Wednesday, October 29, 2008

More Glass-Shattering Action, This Time Actually Related to a Team I Write About

Tomas Kopecky on Denis Gauthier, from Monday night's shootout win over the Kings (no sound on video, which comes via Yahoo!'s Puck Daddy):

They sure don't make glass like they used to...that hit wasn't even that hard.

Sunday, October 26, 2008

A Beautiful Sunday

I just enjoyed a relaxing and productive Sunday for the first time in a while. Can't touch on the reason why, however...


Oh, right.

Saturday, October 25, 2008

Friday, October 24, 2008

Awesome Hit Nominally Related to Michigan Hockey

Remember Mike Van Ryn? He left Michigan after his sophomore season for the NHL Draft, and little has been heard from him since. That is, until yesterday, when he was on the receiving end of this spectacular hit:

I will say this. Van Ryn did a great job of playing the puck out of the zone despite knowing that a big hit was coming. I just don't think he expected quite THAT big of a hit.

Lions Draft Options

First of all, many thanks to all of our readers who have been leaving comments, questions and suggestions. It is very much appreciated, and it also gives us an idea of what you guys want to read about, which helps us in our endless pursuit of making you happy. Seriously, I eat these questions up like Gosder Cherilus at an all-you-can-eat before he shows up to training camp out of shape and overweight, so keep 'em coming.

Reader Zac brought up three very good draft options that would fill the Lion's most prevalent needs. Here's what I think of each one.

Sam Bradford/Matt Stafford, QB's for Oklahoma/Georgia- I have to agree with Zac and go with Bradford on this. I think he and Stafford are equally suited for the pro game, but what's wierd about Stafford is that he really hasn't imporved much since last year. He is on pace to throw fewer scores, and only one less pick than he did last year, and so far a much-hyped season has been pretty unremarkable. I don't know anyone who would pick a player who seemed to have peaked his junior year and then didn't do much his senior year (oh wait, that's exactly what the Lions did with Gosder. Awesome). Now, Stafford is only a junior, and if he stays in school this is a moot point, in fact, Bradford is a year younger, so this may all be moot, but Bradford to me is the better choice. He's going to throw for almost twice as many touchdowns as Bradford, and less picks, and while he is younger, he's simply more talented. If Bradford waits and Stafford leaves though, take Stafford. We can't afford to wait.

(Quick note-anybody else confuse these two because their names are straight out of a Shel Silverstein poem? I can imagine Joe Buck, when both quarterbacks are in the NFL, "It's Stafford against Bradford! Hello everybody, we are just about ready for kickoff!" Wouldn't he just get a kick out of that? Also, really glad I finally dropped Shel Silvertstein in a blog post)

Vontae Davis, CB for Illinois- If the Lions picked their quarterback first in the draft and this guy is still available by the time they get to their second pick, they would be lucky. I think the best-case scenario is either getting Malcom Jenkins out of OSU or Macho Harris of Virginia Tech, possibly the owner of the coolest nickname for a cornerback of all time, with apologies to Neon Deion Sanders. However, both will go very high. Realistically, if the Lions are using this pick as their second of the first round, they might be able to get Deondre Wright, a lockdown guy out of New Mexico, or maybe that kid out of Western Michigan, Londen Fryar. Both would be very good alternatives. The great thing about corner is it is one of the surest positions in the draft. If you were the best corner on your team in college, you were always one the other team's best receiver, who was probably NFL-caliber himself if you were playing at a big-time school. Generally, if you're fast and have good instincts, you can't go wrong. Good hands are a plus.

Andre Smith, OL for Alabama- This guy is a certified monster. He just eats people alive. He would be especially important because he plays the all-important left tackle position and protects the quarterbcak's blind side. In fact, if he is available by the time we make our second pick of the first round (I love saying that), take him instead of a cornerback. Definitely. I just think this position is more important. One good young left tackle is going to be more effective in improving the offense than one good young cornerback is in the defense.

The question, as Zac points out, is: who is running the Lions scouting? If it is the same people who landed such gems as Charles Rogers, Mike Williams, Teddy Lehman, Drew Stanton and Gosder Cherilus (yeah, I'm already considering him a bust. If you disagree, check beck with him in three years when he's desperately trying to make a team as a 480-pound convicted felon), then the Lions are in trouble again. All I know is that the guy currently in charge of college scouting is dome dude named Scott McEwen. Whether or not he's a new guy I have no idea. Hopefully he was hired yesterday.

