Archive for the General Thoughts Category

Izzo best coach in Michigan History? Try John MacInnes…

Posted in General Hockey, General Thoughts with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on 04/01/2010 by Ben Gilbert

In the interest of full disclosure on this one, I am a proud Michigan Wolverine so everything that follows in this post should probably be taken with that in mind…but I digress.

Jemele Hill recently posted this very, shall we say, provoking piece on ESPN.

In this piece she claims that Tom Izzo is the greatest sports coach in Michigan history.  Without dredging up too many stats and other general figures, I thought I would offer a brief response to Jemele.

Michigan is a hockey state.  In my opinion four coaches that have to be considered some of the best to ever teach and lead teams in this state are the Wings own Scotty Bowman, Michigan’s Red Berenson, MSU’s Ron Mason and Tech’s John MacInnes.

Allegiances aside, therefore taking out Berenson who I love and Mason who I dislike but have the utmost respect for, I think it can be argued that John MacInnes is the greatest Michigan coach there ever was.

As Wings fans it is certainly fair to argue for Scotty.  No Scotty means No Hockeytown.  No Hockeytown means no established culture of winning.  This means no cups, no 19 straight playoff runs etc.  I understand all this, but I want to counter Jemele on her level.  We’ll exclude Bowman because he was already “Great” before he got to Detroit.

John MacInnes played in goal for U of M during his college career and then in the 1950’s took the one and only coaching job he would ever have, Head hockey coach at Michigan Tech.

For those of you unaware, Michigan Tech is located in Houghton, MI.  That’s in the Keewenaw area of the Upper Peninsula, approximately 10 hours from the metro Detroit region.  It’s isolated, and there is not much of a recruiting base up there.  Yet, despite the remoteness and lack of resources on both an institutional and local level, MacInnes coached MTU to 3 NCAA titles from 1956-1982.  He took the team to countless other WCHA championships and NCAA tournament appearances. Given the location of the school and the academic quality expected from the players (top-notch engineering students) it can be argued that no coach in Michigan history did more with less.  Sure Tony Esposito came through the school, but honestly, almost no other NHL talent came through during MacInnes’ run.  He took more or less no-name recruits and turned a school with a student body of roughly 5,000-6,000 students into a national powerhouse year-in and year-out.

To put in perspective what a great coach John MacInnes was, USA hockey offered him the coaching job for the 1980 olympic team.  He turned them down because of his health.  It was only after MacInnes’ withdrew his name from consideration that the committee went with Herb Brooks. (And we all know the outcome of that decision…)

In summary, I can respect Tom Izzo for the great coach that he is.  He’s easily top 5 in the state, maybe even top 3 once all is said and done.  However, Michigan is a hockey state.  In regards to a “Michigan man” who lived in Michigan, played for Michigan, did more with less and preached a true all-in team style, there is no greater coach in the history of our fine state than John MacInnes.

Feel free to comment/dispute/offer your ideas.  Also, I know this post has been a relatively big aside from all things Wings, but where do you think Scotty and/or even Uncle Mike should rank when considering “Michigan” coaches?

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Christmas Wish List Revisited

Posted in General Hockey, General Thoughts with tags on 12/24/2009 by Ben Gilbert

Below is the Christmas list I wrote up at Thanksgiving.  Now that the wonderful holiday is upon us, I’m going to check the list and see if I’ve gotten what I wanted…

All I want for Christmas:

