Abel to Yzerman
by IwoCPO on 02/10/08 at 02:22 PM ET
I guess the discussion about contracts and even the underground talk mentioning Charlie Buckets as trade bait in the event he asks too much are kind of, you know, out the window now.
I’m no math whiz, but “six to eight weeks” comes out to April 10th, or March 25th, or maybe longer and that puts everything on the table now brother. Sundin, Jagr, Jokinen (have we heard that before?). Of course, the prices just went up since Kenny’s working with the worst kind of bad hand: a glaring need. And, yeah, it’s glaring.
Let’s go ahead and take a quick look at what the Wings will be trying to replace. Dan Cleary, who hadn’t missed a game this season, leaves a hole in the lineup to this kind of tune:
5th in points with 40.
2nd in goals with 20.
7th in assists with 20.
+23, fifth best on the team.
5 PP goals and 3 game winners.
161 shots. With the Wing mantra of “just shoot it bitch.” That’s three Cleary lasers per game gone.
Oh, and that’s 17 minutes, 24 shifts per game: gone. Dangerous shifts. Gritty shifts. Shifts that can’t be replaced by an oompa loompa who can’t score anymore, or a brawler who never could score. 24 shifts that can’t be replaced by a legend in Grand Rapids or a guy we used to hate but now wears #17.
On to the diggers and the reaction to this little nugget of fun.
Obviously, a huge blow for a valuable forward who was having a career year. You have to figure this will alter general manager Ken Holland’s trade deadline plans. Even if Cleary does return for the start of the playoffs, the Wings might want to get a goal-scoring winger by the Feb. 26 trade deadline just in case.
Yeah…just in case. Just in case Cleary’s still sucking Tab through a straw when we face, oh, Calgary, in the first round. Yep. Time to start taking a harder look at that first round opponent. Nashville, Denver, Phoenix: all would be pleasing. Calgary, Vancouver, Minneosta, San Jose? No thanks, not with Cleary’s abrasiveness and resiliency potentially missing for the opening series.
Mike Babcock told me after the game that Cleary had two fractures, and there was never any question this would be a long-term injury.
Two fractures to the jaw. Double the fun for Uncle Mike. And double the pressure to find a replacement. No? Consider this. Since last year’s boot to the balls in Anaheim, by all accounts a series between two amazingly evenly-matched teams, the Wings have: lost Mathieu Schneider, lost Todd Bertuzzi, lost Dan Cleary and added…Dallas Drake. (edit: thanks to A2Y reader Jaybee who pointed out what I amazingly missed: the signing of Rafalski, which waters down my point considerably) Anaheim? Added Schneider, Bertuzzi and allowed their two best players to take a six month vacation to rest up for a title defense. Yeah, they lost Penner and MacDonald, but now punk-ass Corey Perry seems to know how to score.
Today will give us a glimpse. Pessimistic would be a mild term for me right now. Osgood looked like garbage against LA (but admittedly better than Hasek did yesterday). Wings played an emotional OT game in the center of the hockey universe yesterday. Cleary’s out. Hudler can’t score. Filppula has two goals his last fifteen games. 1 his last seven (none since his Cancun experience). Secondary scoring, that magical fun phrase that has taken the league by storm this year, is kind of a concern.
Today’s the day Ken Holland may have to alter his plans. With sixteen days left until the deadline, an afternoon game with the Poultry may show him that he needs to alter the dynamic for the sake of the Cup. Today he’ll see a better Anaheim team than the one that beat us in May, and a Wing team that is not what it was in the WCF.
And, as we said a few weeks ago, any move has two motivations behind it: make the team better, if you can. And keep Anaheim from getting even stronger, which you must. Kevin Paul Dupont from the Boston Globe says Cliff Fletcher’s willing to deal Sundin-which we already knew-if Sundin wants to go. And if he wants to go, it’ll be to the “right team” for him. Dupont says that “right” team is just across the border.
In this case, “right” is likely code for Detroit, a club that could win it without Sundin, and one that becomes a prohibitive favorite if he has the Winged Wheel on his chest. The Ducks could become instant co-favorites to repeat if Sundin went to Anaheim, where the image of him feeding Teemu Selanne borders on the obscene. It’s a far better bet that Sundin, even though he has never won a Cup in his 16 seasons, would opt for the closer, almost sure bet in Motown rather than Ducktown. Detroit is so much closer to Toronto, and it’s all but certain that he’ll sign again with the Leafs in July, unless he gets intoxicated with seeing his reflection in the Cup when he hoists it over his head.
Sundin to the Wings was a lark the day before yesterday, an interesting conversation to pass the time. But now, with Charlie Buckets in bed with Grampa Joe for six to eight, is it a necessity? Could be. And if Sundin’s guaranteed to return to Toronto (not a guarantee, in my opinion) than that may bring the price down a bit. But expensive or cheap, he’s not my number one. I’ve said it all along and I’m standing by it. Jokinen. A captain, gritty, a scorer with an edge, younger.
Either way, Ken Holland’s in a position to earn his check once again. A twice-crushed jaw to a guy who was lucky to land a job but now is a lynchpin has turned up the heat. Tick tock Kenny.
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