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Red Wings coach Mike Babcock dissatisfied with his team’s depth up front

Red Wings coach Mike Babcock was anything but happy while speaking to the media after the Wings’ 2-1 loss to the Nashville Predators, speaking to the media and suggesting that the Wings couldn’t match Nashville’s four-line depth or scoring, and he’s particularly dissatisfied with his team’s trend of losing in lower rounds over the past three seasons:

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mrfluffy's avatar

Good stuff from Babs. Finally some fire. Is it from this embarrassment of a first round or has he truly been pissed at Kenny since February or before?

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 04/21/12 at 02:22 AM ET

Ducksworth's avatar

I don’t understand all this fire Babcock nonsense from Wings fans here and there, I don’t blame him one bit. The team that was given to him this season was not good enough. A bunch of bottom six forwards and no one to play with Pav on the first line. Then we give a 1st rounder up for Quincey??? I would have rather seen Kindl in the lineup. Time for changes this off-season. Semin, Doan, Suter, Moen and Parise are some of the potential options out there that I would like to see the Wings pursue.

Posted by Ducksworth from Brownstown, MI on 04/21/12 at 02:39 AM ET

PaulinMiamiBeach's avatar

we didn’t have a lot of help for Pavel.

what about Zetterberg?! they didn’t play together at all 5-on-5!

why didn’t we see the Circus at all?

he’s complaining about something that was caused by HIS line choices.  ugh.

Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 04/21/12 at 02:45 AM ET

soletrain's avatar

babcock rules. i hope we can snake a big name free agent.

Posted by soletrain on 04/21/12 at 02:48 AM ET

Primis's avatar

Posted by Ducksworth from Brownstown, MI on 04/21/12 at 01:39 AM ET

This “nonsense” has been brewing for a while (years) because Babcock plays favorites.  It’s just finally now blowing up in his face.

Here’s how it works with Babcock:  if you’re not one of “his” guys, you won’t get ice-time.  No matter what you do.  There is little-to-no merit system with Babcock.  That line with Helm-Abdelkader-Miller seems to have been the exception (not the rule) because even Babcock could see the results.

He did it with Hudler and (quite frankly) hindered his development.  It’s been suspected for some time by some of us that the real reason Hudler went to the KHL was because Holland wanted him to have actual icetime to develop more (but he was too good for the AHL level) and Babcock refused to do it.  Hudler then still has never really left this doghouse (which as I noted on Twitter is funny considering he has been the only one in the series willing to go to the net to score, and actually has scored).

Nyquist is now the latest controversy:  nothing the kid does seems to get him more looks or ice-time.  Even though he seems to make things happen every time on the ice.  Brendan Smith has the same problem:  no matter how good he has looked, Babcock won’t even dress him given the opportunity.

Conversely then Babcock has his favorites.  He had them in guys like Lilja and Samuelsson, where no matter what they did or how stupid they were on the ice (or how many playoff games they single-handedly cost the team, I’M LOOKING AT YOU LILJA) the ice-time never was taken away.  Now it’s been guys like Ericsson, Bertuzzi, and Cleary who are guaranteed ice-time no matter how poorly they perform it seems.  Dumb penalty, Bert?  NO PROBLEM!  Mental errors game after game Cleary?  NO PROBLEM!  Give up bad goals, Jonny?  NO PROBLEM!

Couple that with Babcock’s ridiculous insistence today that the Wings have not been just shooting from the perimeter and outlandish claims that video evidence backs it up, and he’s further made no friends.  Because fans aren’t dumb and can see the shot charts and know the context in which they were taken.

Truthfully I don’t know who you’d hire to replace him.  However, hard to deny that there’s a problem with the coaches.  And even after losing 3 associate coaches now and replacing them, the song and results remain the same (poor PP, poor PK, poor shot selection, bizarre choice of timing to play dump-and-chase, bad defense…).  After so many associate coaches you can’t keep blaming them and you have to point the finger at the head coach instead.  Because he’s been the constant.

