Breaking news, Detroit Red Wings Niklas Kronwall announces his retirement

Embed from Getty Images Drafted by the Detroit Red Wings in the 2000 NHL entry draft, Niklas Kronwall was a Red Wing lifer, playing his entire 953 game NHL career with the Winged Wheels. He ranks 10th all-time in games played for the franchise. He played along side many greats, including the likes of Steve Yzerman, Niklas Lidstrom, Pavel Datsyuk, and Henrik Zetterberg, on his path to being part of Red Wings lore forever.

Age and bad knees have caught up with Detroit Red Wings Nik Kronwall. Kronwall will be remembered for his on and off ice leadership, dangerously raised visor, and of course, his major open ice hits near side the boards which fans dubbed “getting Kron-WALLED!”

Niklas Kronwall is not going away all together, he will remain with the Red Wings organization as an “Adviser to the General Manager.” During his playing career, Kronwall may not have worn the “C” on his sweater but he sure acted like the team leader. He was a warrior, who battled through constant knee pain.

Steve Yzerman,  gave Kronwall the entire summer to consider whether to retire or return. Kronwall sounded conflicted as the 2018-19 season came to a close.

Kronwall who wore  No. 55 gained notoriety as one of hockey’s most efficient  and clean  body checkers, and most feared hitters in the NHL. When he announced his retirement Niklas Kronwall said his best memory as a Red Wing was when the team won the Stanley Cup in 2008.

He then stated about the current Red Wings rebuild, “We’re gonna get back there,” he said,  “I just won’t be a player when it happens next time.”

From Detroit Red Wings fans everywhere, Thank you Nik!

The Detroit Red Wings hire former Michigan Wolverines strength and conditioning coach Mike Barwis

Embed from Getty Images Mike Barwis is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist by the National Strength and Conditioning Association (NSCA). Barwis’ methods help to focus on holistic human performance. Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman has hired Mike Barwis to spearhead the strengthening program in Detroit.

When Steve Yzerman took over the Red Wings he had an evaluation period. One can only come to the conclusion Yzerman was not happy with the Detroit Red Wings conditioning.

Mike Barwis, philosophy markets itself as a holistic approach to strength and conditioning based on scientific laws of medicine like that of “Wolff’s Law,” which states, “The body conforms and adapts to the intensities and directions to which it is habitually subjected.

Barwis is one if not the very best strength and conditioning coach’s out there. Barwis replaces Mike Kadar, the Red Wings’ strength and conditioning coach  since July 2015.

While with the Tampa Bay Lightning, Steve Yzerman was known for his emphasis on the conditioning of players. Yzerman has already remade Detroit’s scouting department by replacing former director of amateur scouting Tyler Wright with Kris Draper.

The revamping of the Red Wings staff continued with Mike Barwis. Barwis who was heavily recruited by Steve Yzerman,  will be completely revamping the strength and condition program.

A few current Detroit Red Wings, Dylan Larkin, Dennis Cholowski and Anthony Mantha are already said to be using the Barwis plan for conditioning. Bringing in Barwis is a very solid move by the Detroit Red Wings.

With over 500 Olympic and elite athletes across 42 sports, nine professional  sports teams in three different leagues including MLB with  the New York Mets, and  has coached 38 National Strength and Conditioning (NSCA) All-Americans with 27 years of experience it becomes clear Mike Barwis is good at his job.

Barwis, training methods align with Steve Yzerman’s vision for how he wants his team to be conditioned and gain strength. This can do nothing but have a positive impact of the Red wings organization.


Kris Draper promoted to director of amateur scouting for the Detroit Red Wings

Embed from Getty Images Detroit Red Wings general manager Steve Yzerman, chose not to renew the contract of previous scouting director Tyler Wright. As Yzerman did his homework and interviewed would be candidates, he chose his former Red Wings teammate and four time Stanley Cup champion Kris Draper.

The news was announced on the Detroit Red Wings official website . The same day the story broke, the Red Wings also announced they hired two amateur chief scouts Ryan Rezmierski and Jesse Wallin.

Also of note, Bryce Thoma and Rob Rassey were named to the scouting department and former Tampa Bay Lightning goaltending scouting developer Phil Osaer has been named to the same position in Detroit.

Kris Draper, began to coach youth hockey teams when he retired in 2011. Draper’s team won six Michigan Amateur Hockey Association state championships.

When Ken Holland was the Detroit general manager Kris Draper was his assistant.  Being close friends with Yzerman, Draper was an easy choice for head of scouting.

