The Malik Report
by George Malik on 05/13/11 at 07:23 PM ET
Updated 4x at 8:24 PM: Just as the Red Wings spent all night flying back to Detroit, I spent all night writing up the recap of their Game 7 loss to the San Jose Sharks, and afterward…Well, being a blogger is one thing. Being a fan is another. I was and still am pretty devastated by the fact that the Wings’ season is over, so I couldn’t sleep. No matter what I did, after watching footage of Red Bird II landing and Jimmy Howard walking to his car on WDIV’s morning telecast, I just…
My family vacations in the little town of Grand Marais, Michigan in the summer (yes, we actually swim in the lake, too), and we have a saying for what happens after too many days on the beach. You get “lake stare.” You’re zoned out and so comfortable and relaxed that you kind of space out. I’ve got the grieving version of “lake stare” today, because as hard as I work to pretend that I’m semi-objective, I’m an incredibly passionate Wings fan, and I’m still trying to wrap my head around the concept that the team I love isn’t going to be playing again. So sleep came late and now I’m still rattled, but have some work to do.
Here’s a belated attempt to survey the local press’s post-mortems as we await Saturday’s locker-room clean-out and Nicklas Lidstrom watch, with the Macomb Daily’s Pat Caputo leading us off by pointing out that the Wings did some really good things, and were led by two spectacular players (among others):
In the process, two players emerged with a new found respect, both locally and internationally. One is Pavel Datysuk. He’s been a popular player in this town for a long time, but it took on new proportions during this postseason. He was unrelenting in his effort both Thursday and throughout the playoffs. His backhanded goal after the Red Wings’ fell behind 3-1 in Game 7 not only cut the gap, but it suggested they can accomplish anything with Datsyuk on their team. Across North America, he is finally getting his due. If there is a better player in the world right now, name him. Sidney Crosby is hurt and Alexander Ovechkin had an off season. Neither has ever played both ends of the ice as well as Datsyuk. He does two things better than any player I’ve ever seen. One is stickhandle, which is not a lost art because of him. Another is steal the puck from opponents.He is brilliant.
The other is goalie Jimmy Howard. Can all the incessant whining after Howard signed a two-year contract extension late in the regular season officially cease now? Howard didn’t lose this series for the Red Wings. With all due respect to Datsyuk, he was the main reason they had a chance to win it.
It was a dramatic series. One of ups and downs, twists and turns, but with far more heroes than goats. The Sharks played well. I didn’t think they’d be able to hold a lead against the Red Wings Thursday, but they did, if only barely. I wouldn’t be surprised if they go on to capture the Stanley Cup championship. It’s difficult to imagine any of the other three teams remaining in the field are better than the Sharks - or the Red Wings.
I know this, there won’t be another series to top this one for awhile. There was one stinker game - the opener in San Jose when the Red Wings were remarkably flat. Every other game was outstanding, particularly Game 6, which might have been the most electric sporting event I’ve ever witnessed.
Sure, there is going to be plenty of moaning and groaning about summer coming too early for the Red Wings. There will be plenty of thoughts about what could have been. It shouldn’t overshadow what did take place.
But now, as Fox Sports Detroit’s Art Regner suggests, one man‘s decision will determine the course his franchise takes going forward—though I’m not buying the “window is closing” talk:
If Nick Lidstrom calls it a career, it will be a signal that the Wings slip in the NHL has begun. Lidstrom can still play at the highest of levels, that’s not even an issue. He may not be the player he was 10 years ago, but he’s still an extraordinary talent at 41.
This has everything to do with whether Lidstrom believes the Red Wings can still compete with the NHL elites. Lidstrom has let it be known for years that he’ll continue to play as long as he’s healthy and Detroit has a real chance for the Cup. With Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg still in their prime, Nik Kronwall and Val Filppula raising their game to the next level, a healthy Johan Franzen and an established Jimmy Howard in goal, how can Lidstrom not return?
Easy. His mind may tell him that it’s not worth it anymore. Once you reach 40, you are who you are. At this point in his life, it’s all about what’s best for Lidstorm, not the Red Wings.
Will Lidstrom come back? I hope so, but I just don’t know. Either way, you can’t blame him. Certainly, he’s had a satisfying career, and after the way the Wings have exited the playoffs for the last couple season, his reaction could be that it was fun, but now it’s over.