I find it ridiculous that Babcock complains about depth up front though.  He didn’t TRY much of anything,  He sat and hoped it’d work out itself, basically.  He didn’t give guys like Connor, Mursak, Tatar chances.  He didn’t give Nyquist and Ememrton more chances or opportunity when others faltered.  I don’t see how Babcock can think or claim he really tried anything.  Would it have worked?  Who knows, maybe not, but at least he would have TRIED.

Posted by Primis on 04/21/12 at 02:57 AM ET

Primis's avatar

I also want to remind everyone, Dave Lewis was fired after a President’s Trophy and a 1st round exit to EDM.  In his only season as head behind the bench.  And they replaced him with a guy that raised eyebrows.

That’s how Babcock got his gig.

So after 2 straight 2nd round flameouts and now a first-round bounce, and several seasons of lower and lower seeds… you have to wonder what evidence there is in his favor.

Posted by Primis on 04/21/12 at 03:02 AM ET

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Is it from this embarrassment of a first round or has he truly been pissed at Kenny since February or before?

He was very open about wanting another top 6 forward last summer. He obviously looked around the rest of the league and indeed his own locker room and concluded that this team was in need of more firepower.

Parise is the guy. He should be target 1 for Holland this summer. Semin? We’ve got Franzen already. There’s really no reason to overpay for two soft, under performing wingers.

Posted by godblender on 04/21/12 at 03:03 AM ET

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Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 04/21/12 at 01:45 AM ET

Not that I disagree with you, but he probably felt to match NSH’s depth he had to spread out what little he had as far as he could…

I was never of the idea to bench Franzen, but I feel throwing him on the fourth line so that he would feel like he had something to prove may have helped our game, and would have spread more talent out. I.E. The Muloose may have thought “Shit, I make 5 mill a year! And they’re gonna gimme me bottom six minutes? Fook that, I’m getting a double hat trick! I’ll show ‘em!”

These is all speculations, and I’m far from a GM or even a highly knowledgeable hockey fan, especially compared to most of the people who post here…. I’m just a longtime fan throwing ideas around. They ain’t right, they ain’t wrong… just ideas. Heavily medicated ideas.

Also, imagine how much more depth and speed The Wings would’a had if we’d been able to keep Helm in (duh..) and Eaves, I think we were really missing a right hand shot on forward.

And to the “FIRE BABCOCK” crowd, please watch this video. I think more blame lies on Holland (who I still love and trust, btw. So don’t fire him either.) Anyways I think these last three seasons may make Holland look to get bigger, grittier, and land a top notch goal scorer… We already have some of the best playmakers on our team.

Posted by LGRWeh on 04/21/12 at 03:07 AM ET

Guilherme's avatar

*#$%@& you, Babcock.

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 04/21/12 at 03:10 AM ET

mrfluffy's avatar

Emmerton played in 71 games, Primis…PLUS 5 playoff games. He’s had his chances, and probably didn’t do too terribly for a 4th line center…but he’s not exaclty a grinder. He’s sure as hell not Boyd Devereaux…

Posted by mrfluffy from A wide spot on I-90 in Montana on 04/21/12 at 03:12 AM ET

Guilherme's avatar

Emmerton played in 71 games, Primis…PLUS 5 playoff games

Had more than 10 minutes in just 10 games. Played a playoff-high 5:17 on Game 2, low of 2:52 in Game 1.

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 04/21/12 at 03:20 AM ET

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Had more than 10 minutes in just 10 games. Played a playoff-high 5:17 on Game 2, low of 2:52 in Game 1.

You weren’t pinning our playoff chances on Emmerton, were you? Honestly I don’t know what Babcock could have done differently that would have yielded much better results…with the possible exception of giving Ny more time on one of the top 2 lines. Franzen, Bertuzzi, Cleary, Fil and Hudler are what they are. As in, not top 6 performers. With the exception of Franzen none of those players has ever proven to be particularly productive in the playoffs.

Would I have liked to have seen Nyquist get more ice time? Yep. How about Smith? Without a doubt. But neither of those moves were going to help this team win a playoff series.

