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Red Wings overnight report: things get crazy at the draft and the Wings go the smart route

After the first-round fireworks (that some sort of weird combination of too much pizza and allergies causes me to miss), we’ve got the Winnipeg Jets—without a jersey or logo yet—back (yay!), Brian Campbell in Florida, John-Michael Liles in Toronto, Devin Setoguchi in Minnesota and Brent Burns in San Jose (does this mean that Ian White’s hits the market on July 1st?) Robyn Regehr in Buffalo, Troy Brouwer in Washington…

And the Wings incredibly smart by trading down, swapping their 24th overall pick to the Ottawa Senators for the 35th and 48th picks, yielding three second-rounders and a total of nine chances to draft one or two impact players when the second round begins at 11 AM EDT today on the NHL Network and NHL.com.

Via RedWingsFeed, here’s Jim Nill explaining why the Wings made their move to RedWingsTV:

Nill explained his rationale to DetroitRedWings.com’s Bill Roose (who also spoke to Steve Yzerman about running the Tampa Bay Lightning’s table)...

“It’s just like playing the lottery,” said, Jim Nill, the Red Wings assistant general manager. “The more times you buy a ticket, the better chance you’ve got. We think we can get two players out of what we have left.”

The Wings traded the No. 24 pick to Ottawa for a pair of second-rounders – the Senators’ selections at 35 and 48. It will be the first time since 2005, that the Wings will select nine amateur players in a single draft year. The year they selected defenseman Jakub Kindl (first round), and forward Justin Abdelkader (second round) and Darren Helm (fifth round). It is the ninth time that the Wings haven’t had a first-round pick since 1997.

“There are quite a few guys still available, so we just wanted to get more picks,” Nill said. “We think they’ll be more players that fall down to us.”

Nill and the rest of the Wings’ front office believe the players that they covet will still be there for them when they make three times in the second-round Saturday morning. Detroit also has the No. 55 pick in the second round.

“We initiated (the trade),” Nill said. “We were about halfway down. We have a cutoff list of guys that you just have to take because they’re so good, and once the last guy went, then we knew that we had to step up and try to get extra picks. We’re still thinking that two of the guys that we have sitting up high will still be there. … Now there’s no guarantee.”

Nill said that at some point in the draft, the remaining talent becomes very similar. “They all have something good. They all have something bad,” Nill said. “The more you can get the better you chance you have of getting lucky and hitting a home run.”

As well as the Free Press’s Helene St. James about the move:

“We just wanted to get more picks,” assistant general manager Jim Nill said. “We think there’ll be some more players that fall down to us. It’s like playing the lottery. The more times you buy a ticket, the more chances you have. We think we can get two players out of what we have left, instead of just one.”

The Wings pick at the lower end of the spectrum every season because they’re among the most consistently competitive teams in the NHL.

Given the choice between the best available forward or defenseman today, Nill said the Wings will “lean towards defensemen. The defense position is just so important, you can never have enough of them.”

So, as St. James notes, the Wings now have the 35th, 48th and 55th picks overall in the second round—as well as picks 85, 115, 145, 146, 175 and 205—as Nill beliees that which there’s enough talent that remains that the Wings simply didn’t have anyone left on their “must draft” list, so it made sense to grab two potential first-rounders down the line:

“That’s why we wanted the extra picks,” said assistant general manager Jim Nill. “We initiated it when we got about halfway down. We kind of have a cut-off list where we have guys that you just have to take them, they’re so good. Once the last guy went, then we knew that we had to step up and try to get extra picks. We’re still thinking that two of the guys that we have sitting up high will still be there. Now, there’s no guarantee, but you get to a point in the draft where a lot of these guys are very similar—they’ve all got something good, but there’s something bad, too. The more of them you can get, the more chance you have of hitting a home run.”

The Wings also pick 85th, 115th, 145th, 146th (from Philadelphia), 175th and 205th. Outside of the top handful of NHL draft picks, most return to their junior clubs to mature. The Wings don’t expect to see the ones they’ll choose in the NHL for several years.

