I am leaving BTJ to blog at WIM

Many of you have heard the big news that James Mirtle, one of the four founding fathers of the hockey blogosphere (in my opinion), left his humble abode at Blogger to become the hockey manager at SBN and now blogs there at From the Rink.

Over the past year, I have tried to divide my blogging attention to BTJ and Winging It In Motown over at SBN. Unfortunately, I don’t have the time to make both successful and I feel that both blogs have suffered over the past year because of my attempt to do so. I had been thinking of consolidating my blogging efforts and Mirtle’s decision to join SBN made my decision even easier.

I believe that under Mirtle, SBN can become a fantastic hockey blogging platform and the current software is amazing for game threads. It even allows readers to make their own FanShots or FanPosts and I can then promote them to the front page allowing readers more interaction. As a result, I am leaving BTJ to solely blog Red Wings hockey at Winging It In Motown. It was a hard decision to make (after spending almost 4 years blogging here at BTJ) and I even consulted my advertisers here about it.

You will now find a mesh of my Wings blogging at WIM with more BTJ-feature posts like Behind the Blog returning as well as the newsy posts and game threads already common to WIM.

So I’m asking all of the BTJ readers to please add WIM to your RSS reader or to your list of blogs you read on a daily/weekly basis. Mirtle is asking for all of the SBN blogs to boost their weekly post totals so content will be increasing over there and we are even hoping to add another WIM blogger or two so if you would like to join Joe and I at WIM, please send James an email.

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Battle of the Blogosphere

This week, Behind the Jersey is competing in the Battle of the Blogosphere at The NHL Arena Program. This battle consists of 128 blogs and goes seven rounds. The first round is still going on and BTJ’s bracket has just begun. We are competing against the fabulous Battle of California (BOC), a blog that I started reading on its first day.

I will be the first to admit that my blog is not known for its humor. While I adoringly read funny hockey blogs, I acknowledge that mine will never be like that because frankly I’m just not that funny. BOC is my favorite non-Wings humor blog out there. Despite Anaheim’s defeat over my beloved Wings in the 2006-2007 postseason, Earl Sleek’s take on the Ducks is absolutely hilarious. His cartoons, which can now also be seen at AOL Fanhouse, are the best in the hockey blogosphere. Earl isn’t the only blogger over there. BOC includes RudyKelly who covers the Kings as well as PJ & Mike Chen who talk San Jose hockey. If you haven’t been reading this blog already, please head over there and do so today.

I’m going to steal Earl’s explanation of what to do next:

Anyways, I’ve been stalling long enough — here’s the Battle of the Blogosphere. Be warned, it is a long listing, and I don’t recommend voting for each and every contest. My advice? Scan the list, pick out your favorites, cast a vote (registration is free), and when you’re satisfied, stop. Here’s where you can win, though — if you catch yourself on the trailing side in any poll, it’s probably worth giving the other entrant a read. Of course, I don’t assume that this Battle of the Blogosphere will categorically determine anything (popularity contests rarely do), but that’s not to say it’s a waste of time; it does at least offer a wide glimpse of the variety of fan sites out there. What’s stunning to me, actually, is how many quality blogs aren’t even in the running — this blogosphere experiment grows and improves by the week, it seems.

To vote for BTJ or BOC, please visit this direct link.

Yzerman named executive director

Detroit Red Wings vice-president Steve Yzerman will get a chance to lead Team Canada in the 2010 Winter Olympics as executive director. The announcement was made yesterday afternoon in Ottawa.

“I am truly honoured and privileged to take on the role of executive director for Hockey Canada going into 2010,” said Yzerman. “I am also very excited about the group that we have in place, a group that has great experience at both the professional and international level. With support from Bob Nicholson, Johnny Misley and the Hockey Canada team, I know that we have the right mix in place to assemble a team that will make all Canadians proud in 2010.”

In his third season under the tutelage of GM Ken Holland and Assistant GM Jim Nill, Yzerman has quickly transformed from the face of the Red Wings franchise on the ice to a quick study in Hockey Management 101 off the ice. After just his first season in the front office, Yzerman won the gold medal at the 2007 IIHF World Championship as Team Canada’s GM. A year later, his team returned to the finals and won silver. He has gained valuable experience in leading Team Canada in the World Championships and has learned from the best 1-2 punch (Holland & Nill) in the NHL. Holland certainly agrees with Team Canada and fans across North America that Yzerman is the man for this job.

“In my opinion, he’s the right man to lead Canada into the Olympics because of his long playing career and because he’s been one of the faces of Canadian hockey for the past 10 to 15 years,” Wings general manager Ken Holland said Friday. “He’s one of the great players in Canadian hockey history. I’ve worked alongside him for the past 2 1/2 years, and I know he’s got tremendous passion for the game. I think he misses playing, but I know he’s enjoying this side of the game. He’s really deserving of being in charge of the Canadian Olympic hockey team. It’s just a natural.”

