Kukla's Korner

Abel to Yzerman

Paw Paw, West Virginia

Back in 1997 I met a guy from there, from Paw Paw, WV.  Believe me when I tell you he was pure redneck.  He fit all the stereotypes: the NASCAR thing, the Copenhagen thing, the slow drawl and you got the immediate sense that he was loyal to the core.  When I met him I seriously doubt he’d ever watched a minute of hockey. 

He’d ridden subs, done things he’d never be able to tell me about, toyed with nations in ways Tom Clancy couldn’t imagine, but never watched hockey.  Until I forced him to sit down and watch Game 1 of the WCF, Detroit and Colorado.  He saw the intensity, the importance of every shift, the way Detroit kept peppering Patrick Roy, only to see him turn them away again and again.  After the first period, he was hooked.  Hockey had him and we had ourselves a convert.

That’s what the playoffs do.  They bring the fence-sitters in and raise the eyebrows of those who’ve never given hockey a second thought.

And for the rest of us?  Pain.  Emotional and even physical.  I’ll tell you, watching Game 6 of last year’s Punch In The Face was the epitome of playoff-induced torture.  Wings down 3 games to 2, playing in Edmonton in front of that insane crowd. 

I didn’t even want to watch.  Then Zetterberg scored.  Then Lang scored.  2-0 heading into the third and visions of Game 7 in Hockeytown started to seep in. The rollercoaster was inching higher, kind of gently, allowing us to look around at the rest of the amusement park on a sunny day.  Then the third period started and bad things happened to me.  That little piss-ant Pisani scored twice and the Rexall roof blew off.  I was stunned silent.  My wife wouldn’t look at me and the world had ended.  Nevermind.  Franzen scores, all is well.  Four minutes left and we’re headed to Detroit. 

Hemsky scores and you knew it was over.  Two minutes later Legace’s lying spread eagled, the ultimate martyr, the puck behind him…again.  Hemsky…again.  And then it was really over.  The pain doesn’t last that long, you know.  It’s immediate and sharp, but it goes away.  But the memory of that pain is what stays with you. 

And now it’s back, the possibility of it anyway.  So screw it.  You don’t have to put yourselves through this again.  Boycott the playoffs.  Back in December you couldn’t wait for them to start. You’d grown tired of Chicago and Columbus and St. Louis.  Please, you said, give me a meaningful game.  But now that they’re here, the most meaningful games of all, you’re asking yourselves if all the stress is worth it.  Of course, it’s not.  Quit.  Don’t watch. 

Still here?  K.  Bertuzzi’s status is in serious doubt.  Bruce MacLeod tells us so.

With one more practice day left before Thursday’s playoff opener against the Calgary Flames at Joe Louis Arena (7 p.m., FSN), the likelihood of Bertuzzi being ready is shrinking.

“When he came in today (Tuesday), medical people are dealing with that,” said Detroit coach Mike Babcock. “In my mind, he’s not available at this point.”

What?  Jesus.  If the stress isn’t bad enough our coach can’t complete a thought much less a sentence.

Thankfully, you’ve read and heard enough to know the deal.  Bertuzzi’s looking less and less likely.  And every practice he misses hurts more than the last.  The likelihood that he’s going to be a factor in this series drops with each day he’s inactive. 

Back to Babcock.  I’m not making any quotes up for him today.  I couldn’t do him justice.  The Free Press’ Michael Rosenberg has a column this morning talking, I think, about the pressure the coach is under.  Babcock confirms it with statements like this.

“Mental is a big part of it. To me, at this time of year, you have earned a lot of edge through the season. And now you take that in. Does that guarantee success? No.”



I can’t take reading anymore Babblecock this morning.  It hurts my head.  Let me find a quote from Datsyuk.  Pavel’s quotes read like Pat Conroy compared to Babcock’s.


Datsyuk realizes he’ll be under an even bigger microscope after signing that huge contract.

“Once you start (the playoffs), no one cares about pressure,’’ Datsyuk said. “Everyone cares about results you have (as a team).’‘

Exactly.  But in your case Pavel, if the team doesn’t succeed everyone’s going to be looking at your stat sheet first.  Sorry bubba, but that’s the way it is.  No matter the pain you played through last year.

Kulfan/Detroit News

But Pavel Datsyuk, much maligned by the fans and media alike for his scoring drought, also rushed back from a severe charley horse—he had blood drained from one of his thighs before the playoffs—and played through considerable discomfort.

“He definitely was not healthy,” Van Zant said. “The truth is, if it had been the regular season, he probably would’ve been out at least another 2-3 weeks. I’d say he was maybe 75 percent, at best.”

Kulfan’s piece is very good, talks about the pain of the playoffs. Not our pain.  Their pain. Legitimate pain and players playing through it.  And needles.

Oh, alright. Back to Babcock.  Wanna keep your job, run a tight ship brother.  Ensure the attention level is where it should be in practice.

With Babcock cracking the whip, the Wings hustled through a snappy workout Tuesday morning at Joe Louis Arena. “The energy level is right back up,” the coach said. “They usually have quite a bit of fun at practice. I can always tell that, when they’re shooting pucks at each other and not paying attention, they’re usually ready to go.”

Nope.  Didn’t make that one up either.  Jesus.  How’d we win 20 games much less the division?


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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