Detroit Red Wings: it is time to retire #91

In a 1994 interview NHL legend Wayne Gretzky was asked what he thought of Detroit Red Wings, budding star Sergei Fedorov. “I’ve never seen a player dominate the game the way Sergei does.” Coming from Gretzky, that was high praise.

Sergei Fedorov, a Detroit Red Wing from 1990-2003, is a 3 time Stanley Cup champion. Ranks #6 in Detroit Red Wings points all-time. Fedorov, is the best most complete hockey player I have ever seen.

“He’s the best skater I know.” Former teammate and 20 year Red Wings captain Steve Yzerman said. He was right. In fact there was a 6 week stretch during the 1994 season the Wings had 3 banged up defensive players. Fedorov stepped and played defense, and he did it well.

He was a fan favorite. Second to none on the ice. His teammates loved him. As did the Red Wings coaching staff. Then it happened.

An ugly contract standoff between Sergei Fedorov and the Detroit Red Wings lead to his departure. He signed a 3 year deal with the Anaheim Ducks and would go on to play for the Columbus Blue Jackets and Washington Capitals.

 

On November 9, 2015 Sergei Fedorov was inducted into the NHL Hall of Fame. It was then that he and the Detroit Red Wings, mended the fence. Fedorov, began to fly to Detroit for various Red Wings events. He flew in for the closing ceremony of Joe Louis Arena.

Legendary Detroit Red Wing and NHL coach Scotty Bowman was asked where he thought Fedorov ranked all time. “He’s right near the top. Phenomenal talent.”

Now playing at the beautiful Little Caesar’s Arena, the Detroit Red Wings need to take the next step. It is time to retire and hang #91 from the rafters.

There will never be another Sergei Fedorov. He was a lightning bolt. But, those of us blessed enough to see him play. Remember. You simply can not forget a talent like that.

 

Detroit Lions: 2018 season preview

Embed from Getty Images As the 2018 Detroit Lions, training  camp is set to go full speed this coming week. Today I give and honest look at what the 2018-19 season will look like in Motown.

Running backs, dead last for 3 seasons in a row in rushing, the Detroit Lions set out to improve this unit. The additions of  LeGarrette Blount  and Kerryon Johnson should help the ground game gain traction.

Offensive line, This is a very solid group. Detroit Lions general manager Bob Quinn did a masterful job upgrading this unit. A full season from left tackle Taylor Decker will help open running lanes for the running backs. Newly drafted center Frank Ragnow  sets the Detroit offensive line as one of the top 3 in the NFL.

Quarterbacks, Matthew Stafford lead the NFL in dropped interceptions last season. He must make better choices in the pocket. Otherwise, expect Stafford to play at an all star level.

Receiving crops, The stand out unit of the offense. Golden Tate takes care of the short routs. While Marvin Jones is the deep threat. Throw in second year Kenny Galloday and Detroit wide outs are a nightmare for defenses.

Defensive Line, they simply must, need, have too get pressure of opposing quarterbacks. The lack of a pass rush crippled the Lions last season.  Detroit Lions, fans hope new head coach Matt Patricia can use his defensive mind and improve a woeful pass rush.

Linebackers, second year middle linebacker Jarrad Davis had an up and down rookie season. He comes in with a lot of upside. He finished last season strong and will be heavily counted on. Bob Quinn, signed two free agents to help upgrade the corps. Devon Kennard and  Jalen Reeves-Maybin round out what is still the weak spot on the team.

Secondary, not much can be added to all everything conerback Darius Slay, Who is one of the best in the league. This is the strongest units on the team. Not too mention the Detroit Lions secondary was ranked #1 last season. Hard to see a drop off barring injury.

Having finished 9-7 the past two seasons lead to Jim Caldwell being replaced by Matt Patricia. Patricia, enters his first season as a head coach. With a brutal schedule it is hard to see the 2018-19 Detroit Lions finish better than 6-10.

Sometimes, with a new coach teams must take a step back to go forward. I believe this is one of those times.

