The Detroit Red Wings need Jakub Vrana to be better on defense

Last season saw Detroit Red Wings left wings (LW) Jakub Vrana score 13 goals, 6 assists 19 points in just 26 games played. Vrana was coming off of shoulder surgery which lead to the forward missing most of the season. Offense has never been an issue for Vrana, defense that is another story entirely. A couple days into training camp the Red Wings are asking Vrana to be more attentive when the other team has the puck.

MONTREAL, QUEBEC – JULY 07: Head coach Derek Lalonde of the Detroit Red Wings during Round One of the 2022 Upper Deck NHL Draft at Bell Centre on July 07, 2022 in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. (Photo by Bruce Bennett/Getty Images)

Detroit Red Wings head coach, Derek Lalonde said he met with Jakub Vrana and explained that he knew Vrana was a gifted goal scorer in order to take the next step in his development Lalonde challenged Vrana to become a complete hockey player.

When the Detroit Red Wings hit the ice on the first day of training camp it was Lalonde who skated with Vrana and showed him where he needs to be and what is expected from him when the Red Wings do not have the puck.

DETROIT, MI – MARCH 30: Jakub Vrana (15) of the Detroit Red Wings shoots the puck against the New York Rangers during the second period of an NHL game at Little Caesars Arena on March 30, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan. The Rangers defeated Detroit 5-4 in O.T. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

It is up to Jakub Vrana to take the next step. two-way players are common place in the NHL. They add more value to the team and the the player. The Red Wings do not need Vrana to play at a high level on defense, they need him to be responsible and a trust worth teammate.

When the Columbus Blue Jackets traded for Patrik Laine, Laine was a bit of a train-wreck in the defensive end. The Blue Jackets began to explain that he could be a great goal scorer and dependable on defense. Laine did the things the team asked and is now more dependable on defense.

So the team, head coach can ask, explain, show, but it is up to the player to either grasp ahold of what is being asked or not. Preseason will be a good gauge for Vrana, if he enjoys the ice time and would like to keep or increase playing minutes he will take the advise and begin to show defensively.

Star Wars is for everyone

I have a secret. It is not a popular secret or one that people will agree with me on. My secret is by no means meant to divide, disrupt, or anger anyone, after all my secret is well mine. So what is this secret? It is this, I like Star Wars. Not just the original trilogy, or the Christmas Special, or cartoons or streaming shows, or stand alone films for that matter. I like Star Wars, all of it. I have no fear and zero reservations about saying that.

ORLANDO, FL – APRIL 14: New poster revealed Star Wars The Last Jedi at the Star Wars Celebration day 02 on April 14, 2017 in Orlando, Florida. (Photo by Gustavo Caballero/Getty Images)

Before reading ahead or leaving, know that I am not trying to offend anyone or change anyone’s mind. Opinions are all valid! There is a perception both inside the Star Wars fan base and outside that the entire fan base is toxic. I do not subscribe to this notion.

I grew up on Star Wars, having seen the original trilogy in it’s first run in theaters. Yes, Han shot first! Yet, there are fans wanting to move away from the George Lucas Star Wars content, or forgetting the JJ Abrams prequel trilogy all together. There are fans who would rather just the streaming material being produced now, and those who do not like the streaming content.

Somewhere we lost the ability to agree to disagree. Fans think the only opinion that matters is their own. If the fan base can unite and have solid conversations it would be more soothing and productive.

Sotheby’s gallery assistant Anna Tisi holds up the ‘Return of the Jedi’, a promotional C-3PO helmet from 1983, next to ‘The Empire Strikes Back’ poster ahead of the Star Wars collectibles online-only sale at the London auction house. (Photo by Luciana Guerra/PA Images via Getty Images)

Believe it or not it is alright and healthy to engage in conversation. I embrace everything that Star Wars has to offer in large part because it was what I grew up on. Let’s start there.

By all means drop a comment and let’s start having conversations about Star Wars. Again, every opinion is valid. What are your likes and dislikes? Do you like where the franchise is headed? Let’s talk.

Andor shows Disney not ready to move on from the Skywalker arc

Either there is a serious creative void or Disney/Lucasfilm just is not ready to let go of the Skywalker Star Wars story line. September 21, 2022 Andor will be released on Disney Plus. Cassian Andor from Rogue One, A Star Wars Story. The movie was solid and worked because there was no known movement out of the Skywalker timeframe of Star Wars at the time. The fans would like to move on, Disney seems to be stuck.