Tuesday, October 21, 2008

Lions Positions of Need

The same reader I mentioned who wanted to know some possible replacements for Matt Millen also wanted to know what positions the Lions should focus on in this year's draft.  I am happy to oblige, but just note what is happening here: this Lions season may go down as the forgotten season in the NFL.  Notice how there has been no post up about Sunday's game, which was pretty eventful.  We remind me of Mark McGuire at the congressional hearing--"I'm not here to talk about the past.  I just want to make, uh, a better...future..."  That's exactly what we're doing.  Forget this season, let's just move on as quickly as possible, even if it's still going on.  

Anyway, the positions.  I am going to list off the positions on the field in order of importance for the Lions current roster:

-OFFENSIVE LINE.  Can't stress this enough: with very, very few exceptions, a team is only as good as its offensive line.  It's something owners tend to forget when they're drooling over a 6'5" wideout with a 4.3 40.  If he doesn't have time to get open, he won't get the ball.  You can have all the athletes you want, but if you don't have the big boys up front, even Tom Brady would look not great.  I know we drafted Gosder Cherilus, but he is obviously a joke.  Jeff Backus used to be good, but now clearly is not and should not be starting.  The fact that George Foster holds a roster spot on our team says a lot.  The offensive line sucks, and that is priority number one.  Even a mediocre quarterback can look competent if he has four seconds to throw the ball every time.  And right now, our QB's are all worse than mediocre.

-Cornerback.  I know we are trying to move on from this season, but did anyone see the Texans game?  Matt Schaub was making our secondary look like swiss cheese.  Matt Schaub!  If he can do what he did against the Lions, think of what a real quarterback will do!  I don't want to think about it, it's too scary.  The defensive backfield for the Lions has been bad ever since I can remember, and it's because no one ever invested in it.  In the draft, try to go for a corner who can make tackles.  Seriously.  Then have him teach everyone else, because everyone's forgotten.  Unless you can consistently get a very good rush on the passer, the cornerbacks need to be top-notch if you're going to have a successful defense.  And right now, our corners are bottom-notch.

-Quarterback.  It's true.  Dan Orlovsky is not the quarterback of the future, and John McCain will refer to Barack Obama by name before Drew Stanton is healthy enough to play a down for an NFL team.  The Lions are entering a new era, and it would be great to step into that era with an unproven wild card under center than three proven losers.  We have two first-round draft picks.  We can swing a good left tackle and a very good quarterback, can't we?  

-Linebacker.  Just get Paris Lenon off the team.  Please.  He can't tackle anybody, and on any other team's roster he'd be...wait--he wouldn't be on any other team's roster.

-Saftey.  Someone who can cover.  And don't get some slowing-down, past his prime guy who was once known for bone-crushing hits.  Please.  Just someone who can play a cover 2.

-Defensive line.  I actually think the guys we have right now would be ok with a little motivation.  Corey Redding is still talented, Dewayne White can play when he wants.  They would be alright, and that's all I want at this point.  Somebody remind me again how much we're paying Corey Redding?

-Running back.  Don't do it.  Don't draft a freaking running back.  You just did, and with a good o-line, the yards will come.

-Wide Receiver.  Don't even think about it.

There you have it.  If the Lions follow this basic draft rubric, I think they are heading on the right track.  If not, then say hello to Michael Crabtree, everyone!

Possible Millen Replacement

We got a great comment from a reader asking for our take on who would be a good replacement for Matt Millen.  There are a lot of good candidates, including the 18 listed by the Free Press recently.  There are a few that really stand out on that list:

-Floyd Reese, former Titans GM and current ESPN NFL analyst.  Reports say this guy wants the job, which is going to be half the battle for the Lions.  It should not be played up too much, however.  The kinds of guys applying for this job, at least the ones we're looking for , are going to get a charge out of building a team from the ground up and making it their own.  You got the feeling that Matt Millen never really was that excited about building a team.  I don't know, maybe it was the trips home a few states away that tipped me off, whatever, I'm over it.  Anyway, Floyd Reese built a solid team in Tennessee, but there are some definite blemishes on his resume.  Yes, one of his teams was a yard away from winning the Super Bowl, but look how their team was built: they did not have much success after that year.  They kept starting a banged-up quarterback well past his prime (Steve McNair), they never really invested in wide receivers to help him out, and they relied mostly on an inexperienced but freakishly athletic defensive line.  That isn't exactly the way I would go about building a team for the future.  Oh, and he drafted Vince Young, aka Captain Crazy.  Not a good move.

