29 June 2010

Free Agency: Wish lists, pipe dreams, and perspectives

At Noon O'Clock Eastern Standard Time this Thursday, the most exciting thing all summer will occur: Free Agent Day. It's a day of ups and downs, intrigue and excitement, anguish and glory. This year it's also a day of hilarity, as we get to watch a parade of free agents march out of Chicago.

Last year, free agent day for the Wings started with a few key players jumping ship. Eventually Mikael "petition the league to replace nets with soccer goals" Samuelsson took off to Vancouver, and Happy Hudler bailed for the KHL.

Of course, the biggest splash came on day one with the most sought after name on the free agent market: Tomas Kopecky. He signed on 01 July, just after the clock started ticking, with division rival Chicago Blackhawks. Of course, he could only be lured there so long as his good friend, Marian "drag my ass to the promised land, please" Hossa was offered a deal as well. So yeah, that happened too.

Overall though, the Wings didn't make much happen on the free agent market. They made their splashes during the season when they worked to retain The Mule and Z. They made a few moves late in free agency, signing Patrick Eaves, Todd "hey, die in a housefire" Bertuzzi, and who could forget Brad May.

This year, our impact on free agency will be basically the same. Though, With Homer and Bert having put ink to paper and our RFAs receiving qualifying offers, we won't have to worry about players marching out of town like last year, so that's good.

But hey, its fun to imagine wild-ass scenarios. In that spirit we're throwing logic and reason to the wayside (ha! Like we've ever bothered with that garbage anyway) and developing The Winged Wheel Wishlist of Wonderful Wacky ... um... Fwee-Agents.

Without further ado:

  • Ilya Kovalchuk

Okay, okay. Just hear me out. I know he's the biggest name on the market, and is certain to command a huge salary, but this could totally happen. Only a few things would need to fall into place.  First, Ilya would have to take a pay cut. Not a huge one, just something small. You know, something like a 98% cut to make the minimum. Now, I know a big star like Kovy won't want to play for nothing, so perhaps we can get Capologist Ryan Martin to find a loophole or two. Namely, I'm figuring getting Mr. I to guarantee free Hot N Ready's for life, and maybe just giving a Little Caesar's franchise or three to some of Ilya's closest family members back in mother Russia.

Oh, and to make room, we'd definitely need to axe Bertuzzi. Also, I don't mean "axe" in terms of firing. I think we'd actually have to take an axe to him, so that we wouldn't have to worry about a residual cap hit.


  • Slava Kozlov
Oh you know we love our nostalgia here at The Winged Wheel. And how much more nostalgic can you get than an original member of The Russian Five. Now, lets be clear, in order to truly make this have an impact, we'll need to reunite as much of that group as possible. Does anyone else remember the story of Fetisov taking the ice in Russia for a couple of games this season at the ripe old age of 51? Research be damned, I haven't bothered to follow up. Though I think it's entirely reasonable to assume that he managed to be a +19, playing 30 minutes a game and scoring at a 2 points per game pace. So why not offer him a contract to come back to the D.

While we're at it, apparently Sergei Fedorov is having money troubles because he's having his homes foreclosed on. Why don't we promise to buy his property at auction and let him and his family live there as long as he skates for the winged wheel once again?

Now, as for The Professor. Apparently, according to the ever reliable source Wikipedia, Larionov is currently a professional wine merchant. Well, I bet we can get him back on skates as long as Olympia Entertainment agrees to sell his wines at the Joe during games. Now, I'm sure "Hattrick" wine isn't quite as refreshing as a cold Molson, but people will get used to it as long as The Professor is on the ice again.

The only missing piece would be Vladdy, but obviously that won't work. So, in his honor, I suggest that every time the Russians take the ice, we elect to only go with four skaters. They can all skate in missing man formation, refusing to break form in the interest of either defensive or offensive opportunities. Opponents will be in such awe that these guys should be able to score at will.

Of course, in order to make this work, someone will need to murder Todd Bertuzzi. Obviously.


  • Marty Turco
Now this kind of signing would really be beneficiahahHAHAHAHAHAHAHA.