“You’re talking three to five years,” Nill said. “They’re 18 years old. Most are going to play two more years of juniors, then go to the American Hockey League. When you choose, you’re really choosing based on projections. You see a player, and maybe he reminds you of another player, and you remember how they were weak, but now they’re strong. It’s not an exact science, but you get to know how to do it over the years. You develop a feel for it.”

Each scout is responsible for a specific geographic area. When a scout likes a player on the ice, his next step is to build a profile on the player.

“They have to know the inside facts,” Nill said. “So you go to talk to coaches, to family members, friends, people around the rink—hear what they have to say about the player. It’s up to each scout to dig up evidence why this particular player is something special.”

The Macomb Daily’s Bruce MacLeod believes that the Wings wanted Tyler Biggs, who was picked by the Maple Leafs 22nd overall, as does the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan, and the Hockey News’s Ryan Kennedy stuck the Wings in the “first round losers” category for choosing to make a smart move…

Detroit – Although Toronto GM Brian Burke said he was unaware if they had interest, the Wings traded out of the first round right after the Maple Leafs traded up to leapfrog them on the board to take Tyler Biggs. While the surly power forward doesn’t fit the typical Red Wings mould, it was a pretty curious turn of events.

But I know that some of you believed that the Wings would grab Oscar Klefblom, who went to the Oilers 19th overall, or Connor Murphy, who the Coyotes picked 20th overall.

As the Free Press notes, oodles of players with Michigan ties went in the first round, with Plymouth Whalers Stefan Noesen (to Ottawa) and Rickard Rackell (to Anaheim), Biggs , Murphy and J.T. Miller (Rangers) from the US National Team Development Program in Ann Arbor being picked, and Steve Yzerman’s Lightning picked Slava Kozlov’s nephew in Namestnikov.

We’ll also have to watch Matt Puempel’s development as he’s the player the Senators chose with Detroit’s pick. Somewhere in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula, probably near Newberry, a plaid or camouflage-wearing Mickey Redmond might be stewing that a Peterborough Petes forward went to Ottawa instead of Detroit.


In terms of the Wings’ attempts to retain their free agents-to-be, MLive’s Ansar Khan—who’s wondering whether the Wings might package one of those second-rounders for a roster player—reports that the Wings are pretty likely to retain Jonathan Ericsson’s services for a price that’s somewhere in the just-over-$2-million range…

“We’re in the same ballpark,” Holland said Friday, before the draft. “We’ll see.”

After making contract offers to forwards Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller, Holland is waiting to hear back from their agents. It doesn’t sound as if there is much, if any, room for negotiating.

“If they have interest in returning they’ll get back to me,” Holland said.

Holland did indeed kick every tire in the trade department, but he wasn’t intrigued by what was out there…

The Red Wings have a lot of salary cap space (roughly $16 million) and some needs (top-four defenseman, top-six forward, backup goaltender). As a result, Holland is getting a fair amount of calls from clubs looking to deal.

“I talked to a few teams (Thursday), nothing’s happening,” Holland said. “It was probably tire-kicking on both sides. I don’t think anything’s imminent.”

For the record, I’m sure that Holland inquired about Brent Burns, but, well, we’ll get to this in a minute…

It sounds like Bob Boughner and/or Pete DeBoer might be assistant coaches by Saturday afternoon…

“I don’t want to put a time frame on it, but by the time we leave (the draft), I’d like to either be close to naming somebody or have it whittled down to a few people,” Holland said. “There’s so many good (candidates) out there. Mike [Babcock] wanted to make sure he did a lot of research.”

And Khan also reports that La Presse’s Marc-Andre Godin suggested that the Wings might swap a pick to snag James Wisniewski’s negotiating rights.

But the Wings pretty much know that Wisniewski’s the only defenseman of the “elite” prospective free agents (Ehrhoff, Bieksa, White, Pitkanen, et. al.) who will hit the market on July 1st, so there’s no need to toss a pick away to talk to someone who’s all but assured to be available next Friday, though it bears noting that both the Maple Leafs and now, thanks to the Campbell trade, the Blackhawks have money to spend on bolstering their blueline, and they’ll be competing with the Wings for whoever hits the market.

Here are the Detroit News’s Ted Kulfan’s updates on Ericsson, Eaves and Miller...

