Thursday, June 25, 2009

Joe from Sacrifice the Body talks Red Wings draft

Joe (aka IAMJoe) is one of the best friends of CLS. He provided clutch posts during the playoffs, including posts in the Red Wings-Ducks mini-blog and during the (glorious) Stanley Cup Finals.

After a while, Joe was fed up with the hack job blog we're running here so he decided to start his own NHL blog Sacrifice the Body. StB is brand new, so make sure that you give Joe your support (and hugs?). It should be a great source of NHL-related opinions, with an emphasis on stat analysis.

(Note: I'm not sure if Joe meant for this first paragraph to be in here, but it's pretty funny so why not right?)

I don't do much on the draft. So I don't know any players. And I'm not going to bullshit you and go get a bunch of prospects' names off a mock draft somewhere and tell you how Billy O'Prospect is going to make everything wonderful. I talk out of my ass from time to time, but I'll at least be honest about it. So this is my thoughts on the draft, sans players. Which, when you're talking about the draft, pretty much means I'm just rambling. Frankly, I don't think anyone cares about who is drafting who after you get outside of the top 10 or 15 anyways.

What direction do you expect Detroit to go in this year's draft? What's your preference?

First of all, I expect the lucky draft pick will have a weird name, and probably be European. On top of that, he'll also have to be patient, because it usually takes a very long time for a youngster to get into the Wings' lineup. I've never checked the numbers, but I'd imagine the Wings probably end up with a lot of guys making debuts at about 2-3 years later than they would on most other teams. However, I think the Wings are on the brink of a major (at least for them) youth movement, with the no-longer increasing cap forcing them to let go of some older guys and replace them with (cheap!) quality depth from Grand Rapids that we've heard so much about for years.

One of the things that I thought was most shocking about the Cup Final this year (aside from the fact that the Wings lost) was how bad their defense looked. It was an ongoing problem throughout the regular season, and it seemed to right itself for a while in the playoffs, but it really came undone against the Penguins. I'll give Lidstrom a free pass, even though he was skating worse than me, because he had a busted testicle, and frankly, its the first time I've seen him NOT have a good series. That said, seeing Lidstrom so completely nullified out there was frankly pretty scary. I don't have much faith in Lilja/Lebda, and one good playoff run for Brad Stuart doesn't make me feel safe. Lidstrom's injury reminded everyone that he won't be around forever, and he won't always be the best defenseman in the NHL even while he's still around. I want a new defenseman who in about 2 years or so can step in to the roster spot left by Lidstrom's retirement, and replace Lebda/Lilja initially.

That said, I think the Wing's forward depth is going to get donkey punched this offseason. Basically, one of Hossa/Hudler will stay, and then a handful of forwards (like you, Samuelsson!) will get let go. On top of that, depending exactly where the cap finally sets at, a buyout or two might be necessary. I think in response to this, Ken Holland is going to grab a forward to help restock that part of the shelf. I won't argue with the master, but it won't make me feel as secure as replacing a couple of idiot defensemen would.

I don't think Detroit will be interested in a goaltender. Jimmy Howard, the "goalie of the future" for the last 5+ years, needs to either make the big club, or jump off a cliff. I've already given up hope on Jimmy Howard, but I'm very much interested in Daniel Larsson (gee, a Swede!). Frankly, I wouldn't be opposed to buying Ozzie out, and going with Howard/Larsson to fight it out for the spot between the pipes for the next 10 years.

Favorite Draft Day Memories?

Well, I'm not much for the NHL draft. I'm not much for prospects either. But as for draft steals? I won't go back too farI'd have to say getting the best defenseman in NHL history at #53 overall is a real good deal. Of course, getting a couple of the most complete players in the game right now at #171 (Datsyuk) and #210 (Zetterberg) is cool too. Part of that is certainly drafting the right players, but a lot of that also is the right developmental system. How many failures on other teams have flourished under the Detroit developmental systems?

Draft Day Busts?

It's hard to have busts when you're consistently picking in the lower parts of the 1st round, or trading those picks for "win now" pieces. But Jimmy Howard is one season away from getting on there in my book. We've been told he's the goalie of the future for a long time now, and yet the 64th overall pick in the 2003 Entry Draft has only 9 NHL appearances. At some point, especially with the carousel in the Detroit crease since Hasek's (first) retirement, shouldn't he have gotten a chance to sink or swim? Not many Red Wings prospects get significant hype on the way to the big club, but Howard has been one of the few, and that definitely sets him in my sights.

Soapbox time!

Could we please stop trying to tailor our sport to get a bunch of people who dislike hockey to like it? I mean, seriously. The game as it is right now is pretty good. Most of the game's problems are not necessarily problems with the game itself, but problems with the league, which are detracting from the product on the ice. Just because our game isn't getting constant coverage on ESPN like Terrell friggin Owens doesn't mean our game sucks. Just because some idiot columnists keep talking about how hockey isn't a real sport doesn't mean our game sucks. Just because our game is different doesn't mean our game sucks. And just because our game isn't as popular doesn't mean our game sucks.

