The Incredible, Inevitable Disappearing Act of the Magic Man

Despite writing a break up letter to the NHL, I can’t seem to fully disassociate myself from my beloved Red Wings. I’m still bitching on twitter about the various league happenings. I feel like I’m rubber necking at a horrible car accident. But this post is not about that.

After the end of the regular season, Mitch Albom, of all people (srsly, wtf?), broke the story that Pavel Datsyuk is [probably] going home this summer and walking away from the last year of his contract with the Wings.

Pavel Datsyuk

Like all realistic fans, I knew he was getting up there in age, his surgery on his ankle last summer went longer than expected because it was in worse shape than they thought. But I want to be in denial, because for the last fourteen years he has been my favorite player.

He came into the league as Stevie Y’s career was coming to an end. He was the shining light into the dark sadness of Stevie’s inevitable retirement.

In a point of personal pride, it’s the first time I had ever been right about a player, and my dad had been wrong.

I attended a game in one of Datsyuk’s first couple seasons with the Wings. We got there early. I had a sign of taped together 8.5×11 sheets. Before the game I met Ken Daniels and Mickey Redmond, out of pure chance. I asked them for their autographs, they asked to see my sign.

“Datsyuk, will you marry me?”

Ken then informed me that Datsyuk was married.

Damn it.

I held up the sign during warm ups anyway. I got a few stick taps, and a lot of laughs. I looked a lot younger than my age then (still do, just not as much) so even though I was 14 or 15 I probably looked 10-12. Maybe younger. I don’t know.

I also got a warm up puck. That was cool.

Datsyuk has been a delight to watch over the last fourteen years. I watched him in probably his last home game in game four. The feels were overwhelming as the buzzer sounded.

As a Detroit sports fan, I’ve been disappointed many times. I’ve been angry, sad, frustrated. But never have I cried over a moment in sports, until I watched Datsyuk’s [probable] last shift at home.

Despite disagreeing with some of his social stances, I have been an on-ice fan of his for so long, I don’t know who will fill the void.

Thank you, Magic Man, for your years, for your sweet moves, for staying as long as you have, despite the pull of family.

Pavel Datsyuk

“It’s a far, far better thing I do than I have ever done. It’s a far, far better rest I go to than I have ever known.” – A Tale of Two Cities (1935)

So long, Pavel.

Dear NHL, I’m Breaking Up With You

Dear NHL,

There’s no easy way to say this. I’m breaking up with you.

Sure there have been some fun times, the Wings winning so many Cups when I was a kid, and that playoff streak – whew! Not to mention the Stadium Series in February, it was pretty awesome to fly across the country to watch the Wings beat the Avs by the skin of their teeth.

But I can’t take it anymore. I can’t ignore your off-ice dealings. You had a shady start to begin with (Eddie Livingstone, anyone?) and as things get worse you seem to give fewer and fewer shits about me, about female fans, and really, about hockey fans in general.

I had an idea for a site related to hockey that I was really excited to work on. I had database diagrams, a design outline, a lot of thought and time had gone into this.

But I’m not going to do it anymore. I don’t feel like investing my time and energy in you anymore. Why should I? You don’t give a flying fuck about me anyway. Why should I feel safe in your arenas? Why shouldn’t you have to hold your players to at least decent humanity standards?

Hockey has been an escape for me for years. When I was younger, I spent pretty much every weekend of the season at the rink. Watching, learning, loving. Hockey is a great game and you’re to the point now, where you’re ruining it.

From the last two years alone, this is what I have come to learn about the NHL’s stance on several things.

  1. Violence against women is ok.
  2. Raping women will be rewarded, not punished.
  3. If a player is not as valuable as he once was, it’s ok to trash him, even when he needs help the most.
  4. You some how think you’re a court of law. (“unfounded”? Really? You think you can state that? Pretty strong statement for a non-legal body).
  5. Concussions are still a myth to you.

I know you’re a business, and money is your top priority, but in case you haven’t noticed, businesses who care about their audience do better than those who don’t.

So, I’m stepping back, I’ve re-evaluated our relationship, and I’ve decided that it’s not benefiting me anymore. Clean up your act, and maybe we can talk, but right now, I’m taking my money, time, and loyalty elsewhere. Maybe I’ll go hang with the NWHL.


A Disappointed Fan

Re-post: Undrafted Players and the Hockey Hall of Fame

A question has been nagging at me: who is the first un-drafted National Hockey League player in the Hockey Hall of Fame?

Well, the fast answer is the entire 1945 class of inductees.

But let’s pretend we want to delve a little deeper and set a few parameters.

In 1963, the The National Hockey League Amateur Draft was the first entry draft to the NHL. Previous to that, players were found and signed by teams on their own.  Only North American players were drafted in the original conception of the draft, and even when European players began to defect to North America, they were ineligible for the draft and usually initially played for the team that helped them leave their home countries.

Peter Stastny

With players of all nationalities eligible for the draft, Tomas Jonsson (Sweden) became the first drafted European player as the 4th pick in the second round (29th overall).The draft continued in the original fashion until 1979, when the NHL absorbed the World Hockey Association, and the rules changed so that any North American player from 18-20 years old and any European player of any age can be drafted in the newly termed NHL Entry Draft.

The following year, Peter Stastny defected from Czechoslovakia with his brother Anton after winning the European Cup in Innsbruck, Austria. Having never been drafted, but played in the NHL with the now (sadly) defunct Quebec Nordiques,  the New Jersey Devils, and the St. Louis Blues, he becomes eligible to become the first un-drafted player to be inducted to the HHOF, and indeed, he did so. In 1998, three years after retiring in a Blues kit, Peter the Great was inducted into the HOF with Roy Conacher, Michel Goulet, and Athol Murray becoming the first un-drafted player in the HHOF by this definition.

Some of you might cry foul and say that Björe Salming was the first un-drafted player inducted. But, given that he wasn’t eligible to be drafted before his rookie year in the NHL (six years before the draft rules changed), he was disqualified to be the first un-drafted inductee in the context of my question.  It’s only fair that the first be after everyone is eligible for the draft, and given that European players weren’t eligible in 1973 to be drafted, well, you get my point.

Regardless of whom you feel is the rightful first un-drafted NHL Hockey Hall of Famer, there is quite the illustrious list of un-drafted NHL players in the HHOF.  Eddie Belfour, Dino Ciccarelli, Joe Mullen, Adam Oates, the list goes on.

Only goes to show you that not being drafted isn’t the end of the world.

Sources here, here, and here.

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