General manager Ken Holland met with agents for Ericsson and potential unrestricted free agent forwards Patrick Eaves and Drew Miller this weekend at the draft. Negotiations will heat up with Friday being the first day free agents can talk with other teams. If Miller and Eaves return, it’ll likely mean the end of Kris Draper’s long career with the Wings.

And Babcock’s search for assistant coaches:

The Wings’ search for two assistant coaches continues. Coach Mike Babcock said this week he hasn’t established a timeline for filling either position and isn’t particularly close.

“Mike is talking with candidates and going through the process,” said Jim Nill, the Wings’ assistant general manager.

Only New Jersey remains without a head coach. Some possible candidates to become Babcock’s assistant remain Pete DeBoer (former Plymouth Whalers, Florida Panthers head coach), Bob Boughner (Windsor Spitfires, assistant for Columbus Blue Jackets), and possibly Ken Hitchcock.

Khan mentioned Gerard Gallant as well, but it’s hard to believe that Gallant will leave a major junior powerhouse in the Saint John Sea Dogs, whose New Brunswick location is relatively close to Gallant’s family in Prince Edward Island.


And regarding Brent Burns? The Hockey News’s Ken Campbell says that the Wings would have loved to add him, but one should guess that neither the Wild nor Sharks felt like helping the Wings get better:

The moment Mike Babcock learned the San Jose Sharks had acquired defenseman Brent Burns, he instantly got the look of a guy who’s team just let one get away. His Red Wings are looking for a defenseman to replace the retired Brian Rafalski, but it was the playoff rival Sharks who pried the talented Burns away from the Minnesota Wild in a blockbuster trade.

“They just hit a home run,” Babcock said of the Sharks. “That’s a gold medal pick. I’m pissed off.”

Babcock figures his team’s chances of getting by the Sharks in the Western Conference playoffs just got that much more difficult and that’s exactly what the Sharks want to hear. They also know their window for challenging for a Stanley Cup is almost as gaping as the hole in their playoff resume.

Ken Holland and the Wings’ front office tend to believe that there’s no point in sacrificing assets—or creating a hole in the roster, as the compensation for Burns would probably indicate, to fill another—when they can wait until Friday and sign a player for nothing more than the price of his contract.

That’s almost beside the point as Burns’ price was sky-high—a superb roster player in Setoguchi, a top prospect in Charlie Coyle and the Sharks’ first-round pick. In Red Wings-speak, that’s Valtteri Filppula, Tomas Tatar and a 1st-round pick, and that’s just way too much to give up for one defenseman when you can sign another for nothing but money in a week.

And if you missed it, Campbell reported the following on Friday night:

Detroit Red Wings coach Mike Babcock and former Thrashers coach Craig Ramsay, who has been told he won’t be retained by Winnipeg, were huddled at a table Thursday morning at a Minneapolis restaurant in what looked very much like a job interview. But Babcock said later that was not the case and Ramsay will not be joining the Red Wings staff as an assistant.

“I’ve talked to a lot of people, but I’m not close to making a decision,” Babcock said. “If you wrote that (Ramsay would be offered a job), you would be wrong.”

There has been speculation Babcock, who has been given the full power to hire his own assistants by GM Ken Holland, already offered a job to Ken Hitchcock, but was turned down.


Things continue to get stranger and stranger on the Jaromir Jagr front: the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review’s Josh Yohe reports that Jagr’s agent, Petr Svoboda, isn’t even in St. Paul…

Jaromir Jagr’s agent, Petr Svoboda, is not at the NHL draft this weekend in St. Paul, Minn., which means no negotiations will take place with Penguins general manager Ray Shero. It was originally believed that Svoboda would be in St. Paul to meet with the Penguins and Red Wings.

Currently the NHL’s hottest story, Jagr’s destination for next season will remain a mystery for a while. He can’t sign with any NHL team until at least July 1.

The Penguins and Red Wings remain interested in his services.

And, of course, the Canadiens are interested, at least informally, mostly because Jagr’s interested in them. Jagr first wanted to play for the Canadiens to both enjoy playing for the storied franchise and to play alongside a good friend in Tomas Plekanec.