Detroit Tigers: need to release Victor Martinez

He started his career with a bang and developed into a very good teetering on feared hitters. For all he has accomplished, injuries and father time have caught up with Victor Martinez. The Detroit Tigers, need to release him.

Christian Stewart is having a great season in Toledo with the Mud Hens. In fact Stewart was a Triple-A all star. One problem. Christian should be in Detroit.

Victor Martinez, is a decorated MLB veteran. He has earned the right to finish what is likely his final season. The Detroit Tigers, in a rebuild that demands to know what prospects can bring to the parent team need to make a difficult  decision and cut ties with Martinez.

I am not one to favor cutting a player who struggles or goes through a dry spell during the season. However, when there is a prospect who should be playing in the majors and is stuck behind a veteran who has seen their play drop so far they have been benched. The choice should be easy.

There is no easy way out of this. The Detroit Tigers, seem to be fine with Victor Martinez playing out the season or riding the bench for the rest of the season. Releasing him would not be the way to send him out.

Christian Stewart, who hits for both average and power is stuck in Triple A until a roster spot opens up. I am really not sure what the Tigers front office is thinking on this subject.

With half of the season done. The Tigers have fallen out of playoff contention (not that they were a threat to make the playoffs this season) should make what amounts to the right direction.

Youth and talent over aged and declining talent. Perhaps, Detroit Tigers general manager Al Avila, can ask Martinez if he would like to retire. Players do that from time to time during the season so it is not that far fetched.

The bottom line is it is time to go with youth. It is time to change the old guard to the new. No matter personal investment.

Detroit Pistons: banking on a trainer

Embed from Getty Images How important are athletic trainers to sports teams? They are often overlooked, until injuries both set in, and pile up. The Detroit Pistons having been bit by the injury bug the past few seasons are bringing back a familiar face to help them stay healthy.

Point guard Reggie Jackson has missed 67 games the past two seasons. Power forward Blake Griffin has missed 107 the past four seasons. Health is critical to the life of any team. Without it seasons come crashing down.

Arnie Kander, who was with the Detroit Pistons as head trainer in the mid 1990’s and early 2000’s is returning to the same position after a stint with the Minnesota Timberwolves.

Shortly after being named senior adviser back in May, Ed Stefanski reached out to Kander and asked him to return to the team. That is a good move.

Arnie Kander is a former  ballet dancer. He is known around the NBA for his focus on stretching. He also designed specific workouts for basketball players that is used around the league.

He is a very wanted man in  basketball circles. The fact that Arnie Kander spent 23 years in Detroit, gave the Pistons a leg up on bringing the famous trainer back.

During his time with the Pistons, they were the healthiest team in the NBA. He left the team and the Detroit Pistons became the team with the most injuries in the NBA. So it is not hard to see why they would bring an old friend back into the fold.

With a roster that by all accounts is ready to win now. Arnie Kander may be the most important signing of the offseason. The Pistons are banking on it.

Detroit Lions: the curse of Bobby Layne

From 1950 to 1958 Bobby Layne quarterbacked the Detroit Lions. After he was injured in a game the Lions thought he was through and traded Layne to Pittsburgh upon legend Bobby Layne placed a curse on the Detroit Lions.

‘They (Detroit) will not win for 50 years.” That is what Bobby Layne told a group of reporters when he arrived in Pittsburgh. The Detroit Lions have been well a mess ever since.

Layne, perhaps the greatest quarterback Detroit has ever had. He led the franchise to back to back NFL championships (pre Super Bowl) in 1952 and 1953.

Then like so many other football players who have been injured he was kicked to the curb by Detroit. It is true Bobby Layne never did regain his per- injury playing level. But he went out on a somber note.

Once a decorated athlete in Detroit. His popularity was over the top. His performance on the field made him a legend.

Back to the curse. The bible tells us in Proverbs 18:21 “death and life are in the power of the tongue.” That is a both powerful yet truthful fact. We have the power to speak life to people, things and issues. We also have the ability to speak death to people, things, and issues.

I know some think the curse of Bobby Layne has just been an excuse for the Detroit Lions struggles. I  myself think there could be a real curse. I do not laugh.

