The Opossum-Palooza

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A Sad Day For Hockey

I was never a fan of the Detroit Red Wings. In fact, I loathe them. I cannot forgive them for what they did to my beloved Capitals in the summer of 1998. Nor can I forgive them for having the most obnoxious fans in the NHL. Or for being the NY Yankees of the NHL for so many years, seemingly landing every marquee free agent on the market most offseasons.

However, in spite of this, I can never have anything but the utmost respect for Steve Yzerman, who for 22 years embodied everything that it means to be an NHL player. He was, and still is, a shining example that all hockey players should aspire to. I place him in the category of "Enemy Players Whom I Can't Help But Respect" along with the likes of Derek Jeter, Donovan McNabb or Emmitt Smith.

So it is with a hint of sadness that I note that Steve Yzerman today scheduled his Hall of Fame induction for the year 2009.

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At 3:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Not sure characterizing them as the Yankees of the NHL is right. The Yankees payroll is something like 2x the next-highest team (Boston), whereas Wings didn't even have the league's highest payroll in most of the last several seasons (a distinction belonging to the Rangers).

Also, I don't really remember them being major players on the free agency market; I think of that predominantly with Colorado (Kariya, Selanne) or Rangers (Holik). It seems to me of the stars Red Wings acquired over the last several seasons (Schneider, Chelios, Shanahan, Hasek) they got indirectly through the draft (that is, by trading top prospects), picked up as spare parts (Maltby, acquired for like a dollar from the Oilers) or drafted themselves (Yzerman, Lidstrom, Fedorov). The fact that they still have some talented youth (Datsyuk, Zetterberg, the Russian kid who was in a car accident, whatever happened to him anyways?) makes me think their success had more to do with a good scouting department that found prospects that were worth trading, than just being able to write the biggest check (which is all the Yankees have left, read a story these days and everybody agrees they don't have anything left in their farm system to give up for trade deadline help).

At 3:33 PM, Blogger Biff said...

If I had any free time right now, I'm sure I could come up with a list of guys like Chris Chelios and Dominik Hasek that were big free agent signings for the Wings, but ultimately, I can't necessarily disagree that calling them the Yankees of the NHL is a bit of a stretch. Although I still think they get a similar level of vitriol from fans of other teams.

At 1:50 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Chelios and Hasek weren't free agent signings. Hasek was acquired in exchange for Slava Kozlov (and maybe other stuff, I wouldn't know all the details) and Chelios was part of a deadline deal. I've just Googled it, he was traded for a player on Det's active roster at the time (Anders Eriksson) and a couple of 1st round draft picks.

At 1:56 PM, Blogger Biff said...

Oh for crying out loud...

I hate it when people expect me to know what I'm talking about. The point of the thing is not whether the Red Wings are analogous to the Yankees, the point is that I hate the Red Wings. But I'm still man enough to respect Stevie Y. Because I am awesome.

At 12:40 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

What I was getting at is that I've always felt the antipathy toward the Red Wings is somewhat misplaced. I can understand frustration with the Yankees, because of the way their salary structure widely outspends even the nearest competition, but of the four highest-spending teams in the NHL (Avs, Wings, Maple Leafs, Rangers), I would say the Wings were guilty of the least "chicanery" under the old CBA (as far as just being able to cut the biggest check to lure in FAs). If we're going to blame a franchise (and I dislike many), I think it ought to be for objectionable tactics.

At 1:31 PM, Blogger Biff said...

Fair point. I will openly admit that my Red Wings related bile has more to do with the 1998 SCF than anything. The obnoxious fans that show up at Verizon Center once a year don't help, either.

At 1:38 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

And, that is a fair point in response. Nobody likes to lose. Although at least with the '98 SCF, it's not like there was a ton of doubt as to the outcome. I think Caps fans have less to be bitter about than, say, Sabres fans after the '99 SCF (everybody knows Hull's foot was in the crease).

As for the annoying fans, I've never been to a Wings game (road or away, but I think the context here is most relevant away) so I don't know what they're like. US teams that have national fan bases tend to be scorned by "outsiders" to that fan base (Dallas Cowboys, NY Yankees, Duke Blue Devils, ND Fighting Irish), although I think Brazilian World Cup Soccer is an interesting example of a team with a widespread fan base that tends to be perceived more positively.


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