It’s hard to imagine the Red Wings without No. 5 patrolling the blue line. But is it any harder than not seeing Steve Yzerman at forward? Or any number of players that have given their all to our team and city?
There’s a funny feeling coming over me that Lidstrom’s next stop at Joe Louis Arena will be to watch his Red Wings sweater ascend to the top of the old barn’s rafters—a rightful destination for a legend.
There’s a problem with Regner’s conceit. One thing matters more than the Wings’ status as contenders, or Lidstrom’s ability to compete at, as Dominik Hasek would say, “The highest level.” It’s his wife and kids. Lidstrom is the consummate family man, and he stated after the game that he would talk to both the organization and then his family before making his decision prior to July 1st. Lidstrom will speak to Annika, his three sons at home in Novi and his eldest son, Kevin, who’s attending a hockey school in Lidstrom’s hometown of Vasteras, and they’ll decide together whether they want to return home—and returning “home” seems to be an increasingly difficult proposition for someone who wants to do the Swedish thing and go back home and become a youth hockey coach, because that someone’s called Novi home for twenty years—or whether they’re comfortable with Lidstrom continuing to play.
He can obviously play for as long as he wants, but it is true that without him, the franchise would take a very different path. Ken Holland would spend Lidstrom’s cap space to import an elite defenseman from the free agent marketplace, and he might be wont to make more trades to shake things up if Lidstrom does leave.
I’m guessing that Lidstrom’s going to return, but nobody really knows right now, and that’s scary.
Regner happened to speak to WDFN’s Ryan Ermanni today…
And the Wings’ broadcasters made the rounds as well, with Ken Kal speaking to WBBL’s Huge Show...
Ken Daniels spoke to WCSX’s Jamie Samuelssen...
And Mickey Redmond talked to WRIF’s Drew & Mike...
Update #1: Per the Associated Press’s Josh Dubow:
Red Wings general manager Ken Holland likes his team’s chances of getting another shot next season.
“It’s always a major disappointment the day after you’re eliminated, but I don’t think we need to make wholesale changes,” Holland said in a telephone interview Friday. “I like our nucleus. I think Pavel Datsyuk, who is just 32, is right there with Sidney Crosby and a couple other players as one of the best players in the world. Henrik Zetterberg is one of the best two-way players in the game and he’s 30.”
The GM also pointed to Niklas Kronwall and goaltender Jimmy Howard, who at 27 “showed us a lot this season and we’re excited about his future.”
[edit: here’s more from Dubow:
Mike Modano’s one-year stay with his hometown Red Wings was slowed by surgery to repair a sliced tendon in his wrist. The 40-year-old Modano, who leads U.S.-born NHL players in goals and points, was a healthy scratch for most of the post-season. Red Wings veterans Chris Osgood and Kris Draper may not be back, either.
“Those guys can be unrestricted free agents and we’re going to take the emotion out of the decision-making process about them and with the rest of our moves so that we can make the best decisions,” Holland said. “We want to get some younger legs in the lineup, but we’ve always liked to have veterans on the roster as well.”
The Red Wings started strong during the regular season, then struggled down the stretch as they tried to get healthy before coasting to their ninth division title in 10 seasons and the 14th since 1991-92, when Lidstrom was a rookie. Detroit was the third-seeded team in the Western Conference playoffs, opening with a sweep of the Phoenix Coyotes to set up a showdown with a team that’s become a bit of a nemesis.
“We had a lot to be proud of overall, but right now we’re just disappointed that we couldn’t win one more game to advance,” Holland said. “We’ll spend the next three to four weeks pondering what we want to do with moves we want to make to upgrade or ones we have to make because of the salary cap.”
The Windsor Star’s Bob Duff took note of Lidstrom and Holland’s post-game comments, too:
“I have no idea,” Detroit general manager Ken Holland said. “Obviously, we’re hoping.”
It could very well be that Lidstrom himself has no idea of his future plans. If he does, he’s certainly playing his cards close to the vest.
“I have no timetable,” said Lidstrom, a Wing since 1991. “I’m going to take my time and make a decision in the next little while. I’m not sure how long it will take. I’m going to take everything into account, whether it’s the series, or the regular season, or just the whole year.”
