Our little Not-So-Happy Hudler had his arbitration hearing today. We’re still waiting on the official decision, but it couldn’t matter less. Now that the NHL’s finally conceded his loss, maybe the Wings can finally move on. Unfortunately, at this point in the summer, the pickings are slim. So thanks for that, Gary. Does anyone else find it ironic that the NHL, located in the heart of the West, operates under an artificial salary cap, while Russia’s KHL uses a free-market system? Obviously there are no nuclear bombs involved (unless you count this) but doesn’t it seem like a sardonic twist on the Cold War?
It’s tempting to make a free agent wish list describing the guys who are still out there and why they appeal to me, but at this point it’s irrelevant. There is one player who I absolutely do not want signed. His name? Todd Bertuzzi. His name has been tossed around by a few people, although the discussions/rumors haven’t sounded particularly serious. That matters very little to me. The mere thought of him once again donning a Wings uniform is enough to make me shudder. I have to believe that Kenny Holland is smarter than to bring him back, because let’s face it, he’s Kenny Holland, but rationality has never stopped us Wings fans from worrying about things before. I’m just warning humanity: if Bertuzzi signs, the news will also likely be accompanied by reports of a crazed grad student screaming incoherently and setting all of her possessions on fire in the middle of Ann Arbor. But enough about him.
There’s another former Wing out there whose name has been tossed around more seriously. And that has me slightly concerned. It’s not that Jason Williams is lacking in talent in comparison to the other guys who are still unsigned; in terms of value, a player of his caliber is all the Wings can hope for with their limited cap space. I have a problem with his attitude and his reaction to being benched before he was traded away. Now it’s no secret that I have no sympathy for whiny professional athletes (or anyone else for that matter), so I’m not going to waste time explaining myself here. Does anyone out there really think that he’s changed in the years since his departure from Detroit? I can’t shake the feeling that if he comes back, he’s going to have the same old issues with Mike Babcock. Babs takes a lot of pride in leading a bunch of classy, respectful players and I don’t see him putting up with a whole lot of complaining. Especially from a journeyman third-liner on a team full of hard-working superstars. While seeing him in a Wings uniform next year won’t cause me to have a fit like a Bertuzzi signing would, I wouldn’t exactly be thrilled. My philosophy is a lot like this: If you’re lucky enough to have the privilege to play for the Detroit Red Wings, you work hard, you keep a low profile, you definitely don’t complain, and if you stick around long enough, you’re bound to end up with a championship or four. And I don’t see Williams fitting into that framework, however rose-colored it may be.
Now that I’ve told you who I don’t want, you may find yourself wondering who I’d like the Wings to go after. (Or more likely, you’re just reading this to kill time at work and you really don’t care what I think.) Truth be told, I don’t even know. The guys out there who have the biggest upsides are just a little bit out of the Wings’ price range. I still have to pause to grumble every time I type something like that. I know I should get over it, but the salary cap flies in the face of most of the things I believe in, such as common sense, capitalism, and winning. I would really like to see them sign two lower-priced players so that Abdelkader has a chance to get some more playing time in Grand Rapids. The Wings’ system of player development is first-rate, and I’d hate to see him get cheated out of an extra year of seasoning in the minors just to play a few minutes a night filling a gap in the roster.
In all honesty, the two names that interest me most are Petr Sykora (Typing that disturbs me a little bit too, but such is the reality that we deal with in Gary Bettman’s perfect little world.) and Brendan Shanahan. I’m not ashamed to admit that my intrigue at the prospect of bringing Shanny back is rooted entirely in my nostalgia for the past. (During high school, there was a joke that he was my alter-ego. This was ironic because as much as I loved him, I was always a Stevie Y girl at heart.) From what I’ve heard, though, he’s not much of a Babcock fan either, and I’m thinking that he’ll most likely end up back in New Jersey.
It’s difficult to explain why Sykora interests me. I’m not sure that there’s any one particular reason. His called shot in triple OT will probably haunt me forever, but much like Max Talbot, I really can’t hate him. I really don’t see him ending up here either, once again thanks to the almighty dollar.
I have absolutely no idea where that leaves the Wings. In light of that, I have no choice but to once again fall back on the mantra that I’ve been relying on all summer: In Kenny we trust. It’s always worked for me in the past. We can only hope that he’s got some tricks up his sleeve once again.