Wednesday, May 05, 2004

Still numb and a few other thoughts

I'm still numb to the whole thing. I guess it will hit me in a few days when I wonder "When's the next game?" or "What time's the game on?" I see myself in the mirror with no goatee and I feel like I'm looking at a stranger because I had it on there for so long, having started growing it about a week before the regular season ended. When it hits me, I'm going to realize that there will be no Red Wings hockey at the very least until September and more likely not until much later than that due to the much anticipated CBA talks. I'll also realize that Monday night's game was the last time I'll see some of my favorite players play after taking their presence on the ice for granted for as much as eight years. I've known this day would come for years but I never really thought it would. The core of the team is going to be changed and the reletive floodgates of exodus are going to start. We've seen players leave in the past, some of them fan favorites, but this off-season promises to be one where the team loses some of its biggest fan favorites of all. Guys like Brendan Shanahan, Steve Yzerman, Kris Draper and Chris Chelios could all be gone next time the Wings suit up, if for different reasons. Shanahan put on a disappointing offensive performance in the playoffs and might just be let go by the Wings who most likely will not be willing to pick up his $6.5 million option next year. The Captain, who says he is not done and is willing to wait a year, probably shouldn't play again. Draper's contract is up this year and the Wings may not be able to give him the money he earned with a career season, even though he says he does not want to leave the team. Chelios is 42 and an unrestricted free agent but he wants to keep playing, though the Wings may not want him again and a lockout would end his career. Brett Hull is an unrestricted free agent but, as the Freep says, "The Wings won't want him back ... He won't want to come back." Mathieu Schneider is an unrestricted free agent year and with a Norris quality year like he had last year (despite what the award nominations say), his price has gone up considerably and the Wings may not be able to commit that much money to him with a new salary structure coming. Steve Thomas is 40 and after a disappointing finish to what was a great start to his time with the Wings, he is done. We may see a new coach next year as well. Joel Quenneville and Jacque Martin are available. I'd take Quenneville over Martin, personally, but the Wings may stick with Dave Lewis anyway because, while he was a major factor in the loss, he wasn't fully to blame and he knows the team better than anyone. This team will look very different next time we see them on the ice. They will still be competitive but I'm not as sure that they will be competitors. Since they will be losing a few players this offseason, gaining some speed and size would not be a bad idea. Check out the Free Press and Detroit News' takes on some possible changes. The Detroit News has a "Build a Better Wings Team Contest" going. You get to pick from a list of free agents and coaches as well as deciding who stays and who goes on the current roster as long as you have 23 skaters and stay within $83 million. Whoever comes closest gets three tickets to a regular season game. Quote of the day
"There's a lot of guys . . . who wondered, this whole season . . . if there'd be a night when we took this uniform off for the last time . . ." -- a teary-eyed Brendan Shanahan after Game 6, quoted by Mitch Albom.
Shanny probably was thinking about himself when he said that. It's sad.... Some Consolation The Avs lost their series last night 4-2 when they lost 3-1 to the Sharks at home. The Sharks will obviously face the Flames in the Western Conference Finals. The Leafs lost at home as well last night, 3-2 to the Flyers, who won the series 4-2. The Lightning will face their first tough opponent of the playoffs when they play the Flyers in the Eastern Conference Finals. I'm going to support Detroit money here and go for the Lightning to win the Cup, though I personally think the Sharks will win it all.


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