“He played one of the best seasons I’ve ever seen a defenceman play,” frequent blue-line partner Brad Stuart said. “For anybody to have a season like that is pretty incredible, and then factor in he’s been playing for 20 years, and it’s even that much more amazing.”
“He is the best player for us every night,” added centre Henrik Zetterberg. “He has a lot of hockey in him still. In my eyes, he’s the Norris Trophy winner this year. It will be great to see him next year.”
“It’s definitely an honour to play with him, now we’ve just got to try to keep him around for a few more years,” Zetterberg said.
“It’s a pleasure to be able to see him every day,” added Stuart, a sentiment certainly shared by all Wings fans.
Update #2 Chris Chelios spoke to Sean Baligian today:
Update #3: More from Holland, via NHL.com’s Eric Gilmore:
“The League is really, really, really close,” Holland said. “Do we have to make some moves? You always got to make moves, but I think we have the nucleus of a good team. But I’m sure that 14 other teams in the West think the same thing. It’s hard to make the playoffs and it’s hard to win a round and it’s hard to get to the final four.”
The Red Wings may well have made the Western Conference Finals if they hadn’t gotten off to such a slow start in their series against the Sharks, dropping the first three games. Six of the seven games were decided by one goal, and the other was decided by two, thanks to an empty-net goal.
“You know what? When we won the Cups we won games by a sliver, and when you lose you lose by a sliver,” Holland said. “I think all seven of these games, any team could have won any of these games. Unfortunately, we got behind the 8-ball, 3-0. If we could have won one of the first three, who knows what would have happened. I think you keep doing what you do. We’re going to have to make some moves, but we’ll see.”
The Red Wings don’t have to worry about their future in goal after Howard’s rock-solid season and playoff performance.
“Obviously this is going to be tremendous for his growth,” Holland said. “He’s 27 years of age. He’s really just coming into his prime. He’s played a lot of big games—Game 7 Phoenix last year, Game 7 (San Jose) this year. You’re down 3-0, four straight elimination games. He’s really coming into his prime. We believed probably halfway through last year we had a real goalie. We rode him into the playoffs a year ago. So we think we have a tremendous goaltender.”
“Guys are starting to come into their own,” Howard said. “Sometimes these bumps in the road, they make you stronger and they make you more mentally tough. Our young guys have improved all year long, and you just continue to strive to get better.”
• Via Yahoo Sports’ Greg “Puck Daddy” Wyshynski, the Dallas News’s Mike Heika wondered what Mike Modano will do, and Defending Big D’s Brad Gardner suggested that Modano should sign a one-day contract to finish his career as a Star;
• The Hockey News posted a list suggesting that ten players have made the most impact in the playoffs thus far, and the Wings’ representatives aren’t exactly surprising:
T-2. Pavel Datsyuk, DET - 12
It’s a shame the Red Wings are out, because that means no more Datsyukian magic. The Russian scored at least one point in each game except Game 3 against Phoenix and his 1.36 points per game average is the highest of his playoff career.
T-5. Jimmy Howard, DET – 10
Goaltending certainly wasn’t to blame for Detroit’s ouster as Howard was their savior at times. His .923 save percentage was fifth overall and second behind Corey Crawford (.927) among Western goalies.
• With all due respect, this question posited to the Hockey News’s Adam Proteau is moot—at best:
Adam, this will be the third straight year that sub-par penalty-killing and less-than-stellar goaltending are major factors in the Red Wings losing in the playoffs. Do you think that it’s time for Ken Holland to change his “good goaltending is good enough” philosophy?
Chris Champion, Lansing, Mich.
You assumed right. But I don’t know that Holland will be burning up the phone lines this summer looking to replace Jimmy Howard between the Wings’ pipes.
For starters, although Howard wasn’t performing at a Tim Thomas or Dwayne Roloson level in this post-season, he wasn’t Michael Leighton-bad either. And with the Red Wings’ group of skaters so banged-up by the time they got to the playoffs, it was little wonder they were eliminated by a bigger and younger Sharks team.
Holland may decide to give Howard a new experienced platoon-mate, as it seems the end is here for Chris Osgood. But I never expect Holland to make a panic move. And I think to some degree, that’s what bringing in a big-name goalie would represent.