ANAHEIM, CALIFORNIA – MAY 28: (L-R) Natasha Liu Bordizzo, Rosario Dawson, Rick Famuyiwa, Katee Sackhoff, Temuera Morrison, Carl Weathers, Emily Swallow, Giancarlo Esposito, Brendan Wayne, Lateef Crowder, Pedro Pascal, Dave Filoni, Jon Favreau, and Ash Crossan attend the panel for “The Mandalorian” series at Star Wars Celebration in Anaheim, California on May 28, 2022. (Photo by Jesse Grant/Getty Images for Disney)

Of the upcoming Star Wars streaming shows only Skeleton Crew (2023) and The Acolyte (2023) take place outside of the Skywalker arc. While The Bad Batch (season 2, September 28,2022) Ahsoka (2023), Lando (no date) and The Mandalorian Season 3 (February 2023) all take place in the Skywalker timeframe as did The Book of Boba Fett and Kenobi.

After the less than positive reactions to Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, fans wanted and still want to crack open the Star Wars galaxy and see what else is there. Disney is not willing to depart, at least not yet.

This is a problem. Disney/Lucasfilm has stated they hear the fans and want to give them what they are asking for. Yet it does not happen. For Disney to escape past mistakes it needs to move forward not stay in the same place that has caused division in the fan base.

My hope is that the company is working on a way to move forward. One that would please fans while making it interesting heading in a new direction. Star Wars offers many novels and graphic novels that have been widely successful that are out side the safe boundaries of Skywalker.

A man wearing a costume of the StarWars protagonist Din Djarin poses onboard a giant replica of the Razor Crest, a a gunship from the StarWars spinoff series “The Mandalorian” used by the hit TV show’s mysterious bounty hunter to roam the galaxy’s outer reaches, in a park of the eastern Siberian city of Yakutsk on March 14, 2021. (Photo by Evgeniy SOFRONEYEV / AFP) (Photo by EVGENIY SOFRONEYEV/AFP via Getty Images)

Disney/Lucasfilm has the resources to bring in people who can steer the franchise in a new fresh direction. This is my hope. To be honest the only two shows that I have enjoyed so far are The Bad Batch and The Mandalorian. The others have been blah.

So Disney/Lucasfilm please make some new content soon. The fans are asking.

How to maintain mental health when dealing with chronic pain

My good days allow me to do day to day tasks. On my bad days even the most menial task is very daunting. Psoriatic Arthritis is the disease that dwells inside of me and it is an interesting journey to say the least. Yet, even on my bad days I stay mentally strong, I understand I am not wasting my day sitting on my couch, I am recovering which is not as easy as it sounds. There is a lesson I have learned recently that I feel can help those of us facing obstacles that I would like to share.

Ripe juicy cherries in a plate in the form of a heart in women’s hands on a white background for restaurants and menus. Healthy and natural food

The fruit or the root? A little background from the Bible is needed for this. In the Book of Genesis the serpent (Satan) tempted Eve with fruit saying “Did God really say, ‘You must not eat from any tree in the garden’?” Which they could eat fruit just not from one in the middle of the garden. Satan keys in on this and says “You will not die.”

So here it is, Satan wants to temp with the fruit. It is harmless (according to the devil) because he knows it takes our focus away from God and our source of healing and goodness. It brings our focus on trying something we should not.

Jesus is the root. “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.” Colossians 2:6-7.

When the storms of life hit, and they do and will and Satan shows up and he will to offer fruit, will you focus on that? Or will you look at the root? I choose the root over the fruit.

My healing is not in fruit, It just isn’t. The fruit I speak of is the medication I take. It has taken three different medicines to find one that can band-aid me so the constant pain is a bit more bearable.

I am focused on the root. “The Lord sustains him on his sickbed; in his illness you restore him to full health.” Psalm 41:3, is it easy to block out the fruit? Not always, it takes practice.

What is the fruit you are focused on today? Is it sadness, pain, realizing you caused turmoil in your household and are dealing with the aftermath, is it something else? Stop looking at the fruit and start looking at the root.

Drop a comment and let me know what you are dealing with. Together we can overcome!

For the 2022 Detroit Lions the defense will tell the story

In Motown, the offense has the weapons to be a very solid group. The issue that could very well hold the Detroit Lions back is the defense. I will be the first to say when GM Brad Holmes took over, the Lions roster was in shambles. Two drafts is simply not enough to fix the many issues. During training camp it is easy to see which group has improved and which group is still very much a work in progress.