-One who I think could be a keeper , Ruston Webster, Seahawks VP of Personnel.  This guy got into the game as a scout, and moved his way up as a scout as well.  If there is one thing the Lions need, it is a man in charge who knows talent when he sees it.  This guy picked linebacker Lofa Tatupu, a pro bowler, and was a VIP in the piecing together of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' Super Bowl-winning squad.  That team wasn't exactly built for the future either, but the Lions are in no position to get picky.  At all.  And this guys young, which must be good, right?

-Tom Heckert, Eagles GM.  The list makes a good point about this guy wanting out from under Andy Reid's foot, and that will play a larger role than people think.  He clearly knows how to build and run a team, as the Eagles have been good since like, 2002.  Wow, that's a long time ago.  Anyway, he's from Adrian, which is something.  

Look, what the Lions don't want, and what they wont necessarily attract, is a head guy at an established  team who wants another note on his football pedigree.  Anyone who knows anything about football knows that taking over the Lions is like taking over a problematic, 15-year-old foster child who's already experimenting with crack cocaine: it's gonna take some time, some patience, and some commitment.  A young guy looking to make a name for himself would be perfect, and also living in the state of Michigan would be appreciated.  The Lions are on the right track by firing Matt Millen and dumping this season.  Now, they have some time to pick a decent replacement.  Let's hope they use it wisely. 

Friday, October 17, 2008

In Yesterday's News...

Roy Williams was traded from the Lions to the Dallas Cowboys.  Yeah, you already know.  Midterms may be taking over Ace's life, but I'm an English major.  Needless to say, midterms are relatively light.  This means I will try to take over posting duties while I can.

First off, as a diehard Lions fan, I have been given new life by the firing of Matt Millen.  It's like I've been baptized.  I know that that is only the first step on the long road from complete laughingstock of the League to sweet mediocrity (my humble goal, for now), but it's still a step in the right direction.  And in an era that has taken about 3 trillion steps backward in the past seven years or so, the forward-thinking is a welcome change.

The Lions traded wide receiver Roy Williams for first, third, and sixth-round draft picks in 2009.  The trade, surprisingly, made a whole lot of sense for the Lions.  Why not trade a guy who clearly does not want to be in Detroit for some good young talent?  You can't really blame Roy if you're a Lions fan.  Let's face it: who really WANTS to be in Detroit?  I doubt Tim Tebow is looking at the possible teams he could go to in 2009 and thinking, "wouldn't it be great if I could go to a team that just fired its president, has no vision for the future, and seems to kill the career of anyone who doesn't get out fast enough?  If only there was a place that had all that...How about Detroit?"

The fact is the Lions are the most demoralizing place to work in America right now, and if you throw in how awesome and secure Ford Motor Company employees must feel right now, it looks like ol' William Clay has got things running smoothly as ever.

Roy Williams was great while he was here.  Some may complain about him underachieving.  Look at who was throwing to him during his Lions career: Joey Harrington, Jeff Garcia, Jon Kitna and recently, Dan Orlovski.  Are you kidding me?  Just typing those names makes me want to puke.  If you know there is a good chance that even if you get open, your quarterback is either going to miss you or not see you, where does your motivation come from?  A job well done?  Please.  Jesus Christ wouldn't have given his all for those quarterbacks if he was a wide receiver for the Lions the same time as Roy.  Not even for Jon Kitna.  And that's saying a lot, because from what I hear, Jesus Christ was a really hard worker. 

I feel no animosity towards Roy, and I wish him the best in Dallas.  However, with the way Tony Romo panders to Terrel Owens, who will be lining up alongside Roy, it doesn't look like he'll see the ball much.

What the Lions need to remember is that three draft picks don't mean shit if you draft three Gosder Cheriluses next year.  Don't fuck it up.

Monday, October 13, 2008


...are taking over my life. Posting, if there is any, will be quite light over the next couple days. In its stead, enjoy some much-needed comic relief, courtesy of Dan Orlovsky.

Sunday, October 12, 2008

Overheard in the Student Section: Toledo

Photo courtesy of The Detroit News


Something just didn't seem right from the start. We arrived at our seats five minutes to noon, and entire blocks of the student section were completely empty. Kickoff came and went, but still many of those seats remained unfilled. Unless I was unaware that Saturday was "Disguise Yourself As a Blue Metal Bench Day", something was amiss.

As for the noise, well, there was little to speak of. I realize that it's hard to put your heart and soul behind a struggling team, but I'm pretty sure Northwestern fans would have been disgusted with the sound output of our student section. There was one kid, standing a row in front of us, who did his best to encourage our section to yell on every defensive play, to do something to help a team that found itself struggling with a 1-4 MAC squad. People looked at him like he had nine heads.