Posted by godblender on 04/21/12 at 03:52 AM ET

Guilherme's avatar

You weren’t pinning our playoff chances on Emmerton, were you?

Absolutely not, just pointing out that playing in a lot of games doesn’t mean a guy had his chances.

Nit-picky, I know.

Posted by Guilherme from Brazsil on 04/21/12 at 04:01 AM ET

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I live that everyone is speaking their mind and it hard to argue that the hair can’t take some heat for this. The statement that pisses me off the most was when bab keeps saying Jenny and I thought we over achived in the regular season and at the beginning of the year thought we would be fighting for a playoff stop. Hello then make a move, why was that ok? You had $8 nil at the deadline if u don’t have enough fire power than get some. Nyquist and smith need playing time to learn and grow. And I’m sorry I know its only Jr.s but tomas jurco has 18 points in 7 playoff games, he needs to be put rate on the team like hank and pav at 20. Ken has a big offseason in front of him and anything outside of a top 2 dman and parsie or nash trade (highly unlickley) is a bust. And can anyone explain to me y Erickson is making 3.8 with a no move clause wtf. I hope there are buyouts with the new cba

Posted by tom from detroit on 04/21/12 at 04:10 AM ET

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Wow dude nail on the head if you didn’t think u were good enough *#$%@& fix it,  early exits are not tolorated

Posted by jim from westland on 04/21/12 at 04:20 AM ET

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please stop complaining about Hudler’s ice time and development. Hudler is a turnover machine. He was the cause of the 3rd period goal the Wings gave up both in the turnover at center ice and the lack of hustle to cover Nashville’s trailer. If he cherry picked any more he’d have to take an 80’s nickname.

Z has been carrying him all year and it’s killed Z’s offensive game.

Let him go back to the KHL and make more money. He only plays in contract years anyways.

I hope the Mule has a list of injuries b/c otherwise it seems he was gliding instead of skating all series.

Posted by dca from in mich on 04/21/12 at 05:31 AM ET

Chet's avatar

sick of watching catch-up hockey in key games.

Posted by Chet from twitter: thegansen on 04/21/12 at 05:36 AM ET

w2j2's avatar

I thnk Babcock is a great coach.
He is also brutally honest.
I wonder how Ken Holland (a great GM)  likes his coach’s candor?

The Preds are a much better team than the Wings, and they proved it.

The Wings have so many guys who are not very good…

Hudler is tiny and way too slow.
Bertuzzi is giant and way too slow.
Franzen is too slow.
Stuart is too slow.
Quincy is a 4 - 5th Dman at best.

Holmstrom is too old and slow.
Lidstrom is getting old and slow.

How is that for painful, brutal honesty?

Go Wings!

Posted by w2j2 on 04/21/12 at 06:21 AM ET

cowboycoffee's avatar

i just wanna leave this here so everyone can read how unbelievably ridiculous it sounds.

It’s been suspected for some time by some of us that the real reason Hudler went to the KHL was because Holland wanted him to have actual icetime to develop more (but he was too good for the AHL level) and Babcock refused to do it.

Posted by cowboycoffee from San Francisco, CA on 04/21/12 at 07:35 AM ET

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His comments after the game made me feel eneasy sitting on my couch watching on tv… I can only imagine how half the team he threw under the bus felt.

Posted by gretzky_to_lemieux on 04/21/12 at 09:17 AM ET

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I have been a Red Wings fan since a 1985 match up with the Calgary Flames while I had a stop over on my way from Alaska to Michigan. I have never questioned my team until now. Lidstrom should come back and train this team to be the best once again. This team was not feared like the previous 20 years. The Winged wheel shall be feared again next season or hell will freeeze over.

Posted by Eric Tinsley from Burien, Wa on 04/21/12 at 10:08 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

He was the cause of the 3rd period goal the Wings gave up both in the turnover at center ice and the lack of hustle to cover Nashville’s trailer. If he cherry picked any more he’d have to take an 80’s nickname.