Howard was fantastic and he was one of the biggest reasons the Wings pushed the Sharks to five games, never mind seven. Howard proved his doubters wrong, and he will prove those who persist wrong.
• This discussion is also completely moot because Holland and Babcock have stated that they’re very comfortable with their core: TSN’s “Your Call” suggests that the Wings’ core players are too old, and that the team needs to tear things down instead of tinker—and that’s something that the Wings will not do:
Detroit’s roster has a number of other veteran players who could be moving on or are nearing the end of their careers. Long-time Detroit stalwarts Kris Draper (age 39) and Tomas Holmstrom (38), are joined by Mike Modano (40), Todd Bertuzzi (37), Brian Rafalski (37), and Ruslan Salei (36), as elder Wings who may not figure into the club’s short or long-term plans. Even present stars Pavel Datsyuk (32), Henrik Zetterberg (30) and Johan Franzen (31) have all edged into the 30-something club and have been with the team for most of a decade.
One of Detroit’s long-time strengths - offence - was exposed as a weakness by the Sharks this spring. The regular season saw Datsyuk miss 36 games due to injury and finish with 23 goals, and his absence ensured that Detroit finished the year without a 30-goal scorer.
Detroit followed their most recent title in 2008 with a seven-game finals loss in 2009, and now consecutive second-round ousters at the hands of the Sharks in 2010 and 2011. They captured the Central Division this year with 104 points, but fell well short in the post-season as Vancouver and San Jose emerged as the class of the conference.
So what do you think? Are Detroit’s days among the league’s elite over for the time being? Should the Wings start rebuilding sooner rather than later?
Like the t-shirt says: We don’t rebuild, we just reload.
• I do agree with two of Pro Hockey Talk’s Joe Yerdon’s points as to “What Went Wrong” for the Wings:
1. The Obvious You can’t get into a 3-0 hole in a series and expect to win. It sounds simple enough but last year’s Flyers managed change people’s perceptions and leave the glimmer of hope open that things can change. As this year’s playoffs have shown, dreams don’t always come true and the miracle doesn’t always come to fruition. Asking any team to win four games in a row whether it’s in the regular season or the playoffs is asking a lot of them.
While the Wings did well to do their part, it just didn’t pay off. In a series as close as this was with six games decided by one goal, they were about as close as they could to pulling off wins in four games but just didn’t get the breaks.
If you give a team like the Sharks four chances to kill you off, they’re going to do it eventually. That’s what happened.
2. No secondary scoring threats The play of Nicklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk, and Henrik Zetterberg in this series was outstanding. Datsyuk led the way with nine points (2 goals, 7 assists), Zetterberg had eight points (3g, 5a), and Lidstrom was the top goal scorer with four goals and two assists. The next best? Not so good.
Detroit had six different players finish the series with three points and while that’s a good spread out amount of help, not getting that little bit extra from any of Dan Cleary, Tomas Holmstrom, Todd Bertuzzi, or Valtteri Filppula hurt. As dominant as the Wings’ top three were, the rest of the gang was doing their part to pick their moments. Getting that kind of production is great, but ultimately it just wasn’t enough
Filppula was wonderful in the first round and came around in the second, but Cleary and Bertuzzi were stifled by the Sharks, the Wings desperately missed Franzen, Helm couldn’t keep his scoring pace up and Rafalski was obviously hampered by his sore knee—and Holmstrom simply couldn’t do his job because the Wings couldn’t sustain possession and control of the puck in the offensive zone for a long enough period of time for him to go to his office and screen Niemi, as he did so expertly in Game 5—so it was pretty much Lidstrom, Datsyuk, Zetterberg, Filppula and Kronwall who carried the mail offensively.
