July 20, 2012

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Why Re-signing Quincey Makes Sense For Red Wings

By: Tyler Vespa

The Detroit Red Wings and defensemen Kyle Quicey agreed to a new two-year,  $7.55 million contract on Wednesday.

The Detroit Red Wings will have a youth movement on defense next season.

This move by the Wings was essential. After Nick Lidstrom retired and Brad Stuart took a pay cut to move closer to home in San Jose, the Wings’ talk on defense was mostly about breeding the younger players in the system.

However, after also missing the opportunity to sign top free agent defensemen Ryan Suter, the Wings’ front office knew something had to be done immediately. This signing was one of the many baby steps the Wings needed to complete to remain a strong contender in the NHL’s Central Division and the Western Conference.

Now, the Wings are working on a deal with restricted free- agent Justin Abdelkader. Although Abdelkader does not provide a lot of scoring, he brings more youth to the roster, and plays solid two-way hockey on every shift.

With the possible retirement of Tomas Holmstrom and lack of scoring depth, the Wings pursuit of Phoenix Coyotes captain Shane Doan remains significant. If they strike out on Doan, expect a pursuit of Washington’s Alexander Semin or Anaheim’s Bobby Ryan.

The rest of this offseason is important, as the Wings still need to find the right mixture of youth and experience.

July 6, 2012

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Free Agent Frenzy: Red Wings Search For Answers

By: Tyler Vespa

Coming into this offseason, the Detroit Red Wings were all smiles with enough cap room to make some significant changes. However, with both Zach Parise and Ryan Suter signing with Minnesota, the Wings were left with more difficult decisions than the franchise anticipated.

Could this be a rebuilding year for the Red Wings?

The team needs haven’t changed even with the additions made in the past few weeks. They still need a top-pair defensemen and some scoring depth. As a result, the Wings may have to wait their turn to win the free agency lottery. Meaning, Ken Holland is more confident in being patient and inserting some young guys from the minor league system to give them some added time to develop.

So, does this officially mean rebuilding the franchise for a season, after not being able to reload with tremendous talent? I believe for once, Holland would agree.

The Wings will still be a playoff team and possible Cup contender, but we may not see the same consistency we’ve seen in the past 5 years. The Wings will need a lot more things to go there way on a night-to-night basis.

Now, this doesn’t guarantee the Wings are done making changes this offseason. The problem is, the deal has to make sense with the team’s chemistry. Some talented names still available are ColumbusRick Nash, Washington’s Alexander Semin, Phoenix’s Shane Doan, Nashville’s Shea Weber, and Washington’s Mike Green. Another great option is Anaheim’s Bobby Ryan. He is not on the free-agent market, but desperately wants out of Anaheim.

To me, aside from Shane Doan and Bobby Ryan, none of the other marquee names really fit the style the Wings like to play. The only thing that gives Ryan a small edge is his youth, being just 25, while Doan is already 35. Other than that, I’m more intrigued with some other solid names that will better fit the Wings’ style of play. I think players like Sam Gagner from Edmonton, and Evander Kane from Winnipeg are some good two-way forwards that would really answer the Wings’ issue of scoring depth.

Defensively, the Wings should concentrate on re-signing Kyle Quincey, and maybe seeking a return of a former Red Wing in Brett Lebda.

Defensively, I believe Ken Holland’s theory of breeding some younger players now is fine. However, the Wings may have a harder time filling all of their offensive roster spots with players already in the system. So, I’m expecting the Wings to go hard after Shane Doan and Bobby Ryan.

September 7, 2011

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Is it October yet?

By: Joe Williams

Do you know what Zach Stewart did last night? The Chicago White Sox pitcher flirted with history as he mowed down the Minnesota Twins lineup for seven perfect innings. Danny Valencia broke up the bid for a perfect game with an eighth-inning double and Stewart finished the game with a one-hitter.

With all the excitement surrounding the start of the college football and NFL seasons, and the absence of compelling pennant races in baseball, a performance like that can go under the radar. This month of September will be full of meaningless (unless you qualified for the playoffs in your MLB  fantasy baseball league) games. Can’t we just skip ahead to October and start the playoffs already?

