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Abel to Yzerman

Updated @ 10:34 PM w/ confirmation: The Red Wings want Nabokov?  Why?

As Paul’s reported today, and ESPN’s Pierre LeBrun and the Sporting News’s Craig Custance are reporting, the Red Wings apparently have some interest in unrestricted free agent—and mandatory waiver-bound goaltender—Evgeni Nabokov.  According to Sport-Express, Nabokov spent four hours in talks with the Wings, but that’s about all I can find about Nabokov’s situation in the Russian press, save Nabokov’s agent, Sergei Isakov, told Lifesports.ru that Nabokov’s looking for an NHL deal, but was pursuing contract offers in the Czech Republic and Sweden as of Monday…

So what the hell’s going on here?

Let’s cut the, “ZOMG THE WINGS WILL TRADE JIMMY/OZZIE” panic out of the equation and work logically here.

1. It is entirely possible that, despite Holland’s suggestions to Khan, either Howard’s bruised knee is more seriously injured than we know, or that Osgood had much more extensive sports hernia surgery than we’ve been led to believe (GM’s have to fib sometimes to keep their cards to themselves), so the Wings need a veteran back-up.

2. Given Holland’s statements when he allowed Ty Conklin to walk—that the Wings couldn’t keep bringing in 35-year-old goalies forever—I find it extremely unlikely that the Wings have any plans to trade a goaltender or simply not re-sign Howard.  In the present market for goaltenders, even a goalie who puts up 30 wins a season can’t expect to earn more than about $4 million a season, and as we all know, Holland’s a master at making cap numbers work (see: Valtteri Filppula, Jiri Hudler). 

Moreover, the Red Wings and Jim Bedard in particular have put in thousands of hours of time, energy, effort, and probably no small amount of money into transforming Howard from a chubby reactionary goaltender into the nearly technically perfect netminder he is today.  You don’t cut ties with that kind of prospect because his agent has unrealistic expectations for a contract that expires in July when you’re talking to that agent in January.  Howard’s happy in Detroit, the Wings obviously see him as their goalie of the present and future, Thomas McCollum factor included (he’ll eventually graduate to become Howard’s back-up or co-starter if all goes according to plan), and as Osgood’s been a fantastic mentor and clearly wants to retire as a Red Wing, well, the Detroit Red Wings aren’t a team that cuts ties with a near-life-long-Wing just because someone better comes along.  That’s not how the organization works.

3. It’s entirely possible that the Wings know that Nabokov would be picked up on waivers, and are simply performing a courtesy signing for the team that would snag him—it bears mentioning that the as-presently-configured Wings will be dangerously close to the salary cap again when Pavel Datsyuk, Mike Modano, Brad Stuart and Dan Cleary return—for “future considerations,” i.e. to grease the wheels for a depth-making trade for a defenseman or forward at the deadline, if not, should we start to receive reports that he’s pulled a Ville Leino and tuned out the coaches, a Jiri Hudler trade.

Also: It’s semi-official, for the moment I’m using the A2Y blog, but over the next couple of days I’ll start to return to work and get back up to speed as The Malik Report finally officially launches.

Update 4:25 PM: Quoth Jimmy Howard to Ansar Khan:

“Whatever helps the team helps the team,’’ Howard following the morning skate at Scottrade Center. “But I think for the most part everyone in here is planning on having (Chris Osgood) back here whenever he’s due back.’‘

General manager Ken Holland shot down rumors and speculation that Osgood’s recovery will take longer than first anticipated or that he might be out for the season. Holland said Osgood, who had surgery for a sports hernia on Jan. 11, still is due back in early to mid-March.

But if the club signs Nabokov, he’ll surely push Howard for the starting job. Where would that leave Osgood?

If a deal is completed, Nabokov still must clear waivers, meaning any team can put in a claim for him and prevent him from joining the Red Wings.

The Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan believes that Nabokov may be a stopgap until Osgood returns—around the trade deadline…

“I have had conversations with Nabokov’s agent,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said.

Holland wouldn’t speculate about what triggered the Wings’ interest in Nabokov. Likely, it’s Chris Osgood’s sports hernia surgery; he will be out until March.

The Wings would be looking to strengthen their goaltending if Jimmy Howard were to go down again with injury. He missed the last two games with a bruised right knee but is starting Thursday night in St. Louis.