The Wings needed that one more secondary scorer who the Sharks couldn’t check with Franzen out, and that one more offensive defenseman who could lug the puck up ice, and between the fact that Justin Abdelkader isn’t quite ready to tap his Darren Helm-like reserve of offensive talent, the fact that Jonathan Ericsson was both inconsistent and gave up as many, if not more scoring chances against due to his ill-advised pinches than he generated offense when he smartly timed his decisions to jump into the rush, and given the fact that Jiri Hudler didn’t do much of anything useful…
Those are the obvious areas where the Wings might tweak the roster. Jan Mursak will add more forechecking presence and speed up front, but his addition means that at least two of Mike Modano, Kris Draper, Drew Miller or Patrick Eaves will have to go (given Eaves’ chemistry with Helm, I have a hard time imagining the Wings allowing him to walk away), and while the Wings value Ericsson more highly than most Wings fans do, he’s probably going to stay unless his salary demands are extreme, so that’s where you swap out Ruslan Salei for Jakub Kindl and either bring up Brendan Smith on occasion to push Kindl or just plain old bring up Doug Janik to be the team’s seventh defenseman and tell Kindl to run with it—because at this point, the Wings may simply have to accept that Rafalski’s got miles on his odometer and may miss time with his back or knee issues. When he is in the lineup, he’s fantastic, a 60-point defenseman, but when he’s not healthy, he’s like Homer when his knees flare up.
As for Hudler, however, I’m not sure whether he’s going to stay or go. I thought that the Wings needed one more big body up front, an answer to Ryane Clowe, and with Franzen out and Cleary and Bertuzzi checked like nobody’s business (we have to give the Sharks credit for being a fantastic defensive team there), Hudler didn’t deliver. I don’t know if the Wings want to keep him and hope that he’ll rebound or whether the Wings will try to dump him somewhere and try to use that $2.78 million in cap space to find a veteran or spare part with size and speed, a reclamation project who might pan out as Taylor Pyatt did for the Phoenix Coyotes, for example.
And in goal, I get the feeling that Holland will have a long talk with Chris Osgood before either sticking with him or simply going with Joey MacDonald as he’s both capable and affordable.
Let’s wrap this up as painlessly as possible, for the moment, anyway:
• 97.1 the Ticket’s Terry Foster is blaming/crediting himself for leading Wings fans on with predictions of success and failure for the Wings;
• Amongst Yahoo Sports’ Greg “Puck Daddy” Wyshynski’s “Seven Reasons” why the series was a “classic”...
Datsyuk, The Magician Sometimes we take greatness for granted. Sometimes the conditions have to change for us to appreciate that greatness.
Pavel Datsyuk has been a main cog in the Red Wings’ championship machine for a decade. He wins Selke Trophies and Lady Byngs. His dangles pepper YouTube with clips. His subtle and sublime sense of humor amuses us.
But in this series, with the Red Wings facing a formidable foe and series deficit, Datsyuk’s incredible play earned the spotlight it was given — especially when a sprained wrist he suffered on a Game 3 slash by Joe Thornton limited him. He was electrifying on every shift, exhibiting a will to win that matched his ridiculous skill-set.
The Best All-Around Player In Hockey is like the Best Pound-for-Pound Fighter In Boxing: Few can make the claim, and there’s always going to be a passionate, reasoned debate about the title. Datsyuk’s performance in this series makes a case; but there’s a gentleman named Sidney Crosby that also makes a compelling one.
Who ya got?
I like the one that doesn’t whine.
• Speaking of which, for some reason, Yahoo Sports let Ryan Lambert, who despises the Wings, write the team’s “eulogy.” I’m not going to quote a single line form it because Lambert is, to put it politely…
A classless *#$%@& who thinks that anyone who roots for a team in sports is a moron, which explains why he’s such an *#$%@&. With that Evil Drew Sharp kind of mentality and absolute hatred for the Red Wings, I don’t see why I should give a rat’s ass about Lambert’s opinions, and I don’t think you need to do so, either.
• And finally, from Fox Sports Detroit’s Mike O’Hara:
As passionate and loyal as their fans have been, there is a reality to what losing represents to the Red Wings. From owner Mike Ilitch to GM Ken Holland to the players to the people who clear the ice at Joe Louis Arena, the Red Wings’ psyche is built so that nothing short of winning the Stanley Cup qualifies a season as a success. Lidstrom expressed his emotions in an interview with FOX Sports Detroit’s John Keating after Thursday night’s game.
“It’s kind of an empty feeling,” the Wings’ captain said.
Only winning the Cup fills that void.
Mickey Redmond, twice a 50-plus goal scorer in a career that included six seasons with the Wings and an analyst on the FSD telecasts, summed up the series in a TV interview Friday morning.
