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Abel to Yzerman

Re-Thinking The Official A2Y Stance on Hudler

I’m a big guy.  In stature?  Perhaps not.  But, emotionally?  Huge.  It takes a strong man to do something like this.

December 15th, 2006/Me

What is the infatuation with this kid?  Who in the organization is so tied to him that we can’t jettison him? Is Hudler better than Rem Murray or Boyd Devereaux…two players the Wings passed on the last two training camps?  Can anyone tell me Hudler fits into the Babcock system…at all?

At what point does wasting a roster spot on his potential become too cumbersome?

Through 25 games last year?  4 points, all goals.  I had lit the torches.  Lit them, ran with them through the village.  “Hudler must go,” I said.

But he didn’t. Nobody listened.  Kenny didn’t.  Jimmy D, our boy, didn’t.  Uncle Mike may have because he never really gave the kid the ice time he needed to show us much last year.  But now?  Well, it looks like we’ve got ourselves an improving oompa loompa on our hands.

15 points in the same span of time.  9 of them are assists.  I like that.  I’m liking Hudler.  I liked the goal last night, breaking for the net, anticipating Chelios’ next move.  I like the fact that he was absolutely drilled by a girl named Dion, stays down for a Balboa-like count of 8…and doesn’t miss a shift.

And the best part?  Hudler’s improvement is getting to be gradually infectious.  We’re not going to put a second (or third) line out there that’s going to compete with Monty Babcock’s Flying Circus in terms of production, but improvement can be seen.  Filppula, Samuelsson, Kopecky: all looked good last night.  Franzen registered 6 shots. Cleary’s looking dangerous again and even Drake showed a little offensive flair, minus the full face shield.  And Aaron Downey had multiple scoring opportunities.  No he didn’t. Just seeing if you were still with me.

But the key, in my opinion, is Hudler.  I’m still shaking my head at Babcock’s decision to stick him on the fourth line with Drake and Downey last Saturday at Columbus. To me, that made zero sense.  Since then, he’s been back up to the third—and occasionally—second line.  His ice time still hovers around 10 minutes, compared to the 18 Cleary had last night; and that has to be due to size and matchups.  He may have the heart to play effective defense right now, but he doesn’t have the size or strength. 

An inch shorter and about ten pounds lighter than Datsyuk, there’s hope he can find a means to check some of the bigger forwards he’d be matched up against, but until he does that ice time probably won’t increase. 

And speaking of Datsyuk…stand by.  He’s been around long enough for us to recognize the signs and they’re all there. 4 goals and 6 points the last three games and he’s just heating up.  Forget the stats and just consider the way he’s controlling play every shift. 

A note:  During the live blog from the Verizon Center Wednesday night I mentioned that a crew from Hockey Night in Canada was there shooting a story on hockey bloggers.  You’ll be able to see that story tomorrow at 6:30pm EST on CBC.

Another note:  I was remiss yesterday in that I didn’t say Happy Birthday to Grampa Pinhead.  I feel significant shame.  A belated congratulations Gramps, the day after your 40th.

Filed in: | Abel to Yzerman | Permalink
  Tags: babcock, cleary, datsyuk, downey, filppula, franzen, holland, hudler, kopecky, 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