  1. I want Ville Leino to purchase a nice cottage in northern michigan and retire there.  He obviously does not want to put out the effort Detroit fans expect form their players, and this way he’d be able to tell all the people up-north about his glory days playing for our beloved hockey team.  Maybe in 20-25 years an age group will come along that will marvel at the fact that he once wore the winged-wheel, failing to realize that he was a complete disappointment the entire time he did.  Little would they know, he only played for us because of gary’s salary cap and the obnoxious amount of injuries we’ve sustained.  I’m done with Ville…yes, I’m writing him off.  I hear Charlevoix is nice this time of year…
      E-ville has been a bit better of late, but when guys start coming back from injury I would still prefer the likes of Eaves, Miller, Abdelkader et. al. to Leino being in the lineup.  He’s just too slow and isn’t quite “bringing it” every game.
  2. I want Todd Bertuzzi to join Ville.  Reference everything I wrote above and apply it to Bert.
      So, yeah, um.  He kinda showed up a bit.  I’m still not gonna start a love fest, but Bert can stay for now.  He can sleep on the couch while we work this out.
  3. I want Johan Franzen to stop thinking that he’s going to make it back for the olympic games.  This scares the thanksgiving stuffing out of me.  So he wants to skate in a month, then play in a couple games with the Wings, followed by a grueling 2-week single-elimination tournament.  Coming off ACL surgery, somehow this doesn’t seem like a spectacular idea to me.  The last thing the Wings need is Franzen to re-injure anything or even be hurting heading into March.  This is all considering that we may, unfortunately, be battling in the playoff race come that time of year.  We need the Mule back strong and healthy.
      It appears that Franzen will not be back for the Olympics, and we’ll know very shortly if he is even named to the roster.  Please Mr. Naslund, I’m begging you, do not put the Mule out there in February.  We need him healthy for the amazing March and April we’ll need to have.
  4. I want better Special Teams.  Namely I want better Penalty-Killing.  We’re the Red Wings, and we have “great” defensive depth and a good core of penalty-killers.  Yet somehow we can’t actually stop other teams from scoring…it baffles me.
      Well, the penalty kill is certainly better. To the tune of 14th in the league better, when we were near the bottom.  At one point we were 36 of 37.  Those numbers were unheard of last year.  Malik has a great write-up from a week ago on it.
  5. I want Ken Holland to go back in time and sign Vinny Prospal to play wing rather than Bert or Williams.  Oh hindsight…
      Still kinda wishing, although Vinny has cooled off a bit.  I still think he would fit better alongside Datsyuk than Bert, and he is the same price.
  6. I want Georges Laraque to never play another NHL game.  It’s painful to watch this man play hockey, and no fan should ever have to pay to see it.  End this.  Immediately.  (I’m looking at you Bob Gainey.)
      Still a wish, dangit.  As I watched the completely inept power-play the past few games against the Blackhawks, I kept wishing we had Nik Jr. back there quarterbacking the 2nd unit.  Merry Christmas Georges Laraque, you still have a job.
  7. I want Ryan Getzlaf.  What!? I’m allowed to dream alright.  It’s Christmastime, maybe a surprise is awaiting me…
      Nope. No trades either. I did get a Drew Miller Bobby Orr style goal though!
  8. I want the Red Wings to sign Darren Helm for life so that I can feel confident purchasing a #43 jersey soon.
      I’m still waiting.  The more and more I watch this kid though, you gotta think he’s the kinda player that could develop into a #2 pivot one day for the Wings if he could get his shot/finishing skills up to par.  He’s so fast that he makes more plays and chances out of nothing than any other player on the ice.  Detroit loves him.  The fans can’t get enough of watching a player like Darren.  I have an inkling he’ll be around for quite a while.
  9. I want the Red Wings to have a 4-game winning streak at any point this season.
      Check. They did in fact win 4 straight from the 11th to the 17th of this month.  They beat the Ducks, Preds, Coyotes and Lightning respectively.  Not the highest caliber of opposition, but considering our lineup, quite an accomplishment.  Bert scored OT winners in the first two against the Ducks and Preds as well.  I’m still wondering if I’m in a bad hockey Twilight Zone episode.
  10. Finally, I want to wake up and have this nightmare be over.  I’m ready for April and for us to be a top-4 seed.  I don’t enjoy watching games like the last two.  I’m sick of hearing about different players “trying” and “working hard.”  This is the Red Wings.  To quote our favorite muppet Yoda: “Do or do not, there is no try.”  That is a mantra the Wings need to pick up and run with.  The Red Wings win.  Period.  If they aren’t then things need to get changed.  I’m tired, and I’m not enjoying the fact that we’re not even in the top 8 in the conference right now.  I’m not completely freaking out, but this is taxing as a Wings fan and I’d simply like to be reminded at Christmastime that my hockey team is still one of the premiere franchises in the league.  Let’s start with tonight.
      Well, we’re still not in the top 8.  My views have lessened a bit though.  We’re still a top team when healthy.  We’ve just gotta find a way to make a great stretch run, and then anything can happen.  Hopefully we’ll get Chicago in the 1st round and wreck their hopes of a Cup right away.  That is my new “wish”.

So there it is.  I got some of the things I wanted.  It’s Christmastime, so I feel ok about everything right now.  We even get the Blue Jackets to help our ills.

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday and a Merry Christmas.