The Wings proved they aren’t too old to compete at the highest level. Jimmy Howard validated himself as the goalie of the present and future. Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg demonstrated again their star-quality status. The Wings had injuries going into Game 7 and lost Todd Bertuzzi and Daniel Cleary to upper-body injuries during the game. But as a team, the Wings showed that no matter how hard they are pushed and bent, they refuse to break.
“Be proud of your hockey team,” Redmond said, signing off.
Update #4: The New York Times’ Joanne C. Gerstner posted a press round-up;
• No comment, via the Associated Press:
“I think month by month we’ve learned a lot,” Thornton said. “Last night was a good feeling, obviously. We had Detroit where we wanted them, but we let them back in the series, but we finished them off last night. It was a good feeling. I think we’re growing. We’ll see.”
• Ditto, via the Mercury News’s Cam Inman:
“A lot of people want to see the Sharks lose,” defenseman Dan Boyle said, “and we need to rally around that.”
Added center Logan Couture: “I’m sure everyone in North America wanted to see Detroit win, except for San Jose Sharks fans. Obviously (Detroit) had a chance to complete a historic comeback. I don’t know if anyone was cheering for us.”
• Heading back to Terry Foster, writing a blog entry for the Detroit News...
It was a riveting series. Neither team outclassed the other; San Jose simply outlasted the Wings. The Sharks got one more break, one more weird bounce, and now bounce on to a possible Stanley Cup title. That doesn’t mean Red Wings general manager Ken Holland should sit back and roll the dice again with the same group of players. This roster needs tweaking, and it might be time for some of your favorite Wings to move on.
The Red Wings must say goodbye to Chris Osgood and Kris Draper, as well as Mike Modano, Ruslan Salei and Jiri Hudler. The Wings don’t need a massive overhaul, but they need some younger players. Let’s see if Holland can perform a nice shakeup, not a breakup.
I believed the Wings would win this series, even when they were down 3-0. If the Sharks could take a 3-0 lead with some help from lady luck, the Wings could do the same. The Wings showed a lot of grit in coming back from that 3-0 deficit. They didn’t bow out with apathy like the Los Angeles Lakers. The Wings are not a great team, but they have great character and determination.
When many of you were talking about what offseason moves the Wings should make, the Wings dug in and battled. They didn’t get “I-75 eyes” like the Lions used to get when their seasons were over.
You should be disappointed that your team lost. Expectations in this town are to win a Cup every season. That should never change. But know this about the Wings: They play the game the right way and didn’t go down without a terrific fight. That is worth pointing out, in an era in sports where some players go through the motions and are more interested in getting paid than raising a banner.
• And, via the Windsor Star’s Dave Waddell:
“I truly believe in the core group we have,” Lidstrom said. “Looking at the top players (Henrik) Zetterberg and (Pavel) Datsyuk, and the guys behind them, Franzen, Filppula, Kronwall, Stewie (Brad Stuart), you got guys that are making strides and guys that are star players in this league. I think this team has a good core group.”
“I’m pleased with the effort, pleased with the growth of our young players,” Babcock said. “Our high-end players, Datsyuk and Zetterberg, were fantastic in this series. They showed great leadership quality. We need these guys to be great.”
However, the development of goalie Jimmy Howard may prove the most important step forward of any for the Wings in the long haul. Howard gave Detroit a chance to win every night and proved capable of stealing games.
“This has been tremendous for his growth,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said. “He’s 27, just coming into his prime. He’s played in a lot of big games.Game 7 against Phoenix, Game 7 this year. You’re down 3-0, four straight elimination games. We believe halfway through last year we had a real goalie. We rode him into the playoffs a year ago. We think we’ve got a tremendous goaltender.”
While Lidstrom will play in Detroit or retire, the team’s other unrestricted free agents are Mike Modano, Kris Draper, Chris Osgood, Joey MacDonald, Ruslan Salei, Jonathan Ericsson, Eaves and Drew Miller. The Wings have 15 players signed for next season.
“We got to make some moves, but we got the nucleus of a good team,” said Holland, who’ll have nearly $15.2 million US in cap space available if the salary cap goes to $62.2 million as is projected. “We got a lot of good players, we’ll see how we can tweak it. We got to figure out a way to get on the other side of this. Find a way to win by one instead of lose by one.’’
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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.