Yeah. No.


  • Kim Johnsson, John Madden, Nick Boynton, Adam Burish, Kyle Greentree, Danny Richmond, Joey Crabb, Mark Cullen, Danny Bois, Jassen Cullimore, Richard Petoit
Two words: Fighting Practice. Kenny is on record saying that he'd like to maybe get an enforcer this offseason. Well, why go out and try and find something that isn't there when we can just develop what we have. I propose we sign the entire contingent of Blackhawk UFAs and use them to develop our teams pugilistic nature. Now, in order to fit all of these guys under the cap, we'll need to be sure that they're all on LTIR before the end of camp. So our guys are going to really have to wail on them.

Also, for this to work we'll have to ship Bertuzzi to Siberia to live in the Gulag. Hey, at least Moore's attorneys can't touch him there.


  • Mike Modano
Ok, this one is not a joke. The Stars have cut ties with Mike, and he feels like he's got some hockey left in him. Now, he's a bit of an injury risk, but when he's healthy is a plenty serviceable third line center. With a bit of a hometown discount, Modano could fit under the cap and contend for another cup. He'd fit well with our system, playing defensively and adding a scoring touch. He could sub in on the second power play and provide some extra veteran leadership and playoff motivation. I'm into it.

Oh and I forgot to mention that in oder to land Modano we'd probably have to agree to shove Bertuzzi through a woodchipper. Completely and totally worth it.

Of course, because I've now written it on this blog, it will never fucking happen. But hey, a guy can dream.

16 June 2010

Dear Sports Gods: I swear I didn't sleep with your sisters.

Yesterday, I wrote a piece all about how Bert shouldn't come back. I ranted and raved about how he can be a liability for the team, about how last year's production was likely the anomaly rather than the rule, and about how signing Bert would stand in the way of signing the guys who more deserve contracts and have much brighter futures.

"Todd Bertuzzi has agreed to a two-year, $3.875 million deal with the Detroit Red Wings."
Link - St. James via Freep
Oh what the fuck!?

Really? Really Sports Gods? You're all about fucking me these days, and I'm flabbergasted. What exactly is it that I've done to you? First you tear through our roster, making every moment of the season a stress-filled bucket of hell. Then you give me just enough hope to believe that we're contenders... just to yank it away with a rough loss to the biggest playoff choke artists of the past decade. THEN, you decide to give the Cup to the team in the city I happen to temporarily live. That's right, 49 years the Hawks went without Lord Stanely's chalice, and you happen to end the drought during the three that I happen to be here. That's not enough though. You've got to have the sons of bitches drag the thing to the bar IN my  neighborhood, just to rub it in.

And now this. You wait until I've opened my damn mouth on the topic and then shove it directly up my ass. Gee, thanks.

Ugh. So... I guess this is the part where I provide the in-depth, thoughtful, well reasoned analysis of a passionate but objective commentator:

  • FUCK this. 
There she is. There's your objective analysis. There's your well-reasoned sentiment. Now piss off Bert.



$3.875 million over two years. That, my dear friends, is a cap hit of $1.93m. Almost $2 million dollars.

By the way, that $2 million? That'd be more than Tomas Holmstrom's cap hit. Yep. I said more. And yeah... Homer. The guy who scored MORE goals and had MORE points in 14 LESS games. You know... the Wing for life that has never walked for a few more dollars, or played hardball with his contract. Yeah... him.

Absolutely disgusting. You know, it's real hard to criticize the greatest GM in sports. It truly is. In almost every circumstance I'd defer to him... but this... I'm not so sure. Two years for a guy who has played 82 games three times in his entire career. And you know how since the Moore incident Bert's been criticized for not playing at 100%? Think his numbers are going to go up in the first year of his contract, when he's got nothing to play for? Think he's going to take less lazy penalties? Think he's going to somehow learn how to corral or make a pass... or control himself from creaming in his own jock strap over his awesome spin-o-rama pass to the other team? 


I don't.


