Red Wing for Life: Henrik Zetterberg

January 29, 2009

by Drew Singh…
Ken Holland has done it again; Henrik Zetterberg will be a Red Wing for the rest of his career having signed a 12 year $73 million dollar deal. At the end of this contract, Zetterberg will be 40 which leaves no doubt in where he will be finishing his career. Zetterberg had long showed the Yzerman-like desire to remain a Red Wing and he gave the Red Wings a hometown discount. Zetteberg’s contract averages out to a cap figure of about $6.08 million per year which is the biggest steal in the salary cap era. Zetterberg is one of the best two way players in the NHL and he is the reigning Conn Smythe trophy winner as the playoffs MVP.

Zetterberg is indeed the new Yzerman. Zetterberg will one day captain the Red Wings and he will be in Detroit for his entire career. Zetterberg and Yzerman had several conversations leading up to the signing of the deal. Obviously Yzerman shed some light on Zetterberg to help him out. Zetterberg picked the right man to be his role model. Yzerman shared his thoughts on the deal yesterday: “It’s a great reflection of our organization and our city that a player of that stature wants to remain here. He’s the type of person we want to represent our organization.” This sums up the Red Wings, a great organization with the ability to sign marquee players for much less than market value because they offer a chance to win a Stanley Cup year in and year out.

Red Wings GM, Ken Holland, will now shift his focus to getting Johan Franzen and Marian Hossa resigned. Hopefully they too will take a hometown discount as the core of the Red Wings offense is reasonably young and will be a force for many years to come. With this out of the way Zetterberg can now focus on his on ice production that has dropped off this season, by his standards. The marriage of Henrik Zetterberg and the Detroit Red Wings shall be one that lasts until the end given the loyalty and faith demonstrated by both sides since Zetterberg was drafted 210th overall in 1999.

Brian Burke is no Savior

November 16, 2008

by Drew Singh…

Leaf fans seem to think that Brian Burke will be the answer to their problems. The general consensus here is that if Burke is the GM the Leafs will be in playoff and ultimately Cup contention within a few years. What makes people think as such? Brian Burke is a winner but he was not the only man responsible for the 2007 Stanley Cup Champions. The man inherited a great team from Bryan Murray when he signed on in Anaheim. Ironically enough, Burke beat Murray and the Senators with a variant of his own team in the finals that year.

Bryan Murray was responsible for drafting Corey Perry and Ryan Getzlaf and he signed Chris Kunitz as an undrafted free agent. These three players played very well during the Ducks’ Cup run and without them, the Ducks would not have won a Stanley Cup. Burke’s contributions cannot go unnoticed though, to be fair, he brought in two big parts that led to the Ducks becoming champions, Scott Neidermayer and Chris Pronger. He also signed a Teemu Selanne who wanted to play in Anaheim; Burke cannot be credited for giving a future hall of famer what he wants, he merely got lucky with Selanne.

Burke also had full control of the Ducks, something the ignorant Maple Leafs organization will not allow. Burke also had great trading chips when he arrived. Burke traded Sergei Fedorov for François Beauchemin who turned out to be a huge part of Anaheim’s defensive core. He also shipped Joffrey Lupul off to Edmonton in the Chris Pronger trade. Looking at the Leafs’ rosters, players as such are not present for Burke to work with.

Burke can be a great GM in Toronto, but I do not think that will happen. He did what he had to do to tweak an almost ideal team that he inherited from Bryan Murray in Anaheim; he did not win on his own. If Burke was the God that he is being made out to be, what did he win in Vancouver? Burke is great for hockey operations and in time, yes, he can help the Leafs make the playoffs but he is certainly not going to lead them to the Promised Land.

Welcome to Detroit City

September 10, 2008

by Drew Singh…

Perhaps the biggest and most unexpected free agent signing of the summer was Marian Hossa going to the Detroit Red Wings. Hossa has finally made his way to Detroit in anticipation of training camp in Traverse City. Hossa skated with his new teammates for the first time on Monday. Hossa will be living with teammate and fellow Slovak Tomas Kopecky until he can find a home of his own.

Mike Babcock indicated early last week that Henrik Zetterberg and Pavel Datsyuk would not be playing together this season. He did not rule out reuniting the dynamic duo of the Euro Twins in certain situations. Babcock plans to have Hossa play on a line with Pavel Datsyuk and Tomas Holmstrom. That leaves Zetterberg centering a line that will likely consist Johan Franzen and either Mikael Samuelsson or Daniel Cleary.