Penguins coach Dan Bylsma told both Yahoo Sports’ Greg “Puck Daddy” Wyshynski and the Tribune-Review’s Yohe that he’s comfortable with the concept of signing Jagr as someone who can play for the Penguins without causing trouble for his coaches or teammates:

“If I had done homework, that’s not what I’ve heard,” Bylsma said of Jagr’s bad reputation with coaches. “I haven’t heard that from people who may or may not have played with him at the World Championships.”

Translation: Bylsma spoke with Penguins defenseman Zbynek Michalek, who played with Jagr for the Czech Republic in the World Championships last month. Bylsma acknowledged talking with Michalek, who offered a positive report regarding Jagr’s attitude.

Jagr’s agent, Petr Svoboda, likely will speak with Shero and Red Wings general manager Ken Holland this weekend. The NHL confirmed Thursday that Jagr isn’t permitted to sign with an NHL team until July 1. No news of negotiations was apparent yesterday. Bylsma might be involved in any Jagr talks.

“To the extent that there is involvement, I am involved with Ray,” Bylsma said. “There is talk among people in the organization about where Jagr would fit.”

Bylsma said the Penguins hadn’t seriously considered Jagr until recently, referencing quotes Jagr made in “a Russian newspaper” during the World Championships. But now, there is a different tone in Bylsma and the Penguins’ approach toward this situation. Bylsma confirmed that the “Jagr watch” is a primary issue for the Penguins and spoke at length of Jagr’s talent.

“It’s on the front burner now with July 1 coming,” he said.

Again, the strangest part of all regarding “Jagr watch” involves the fact that Shero and the Penguins are questioning whether they should sign Jagr at all, and they’re offering Jagr less money than the Wings are reportedly able to send Jagr’s way (supposedly $2.5 million).

Whether Jagr has chosen to not make up his mind because he has the CBA-enforced luxury of not deciding until July 1st, whether he’d like to be wined and dined or whether he’s doing what Wings fans assume in waxing nostalgic about ending his NHL career where it began.


Also of Red Wings-related note: Barring any recurrence of what I’ll politely describe as tummy troubles and allergies, I expect to be available and busy this morning covering the draft. I’m really sorry about my absence!.

• Don’t forget that the Bob Probert Ride to raise funds for Windsor’s Hotel-Dieu Grace Hospital is on Sunday, Bob Probert Day in Windsor, ON. A member of The Malik Report’s commenting family (given how often we argue with each other, I suppose we should call each other a sort of “family,” wink wink) is taking part in the ride, and Leamington, ON’s Mix 96.7 FM reports that Chris Chelios will take part in the motorcycle ride:

Tomorrow is Bob Probert Day in Windsor.

The inaugural Bob Probert Memorial Motorcycle Ride will hit the streets of Windsor-Essex supporting the Angioplasty Program at Hotel Dieu Grace Hospital.

Pat Valleau, is with the Hospital’s Foundation, says approximately 100 riders signed up on-line but they’re expecting that number to swell close to five-hundred by tomorrow morning.  “We actually are thrilled that we have $42,000 in sponsorship, and this is a third party event for us, so it’s wonderful and that doesn’t include the registration, tickets for the dinner, t-shirts and different things that are going to be sold.”

Former teammate and family friend Chris Chelios will serve as the honourary road captain.  Other big names include former NHLer Tony Amonte and actor John Cusack.  Tomorrow’s ceremonies get underway with a ribbon cutting at Erie St. and Goyeau St. at 9:30 a.m.  The motorcycles will hit the streets at 10 a.m. and travel across Windsor and Essex County.  The day will be capped off at Place Concorde with a meal and entertainment at the Bluesin’ n’ Cruisin’ BluesFest.

• In a very different category, via Hockeyminor.com, a sports beverage called “H2O Overdrive” has enlisted Pavel Datsyuk and Kris Draper as spokespeople:

• And finally, this is just an observation, but I think that we should probably take the endless commentator-comparisons of first-rounders to Henrik Zetterberg, Pavel Datsyuk, Nicklas Lidstrom and Johan Franzen as compliments. I thought it was pretty cool to hear players compared to our favorite team’s stars so very regularly.

