It’s really hot here today, like it is everywhere else in the country (I even heard that people in Alaska have actually unzipped their winter parkas). What better way to beat the heat than by talking a little hockey. I haven’t posted at all since the Cup was awarded and there have been a few key happenings since then on which I’d like to comment. So bear with me…
Osgood As It Gets
Goaltender Chris Osgood announced his retirement Monday. 17 seasons, 401 wins, 3 cups, and a partridge in a pear tree. It’s been a great career for Ozzie who played with what Eddie Olczyk described as “quiet excellence…he’s not flashy, he’s not dramatic, he just wins.” With his 401 wins, Ozzie is the 10th winningest goaltender in history, just 2 wins behind Grant Fuhr. And the infuriating thing…? People are speculating and arguing whether he should be inducted in the NHL Hall of Fame. I really need to hear some solid reasoning behind this. Most of these creeps are Detroit Red Wing fans, who for some reason have been stricken with this incurable Southeast Michigan outbreak of ourgoaltendingsucks-itis. If you happen to be reading this and suffer from this disease, and argue that Osgood doesn’t deserve the Call from the Hall, please read the bold line above one more time.
The detractors to Ozzie’s induction generally point to the mediocre seasons he’s had of late. True enough, maybe he lost his touch a bit, but everybody does. Osgood was smart enough to read the writing on the wall and hang ‘em up before it got to be one of those sad stories of desperate attempts to cling to fame.
Another thing…that net has always been 4 feet by 6 feet, and Chris Osgood has been able to keep more pucks out than in by just being 5’10” & 175 pounds. Just about all the top goalies these days are over 6 feet and well over 200 pounds. They’re just plain bigger, and take up that much more space between the pipes. Which means, Ozzie had to work that much harder to solidify his stature among hockey’s elite netminders. He belongs…
Another Round, Ty?
Caddyshack jokes aside, it looks like the Red Wings have picked up Ty Conklin for another stint as backup goaltender. To be quite honest, I never looked too much at the free agent market for goalies because I was pretty sure Osgood would stick around for another season. I pretty much knew that Joey McDonald would get signed but I left it at that. I love watching Jimmy Howard. He’s been fantastic in net these past few years and things can only progress from here. Especially now that Kenny Holland has inked him for another two years.
Conklin is a pretty good choice for a backup. Most of the decent goaltenders out there are looking to be starters and certainly don’t want to take a backseat to Howard. So no dice there. Another thing is that Conklin is familiar with most of the guys in the locker room and their style of play, which means there won’t be as big of a “learning curve” once the season opens. He started in 20 games with the Blues last season which helps. It’s not like being a backup goaltender for Marty Brodeur, which means you don’t even have to show up to the rink for most of the regular season. I don’t expect a lot of excitement, as this isn’t a blockbuster deal, but Conklin should prove useful as the Number 2.
The Big D Deal in The D
Upon announcement of Brian Rafalski’s early retirement and the possibility of Niklas Lidstrom’s not returning, all of Hockeytown was concerned about Detroit’s defense corps. It was no secret to the Red Wings front office either, and it has shown as well. The better portion of the Red Wings’ draft crop has been defensemen, as well as their free agent signings this summer. My first rant has to do with the pick-pocket signing of Jonathan Ericsson. Three years for $9.75 million? My first thought is that Big E showed up to contract negotiations with James Bond, Andre the Giant, and Paulie Walnuts. Now, of course, that couldn’t possibly happen because Andre the Giant’s dead…
Now, I like Ericsson. He’s been growing quite well within this organization and his improvement in the last year alone was surprising. But this deal just doesn’t make sense. That’s too much money for his skill level, and given the fact that Detroit had a lot of other holes to fill in its lineup, not to mention holding a few dollars in the bank to re-sign core players like Kronwall in the next year or so. Big E better put up some Big Numbers the next three years.
I was hoping that the Wings would pick up someone like Tomas Kaberle or Christian Ehrhoff (I really wanted Ehrhoff) and I seriously doubted we’d get the likes of Shea Weber. I also did not, repeat NOT, want Ed Jovanovski. After the dust settled though, the Wings selected Columbus’s Mike Commodore and San Jose’s Ian White.
I’m impressed with the signing of Ian White, especially for 2 years. The Wings were looking for a young, solid, two-way defenseman, and it looks like they’ve got that in White. He was +3 in both regular season and playoffs with the Sharks and registered 138 shots, plus he’s just a tough kid who can provide some more youthful exuberance to the blueline. The X-Factor in White’s signing is that the Wings can possibly pick his brain about the defensive strategy of the Sharks, and maybe get an edge back. When Todd McLellan left Detroit to become Sharks head coach, he was able to bring all his knowledge of Detroit’s inner workings and since then, the Sharks have been able to pick apart the Wings with marked success. Hopefully Ian White can provide his share of trade secrets.
Mike Commodore looks to me like a gamble. What’s stranger than that is that Commodore was picked up on July 1st…day 1 of free agency. There’s really no solid reason for signing him. He only played in 20 games last season with Columbus, but did manage 2 goals and 4 assists. It’s only a 1-year, $1million contract, so it looks almost like a Ruslan Salei situation. But this signing looks like bad news for top prospect Brendan Smith. Detroit pretty much has its defense lines set:
Once training camp opens up, Brendan will be given every opportunity to show his mettle. However, if his numbers aren’t significantly better than Commodore’s, he could be seeing another season in Grand Rapids as Mike Babcock will probably default to Commodore, who at least has NHL experience. Smith should probably focus on his power play abilities. This is probably the biggest hole left by Rafalski. Detroit has been looking to improve its power play to level it was 3 years ago. The key to that was getting the blueliners involved. Smith could snap up a more solid spot on the Wings’ roster if he can force some aggressive play with the man-advantage.
I leave you with a few questions…
Will The Red Wings use a little more cash and sign another power winger to bolster the scoring lines?
What about Kris Draper? There have been some mutterings that Montreal and maybe Winnipeg are interested in signing him.
Will Mike Commodore select number 64 and tip his hat to the company that brought you Moon Patrol and Matterhorn Screamer?
Tune in next week…..!