Monthly Archives: September 2011

Red Lines

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Brendan Smith Punished 8 Games For Headshot

Brendan’s Smith’s campaign to make the roster out of training camp has likely ended Friday morning with his eight game suspension (3 preseason games, 5 regular season). While we have not yet seen the video explanation from VP of Player Safety, Brendan Shanahan, we can assume this lengthy suspension is due to the fact that Smith caught defenseless Blackhawks forward Ben Smith with a blow to the head.

The league has made no secret about wanting to rid the game of this type of hit. Under Rule 48:

Illegal Check to the Head – A lateral or blind side hit to an opponent where the head is targeted and/or the principal point of contact is not permitted.

I’ll be very interested to see Shanahan’s explanation of the ruling. I do believe that the Blackhawks forward put himself in a bad position, and Smith did not intend to deliver the blow to the head. There was, however, an injury as a result of the hit and the head was the “principal point of contact,” which may have factored into the ruling. We’ll wait for the tape for further comment, but you can believe the Hockeytown will be second guessing a former hero for his latest decision.

Smith’s hit makes HEADlines

OMG… did you hear about the Smith on Smith hit to the head?? People are struggling trying to decide if the hit was intentional or unintentional, but frankly, I’m not sure if that matters. Obviously the story deserves to be a HEADline (muahaha), but enough already… it’s in Shanny’s hands now.

Brunnstrom was on fire tonight, scoring a goal in the 1st and one in the 2nd, making it very clear that he is determined to wear a winged wheel this season. Rookies Emmerton and Smith each had two assists. I thought Drew Miller looked great on the ice and was really glad he got one in. I would have definitely liked to have seen a little more action from Eaves and Abs… it’s hard to believe they had 16-17 minutes of ice time each. Ericsson played like typical Ericsson–sometimes I wonder if he has body dysmorphic disorder. I think someone needs to remind him that he is 6’4/220 lbs, not 5’6/130 lbs — he needs to use his body and not allow himself to fall into the boards from a light push. And even though Conklin was 20-24, I think he played very well and had some awesome saves. It’s not his fault that the Blackhawks had all of their star players in their lineup tonight and the Wings had… well… none. Even so, we did more than hold our own. The game-winner was scored by Marian Hossa during a two man advantage in the 3rd period.

All in all, this game really annoyed me and Pierre McGuire didn’t help. I can’t wait until Friday when we’re back at the Joe.

Red Lines

Welcome back to another edition of Red Lines. All of your favorite content on your favorite team in one easy place.

Don’t forget to watch the Wings take on the Blackhawks tonight at 8:30pm on VERSUS!

Shanahan Making His Mark in New Role

Former Red Wing forward Brendan Shanahan has always been more than just a player. Standing 6’3″, the talented Canadian was a special breed of winger that could fight the toughest opponent and score on his first shift out of the box. In fact, Shanahan is the ONLY player in NHL history with over 600 goals and 2000 PIMs.

But Shanny, as the fans in New Jersey, St. Louis,  Hartford, Detroit, and New York knew him, was a dominating presence off the ice as well. He was one of the most vocal player reps in the labor disputes of the early 90s and late 2000s. His work with the NHLPA has been commended by both players and owners throughout his illustrious 21 year NHL career.

Just months after scoring his final playoff goal in the summer of 2009, Shanahan accepted a position with the NHL as VP of Hockey and Player Development. Now just two years later, Shanahan has moved into hockey’s most difficult and scrutinized position outside of the Commissioner’s chair, VP of Player Safety .

Shanahan is replacing Colin Campbell, who had drawn ire from nearly every organization over the past decade in his role as NHL disciplinarian.  Owners, GMs and fans pointed at the inconsistencies of Campbell as the league has adjusted to its new style of play.

Shanahan thinks a lot of this critism is unwarranted. “I’ve got a bigger net to capture some of these illegal hits,” said Shanahan. “The rules were different when he was here.”

Shanahan has the benefit of starting with a clean slate, and a new emphasis on Rule 48 (hits to the head) to stand on.

In his first preseason in the position, Shanahan has already shined. He has ended the speculation and uncertainty around suspension length by instituting video responses and decisions on suspension-worthy plays. As one can see from the tape, Shanahan clearly lays out his entire reasoning for the length of suspension and offers viewers the exact angles and the rule that is referenced.

Thus far, Shanny has delivered bad news to six offenders around the league. The two worst incidents warranted 10 games  (James Wisnewski, CBJ) and 6 games (Brad Staubitz, MIN).  These suspensions are stiff, but Shanahan explains that he is simply trying “to make the game safer.” He’s made one thing clear, blind and reckless hits to the head will not be tolerated under his watch.

It is safe to say Shanahan has already made his mark. Following a terrible hit by wannabe Flyers tough guy Tom Sestito, the team waived him. While Sestito will still likely be suspended, his hit blew the opportunity he had to take the spot of his suspended teammate Jody Shelley. He will likely wind up in the AHL as a result.