With only Joey MacDonald and young Tom McCollum in reserve after Osgood went down, the position is thin.

And it doesn’t take a rocket surgeon or brain scientist to tell you that while MacDonald has played valiantly in Howard’s stead, he’s a journeyman for a reason…

The Free Press’s George Sipple also confirms Holland’s interest:

”I will confirm that I have had conversations with the agent for Nabokov,” Holland said.

Don Meehan is Nabokov’s agent.

Don Meehan was also Nicklas Lidstrom’s agent for quite a while and is one of the most powerful agents in the business.  FYI.

Holland would not say anything more about why he was interested nor what it would mean for Chris Osgood’s future. Osgood is out 6 to 8 weeks after having sports hernia surgery.  Even if he agreed to a contract with the Wings, Nabokov still would have to clear NHL waivers. The Blues recently agreed to deals with Marek Svatos and Kyle Wellwood of KHL, but both players were claimed by other NHL teams.

Wings coach Mike Babcock had nothing to say about the rumors swirling after today’s morning skate about Nabokov.

“Absolutely nothing,” he said. “And if I did, I wouldn’t tell you anyway, would I?”

USA Today’s Kevin Allen adds this very obvious but needs-to-be-said caveat:

We can presume he will be signed, but what we don’t know is whether he would get through waivers still belonging to the Red Wings.

My guess is that the Red Wings won’t be paying Nabokov too much more than the minimum $550,000 contract. What that means is that some team might be tempted to grab Nabokov.

The Washington Capitals like their young goalies, but would they consider bringing in Nabokov as an insurance policy? Would the Ottawa Senators bring him in to add a spark to their playoff hopes?  Are the Philadelphia Flyers satisfied with their goalkeeping?

There aren’t many teams that would be interested in Nabokov, but it would only take one.

Update 4:30 PM: Via Paul, per TSN’s Darren Dreger on Twitter:

@capgeek. Deal still isn’t done, but $570,000 for the rest of the year is what I’m told. Pro-rated to about $250,000.
...
Hard to imagine Nabokov doesn’t get claimed at $570,000 or as the last tweet indicated…roughly $250,000 pro-rated.

And Capgeek’s Matthew Wuest:

If the #nhl #redwings sign Nabokov, it’s likely with the intent of placing Osgood on LTIR and using that space on a goalie.

This has to be a courtesy signing, at least in my opinion, for some sort of, “Hey, team X, since you’re gonna nab him, how about we get the deal done for you and we talk at the trade deadline/draft?” purpose.

Update 4:36 PM: Per Allen:

Red Wings can’t pay Nabokov much more than minimum because of cap space issue. It seems like it’s 55-45 or 50-50 that he clears waivers.

Update 4:40 PM: Nick Cotsonika has this to say, via WXYZ’s Tom Leyden:

Holland still talking to Nabokov’s agent and will continue. Deal not done with Red Wings.

Update 4:50 PM: Capgeek says…

When healthy, without MacDonald, Tatar and Mursak, #redwings have exactly $574,740 in cap space. Thus Nabokov’s reported $570,000 cap hit.

The wisest words about this situation come from Holland himself, via the Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness:

Holland would not say why the Wings were suddenly interested in obtaining Nabokov, “Those are more questions for if something does happen – can’t put the cart before the horse.”

Jimmy Howard is back to full health after missing two games with a bruised knee and is expected to start tonight in St. Louis.  Joey MacDonald is the backup with Chris Osgood on the shelf recovering from sports hernia surgery he had done on Jan. 11.

Osgood is scheduled to return sometime in early- to mid-March.

“The surgery went well,” Holland said. “He is rehabbing. Barring any setbacks, he’s (out) six to eight weeks.”

Here’s what I know: Ken Holland is the consummate tire-kicker.  He explores EVERY avenue, talks to EVERY GM about EVERY available player at the trade deadline, prior to the draft, and agents about prospective free agents’ asking prices…And he’s kicking tires here.  We’ll have to see what happens over the next couple of hours and days.

Update 6:08 PM: MLive’s Ansar Khan offers the obvious—the Wings will do the grunt work and sign a goalie who’s going to another team:

A source close to the situation said the Red Wings will sign Nabokov for $570,000, which is only about $250,000 prorated for the rest of the season. He would go on waivers Friday at noon and would need to clear before joining the Red Wings.