BONUS: Check out all the hockey players in the following.  The song is by Igor Larionov’s daughters, and they got quite a few Red Wings and other players to help out…


Uncle Mike’s Christmas Present (Review: Chicago Blackhawks)

Posted in General Hockey, General Thoughts with tags , , , on 12/24/2009 by Ben Gilbert

An early Christmas Present to you all via Uncle Mike:

I’m not even going to review last nights game.  I was there.  It wasn’t fun…but it’s almost Christmas.

What do I want for Christmas?  An NHL power-play that is functional.  Please Santa.  I’ve been extra good.

Preview: Calgary Flames (Christmas Wish-List)

Posted in General Hockey, General Thoughts with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 11/27/2009 by Ben Gilbert

Instead of just doing the typical game notes and predictions, in the spirit of the season, I’m going to submit you to my early Christmas wish-list.  Maybe the Red Wings can get me some of these on black-friday…

All I want for Christmas:

  1. I want Ville Leino to purchase a nice cottage in northern michigan and retire there.  He obviously does not want to put out the effort Detroit fans expect form their players, and this way he’d be able to tell all the people up-north about his glory days playing for our beloved hockey team.  Maybe in 20-25 years an age group will come along that will marvel at the fact that he once wore the winged-wheel, failing to realize that he was a complete disappointment the entire time he did.  Little would they know, he only played for us because of gary’s salary cap and the obnoxious amount of injuries we’ve sustained.  I’m done with Ville…yes, I’m writing him off.  I hear Charlevoix is nice this time of year…
  2. I want Todd Bertuzzi to join Ville.  Reference everything I wrote above and apply it to Bert.
  3. I want Johan Franzen to stop thinking that he’s going to make it back for the olympic games.  This scares the thanksgiving stuffing out of me.  So he wants to skate in a month, then play in a couple games with the Wings, followed by a grueling 2-week single-elimination tournament.  Coming off ACL surgery, somehow this doesn’t seem like a spectacular idea to me.  The last thing the Wings need is Franzen to re-injure anything or even be hurting heading into March.  This is all considering that we may, unfortunately, be battling in the playoff race come that time of year.  We need the Mule back strong and healthy.
  4. I want better Special Teams.  Namely I want better Penalty-Killing.  We’re the Red Wings, and we have “great” defensive depth and a good core of penalty-killers.  Yet somehow we can’t actually stop other teams from scoring…it baffles me.
  5. I want Ken Holland to go back in time and sign Vinny Prospal to play wing rather than Bert or Williams.  Oh hindsight…
  6. I want Georges Laraque to never play another NHL game.  It’s painful to watch this man play hockey, and no fan should ever have to pay to see it.  End this.  Immediately.  (I’m looking at you Bob Gainey.)
  7. I want Ryan Getzlaf.  What!? I’m allowed to dream alright.  It’s Christmastime, maybe a surprise is awaiting me…
  8. I want the Red Wings to sign Darren Helm for life so that I can feel confident purchasing a #43 jersey soon.
  9. I want the Red Wings to have a 4-game winning streak at any point this season.
  10. Finally, I want to wake up and have this nightmare be over.  I’m ready for April and for us to be a top-4 seed.  I don’t enjoy watching games like the last two.  I’m sick of hearing about different players “trying” and “working hard.”  This is the Red Wings.  To quote our favorite muppet Yoda: “Do or do not, there is no try.”  That is a mantra the Wings need to pick up and run with.  The Red Wings win.  Period.  If they aren’t then things need to get changed.  I’m tired, and I’m not enjoying the fact that we’re not even in the top 8 in the conference right now.  I’m not completely freaking out, but this is taxing as a Wings fan and I’d simply like to be reminded at Christmastime that my hockey team is still one of the premiere franchises in the league.  Let’s start with tonight.

Side note, at the pace the Red Wings are taking shots and failing to score goals, I only have one thing to tell them…You’ll shoot your eye out.

Calgary Flames vs. Detroit Red Wings

November 27th 7:00pm, Joe Louis Arena

Game Notes:

  1. Eaves is back in the lineup and Brad May is the odd-man-out for the rotation tonight.  It was surprising to see Eaves sit, but I’m glad he made a quick return.  He’s played decent and deserves to be in the lineup.
  2. Ozzie starts tonight due to the goaltending carousel the Red Wings have going on right now.  Howard will probably get the start tomorrow since it’s a back-to-back.
  3. Jarome Iginla is really awesome.  As in 16G-7A-23Pts-28PIM awesome.  Hopefully his awesomeness is not on display tonight…
  4. Mikka Kiprusoff will likely start for the Flames in goal tonight, since he plays like 95 games a season for them.  He is prone to have some great games followed by 6-7 goal duds. He’s given up 5 goals in his last 3 starts.  Hopefully this means his due for a flop.

