And I Quote…

 

“This is the situation here — we have too many right wingers. We’re not giving (Tootoo) a fair opportunity. He’s done nothing wrong. He’s played hard, he’s been a good teammate. All those things. We’ll see what happens. If Toots can get himself a place to play, that he gets to play every night, that’d be fantastic. And good for him.”

—Mike Babcock on the waiving of RW Jordin Tootoo

Red Wings Waive Jordin Tootoo, Free Up $925K in Cap Space

Tootoo

Ever since the NHL turned to a hard salary cap after the lockout ended in 2005, there hasn’t been a place on the Red Wings roster for an agitator or goon-like guy for very long.

They’ve come and gone, usually in short order. Guys like Aaron Downey, Brad May and Darren McCarty all did their time, but none of them stayed on the roster all that long.

GM Kenny Holland has come under some fire for not having someone who can, as coach Mike Babcock has said, “keep the flies away.”

But it’s also a misnomer to say that the Red Wings have truly needed that type of player on the roster. They did win their last Stanley Cup with Downey playing over 60 games, and didn’t win the following year with Downey gone, but those are coincidences.

Holland has—rightly—determined that roster spots these days are precious, and can only be doled out to players who bring multiple things to the table.

Which is why RW Jordin Tootoo has been placed on waivers.

Tootoo’s shelf life with the Red Wings, in his role as spunky, undersized agitator (think Dennis Polonich), has run out pretty much on schedule. Tootoo was signed by the Red Wings in the summer of 2012.

Some pro-Tootoo people are blaming the awkward signing of Danny Cleary late in the summer as the reason why Tootoo has been squeezed out. That may be so, but it should also be plain that Cleary is a better overall player than Tootoo.

Justin Abdelkader is every bit the agitator that Tootoo is, and Abdelkader is stronger, bigger and can score. And don’t forget Niklas Kronwall’s penchant for making momentum-changing hits in open ice.

Tootoo would drop the gloves against anyone, big or small, and that is to be commended. There wasn’t an ounce of fear or cowardice in his short body.

But Tootoo lacked hands, was never going to be anything more than a fourth-line player, wasn’t all that great of a skater and his ice time reflected that.

If Tootoo is claimed, the claiming team picks up his $925,000 salary, which is also the dollar amount that the Red Wings will clear in cap space. Tootoo will be assigned to Grand Rapids if no NHL team claims him. In either case, the Red Wings free up the $925K in cap space.

According to Helene St, James in the Free Press, the Red Wings have been trying to trade Tootoo but haven’t gotten even an offer of a draft pick in return.

Atlantic Division Standings, Red Wings Stats as of Wednesday A.M., 11-6-13

Eastern Conference GP W L OL PTS GF GA
Atlantic Division
Toronto Maple Leafs 15 10 5 0 20 48 36
Tampa Bay Lightning 14 10 4 0 20 47 35
Detroit Red Wings 16 9 5 2 20 40 41
Montreal Canadiens 16 8 7 1 17 43 34
Boston Bruins 14 8 5 1 17 38 28
Ottawa Senators 15 5 6 4 14 46 48
Florida Panthers 15 3 8 4 10 31 53
Buffalo Sabres 17 3 13 1 7 31 53

RED WINGS STATS (thru 16 games)

Player Pos GP G A PTS +/- PIM
Pavel Datsyuk C 16 6 10 16 8 4
Henrik Zetterberg LW 16 8 7 15 8 4
Daniel Alfredsson RW 16 3 10 13 2 6
Niklas Kronwall D 14 1 9 10 9 14
Todd Bertuzzi RW 16 4 3 7 0 10
Joakim Andersson C 16 3 3 6 -4 2
Justin Abdelkader LW 16 2 4 6 1 2
Johan Franzen C 13 2 3 5 -2 8
Danny DeKeyser D 16 1 4 5 5 10
Jakub Kindl D 16 1 4 5 -2 6
Tomas Tatar LW 8 2 1 3 2 0
Stephen Weiss C 16 2 1 3 -3 6
Dan Cleary RW 16 1 2 3 1 4
Jonathan Ericsson D 9 1 2 3 4 8
Kyle Quincey D 16 0 3 3 -8 12
Drew Miller LW 16 1 1 2 -6 7
Darren Helm C 2 1 0 1 0 0
Mikael Samuelsson RW 5 1 0 1 0 2
Cory Emmerton C 4 0 1 1 0 2
Brian Lashoff D 12 0 1 1 0 10
Brendan Smith D 11 0 1 1 -7 19
Adam Almqvist D 1 0 0 0 -2 0
Patrick Eaves RW 2 0 0 0 -2 0
Luke Glendening C 6 0 0 0 -2 2
Jonas Gustavsson G 4 0 0 0 0
Jimmy Howard G 12 0 0 0 0
Petr Mrazek G 1 0 0 0 0
Xavier Ouellet D 1 0 0 0 0 0
Jordin Tootoo RW 8 0 0 0 -4 5
Team Total 16 40 70 110 -2 143

 

Player GP W L T/O SA SV SV% GAA SO
Jimmy Howard 12 5 5 2 352 322 0.915 2.64 1
Jonas Gustavsson 4 3 0 0 127 119 0.937 2.12 0
Petr Mrazek 1 1 0 0 14 14 1 0 1
Team Total 16 9 5 2 493 455 0.923 2.36 2

 

 

40 Years Ago, the Red Wings Rendered the Weirdest Ziggy in Detroit Sports History

Image

Of all the ziggys that have zapped Detroit coaches over the years, perhaps no stranger exit was made than Teddy Garvin’s from the Red Wings.

It happened 40 years ago tomorrow.

Garvin was coaching the Red Wings’ top minor league team in Port Huron when he got the call to Detroit, following the unfair (my opinion) firing of Johnny Wilson in April, 1973. Wilson had taken over for Doug Barkley early in the 1971-72 season and between then and the end of the following season—when the Red Wings missed the playoffs by a whisker—Johnny had the boys playing some pretty good hockey.

Yet Wilson got the ziggy anyway.

I finally got my chance to voice my opinion to Wilson when I moderated a hockey roundtable that involved him in 2006 for the magazine I was working for at the time.

“I always thought you got screwed over in ’73,” I told Wilson.

He just smirked and said, “Darkness with Harkness.”

And that was the first time—and only time—I’d heard any member of the Red Wings organ-eye-ZAY-shun, past or present, refer to that Ned Harkness phrase first-hand.

So here comes Garvin and the team gets off to a miserable start. They’re 2-8-1 when GM Harkness decides to give Teddy the ziggy.

Harkness spoke to captain Alex Delvecchio, who was 41 years old and off to a bad start himself. Harkness asked Fats to take over the team as coach, for the game that night at home against Philadelphia. Delvecchio, who was mulling over retirement anyway, accepted.

Harkness then informed Garvin of his decision.

This is where it gets weird.

The NHL had a rule that prevented active players from serving as coach. Delvecchio hadn’t filed his retirement papers as the game against Philly was approaching, making Alex ineligible to coach the game that night.

Harkness asked Garvin to coach one more game, even though Teddy had already been fired!

So Garvin coaches the Red Wings for the first two periods against the Flyers, then decides that this is crazy, and walks out of Olympia Stadium, into the November night.

Forward Tim Ecclestone, who was injured and not in uniform, coached the third period of a 4-1 loss.

Yes, this really happened. You can read a newspaper account of the game here.

And for a fascinating parting shot from Garvin about the Red Wings under Bruce Norris’s ownership, click here. It refers to a discussed trade of Marcel Dionne to Montreal that I never knew about.