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Valtteri Filppula joins a long line of Red Wings ‘graduates’ who succeed elsewhere

Given the way Stephen Weiss's tenure with the Red Wings has gone thus far, it's particularly frustrating for Wings fans to hear that yet another player that chose to sign elsewhere for very similar money to the Wings were offering him in one Valtteri Filppula's having so much success with the Tampa Bay Lightning (following in the footsteps of Tomas Kopecky, Jiri Hudler, Marian Hossa, and when he was in Los Angeles, Kyle Quincey)...

But it certainly appears that Filppula's another player who's "graduated from the Harvard of Hockey" and has found so much success after making a new start. NHL.com's Lonnie Herman noted that the Lightning feel incredibly fortunate to have Filppula on their side...

Signed as a free agent in the offseason, the Finnish-born center already has 10 goals and 10 assists, exceeding his point total from last season, when he appeared in only 41 games because of injuries. Filppula is considered an essential part of the Lightning, especially with Steven Stamkos out indefinitely because of a broken tibia.

"I can't say enough about what he has done for us," Lightning coach Jon Cooper said. "We'd be in big trouble without him."


How big a trouble? Well, it's likely that Tampa Bay would be searching for a center for their top line. With Filppula, they have one.

"I think no one had Val coming here and being the No. 1 center, and he is," Cooper said. "The great thing about it is he is acting like it. He's playing extremely well, he's handling the other teams' best defensive units, he's making plays for us all over the ice and you can just see the confidence brewing in him."


His success this season is no revelation to [Martin] St. Louis.

"It doesn't surprise me; I knew he was a pretty good player," St. Louis said. "Coming from Detroit too, it's a pretty good school of hockey, so I wasn't surprised at all."

Cooper, however, was less sure of what Tampa Bay was getting.

"I didn't know him well enough before he came here and I think that was probably good. There was no pre-judgment of how he played. I had watched him on TV on numerous occasions but never sat there and said, 'I'll be coaching that kid one day,' " Cooper said. "But he is one of those guys you almost have to go out of your way to talk to him because he is so low-maintenance that you don't hear much from him."

And the Wings knew what they were letting go, at least according to Mike Babcock and MLive's Ansar Khan:

“You always miss good players when they move on,” Babcock said. “Val was a real good player for us, played for a long time; we miss Jiri Hudler, too. He’s leading Calgary in scoring (28 points in 30 games).

“There’s a whole bunch of them over the years that we ran out of cash and didn’t get them done. That’s the way life goes. But we wish them luck where they go, except when they play us.”

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Jaromir Blogger's avatar

I have always been a big fan of Filppula, but certain players just never find a way to hit their stride with Detroit for whatever reason. I remember seeing plenty of flashes of brilliance from him, but he could never display them consistently enough. Good for him.

Posted by Jaromir Blogger on 12/12/13 at 08:20 PM ET

Primis's avatar

I don’t even think it has to do with DET.  Both Hudler and Filppula have succeeded on weaker teams.  Some other guys like Brunner and Leino don’t seem to succeed anywhere else so far.

Look, someone led the Avalanche in scoring last year, after all.  Someone always does, no matter how bad the team is.  A lot of guys do well on other, weaker teams (and I’m sorry but TB is weaker up front than DET).

I like to call this the Ray Whitney effect.  The guy didn’t do so well in DET even with PP time, but he has excelled on baaaaaad teams (PHX, CBS, DAL to name a few).

It happens… *shrug*.  Not anyone’s fault necessarily, it just… is.  Some guys don’t fit in on good teams and fit in better on teams that don’t have as much internal competition.

Posted by Primis on 12/12/13 at 08:36 PM ET

shanetx's avatar

Whitney is a good example.  This is more common in the NBA, but there it’s understood better.  The best player on a bad team (Chris Bosh in Toronto) might only be the third banana in a good team (Chris bosh in Miami) but he’s still the same player.  This is just the reverse of that situation. 

Hudler is succeeding in Calgary.  Why?  He’s their best offensive option.  Hudler could’ve been similiarly successful in Detroit if they had made him the number one option.  In Detroit that would’ve meant playing him ahead of more talented guys.  In Calgary that isn’t the case.

Posted by shanetx from Floydada, Texas on 12/12/13 at 10:48 PM ET

redxblack's avatar

And I was thinking Weiss’ problem was he was brought in to fill the slot vacated by Filppula, and he did.

Posted by redxblack from Akron Ohio on 12/13/13 at 01:26 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.