That said it have been 60 years since Layne offered his choice words. And the Detroit Lions now seems to have ownership, general manager, and head coach who know how to lead the team past the dark curse years.

Detroit Lions fans hope this is indeed the case.

Detroit Red Wings: a bright future

Embed from Getty Images With a surplus of very good young talent. The 2018 NHL entry draft pushed the Detroit Red Wings and the rebuild forward at a faster pace. This team is going to be outstanding.

 

The Detroit talent pool had some good prospects who were set to push for a roster spot for the upcoming 2018-19 NHL season. But, things changed after the Detroit Red Wings, lead by general manager Ken Holland had a fantastic haul at the draft.

Lead by 2016 first round draft pick Dennis Cholowski and 2017 first round pick Michael Rasmussen added into the mix 2018 first round draftees Filip Zadina and Joe Veleno. The Red Wings now have a must see training camp set up.

Suddenly, prospects who were widely viewed as can not miss. May have a hard time making the cut as more talent has been added to the organization. The competition is sure to be intense.

This is a great situation. The Red Wings who need to be younger, faster and have players who play with a chip on their shoulders. Will get a group of prospects in training camp doing just that.

The ones that are blessed and make the team will rejoice. The hope is the ones that narrowly miss the cut. Well, that they gain a chip on their shoulder. That they will not be happy with being sent to the Grand Rapids Griffins.

Most of all, for the players that do not make the final roster spot. That they will up their game and their play will show their lack of pleasure in the choices the front office and coaching staff made when making final roster cuts.

It is a new dawning of Detroit Red Wings hockey. Lots of young fresh talent. Hockeytown will be great again. Very soon.  Do not count on the playoffs this coming season. But it is okay to expect this Detroit Hockey team to take a big step forward.

Detroit Lions: a voice silenced

31 loyal seasons. He was the voice of Detroit Lions football. Until today when the Detroit Lions radio home WJR informed beloved broadcaster Jim Brandstatter, he was being replaced by former Lions offensive linemen Lomas Brown.

He was as announcers go an icon in the city of Detroit. For 31 NFL seasons that dated pre-Barry Sanders, Jim Brandstatter called the games. Like no other.

Many people would mute the t.v. and listen to “Brandy” call the games. He was that good. It is the radio stations right to bring in whoever they please. Lomas Brown is a very solid choice as he has done work on ESPN.

But for Lions fans Sunday’s will never be the same. Many say Jim Brandstatter is one of the best in the booth. That reaches outside Detroit. No person in Michigan would or could argue.

The news caught many Michiganders off guard. It seems the choice was WJR’s alone. The Detroit Lions, were said to be just as taken back. This is like when the late Mike Ilitch owned the Detroit Tigers, and fired Ernie Harwell.

Detroit Lions fans, can only hope like Mr. Ilitch WJR  realizes they made a mistake in a year or two and bring Brandstatter back.

Will there be push back against the radio station? You can count on it. People who follow sports include the people calling the game as part of the team. Detroit, is no different.

It is a shame of epic proportions. A talent like Jim Brandstatter should not be forced out but choose when they walk away. 31 years is a long time. Perhaps now Jim will be with his family Thanksgiving Day when the Lions play.

But for the fans, city and team it will not be the same.

Star Wars: and the power of costume

Embed from Getty Images Being a lifelong unapologetic Star Wars fan. I took some time and headed to Detroit and visit the power of costume exhibit at the Detroit institute of art.

It was a day trip. But, not just any mind you. Since I was a kid just the excitement of anything Star Wars, was an adrenaline rush greater than any caffeine rush.

Hopped in the SUV and made the three plus hour trek to my favorite city. It did not disappoint! Not for Star Wars, fandom reasons mind you. It did not disappoint because it was a well put together exhibit.

From the Prequel trilogy, up to Episode VII “The Force Awakens.” The Costumes from the original trilogy were simple. It was layered fabrics. Simple and it did not take away from the all important character introduction of Star Wars “A new hope.”