Players on the edge of NHL rosters be warned–a fellow tough guy is watching. And he continues to have a big impact around the sport of hockey.

Red Lines

Welcome back to another edition of Red Lines. All of your favorite content on your favorite team in one easy place.

Red Lines

Welcome back to another edition of Red Lines. All of your favorite content on your favorite team in one easy place.

Fresh Faces: Ty Conklin

This edition of Fresh Faces will look at free agent signee Ty Conklin, who is back for his second stint with the Red Wings. The 35 year old veteran will battle Joey MacDonald for the job of backing up starting goaltender Jimmy Howard.

Conklin was born in Arizona but raised in Alaska. He is the only goaltender from Alaska to ever play in the NHL. Upon completion of his career at the University of New Hampshire, Conklin was signed as an undrafted rookie by the Edmonton Oilers. He spent four years in between the NHL and various minor league teams, recording his then best season with Edmonton in 2003-04 with 17 wins.

Conklin was thrust into duty during the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals following an injury to starter Dwayne Roloson. The Oilers went on to blow a three goal lead, and Conklin committed a critical error on the game winning goal with just 30 seconds left. He would sit the remainder of the series, which the Oilers lost in seven games.

Following another unproductive season between two different organizations, many began to wonder if Conklin would ever recover from the 2006 disaster. The Pittsburgh Penguins signed him to a minor league deal in July of 2007. Following an injury to starter Marc-Andre Fleury, Conklin was recalled to the NHL.

It was here when Conklin resurrected his NHL career, winning nine straight starts including the Winter Classic that season. He would finish with a 18-8-5 record and a franchise record .923 save percentage that season. Upon Fleury’s return from injury, Conklin was commended for his leadership in the locker room, and considered a big factor in the Penguins deep playoff run that season. They would eventually lose to his next team, the Detroit Red Wings, in a six game Stanley Cup Final.

Conklin would split time with starter Chris Osgood in the 2008-09 season, recording a career high 25 wins. He was again credited for being a great teammate in the locker room. Conklin is often regarded around the league as a normal guy, which is rare for men of his position.

After serving two years in a backup role in St. Louis, Conklin is excited to be back in Detroit. Considering the injuries to the goaltenders of Motown last season, the team is happy to have depth at the position.

One interesting thing about Ty is the number of premiere games he has appeared in, especially given his history as a backup or minor league goaltender. Conklin has started in more outdoor games than any player: The 2003 Heritage Class (Edmonton) and the 2008 & 2009 Winter Classics (Pittsburgh and Detroit). He also played in the 2006 Stanley Cup Finals and 2009 NHL Premiere in Stockholm Sweden (St. Louis).

Wings 4, Hawks 3 SO

A little bit of drama went down during tonight’s exhibition game.  To get it out of the way, the major downer was that Jan Mursak fractured his ankle in the 2nd period after being shoved into the boards by Dylan Olsen (and will probably be on injured reserve for a while). He has really been shining throughout the preseason and this injury is a real bummer. One of the other youngins, Brendan Smith, made some good plays once again but definitely made a few of those “rookie mistakes” tonight. I think he has a lot of potential and his mistakes will surely minimize with the help of the almighty captain. On that note — damn it felt good to see #5 on the ice. Lidstrom is a boss and it’s always such a pleasure seeing him out there.

“Meh.”:

  • Conklin made some good saves but had a .875 save percentage, which clearly wouldn’t cut it in the regular season… but I think he’s just warming up
  • Jonathan Ericsson — in general
  • As much as I hate to say it, Brandon Pirri was on fire tonight and scored two goals for the Blackhawks during regulation as well as their shootout goal

Some highlights:

  • Valtteri Filppula had 3 points in tonight’s game, with a power play goal in the first and was credited with assists for Zetterberg’s and Lidstrom’s goals in the 2nd period. This WILL be his season.
  • Lidstrom and Zetterberg each had a goal and an assist
  • Ian White stuck out to me and I think he’s going to do big things for us this year. He had the most ice time out of any player on the Wings or Blackhawks tonight and got an assist for Lidstrom’s goal in the 2nd period
  • Bertuzzi’s shootout goal was out of this world. I had to do a double take to make sure it was a 44 and not a 24(13) on the back of his jersey. So slick, so sick.
  • Mickey Redmond.
  • The Wings ended up getting the win with goals by Bertuzzi and Zetterberg in the shootout

This was a wonderful way to top off a great Sunday in Detroit. The Tigers, Lions and Red Wings all came out on top. We have the Red and White game coming up in Grand Rapids on Tuesday and another exhibition game in Chicago on Wednesday. So much hockey, so much love.

Red Lines

Welcome back to another edition of Red Lines. All of your favorite content on your favorite team in one easy place.