At that price, he likely will be claimed by another team.

“I wouldn’t get my hopes too high; the contract is peanuts,’’ a source said. “Anyone in need of a goaltender will put in a claim. Somebody in the West might say, ‘I don’t want Detroit to pick him up.’ ‘’

The Red Wings did not offer a multiyear deal with bonuses or a no-trade clause to discourage other clubs from putting in a claim for Nabokov because they don’t want to be committed to him past this season without having seen how he will fare.

Update 6:25 PM: Holland had this to say to the Windsor Star’s Dave Waddell:

“We’ve had conversations (with Nabokov’s agent Don Meehan),” Holland said before the Red Wings played the St. Louis Blues in St. Louis on Thursday. “I don’t know (if we’re close to a deal). It’s hard to know. We’ll see.”
...
Holland remained tight-lipped about why the Wings were exploring their goaltending options. He originally said he wasn’t in the market for a goaltender after backup goalie Chris Osgood underwent surgery to repair a sports hernia Jan. 11. Osgood is expected to be ready to play in mid-March.

“Those are questions for if something does happen,” Holland said. “Can’t put the cart before the horse.”

Again, Osgood’s supposedly on track to come back in early March…

“Everything I’ve been told he’s right on schedule,” Holland said, adding that Osgood’s return is pegged for March. “The surgery went well. He is rehabbing. All indications are everything went well.”

Update 6:37 PM: Here’s a Tweet from the Associated Press’s Larry Lage...

Evgeni Nabokov’s agent on talks with the Red Wings: “Good discussions with Detroit,” Don Meehan wrote in an e-mail.

Update 7:46 PM: It’s hard to take anything that Sport-Express’s Igor Larin says at face value, but according to Larin (think the Russian version of Larry Brooks meets Bruce Garrioch meets Eklund), Nabokov’s European agent, Sergei Isakov, says that Nabokov’s hale and hearty, that the negotiations with the Wings are going well, and…according to Larin, anyway, the Carolina Hurricanes or Ottawa Senators are the favorites to snag Nabokov off waivers.

Update 8:36 PM: The Macomb Daily’s Chuck Pleiness pondered what signing Nabokov would mean if, say, the Wings made it hard for other teams to claim him, which they have not.

Update 9:48 PM: Via Paul, the Globe and Mail’s David Shoalts offers these tidbits:

Just saw Nabokov’s agent Don Meehan. He said all the remains to be done on deal with Detroit is contract language. Then waivers, of course.
...
Meehan could not offer assurance Nabokov will clear waivers.

Update 10:34 PM: It’s official, per the Red Wings’ Twitter feed.  Now the Wings have to put him on waivers on Friday at 12 PM and we’ll see what happens.

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Comments

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NickLidstrom's avatar

I saw George Malik as the poster and I didn’t know if this was some sort of sick twisted joke or what. WOOOOOO

Posted by NickLidstrom from a Higher Ground on 01/20/11 at 05:25 PM ET

Nate A's avatar

Awesome. Welcome back.

Posted by Nate A from Detroit-ish on 01/20/11 at 05:25 PM ET

Forlorn in VA's avatar

George, it is always a treat to hear your take on something.  Welcome back.

Posted by Forlorn in VA on 01/20/11 at 05:26 PM ET

calquake's avatar

Welcome back George… we sure missed you.  Just like the Wings brass plays it, don’t come back too soon.  We’ll all still be here.

Posted by calquake on 01/20/11 at 05:26 PM ET

FranzensMouthguard's avatar

Hey George, good to see ya!

Also, just say no to that San Jose Sieve

Posted by FranzensMouthguard from Chicago, IL on 01/20/11 at 05:26 PM ET

Avatar

GREAT to hear from you again, George. I followed you over to KK from MLive and, while I like it a lot here, I have been jonesing for my regular Malik fix too.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 01/20/11 at 05:28 PM ET

hockeychic's avatar

Welcome back, George!

Posted by hockeychic from Denver, CO on 01/20/11 at 05:29 PM ET

HockeyTownTodd's avatar

Welcome back George, here is a re-post for you….