Well you could put it that way, or your could not be wrong.

Brad Stuart missed Jiri Hudler with a 10-foot pass. Under minor pressure, this professional hockey player couldn’t put a 10-foot pass on the stick blade of his teammate turning up ice. Then, Hudler blocked the initial attempt at pushing the puck past him to get Nashville into the zone with speed.  They still managed to do that because Brad Stuart stepped up on Gabriel Bourque and ended up getting enough of neither the puck nor the man. This sprung Radulov in on Kronwall to force the defender to play up on him while Bourque hustled past Stuart. When Radulov turned, he created a 2-on-1 look to beat Kronwall which frightened Filppula into coming in to support.

Kronwall recovered enough to get position on Bourque and sweep the puck off his stick, but he unfortunately swept it right to Filppula’s man, who would have been covered if Flip hadn’t made the lightning-fast read that Kronwall was in trouble and Bourque was about to get an unchallenged opportunity on goal.

While this is developing, Jiri Hudler is trying to get off the boards from having been double-teamed thanks to Brad Stuart’s inability to hit him with a 10-foot pass.

If you’re going to pick anecdotal evidence out about how horrible Hudler is, it’s probably best to at least use examples where he actually did something wrong, like the time earlier in the series where he had an open look to the slot after a pass from Zetterberg and instead of going there, passed it immediately back to the boards.

... or use that he’s essentially the “finisher” on that line and it’s his stick that the puck bounced over with 0.8 seconds left as he stood uncovered on the back door with an opportunity to put the game-tying goal behind Rinne last night (or when he did basically the same thing in game 1).

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 04/21/12 at 10:40 AM ET

Gumby's avatar

I also want to remind everyone, Dave Lewis was fired after a President’s Trophy and a 1st round exit to EDM.  In his only season as head behind the bench.


Dave Lewis had the team for two years.  He went out in the first round to Edmonton after the ‘02-‘03 season (defending the Stanley Cup), and the next year was when the team won the President’s trophy and exited after losing to Calgary in the second round.  Babcock became the head coach after the lockout.

Posted by Gumby from the city with more ruins than Rome on 04/21/12 at 10:40 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

your could not be wrong.

Keep forgetting to hit preview…

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 04/21/12 at 10:41 AM ET

Red Winger's avatar

We’re the Detroit FUCHIN’ Red Wings. This is unacceptable. If you don’t get a lump in your throat everytime you pull on the Winged Wheel as a player then get the fuch out.

Posted by Red Winger from Sault Ste Marie on 04/21/12 at 10:57 AM ET

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Posted by PaulinMiamiBeach on 04/21/12 at 01:45 AM ET

That’s a little bit of nonsense there.

He’s right, the Wings absolutely were not deep enough at forward.  The Wings are chock full of bottom six forwards and have a great dearth of top-six forwards.  There’s no way that Bertuzzi should be in the top six, Hudler has improved a lot this season over last but he barely belongs there and Franzen should be one of the guys loading hockey equipment on the Red Bird.

There are definitely things that Babcock could have and should have done differently, but playing Nyquist on the top line and Franzen on the fourth line isn’t going to change the outcome of the series and playing the Flying Circus together just diminishes both Datsyuk and Zetterberg because Holmstrom simply can’t play top minutes like he used to and it diminishes the depth even more because the Hudler-Filppula-Zetterberg line suffers without Zetterberg.

Did he make mistakes?  Absolutely.  I don’t think almost anyone escapes blame for this (Zetterberg & Datsyuk maybe?  I can’t remember Kronwall making any egregious errors, but other than those three…) but I don’t this there’s any way that all of this falls on Babcock’s lap and somehow the guy who was sitting on $6M in cap space did nothing to improve his team skates on it.

I also want to remind everyone, Dave Lewis was fired after a President’s Trophy and a 1st round exit to EDM.  In his only season as head behind the bench.  And they replaced him with a guy that raised eyebrows.