Yzerman knows the pressures that come with the job both as the GM from the last two World Championships and his time as a player. He played for Team Canada eight times throughout his career including a gold-medal performance in the 2002 Winter Olympics. Wings forward Kris Draper believes that Yzerman’s performance in 2002 cemented his status as a great leader.

“He’s going to put together one heck of a hockey team, I know that,” Draper said. “The determination, the character, the leadership that he had when they won in Salt Lake was something that, I think, just stamped his career as one of the greatest leaders in professional sports,” Draper said. “Now he gets to do it off ice.”

He will likely face even more pressure this time around as the Winter Olympics will be held in Vancouver, B.C. Yzerman understands the expectations that come with the most scrutinized job in Canada (okay, maybe the most scrutinized after Toronto’s GM) and is eager to face them head on.

“My message to Canadians is that I understand completely what the expectations of this team are,” Yzerman said at a news conference on Saturday. “I understand what the goal is. Each and every one of us up here … all fully understand the expectations. We understand the passion that all Canadians have and we share in that passion – we’re one in the same…Our goals are no different than yours. We understand that a gold medal is the expectation and we’re prepared for that.”

Holland and Edmonton Oilers GM Kevin Lorne were also named to the staff as associate directors and former executive director Wayne Gretzky will remain on staff as an adviser. In Yzerman’s previous two stints as Team Canada’s GM, Doug Armstrong has been at his side. Armstrong will return for the 2010 Olympics and has been named the Olympic team’s director of player personnel.

“The Red Wings pay [me], but I’m a Canadian, I’m going to give my heart and soul to the team and if I’ve gotta work longer days and longer hours, so be it — it’s an opportunity of a lifetime for all of us,” said Holland.

Wings fans will look forward to seeing Yzerman and Holland work their magic over the next 16 months. Team Canada management hopes to have its coaching staff in place by the end of the season so that they can hold a training camp this off-season.

Wings defeat Rangers, 5-4, in overtime

Forward Marian Hossa scored his first goal as a Wing in spectacular fashion notching his 300th career goal to win the game just 23 seconds into overtime. Teammate Pavel Datsyuk’s quick stick work from behind the net resulted in a perfect set-up pass to Hossa who fired the puck behind NY Rangers goaltender Henrik Lundqvist.

Hossa’s timely goal gave Detroit their first win at home in their third attempt this season. While Hossa had three assists in the previous four games of the regular season and one assist in the second period of tonight’s game, he had yet to get the puck in the net. With such high expectations from fans, it had to be a great feeling to get that monkey off of his back.

“I knew I was getting chances. I tried to stay calm on the ice, and off, too. there was no panic,” Hossa said. “I knew the goals would come, and tonight I got the first one. Hopefully, now we can roll.”

The Wings came out strong in the first period with two goals in the first 3:44 of the game. Mikael Samuelsson scored first just 28 seconds into the first period by tipping a rocket shot from Derek Meech at the point. Meech played in his first game of the regular season as Niklas Kronwall’s linemate, Brad Stuart, was out with a bruised knee. Just over three minutes later, Samuelsson notched another point by assisting Johan Franzen on the Wings second goal of the game. The Mule scored his third goal in five games to give Detroit a two goal advantage. Valtteri Filppula earned his second assist of the night.

Detroit headed to the locker room with a 2-1 lead at the first intermission after Rangers right wing Ryan Callahan got one past Wings goaltender Chris Osgood, who made 28 saves in the game.

Tomas Holmstrom set up shop in front of crease and tipped in a Nicklas Lidstrom shot scoring his fifth goal in as many games a little over halfway into the second period. The two goal lead didn’t last long as Rangers left wing Nigel Hawes scored less than three minutes later on another Scott Gomez assist.

Within the first four minutes of the third period, the Rangers took the lead thanks to two goals by Aaron Voros, who first tipped in Michal Rozsival’s shot and then banked the puck in off of Osgood. It was after that second goal that head coach Mike Babcock decided to call a timeout and talk to his players.

“I just asked them who this team was. Where was the team that was playing the whole game until that last little bit?” he said. “People don’t understand. We won the Stanley Cup, but this is a new year. You have to earn things. People say we’re going to be fine, but the only way we’ll be fine is if we earn the right to be fine.”

With less than four minutes remaining, Jiri Hudler capitalized on a Rangers penalty (too many men on the ice) when he pounced on a Lundqvist rebound from defenseman Niklas Kronwall’s hard shot from the point. Samuelsson notched his third assist of the game.

While the Rangers were still able to get a point out of the game by making it to overtime, the team was disappointed that they allowed the Wings to come from behind and take the win from them. Goaltender Lundqvist made 40 saves in the game and has yet to win a game against Detroit in four attempts. Just last night, the Rangers defeated Toronto in a 1-0 shootout victory.

Detroit bounced back from a 4-3 OT loss to Vancouver on Thursday and seemed determined to prevent a third loss at home this season much to the delight of the loud crowd in attendance at the Joe.

Kyle Quincey placed on waivers

GM Ken Holland told reporters today that he has placed Kyle Quincey on waivers. Due to the weekend, other teams have until Monday at noon to pick him up. It is expected that Quincey will be picked off of waivers.