Actually I dont mind that. But it’ll never happen cause he wont pass re-entry waivers.
Posted by Nate A from Detroit-ish on 01/20/11 at 12:29 PM ET

The teams lowest in the standings have first dibs on players waived.
If I were Kenny, I would make a deal to trade Hudler for Nabby with one of the teams that has first dibs.  That would free some cap space, and I expect Nabby to come at a discount to rejoin the NHL and have a shot at a SC ring.

Posted by HockeyTownTodd from AKA GangstaGramps (Thanks, OSRT) on 01/20/11 at 02:12 PM ET

Posted by HockeyTownTodd on 01/20/11 at 05:30 PM ET

Neznarf's avatar

Welcome back George!

Posted by Neznarf on 01/20/11 at 05:32 PM ET

edillac's avatar

would love to see it happen,somehow

Posted by edillac from isolation on 01/20/11 at 05:34 PM ET

Ajax19's avatar

Malik lives!

I think that scenario 1 is the most likely.  I am not sure if Howard’s injury is worse than expected, but I wouldn’t be surprised at all to hear that Osgood’s time table for a return is either very much unknown or lengthier than expected.

After seeing Howard go down and having the McDonald/McCollum combo, I am sure Kenny Holland decided it was time for some insurance.

Given St. Louis’ (bad) luck with the waiver process, Kenny is going to have to get pretty clever to get Nabakov through.

Posted by Ajax19 on 01/20/11 at 05:35 PM ET

yzer19man's avatar

George, good to have you back, we missed you…I really love reading your extremely long sentences and trying to figure out what you are saying…your posts are def. more interesting to read then most hockey writeups.  Thanks and GO WINGS

Posted by yzer19man from Chicago, IL on 01/20/11 at 05:38 PM ET

NickLidstrom's avatar

Nabokov, if he gets through, would upgrade the Wings’ goaltending right away. Lot of hate sent his way but he was, for years, one of the elite goalies in the league before he decided to bolt to Russia. I wouldn’t place him as the blame for the Sharks’ playoff collapses, but just another piece to the many reasons why they didn’t win.

The Wings biggest weakness this year has been their defense/goaltending. I’d take Nabokov in a heartbeat and wouldn’t be surprised if he’d earn himself the starting job in the playoffs.

Posted by NickLidstrom from a Higher Ground on 01/20/11 at 05:39 PM ET

ColdWar's avatar

“the Detroit Red Wings aren’t a team that cuts ties with a near-life-long-Wing just because someone better comes along.  That’s not how the organization works. “


Hasek, anyone?
Hate to argue this, but that’s exactly what they did with Ozzie the first time around, remember?

Posted by ColdWar on 01/20/11 at 05:39 PM ET

Avatar

If San Jose claimed a crap 2nd-line center they don’t have a lineup spot for just so St Louis couldn’t get him, there’s no way Nabokov passes waivers.

Posted by StevieSteve on 01/20/11 at 05:39 PM ET

ColdWar's avatar

although, I guess he wasn’t “near-life-long” at that point ... but ...

Posted by ColdWar on 01/20/11 at 05:40 PM ET

WingsFanInBeanLand's avatar

Welcome back to the asylum.

Posted by WingsFanInBeanLand from where free agents no longer dare. on 01/20/11 at 05:42 PM ET

Avatar

Welcome back, George.  It’s a pleasure to see your byline again.

Posted by BobTheZee on 01/20/11 at 05:42 PM ET

EpeeBill's avatar

If the deal goes through, Nabby will be a depth signing to avoid making Jimmy start every game between now and the playoffs. Once Jimmy and Ozzie are both healthy again, they’ll start spell checking “Nabokov” for the back of a Griffins jersey.

Posted by EpeeBill on 01/20/11 at 05:42 PM ET

ITDeuce's avatar

Welcome back George.

Osgood’s been a fantastic mentor and clearly wants to retire as a Red Wing, well, the Detroit Red Wings aren’t a team that cuts ties with a near-life-long-Wing just because someone better comes along.

Just trying to clarify here.  You aren’t suggesting that Nabby is better than Osgood are you?


I’m sorry, but put me in the group that think Nabokov has been very overrated his entire career.  Never been a fan.  At all.


Seriously though, welcome back man.  I really hope things are ok for you.