Back in April Steve Yzerman said he needed time to both assess things as well as talk to everyone in the organization. Tyler Wright who had done a solid job, was let go. In my opinion, Yzerman chose to part ways for one of two reasons. Wright wanted to take the best forwards in the draft. Yzerman likes to build from the backend (defense) out. Which is the correct way to put a team together.

It could be also that Yzerman and Wright simply did not see eye-to-eye. There was a quick look at this in this June’s draft. Seen at the table, Yzerman looked at Wright and said “Who’s it going to be?” Wright answered and was over ruled as Yzerman was seen on camera saying “I’m taking Seider.” Then proceeded to the big German defensemen.

For any team and organization to reach a winning level of play, then a playoff birth, then possibly a championship run, everyone needs to be on the same page. Yzerman, got rid of holdovers in favor of people he knows and respects. He has a history of doing a very good job. Bringing in Kris Draper and a few new scouts is a step in the right direction.

Detroit Lions Matt Patricia does not care about the preseason

Embed from Getty Images Detroit Lions head coach, Matt Patricia has repeatedly stated that he is constantly evaluating players and hoping to grow the team in the preseason.  The scaled back play that was consistently seen on both sides of the ball in practices and training camp were  absent in the games.

One of Matt Patricia’s  hallmarks as a coach is to devise an opponent specific gameplan, especially for his defense. There was no evidence of any sort of that throughout the preseason. That is just fine. There is no need to show anything on offense, defense and special teams in meaningless games.

Patricia also played veterans sparingly if at all. Detroit Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford did not play until the third preseason game. Fans and media freaked out. For no reason at all. Wondering on social media if he was hurt, or simply was not picking up the playbook from new Lions offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell.

All of that was false. The Lions already knew Stafford was the starting quarterback. What they did not know was who was going to back him up. The fact the Lions head coach did not play many veterans was certainly  his prerogative.

If the Detroit Lions look sharp and well prepared in the teams first couple of weeks of the regular season, nobody will remember or care about the apathetically vanilla preseason. If the team looks lost and unprepared fans will call for Patricia’s head and the media will say the coach has failed.

The fact of the matter is the preseason is only for newly drafted players, veterans on a try-out and non-roster invitees. There is never a reason any NFL team should play a veteran during meaningless, scalded-back games.

Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn, was asked about his head coach and had this to say, “I think he definitely changed the ways he’s done some things,” Quinn said. “I think he’s taken a lot of input from the players. A lot of great conversations, I would say, dating back to January, February, March when the players weren’t in the building about things that he was thinking about and wanted to get some input from some of the veteran guys. Very reflective. Very honest with himself.”

The Lions kickoff the 2019 season September 8 against the Arizona Cardinals. That will be a much better look at the football team and where it stands.

The Detroit Red Wings and Colorado Avalanche may have had the greatest fights in NHL history

Embed from Getty Images It has been called a few different names, “Bloody Wednesday,” “The Brawl at Hockeytown” and “Fight Night at the Joe.” March 26, 1997, in a game between the defending Stanley Cup champion Colorado Avalanche and the Detroit Red Wings a fight broke out. Appropriately it took place at Joe Louis Arena.

The fight would propel the Red Wings to their first Stanley Cup championship in 42 years and fueling one of sports greatest and fiercest rivalries not only in the NHL, but in all of sports. Playing in front of a sold out crowd of 19,983 at Joe Louis Arena, the game featured 11 goals, 10 fights, 39 penalties, 148 penalty minutes.

The fight started when the Red Wings  Kris Draper was skating backward in front of the Wings’ bench after clearing the puck up the boards. Colorado’s Claude Lemieux, raced toward Draper and hit him from behind. Draper went hard into the dash board, facefirst.

Detroit’s Darren McCarty was not having it.  Lemieux was an agitator and an NHL cheap shot guy. Kris Draper suffered a broken jaw, broken nose, broken cheekbone and concussion. He would had his mouth wired shut for weeks.

“With all due respect to Kris Draper, if I was going to go after somebody, it would be Steve Yzerman or Sergei Fedorov,” Lemieux told the media. During the game, two players began to fight then it was on.

Darren McCarty a Detroit Red Wings fan favorite skated toward the distracted Claude Lemieux and landed a right gloved punch to Lemieux’s right temple. Lemieux fell hard on his back. He then rolled to his left, on his knees, as McCarty pounded him with lefts. Lemieux started to get up while throwing off his left glove, but it was too late. McCarty threw a vicious left to his face, and Lemieux collapsed into a head-ducked turtle position. He was in that position for all of 4 seconds before McCarty grabbed him and dragged him 10 feet. McCarty dumped him against the boards at the Detroit bench, in front of Draper. Then McCarty kneed him viciously in the head.