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Comments

Rdwings28's avatar

good morning, george

Posted by Rdwings28 on 06/25/11 at 09:47 AM ET

MsRedWinger's avatar

good morning, george

Posted by Rdwings28 on 06/25/11 at 07:47 AM ET

This is starting to crack me up. 

George, hope you’re feeling better.

I think the Wings were smart to do what they did regarding picks, but it was a bummer to sit through 3 1/2 hours of draft only to find out the Wings would not be selecting last night.  I guess it was interesting to look at the kids who were getting picked though.

My favorite comment of the night was from the surly-faced Brian Burke when he was interviewed just after drafting Tyler Biggs:  “He’s a nasty player and we like nasty players.  And he has skill too.” 

cool smile

Posted by MsRedWinger from Flori-duh on 06/25/11 at 10:34 AM ET

w2j2's avatar

I am amazed at all the good players the Bruins drafted thanks to their trade of Kessel to Burke’s Maple Laughs.
cool grin

Posted by w2j2 on 06/25/11 at 10:37 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

I hate mornings… raspberry

I kinda figured that the Wings would move down. I’m lucky given the timing but like Nill says, you’ve got to maximize your opportunities to draft talent if none of your dream picks drop down to you.

And all I’ll say about the draft is there’s a reason I would rather see the kids at the Wings’ summer camp. It’s a hurry-up-and-wait festival and the picks are often made available to media for short periods of time.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/25/11 at 10:42 AM ET

w2j2's avatar

That’s almost beside the point as Burns’ price was sky-high—a superb roster player in Setoguchi, a top prospect in Charlie Coyle and the Sharks’ first-round pick. In Red Wings-speak, that’s Valtteri Filppula, Tomas Tatar and a 1st-round pick, and that’s just way too much to give up for one defenseman when you can sign another for nothing but money in a week.

Indeed, that would have been a high price to pay.  Especially when Wisniewski is available in free agency and the Wings have lots of cap space.  I bet the deal is already done…with a wink and a nod.

Posted by w2j2 on 06/25/11 at 10:46 AM ET

monkey's avatar

Risky, very risky.  What if Jurco is gone by the time the 35th pick comes around?

Posted by monkey from Finland on 06/25/11 at 10:56 AM ET

monkey's avatar

Posted by w2j2 on 06/25/11 at 08:46 AM ET

You always have to wonder about those 12:01 signings.

Posted by monkey from Finland on 06/25/11 at 10:57 AM ET

Baroque's avatar

Devin Setoguchi the Wings-killer is still in a position to do damage. I foresee losing to Minnesota 3-2 on a hat-trick by Setoguchi. Perhaps multiple times. smile

Chicago losing the Campbell contract will help them out a lot. Campbell is a talented player, but that cap hit was a big problem for the Blackhawks. Now they have the ability to do a few more things than they would have been able to otherwise (signing Patrick Sharp to an extension might have just gotten easier).

Posted by Baroque from Michigan on 06/25/11 at 10:59 AM ET

RWBill's avatar

Great strategy again.  They’d said before the draft that there wasn’t much difference in the group from 20-50, so why not trade one for two?

I’ll give you one orange if you give me two.  Sounds like a winning plan.

Posted by RWBill from cruising Brush Street with creepy Rob Lowe. on 06/25/11 at 11:00 AM ET

monkey's avatar

I think the Wings were smart to do what they did regarding picks, but it was a bummer to sit through 3 1/2 hours of draft only to find out the Wings would not be selecting last night.  I guess it was interesting to look at the kids who were getting picked though.

Ha-  I woke up right when Burke’s huge head was overflowing the screen, shut the tv off and went to bed.  Good call as it turns out.

Posted by monkey from Finland on 06/25/11 at 11:01 AM ET

Tuba Guy's avatar

That commercial is horrible, though I love the pre-faceoff smirk from Pavel

Posted by Tuba Guy from Royal Oak, MI on 06/25/11 at 11:01 AM ET

RWBill's avatar

I don’t know if Ken Holland is actually a genius, or if it’s just easy to appear as such when one of his peers agrees to pay Brian Campbell $7.1 Million, and another agrees to take him in a trade.

