Update (2:30 PM): Helene St. James reports that Pavel Datsyuk “denies Hull’s claim,” about his relationship with Mike Babcock.
You might say, “Of course that’s what Pavel’s going to tell her. He can’t speak out against his coach now.” And that may be true. But, I’m inclined to think there’s nothing there and that if Pavel leaves, it’ll be because he’s offered more somewhere else, not because of a problem with the organization. Not that his leaving for money would be any easier to take, by the way. - Matt
… Well, I’ve got internet access again, but I haven’t got much to say today. I caught the game and was impressed with the Wings’ effort, but the most important thing about it was the fact that the win put them three points ahead of Nashville with three games left for both teams. That’ll be a tough lead for the Predators to overcome unless the Wings totally fall apart this week.
Dave at Gorilla Crouch has a good game recap posted. He was also interviewed by Christy for her Behind the Blog series.
… Anyone notice that the commentators for the game yesterday on NBC spent very little time actually calling the plays? It seemed to me like a group of guys getting together to have a few beers and talk about everything but what was going on down on the ice. Now, for a long-time fan, that’s okay because I don’t need a play-by-play man to interpret the game for me, but for a new fan or someone just flipping through the channels, I don’t they’re interested in three guys gaffawing at Brett Hull zingers.
… Speaking of Brett Hull, the man spoke out of his rear end yesterday and proclaimed Pavel Datsyuk won’t be returning to Detroit next season. Apparently, he has a problem with Mike Babcock. This coming from the man who never got along with a coach in his life. Hmm. Well, we’ll see what happens, Brett.
As IwoCPO’s readers have pointed out, Datsyuk is building a house in Birmingham, he has a leadership position on one of the league’s elite teams, plays with one of the best young players in the game in Henrik Zetterberg, and has chances to win that he wouldn’t have in a place like Washington. I think Pavel wants to be back in Detroit, but I admit his chances aren’t so great as long as he gives his agent, Gary Greenstin, such a free hand in negotiations. That guy could very well ruin all.
… Writing on the new AOL Fanhouse NHL blog, Eric McErlain has a question about a player who, as his wandering habit has become more pronounced, has become a little bit of a concern for me over the past couple weeks: Dominik Hasek. Eric asks whether or not Dom is the Wings’ weakest link and points out that he has the save percentage of Olaf Kolzig. Eric’s right, one of the ugly truths about Dom this year has been his save percentage, and his corresponding penchant for giving up a backbreaking goals in the midst of strong defensive efforts by his teammates.
Still, I don’t know that you can necessarily call Dom the Wings’ weakest link. He is a goalie who thrives when he is busy and the downside of the Wings’ system is that he’s often spending long stretches of the game bored. However, when the defense isn’t so good and he is getting work, he’s generally been very good. So, when the defense isn’t playing up to snuff, Hasek generally covers for them, and vice versa. It just gets ugly when neither are playing well.
I think, in some backwards sort of way, the thinning of the Wings’ defense may be a good thing for Hasek, as he’ll see more action, and thus be less bored and prone to wandering.
If you’re looking for a weakest link, look at Robert Lang or Andreas Lilja.
… Eric also answers a question of Paul Kukla’s about a former Red Wing, one of the best ever to wear the Winged Wheel. Couldn’t agree more, Eric.