Look at the MLB standings and you will see that the Yankees or Red Sox will win the A.L. East and the top seed and the other will be the Wild Card team. Does it really make a difference who wins the MLB division to anyone other than New York and Boston fans? Is it October yet?

 

Barring a major collapse, Detroit is going to win the A.L. Central. The way Justin Verlander has been pitching; he could win enough games by himself in September to get the Tigers to the post-season. Is it October yet?

The only spot that is really in doubt is in the A.L. West. The Rangers lead the Angels by 2.5 games. They will meet in Anaheim for the last three games of the MLB regular season. Let’s just hope a playoff berth comes down to that.

The story is pretty much the same in the N.L. The Phillies are running away with the East and the top seed, the Braves are running away with the Wild Card and Milwaukee is running away with the N.L. Central. Even the surprising Diamondbacks have built a seven-game lead over San Francisco. Is it October yet?

There has been talk of expanding the MLB playoffs and adding another Wild Card team in each league. That would at least give the last few weeks of the MLB season some intrigue. Tampa Bay would be in a battle with the A.L. West runner-up and the Giants and Cardinals would be tied for the final MLB playoff spot. That doesn’t help this year though. Is it October yet?

The MLB baseball season is too long. Playoff baseball has a tough time competing with college football and the NFL. Regular season games have no chance. The powers that be are not going to shorten the MLB season because fewer games = less money but I hope something happens to add some meaning to the end of the season whether it is expanding the playoffs or changing the format or maybe even realignment. I’m ready for the MLB playoffs to begin. Is it October yet?

April 7, 2011

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NHL Playoffs: Who Are This Year’s Wild Card Players?

By: Dicky Phillips

The Stanley Cup Finals are right around the corner.

It’s time to elevate the noise meter at the rink, raise the roof, and pack the arena so full that fans are hanging from the rafters. The NHL post-season is nearly upon us!  And, if you’re an NHL fan, you know that there is still a lot to be sorted out.

In other major American sports, the championship contenders are a little easier to predict.  In baseball, for instance, you always expect the Red Sox and Yankees to be in the picture. In the NFL, the Patriots, Colts, and Steelers are likely to make a push come Playoff time. And in the NBA, it’s a surprise when the Lakers and Celtics aren’t listed as a possible Finals match-up.

Of course, the NHL has a few teams that consistently stand out.  But, as the Montreal Canadians showed us in the 2010 Playoffs against the Presidents Trophy-winning Washington Capitals, seeds mean almost zilch! Nada. Nothing!

Every team has a good chance at advancing when the playoffs finally do arrive, so coaches will expect their teams to be mentally prepared and will look for any sense of momentum to carry them into the first round.  Post-season experience is a huge asset, and good defense (led by strong goal-tending) is a must.

One additional factor that should not be overlooked, however, is the Wild Card Player. If a team is to go deep into the post-season, they will need a star performance from a player that wasn’t necessarily expected to perform like a star.  Look at Dustin Byfuglien’s turn for the Blackhawks last year—the big-bodied, hard hitting utility player had no problem stepping up in the 2010 Playoffs against great defensemen like Chris Pronger.  Or how about Jean-Sebastain Giguere’s play in the 2003 Playoffs for Anaheim?  Yes, he had a pretty good regular season, but no one expected the lights-out performance he brought to the post-season.  Five shutouts?  While they didn’t win the Cup, Giguere led the Ducks right to the brink.

So who will the Wild Card Players be this year?  Here are our predictions:

Ryan Kesler, Vancouver Canucks

Kesler uses his speed and hockey IQ to make sure that he is always in a position to help his team. And he’s having another career year. Led by the Sedin brothers and Luongo in net, the Canucks (with the best record in the NHL) are the favorite of most to win the Cup.  With most opposing teams very aware of what the Sedins are capable of, however, less attention will be given to Kesler, which could prove to be a very costly oversight.