Posted by ITDeuce from The Sunny High Desert on 01/20/11 at 05:44 PM ET

Nate A's avatar

ooh ooh, me too.

  If I were Kenny, I would make a deal to trade Hudler for Nabby with one of the teams that has first dibs.

I find your proposal acceptable. Make it happen.

Posted by Nate A from Detroit-ish on 01/20/11 at 02:22 PM ET

Posted by Nate A from Detroit-ish on 01/20/11 at 05:45 PM ET

SYF's avatar

Welcome back, Mr. Malik.  So good to see your writings once again.

Just like the Wings brass plays it…

Posted by calquake on 01/20/11 at 02:26 PM ET

Gonna agree with cal here.  The Wings brass don’t make moves to play for the playoffs; they make moves to win the Cup.

Once more, I trust Tick Tock despite my earlier hesitations.  Whatever you gotta do, Tick Tock, man, do it.

Posted by SYF from the team that re-signed KFQ and DFC by KFH on 01/20/11 at 05:48 PM ET

Zaze's avatar

Thanks George, looking forward to reading more

Posted by Zaze on 01/20/11 at 05:49 PM ET

Down River Dan's avatar


Wings coach Mike Babcock had nothing to say about the rumors swirling after today’s morning skate about Nabokov.

“Absolutely nothing,” he said. “And if I did, I wouldn’t tell you anyway, would I?”

  I love that guy!

Posted by Down River Dan on 01/20/11 at 05:49 PM ET

Nathan's avatar

Welcome back, missed your posts!

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 01/20/11 at 05:49 PM ET

Primis's avatar

So the Wings desperately need healthy, competent d-men… and we get talk of them trying to bring over an old, somewhat-broken-down Russian goalie instead?

Excuse me while I’m unimpressed.  Has Holland watched Kronwall and Ericsson recently?

Or is this a Kenny Smokescreen?  You know, while he tries to get the actual guy to fill the actual need?

Posted by Primis on 01/20/11 at 05:50 PM ET

MOWingsfan19's avatar

Jiggy may waive his NTC, lets ship the Laffs Hudler for him.  LOL

Posted by MOWingsfan19 from I really like our team on 01/20/11 at 05:51 PM ET

Chris from NOHS's avatar

in what fantasy world is howard a “nearly technically perfect netminder”?

The one called real life.  When on, today he’s an almost perfect technical netminder (think MAF). 

Two years ago, he had a serious problem of overcommitting on routine shots.  That’s mostly gone in his game today.

Posted by Chris from NOHS from Columbus, OH/Grand Rapids, MI on 01/20/11 at 05:54 PM ET

Jon Jordan's avatar

Glad you’re back, George.

JJ

Posted by Jon Jordan from Tampa, FL on 01/20/11 at 05:54 PM ET

SnLO's avatar

If I were Kenny, I would make a deal to trade Hudler for Nabby with one of the teams that has first dibs.
Posted by HockeyTownTodd from AKA GangstaGramps (Thanks, OSRT) on 01/20/11 at 02:12 PM ET

Or better still:

I think the better option would be arrange for Leighton to pass through re-entry back to PHI, and acquire him instead.
Posted by Nate A from Detroit-ish on 01/20/11 at 01:35 PM ET

Posted by SnLO from the sub great-white north on 01/20/11 at 05:54 PM ET

NickLidstrom's avatar

What evidence has Nabokov given that he’s “broken down”? Last season was one of the best statistical seasons of his career. Cannot blame the Shark’s collapses on him- this Wings team is far different than any Sharks team he played for.

And why would anyone want Giguere of Nabby? Giggy was an elite netminder for about 2 seasons, and has been average and broken down since. Wings would be able to sign Nabokov for much cheaper than Giguere’s 6 mill a year figure as well.

Posted by NickLidstrom from a Higher Ground on 01/20/11 at 06:00 PM ET

Avatar

Posted by Nate A from Detroit-ish on 01/20/11 at 01:35 PM ET

There is no universe in which Michael Leighton is anywhere close to as competent a goaltender as Evgeni Nabokov.

Besides, there is no guarantee that Philadelphia will recall Leighton at any point this season. They’re probably avoiding it because they know he’d likely be claimed, and then they’d be stuck with a $750,000+ cap hit that they can’t get rid of by sending it to the minors for the rest of this year AND next year.

