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Abel to Yzerman


Here’s what I know about chemistry.  In tenth grade I failed it, and I mean miserably.  The innocent young maiden sitting next to me tried to help by drawing the entire periodic table on her thigh then letting me look at it during tests (and only during tests you sick bastards), but even that didn’t work.  I applaud her efforts though.  Sweet girl. Grew up on a farm, then moved to the big city to try to get into acting, only to find talent alone…nevermind.

I’m not much more knowledgable on team chemistry.  I know that bringing a case of beer to softball games increases it exponentially, so I do that.  But chemistry on a professional sports level? No idea.  None.  I don’t know who’s a “cancer in the room.”  I don’t know who or what a “team guy” is.  As I’ve said before I usually don’t try and guess what goes on in the Wing room because there’s no way to ever know that unless you’re there, and I don’t plan to be any time soon.

But today I’ll make the exception.  Darren McCarty’s in there now, maybe at this very moment.  I’m wondering, as you probably are—because I have that kind of ability to place myself inside my reader’s heads—just how he’s being received.

Chelios, Draper, Maltby, Homer, Zetterberg, Datsyuk, Hasek, Osgood, Cleary…all are probably enthusiastic.  Either they know Mac, or they are secure enough in their jobs to know he’s not a threat to their ice time.

Filppula and Hudler: I don’t even know if they’re allowed to speak in the room yet.  Regardless, they’ll do what they’re told by Uncle Mike and take the time they’re given. Frankly, Hudler’s damn lucky to be where he is in the first place, given his streaky play. 

Samuelsson should be worried.  Theoretically, he should be real frigging concerned.  But Uncle Mike likes him and he’ll get his damn minutes.

The defensemen aren’t really an issue.  Lidstrom, of course, has to be the captain and set the tone, but Chelios seems to be the vocal leader of this team anyway.

Downey and Drake, that’s what we’re getting at and that’s who we’re talking about.  It’s not about how they feel, necessarily but how their teammates react to a new situation where guys they’ve battled with all year long, guys who have stuck up for them in all types of situations, could very well be in the press box because a hometown hero has been brought in with fourteen regular season games left. 

Drake. I really have no feel for how he’s fit in with this team.  We don’t hear much from him, or read too much about him.  When’s the last time you read a quote from a Wing player talking about what Dallas Drake brings to the team. I’m not disputing his value, that’s not what this post is about.  I’m wondering how he’s been accepted, and how he’s accepted playing for a team he formerly despised wherever he was.  If there’s been one constant up to this year in Drake’s career it’s been big time battles with the Wings.

Downey.  By all accounts, and judging by the way the team reacts to what he does on the ice, he appears to be hugely popular among his teammates.  6, 7, 8 minutes per game isn’t much, but that’s all he wants.  He has a specific role and his teammates appreciate how he does it.  We’ve heard nothing…I guess no Digger has asked the question, naturally…from Downey on this. No one’s asked the question, “how do you feel about McCarty coming in here and potentially sending you to the press box for the whole postseason when you’ve been the guy putting your ass on the line all year for your teammates?”

Uncle Mike Babcock.  You get the feeling he didn’t exactly go to Tick Tock Kenny and say, “Get me McCarty.”  He’s saying the right things, that Mac will earn his time if he gets it.  But Babcock seems like the kind of guy who just wouldn’t take well to a player recruited by Holland (and yeah, he was…don’t think for a second that Draper called him out of the blue, without the organ-I-zation prompting that little get together) and placed on his roster, on a team he didn’t want to change at the deadline. 

Bottom line: if McCarty gives this team a better chance to win, he’ll be in there, probably at Downey’s expense.  I don’t think Babcock’s going to ice a team with Downey, Drake and Mac all in the lineup.  And what about Kopecky? With McCarty in the lineup, here’s what the lines could look like:


But…that fourth line would have real scoring potential if Drake were replaced with Kopecky.  Ahhh…sorry, but he’s been a disappointment all year.  Invisible.  Sit him.  Go with Drake.

McCarty’s going to be embraced by most, accepted by all because they’re professionals.  But there’s going to be some discomfort there. Someone’s going to sit and it won’t be because their play has tailed off.  It’ll be because a new guy has come in, a guy who’s probably here because of what he did for this team in the past, along with some hope that he can bring his best game back to Detroit after a four-year absence.



Filed in: | Abel to Yzerman | Permalink
  Tags: babcock, cleary, downey, drake, draper, hasek, holland, holmstrom, hudler, maltby, mccarty, osgood, samuelsson


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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