Wanna maybe go check the rosters for the two years Dave Lewis coached the Wings and compare them to the rosters Babcock has had for the past three seasons?  Dave Lewis SHOULD have won with those two teams.  Detroit should’ve three-peated.  Can you honestly say that the Wings should’ve beaten San Jose the last two years or Nashville this year?

Posted by Garth on 04/21/12 at 11:16 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I don’t think almost anyone escapes blame for this (Zetterberg & Datsyuk maybe?  I can’t remember Kronwall making any egregious errors, but other than those three…)

I’m very much waiting for the Datsyuk injury report to come out. His core strength did not seem to be there. Sure, just about every Nashville defender is bigger than he is, but Datsyuk got knocked around far too easily in this series for there not to be something wrong with his legs.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 04/21/12 at 11:46 AM ET

awould's avatar

Anyone who thinks Babcock not shuffling Emmerton up to the first or second line was poor coaching is wrong. Babcock is right, Wings don’t have the depth they used to. Guys like Emmerton and Nyquist are so new they still have the tag on them. Maybe next year they’ll be reliable 3rd/4th liners but now they’re very green, no matter the flashes of potential. I think Nyquist will be a great player some day, he’s got a ton of heart. But last night he made more than a few mistakes, trying to do too much, and defensively any rookie is a liability in the NHL.

What the Wings missed a ton was Helm. His injury tipped the scales, he does so many little things that lead to everything from a goal to a shift in momentum to one more PP for Detroit.

As for the off-season, the only change I’m rooting for is to trade Franzen. His lackluster play brings everything down and is no longer compensated for with his spurts of brilliance. Since his concussion he plays weak and scared. It’s only when he’s angry that he really looks like he cares, and even that wears off if he doesn’t get quick results.

I expect next season that Smith and Nyquist will be full time, develop nicely, and we’ll see some more out of the next wave of guys from GR.  It’s not time to blow up the team, not by a long shot. But changes are needed….

Posted by awould on 04/21/12 at 12:49 PM ET

Primis's avatar

Maybe guys like Nyquist and Emmerton wouldn’t be so “new” if Babcock had played them more earlier in the season.

In the end though that doesn’t matter.

What does is that the players Babcock had did NOTHING, and he refused to change them.  Had he tried and they still failed…. then he’d have an argument about his depth.

Posted by Primis on 04/21/12 at 12:57 PM ET

bezukov's avatar

Touche Babcock.  I like what I heard.

Posted by bezukov from the kids are alright. on 04/21/12 at 01:00 PM ET

BrendonR's avatar

quote]I think Nyquist will be a great player some day, he’s got a ton of heart. But last night he made more than a few mistakes, trying to do too much, and defensively any rookie is a liability in the NHL.

Posted by awould on 04/21/12 at 11:49 AM ET

The only reason he was trying to do too much is because he knew the Wings needed a key goal, looked down the bench and realized if someone was going to do it, it was gonna have to be Pav, Z or him.  God forbid he tries to actually score!  I saw plenty of mistakes, actually plenty more, from vets such as Stuart and Errorson.  I don’t get why everyone expects offensive players to be these defensive stalwarts too (see: Kadri, Nazem).  Not every player will be as complete as the Euro Twins are, and before them the Captain and Fedorov.

Nyquist is a great player now.  He looked awesome out there, and that’s with linemates like Abby, Miller and Emmerton.  He’s 22, not 18.  This exact thinking is why the Wings are where they are right now….headed to the golf course.  We have enough defense!!

Posted by BrendonR on 04/21/12 at 01:04 PM ET

Chris #19's avatar

“Babcock cited Henrik Zetterberg’s line with Valtteri Filppula and Jiri Hudler as having had a good series”

Did we see the same series Mike ??? Zetterberg just never shoots the puck and was badly outplayed by a small countrymate of mine. Filpulla played the worst hockey I can remember from him and well, about Hudler, let’s just say I prefer to be polite about his “performance”.

