Kukla's Korner

Abel to Yzerman

Next HOF Candidates?

Interesting little diddy in the Hamilton Spectator this morning, taking a look at each team and speculating which players will be Hall-worthy. Just to pick a couple out of the hat, let's see what they say about, oh...just randomly selecting two....Joe Nieuwendyk and Nicklas Lidstrom.

Joe Nieuwendyk, with three Stanley Cups on three different teams and a sparkling international resume for Canada, should be a lock.
Ok, I don't argue he's a likely and deserving selection. I could live with Nieuwendyk in the Hall. But the mild recommendation for Nick Lidstrom has me a little baffled.
Nicklas Lidstrom will be a candidate for steady, seamless service.
Sounds like a citation for a military Good Conduct Award. Umm, how about 4 (can you argue with 5?) Norris Trophies, 3 Stanley Cups, a Conn Smythe and a captaincy? If Nieuwendyk "should be a lock", the frigging Hall should be named after Lidstrom. Is my bias showing again? Sorry about that.

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Mirtle On The West

James Mirtle writes this morning that the days of the Wild West are long gone, pointing out the conference lays claim to the seven stingiest defensive teams; along with a playoff race that will turn out to be anything but exciting.

What does that mean? For one thing, if you want the high-flying, high-scoring NHL where anything can happen and anyone will win, tune into the East where even the top teams have seen 60+ goals end up in their net. That's where the playoff-race drama will come — and we're seeing evidence of it already with unlikely teams like Washington and Pittsburgh in postseason positions. The West? It's been a low-scoring, predictable, and almost humdrum season so far. Teams that were high-flying in the past — namely Vancouver, Colorado and Edmonton — have packed up the offence and are struggling to adjust.
I can't believe I'm doing this but...man, what a dork...if the playoffs started today (I really can't help but laugh at myself for typing that on Nov. 14th...if I was a chick I'd insert "LOL" in there)...I'm sorry, I can't do it. Look, my point is that the top eight teams right now are: Anaheim, Detroit, Minnesota, San Jose, Dallas, Bubba, Edmonton and Vancouver. There will be some shifting (Calgary's going to get in. Either Vancouver or Edmonton won't), but that's it folks. Those are your playoff teams and it's not even Thanksgiving. Oh, and Pierre LaCroissant and whoever his puppet GM is can wheel and deal all they want. Bring in Floppa. Whatever. No playoffs for you fat boy.

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Tuesday Deep Digging

Quite a bit to choose from this morning as all the Deep Diggers seem to be active and chipper. Helene St. James spoke with Chris Chelios recently, who naturally said he considers his age a "black cloud hanging over my head" and that he hates the idea that his 44 years is the first thing people think of. Kirk Maltby said opposing fans do all they can to remind him. Helene St. James/Free Press

"It seems to happen a little more in the Canadian cities. I think it's just because of the way he plays against some of the teams that we've seen a lot of over the years; it seems there are always signs about his age and how old he is and whatnot. I think it motivates him a little bit in the overall scheme of things, to keep prolonging things. I think he gets a chuckle out of it. When he sees a new sign, he kind of applauds the guy or girl that did it."
Speaking of Canadian fans and signs, this is my favorite picture from last year. image

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The List Grows: Holmstrom Out Too

Joining the Wings suddenly expanding list of injured players? Tomas Holmstrom. Hasek due to play more than expected, as well. MLive/Khan(!)

Niklas Kronwall (groin), Tomas Holmstrom (groin) and Chris Osgood (hand) didn’t practice Monday in Vancouver and, according to Mike Babcock, won’t dress Tuesday against the Canucks. Babcock said none of the injuries is significant and expects all three to be ready for Friday’s game in Calgary. Forward Josh Langfeld, recalled from Grand Rapids, will make his Wings debut Tuesday. Babcock said Dominik Hasek, who’ll aim for his third consecutive shutout Tuesday, might play more games than planned because he’s not getting much work in his starts (averaging 20 shots against).

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Corporate Leadership?

Yeah, I got spun up when I saw it too. The NHL has created, seemingly out of the blue, a leadership award and named it after Mark Messier who, according to their public release, "many believe to be the greatest captain in hockey history." I'm not one of the many. And neither are you, if you're reading this here. But, whether he is or isn't may not be the question. The more interesting issue could very well be just where the heck this award came from. According to the release, one leadership award will be given monthly and another yearly. Keep that "yearly" item in mind.

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The Return of Grampa Pinhead

You know by now that the idea of writing about the NHL at large scares me. So I leave that to Grampa Pinhead. Opinionated, often cranky and certainly willing to debate should you choose to take that step, I'll bring you his viewpoints whenever he sees fit to provide them to me. ------- Tonight Buffalo (14-1-1) at Carolina (9-6-3) Montreal (8-4-3) at Ottawa (6-9-1) San Jose (13-5-0) at Los Angeles (5-10-4) and I get Philadelphia (3-11-2) at Pittsburgh (7-6-2) In spite of all their efforts and improvements, VS (OLN) continues to suck. No wonder I am having a little problem getting into hockey this year.

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Monday Evening Odds and Ends

Josh Langfeld has been recalled by the Wings as the team waits out Jason Williams' recovery. Also, according to Helene St. James' Wing blog, Niklas Kronwall has been ruled out of tomorrow's game at Vancouver; along with, surprise, Chris Osgood.