The Wings will not look much different than the team who won the Stanley Cup back in June. Well, except for the fact that the only player who was a true menace for them in the finals last year will be on their side this time. Hossa said that he had to choose between Pittsburgh and Detroit. He went with the latter because he saw a better chance to win and so he could get a chance to play with the puck moving defensemen of the Red Wings. On Friday Hossa told the media that he has long been a fan of the puck possession game the Red Wings play. Hossa should have no problems fitting in with the Red Wings and if he stays healthy there is no reason why he cannot score at least forty goals this season with Pavel Datsyuk feeding him the puck.

I do feel that this is a one shot thing for Hossa to win a Cup. Obviously he signed a one year deal but he claims that he has aspirations to sign long term if the Wings are willing to. That is kind of an awkward thing to say when he does not even have an assigned number yet. But in any case, I doubt he will play more than one year as a Red Wing because the Wings must first sign both Johan Franzen and future captain Henrik Zetterberg to long term deals prior to doing anything else. Hopefully Hossa can help the Wings become the first team to repeat as Stanley Cup Champions since umm…the ‘97 and ‘98 Detroit Red Wings.

Tags: Detroit Red Wings, Drew Singh, Hockey, NHL, Marian Hossa.

Back to Milan

August 26, 2008

by Drew Singh…

After two long and fruitless years in West London, Andriy Shevchenko is back where he belongs, Milan, Italy. Shevchenko was widely expected to return to the San Siro where he scored a whopping 127 goals in the Serie A between 1999 and 2006. Shevchenko has returned to Milan on a season long loan and he should turn that into a permanent move at the end of this coming season. Shevchenko should have never left Milan in the first place, but what’s done is done and he is now ready to write the second chapter of his Milanese tale.

The reason that Shevchenko struggled in the Premiership is simple, he is not cut out for such a league. Shevchenko is tailor made for the Italian game which is far more technical than the more fluid Premiership. However now that he is back in the red and black of the Rossoneri he should pick up exactly where he left off. In fact this year’s Milan squad looks a whole lot more impressive than the teams that Shevchenko was apart of in the past. Pirlo, Seedorf and Kaka’ will still be in the midfield feeding passes to Shevchenko. He will still be able to form a partnership with Inzaghi upfront and the defensive corps that he played with remains. But now he has Ronaldinho behind him. One of the most exciting soccer players in the world today will only make Sheva better than he already is. How is that even fair? Pirlo, Kaka’, Ronaldinho and Shevchenko on the same team every single week.

Milan will again be a force in the Scudetto race this season. With such a deep team you can expect Milan to go far in the league, UEFA Cup and the Coppa Italia. Yes, it is a shame that one of the best Champions League teams will not be apart of the Champions League this season, but life goes on. Milan will definitely qualify for the Champions League next season. On paper, Milan look to be unstoppable but as we all know, no real sport is played on paper. Thus we will just have to wait and watch the Serie A season unfold. Forza Milan!

The Sundin Saga

August 2, 2008

by Drew Singh… Any fan of the Toronto Maple Leafs who deems Mats Sundin a traitor is downright ignorant. Some supposed “fans” of this struggling organization claimed that Sundin should have waived his no trade clause back in February to help the franchise rebuild. No, clearly that is not what a good captain does. Who gave Sundin that no trade clause anyways? Oh right, the Leafs did. It is not Sundin’s job to fix the mistakes that management made. Anyone who genuinely feels that Sundin should have waived his no trade clause is not a fan of the Maple Leafs at all. Now they have moved onto bashing him for not re-signing yet. Respect your captain and give him time.