We all know what happened. Steven Threet gifted Toledo a 100-yard touchdown, Nick Sheridan remained Nick Sheridan, and K.C. no longer stands for Kicking Consistency. Now we're 2-4, desperately trying to figure out how we'll win another game, with our bowl streak tenuously hanging by the thinnest of threads and our undefeated record against the MAC shattered like a Bee Gees record on Disco Demolition Night. Holy Toledo, indeed.

But what disappoints me almost as much as our play is the complete lack of support coming from the player's own peers. I was talking on Friday to a woman who works with me at the Michigan Union who is close with many current and former players, all of whom will remain nameless for the sake of this post. After the Wisconsin game, she said at least four current and former players all separately expressed their disappointment in the fans who booed the team after the first half. Not only that, but the bile coming from the fans doesn't stop after the game is over. Students actually have the gall to walk up to players on campus and tell them, in so many words, that they aren't happy with their play on the field. People may not realize it, but these guys actually listen.

This is not a plea to stop booing in order to not hurt these players feelings. However, you have to wonder how hard these guys want to play for a student body in which seemingly 25% of the ticket holders don't show up to games, and half of those that do spend the entire 60 minutes exploring uses for every possible variation of the word "fuck". This may be a lost season from a Big Ten standpoint, but these players still have to show up for six more games, including two more at home. They can't just go "fuck it" and walk out on this season, not unless they want to throw away lifelong dreams of NFL millions, thousands of hours of work, and a huge part of their identity. Our "fans", however, seem to have no such qualms about doing just that, and I doubt that's helping our team in what is already an incredibly trying season.

My one quote for this game comes from the bitter end, overheard as I was ascending the stadium steps towards the exit, readying for a dreary walk to campus followed by a postgame ritual of crappy Chinese food and a much-needed nap. I didn't want to hear anything else. The sound of the stadium announcer proclaiming "Final Score: Toledo 13, Michigan 10" was more than enough for me. Then I heard it:

"I hate to be The Right Guy, but I'm The Right Guy."

It was said so joyfully, with so much pride in the speaker's own greatness and glory, that it HAD to come from someone wearing a Toledo shirt. I was almost too scared to look back, in fear that I would lose what little faith I have left in Michigan fans. Sure enough, I turned to see a guy decked out in Michigan gear, smiling like he had just bet the farm on a Toledo victory. Just to rub it home, he repeated the same statement three more times during the 40-row ascent out of the Big House. I remember the number, because that's how many times I had to count to ten and resist the urge to knock the motherfucker straight to Row B. He capped off his Chronicles of Douchebaggery with a simple "Rich Rod sucks," before disappearing to wherever people without souls go (probably Pike).

I tend to think of myself as a rational, level-headed guy, but at that point I really hoped that man's night would end with a slow ride in an ambulance. My emotions have settled down a bit since then. Now I only wish he is subjected to the kind of toture detailed at the beginning of the song "Method Man" (I'd post a link, but I have relatives who occasionally read this blog, and I'd like to continue to be on speaking terms with them). Hey, it's better than death. Barely.

In all seriousness, I have no respect for you if you take joy in watching your team lost just because it makes you right. Do us all a favor and just stay home next time. I'm sure your friends in Round One of the Ninth Circle of Hell will enjoy your company (and yes, I have actually read Dante, so save it). But before you go, try to sell your ticket to someone who actually cares about Michigan football, if there are any of them left.

Friday, October 10, 2008

That's Not Right

Joe Elliot, lead singer of Def Leppard, has an issue with placing things right side up:

You'd think when booking a band for "Face Off Rocks", the NHL would have found someone who actually, you know, knew something about hockey. Honestly, that was worse than seeing the Wings fall to the Leafs in the opener.

Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Dear TMQ: Stop, Please


From today's Tuesday Morning Quarterback:
Rich Rodriguez Was Behind This Somehow: Reader Brian Lemay of Ann Arbor, Mich., notes the Wolverines were playing well against Illinois in the first half. At intermission, the Michigan cheerleaders donned jackets and pants; in the second half, Michigan was blown out. And about that Gatorade shower Rodriguez received the week before, after the Wisconsin game: Standards are slipping if the coach gets a bucket dunked on his head for reaching a .500 record.
This combines all of Gregg Easterbrook's ingredients for his "Things That Piss Ace Off" cocktail. One part creepy obsession with cheerleaders half his age, two parts completely unprovoked potshot at Rich Rodriguez, and one part complete lack of knowledge about college football. I'm sorry, but a Gatorade shower is completely warranted in the case of a young, rebuilding football team pulling off the greatest comeback in the history of a storied stadium in the first conference game of the tenure of their new coach.