Posted by RWBill from cruising Brush Street with creepy Rob Lowe. on 06/25/11 at 11:05 AM ET

RWBill's avatar

Anywaty, I thought the Pistons already drafted Jurco?

Posted by RWBill from cruising Brush Street with creepy Rob Lowe. on 06/25/11 at 11:10 AM ET

Avatar

It May be the smart thing to do for the future, but we were the only ones to do it, I think. The other GMs picking later in the 1st round are all dumb, I think not.  Our problem is NOW! Again no mention of Hudler who makes close to Setoguchi $$. The UFA bin is turning into a garbage bin and I hope this is a reload year not rebuild.  Until July 1 passes and probably right up until training camp, we will see what next years version of the Wings looks like.

Babcock was “p$ssed” about Burns trade, join the club coach.  That one is going to hurt!

Posted by WingsRiders on 06/25/11 at 11:37 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

I don’t know if Ken Holland is actually a genius, or if it’s just easy to appear as such when one of his peers agrees to pay Brian Campbell $7.1 Million, and another agrees to take him in a trade.

Posted by RWBill from Imported from Detroit, Land of Todd-Ber-Tuz-zi !! on 06/25/11 at 09:05 AM ET

That’s the same GM that did both of those things, Bill, and that pisses me off.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 06/25/11 at 11:47 AM ET

J.J. from Kansas's avatar

Also, if Ian White walks from San Jose, they lost the hell out of that Burns trade. 

Their defense got a little offensively better while not getting any defensively better, they lost depth at forward, and they lost a stud prospect.

They also won’t be able to draw as many penalties without Setoguchi flopping around like a pissed off fish.

Posted by J.J. from Kansas on 06/25/11 at 11:50 AM ET

George Malik's avatar

Indeed, that would have been a high price to pay.  Especially when Wisniewski is available in free agency and the Wings have lots of cap space.  I bet the deal is already done…with a wink and a nod.

The one thing that Jim Nill taught me that I have repeated again and again (some of his master thesis chat with me a few years ago can be repeated, and some of it cannot) was that agents are always soliciting deals and trades.

It’s the agents and actually GM’s themselves who are the reason that people like that guy who charges money to read BS is in business, and like I’ve repeatedly said, agents can call GM’s and ask if they’re interested in player X for Y dollars and Z years, get yes-or-no answers, change variables and continue to negotiate via yes-no conversations. That’s not technically tampering…

And that’s how those 12:01 signings get worked out. I wouldn’t trade a pick for exclusive negotiating rights when somebody’s agent has already sought me out.

As for the players who remain available, we’ve got Jurco, Khokhlachev, Musil, etc. still out there, so there are more than a few appealing players that will drop down.

Posted by George Malik from South Lyon, MI on 06/25/11 at 11:50 AM ET

11B4PF7 in MN's avatar

If the Wings are only targeting Wiz; since there is such a lack of anything in the summer’s UFA pool, then maybe it would be worth it to send MTL a late rd pick for exclusive negotiating right for a few days.  Or maybe i am a little paranoid about all of the action that went down yesterday….

Posted by 11B4PF7 in MN on 06/25/11 at 12:38 PM ET

11B4PF7 in MN's avatar

As for the picks yesterday, i cannot believe how acurate McKenzies’ Rankings were!  If his accuracy keeps up, there are plenty of prospects with potential.  I think George profiled a few of these guys via links, but the following are still out there:

Andrei Pedan, Def, Size
Alex Khokhlachev Cen, Skill
Tomas Jurco Win, Grit
Mayfield and Musil both Def, Size

We have three picks, take some risk with one or two—pick Russians.

Posted by 11B4PF7 in MN on 06/25/11 at 12:46 PM ET

SYF's avatar

The Wings traded the No. 24 pick to Ottawa for a pair of second-rounders – the Senators’ selections at 35 and 48. It will be the first time since 2005, that the Wings will select nine amateur players in a single draft year. The year they selected defenseman Jakub Kindl (first round), and forward Justin Abdelkader (second round) and Darren Helm (fifth round). It is the ninth time that the Wings haven’t had a first-round pick since 1997.

Jeebus…

Posted by SYF from the team that re-signed KFQ and DFC by KFH on 06/25/11 at 04:35 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.