Boy I hope I'm wrong, but I think this is one contract that we will live to regret. The numbers don't support the concept that he's somehow going to perform like he did this year and be worth a $2m hit... he's a liability, and in my mind, an obstacle to #12. 

So, sports Gods... whatever it is I did to piss you of so much, a thousand mea culpas to you. Perhaps I'll make a sacrifice to appease you. How big of a sacrificial funeral pire do you think I'll need for a 6'3" 230lb male...

...is it October yet?

(By the way, this happens to be the Winged Wheel's 100th post. Accordingly, it's full of anger, spite, and hatred. Oh yeah, and the word 'fuck.' Hooray us!)

15 June 2010

On Bertuzzi: Yeah, no thanks.

So, the word is that Kenny Holland has offered Todd Bertuzzi a two year deal... and... uh... Bertuzzi has somehow not immediately signed it.

In related news, the Marian Hossa has a Stanley Cup ring, Americans are watching soccer, and I'm strongly considering betting the under on the Myans' 2012 prediction for the end of the world. The Apocalypse is very likely upon us.

What other explanation fits the fact that Bert hasn't immediately taken whatever deal has been handed to him? In fact, it appears that the provisions of the deal would actually give him a raise for the first of the two. Apparently, we'd still be looking at a $1.5m cap hit, which means Bert would stand to make about $3m over the next two years.

And he's sitting on it.

Apparently, he thinks he's worth more. Apparently he's planning on holding out for free agency. Apparently, his agent doesn't watch him play.

Other than suprise, my reaction to this is overwhelmingly positive. I know there are many out there who would welcome Bert back with open arms for that cap hit. Hell, even I can't deny that he earned is $1.5 this year. During times where Larry Aurie reared his ugly head, murder-raping our lineup and creating a conga line to the trainer's table, Bert stepped up now and then. During those other times, he occasionally allowed pucks to bounce off of him into the net. Looking back, he certainly wasn't my favorite player, but him being on the team didn't hurt as much as it occasionally helped.

But those days are over. We're getting some of our depth scoring back in place, and (please don't fuck me on this one Larry) it's unlikely we'll have the type of injury situation we had last season. Ergo, Bert's probably not going to be skating next to Pavel Datsyuk or Hank Zetterberg very often.

Care to take a guess on what that will do to Professor Fuck-a-pass's numbers? I'm thinking the odds are that they'll go in the same direction of Thid Rosby toward Lil' Gary's lap.

Add to that the fact that Bert is entirely unable to make or receive passes. He loves turning the puck over with that goofy fucking spin-o-rama to nobody move he's so enamored with. He FAR takes more PIMs than anyone else on the team, with ZERO fighting majors. 80 PIMS last season. The next highest? Brad May at 66, 50 of which stemmed from fights. He doesn't use his size to his advantage in muscling through the defense, or backchecking hard. All this isn't even mentioning the fact that the guy was a -7 playing on the top lines last year.

None of these statistics are going to get better playing next to ValFil, Eaves, Helm, or Abby rather than Dangles, Mule, or Z. His point totals this year were moderately respectible but they aren't going up. Also consider that based on Bert's recent history, the fact that he played all 82 games this season is a literal miracle. Are we to assume that miracle is going to extend for the next two years? Well... not if we're being rational.

That roster spot and the cap space could be much better used. As it stands, we've got 9 forwards, 6 D-men, and 2 goaltenders signed. Kenny's on record saying that we'd like to get one more veteran defenseman before the puck drops in October. That means 17 or 18 roster spots are taken, depending on whether or not Ritola makes the team. The max roster size is 23, meaning we've got 5-6 spots available. Now, consider the forwards with the team last year, looking for a contract:
  • Bertuzzi
  • Maltby
  • Abdelkader
  • Helm
  • Miller
  • Eaves
If we sign Bert that leaves one man out. Either Ritola will have to clear waivers and play in the AHL, or one of the above guys doesn't get a contract. PLUS, we're talking about a maximum roster. It's unlikley that Kenny is going to roll with all 23 guys signed with three players rotating in and out. Further, of the above forwards, probably only Maltby would be willing to do that at this point in his career.

