Kukla's Korner

Abel to Yzerman

Digging Mother’s Day

When the Wings scored first Friday night, I immediately fast forwarded to 2200 Sunday.  Heading to Anaheim up 2-0.  That’s how I roll.  If they’d fallen behind, I would have been fetal, rocking, sucking the thumb, humming.  It’s the mind of the hockey fan, at least this one.

Oh…your eyebrows are raised?  You’re thinking, “what a child.  What an imbalanced, juvenile little boy.”  Yeah. And?  You’re telling me, right now, you’re telling me that when the Wings get a lead you don’t start fantasizing about the best possible scenario? 

Liars. Lying liars.

We’re going to touch on a few things here then get into some digging.  First:  read the papers.  Listen to Brian Engblom.  Read the Poultry blogs and the message is the same:  Anaheim doesn’t have to change a thing.  Nothing.  They’ve got the Wings right where they want them.

Yeah, umm, they do have to change one thing: they have to win.  We outshot Detroit in Detroit!  Yes. Yes you did.  Congratulations, but, of the 32, well…Hasek kinda stopped 31.  You outchanced the Wings in Detroit!  Dammit! You did.  By god, I’ll admit it.  And I’ve stressed over that.  I have.  I’ve paced and showered more regularly than usual.  I’ve stopped slicing my cheddar and started eating it right from the block. It worries me. I don’t know if I can take it. I…wait?  Outchanced doesn’t mean “defeat?”  Oh….ok.

So, I’m tired of hearing about all this “Anaheim’s in a great position” crap.  No they’re not.  They’re in a terrible position because we’ve seen it.  They statistically owned the Wings in Game 1, yet they lost to a better goaltender.  We know that look. We know it better than anyone.  So mutter about it amongst yourselves…go ahead.  But we have no sympathy.  And, frankly, it’s not about beauty anymore.  Not with this Wings team.  Any win. Anyhow.

Oh…and yeah, there’s this.  Some of you Wing fans are reveling in this underdog thing.  We discussed it here last week, the fact that the Wings are the “underdog” in the third straight series, as the number 1 seed.  Some of you like that. It’s fresh and exciting.  I’ve got news for you.  The Detroit Red Wings are not “underdogs” to anyone.  Ever.  When you compare the talent of this team to any in the league? No.  When you compare the blue line, even ravaged by injury? No.  When you compare the organ-I-zation, the heritage and history? No.  The only time this team should have been considered less than a heavy favorite was going into the Calgary series, because of the baggage.  Now?  Nope.  Not with the confidence this team has. 

Alright…on to some digging.

It’s Sunday, so that means feature stories.  And feature stories on the Wings mean one thing: Chris Chelios, because no one’s touched on the age angle yet.  Mitch Albom’s been quite a presence in the Wing room since the playoffs started, which has probably caused him to request more than 7 or 8 vaccinations…so dirty in there, so smelly.  And because he’s been there, you’d think he’d have a creative idea or two.  But our Delicate Genius?  Nah

Chris Chelios is still skating.

He remembers fiddling with rabbit ears on a black-and-white TV set. He remembers beers they used to serve in his father’s bar — beers like Schlitz and Hamm’s — that are now hard to find.

He remembers 1969, when his father packed up the entire family in a Cadillac, drove to San Francisco and hopped on a boat that took 21 days to reach Australia. A young Chelios threw footballs with U.S. soldiers on leave from Vietnam.

Vietnam? Australia? Twenty-one days on a boat?

Chris Chelios is still skating.

I have a couple reactions.  First: Chris Chelios is, apparently, still skating.  Second:  I don’t know about you Mitch, considering you’re more of a spritzer guy, but I have no problem finding Hamm’s.  Hell, I can even find you Hamm’s Genuine Draft if you want it.

Jerry Green’s got a “Chelios is old…I swear” story this morning too.  The difference? I like Jerry Green. Always have.  I used to like Albom. Now I don’t.  Another difference? Green’s story is good.

Once in this same building, Chris Chelios was the most despised player in the NHL. Booed, taunted with vicious slurs by Detroit hockey fan. One night, when he was captain of the Blackhawks, he performed stick surgery on Sergei Fedorov. The crowd roared with bloody hatred…

...“he’s a nasty hockey player,” Steve Yzerman said that morning. Praise, as Yzerman welcomed Chelios to his team.

The boos, the hatred, turned to cheers and admiration. Detroit hockey fan happens to be a tad fickle. A year so later they hated Fedorov for his defection to Anaheim—and they loved Chelios.

