Abel to Yzerman
by IwoCPO on 02/19/08 at 06:53 AM ET
Mike Keane was on Hockey Night in Canada radio a few weeks ago, talking about his life in the minors playing for the Manitoba Moose. Hard not to respect the things he had to say, that he realizes he’ll probably never play for an NHL team again; but that he loves hockey and would like nothing more than to help Manitoba to a title.
It was one of those interviews that would typically leave you liking the guy because of what he represents as a hockey player. And it almost made me forget that Keane referred to the Wings as “cowards” after McCarty dragged Claude Lemieux’s bloody face across the Joe Louis ice, closer to the Wings bench so that Kris Draper could get a better view.
So it was Mike Keane I thought of last night as Ian Laperriere was cowering, covering up, turtling in Denver while Aaron Downey reminded him that you don’t get your elbows up on Nick Lidstrom. I was wondering if Keane was watching from Manitoba, while thousands of “transplants” took over the Pepsi Center and urged Downey to land a few more. If Keane was watching, I have a feeling he was probably smiling because that was old time hockey last night. And despite his “cowards” remark, Mike Keane was an old time hockey player who probably knew—along with many of you—that the minute Laperriere left Lidstrom groggy and dazed, payment would be required.
And, to his credit, Laperriere knew it too.
“I would have done the same thing if it had been on the other side. I respect Aaron Downey and have no problem with what he did. But it was a clean hit. I play hard, but I play clean.”
Laperriere crushed Lidstrom. Crushed him. And if not for the elbow to the jaw, it would have been hard to argue with any part of that hit. Laperriere did his job. And he took his medicine, which would have been doled out had the hit been completely clean or not. He would have been beat down by Aaron Downey regardless, because Aaron Downey knows his role.
“So my message is simple: The next time anyone runs any of our guys in a way that shouldn’t be done, then a message will be sent. I’m not going to go out and run your skill guys, your superstars. I’m going to go right to the guy (who did it), and fair justice is fair justice.”
Quote of the year right there. And Downey, the philosopher who has no problem punching you in the face if you go after a friend of his, cements his role even more. Aaron Downey, who would probably prefer to throw a puck at a goalie rather than attempt to shoot one by him, made himself not-so-expendable last night. If Darren McCarty’s coming back, it’s going to be at someone else’s expense because Downey’s staying in Detroit.
I was all conflicted last night. When Mike Babcock was frothing at the mouth I, like you—admit it—wanted to see him pop Granato. Just a sharp, quick jab. Didn’t have to be a haymaker or anything like that, just a quick pop. Of course, we’re glad he didn’t because that would have been some ungodly suspension, then we’d be stuck with Todd McLellan running the team and I’m not sure the guy even speaks. But, like Downey, Babcock endeared himself to a lot of people last night. And, like Downey, Babcock’s actions may have done more for the guys sitting on the bench in front of him than many of us realize.
Take a look at the smile on Franzen’s face in that photo.
Now, was that little episode the result of one hit from Ian Laperriere? Nope. That was a six-game steam valve busting wide open. That was losing to Columbus at home and watching a goal waved off against a team you wanted to beat a hell of a lot more than you let on. That was the strain of knowing you have the best team in the league and that anything less than a Cup would be a failure. Little Tony Granato just happened to be in the vicinity. Good for Babcock.
Now, as for Lidstrom. That was lose-your-lunch type stuff right there. On the surface, according to the Wing propaganda machine, we may be able to relax a bit and even find a positive in giving Lidstrom a two week break.
“He’s going to be fine,” said Detroit coach Mike Babcock. “I don’t know if he’s going to be out a week or 10 days or what. He’s got something mild in the inside of his knee. I don’t know what the technical term is, but it just means that he’s not playing right away.”
More testing today though. So don’t get all fuzzy and warm just yet. If all goes well, Lidstrom misses the Way West Swing then returns for the San Jose game on 29 February. That’s if all goes well. Have you ever seen a quicker diagnosis than the one spooned out by John Hahn last night? Within a half-hour of the hit, he’d announced in the press box that it was a “slight sprain.”
That announcement wasn’t for the benefit of the Diggers and Teri Frei and Adrian Dater. It was sent directly to Florida, straight to Naples where GMs were rubbing their hands together, knowing that if Lidstrom was hurt badly enough, they could double their asking prices for whoever Ken Holland’s trying to deal for.
“Slight sprain.” “He’s watching the game from in front of his stall.” “He wanted to come back out and play.” Probably all true. But if it turns out today that Lidstrom’s knee is worse than announced last night, we’ll know all of that was BS, which we understand. Truth has no value right now. None.
All aboard, back aboard, come on aboard. The streak may be over, but the stress train is reaching capacity. Rightfully so.
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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: email@example.com