As a lifelong Detroit Red Wings fan I have some respect for the Maple Leafs as another Original Six team. I also hate the Maple Leafs with a burning passion and I do not really care for Sundin either. The thought of Sundin becoming a Red Wing earlier this summer made me sick (only because of the thought of crossover Leaf fans cheering for the Red Wings) but I respect Mats Sundin as a hockey player and he is a great captain. Obviously I tend to relate all things in hockey back to the Red Wings. Mats Sundin and Steve Yzerman have a lot in common as leaders and as hockey players. They even suffered similar eye injuries. But seriously, Yzerman may have three Stanley Cup rings and many individual accolades that Sundin does not have but they both embody their respective franchises. A lot of people in the hockey world say that Sundin is one of if not the best captain to not lead his team to a Stanley Cup. Well, Steve Yzerman would not have won three Stanley Cups without the help of Nicklas Lidstrom, Sergei Fedorov and Brendan Shanahan. No one man can win a Stanley Cup. It is not Sundin’s fault that the Maple Leafs management failed to provide him with the help he needed year after year. Frankly, it is a miracle that he was a Leaf as long as he has been.

Sundin is now receiving flack for not signing with a team this deep into the summer. Jesus Christ, calm down and give the man some time. I personally think that he will indeed return to Toronto if he does decide that he wants to continue playing hockey. However, for Leaf fans to be criticizing Sundin for taking too much time is absolutely ludicrous. This guy has been the entire team ever since he arrived. He is the best player in franchise history; with all due respect to the all time Leaf greats. Sundin deserves all of the time that he has taken and some more on top of that. Sundin has watched the Leafs deal away great prospects for no real reason. I am still trying to understand why anyone in the right mind would have traded Brad Boyes for Owen Nolan or Tuukka Rask for Andrew Raycroft. Or maybe someone could explain why someone would pay a shot blocking defenseman by the name of Jeff Finger 3.5 million dollars a season. Some of the things that the Leafs have done, really baffles my mind and I am most certainly not the only one on that boat.

Vancouver and Montreal are the other two teams in the running for Sundin. If Sundin wants money, he will go to Vancouver. The Canucks have not a hope in hell of doing anything but losing this year and I doubt Sundin is interested in losing with another team. Vancouver would be a new and unfamiliar environment where the only silver lining would be money. If he desperately wants to win a Cup he will go to Montreal. That alone sounds ridiculous, there is no way that the face of the Toronto Maple Leafs for the past decade will become a member of the Montreal Canadiens. That leaves the Leafs. I honestly feel that he will stick with familiarity and re-sign with the Leafs should he decide it is not time to hang it up. If Mats Sundin walks away from the game of hockey now it would be an injustice to watch a man who has played so well in recent years to just leave abruptly. Come on Mats; give these people something to cheer about, again.

The Best Damn GM in the NHL

July 21, 2008

By Drew Singh… The days of NHL teams attempting to buy championships are over. Teams have to look internally to find success and with that being said, the entry draft is the most important part of the off-season. General Managers across the league obviously have cap restrictions under the new Collective Bargaining Agreement and frankly, most GMs out there just cannot do the job. The best GM in the NHL right now has to be Ken Holland of the Detroit Red Wings. With three Stanley Cups to his credit already, Holland added a fourth earlier this year. The fourth Cup is the most defined one of all for Holland. The Stanley Cups won in 1997 and 1998 were won by teams that he essentially inherited. In 2002, many of the parts remained from the previous Cup wins but Holland was able to go out and spend as much money as he wanted on future Hall of Famers like Luc Robitaille and Brett Hull. The 2008 Detroit Red Wings however, have Ken Holland written all over them.

Although there were five members on the 2008 team that remained from the previous three championships (Draper, Holmstrom, Maltby, McCarty and Lidstrom), the rest of the team was built by Holland. Three of the biggest components of the 2008 Stanley Cup Champion Detroit Red Wings were drafted by Holland well after the first round. Pavel Datsyuk was drafted 171st overall in the sixth round in 1998. Henrik Zetterberg was drafted 210th overall in the seventh round in 1999. Johan Franzen was drafted 97th overall in the third round in 2004. These three guys essentially were the scoring for the Red Wings through out the playoffs. It takes a genius of a GM and one hell of a scout to pull picks like these off. Hakan Andersson, the European scout for the Red Wings is pretty much the best European scout ever. Holland trusts him and together they have assembled a great young, European team.