Wait a minute. You wait one damn minute Jerry.  Did you just call Wing fans “fickle?”  We would never boo Sergei Fedorov, after the key role he played in three Cups. Never.  What?  Oh, that’s right.  The drunk know-nothing idiots.  I forgot about them.  Sorry.

Not a big fan of Terry Foster’s.  I didn’t like his comments when he said he’d rather watch “Dancing With the Stars” rather than the Wings back in October and I don’t like him any better now. 

Having said that, I like his column from this morning.  He’s right.  If you live and die with the adventures of your favorite sports team (and you’re not a piece of crap bandwagoner who happens to like, say, the Red Sox, the Colts, the Wings and the Spurs…yet you live in Ohio?), then Michigan’s the place to be.

“We are very aware of what is going on in Detroit sports,” Pistons forward Tayshaun Prince said. “We are aware of the Tigers recently having an eight-game winning streak and the Red Wings beating San Jose in the playoffs. We keep up with them although we are busy with our own series. It’s great to see the city of Detroit enjoying this and the athletes taking care of business.”

One more little mild-mannered opinion on that.  Well, maybe two.  First:  here’s a rule.  If you live in a state, if you grew up there, went to school there, your friends are there, and that state has a professional sports team….that’s your team.  You don’t live in, say, Ohio, and claim anyone but the Browns/Bengals, Reds/Indians, Cavaliers and BJ’s as your team.  Now, the BJ’s—because they’re new—may be the exception.  Although, if given the chance I don’t know how anyone could turn a BJ down, but maybe that’s just me.  My point:  stick with your damn team.  Stand by them.  The Lions may suck, but their ours.  We haven’t gradually drifted toward the Patriots.  We just light the torches for Millen and wait for a winner.

Also, in 1968 a little team with players like Horton and Brown and Northrup lifted the spirits of a city that was not the best place in the country to live and work.  Does 2007 compare to Detroit in ‘68?  I’d guess not.  But, yes, the economy sucks.  And, yes, our three teams…all of them playing equally well…are doing that again.  At a time when the industry that used to backbone Motown is now backdooring it (Foster wanted to say that but couldn’t…the beauty of a blog), the Tigers, Pistons and Wings are having the same effect that Mayo Smith’s Tigers had in ‘68.  Foster’s right.  Detroit is Sportstown, USA this Spring and Summer.

Steve Schrader at the Freep has several nifty tidbits this morning, lots of stuff to discuss with Mom over brunch.  A few funny stories, including one about Osgood needling Todd Bertuzzi…not smart, but funny.  And there’s this: apparently Mike Modano’s fee-onc-eh, some chick named Willa something, feels he’s being treated poorly by the Stars organization.  Frankly, I couldn’t care less about that.  I do, however, care about this.

Who is going to win the Cup?

“It’s funny. I have no opinion when it comes to any other team. Mike thinks Detroit. He just whispered it to me. I have heard him say that before. If the Stars aren’t in the finals, I couldn’t care less.”

Good call Mikey.  Keep whispering.  From what I’ve read this morning though, you might want to whisper slow and use small words.  Willa doesn’t strike me as the coldest puck in the bag, if you get my drift.

One more deal from Schrader’s column.  Classic Chelios.

Chris Chelios, asked if he felt sorry for Francois Beauchemin (the Wings’ first goal Friday deflected off the Ducks defenseman and he couldn’t quite keep the winner from rolling in): “That might be the dumbest question I’ve heard in my life.”

Woops.  Frigging woops.  Drew Sharpe has done it.  As Jack Black would say, “went and did it.”  He’s injected the name Conn Smythe into the conversation, and he’s done so with Dominik Hasek in tow. 

But what do you get the goalie that already has everything?

There isn’t much that Hasek hasn’t won. His trophy case is already overflowing. He’s got a Stanley Cup, an Olympic gold medal, two NHL Most Valuable Player awards and six Vezina Trophies, which recognize the game’s premier goalie.

“I guess all that’s left is the Conn Smythe (Award),” said Nicklas Lidstrom.

And a lobotomy.  But that’s a different story.  Well, not really.  I mean, it’s literally a different story.  But any story about Dom can’t stray too far from the fact that he’s completely insane.  Look…he is.  Deal with it.  Bathe yourself in the warmth of our goalie’s insanity.  Because, well, he does.

The Czech goalie still gets angry and scolds himself when he screws up.

