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Two Finnish Players Stand Out

from Steve Simmons of the Toronto Sun,

There always has been this connection between the now budding and surprising stars, Antti Niemi and Ville Leino, but it wasn’t supposed to be about playing for championships.

They were just hoping to get an opportunity to play.

Leino was confident enough in his own abilities to figure he was going to make something of himself with the Detroit Red Wings. But he’ll be honest and tell you: “I wasn’t sure about Antti. I thought he was pretty good, but it’s a lot harder for goalies. There’s only so many jobs.”

Turns out he was wrong and he was wrong.

Leino didn’t factor much with the Red Wings, who tried to turn him into something he wasn’t and Niemi is a very good reason why the Chicago Blackhawks are this close to their first Stanley Cup in 49 years.

continued

Filed in: NHL Teams, Chicago Blackhawks, Philadelphia Flyers, | KK Hockey | Permalink
  Tags: antti+niemi, ville+leino

Comments

mrfluffy's avatar

The Red Wings tried to turn him into something he wasn’t…

This drives me up a *#$%@& wall. What? They wanted you to produce?!

The only reason the guy is producing now is that there are no expectations on him what so ever. He was considered a flop, and in a season where every assist, every goal (hence every point) produced by a player was desperately needed, the Wings did not have the time to give, especially since Leino was too cocky/arrogant to spend more time in Grand Rapids adjusting to hockey in the defense-first Western Conference.

Did Leino get run by other teams (as other members suggest)? Sure. Why not? It’s hockey for crying out loud. Did he have the space earlier in the year that he has now? No he did not, but he also didn’t do much to create it as he is now. Yes, as a Wings fan I do feel a slight pang of…what…regret? Jealousy? Even hatred…because now he’s producing like the Wings needed him to from the get-go. However, just like with Dan Cleary…Patrick Eaves…Drew Miller…sometimes things just don’t work out with certain teams, and when the player moves on to the next…the skills that disappeared somehow reappear.

The Wings didn’t make a mistake. If anything, they may have saved themselves from another Sergei Federov when Leino kept saying “I’m not playing another shift in Grand Rapids.” Ok fine, Mister Attitude, put up or shut up. He didn’t do crap, and was moved out. Now he’s producing…good for him and good for the Flyers.

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 06/03/10 at 11:26 AM ET

Avatar

Leino didn’t factor much with the Red Wings, who tried to turn him into something he wasn’t

Something he wasn’t?  They tried to get him to do EXACTLY WHAT HE IS DOING NOW.

I didn’t watch much of Philly playing before the finals, but in the three finals games, I’ve watched him play and the thing I kept saying was “why couldn’t he do that in Detroit.”

I don’t have a problem with him and I think that if the Wings weren’t in the cap crunch they were in he wouldn’t have been traded, and sometimes things just don’t work out as planned/hoped, but Simmons is a moron if he thinks they were trying to make him into something he wasn’t.

Posted by Garth on 06/03/10 at 12:33 PM ET

Primis's avatar

Leino got lazy in Detroit.

Since the trade, he hasn’t been, because it woke him up.

Mark my words, next year sometime he’ll fall back into it though.  He’s the new Robert Lang.

Posted by Primis on 06/03/10 at 01:04 PM ET

MOWingsfan19's avatar

Leino got lazy in Detroit.
Since the trade, he hasn’t been, because it woke him up.
Mark my words, next year sometime he’ll fall back into it though.  He’s the new Robert Lang.
Posted by Primis on 06/03/10 at 12:04 PM ET

He was a scratch in something like 9 or their final 11 games, I’d say that wasn’t a result of hard work.
Happy to see him succeed if nothing for a moment.

Posted by MOWingsfan19 from I really like our team on 06/03/10 at 01:14 PM ET

YzermanZetterberg's avatar

Before the Flyers ran into a multitude of injuries at forward, Leino was very often a healthy scratch—during both the regular season and playoffs. He has taken this latest opportunity and run with it, so good for him. But for Simmons to say things like…

1.)

Leino didn’t factor much with the Red Wings, who tried to turn him into something he wasn’t

2.)

in one of the rare mistakes the Wings front office made, they traded Leino to Philadelphia

3.)

showing the kind of skill Detroit, at first, believed him to have

simply shows he has no clue.

1.) As others have stated, the Wings merely wanted Leino to do the things he’s doing now: working hard and going to the net instead of floating.

2.) As a die-hard Wings fan, even I am willing to admit the organ-I-zation has made many mistakes over the years (Uwe Krupp anyone?).

3.) Finally, Detroit never stopped believing in Leino’s skill. They ran into yet another salary cap/roster crunch and were forced to either: A.) get something for him via trade or B.) get nothing for him when they tried to send him to GR and he was claimed off waivers. In fact, I distinctly remember Uncle Mike making a positive comment about Ville’s skill at the time of the trade.

The sad thing is, many people read swill like this and take it as fact because a “real” reporter wrote it.

Posted by YzermanZetterberg on 06/03/10 at 01:36 PM ET

Nathan's avatar

The Wings absolutely did not try to make him something he wasn’t.

Remember, he wasn’t playing any better with the Flyers until injuries gave him a chance to get top six forward minutes. He was given the same opportunity in Detroit due to their injury problems, and simply didn’t produce.

Sometimes a player needs a change of scenery. In Detroit, we’ve seen that with a handful of guys resurrecting careers here.

Posted by Nathan from the scoresheet! on 06/03/10 at 02:04 PM ET

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Paul Kukla founded Kukla’s Korner in 2005 and the site has since become the must-read site on the ‘net for all the latest happenings around the NHL.

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