Saturday, February 28, 2004

2/28 Notes

The Free Press' Drew Sharp calls Ken Holland a pillager today in his column and says those days are likely coming to an end when the CBA expires in September. According to him, the Lang trade is
another move that pushes the NHL toward the precipice of a shutdown. The rich continually stockpile the riches, compelling less-talented teams with lower payrolls to play a sleep-inducing, defense-oriented style to compete.
I agree that the Wings appear to be picking over the remains of the Caps but let's not forget that Washington was offering up their stars to whoever wanted them. I'd rather be a fan of a team which is trying to win now while still making decent preparations for next year than one which exhibits a fatalistic view towards the league and the future. Nick Cotsonika has a different angle on the trade. He praises the Wings for what they did with it and has a mostly optimistic view of the future.
This trade did not hand the Wings the Stanley Cup: Other contenders have already made deals or are going to, and history shows that deals like this don't always translate into immediate playoff success. But the Wings didn't make this trade just for a short-term stab at Stanley. Fedorov and Igor Larionov are gone, and Yzerman is on his last legs, but the Wings will have Lang, Datsyuk and Kris Draper down the middle for years to come, assuming they sign Draper to a contract extension. Henrik Zetterberg can stay at center or move to wing.
That's the optimistic part. Here's the negative: the Wings have many key players who are up for a contract this year. They will most likely have to take a pay cut or leave the team either for another or by going in to retirement. Chris Chelios, Brett Hull, Brendan Shanahan and Steve Yzerman are all guys who fit that last category, though Shanny and Brett could still play. No matter what happens, the Wings will look a lot different next season, whenever it actually happens. Helen St. James says Lang will probably be with the team this morning for line experiments and that the Wings expect him to be in the lineup on Sunday for the Flyers game. In another article by Ms. St. James, she says the Wings are giving Lang a "reprieve" and would have had him back in August had Holland been able to make a deal with Caps GM George McPhee. As usual, the Caps wanted too much back then and the deal fell through. From what I've read in the newspaper, it looks like Lang is very excited to be a Red Wing and to have a chance to play for the Cup. I'm looking forward to seeing him play and I hope he won't turn out to be a bust. As long as the Curse of Luc's #20 doesn't transfer over to him, he should be fine. Here's something to think about: The Wings finally have a right handed center that isn't Steve Yzerman, though he doesn't have the best face-off percentage (43%, I think). The Wings will be able to re-unite the "Two Kids and an Old Goat Line" now that they have another center, if they want. I'm very interested to see who Lewis will have playing with Lang.


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