The Detroit Lions actually look like they have a pass rush! Having largely been absent in recent years. The addition of Aidan Hutchinson and the improvement of Alim McNeill and others this camp have been a welcomed sight. When not getting to the quarterback the Lions defensive line has been in the backfield causing trouble.

ALLEN PARK, MI – AUGUST 08: Detroit Lions safety Kerby Joseph (31) participates in pass coverage drills during the Detroit Lions Training Camp afternoon practice session on August 8, 2022 at the the Detroit Lions Training Facility in Allen Park, Michigan. (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

The secondary has performed so-so but look like they could round out to be a nice group. I’d like to talk about safety Kerby Joseph for just a moment. Drafted in the third round this year, Joseph has looked very good. While he has misread a couple plays his speed allowed him time to recover. But the ball just finds Joseph, he is a player to watch for sure.

Other than rookie Malcom Rodriguez, the Detroit Lions linebackers have been a bit of a train wreck. This unit is serious cause for concern. Rodriguez (drafted in the 6th round) has outperformed veterans by a long way. He hits his gaps, reads the run very well and drops back in pass coverage. The other linebackers struggle to do what a 6th round draft pick is doing.

WESTFIELD, INDIANA – AUGUST 18: Aidan Hutchinson #97 of the Detroit Lions warms up during the joint practice with the Indianapolis Colts at Grand Park on August 18, 2022 in Westfield, Indiana. (Photo by Justin Casterline/Getty Images)

The Detroit Lions will score this year, as I said the offense is loaded. The team will have more sacks than they have at any time in recent seasons. But the linebackers could cause a lot of heartache if they can not pick it up.

As I mentioned, Brad Holmes took over a really bad roster and he is still working on building his roster. He has a done a masterful job at adding talent, but two drafts is just not enough time.

Let me know your thoughts on the Detroit Lions defense. Drop a comment and air it all out.

The Detroit Lions are hoping less is more for Amon-Ra St. Brown

90 catches, 900 yards, 5 touchdowns averaging 10.13 yards per catch, not bad for a rookie wide receiver drafted in the 4th round. Amon-Ra St. Brown did not burst onto the scene. St. Brown went out week by week and got better and better as the season moved along. So what will the second year WR do for an encore? The Detroit Lions hope he does less that will equate to more. Confused? Let’s see if we can clear that up a bit.

DETROIT, MI – OCTOBER 17: Detroit Lions wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown (14) makes a fingertip catch for a first down during the game between the Detroit Lions and the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday October 17, 2021 at Ford Field in Detroit, MI. (Photo by Steven King/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

Last season the Detroit Lions were decimated by injuries. Amon-Ran St. Brown was drafted as a slot receiver out of USC. Because of injuries, Brown was forced to play as the WR1. In other words, the top dog of the wide receivers.

Low and behold, not only did St. Brown fill in admirably but he became quarterback Jared Goff’s go to receiver, as a rookie. Now entering his second NFL season the Lions wide receiver room is solid. Free agent signee DJ Chark, week 11 pick up Josh Reynolds, first round draft pick Jamison Williams and others give the Lions offense more weapons.

Amon-Ra St. Brown, has been tasked by the Detroit Lions coaching staff to work on getting more yards after catch (YAC.) St. Brown has taken the request to heart. In training camp it does not matter how long the pass is, St. Brown is running all the way to the end zone.

With the improved receiver’s, St. Brown’s catches  are certain to come down. 90 is a lot for any wide receiver, yet if St. Brown does improve in YAC, his yards should not drop all that much. This is the thought process anyway.

DETROIT, MICHIGAN – DECEMBER 05: Amon-Ra St. Brown #14 of the Detroit Lions makes a catch and runs for the first down during the fourth quarter against the Minnesota Vikings at Ford Field on December 05, 2021 in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Rey Del Rio/Getty Images)

Provided the Lions wide receivers do not have another rash of injuries, St. Brown can stay at the slot position where he is more dangerous. With speedy receivers on the outside that should open the middle of the field for St. Brown when his number is called.

So in this case less = more (if St. Brown improves in the YAC) this will help the Lions offense and the unit should see a marked improvement.

Drop a comment and let me know your thoughts on Amon-Ra St. Brown.

The Detroit Tigers rebuild has failed, where does the team go now

Averaging 66.4 wins per year since he took over as general manger, has Al Avila on the hot seat. Detroit Tigers fans have taken their social media #FireAvila posts and turned it into an actual event. The fans held a fire Avila night at Comerica Park. So what has happened? Why has the Tigers rebuild failed? That is a lot to unpack. Let’s get started.