Mr. Easterbrook, kindly fuck yourself and die.

Thursday, October 2, 2008

Why the Red Wings Will Win the Stanley Cup

Newly acquired Red Wings Marian Hossa (left) and Ty Conklin should be laughing all the way to the Cup (photo courtesy of the Detroit News)

I know, I'm really going out on a limb here. With the Wings opening their season next Thursday against the Maple Leafs, I was going to do a detailed preview of Detroit's team. However, I'm sure Christy at BTJ and Dave at Gorilla Crouch will have me covered on that one, and probably do it way better than I could. Plus, you can sum up this Detroit team in a couple of sentences: They're the same team that coasted through the regular season and playoffs en route to a Stanley Cup. Oh, and they added Marian Hossa. There, Red Wings covered.

With that done, I decided to take a look at the other contenders in the West, to see if anyone has a shot at knocking off Detroit.

Anaheim Ducks: Yes, the Ducks are very solid defensively. Chris Pronger may be everybody's least favorite NHL player, but he's still a very solid presense on the blue line and an underrated offensive threat. Jean-Sebastian Giguere is one of the better goaltenders in the league. Scott Niedermeyer came back. However, they had the 28th best offense in the NHL last season, and only had one player score more than 54 points (C Ryan Getzlaf). Even with the addition of Brendan Morrison, that's not going to cut it. For the Ducks to beat the Wings in the playoffs, they'd need Osgood to turn in a subpar series while Giguere plays out of his mind. Next.

San Jose Sharks: I find this team to be quite similar to the Ducks. Solid defense and goaltending (3rd in the NHL in goals against last season, behind Detroit and Anaheim) with a subpar offense (19th in the league in goals for). Like Anaheim, San Jose relied heavily on one player to carry the scoring load. Joe Thornton had 29 goals and 96 points, and the Sharks next leading scorer, Milan Michalek, had 24 goals and 55 points. If a team can shut down Thornton's line, they'll beat the Sharks. Detroit can do that. Let's move on.

The San Jose offense, aka Joe Thornton

Edmonton Oilers: This is a team that a lot of people expect to make a run in the West after disappointing the last two seasons. They have a lot of young talent up front, led by forward Ales Hemsky. However, their goalies are Matieu Garon and Dwayne Roloson. I don't see this team advancing much further than the second round, if they even get that far.

Chicago Blackhawks: Here's another team being mentioned as a potential sleeper in the West. They have a ton of young talent, with second-year forwards Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews leading the charge. Even with all that talent, however, the 'Hawks mustered only the NHL's 24th best power play. Also, goaltenders Cristobal Huet and Nikolai Khabibulin both consider themselves deserving of the starting spot, which could prove to be an unneeded distraction on a young team. Chicago will be a team to watch down the road, but this won't be their year.

Patrick Kane and Jonathan Toews give Chicago one of the league's most exciting young duos (Getty Images)

Dallas Stars: The Red Wings' foe in the 2008 Western Conference Finals look poised to return to the same position in 2009. The Stars are definitely the most likely team in the West to knock off Detroit. They added Brad Richards and Sean Avery to an already potent offensive attack, which features Mike Modano, Mike Ribiero, and Brendan Morrow. However, the concerns for the Stars start on the blue line. Sergei Zubov, who has been a mainstay on the Dallas D since the mid-nineties, is out for at least a month with a hip injury, and at 38 years old, who knows if he'll be the same player when he returns. Marty Turco has always been a great regular season goaltender, but he's been inconsistent in the playoffs (although he has greatly improved in that respect in the last two postseasons). I'll admit that Dallas scares me a bit, but when stacked up against the ridiculous Red Wings lineup, my fears are quelled for the time being.

Marty Turco could stand between Detroit and a second consecutive finals appearance

The Flames, Predators and Wild probably also deserve mention as potential contenders, but let's be honest: if those teams beat Detroit, we've either fallen victim to devastating injuries or a Tim Donaghy-style officiating conspiracy.

As for the East, we beat Pittsburgh last season and then stole one of their top forwards, Montreal starts a 21-year old in net, and nobody else is worth talking about. What does it all add up to? A second straight visit from Stanley.