“If we get a goalie hurt tonight, we can’t bring one up for Monday,” said Holland.

Waivers last 24 hours during the week and 48 hours on the weekend, stalling player movement both ways for those not waiver exempt. If Quincey clears waivers, he’ll be pre-approved to be sent to Grand Rapids for the next month, without any time needed for approval of such a move.

Banner Ceremony Photos

My dad had the opportunity to sit on the glass for the season opener and took some great photos of the banner ceremony and game. You can view my favorites below and check out the rest at my behindthejersey Flickr account.

Lidstrom with his nose bandages and visor. He will be wearing the visor all season.

Marian Hossa

Yzerman talks about Toews as captain

Scott Burnside @ ESPN.com has a great piece up on the Chicago Blackhawks’ new captain, 20-year-old Jonathan Toews, including some remarks and advice from another No. 19, Steve Yzerman.

“I have no doubts that he’ll be fine. But it’s tough for a young guy,” Yzerman said. “There’s a lot of accountability. The captain represents the team to the fans, to the media.

“John’s a really mature young guy. It’s kind of a natural evolution for him to be a leader.”

While Yzerman stated that it was important to have other leaders in the locker room, The Captain had numerous veterans on his team in the 1986-1987 team when he first became a veteran. This year’s Chicago Blackhawks squad has only two players over the age of 30 so this team is relatively young. The alternate captains are 26-year-old Patrick Sharp and 25-year-old Duncan Keith.

If the Washington Capitals are the Cinderella team in the East, the Blackhawks are that team in the West. Just last season, the team only had 3,500 season ticketholders. This year? Almost 14,000. The team may even have to cap that number to allow for some group and walk-up tickets. As someone who spent the summer living in Chicago and even volunteering at the Chicago Blackhawks Convention, this is definitely a rejuvenated fan base and there is palpable excitement in the Windy City.

Chelios hobbles out at ceremony

I must admit that I teared up a little during the banner ceremony. I saw firsthand the work that it takes to reach the Finals and it was great to see that hard work and success honored last night. The ceremony was well done with a live mini orchestra, the seven trophies the Wings had won last season, management/staff, and the team. The biggest cheer of the night came when Steve Yzerman was introduced (no surprise there) and he even received a standing ovation from the fans. My dad sat on the glass yesterday evening so once I get the photos from him, I will be sure to upload photos from the ceremony and game so you guys can view them.

Chris Chelios came out hobbling and I felt bad for the guy. Apparently he’s on crutches, but refused to use them for the ceremony. While this injury isn’t going to cause Chelios to retire, he very well could at the end of this season especially if these injuries keep cropping up. According to BetOnline.com, the oldest active player (he’s 46) in the NHL is a 4-to-1 longshot to retire this season.

But enough about the hobbling Chelios, you can read my thoughts on the game over at Winging It In Motown.

Wings to visit White House on Tuesday

After the Wings face off against the Hurricanes in Raleigh on Monday evening, the team will stop by the White House on Tuesday afternoon for a presentation with the President. The ceremony is tentatively scheduled for 2:45pm. I guess I was personally surprised to hear that they were doing it right now with the whole financial crisis situation, but what do I know.

Kris Draper is particularly excited about the police escort.

“Visiting the White House means you won the Stanley Cup, and that’s the exciting part of it,” Kris Draper said. “It’s a great trip. That bus ride in, when you get the security escort in, that’s unbelievable how they do that. It’s neat. You never get to do anything like that. These guys just go. So that’s the fun part, getting to the White House. Then obviously it’s a huge honor, you’re going into the White House, you get to meet the President – any time you get an opportunity to do that, it’s special.”

On the day of the Wings parade, the staff and players were escorted from the Joe to Hockeytown Cafe. I must admit it was quite a thrill especially when there were thousands of people already outside along the parade route. I can only imagine how sweet it’d be to have a large police escort in D.C. that takes you to the White House.

While head coach Mike Babcock is looking forward to meeting the President and the ceremony at the White House, he’s just happy that his team is going to get all their little celebrations out of the way in the first week of the regular season.

“Just get it all done and let’s get on with it,” Babcock said. “But no, it’s a thrill, I don’t care what anyone says. You get to go to the White House, you get to meet the President of the United States – I think that’s a fantastic thing and it’s a great honor for our team. I think you want to relish in al the things you’ve done, but as a coach, it is this year.”

Banner ceremony begins at 7pm

Just to help eliminate confusion and remind fans attending tonight’s game, the banner ceremony will begin at 7pm according to the Red Wings PR department. The puck will drop at the conclusion of the ceremony.

The Detroit Red Wings remind fans to arrive early this Thursday, October 9th for the Red Wings’ home opener versus the Toronto Maple Leafs at Joe Louis Arena. Doors open at 5:00 p.m. and fans are asked to be in their seats promptly by 7:00 p.m. for the special on-ice Opening Night presentation and Stanley Cup Champion banner raising.

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