Everyone is so worried about the casual sports fan. You wanna know a secret? The "casual sports fan" who cannot follow anything that Sportscenter doesn't shove down his throat is a dumbass, and we shouldn't give a damn about changing a game that we love in order to get him to tune in or to take it seriously. We're part of a secret club, and we all know a great secret, that the rest of the world is too stupid to pay attention to. I don't know if anything irritates me as much as people that think the game needs changed or the league needs to suck on the ESPN teat in order to somehow be important in the national sports scene.

Hockey is a grassroots thing, and the best thing the league can do to grow its revenues is to give those roots more time to grow and spread in a post lockout scene, and in the 90's expansion markets, where kids who were first introduced to the game are now getting old enough to have kids and introduce them to the game. We don't need to convince the casual fan. We just need to grow it ourselves. Support your local rink, or get one built in your city park. Donate your old equipment to charities. Play in a beer league, or even start one if you want. Make some babies and give 'em hockey sticks. Maybe its not flashy, but its true.


Forklift said...

I don't think the Red Wings drafted Bobby Orr...

Anaheim Calling said...

Hear, Hear. Even amongst defensive-defenseman, Lidstrom's second to Robinson on my list. You can scoff at that if you'd like, Joe. But he played when the game was wide open and finished his career +730.

Joe said...

Putting Lidstrom behind Larry Robinson? That was unexpected. I figured I'd hear something like Forklift said about Bobby Orr, but I didn't expect Larry Robinson.

Anaheim Calling said...

I anticipated an "I meant defensive-defenseman" comment, which saves you from having to compare him to Orr or Bourque (though seriously, Orr could play D). And saying Doug Harvey would probably cause you to agree just because he won you a Stanley Cup. Robinson seemed the safe counter, using a guy I'd seen in my lifetime. Though, seriously, Doug Harvey, right?

jamestobrien said...

It's impossible (for me at least) to compare Larry Robinson/Bobby Orr (guys who played in a completely different league, really) to Nicklas Lidstrom.

Mind you, it's fun. Just saying.

Joe said...

Heh, you must be referring the puck that Harvey batted into his own net, huh? Either you know your history, or you're entirely too old, Art!

Honestly, I have a big tendency to devalue the counting numbers of those who played before the 90's (like Orr). Part of that is justified because of the higher scoring rates at the time, but part of that also is that I can't watch an old game like that without being dumbfounded by how bad the goalies were. I'd have to do some actual research to back up a claim of Lidstrom as best defenseman ever, but I don't think its unfair to say that he's at least in the discussion. I certainly don't think he has to be confined to a "best defensive-defenseman" criteria, cause Lidstrom is definitely a pretty good offensive threat too.

Anaheim Calling said...

Haha. Definitely knowing my history on that one. I razz you guys, but I'm only a couple years older than James. Harvey gets the general nod as second best, still second in Norris's, etc. And I'll give him the nod because the NHL back then was kind of like the golden age of boxing: the greats were great and they all played each other over and over and over.

@James. I definitely take the "different leagues" thing to heart, but you have to put things into perspective of what was different. It's one thing to say Saddaharu Oh never faced quality MLB pitching, but if Larry played in the more offensive, ridiculously wide open, bad goaltenders era, and he knotted plus-730 with 20 fewer goals than Lidstrom, I'd have to say you give him the edge in a best discussion. It's not like Robinson put up better numbers in the era where things were more defensive

Lidstrom's definitely in the discussion, and of course in the Top 5, but Forklift's totally right that you go too far to call Lidstrom the best defenseman when many consider Orr the greatest player to play the game, regardless of position.

jamestobrien said...

@ AC

I agree that Bobby Orr is the greatest ever. Doug Harvey, from what I've read, was both great and innovative (the Orr prototype it seems).

Robinson's plus 730 is absurd, but he DID play on the greatest dynasty in hockey history. I imagine a good chunk of those pluses came from watching Guy Lafleur dominate the world.

Robinson vs. Lidstrom is a tough call for me, although I tend to lean toward mean son of a bitch D and Robinson hit someone so hard it dented the boards. That earns my respect.

Anaheim Calling said...

Oops, I missed an @Joe in there. The 'you go too far' sir, comment was for Joe.

@James. I guess I feel that the Red Wings teams have had goal-support in the Dead Puck Era. I'm going to suggest that to Joe as a research project for Sacrifice the Body. Maybe the aura of the Red Machine, the wizards of Ov line, the spanking of the Flyers and Capitals, etc. has skewed my vision.

But I feel like Robinson's numbers are an abomination in his era, even when you factor in the +120 in the 76-77 season behind LaFleur's 136P (b-a-n-a-n-a-s) because Dionne only trailed him by about a dozen points, and Trottier and Bossy seemed to rival those numbers perennially after that. I guess I feel the game was 'against' Robinson, where Lidstrom has had the support of the Dead Puck Era AND his teammates.

Though I, like you, certainly share the soft spot for mean-son-of-a-bitch D. Maybe it's clouding my judgment.