly wanted to fly to Miami to watch his hometown Chicago Bears play the Indianpolis Colts in the Super Bowl, but he didn’t have the nerve to ask Mike Babcock for permission. He considered going through Nick Lidstrom, but decided not to. Considering the Bears haven’t been to the Super Bowl in 21 years (i.e. when Cheli was a Hab), it says a lot that he’s sticking with the team and not looking for special treatment.
So, the team will be watching the game in New York instead and Brendan Shanahan has been invited to watch it with them.
The Freep has the team’s picks for the game here. The concensus seems to be that the Colts will win, though Brett Lebda is pretty confident his hometeam, the Bears, will emerge victorious (whereas Chelios seems pretty fatalistic). Gotta love Hasek’s reason fore picking Indy:
“Colts. I have Colts, so I cheer for them to win. I think Colts by 10. I think their quarterback will be the difference.”
When I first read that, I thought he meant he has horses, but I guess he means he has the Colts in some kind of fantasy league.
… Ansar Khan wrote yesterday that Mikael Samuelsson (broken right foot) is about a week away from returning. He skated through the whole practice yesterday and felt pretty good, though he still has trouble stopping and starting.
… And the video of the day (via Gorilla Crouch):
That warm and fuzzy feeling you’re getting comes from seeing Scott Hartnell get owned (in the crowd). Of course, the focus of the video is the shot in the dark by Moen, which is also heartwarming if you’re a Wings fan.
For old time’s sake, here’s another fight involving Scott Hartnell. It’s one of my favorites.