I must say seeing Obi-Wan Kenobi’s Jedi robe from 1977 and Luke Skywalker’s outfit from 1983’s “Return of the Jedi” were great. My personal favorite was the Tusken Raider. The detail was fantastic!

The prequel trilogy, saw much more complex costumes as many characters had been established already. I must say the inner bounty hunter in me loved Jango Fett’s, Mandalorian aromor.

My two favorite exhibit displays (in no certain order) were the evolution of the Stormtroopers. And the Tie pilots. But Darth Vader, stops people in their tracks. His mask from “Revenge of the Sith” is way cool. As is the full Vader costume from “Return of the Jedi.’

Also, seeing C3PO, R2D2, and BB8 is all their glory was a fun moment. A lot of people seemed to enjoy the droids.

It is a fantastic event. It is well worth the drive. Not to mention Detroit’s Greek food is out of this world. It has a great family feel. The rest of the art museum is well worth checking out before or after depending the tour time.

Take time and go to that galaxy far, far away.

Detroit Red Wings: fans need to chill out

Yes, it is true the Detroit Red Wings, had a tremendous 2018 NHL draft. Yes, it is also true that last week Wings general manager Ken Holland, signed 3 veteran free agents. Yes, predictably Detroit Red Wings, fans are freaking out.

Detroit Red Wings, fans are angry. Filip Zadina, Joe Veleno should be slam dunks to make the rebuilding Detroit, hockey team. While Evgeny Svechnikov should also be given a good long look during 2018 training camp.

Ken Holland, says they will be given every opportunity to win a roster spot. Red Wings fans don’t think he is being honest. I however do. Fact is the Detroit Red Wings, added a goalie, a forward and resigned their own defensmen.

Fans in Hockeytown, need to relax. Ken Holland surly knows that his team must get younger, faster and play with more snarl. He also understands the Detroit, defense needs a face lift. A major overhaul.

It can not be stressed enough that this organization is in the early stages of a total rebuild. It would be incredibly stupid to ice a team of young player with no veterans to help them.

I believe in the end Detroit will have 1-2 offensive rookie and 1-2 defensive rookies on the roster after they break training camp. With an eye on the future and not the now.

Red Wings nation, should hop on this way of thinking. Fans second guess. What else is new? They have been doing it longer than I have been alive and will continue long after I am in the after life.

As a microwave society, we want things right now. But as I grew up I found the best things come in time. With the right seasoning. That is what Ken Holland understands. I understand his thinking.

Let the process take root. It will not be much longer.

Detroit Lions: player to watch, Kenny Golladay

Embed from Getty Images The Detroit Lions, have a wide receiver problem. They have a bunch of good ones. So maybe problem is a good thing as it creates competition and forces already good players to ramp it up a notch.

Kenny Golladay, is electrifying. He is the fastest of the Detroit Lions, wide receivers. Kenny, had what may would call a typical rookie NFL season. Looked great one week. Looked not so great the next week.

There is no reason for concern. The former Northern Illinois Husky, star is my Detroit Lions player to watch in 2018-19. Not too mention he has all the tools to be a great player.

The Detroit Lions, have Golden Tate and Marvin Jones jr,  who are very good receivers. Detroit, has missed and lacked that big threat downfield when Calvin Johnson retired.

Kenny Golladay, can do that. He can be Calvin Johnson-like. He is 6′ 4″ runs the 40 in 4.50. Once he finds consistency Golladay, is set for take off. Adding to the weapons quarterback Matthew Stafford, and the Lions have on offense.

Kenny Golladay, can be the guy to take his game and the Lions, offense to the next level. As he becomes more and more reliable the Detroit offense will open up even more. Golladay’s game will open spots for the other receivers and tight ends. Not to mention open running lanes for running backs.

It is not all up to one player. But, if certain players step it up the team or unit of a team becomes better balanced. That will happen as Golladay, matures into the player NFL experts say he will be.

I believe Kenny Golladay will take that next step this coming season. And Lions, fans will enjoy watching his growth as will Kenny’s teammates.