So, yeah Babcock is honest. But realist ? Not so sure…

Posted by Chris #19 from Lausanne, Switzerland on 04/21/12 at 01:14 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Zetterberg shot the puck 23 times in 5 games. The next closest Red Wings player to his shot total had 14.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 04/21/12 at 01:20 PM ET

Chris #19's avatar

OK J.J. but that’s just statistics, with SOG statistics, we would have easily won this series grin

Posted by Chris #19 from Lausanne, Switzerland on 04/21/12 at 01:25 PM ET

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Dave Lewis had the team for two years.  He went out in the first round to Edmonton after the ‘02-‘03 season (defending the Stanley Cup), and the next year was when the team won the President’s trophy and exited after losing to Calgary in the second round.  Babcock became the head coach after the lockout.

We’re getting closer…

In ‘03 the Wings were swept by Anaheim, who were coached by one Mike Babcock.

In ‘06 the Babcock coached Wings were bounced by Edmonton.

Posted by TimRoss on 04/21/12 at 01:38 PM ET

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Posted by Chris #19 from Lausanne, Switzerland on 04/21/12 at 12:25 PM ET

You can’t use imaginary made-up statistics to make a point and then, when you’re proven wrong, pretend that statistics don’t matter.

Posted by Garth on 04/21/12 at 01:58 PM ET

Chris #19's avatar

After the dog’s walk, I realize my reply to JJ’s excellent point was not appropriate. Garth is right too..

So let’s try to reform my feeling about Z. He never shoots the puck when he’s in a good position.

I do maintain my other points.

Posted by Chris #19 from Lausanne, Switzerland on 04/21/12 at 02:27 PM ET

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That in depth rant about not being Hudler’s fault is non-sense.

Hudler doesn’t chip the forechecker. That was the guy that pressured Stuart. Hudler doesn’t have his stick on the ice so he couldn’t reach for Stuart’s pass. The pass hits the board then he puts his stick down and flails at the puck. He misses it and stops skating all together blocking an up ice pass. It’s in his feet. Stuart steps up to help. Hudler doesn’t pin the puck and misses it again. The puck is chipped past him.

Hudler wasn’t touched at all.

Both defenders (filppula and Kroner) collapse on the puck handler as Stuart is now caught. The handle the puck handler and chip it away from his momentum.

But unbeknownst to them instead of hustling back and picking up the trailer that is Hudler’s responsibility since the center, filppula, went to cover the breakaway he stops skating at the blue line.

The goal is definitely on hudler watch the play again from NBC camera angle. It’s on NHL’s game highlights.

You don’t need to over analyze even single minute of that play to prove the larger point. Hudler is a huge defensive liability and the reason why Z struggled all year. Z was being the Selke he is and covering up for those mistakes.

Hudler had 3 hits and just as many official giveaways. He should be thankful because those are generous (and don’t count pucks not handled and thrown into positions where the Wings didn’t have a chance to get them). I would put Hudler’s passing far far behind Stuart’s as a Wings issue for this playoffs.. His ice time was huge considering he doesn’t play shorthanded and was MIA for 90% of his PP time.

People can blame big E too. But when he came back the PK improved. Hudler adds nothing to the team.

Posted by dca from in Mich on 04/21/12 at 03:31 PM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Posted by dca from in Mich on 04/21/12 at 02:31 PM ET

Hahaha, Filppula the center.

You’re just so wrong about so much, but that part stuck out as funny, considering this goal happened 13 seconds after Zetterberg won a faceoff.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 04/21/12 at 03:56 PM ET

calquake's avatar

Heavily medicated ideas.

That is how we all roll around here. LOL

Posted by calquake on 04/21/12 at 04:25 PM ET

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The Malik Report is a destination for all things Red Wings-related. I offer biased, perhaps unprofessional-at-times and verbose coverage of my favorite team, their prospects and developmental affiliates. I've joined the Kukla's Korner family with five years of blogging under my belt, and I hope you'll find almost everything you need to follow your Red Wings at a place where all opinions are created equal and we're all friends, talking about hockey and the team we love to follow.