Langfeld will replace Tomas Holmstrom, who is sidelined by a groin injury. Holmstrom, Chris Osgood (hand) and Niklas Kronwall (groin) didn’t practice Monday, and coach Mike Babcock said the three would not play Tuesday. Babcock said none of the injuries are serious.
Ummm, Kronwall's injury "wasn't serious" after the Nashville game. Three days later, he's still nursing the groin, and it's still not serious. Considering our boy's injury history, it sounds mildly serious to me. And check this out. Just before Patrick Roy headed to the land of happiness and light in '95, guess who almost nabbed him? Pierre LeBrun/CP
Former Detroit coach Scotty Bowman confirmed the Wings were contacted by then-Montreal GM Rejean Houle. "Yes, he called us, I was handling trades at the time for Detroit," said Bowman, in town Monday for the Hall of Fame festivities. "But we had just got (goalie) Mike Vernon a year or two before from Calgary. I didn't think I could make a trade with them. But I figured maybe I could get the price up. We didn't do it. They moved him pretty quick. "I knew he'd be going somewhere but I was just hoping it wouldn't be Colorado."
Finally, according to NBC's Eric McErlain there are lessons to be learned from Darren McCarty's troubles.
The story of a veteran player like McCarty, who won three Stanley Cups in Detroit and is now closer to the end of his career than the beginning, ought to serve as a cautionary tale. Fortunately, there is help, and it can be found on the campus of Quinnipiac University in Connecticut. It's there that you'll find the Professional Athlete Transition Institute (PATI), the home of a cooperative venture between the NHL, NHLPA and the NHL Alumni -- Life After Hockey.
Noble effort on the part of the league, but man...c'mon. You're making millions. Hire a financial advisor.

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Deep Breath Wing Fans: NHL Announces New Leadership Award

Oh...well, this is interesting. I was so excited about Hasek's recognition as one of the coveted Three Stars of the Week, that I missed this little tidbit. The NHL will now name a Leader of the Month. Cool. And they're naming the award after, according to the league press release, the man "many consider to be the greatest captain in hockey history." Excellent. The Yzerman Award for Leadership. Woops. Not quite.

The six-time Stanley Cup winner wore the C for Edmonton and the New York Rangers to become the only player in history to captain two teams to an NHL championship. He is also a former captain of the Vancouver Canucks. Messier will be at Madison Square Garden on Tuesday to present the first winner with the award.
I'm curious how much weight the league gave Messier's glorious years in Vancouver and his second run in New York (when he allowed the lockerroom to become a haven for malcontents and underachievers) when they decided to name this award after him. Update 1653 CST: Not surprisingly, this has caused a little chatter on the Wings message boards. Relevant threads are below. Let's Go Wings Red Wing Central

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Hasek Named An NHL Star Of Week

We told you over the weekend that Dominik Hasek isn't worthy enough to appear on the NHL's All Star ballot this year. But, and this must sit well with the HQ, he's been named one the league's three Stars of The Week. NHL.com via Kukla's

Hasek recorded a shutout in each of his two appearances as the Red Wings (11-4-1) extended their winning streak to eight games and moved into first place in the Central Division. Hasek made 16 saves in a 3-0 victory over the Edmonton Oilers Nov. 8 and turned aside 21 shots in a 3-0 victory over Nashville Nov. 10, snapping the Predators' streak of points in 10 consecutive games (9-0-1). The consecutive shutouts increased Hasek's season total to three, tied for the League lead with New Jersey's Martin Brodeur, and career total to 71, tied for 11th on the all-time list with former Red Wing and Hockey Hall of Fame member Harry Lumley.
We all know who the 3rd star really belongs to (the entire team, as the defense has been the backbone behind Hasek's consecutive shutouts and the 8-game winning streak), but it's a nice bit or irony that Hasek is honored just days after being left off the ballot. Slava Kozlov took the first star (also not on the all-star ballot), Mikkia Kiprusoff the second.

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Powerful Enough For You?

I, like you, don't give much credence to the various power rankings you can find out there. But I, like you, do search them out every week to see where the "pundits" believe the Wings fall out. ESPN's hasn't been updated since last Monday, so I'd expect a refresh sometime today. And it should be interesting to see if they live up to their word. Here's what they had to say last week when the Wings ended up 11th on their highly scientific poll.

Before you start bombarding us with e-mails ("How can the Wings not be in the Top 10, you loser!?"), look at Detroit's wins since our last offering: Calgary, Chicago, Columbus. And those wins came despite going 1-for-19 on the PP. Let's see how the Wings do against Edmonton and Nashville before we talk Top 10.
I'd guess, just out on a limb here, that it'll be okay to "talk Top 10" now.

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About Abel to Yzerman

Welcome to Abel to Yzerman, a Red Wing blog since 1977.  No other site on the internet has better-researched, fact-laden and better prepared discussions than A2Y.  Re-phrase: we do little research, find facts and stats highly overrated and claim little to no preparation.  There are 19 readers of A2Y. No more, no less. All of them, except maybe one, are juvenile in nature.  Reminding them of that in the comment section will only encourage them to prove that. Your suggestions and critiques are welcome: wphoulihan@gmail.com


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