The fans were on their feet. Lemieux never was able to throw one punch. It was an all out, one sided beating. “Claude’s lucky he never got up, because it would have been a lot worse,” McCarty said.

The Detroit Red Wings need to make the call on Justin Abdelkader

Embed from Getty Images In 2014-15 Detroit Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader scored 23 goals and had 44 points. His abrasive, physical play earned him the respect of his teammates and admiration of the Detroit Red Wings coach’s and front office. It rubbed opposing teams the wrong way. Those were the good old days.

In the 2015-16 season, Justin Abdelkader once again posted solid numbers recording 19 goals and notching 42 points for the  Red Wings. These were the best offensive seasons of his career it also came with Pavel Datsyuk playing the majority of the time as his center.

The only issue (which at the time was not a big issue) was Justin had signed a seven year, $29.75 million dollar contract extension. Now it has become an albatross  of a  problem. This past season Abdelkader had gone 23 games without a goal and 12 games without a point.

Justin Abdelkader is a good penalty killer and grinding winger with one small problem. The Red Wings are paying out a lot of money for a guy who does not have the offensive ability he showed early in his career. Given his age, contract and declining numbers Justin Abdelkader is basically impossible to trade.

That leads us to waivers. Steve Yzerman and his  Detroit Red Wings are serious about rebuilding the team this is a fact. Then a clear message  needs to be sent  and place Justin Abdelkader on waivers if he starts next season the same way he played this past year.

Every NHL team and all hockey teams need an Abdelkader type player on the fourth line. But absolutely not at $4.25 million per season,  for a player who scores 6 goals and has multiple extended scoreless slumps during the season.

Detroit Red Wings, general manager Steve Yzerman was right to not buy Abdelkader’s contract out. That would have tightened the Wings salary cap. Waivers would send a strong message. Justin Abdelkader would clear waivers and be sent to Grand Rapids with only a $1.19 million cap hit. Opening a roster spot for one of Detroit’s top prospects like Filip Zadina.

Tyler Bertuzzi has taken Abdelkader’s spot as a tough, hard hitting, abrasive forward who is very capable of putting up solid offensive numbers.

It is time to move on from Justin Abdelkader.

Detroit Tigers Double-A pitching is electric

Embed from Getty Images The Detroit Tigers promising pitchers at Double-A are turning heads. The organizations top pitching prospects are for the most part at Double-A in Erie PA, pitching for the Seawolves. The players have bonded together and have built something potentially special in Erie.

While they have their individual paths to Detroit as part of the Tigers’ rebuilding plan, it is what is taking place in Erie that could very well be the spring board to a brighter tomorrow in Detroit.

To find an Erie team this stocked with prospects, one might have to go back to 2001. Matt Manning, Tarik Skubal, Casey Mize and  Alex Faedo, say they all learn from each other because of past experiences. Going through hitters they will face. The pitchers lean on each other to find out what worked or did not work in an at-bat early in a game, or even the game the day before.

Manning, Mize and Faedo all three pitchers were Detroit Tigers first round draft picks. Then mix in Skubal a ninth-round pick last year whose dominant first full pro season landed him in Erie in early July. A move few saw coming at the start of the season,  and half of MLB Pipeline’s top 10 Tigers prospects are in Erie PA, though Mize and Faedo are currently inactive. Mize, Manning and Skubal reside on MLB Pipeline’s top 100 prospects list.

Tarik Skubal has struck out 78 batters in just 39 2/3 innings since being called up to the Double-A SeaWolves. Matt Manning leads the league with 148 strikeouts in 133 2/3 innings and Faedo ranks third with 130 in 112 1/3 innings. They rank first and fifth in WHIP ratio. That is good to say the least.

This is the future Detroit Tigers rotation. The juggernaut team whose success is inspiring hope in the Tigers for the years ahead. Most if not all of these pitching prospects will make up the rotation  next year at Triple-A Toledo, just an hour’s drive away from Detroit.

Yet the pitchers understand and have embraced Double-A as they begin to prepare for the playoffs.

Jonathan Ericsson’s time as a Detroit Red Wings may be coming to an end

Embed from Getty Images Last season Jonathan Ericsson was plagued by injuries to start the season, the injuries came back at the end of the season as well. At least two different times Ericsson was a healthy scratch in back-to back games. The only consistent in Ericsson’s career has been his inconsistent play.

His time in Motown is coming to an end. So much so that Jonathan Ericsson, is not guarantee a roster spot this coming NHL season. Red Wings likely defenders this year will be Danny DeKeyser, Mike Green, Patrik Nemeth, Filip Hronek along with Madison Bowey and Dennis Cholowski.