DETROIT, MI – AUGUST 4: Al Avila makes a point during a news conference at Comerica Park after he was promoted to executive vice president of baseball operations and general manager on August 4, 2015 in Detroit, Michigan. Avila replaces Dave Dombrowski who was the Tigers’ general manager since 2002. (Photo by Duane Burleson/Getty Images)

To say that Al Avila has made some questionable trades is being kind. Remember when former pitching ace Justin Verlander was traded to the Huston Astros? The return for the future Hall of Fame pitcher was Franklin Perez, Daz Cameron and Jake Rogers. None of those players are regulars on the Tigers roster. Former Tigers slugger J. D. Martinez was shipped to the Arizona Dimandbacks for  Dawel Lugo, Jose King and Sergio Alcantara none of whom area still in the Tigers system.

Do not get me wrong, Avila has made other trades just as lackluster as those. It gets worse. The Tigers have really faired no better drafting players, at least impactful players. Avila’s first round draft picks have been a mixed bag and not in a good way.

The Detroit Tigers rebuild was said to be over and it was time to add players and climb the standings. The Tigers have the second worst record in MLB and sit dead last in the AL Central. The team has been a disaster, the errors and players underperforming  nightly has lead to a near empty ballpark.

DETROIT, MI – APRIL 19: Detroit Red Wings Governor, President, and CEO Christopher Illitch addresses members of the media during a press conference to introduce Steve Yzerman as the new Executive Vice President and General Manager responsible for all hockey operations and to announce the promotion of Ken Holland to Senior Vice President on April 19, 2019, at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Michigan. (Photo by Scott W. Grau/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)

So where does the team go? First and foremost the ball is in Detroit Tigers owner Christopher Illitch’s corner. He holds Al Avila’s fate. Should he choose to go in a different direction, then perhaps he should allow manager AJ Hinch to help with any GM search.

Hinch is very bright baseball man and would be helpful bringing in a GM who could right the ship. Illitch needs to take a good long look and see that it simply is not working. The Illitch owned Detroit Red Wings are trending up in their rebuild, as are the Lions and Pistons while the Tigers have never really gotten off the ground.

I suspect no move will be made until the season concludes. Tiger fans let me hear your thoughts on this. Leave a comment and let it all out.

 

Could the Columbus Blue Jackets trade for Jakob Chychrun

Now that both the NHL draft and free agency have past and NHL training camps are just weeks away from getting underway, it is time to check in on past trade talks. Right around the draft the Arizona Coyotes and Columbus Blue Jackets were talking about a trade that centered around Coyotes defensemen Jakob Chychrun. No trade was made but that does not mean that the teams ended the talks entirely.

DETROIT, MI – MARCH 08: Jakob Chychrun (6) of the Arizona Coyotes controls the puck against the Detroit Red Wings during the third period of an NHL game at Little Caesars Arena on March 8, 2022 in Detroit, Michigan. Arizona defeated Detroit 9-2. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

The Blue Jackets are a young up and coming team and the Coyotes have been in rebuild mode for a while. Columbus has a surplus of forwards and the Coyotes need forwards. The Coyotes have defensive talent and the Blue Jackets need more help on defense. Making this a plausible possibility.

If a trade were made, The Blue Jackets would get an instant upgrade for the blue line. A top pairing of Zach Werenski and Chychrun would help the rest of the roster out as Andrew Peeke would have to slide to the second line so the Blue Jackets depth would be better.

Jakub Chychrun signed a 6 year $27,600,000 contract in 2018. The Blue Jackets who had to trade Oliver Bjorkstrand in order to get Patrik Laine’s new extension under the cap would need to send a player or players to Arizona of at least equal value in order to be under the cap if they trade for Chychrun.

COLUMBUS, OH – SEPTEMBER 22: Liam Foudy #19 of the Columbus Blue Jackets poses for his official headshot for the 2021-2022 season on September 22, 2021 at Nationwide Arena in Columbus, Ohio. (Photo by Ben Jackson/NHLI via Getty Images)

With the trade of Bjorkstrand the word is Columbus is going to give Krill Marchenko a long look in training camp. Still the Blue Jackets could offer a package something along the lines of Gustav Nyquist and former first round draft pick Liam Foudy. Again that is just an example.