Backlund (AHL salary: $100,000) does not have to clear waivers and would likely be the Flyers’ backup if either Bobrovsky or Boucher miss time the rest of the way.

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 01/20/11 at 06:02 PM ET

Nate A's avatar

There is no universe in which Michael Leighton is anywhere close to as competent a goaltender as Evgeni Nabokov.

I don’t disagree with you. I’d rather have Nabokov too. But a deal can probably be had for Leighton that does not get yanked from under us by another team.

Posted by Nate A from Detroit-ish on 01/20/11 at 06:04 PM ET

SnLO's avatar

Now that the news of this possibility has had a chance to sink in, I’m remembering what transpired between Nabokov and the Russian National Team. If I remember this correctly, Nabokov demanded the starting role or nothing and then happened to quit on his team during the tournament. This is not the Red Wing way and I think he could end up being a poison in the Wing locker room as he was in his National Teams locker room. Signing Nabby could be bad mojo.

Posted by SnLO from the sub great-white north on 01/20/11 at 06:06 PM ET

SolidTG7's avatar

Good to read your stuff again George, welcome back.

Posted by SolidTG7 on 01/20/11 at 06:06 PM ET

Avatar

Posted by Nate A from Detroit-ish on 01/20/11 at 03:04 PM ET

Fair enough, though it won’t come through re-entry unless somebody goes Tanya Harding on at least two Flyers goalies.

And if it isn’t coming through re-entry, then we’d have Leighton and the full brunt of his $1.5 million cap hit for the next two years. That’s way too much for a goalie of his caliber, and even if we stuffed him in the minors, we’d be taking a roster another spot away from McCollum and we’d be in the same situation Philadelphia is in now (i.e., not being able to recall a player purely because of the re-entry waiver risk—see Meech, Derek).

Posted by Sven22 from Grand Rapids on 01/20/11 at 06:10 PM ET

Nate A's avatar

The trick with Leighton is taking the waiver risk away from us. PHI recalls him knowing our interest, we snag him, they are free of half his salary. They owe us for Leino anyway. Even if we don’t snag him off waivers due to some gentleman’s agreement, it’s likely he passes and we then make a trade for him.

When/if Ozzy is healthy, Leighton goes down to GR, no worse off than he was in PHI. If someone picks him up at that point they get his entire salary, but we’ve got 2 healthy netminders again anyway.  And come playoffs, we’ll have him free and clear if we need him, no waivers or cap limit. As for the roster question, McCollum got sent out of GR for a bit this season anyway didn’t he?

Still, if some other team picks him up from PHI before we can, well then we’re no worse off than before, and the Nabokov/etc options are still available.

Posted by Nate A from Detroit-ish on 01/20/11 at 06:19 PM ET

Paul's avatar

“Whatever helps the team helps the team,’’ Howard following the morning skate at Scottrade Center. “But I think for the most part everyone in here is planning on having (Chris Osgood) back here whenever he’s due back.’‘

General manager Ken Holland shot down rumors and speculation that Osgood’s recovery will take longer than first anticipated or that he might be out for the season. Holland said Osgood, who had surgery for a sports hernia on Jan. 11, still is due back in early to mid-March.

But if the club signs Nabokov, he’ll surely push Howard for the starting job. Where would that leave Osgood?

-Khan

Posted by Paul from Motown Area on 01/20/11 at 06:21 PM ET

Mandingo's avatar

I don’t know if grabbing Nabokov would necessarily be a good move, but I’ll tell you right now the Wings are going nowhere in the playoffs with the defense and goaltending as it stands. Nowhere. Something has to change, and the players they ice right now don’t seem to be committed to that change, regardless of injury.

I was talking with a friend of mine yesterday quite seriously about the possibility of trading Kronwall straight up for Robin Regehr.

Yeah, I’m pretty much in full-on meltdown mode at this point.

Posted by Mandingo from The Garage on 01/20/11 at 06:26 PM ET

Jeff  OKWingnut's avatar

Hello George - - great to “see” you again(!)

and, about the Nabby thing - - I’m so confused

Posted by Jeff OKWingnut from Quest for 12 on 01/20/11 at 06:26 PM ET

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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