Many would say that Malts should be the odd man out. Though that overlooks the fact that the guy has basically been a Wing for life, that he'd like to return, and that our organ-i-zation can sell itself as a loyal franchise to new free agents. Casting Maltby - a still effective grinder and agitator - aside in favor of Bertuzzi - a shit-for-brains liability that is currently mulling over a contract, hoping for something better - would really hurt that argument. The Wings could sign Malts at a minimum contract and he'd likely be OK rotating in and out of the lineup. Meanwhile, by not singing Bert we'd be able to offer contracts to all of our RFAs and both Eaves and Miller - two young guys with promising futures.

Though, as of now Bert is sitting on his offer. It looks like he'll wait all the way up to the deadline on it - the beginning of free agency. As such, he's doing what he does best: putting our team in a difficult situation. Only this time he's not taking a lazy stick penalty, he's preventing Kenny from inking the guys who more deserve an offer.

So at least for now, I shall continue with one of our many mantras here at The Winged Wheel:
  • Fuck you, Bertuzzi. Fuck you in your shiny purple ass.
...is it October yet?

10 June 2010

Enjoy It Chicago: And then shove it up your ass

I imagine the songwriter for The Fratellis sitting around with a legal pad. Perhaps on a tour bus. Maybe in a calm wooded area, surrounded by peace and tranquility. Maybe on the floor of a Wendy's bathroom. He's writing the lyrics to a new song. This one's going to be a hit. He can feel it in his blood. He gets to the chorus.
Hm... this needs to be deep. Thoughtful. It must transcend the depths of the human experience... truly speak to the animal nature of man. It must be both a ballad in celebration of love and joy, and a commentary on the daily struggles faced by millions - internally, and externally. Lets see...
--Duh da duh, duh da duh...
Good start... getting there. This next bit needs to really grab at the listener's soul...
--Duh da duh, duh da duh...
Wow, this is some good acid. I'm really knocking this one out of the park.
--Duh da duh da duh da da.
I call it, "Chelsea Dagger."  
...and ever since I've wanted to choke that son of a bitch with a curtain wire.

Congrats to the Bandwagon. They managed to shove more goals past the Flyers shitty goalie than was shoved past their shitty goalie. A thousand horrays.

What a story though. I mean, wow. Players like Jonathan "too cool for school" Toews and Patrick "respect for the working man" Kane have really been yearning for this moment for what seems like an eternity... to a hyperactive four year old. The goaltending duals were simply fantastic; 47 goals in 6 games? Wow, thats less than 8 goals a game! And those fans. They've been waiting. Well... five of them have. The rest had to wait a harrowing two weeks since they decided to start watching.

And can we please all shut the hell up about Marian Hossa? All ill-will aside, it's not that great of a story. The way the media plays the story, the guy's been waiting longer than Pat Kane for his cab-fare change. The film is Ray Borque II: The man behind the douche. Marian Hossa FINALLY wins.

Let's get it straight... he's 31. He played for some outstanding teams that made it to the finals three years running. He choked hard enough in those playoffs to ensure that for two of them, he walked away empty handed. That doesn't make him a hero. It makes him a choke-artist who rides the coattails of more talented and more driven players. So lets stop pretending like the guy was owed something, or he's that he's been robbed in the past.

And by the way... did anyone else catch that self-entitled dicknose panting like a puppy while Toews lifted the cup. His captain had about 10 seconds with the thing till he got in his face, grabbed it, and celebrated for a solid minute like it was all about him. Like he didn't spend the majority of the playoffs pulling a Hossa and waiting for everyone else to drag his ass to the finals. Gross. I wasn't a huge fan of the guy before, mostly because of the choke job he pulled in Detroit. But now, ugh.


The worst thing though? The cup is in the same city as I am... and it's not Detroit. It's ours. It sucks ever watching another team pick it up and celebrate. It's even worse when the fuckers are right under your nose. I still hold that the children on that team didn't suffer enough to deserve the ultimate prize and their "fanbase" for the most part is in the same boat. Sure, they had a hell of a drought, but its not like the overwhelming majority of them were around for any of it. 