Chychrun is a very good defensive player and the asking price would be a lot as it should be. Again the Blue Jackets have a surplus of forwards and certainly have enough to offer the Coyotes.

I am not saying this is going to happen, but it is worth keeping and eye on as it is pre training camp trade season.

Mental Health and addiction

We need to address the elephant in the room. A subject that is kept in the dark. That needs to end, mental health and addiction. This past week former Detroit Red Wing and NHL player Bobby Ryan was arrested and jailed in a Nashville airport for public intoxication. Ryan has been very open about his struggle with addiction. He stated that multiple concussions have played a part in his mental health instability leading to addiction. In the past this would be viewed as a crutch or excuse to drink. That is simply not the case, there is evidence to support what Bobby Ryan has said.

TRAVERSE CITY, MI – SEPTEMBER 22: Bobby Ryan #54 of the Detroit Red Wings poses for his official headshot for the 2021-2022 season at Center Ice Arena on September 22, 2021 in Traverse City, Michigan. (Photo by Dave Reginek/NHLI via Getty Images)

What if I told you 1 in 5 people have mental illness? What if I told you that number moves to 1 in 2 when people reach their 40’s? Again, what if I told you that men dealing with mental health issues are more likely to abuse substances, while women are more likely to have major mood swings?

Now here is something to think about, mental health is the leading cause of disability. People dealing with mental health concerns are more likely to die 10-20 years before the life expectancy.

Bobby Ryan, was a very good hockey player. That does not matter. Ryan is in a daily battle with his mental health and a public fight with addiction. That is what matters, or should matter. No more, “he’s an idiot,” or “what a loser he threw it all away for the bottle.”

Mental health matters! This is the leading cause of addiction. Any brain trauma can trigger addiction. Did you catch that? ANY BRAIN TRAUMA CAN TRIGGER ADDICTION! When do we start looking at a person who is fighting something they probably do not wish to be fighting with sympathy?

I for one applaud Bobby Ryan and other public figures who have taken a public stand and been transparent in their battle with mental health and addiction. Not because they are public figures, but they have a platform others do not and are using their status in a positive way to help others, and are tearing down stigmas.

A person addicted to digital social media or technology.

We need to get to a point where talking about mental health is not taboo or quickly silenced. This would lead to less suicides and it would help the individual get the help she or he needs.

Next time you see a homeless person or a person who has an addiction, I hope you look on them with sympathy and perhaps engage them, you could be the lifeline they need.

What do the Columbus Blue Jackets have in Krill Marchenko?

After the whirlwind that was the Columbus Blue Jackets offseason activity that saw Johnny Gaudreau sign as a free agent and star winger Patrik Laine signing a 4-year extension the team said goodbye to Oliver Bjorkstrand in order to fit Laine’s deal under the salary cap. I mentioned last week that by trading Bjorkstrand it opens the door for Krill Marchenko if he has a strong training camp. So what exactly do the Blue Jackets have in Marchenko? A lot of good, let’s take a look.

DALLAS, TX – JUNE 23: Kirill Marchenko poses after being selected 49th overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets during the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center on June 23, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

Marchenko is currently ranked the Columbus Blue Jackets #5 prospect. One year ago he was the top prospect but then Kent Johnson, Cole Sillinger were drafted and Corson Ceulemans had a massive season at the University of Wisconsin and Yegor Chinakhov got better in Columbus as the season moved along. So Marchenko did not take a step back the Blue Jackets organization got better as a whole.

As for Krill Marchenko, there is a lot to like about his game and what he is able to bring to the ice. Marchenko is strong and sturdy with outstanding hands. He is not a playmaker like a Gaudreau but he is a goal scorer, much like the one the team just traded away (Bjorkstrand.)

DALLAS, TX – JUNE 23: Kirill Marchenko poses after being selected 49th overall by the Columbus Blue Jackets during the 2018 NHL Draft at American Airlines Center on June 23, 2018 in Dallas, Texas. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

While Marchenko is 6′ 3″ he does not always use his body to his advantage. Being effective in the corners and willing to jump in are positives. Marchenko is a work in progress defensively and he has worked hard to clean up.

The necessary evil that was the Oliver Bjorkstrand trade has opened the door for Marchenko who at the same point of their careers is a bit more polished that Bjorstrand was.

One aspect of his game is that Krill Marchenko can play left and right wing. Marchenko has top end skill to be a top six player in the NHL. So again, if he comes to Columbus and has a solid training camp he should break camp with the Blue Jackets.

Let me know your thoughts on Krill Marchenko.