A group of us went to Joe Louis Arena last night to see the Detroit Red Wings beat St Louis, 3-2 in an enjoyable night of hockey viewing.
Now, if you know me at all, or listen to me over the years, you know my feelings about the Detroit Red Wings, their fans, their pompous title of “hockeytown” and so on. This was my first visit to the hockey experience in Detroit, and here is my report:
It was very impressive. I have to admit it. It might be hockeytown, after all. The arena is the way an arena is supposed to be: Intimate and alive. The people are all on top of the ice, because every seat is in close proximity of the action. It is not too big because they have to have 1,000 luxury suites which may make more money, but in doing so (AAC) they zap any and all atmosphere from the setting.
You could fit the “Joe” inside the AAC, and I am convinced that if you want to know why the Stars atmosphere is lacking most nights, I blame the suites. At Reunion, everything was far more compact and close, but progress is for the worse in stadium design. Funny thing is this: We were told we need the suites for new revenue streams that can help keep the payrolls high. But, here are the Red Wings, with minimal suites at the very top of the arena, who have had the league’s highest payroll for years and years.
Are the fans more knowledgeable about hockey? I suppose they likely are given that they have been absorbing the sport their entire lives. But, the cool elements of the game were that they let hockey to the talking. No painfully stupid bits. Just good hockey music (AC/DC, Metallica, etc) and good hockey. The rest takes care of itself.
Anyway, I am willing to admit that my Red Wings hate all of these years was based almost entirely in jealousy. I still hope the team loses, but I would sure like to steal some of that hockey atmosphere for our use in North Texas.
Detroit Paper checks in with Derian Hatcher …
Hatcher: It was anticipated that Hatcher would be hindered by the new rules in the league, favoring quickness and speed. Hatcher's lumbering style was thought to be outdated.
But he's logging a ton of minutes for the Flyers and he's still a physical presence. He recently was appointed acting captain of the team, and he also was named to the U.S. Olympic team.
Hatcher (four goals and 11 assists in 48 games) met with former Flyers captain Keith Primeau (concussion), Flyers GM Bob Clarke and coach Ken Hitchcock on Sunday, with the Flyers in the midst of a slump.
It was decided Hatcher needed to take a larger role.
"It's something that (Hitchcock) and some of the players felt that, with some of what's been going on, that there needed to be a captain, a voice in the room that represents the team," Hatcher said.
Hatcher's season with the Wings (2002-03) was practically a washout because of knee ligament surgery.
"I hadn't played hockey in two years," Hatcher said. "But with the new rules, it definitely took me a little time. The referees now are doing a lot better job They're letting some of the stuff go."
Stars beat Nashville, win again …
Thirteen days ago, the Stars were mired in a three-game losing streak and wondering how they might handle one of their toughest stretches of the season.
Today, they are sitting on their longest winning streak of the year (six games) and nipping at the heels of Detroit for first place in the Western Conference.
Dallas outlasted the Nashville Predators on Wednesday at American Airlines Center, 2-1, to end a stretch of six games in 10 days by depositing 12 points in the standings. The Stars moved to 36-15-2 (74 points) and stayed within one point of the Red Wings, who rallied to defeat St. Louis. Nashville, meanwhile, slipped to 31-15-6 (68 points) and fell seven points behind Detroit.
Tense time for injured Predator …
American Airlines Center was hushed during the second period of Wednesday's game when Nashville center Scot Nichol lay motionless on the ice for almost 10 minutes after sliding into the end boards neck first.
Nichol was transported from the ice via stretcher and taken to the hospital, but he had feeling in all of his extremities, according to Nashville officials. Nichol suffered a concussion, but a CAT scan showed no further damage. He stayed overnight in the hospital and was scheduled to return to Nashville today.
Nichol and Stars defenseman Trevor Daley got tangled up as the two were going to the net while fighting for position. Daley got a stick on Nichol and Nichol lost his balance, sliding into the boards. Daley was assessed a five-minute major and a game misconduct for boarding.
"I got a chance to get over and see him, and I think he'll be all right," Daley said. "He was talking and moving, and that's the only worry I have right now, making sure he's healthy."
The Mavericks win again …They are really, really good…
Wherever you start, you know where it ended. The Mavericks haven't lost a game in three weeks as they continue to vie with San Antonio for the best record in the Western Conference.
This was arguably the most gratifying win in the streak. The Mavericks were down by nine points with just more than five minutes left and had nothing working offensively. Terry, who was 2-of-13 from the field in Tuesday night's win over Chicago, missed six of his first nine shots Wednesday.