In addition to finding superstars in late rounds of the draft, Holland and Andersson can find secondary guys as well. Valtteri Filppula and Jiri Hudler provided some secondary scoring for the Red Wings when needed and they were not first round picks either. Hudler was drafted 58th overall and Filppula was drafted 95th overall, both in 2002. Holland also went out and signed goaltender Chris Osgood in a deal that saw “Ozzie” return to Hockeytown where he had already won two Cups. Osgood led the Red Wings in goal as they won another Cup this year. Holland undoubtedly has a crop of home grown talent and that is what won he and the Red Wings organization their eleventh Stanley Cup in franchise history. Alongside being great in regards to the draft, Holland is able to take outcasts and turn them into productive hockey players. Daniel Cleary is now the first Newfoundlander to have his name on the Stanley Cup but years ago you would never have seen that coming. Cleary was highly touted coming out of juniors but he never really lived up to the hype and he ended up bouncing around the league. He made the Red Wings on a tryout and had to work hard on a one year contract in order to secure his future with the team. Mikael Samuelsson and Andreas Lilja followed a similar path; each of them essentially auditioned on a one year contract and earned long term deals after showing Holland what they could do.

Holland also has the ability to manage contracts to a tee. Last summer, Holland pretty much stole Brian Rafalski away from teams that wanted to pay him 10 million more than the Wings did but Rafalski decided to sign for Detroit because of their winning tradition and the fact that he is a native of Dearborn, Michigan. Rafalski was signed to replace the departing Mathieu Schneider, who is significantly older than Rafalski to boot. Pavel Datsyuk makes under 7 million per season and he is in many ways locked up for the rest of his prime. Not bad for a guy who had 97 points and was a plus 41 in a year where he won the Selke Trophy as the best defensive forward in the league. Holland’s latest signing is another robbery, Marian Hossa for one year at 7.4 million. Perfect, he will contribute and help the Red Wings repeat as Cup champions then he will leave next summer. Next summer Holland will shift his attention to signing Zetterberg and Franzen to long term deals which should not be a problem given their willingness to remain Red Wings and all of the cap room Holland will have to maneuver with.

Zetterberg is a Champion

July 14, 2008

By Drew Singh…

Henrik Zetterberg, drafted 210th overall in the seventh round of the 1999 NHL Entry Draft has become one of the best players in the league if not the best. How does a gem like Zetterberg slide so far down the draft charts? Well back in 1999 Zetterberg was a small teenager that had little hope of becoming an NHL player let alone an NHL superstar. Hakan Andersson convinced Ken Holland and the Detroit Red Wings to take a chance on Zetterberg and the rest is history.

The best two way player in the NHL is undoubtedly Henrik Zetterberg. Sure, Ovechkin, Crosby and Malkin can all score goals but they cannot kill penalties or shutdown the opponent’s stars like one Hank Zetterberg can. Frankly, the only other player in the NHL who can hold a candle to Zetterberg’s outstanding two way play is his line mate Pavel Datsyuk. Datsyuk is another diamond in the rough that Andersson was able to fish out for the Red Wings; he was drafted 171st overall in the sixth round of the 1998 NHL Entry Draft. Zetterberg and Datsyuk are like peanut butter and jelly. They simply belong on the ice together. Without Zetterberg there is no Datsyuk and without Datsyuk there is no Zetterberg. The most dynamic duo in the NHL today can bring it both offensively and defensively.

Zetterberg recently helped the Red Wings to their 11th Stanley Cup in franchise history, tying them with your beloved Toronto Maple Leafs. Don’t worry; Zetterberg will turn that into twelve in about a year. Zetterberg led the Red Wings in playoff scoring and along with his fine defensive play he won the Conn Smythe Trophy as the playoff MVP.

Ken Holland has said many times in the past that Zetterberg will be the captain of the Red Wings someday. After Lidstrom’s era, Zetterberg will become the face of the Motor City’s storied hockey franchise. Zetterberg is a perfect candidate to be the face of the Red Wings and moreover the entire NHL. Crosby and Zetterberg are two guys the league need to market to promote the game. Fuck Ovechkin and Malkin both, they should both be sent back to Russia or to an ESL class. But Zetterberg, he speaks English to perfection and has the looks of a Swedish model. Figures that he would have a hot Swedish girlfriend eh? Emma Andersson, what a beauty. (see picture above, again)

But the actual matter is that Henrik Zetterberg is a very talented athlete that is extremely marketable but in reality he is not really known in the hockey world. It is a damn shame that it is so because as I said, he is very marketable and he is a tool the league can utilize to promote the best sport in the world. However, whether he is known to the hockey world or not the bottom line is that Zetterberg is a champion.