“You have to find whatever motivates you, so if you let in a bad goal and get angry and you feel that gets you into the game more, then you do it,” Hasek said Wednesday. “I try to do whatever motivates me the best.

“Sometimes I talk to myself. I just say a few words. I might say to myself, ‘Get ready.’ ‘Watch the puck.’ ‘Be ready all the time, that’s what you’re here for.’ Sometimes I look at the fans and smile.”

Lidstrom wants him to keep talking.

“When he’s talking a lot, he’s on top of his game, and he’s been doing that throughout these playoffs,” the Red Wings captain said.

My sources (e5) tell me Hasek was on full babble after Lidstrom’s Play Of The Century Friday nite.  Almost beyond comprehension.  What follows is a loose transcript.

“Soon I kill Nick.  In my crease.  Crease invading bastard like Russians. Satellite country my ass.  I don’t invade his captain space. I have “C” of my own.  Czech. Crazy. Cinch.  Cinch them. Cinch the pants I introduce this summer in my new line of Czech fashion trouser pants with zippers AND buttons.”

All I can do is give you guys what I hear.

If you’re in Denver reading this, you’re probably wondering why the Wings are the dynasty they’ve become…and your team sucks so badly (was that mean? I’m sorry).  Steve Simmons has your answer.

It’s not hard to understand why the Wings have success year after year. Look at who they have to consult with before making decisions: General manager Ken Holland; former general manager, Jimmy Devellano; current coach Mike Babcock; legendary coach Scotty Bowman; assistant general manager Jim Nill; former captain Steve Yzerman.

And who else in hockey can access that kind of experience, background, knowledge, and record of success?

Can your favourite team compare?

Can anyone?

Let me think…nah.

But Anaheim’s giving it a shot.  3 conference finals in 4 years.  Consistent improvement. Consistent success.  I posted a story the other day from the LA Times that a few people took the wrong way.  I wasn’t blasting the Anaheim fan base.  I know they’re passionate and loyal.  I think it’s pathetic that more people in Southern California don’t recognize the Poultry’s success and potential, but that’s Gary’s World.

Today?  Well, today the Times tells us the Ducks are concerned about their special teams.  They should be.  And Giguere’s concerned about our boy Homer.

Giguere said he can’t get caught up in what Holmstrom does in front of him. The defense, he said, must find a way to keep him from establishing position.

“If he’s in front of me, I think we’re going to waste energy if we just try to battle him in front,” Giguere said. “Just kind of let him be and maybe take his stick away. But the more battling in front, the harder it is for me to see the puck.

“I can work around one guy but working around two or three guys is a little harder.”

So JSG wants the Ducks to devote less time to Holmstrom.  Sorry…not gonna happen.  Asking a defenseman to stay away from Homer is like asking Bubba to keep his hands off his cousin.  Just too tempting.

Khan(!) touches on touching Homer too.

They can ignore him, but he won’t go away. The Hockey News recently labeled Holmstrom, who will earn $2.25 million a season on the three-year contract he signed in February, one of the best bargains in the NHL. The dirty work he does in front of the net for the Wings is priceless.

“I don’t care what anybody says, he’s the best at that in the league,’’ Wings defenseman Chris Chelios said. “There’s no one I think is even close to him. It’s like a basketball player who has a knack for rebounding, being in the right place. It’s a great gift he’s got and we’re fortunate because you ask any goaltender, it’s tough with him in front of the net.’’

Lidstrom called the winning goal “Homer at his best.’’

“He’s such a warrior. If he gets knocked down, he gets right back up and in the front of the net again,’’ Lidstrom said. “He’s a huge part of our team. ‘’

Almost done. Stay with me.  Focus.  We end where we began.  The Ducks played their game.  Outchanced. Outhit. Outshot and outplayed.  Good signs abound. Except for that nasty scoreboard thing.

I am not glad the Ducks lost, but I think the positives are going Anaheim’s way more so then in Detroit’s favor. Bounces may win you games, but they wont win you a series. Look for the exact same Anaheim team in game two. They do not need to change a thing. Dominik Hasek is the only reason the Red Wings won, the only reason. Nothing was impressive, they were out shot, out chanced, out hit and out played. They won where it counts, but they can’t be lucky every game.

That’s from Duck’s Blog.  I’ve got sour news for you Jack.  It can happen again, and it can happen every game.  Don’t believe me?  Go back 4 years and then come back and talk.

Happy Mother’s Day to all.



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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