The veteran defensemen Ericsson faces an up hill battle to knock out one of the younger better defensive players. In order for that to happen Ericsson will need to be both healthy and consistent. Two things he has yet to be in his career.

Atrocious, that is the description that is most commonly associated with Jonathan Ericsson’s defensive play. He turns the puck over way too often and has next to no pace to his game. When Ericsson is on ice his lack of pace, makes the rest of his line play without a good pace as well.

Ericsson loves to join the rush up ice, but is incapable of getting back to the defensive end because of slow foot speed. For a big defensive player, Ericsson is regularly beaten in board battles and in front of the net.

As a fan, it is unkind to point out a players flaws. However, for the rebuilding Red Wings there is no masking Ericsson’s bad play. Coupled with the fact Detroit needs to make roster spots for young defensive player makes Jonathan Ericsson the odd man out. That may not be a bad thing.

Players that will be sent to Grand Rapids to get seasoning with the Griffins will get called up for a look during the season to see how far away they are from helping the Red Wings.

Jonathan Ericsson has had opportunities and failed. It is time for the Detroit Red Wings to move on and in so doing strengthen the defense.

Star Wars: The Mandalorian looks promising

Embed from Getty Images Last night a D23 (Disney peek into upcoming shows and movies) the long awaited, much hyped “The Mandalorian” trailer hit. Much to the delight of Star Wars fans everywhere. The show is set for November 12, 2019 on Disney+, Disney’s streaming service.

There has been some misunderstanding with not only The Mandalorian, but Bounty Hunters from the Star Wars universe on the whole. The misunderstanding stems from the most famous Boba Fett. Along with his Father and clone templet Jango Fett in the Prequel trilogy were portrayed as being bad.

The Fact of the matter is Bounty Hunter’s are neither bad nor good. They work for the reward. They could care less who it comes from. This is why I believe in The Mandalorian trailer it opens with Stormtroopers helmets in the sand then quickly moves to them on stakes of some sort. Clearly the work of a Bounty Hunter.

The Mandalorian looks dark and action packed. The cast has some veteran actors that give it the credentials to be a very sound show. Carl Weathers, Nick Nolte and Pedro Pascal headline a very solid cast. Directed by Jon Favreau gives it promise.

The show takes place a few years after “Star Wars: Return of the Jedi” before the First Order emerges. Taking place in the outer reaches of the galaxy far away from the New Republic.

The show has the feel of a movie. It is said to be very dark, which should not come as a surprise as it is dealing with a Bounty Hunter who generally shoot to kill.

This is a bold and daring move by Disney. To take a film series and transform elements of it into a T.V. streaming show is a high risk, high reward endeavor. One that looks like it will work.

Time will tell if the Force is with Jon Favreau and The Mandalorian.


With Ewan McGregor set to return as Obi-Wan Kenobi, will Star Wars see Ray Park return as Maul?

Embed from Getty Images Last week the news broke and Star Wars fans world-wide rejoiced. Ewan McGregor will be returning to the Star Wars universe as Jedi Master Obi-Wan Kenobi. Fans quickly turned their attention to another Star Wars actor, Ray Park who portrayed Darth Maul in ‘The Phantom Menace” and again in “Solo: A Star Wars Story.”

Ray Park has advocated for the return of Maul after Solo. Park has been vocal on social media. Posting videos and photos with the hashtag tied to Maul. It could be he was using hashtags so Star Wars fans could have an easier time finding his comments.

Even without his lobbying, a return of Maul made sense. Fans of Star Wars know Maul started the crime syndicate Crimson Dawn. There was not enough time in Solo to bring the whole story into view. But in an Obi-Wan streaming series it could be done.

Also, in Star Wars Rebels, Maul and Kenobi had their final battle together. The show saw Maul rise out of the sands of Tatoonie, to face his most hated rival, Obi-Wan Kenobi.

After Kenobi sliced him in half during “The Phantom Menace” Maul survived and reconstructed himself as half cyborg. The loss to Kenobi drove Maul insane until his brother, Savage Opress was able to help him regain his focus using pure hatred for Kenobi.

During his healing time Maul left the Sith order and Darth Sidious. He became just Maul. He set up Crimson Dawn. His plan was to destroy the Sith and become sole ruler.

Needless to say, Maul in the Obi-Wan Kenobi could work very well. It would be just what Star Wars fans want to see. Will it happen? We will find out Friday when Disney at D23 is set to announce future projects, including the Kenobi show.