Bold and Stupid Predictions:

  1. The Red Wings score tonight. (Bold, I know…)
  2. Dion Phaneuf puts a questionable hit on a Wing and we somehow are left wishing Brad May was in the lineup to respond…
  3. Abdelkader puts a goal in tonight.
  4. The Red Wings have the lead in the 3rd but blow it due to defensive let-downs…
  5. Final Score:  Flames Win 4-3/SO.

Update: Absurdity Returns

Posted in General Hockey, General Thoughts with tags , , on 11/19/2009 by Ben Gilbert

This is via NHL.com

The following is from NHL Senior Vice President of Hockey Operations Mike Murphy:

“The way we’ve always handled it and the way we will continue to handle it until we have a procedure change is the referees call on the ice stands. He sees the shot and he sees the save and doesn’t see the puck in the net and kills the play or blows the whistle,” Murphy said. “It’s not when you hear the whistle blow, it’s when he intends to blow the whistle. There is a little bit of a gray area there between when he intends and when the whistle sounds.

“In this case Dennis LaRue was clear with what he saw and clear with what he interpreted and that was, ‘I had killed the play before the puck entered the net.’ When we scrutinize it and go through video review I think everybody would concede that the puck was in the net, and Dennis didn’t see that unfortunately.”

You read that right.  Dennis LaRue said “I had killed the play before the puck entered the net.”

Seeing as how this is either a physical impossibility or appalling refereeing, I’d like to thank LaRue for being incompetent and a fool.

Now that the NHL has supported LaRue, we can all pretend to be really angry for a while and then most likely this will pass.

I can only hope that this is an issue that the NHL realizes it needs to man-up and deal with.  Do Something.

Inconsistency, stupidity, absurdity.  These have no place in our league.

Asininity at Its Finest

Posted in General Hockey, General Thoughts with tags , , , , , on 11/19/2009 by Ben Gilbert

(If you don’t know what Asininity is, it’s the noun form of asinine)

What to say…

There are countless recaps of the atrocity that occurred last night.  Here are a few: NOHS, A2Y, TPL, and TTD.

I’m not sure what there is left to write about what occurred to the Red Wings last night.  You, me, Gary Bettman, Toronto officials, Stars fans, even LaRue himself knows that what transpired last night with 13:36 left in the 3rd period was a goal.  It was.  Brad May put in his first as a Red Wing.

Congratulations Brad, good reaction time on the backhand and it snuck in for you somehow.  It’s a 2-2 game, and the Wings are on the way to earning some points in the standings.

Wait?  No?  What’s that? We intended to blow the play dead before the goal was scored…

There comes a time when asininity, complete and sheer stupidity, is too much to take.  I don’t demand that the NHL refereeing be perfect.  I understand that penalty calls are subjective, I understand that Refs can’t see everything all the time.  Yet, I cannot bring myself to “accept” or “understand” when gross incompetence and idiocy is promulgated by the NHL time after time.

Let’s look at the facts:

  1. At 13:39 of the 3rd period Brad May backhands a shot towards the net.
  2. By the time the clock reads 13:38, the puck is in the net and the whistle has not blown.
  3. The whistle is blown as the clock reads 13:36.  That is a full 2 seconds after the puck was in the net.

That’s right.  2 seconds after the shot went in, the whistle went.  Also note, that the time difference from the shot to the whole puck being across the goal line is less than 1 second.  How could this goal not stand?  You asked, so Mr. LaRue answers:

“There is no goal on the play.  The whistle had blown to kill the play.”

Incompetence.

The whistle had blown to kill the play…2 whole seconds after the puck was in the net.  LaRue doesn’t even mention intent to blow the whistle here.  What is he basing this decision on?  It can only be fabricated lies and the pride of a man more worried about himself than the integrity of the game he officiates.

Did you blow the play dead as Brad May was taking a shot?  You know, that thing players do when they are trying to score in that game we sometimes call Ice Hockey.  Or did you blow the play dead as the puck was traveling towards the net because you thought: “Oh whatever, I think this play isn’t going anywhere.  Brad May can’t shoot well anyways.”  Or did you blow the play dead when the puck was across the goal line…and then somehow still decide that this was not a goal?

