Sunday, July 20, 2003

Goodbye Sergei and other comments

It's hard to believe that Sergei Fedorov is gone, that, unless something else happens, we will never see him in a Red Wings uniform again. He has left the team that drafted him, helped him escape the USSR, cultivated him into the player he is today to go to a team that is younger than his career with only very recent success. I am very disapointed in him for doing so. I wish that he had enough loyalty to the Wings to stick around until the end of his career. I always assumed he'd be a career Red Wing, even if he wouldn't be the franchise player he wanted to be here. It saddens me to see him go, even if it wasn't just for the money. I don't know where he gets the idea that he was not appreciated here in Detroit. He was. The reaction of the fans is proof enough of that. Why else would people like me be furious at him for leaving the team? If he was just some average, run-of-the-mill player, no one would care. I think the fact that so many people are upset shows just how appreciated Sergei was and how wrong he was about himself. He has this idea of the '93-'94 season that puts that year in some sort of epic light, that if he could only have it now like he had it then, everyone better watch out! The year he was "unleased" and not held down by either The Captain or the coaches/management, when he was allowed to showcase all of his offensive skills and dominate the league. I guess Sergei thinks of that year as his greatest accomplishment and he wants to do it again but knows he can't do it here. He doesn't realize that Detroit, for better or for worse, is the organization that made him the player he is today, the two-way, well rounded star. That is who he is now, no matter what he was when he broke in to the league. He will be remembered as the Red Wings player who was so good both ways, no matter what he does in Anaheim. He's looking for something that he's too late to get. He should have left years ago if he wanted to be the dominating offensive player he's looking to be. Now he's going to Anaheim and he's really being naive if he thinks he'll be repeating his Hart Trophy winning season there. They have a much more defensive system than the Wings ever had and while he'll be set loose more there than he was here, he will not have the same supporting cast. He will be called on to shut down opponents just like he was here. That's his reputation. He will be happy there for a while but I really believe he will find himself to be regreting his decision within a couple years. A lot of people are wondering why Sergei would leave when the Wings are about to become "his team" with Yzerman to retire very soon. First of all, the Wings would never have been Sergei's team. He's not that kind of player and not that kind of person. Sure, he might have been the biggest forward and no longer under the shadow of The Captain but he never would have led the team and made it his. Second, maybe we are forgetting Pavel Datsyuk and Henrik Zetterberg. While it is a little early for it, those two guys are going to receive their inheritance very soon, as in right after the new CBA is in place. Perhaps Sergei recognized this and realized that he could never "win." That's too bad though because he will be missing out on a great thing. There are some details on Sergei's contract with the Ducks: it is for five years, $40 million. The first two years are guaranteed but after that, he has the option to leave (to return to Hockeytown after his delusions of grandeur wear out, perhaps?). He will earn $10 million the first year, $6 million the second year and $8 million for the years after that. Not a terrible deal, Sergei though not much better than what the Wings offered. Maybe if the Wings had give him the "out clause" he'd have stuck around. They probably never thought of it. Once again, Sergei goes for the strangely structured contract like he did in '98. He's going to play for Ducks GM Brian Murray, who was his first coach in Detroit. Awwww. What disturbs me the most is the fact that Sergei took the Ducks' offer immediately and did not give the Wings a chance to top it. The Wings almost definitely would have worked to give him a better deal but never got the chance. Obviously Sergei really just wanted out. Doesn't make me feel any better, that's for sure. I have a question: Sergei was a Group III free agent. What is the difference between that and an unrestricted free agent? Do the Wings get something in return? All Ken Holland said about all this was "We worked very hard over the past eight months to keep Sergei in Detroit and we are disapointed he did not choose to remain a Red Wing, but in the end it was simply not meant to be." Everyone should check out Bob Wojnowski's column in today's Detroit News. It's a very good article. I should correct something I said yesterday. "Enjoy playing golf in April too, since I doubt the Ducks will make it again." Okay, I don't necessarily doubt the Ducks will make it again. I only said that because JS is a restricted free agent and may hold out. That would be a serious blow to the Ducks' playoff hopes, depending on how long he wouldn't play. Also, while the Ducks may look half-decent on paper, they might not be the same on the ice. Everyone knows about the Rangers, who should be on of the best teams in hockey but haven't been in forever. Maybe all the new blood the Ducks have will work against them. I don't know. I personally hope it does because I want Sergei to realize how big a mistake he made but they'll probably end up doing well and Sergei will probably win his Hart. But it won't be the same. The Wings have got to get someone decent in a trade now. There are three rumors I've heard. I'll give them in order from worst to best. 1) CuJo (possibly plus Fischer) for Eric Lindros. I give that one an emphatic NO! for many reasons, which I shouldn't have to go in to. It does partially answer the Center Question though. 2) CuJo for Sergei Samsonov/Brian Rolston/Martin Lapointe. This would be fine with me but it doesn't answer the Center Question. It's too early to count on Zata as a top center and I don't want them to break up that line either. I'd probably rather have Rolston than another Sergei, even if he is really fast. I don't want Lapointe back, I say let him rot in Boston for being greedy. Sorry. 3) CuJo for Doug Weight/Pavel Demitra. I like this one the most because I like Doug Weight (good Michigan boy!) and since they are both good centers. The Wings have the money to pay them now that they don't have to pay Sergei. The only problem is the Blues are in our division and it would probably come back to haunt us, trading our #1 goalie to our second biggest rival. Screwing Ozzie over again wouldn't be too good an idea either. However, the Blues can't seem to do anything in the playoffs so what are the Wings worried about? It's a trade that benefits both sides and keeps things fairly even. I think they should consider it. It would really be a bad thing if this finally turned out to be the Blues' year, though. Goodbye, Sergei. Thanks for the memories and the glory. You had a great career here, it's just to bad it couldn't be a career literally. We will all miss you, whether we admit it or not. I'm sorry to see you go but I will still boo you every time you step on the ice from now on, unless you come back like some prodigal son in a couple years. I still hope Hatcher and the guys take you out next year but understand, it's not because you're you, it's because you're the enemy now and I want them to do that to all the other stars. Have fun being on the underdog and looking up at the top from the bottom instead of looking down at the bottem from the top. See ya! Now, does anybody know where Sergei's house is? I got some toilet paper and eggs....... Just kidding!


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