It didn't matter. Terry scored nine points in a little more than three minutes. His 3-point jumper with 1:54 left tied the score, 77-77.
Terry didn't come to the Mavericks with the reputation as a clutch player because, in the words of coach Avery Johnson, "he had no reputation in Atlanta."
Terry's building one now. A player who hit just three shots in the first 42 minutes made five in the final 5:12.
Remember when everyone wanted Steven Hunter? Well the winners were Philadelphia and they just traded him …
Steven Hunter, a 5-year contract worth a little more than $16.5 million notwithstanding, was never as advertised. He could run and jump, but he couldn't rebound the way the 76ers had hoped. He could block shots, but he couldn't rotate effectively in their defensive schemes. In the end, he couldn't stay.
He was a mistake, but in terms of NBA money, not a terribly expensive one. Sixers president/general manager Billy King cleaned up the error yesterday, sending the 7-foot Hunter and cash considerations to the New Orleans/Oklahoma City Hornets for second-round draft choices in 2006 and '07, at the same time creating a $2.85 million trade exception because he did not take back a player in the deal.
One of our discussions last night at the Red Wings game was that I swore that Isiah’s miracle playoff performance of his early career was at Joe Louis Arena. But, no one working at the arena knew that the Pistons had ever played there, so I began to second guess myself. But, I went back to the room and googled it, and evidently, the Pistons played a grand total of 16 games at the Joe. Here is a story I found …
Entering the building for the first time in over 20 years, Detroit Shock head coach Bill Laimbeer couldn't help but reminisce about the last time he was in the confines of Joe Louis Arena.
The day was April 27, 1984, when Laimbeer played for the Pistons and was a part of one of the great games in playoff history against the New York Knicks.
Despite 16 points in the final 90 seconds of regulation from Isiah Thomas, the Pistons fell to the Knicks 127-123 in overtime to lose the fifth and deciding game of a first-round playoff series. The game had to be moved to Joe Louis Arena because the roof had been blown apart at the Silverdome, which was then the Pistons' home court.
Before conducting his team's practice Thursday, Laimbeer couldn't help but banter back and forth with Pistons vice president of public relations Matt Dobek about that ominous day in Pistons playoff history.
"It was like 90 degrees in here that day," Laimbeer said. "It was hot and it was April."
Big Ben likes to party, too …
Shaun Alexander hits the jackpot …
How many teams will bid for Alexander if he hits the open market?
It's hard to say. But the Minnesota Vikings have a new owner and salary cap money to burn ($18 million under). So do the Arizona Cardinals ($25 million under), who will be moving into a new stadium next year. And the Cleveland Browns ($24 million under) could be a player, too.
It's conceivable that a team like the Philadelphia Eagles or Dallas Cowboys, possibly one impact player away from Super Bowl status, could enter the fray.
Either way, Alexander stands to be a very rich man and the only question is whether the Seahawks will be the ones paying the tab.
Yao Ming loses his popularity in China to T-Mac!…
It is a mystery worth exploring: Yao Ming, the best-known athlete from a country of 1.3 billion people and the top vote-getter among N.B.A. All-Stars, is the name on the back of the third best-selling jersey in China.
It sounds like an extraordinary reversal of conventional wisdom. Yao was regarded as a phenomenon, an athletic symbol of China's rise as a world power, an unstoppable force of marketing in China and a basketball bridge to the United States.
What, then, does it mean that Yao ranks third in Chinese jersey sales behind Tracy McGrady, his Houston teammate, and Allen Iverson, in figures compiled from the start of the season through Dec. 31?
Not to disparage McGrady and Iverson, but they are not Chinese, nor do they stand 90 inches high. So does their ascending appeal in China mean that Yao has lost his power to wow? Is he surrendering his cachet to the littler men?
Gabe’s road to recovery …
BOSTON (AP) -- Outfielder Gabe Kapler, who ruptured his left Achilles' tendon less than five months ago, was among 20 non-roster players invited to spring training by the Boston Red Sox.
Kapler wasn't expected to be ready to play at the start of spring training after getting hurt in Toronto on Sept. 14. In 36 games last season with Boston, he hit .247 with one homer and nine RBIs.
He first joined the Red Sox in 2003 and was part of their 2004 World Series championship team before starting last season with the Yomiuri Giants in Japan's Central League. He re-signed with Boston on July 15.
Fun with Knitting …
A Classic from the files: Ali G and the Beckhams …
Good strong hockey fight …
I have been asked quite a bit recently where I stole Updog from, The Office on NBC …introduced me to the fun game…
Officer Judy Hoffs and me, yesterday.