Gary's getting his way. He wants "parity" and that's what this system creates. The Hawks didn't win because of the genius moves their front office made. Quite the opposite. They won because they sucked so hard for so long that they're loaded with obvious draft picks. Honestly, a computer could have GMed this team by just automatically selecting whatever The Hockey News set as their draft rankings. And next year? It's all over. Chicago won't be able to afford the team they had this year. Not by a long shot. Give it five years and we'll likely be looking at the Isles in the same fashion. The idiots on NBC will rant and rave about how talented they are, and how hard their front office worked to rebuild them, when really.... it's just about getting those lottery picks.

Whatever. Next year its ours. We'll take it back. For now, I'll keep breeding the hate because those fuckers deserve it. Go ahead... chant nothing but "Detroit Sucks" while you eat a chode for a decade and then act like I'm supposed to embrace you when you're in the finals. Eat me.

Enjoy that Cup. It's ours next year.

...is it October yet?

04 June 2010

Longevity: Yet another thing Hockeytown has over Chicago

Sure, the Hawks are playing for the Cup right now.

And yeah, the Wings are off watching Tigers games, participating in batting practice, and enjoying their offtime.

But there's one more thing that the Wings are doing that will make sure that no matter what happens in the next few games between the Hawks and the Flyers, they'll be our bitches for years to come:

  • They're ensuring that we'll be back.
"The Red Wings finalized a two-year contract with free-agent forward Tomas Holmstrom for $3.75 million, the Free Press learned Thursday."
Link - Via St. James at Freep 
Big news. Homer was by far our most important free agent forward. A Wing for life, one of the skaters on our team needing just one more ring for a fistful of bling. The absolute best net presence forward in the entire league - bar none.

And not only that, but Kenny got some good news recently. Shit... what was it again? It's slipping my mind...

Oh yeah.

Lidstrom, the lynchpin to our success, the key to our classifciation as condenders, the perfect motherfucking human: Back for a year. Not only that, but Captain Norris took a pay cut. He'll be paid $6.2m for being the most valuable player in the league.

Yeah, I said it. He is. If you disagree: you're flat out wrong and it's likely you either don't watch hockey, you choose loosing arguments on purpose, or your IQ hovers somewhere below room temperature.

Ahem. Anyway. That highlights the reason that it really doesn't matter what happens in this series. Well, that and this:


Go ahead and do that math. I promise it will make you happy. Well, unless you're Stan Bowman. The cap currently stands at $56.8m. The Hawks payroll for next year? $57.59m. Even if the cap goes up $2m - currently the highest projection - Chicago will be staring down the barrel of being just about a million under. That's with 9 forwards, 4 defensemen, and Cristobal "Someone please hire me that guy's agent" Huet.

Ha. Get it? The Flash. In a Pan.
Boom. Roasted.

After this series is over, go ahead and stick a fork in 'em.

Conversely, the Wings are going to be looking at coming into a season with more rest than they've had in four years. They'll be doing so not with just their core of top forwards, but with the greatest defensive player to ever lace them up wearing the C for at least one more year. They'll have relatively inexpensive younger guys cracking the roster, and veterans used to winning hardware and lighting lamps doing what they do best. So as long as Larry Aurie leaves us alone and injuries don't fuck us like they did this year, the Central will be ours again.

So go ahead bandwagoners - relish in literally the smallest window of opportunity in all of sports. And continue to hold it over our heads like it proves something. The fact remains, this little example illustrates the difference between our franchises: Longevity. We've got a GM and a front office that knows what the fuck they're doing. It doesn't take us years and years of lottery picks to finally get a one-year shot at the cup for us. We contend year in and year out. And while we don't win them all - we win more than anyone else. At the end of this series, the Red Wings will be back. The Blackhawks?

Well, maybe the Bandwagoners can hope Lebron picks Da Bulls.

Go Catstrophic Building Failure and/or Flyers!

...is it October yet?