The facts are above for you to read.  This is Negligence and Incompetence.  I’m still furious.  The game should have been 2-2, this would have changed the complexion of play, and thus the whole outcome of the game.

What I can’t stand is the way the NHL allows it’s referee’s to stand behind obviously incorrect calls.  There is no subjectivity involved here.  Watch the replay above for yourself.  This is absurdity at its finest.

Babcock said it very succinctly after the game:

“The guy never meant to blow the whistle. It was a shot, it was in on the shot,” Babcock said. “It’s as dumb as I’ve ever seen.”

Asininity.  (I just wanted to write that word again)

#14

Posted in General Hockey, General Thoughts with tags , on 11/17/2009 by Ben Gilbert

For those of you who haven’t heard, Brendan Shanahan announced his retirement this afternoon.  This does not come as much of a surprise to anyone, but it certainly has made me reflect on Shanny and his time with the Wings.  I wanted to take this space to offer up my thoughts on Shanny and what he meant to me and to the Detroit Red Wings organization overall:

When Brendan Shanahan came to the Red Wings in the fall of 1996, I was 7 years old.  That’s right, I’m young.  I was 7.  Yet, I remember that trade like it was yesterday.  I remember realizing we had gotten rid of Paul Coffey and Keith Primeau, and not seeming to care at all.  For some reason, unknown to me to this day, I wanted to like Shanny…I needed to like Shanny.  You see, in the fall of 1996, I only had two strongly memorable playoffs runs to work off of: getting swept in 1995 by the Devils, and getting knocked out in the WCF by Colorado in the spring of ’96.  I was 7 years old, and I remember thinking, “We need this guy, now we can finally win the cup.”

I will never know why or how I thought this way, I was freakin 7 years old.  Most 7 year olds don’t know how to analyze the pieces of a team and what they feel will bring the stanley cup to their favorite franchise.  Yet there I was, with open arms, ready for Brendan Shanahan to be the piece the Red Wings were missing and to bring us the championship we so desperately wanted.

For the next 9 seasons he was in Detroit, Shanny became my favorite player on the Red Wings.  Yes, in the midst of Steve Yzerman, Sergei Federov, Darren McCarty and countless other Red Wing greats, my little 7-year-old self chose Brendan Shanahan as the player I dreamt of being one day.  I would marvel at how he could score so many goals and yet also be willing to step up and defend a teammate at a moments notice.  The fact that he would fight/score/assist and do whatever it took to win was magnificent.  Shanny was the definition of a power forward, and he’s done it better than almost anyone who has played the game.

I played street hockey pretending to have his one-timer.  I owned multiple shirts with Shanahan and 14 across the back.  I even created multiple email addresses that mentioned shanny, shanahan, the number 14 etc. when I was growing up. (You know what it was like when you first got the internet…all those crazy email accounts you set up and such…)

I distinctly remember my “Shanny-shirt” of the 98-02 playoff years.  I insisted on wearing the same jersey t-shirt for every playoff game and I would only wash it after a Red Wing loss.  It was my own superstitious little piece of clothing when I couldn’t afford an actual jersey.

I do not expect everyone to be as crazy about Brendan Shanahan as I was.  What I hope to accomplish in writing all this is simply to raise awareness of what an impact Brendan Shanahan had on me, all metro Detroit youth, and the Red Wings as a whole.  He was the missing piece in ’97 and ’98, and for that all Red Wings fans should be thankful.  He was a 3 time cup-winner with this organization, and he treated the city of Detroit well.

I know kids in metro Detroit today are outside playing street hockey, dreaming of pulling a “datsyukian deke” or being the next Hank Zetterberg.  That is wonderful, I know exactly what they are feeling.   Brendan Shanahan was that player for me, and for so many Detroit youth in the 90’s.  He was special.  I’ll miss having him playing in the NHL, and I can only hope he stays around the league.

Today, I still feel like I’m 7 years old.  As I hear about Shanahan’s retirement, as an NHL fan, I still can’t help but think the same thing: “We need this guy.”

Thanks for everything Shanny.

Assorted Videos:

This is how you defend your goalie and teammate (Against Bob Probert no less…)

Finally a tribute video (Not all Red Wings, but mostly)

For further reading and a bit more on Shanahan check out  Puck Daddy’s post.