Joe Pavelski, San Jose Sharks

Old Joe, meet New Joe.  Joe Thornton is having one of the least productive seasons of his career, so someone needs to pick it up.  Joe Pavelski can be that guy.  Prior to the 2010 Winter Olympics, many hockey fans had no idea who Pavelski was.  Pavelski, however, had a terrific post-season last year and seems poised to be just as great this year.  The Sharks are heading into the Playoffs as arguably the hottest team in the NHL, and they will need a player like Pavelski to keep them going strong.

The “Energy Line,” Boston Bruins

“Energy Line,” or the fourth line of the Boston Bruins, isn’t just one player, but a few.  For the entire season the Bruins’ fourth line has been able to create momentum for, or maintain the momentum of, the other three lines.  With Shawn Thornton, Gregory Campbell, and Daniel Paille, the Energy Line has even contributed on the point sheet.  Although sometimes out-skilled, this line more than makes up for it with heart and a fighting will.

August 31, 2010

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The Fathead Roommate

By: Stephen Sonsenson

The Fathead Events Team travels to various cities throughout the year to participate in some pretty cool events.  The 2010 MLB All-Star Fanfest was one of them.  This year it was held in Anaheim, CA and we were all excited to attend.  It meant 12-14 hour days in our booth at Fanfest, but we love getting to interact with our fans, and we have a blast doing it.  Because four of us were going to be out there for over a week, we decided to rent a great vacation house right next to Disneyland instead of staying in hotel rooms to be more comfortable and keep costs down.

We arrived at the house and immediately walked through the whole place to get a lay of the land.  It was a very nice comfortable space with enough bedrooms for the four of us and a full kitchen and big living room along with an nice outside deck and pool area with patio furniture, tables and grills.  We were all set!  As we were walking back through the house to jump in the SUV to go get a week’s worth of groceries, when all of us suddenly felt eyes on us…we stopped and looked around…nothing.  Then, Tim stopped us and said, “Look!”  We glanced over towards a big picture window overlooking the pool and there IT was…The Reclining Clown!! (cue the Psycho music – eeeee   eeeee   eeeee!!!)  We all kind of jumped back like Oh Sh- -!!!  What the heck is that!  He was just laying on the table staring at us making this creepy little piece sign with his stubby little fingers.  Where did he come from, and what was he doing in our living room!?!  We all just kind of backed out of the room and out of the house.

We forgot about “RC,” as he became to be known.  We were focused on our strategy for the first day of MLB All-Star.  Our booth was all set up at the Convention Center and ready for tomorrow’s opening day of Fanfest where thousands of baseball fans would converge on Anaheim.  That 1st night we made a big meal on the grill — steak, corn, salad — and just relaxed, listening to the Grateful Dead as Marc told us hilarious stories of his Dead exploits.  Around midnight we all realized we were exhausted, all of us having started our travels 20 hours earlier in a couple of time zones over.  We all decided on a early morning call time and mumbled our goodnights.  Everyone retired to their rooms deeper in the house.  About 20 minutes into the quiet of the house we all heard, ”AAAARrrrrgghhhhhhh!!!  What the &*$^%!!!!”

Marc comes bolting out of his room like he was on fire!  We all jumped up to see what the deal was and when we looked in his room…there was “RC” in his BED!!!!  (EEEEE   EEEEEEE   EEEEEE!!!)  We all were doubled over with hysterical laughter, tears flowing out of our eyes…our neighbors must have thought we had gone absolutely insane.  We moved “RC” back to his place in the living room on the table where he just looked at us with that goofy creepy smile on his face…peace!

Well, each night, needless to say, each and every one of us was visited by “RC”!  No one ever admitted to putting him in our rooms but each time someone went to bed or even got up to go to the bathroom in the middle of the night “RC” would be in his/her bed or on the dresser or floor.  Each time it scared the crap out of us…followed by raucous laughter that carried on well into the night.  One night Tim laughed himself to sleep after Megan found that stupid clown on her guest bed like a roommate. 

While we’ll miss many things upon leaving that very cool guest house…Reclining Clown is NOT one of them!!!