And I've been watching hockey. Good hockey. Exciting hockey. MotherEffing Red Wing hockey.
I've been watching Dylan Larkin play like he's got some sort of problem with someone, some sort of anger that drives him and I dig it. Not since his rookie year have we seen this kind of consistent ferocity. I guess when you get cross checked in the neck by a scum bag, then you get run again, then again...well, I guess maybe you play a little angry.
I've taken notice of some Steve Yzerman successes. I've seen two draft picks lots of us didn't like turn into franchise-changing (yes, franchise-changing) revelations. Seider will be the best defenseman in hockey within three years. I think you'll find people who already believe he's top 5. He's that good. He is that fun to watch. Every shift is must-watch TV, unless that TV happens to be on an inexplicable commercial break or lagging or cutting away to another game brought to you by ESPN +. Baby steps, and acceptable issues with a streaming service that costs a fraction of what Center Ice used to. Best defenseman in hockey within three years, and already the second best defenseman we've seen in Detroit in the last thirty years. Ok...third and that's an ode to Vladdy.
Lucas Raymond. Yes, young man, you can stay. We won't talk about the current goal-scoring slump because smart people see things that I don't. Smart people see defensive responsibility and playmaking and little things you do that contribute to our angry Captain's success, not to mention the success of one Tyler Bertuzzi...when he's playing, that is. Ha ha. LOL. Fun topic. Off limits? Nope. Not according to your comments. Divisive? Yup. But, heck, the whole country's divided...why should we be different. Me? He's a human being making a tough choice that he's either unwilling or unable to communicate in terms of justification. This is the internet so it's mandatory that I have an angry stance on this. It's absolutely mandatory that I offer an opinion based on whatever facebook post I've seen or whichever "news" channel I subscribe to. It is equally critical to the discussion that I entertain exactly zero opinions different than my own because we don't engage in debate anymore.
So I have this: I wish he would play every game because he makes my favorite hockey team better. That's literally my opinion.
We have a rookie goalie that won't win the Calder, but is an Yzerman steal. We have a rookie forward and an NHL top-five defenseman who won't win the Calder because another guy did a U of M lacrosse move that voters will decide makes him the best rookie in hockey. If you didn't see that coming the minute it happened you haven't watched Little Gary's NHL long enough. Chalk it.
I've watched Jeff Blashill listen to Steve Yzerman's "suggestion" that maybe Flip Hronek needed some quiet time, a few games maybe. And then I've seen Hronek play better than maybe he ever has. I've seen our last remaining Russian player live up to the billing he came with when Yzerman originally drafted him in Tampa.
I've been watching. I've watched a team that everyone said would be the worst in hockey hang around and hang around. I know. Boston has like 19 games in hand. Got it. I know. They can't win on the road. Noted. But...they're better than we expected. Better than the league expected...sooner than any of us expected.
I was on the golf course yesterday...so let's talk about that. What. The. F. 18 months ago a buddy of mine called me on a Saturday morning and said, "let's play golf." I said, "no, I suck and I don't like to do competitive things that I have no chance of winning." He said, "I'l bring the PBR." I said, "Ok." So I went and played. Then I played again. Now? It's a problem. Anyway, yesterday, I played with a guy who's a Cap fan. We talked hockey. We talked about '98 and then we talked about '21-'22. I shot a 92. He threw some tantrums. In between the clubs he threw, he admitted what we are all sensing...those who watch hockey see what Yzerman's doing with the Wings and it's happening faster than expected.
It's going to happen. It's already happening. The Yzerman effect. The Yzerplan. I really have no idea how anyone could have possibly doubted him. I seriously question the mental stability of anyone who dares question anything he does.
I've noticed the crowds at LCA. No I haven't been there. But I've been waiting to see the numbers dwindle and it just doesn't seem to happen. 20,000 every night? Nope. But I get the sense we're looking at 12 to 14 every game. That is surprising. The volume is surprising. The reaction of the players is genuine. They don't lose much there. I think you've noticed that, too. Winning at home. Losing on the road. The hallmark of a young team.
How was your Christmas? Mine was fine, thanks. Like I said, I'm a grandpa now and that is quite honestly the greatest thing in the entire world. Holy. Cow. I'm a dad of daughters so I've always been a sucker and a softie. But a granddaughter? We are talking a whole new level. She had a great Christmas, as all children should. My favorite gift?
Well that happened exactly one month ago and it's the reason for the title of this post. Not since 1997 have I been so affected by the success of one of our sports teams. Watching Michigan decimate, and I mean manhandle and what I mean is absolutely run roughshod over a soft, candy-assed, overrated, bloviating, cocky, shit heel and shit house team like Ohio...well, it just made me happy. That was my Christmas gift. On a snowy day in Ann Arbor the witch of November came stealing, Bucky. Stealing your soul, your arrogance, your decade of dominance. If you're an Ohio fan reading this? SUCK IT.
Ok. Almost done...for now. I read a few things lately. I saw what Rummy wrote and a lot of your comments. I appreciate that. Surfer Ken called me and we talked hockey and beer. I do miss this and, well, we'll see.
We'll just see.
Meanwhile, I'll be watching...if and when they ever play again.